Evidence for the Resurrection Part 5: What Does the Resurrection Mean Today?
Throughout this series we have explored historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. We concluded that such evidence is plentiful, and gives us powerful reason to believe that God really did raise Jesus from the dead.
Now we must ask ourselves: What does this case for the resurrection imply about how we should think about faith generally? And as both a crucial theological and practical doctrine for the Christian faith, what does the resurrection mean today?
Six Implications of the Resurrection
In addition to the rational support the believing the Christian worldview, there are six key lessons that we can learn from the resurrection and the historical evidence for it.
1. Christianity is life-changing. The resurrection radically changes how we live and what we value. If the resurrection happened then a life of faith has great meaning and importance; if it did not happen then our faith is in vain (1 Cor. 15:14). Christians should therefore have lives that would be pitied if the resurrection were false.
2. Christianity is a uniquely falsifiable religion. Unlike other religions, Christianity depends for its truth on a public historical event that it claims actually happened. Thus, if the body of Jesus were found, or if the evidence for the resurrection was refuted and we discovered positive and convincing reason to believe that the resurrection did not occur, then Christianity would be falsified. We then do not offer the non-Christian a blind faith but a faith purporting to be based in reality.
3. Christianity can be verified. Relatedly, what our historical case for the resurrection shows is that one can investigate the facts surrounding Jesus’ life and death and determine that God raised him from the dead. In historical context, this serves as divine vindication of Jesus’ claim to be God, as he was put on trial and executed for blasphemy. A true resurrection therefore gives us confidence that Jesus’ claims, and hence the Christian message, can be trusted.
4. The Easter story not just a good story but a true story. Every Easter, messages of hope and purpose are preached that lift the spirits of people across the world. A historical case for the resurrection shows that these promises are not empty but reasonable. Because of the resurrection we can have true hope that we too will one day be raised from the dead, that ultimate justice will be served, that our current lives have great meaning, and that we have a God who really will come through for us.
5. Non-Christians are challenged and called to respond. Given these great promises, and given this verifiable truth-claim, it frankly makes no sense for a person to ignore Christianity. This religion stands apart in offering itself up to be scrutinized, but if this evidence for the resurrection is sound, then it has enormous implications for all people. The case has been offered, and now each individual must respond and consider whether they will accept it.
6. Christians are challenged and called to be prepared and study this evidence. In a historical case for the resurrection we have what I think is the greatest apologetic for the Christian faith, a good answer for the secular world’s question of how we can believe what we believe. All Christians, so far as they are able, should therefore study this evidence and be prepared to share it with any who have interest, not to win an argument but to give thinking men and women what they need to have a real encounter with God.
Interested in learning more about a historical case for the resurrection of Jesus? Check out two books we recommend here.
Which of these implications do you find to be the most significant? Can you think of any others not included here? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!