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The Cross without the Resurrection = Empty Faith (Faith Matters)

the real point of easter

Is it possible to profess a belief in Jesus as the Son of God, but not believe in the resurrection and still call yourself a Christian? That’s the question I’d like to explore in this week’s “Faith Matters” blog. Without the resurrection, if Jesus simply died on the cross, then there’s no substance to faith—and yet there are people out there who call themselves Christian but who express doubt in the actuality of the resurrection. I’m going to set out my storefront from the outset – I don’t believe that you can call yourself Christian without believing in the resurrection, and in this blog, I’m going to explain why. 

In my time as a Christian – 14 years to be precise – I’ve heard a wide range of weird and wonderful misconceptions that people have about what it means—and what it doesn’t mean—to be a Christian. For the most part, those weird and wonderful ideas have come from non-believers who have yet to grasp what “Christian” is and isn’t. But some of the misconceptions have come from those who attend church regularly, and who will call themselves “Christians”. I’ve heard people say that Jesus was just a man who modelled what God wanted us to be like. I’ve heard others discount the virgin birth as both impossible and a complete myth. Likewise, I’ve met people who believe that the nativity story happened exactly as it’s represented in school nativity plays—donkey and all. I’m not being critical, here. I’m just trying to paint a picture.

The most startling of the misconceptions I’ve heard, however, is that although Jesus was the Son of God, the resurrection didn’t actually happen. Now, for me, the resurrection is probably the linchpin of my faith. Everything I believe hangs on the truth that on the third day, Jesus rose from the grave and defeated death and hades. I kind of assumed that the resurrection was the most important part of the Christian faith for all Christians, but it turns out I was wrong. But as I said at the outset, I don’t believe that you can call yourself a Christian if you don’t believe in the resurrection, because, well, without the resurrection, the cross is simply an act of absolute barbaric cruelty. It’s cruel as a punishment in itself, but if you believe that Jesus was sinless (but don’t believe in the resurrection) then it’s utterly barbaric and inhumane…and what kind of God would stand by and watch His Son being crucified if He didn’t plan on using the cross as a jump-off point for the ultimate victory of resurrection and the defeat of the devil. Without the resurrection, the story ends with the victory of hell over heaven, not the other way around, and if you honestly believe that the devil has the victory then I’m sorry, but that’s not the Christian way of believing.

It’s not enough to just think that Jesus was the Son of God. It’s not enough to believe that He was good and sinless and that He did miracles and lived a perfect life as an example to us all. He did all of those things, and He is the perfect example of how we should live, but if He didn’t rise from the grave, then His mission was a failure, and the Christian faith would never have taken off in the way that it did.

The day after the crucifixion, the disciples were defeated and saddened. They believed that the mission was over, and they were disappointed. Their Messiah was dead, and they were fearing for their own lives as His followers. Saturday, the day after Good Friday and the day before Resurrection Sunday, is an awful place to be stuck, and that’s exactly where you’re stuck if you don’t believe in the resurrection. There can be no hope on Saturday if you don’t know that on Sunday, the tables are going to be turned, and Jesus is going to rise from the clutches of death with a cry of victory. It was only the resurrection that allowed the events of the book of Acts to take place, and if they hadn’t, there would be no Christian faith.

There can be no Christianity without resurrection, and no Christians without resurrection. It’s the most important event in Jesus’ mission, and it cannot simply be removed from a person’s theology simply because it doesn’t make logical sense. Nothing that Jesus ever did made logical sense. But I choose to call myself a Christian and believe that everything that He did and said was true—from His birth in Bethlehem to His ascension to Heaven 40 days after His resurrection. Every belief I have about Jesus is essential to my faith, but it is the resurrection that gives me hope and confidence in my faith. Without it, I’d be holding onto something empty and already defeated, and that would never be able to sustain me in the way that my true faith can.

3 thoughts on “The Cross without the Resurrection = Empty Faith (Faith Matters)”

  1. Awesome post! I didn’t know that there were so many people who believed the Bible but not in the resurrection. After all, Jesus raised others from the dead. He is risen and He is resurrecting us!

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