Raised With Christ: How the Resurrection Changes Everything
The apostle Paul cut to the core of Christianity with his statement on the Resurrection: "But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain" (1 Cor. 15:13-14). So why do some Christians seem to neglect the Resurrection? And if Jesus Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, what are the implications for how we live? Adrian Warnock, a prominent blogger and part of the leadership team at London's Jubilee Church, explores these and other questions in an interview about his new book, Raised With Christ: How the Resurrection Changes Everything.
Jesus was miraculously raised from the dead nearly 2,000 years ago. We're about to celebrate that event with Easter, just as we do every year. So what was your particular burden for today in writing Raised With Christ?
It is interesting that most Christians talk about the Cross often, and yet we seem to only speak about the Resurrection at Easter. I have also noticed that there is a big contrast between our preaching today, which tends to assume the Resurrection while emphasizing the Cross, and the preaching of the book of Acts, which does the exact opposite, speaking far more about the Resurrection and how it has saved us. Charles Spurgeon noticed this neglect in his day as well, and argued that if our preaching better matched the book of Acts, we would see more people become Christians.
But it is not just preaching. When speaking about the gospel to unbelievers, before I got into studying the Resurrection, often I would bring them to the Cross and leave them there without even mentioning that Jesus had risen again. I am now convinced that if we do that we have only done half of the job. Without explicitly proclaiming the Resurrection, we have not declared the biblical gospel at all. We must also explain the implications of this event. If our understanding of how Jesus saved us makes the Resurrection almost an optional extra, it is clearly deficient.
How did the disciples begin to comprehend what happened with the Resurrection? Is there precedent in the Old Testament?
In my book there is a chapter about Old Testament references to resurrection. It is entitled "Glimpses of Resurrection" because these allusions often are really only hints. By the time of Jesus, however, there were many Jews who, like the Pharisees, believed in the idea of a physical resurrection for believers. Although there are three examples of resurrections in the Old Testament, no one had yet risen to never die again. A careful reading of some of the suffering servant prophecies might have led people to believe that the servant would be raised after his death. But Jews did not tend to apply those promises to the Messiah, preferring to think of him as a conquering king. Therefore, despite Jesus' repeated predictions of his own death and resurrection, it seems his disciples were not fully expecting what happened.
What do you find to be the most compelling evidence for believing that the Resurrection truly happened?
There is no historical doubt whatsoever that a man called Jesus lived and was crucified 2,000 years ago. It is also without dispute that a group arose quickly after his death claiming he was risen. Despite the apparent absurdity of such a claim and vigorous attempts to persecute them off the face of the earth, this group grew quicker than any other before or since. Soon the whole Roman Empire became a Christian state without a sword being raised by the all-conquering new faith. This remarkable growth is impossible to explain without the Resurrection.
What do Christians lose when they lose sight of the Resurrection?
Everything. Without the Resurrection, the Cross is a meaningless tragedy. Without the Resurrection, Jesus could not have been our Savior, and certainly was not divine. Without the Resurrection, we have no hope for our future. We would still be dead in our sins. We could not know the wonder of having the same power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead living in us. We would not know the joy of our salvation.
Paul tells us in Romans 4:25 that Jesus died for our sins but was raised for our justification. I believe justification is more than merely a declaration that it is "just as if we had never sinned." Jesus was himself justified by his resurrection. He was vindicated and demonstrated to still be righteous. Because of the vast extent of the credit to his account, our sins are not just wiped away, but through his resurrection, Jesus' righteousness is credited to our account. God sees the true Christian in the same way as if he had lived his entire life and had never sinned once. That is a glorious liberating truth that we can only grasp when we meditate on the implications of the Resurrection!
How might we begin to live differently if we started to grasp what God did by raising Jesus from the dead?
Through prayerful meditation on the Resurrection, we encounter the risen Jesus as a real person who is very much alive and active today. When Jesus stops being a departed hero to us and becomes a living friend who has changed our life, surely we will want to share that with others. Sin will also lose its appeal when we realize it is offending the risen and conquering Lord of glory. The more we gaze on Jesus, the more we will become like him.
The Resurrection also gives us an incredible hope to face the troubles in our lives. This world really is not the end. The day is coming when, with renewed bodies, we will all meet again, and we will see Jesus face-to-face! There will be no more pain, no more sin, no more death.
What other resources would you recommend for Christians who want to learn more about the Resurrection?
There are a number of helpful works on the apologetics of the Resurrection. In particular, any of the works of Gary Habermas would be invaluable in that regard, and I lean on his work in my own chapter on that subject. N. T. Wright has written the definitive textbook on the Resurrection. While writing Raised With Christ, I affectionately nicknamed his massive volume, The Resurrection of the Son of God, "the big green book." Don't be put off by his work if, like me, you largely disagree with him on justification. You won't be disappointed with his work on the Resurrection.
Sam Allberry has written Lifted, which is a fantastic slim volume that succinctly explains some of the practical effects of the Resurrection on us today. His book is more devotional than mine, and the two of them complement each other. We were both writing at the same time, before having met each other, and having separately come to the same conclusion that the church today is dangerously neglecting the Resurrection.
Collin Hansen is a CT editor at large and co-author of the forthcoming book, A God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories That Stretch and Stir (Zondervan).
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Raised With Christ: How the Resurrection Changes Everything is available from ChristianBook.com and other book retailers.
Previous Theology in the News columns available on our site include:
'We're All Theologians' | But is it the best or worst of times for doctrine? (March 8, 2010)
Dearth of Jobs, Death to the Family? | Where others have failed, the church must meet society's looming challenge. (February 22, 2010)
Why Pope John Paul II Whipped Himself | New book reopens questions on self-denial and "what is lacking in Christ's afflictions." (February 8, 2010)