Why I am a Christian Part III: A Resurrected Hope

As presented in Part I and Part II, I can confidently say I am a Christian because it is true that Christ was resurrected. “We are now faced with the sentence, ‘Jesus was bodily raised from the dead.’ What does this mean?”[1]  

After I became a Christian, I remember reading the Left Behind books. If you are not familiar with them, I would recommend it stays that way. They were fictional accounts of what the end times may be like from a “Biblical” perspective. As a newer Christian, I was not aware of the complexities of understanding eschatology and varying views of interpreting the Book of Revelation. I had an “escapism” mentality of my faith. I understood my faith as this: Pray the sinner’s prayer, do good to make God happy, and wait until one day I’m swept up into heaven for eternity. And thanks to the Left Behind books, I was assured I’d be part of the rapture and mysteriously disappear one day. No suffering for me! The resurrection was God’s means to give me my get out of hell free card, and that was it. My hope was one day, I would escape this world and be with God. In a way, the resurrection of Jesus meant very little to me in my day-to-day life.

However, was that the view of the first Christians who witnessed the resurrected Christ? Was the resurrection just a signpost for an escape at some unknown future time?

N.T. Wright outlines three implications the physical resurrection had on the first Christians.[2] First, it revealed Jesus as the messianic Son of God. The hope of Israel was fulfilled, and death had been defeated. The problem of evil was solved in the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Second, the resurrection established the lordship of God over the entire world. Wright argues the early church saw it as an act that affirmed the goodness of creation. That is was the “ultimate affirmation that creation matters, that embodied human beings matter.”[3] Third, it proved Jesus was God’s son and Lord of all and had “become personally present in the world.”[4] The resurrection was the center point of understanding the “here but not yet” tension of God’s kingdom. This life, this world does matter because God has begun his new creation, taking back the world from death, in the resurrection of Jesus. 

Timothy Keller often speaks to how any true worldview (or religion) needs to be both intellectually credible and existentially satisfying. As mentioned in Part II, between the classical arguments for God’s existence and the evidence for the resurrection, Christianity is rich with intellectual credibility. Likewise, the reasons why Christianity “works” and is thoroughly satisfying to one’s soul is plentiful. Understanding the resurrection’s meaning, away from heavenly escapism, has blessed me with a new and more robust hope in many troubled seasons. 

The resurrection of Christ reminds us that there will be a new heaven and new earth – a physical one – in which Christ’s followers will partake in a bodily resurrection. A place where there will be no more tears and all pain – emotional, mental, and physical – will be undone (Revelation 21:1-4). However, because Christ has been resurrected, God’s kingdom is here now and presents to the believer “a new life through which new possibilities are available in the present.”[5] The Christian hope is not just looking to the future but also to “let the present ‘heavenly’ life change the present earthly reality.”[6] God’s kingdom work is active now, and while the Christian will feel the effects of sin and death, they hold no power (Romans 8:37 – 39).

If the resurrection is true, the claim upon our lives is inescapable. It means spiritual reality does exist. It means the impact of sin is real, yet so is grace. It means we stand guilty before God, yet we are offered forgiveness by faith alone. It means darkness does exist, yet we can live in the light. It means that when Jesus says he is the way, the truth, and the life, that no one comes to God except through Him (John 14:6), He is saying we can only know ultimate reality through him. And by knowing Him, we have a new hope that cannot be taken away as we partake today in God’s kingdom while waiting for the “redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23). 

[1] N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 719.

[2] Wright, The Resurrection, 723 – 738.

[3] Ibid., 730.

[4] Ibid., 733.

[5] Ibid., 447.

[6] Ibid., 355.

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