I have to take exception to Dr. Bigalke’s statement on page 19 of his article, “Can Christians Change the World?” (September issue): “The resurrection of Christ is the central truth of the Gospel: it is central to conversion (1 Cor. 15:1-2).…” The central truth is Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and what His blood did for us and all mankind, for those willing to accept and believe it. It was Christ’s shed blood that paid our sin penalty. Those who come to the cross of Christ must repent and believe in Christ’s finished work on the cross. The resurrection is secondary and if Christ did not arise, then our faith is in vain and we are the most miserable. The rest of the article was good.
-C. Herrell, MO
I forwarded your letter to Dr. Bigalke, and here is his answer:
In your letter, you noted your exception to my statement that the resurrection of Jesus Christ “is the central truth of the gospel.”
I understand your initial response, yet
I encourage you to consider the emphasis upon Christ’s resurrection in First Corinthians 15 and within the Book of Romans. For instance, the former text indicates that the entire faith of the believer is based upon the Lord Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Verses 1-4, in particular, include the resurrection as one of two essential truths of the gospel message: (1) Christ died and was buried; and, (2) Christ was raised and appeared to many. A causal reading of the Book of Acts indicates that the resurrection was not only a vital component of the apostolic proclamation, but also it was normally the primary emphasis of each gospel message (2:24, 32; 3:15, 26; 4:10; 10:40; 13:30-37; 17:31; cf. 1 Cor 6:14; 2 Cor 4:14; Gal 1:1; Eph 1:20; Col 2:12; 1 Thess 1:10; 2 Tim 2:8; 1 Pet 1:21; 3:21; Rev 1:5; 2:8). The apostolic emphasis is understandable because only a living Jesus can actually save sinners from the penalty, power, and presence of sin. The fact that the entire system of Christian belief is based upon the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, indicates that the resurrection is the central truth of the gospel message. Verses 14-17 of 1 Corinthians affirm this central truth.
The provision for justification was accomplished by Jesus’ death upon Calvary’s cross. Jesus paid the penalty for sin, thus God is able to declare the repentant sinner as righteous (justified) on the basis of his/her faith in Jesus Christ. Romans 4:25 asserts that Jesus “was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.” Christ’s death was necessary to satisfy the righteous demands of God, and His resurrection was necessary for justification because it demonstrated God’s satisfaction with the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus.
Moreover, it is the resurrection that is the provision for the new life of the believer. Both the resurrection and ascension constituted Jesus as the new authority of the believer. The bondage to sin has been broken for the believer, and now Christ has rightful authority. The death of Christ removes the believer from the domain of sin, and the resurrection of Christ moves the believer into the domain of righteousness (Rom 6:1-11). The transfer from death to life allows the release of the Holy Spirit’s power to energize the believer in obedience to God (Rom 8:1-11). Many admit the necessity of the death of Jesus Christ, yet deny the importance of His resurrection. The entire Christian belief is based upon the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:12-19); thus, this doctrine is indeed the central truth of the gospel and of the Christian faith.