Christ's Resurrection: Key to Our Salvation

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Christ's Resurrection

Key to Our Salvation

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Before He was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus promised: “Because I live you will live also” (John 14:19 John 14:19Yet a little while, and the world sees me no more; but you see me: because I live, you shall live also.
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). He had been explaining to His disciples that He was about to die, which would demonstrate His incomprehensible love for humanity. As He went on to say in John 15:13 John 15:13Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
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, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for His friends.”

The death of God’s Son is the foundational step in God’s plan to save humanity. His sacrifice allows every human being the opportunity to have his or her sins washed away and become the friend of both Jesus Christ and God the Father. And not only can we become the friends of God, but we are invited to live with Them forever as divine members of God’s family! This is possible only through the resurrection of Christ.

Yet although the apostles heard Jesus speak these words, they could not understand what was about to happen or why. Their beloved Rabbi was about to suffer a horrible death to free others from death. He would be buried for three days and three nights and then be resurrected. Because of His resurrection, they too, along with every repentant, obedient and believing human being would also be resurrected at a future time. Everyone will ultimately be given the opportunity to choose the way of salvation to live forever in God’s Kingdom!

Preaching the resurrected Christ, starting with Peter

Once converted through the Holy Spirit, the apostles proclaimed to the world that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was the capstone of His ministry. Yes, “with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 4:33 Acts 4:33And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was on them all.
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). They were so confident in what they’d seen with their own eyes (1 Corinthians 15:5 1 Corinthians 15:5And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
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) that they were willing to die for it. They knew it to be the truth. They suffered humiliation, beatings and, later, even death for the name of Christ.

Acts 2 records that Peter and the rest of the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection, on the day of Pentecost. Starting in Acts 2:11 Acts 2:11Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
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, we read Peter’s first recorded sermon, which was given that day. His message centered around the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus was the miracle worker who “was crucified and put to death” (Acts 2:22-23 Acts 2:22-23 22 You men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the middle of you, as you yourselves also know: 23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
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). But then Peter emphasized that before His body could suffer decay, God raised Him back to life (Acts 2:24 Acts 2:24Whom God has raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be held of it.
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, Acts 2:31-32 Acts 2:31-32 31 He seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. 32 This Jesus has God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
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).

Because He was crucified on our behalf, the only proper response for us is to repent of our sins and be baptized ( Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
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). God then gives His Holy Spirit to repentant believers so they can “be saved from this perverse generation” (Acts 2:38-40 Acts 2:38-40 38 Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call. 40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
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).

The next chapter records how Peter, accompanied by John, was used by God to heal a man who was lame from birth. Peter asked the crowd, “Why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?” (Acts 3:12 Acts 3:12And when Peter saw it, he answered to the people, You men of Israel, why marvel you at this? or why look you so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?
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). He then explained that it was through faith in Jesus’ name that the man had been made strong (Acts 3:16 Acts 3:16And his name through faith in his name has made this man strong, whom you see and know: yes, the faith which is by him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
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).

When Peter and John were arrested and brought before the Jewish authorities, these apostles were asked: “By what power or by what name have you done this?” (Acts 4:7 Acts 4:7And when they had set them in the middle, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have you done this?
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). Peter simply stated, “Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead,  by Him this man stands here before you whole” (Acts 4:10 Acts 4:10Be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him does this man stand here before you whole.
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, emphasis added throughout).

Once again, the message of Peter was that it was because of the power of the resurrected  Christ that miracles were beingaccomplished. Again and again, Peter’s messages resound with the fact that he served the risen Christ. Our “living hope,” he says in his first preserved epistle, is “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:3 1 Peter 1:3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
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). And he adds, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but made alive by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18 1 Peter 3:18For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
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).

This timeless message regarding the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has been carried forth by God’s ministry down through the ages. Anchoring this message is the undeniable fact that we serve a living Savior, Jesus Christ.

