The resurrection is at the very heart of the gospel proclamation, We believe in and proclaim a living Lord and Saviour. The Apostle Paul spell this out very clearly in 1 Corinthians 15, he says
Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed. (1 Co 15:1–11 NIV)
Paul clearly presents the resurrection as an integral part of the gospel message, here we see that Paul emphasises the content of the Gospel. The Gospel message has meaning because it presents the work of Christ as something that happened in space and time and alters the course of history. We see here the importance of right doctrine, Paul would not have understood those who play down the importance of doctrine because he maintained that doctrine is something that transforms lives. We must never allow ourselves to moved from the central doctrines of the Christian faith, but rather we should see how they shape our lives. The doctrine of Christ’s death upon the cross as the only way to find forgiveness is asserted here, and it will be at the centre of all gospel proclamation.
Paul proclaims the reality of the resurrection of Christ as the basis for the Christian hope, it is only if Christ is risen that we can have any confidence for the future both in this life and for eternity. It is interesting to see how Paul developes his argument stressing in 1 Corinthians 15 the reality of the resurrection of Jesus and therefore the hope of our own resurrection, if Christ has not been raised from the dead we will not be either, but Christ is risen. The reality of the resurrection is something beyond our understanding because it means a complete transformation of our physical bodies. Paul says,
But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.
50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Co 15:35–57 NIV).
Paul here is explicitly showing us that our new bodies will be like that of the Lord Jesus, they will be transformed they will be perfect, free from any taint of sin and the weakness and brokeness of the fall. Notice he is not saying that we will just become ethereal spirits, but rather that our bodies will be redeemed. Greek thought saw the body as a prison which at death we will be released from, this is not the Biblical view, the Bible always maintains that our bodies were created good, and our salvation does not change that. We can look forward to serving our Lord in perfect bodies for all eternity. But according to Paul the resurrection is not only about the past and the future rather Christ’s resurrection and the hope of glory impact our own daily lives. The way Paul ends this chapter might surprise us but is full of encouragement for our daily lives. Paul closes this amazing chapter with these words,
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Co 15:58 NIV).
He tells us clearly here that this hope of the resurrection should strengthen us and enable us to realise that everything we do in the Lord is meaningful. This verse is incredible, it can fill us with hope because whatever we do to serve the Lord is not in vain, we often feel down and wonder if we are achieving anything in our Christian lives, Paul’s response is quite clear because of resurrection our life does have meaning. This passage contains some of Paul’s most brilliant thinking and yet he anchors it in our daily lives as we serve the Lord.
With this in mind we can glorify our risen Lord in our worship and in our daily lives, the message of Easter affects our live every day of the year, it is no wonder that the hymn writer said,
Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son; endless is the victory,thou o’er death hast won; angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away,
kept the folded grave clothes where thy body lay.
Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son,
Endless is the vict’ry, thou o’er death hast won.
Lo! Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb;
Lovingly he greets us, scatters fear and gloom;
let the Church with gladness, hymns of triumph sing;
for her Lord now liveth, death hath lost its sting. Refrain
No more we doubt thee, glorious Prince of life;
life is naught without thee; aid us in our strife;
make us more than conquerors, through thy deathless love:
bring us safe through Jordan to thy home above
Words: Edmond Budry (1854-1932), 1884;
trans. Richard Hoyle (1875-1939), 1923