If a person want to be a Christian we have to ask what are the essential beliefs and what are not? We must believe in Christ Jesus as our Saviour, He is God but became a man for a period of time then He died, even though He was not a sinner. However that is not enough, it is essential that a person believes in the bodily resurrection of Christ to be a Christian. Why is a belief in the truth of the resurrection so important? Paul discusses this in 1 Cor 15.
- There are three aspects to Christ’s ministry on earth: His past ministry, His present ministry and His future ministry. His past ministry is complete however His present and future ministry both require that He is alive, that is, He cannot complete either His present or His future ministry unless He is alive.
- We know from Eph 1: 20; Col 3: 1; Heb 1: 3, 13 that He is now seated that the right hand of the Father in glory and this is the basis of His present ministry. After Christ rose from the grave, He remained on earth for forty days before He returned to heaven (Acts 1: 3-9). He returned to heaven in bodily form so we know that there is the risen, glorified man Christ Jesus who is seated at the right hand of the Father in glory.
- At this stage Christ is the last Adam and the head of the new creation (1 Cor 15: 42-49; Gal 6: 15; Eph 1: 22; Col 1: 18).
- Christ is the head of the body of Christ (Col 1 18; 2: 19).
- Christ is the great shepherd of the sheep (John 10: 11, 12, 14; Heb 13: 20).
- Christ is the True Vine in His relationship with the branches (John 15: 1).
- Christ the the Chief Cornerstone in relation the the church as living stones in the building (1 Pet 2: 4, 5; see also Matt 21: 42; Acts 4: 11).
- Christ is the High Priest in relationship to the church as a royal priesthood (Heb (9: 11; 1 Pet 2: 9).
- Christ is the bridegroom in relation to the church as the bride (Rev 19: 7; 21: 9).
- As the last Adam the Lord Jesus is the one who brings life every day in the same way that the first Adam brought death on to every person; a death that they experience every day. On the day that Adam sinned he died (Rom 5: 12-14): Adam died in two ways that day; he immediately died spiritually when his relationship with God was destroyed and he began the slow process of physical death. In the same way when a person trusts in Christ he begins spiritual life straight away as his relationship with God is immediately restored and the slow process of sanctification begins to work in his life reversing the emotional death that follows from the death of sin.
- As the head of the body Christ acts in a leadership role in the church. This is more than the human concept of leadership would explain. As the head, Christ acts in an organic way in the church in the same way as the head of a body acts in an organic way to control the body.
- As the Great Shepherd of the Sheep Christ acts to feed and care for the flock day by day. In John 10: 16 the Lord explained that he had come to bring all his sheep together into one flock. There is only room for one Great Shepherd when there is one flock. As Christ stands before the Father in glory he is a constant reminder that each of us is his sheep and we all come under his care and protection.
- As the True Vine Christ provides sustenance, and in fact life, to the church. He is the source of all life and any growth comes from him. As long as we remain in Christ we will bear fruit and without him we can achieve nothing. It is interesting to note that we may seem to be achieving things and other people might assume that we are achieving things but unless we abide in the branch we achieve nothing.
- The idea of the Chief Cornerstone can be seen from any building. The cornerstone defines the shape and size of the building. No other stone can perform the same function. Christ defines the church (compare Mark 1).
- The role of the High Priest is to represent the people to God and God to the people. As the risen, glorified and ascended Saviour he is in a position to do that better than any other person in creation.
- Christian marriage is a wonderful picture of the church. Christ is the bridegroom and currently he is preparing for the marriage of the church and the Lamb. Also the bridegroom is an incentive for the bride to prepare herself for the wedding day by day.
- There were three parts of the marriage process in Israel at the time that Christ lived there as a man: the first part was when all the legal arrangements were made and a contract for the marriage was completed. At this stage the families were satisfied that the wedding would take place and there was nothing to stop the wedding from taking place. This happened when Christ died on the cross, all the legal requirements were completely satisfied, our sin was judged on the cross when Christ paid the penalty. The second part of the wedding process occurred when the bridegroom went to the bride’s home and took her so that he could bring her to the wedding supper. This will occur when Christ returns to the air to take His people away with Him at the rapture as described in 1 Thes 4: 17 but is also mentioned in 1 Cor 15. At this stage all the member of the church will be taken away to meet the Lord in the air and then we will remain with Him forever. The third stage of the marriage was when the actual ceremony took place and the process was finally complete. This is discussed in Rev 19. It is absolutely essential that the bridegroom be alive so that the second and third stages of the wedding ceremony can take place.
- As part of the wedding ceremony the living Christ is in the process of preparing for the ceremony and preparing the place for the bride to stay (John 14: 1-3).
- In the future, Christ will return to the earth riding on a white horse and He will destroy the armies who have gathered together under the beast to fight against Him and His people. He will then rule the earth with a rod of iron for a thousand years and will put down the last great rebellion before His enemies will be judged and cast into the Lake of Fire forever. He will then bring in the new heaven and the new earth and will reign in peace for eternity. At that time there will be no need for the sun because the the Lord Himself will be the light Rev 22: 5)
The question that we are considering today is why is the resurrection important for the Christian? We have considered the present and future roles of Christ in the world and can see that none of the roles could be fulfilled properly unless the Lord Christ is alive. It is impossible for Him to prepare a place for us or for Him to prepare for the wedding supper of the Lamb unless He is alive. Paul told us that if Chris is not alive our faith is a waste of time and we are still sinners. If our hope is only for the present then we have nothing to look forward to and we might as well forget about being Christians and do whatever we can to make the most of the present.
However, Christ is alive and that means that we have a present hope as well as a future, eternal hope. As long as Christ is alive He is making sure that every one of His promises will be kept. When someone is dead they can do nothing about their promises but Christ is alive and all His promises are secure.