Paul proclaims the same message

Paul’s first recorded sermon is found in Acts 13. He traveled first to Cyprus, then on to what is now southwestern Turkey, and observed the Sabbath with both Jews and Gentiles, worshipping God with them in the synagogue. After giving a brief history of the Hebrews, he began speaking of the Savior for Israel, Jesus (Acts 13:23 Acts 13:23Of this man’s seed has God according to his promise raised to Israel a Savior, Jesus:
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). He spoke of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate authorizing Christ’s execution (Acts 13:28 Acts 13:28And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain.
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).

Then Paul spoke the words which are repeated throughout the New Testament: “But God raised Him from the dead” (Acts 13:30 Acts 13:30But God raised him from the dead:
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). Like Peter, Paul too was driven to preach the crucified and resurrected Christ. This message contained a power heretofore not realized.

Jesus and His apostles proclaimed the gospel or good news of the Kingdom of God—the message that God through His Messiah or Christ would set up a literal kingdom to rule over all nations. As the biblical prophets had earlier foretold, when Christ establishes His Kingdom He will rule from Jerusalem and the world will at last know peace; the nations will learn war no more (Isaiah 2:4 Isaiah 2:4And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
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).

Paul never changed his message.  The final words we read about him are these: “Paul … received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence” (Acts 28:30-31 Acts 28:30-31 30 And Paul dwelled two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in to him, 31 Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.
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).

Paul started his epistle to the Christians in Rome by stating that he had been “separated to the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1 Romans 1:1Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God,
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). He said the gospel concerned “His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and  declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:3-4 Romans 1:3-4 3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; 4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:
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).

Paul thus explained that both the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are vital to understanding God’s gospel. He further declared that the “gospel of Christ … is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16 Romans 1:16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God to salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
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).

Christ’s gospel transcends nationalities. His life, death and resurrection are vital for everyone; it is God’s power to salvation—that is, eternal life in God’s coming Kingdom—for every believing human being. Without this salvation all people are headed to the second death—the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8 Revelation 21:8But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
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).

Paul continues with the key theme of the importance of Jesus’ resurrection in Romans 5:8-10 Romans 5:8-10 8 But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
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:

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”

This is a key scripture. Paul wants us to know that while Jesus’ death is crucial for our justification before God and reconciliation to Him (being declared not guilty and placed into a right relationship with Him), that death does not give us eternal life. We are ultimately saved, resurrected to eternal life, by the living Christ!

In Romans 8:34 Romans 8:34Who is he that comdemns? It is Christ that died, yes rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
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Paul states: “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”

The word translated “furthermore” is the Greek mallon, meaning “all the more,” “how much more,” “better,” “rather than,” “more than,” etc. So while the spiritual impact of Christ’s sacrificial death on humanity is immense, His resurrected life makes it more so because He lives to make “intercession for us”—pleading for us as priestly intermediary with God.

Paul also makes it clear that Christians live the Christian life only through Christ living in them through the Holy Spirit. As he explains, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live: yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
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, King James Version). Here we see how vital it is that Christ not only died for us but was also resurrected so that He could live in us—empowering us to resist sin and continue in God’s way.

Paul continues the focus in 1 Corinthians

Paul wrote his first preserved epistle to the church at Corinth to correct, in love, some heresies that were troubling the congregation. Earlier, he had spent 18 months raising up that church and teaching the members the fundamentals of the Christian faith (see Acts 18:11 Acts 18:11And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
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).

His instructions in this letter regarding the observance of biblical festivals date it to the spring of the year in the northern hemisphere. In 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
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, we are exhorted to keep the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread with proper spiritual focus—both of these occurring in early spring. Paul gives further instruction in chapter 11 on the right attitude Christians must have as we partake of the New Testament Passover (as we must still today). 

Notice in this regard that this epistle, written more than two decades after Christ’s death and resurrection, contains no reference to the observance of Easter Sunday. The popular Easter holiday is rooted not in true Christianity but in pagan religion (see “ How Christian Is Easter? ”).

