“Are you confident that, if you died tonight, you would go to heaven?” So goes a typical evangelistic lead in to the gospel. I have heard a version of this phrase used often. Yet I wonder how appropriate it really is as a motivation for responding to the gospel centered on Christ’s death and resurrection. While the Bible gives ample evidence for the reality of heaven, the place where Christ is seated (Eph. 1:20) and where we will be with Him at death, the Bible is equally clear that heaven is not our final destination. And the death and resurrection of Christ proves it.
Christ’s resurrection from the dead is a reminder of the physical nature of God’s plan for redemption and our own future existence. Paul puts it most clearly in 1 Corinthians 15, where he argues for the absolute necessity of not only Christ’s resurrection, but also our own. In this chapter, Paul argues that Christ’s resurrection did far more than prove Jesus was who He said He was: the Son of God. It also guarantees the future resurrection of our own physical bodies. Christ’s resurrection is the “firstfruits” (v. 28) of the resurrection of all who are in Christ.
This is more than a nice bonus we get for enduring our earthly suffering. Our resurrection is necessary. In verse 26, Paul reminds us that the last enemy Christ will destroy is death. But if we are not raised physically, then death still has the final word. Death still has its sting (v. 55). Only when we are raised physically will death finally be “swallowed up in victory” (v. 54). If we are not raised in the future, death wins. But Christ’s resurrection guarantees our future resurrection, and that one day death will meet its demise!
I have the privilege of living on the beautiful setting of Ebenezer Lutheran Church. But I often find myself thinking, Can you imagine a world stripped of all the effects of sin and death? The resurrection of Christ reminds us that we look forward to such a world. And that is a future worth sacrificing this present world to reach!
Prayer: I know that my Redeemer lives!
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, he lives, who once was dead;
He lives, my ever living head! Amen.