In fact, Jesus was not even resurrected early Sunday morning, as most believe. It is provable that He came back to life on Saturday, rising from the grave around the end of the weekly Sabbath at sunset after three days and three nights, as He promised in Matthew 12:40 Matthew 12:40For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
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(see “ Good Friday – Easter Sunday: It Doesn’t Fit With the Bible ”). The truth of the matter is that the early Church observed the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread in a New Covenant context. They never observed Easter. (Again, see “How Christian Is Easter? ”.)

In this springtime epistle, Paul also wrote of the crucial importance of Christ’s resurrection. There were false teachers in the congregation who were denying the reality of the resurrection (see 1 Corinthians 15:12 1 Corinthians 15:12Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
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).

He told them when first addressing them that Jesus died for their sins and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
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) and that Jesus was seen by Cephas (Peter) and the other apostles as well as more than 500 others (1 Corinthians 15:5-7 1 Corinthians 15:5-7 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brothers at once; of whom the greater part remain to this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
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). He mentioned this large number of personal eyewitnesses to demonstrate that there was no possibility of fraud. These were all bona fide witnesses who knew they saw Jesus after His resurrection. Paul then reaffirmed that he himself had also seen the risen Christ (1 Corinthians 15:8 1 Corinthians 15:8And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
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).

Next he addressed the heresy some were spreading—that there was no actual resurrection of the dead. He anchored his rebuttal through the fact of Christ’s literal resurrection as a forerunner of the future resurrection of all believers. He said that if Christ was not risen, then his preaching and their faith were in vain (1 Corinthians 15:14 1 Corinthians 15:14And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
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).

Furthermore, Paul said that if Christ was not risen, then he and the other ministers were false witnesses and the Christian faith is futile, with all of us left still in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:14 1 Corinthians 15:14And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
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, 1 Corinthians 15:17 1 Corinthians 15:17And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; you are yet in your sins.
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). For it is Christ living in us that empowers us to live in obedience to God. And if Christ is not risen, Paul stated, then those who have died in Christ have perished—there is no hope of anyone ever being resurrected. And if it’s only in this present life that we have hope, we are of all men the most to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:18-19 1 Corinthians 15:18-19 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
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).

Paul goes on to emphatically state that Christ has risen from the dead and has become the firstfruits of those who have died (1 Corinthians 15:20 1 Corinthians 15:20But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.
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), the beginning of God’s spiritual harvest of mankind. He explains that while the first Adam, the father of wayward mankind, brought death, the last Adam—Jesus Christ as the beginning of a renewed human race—has brought life.

Paul then spends the rest of this lengthy chapter talking about the resurrection of the dead. Furthermore, he makes it clear that Christ’s resurrection is the guarantee of our resurrection.

The Kingdom of God is for resurrected believers

The key to the Kingdom of God promised in the gospel message is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If it weren’t for Christ’s resurrection, there would be no Kingdom of God to come. There would be no messianic King of that Kingdom—and no resurrected followers of His to serve as kings and priests along with Him.

Some think that the message of the Kingdom of God is merely about experiencing God in our lives today. But without a future literal resurrection and ruling Kingdom to come, what would be the point? We would be most pitiable, as Paul said.

While we can experience a foretaste of the Kingdom of God today through personally living by God’s Word, Paul announces that the Kingdom is ultimately yet to come and that inheriting it requires a resurrection or change to immortality:

“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep [in death], but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’” (1 Corinthians 15:50-54 1 Corinthians 15:50-54 50 Now this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
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).

It is God who gives us this victory through the risen Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57 1 Corinthians 15:57But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
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). Our living forever has been made possible through the One who said that He is “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25 John 11:25Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
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). His life, ministry, death and resurrection have made eternal life possible for humanity! We’re reconciled to God by Jesus’ death but saved by His life—by His living in us to lead us and interceding for us as High Priest.

Jesus will come back to rule as King under God the Father. In the coming Kingdom of God, the resurrected Messiah and His resurrected followers will lead the rest of mankind, those who are willing, to repentance and ultimately experiencing the same change to immortality. Let us never forget the awesome importance of Jesus’ death and resurrection!

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