Resurrection – greatest miracle or greatest delusion?

The Christian church rests on the resurrection of its Founder. Without this fact the church could never have been born, or if born, it would soon have died a natural death. The miracle of the resurrection and the existence of Christianity are so closely connected that they must stand or fall together. If Christ was raised from the dead, then all his other miracles are sure, and our faith is impregnable; if he was not raised, he died in vain and our faith is vain. It was only his resurrection that made his death available for our atonement, justification and salvation; without the resurrection, his death would be the grave of our hopes; we should be still unredeemed and under the power of our sins. A gospel of a dead Saviour would be a contradiction and wretched delusion. This is the reasoning of St. Paul, and its force is irresistible. The resurrection of Christ is therefore emphatically a test question upon which depends the truth or falsehood of the Christian religion. It is either the greatest miracle or the greatest delusion which history records (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Locations 3292-3300).

When Schaff makes reference to the apostle Paul, he is clearly thinking of 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul writes:

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. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins (1 Corinthians 15:13-17).

There is no gray area here. If you deny the resurrection, putting your faith in the Jesus of the Bible is utter foolishness. The entire Bible is focused on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. The Old Testament points forward to him. The New Testament describes the fulfillment of his mission and points forward to his return. All of this hinges on the resurrection. Every last bit of it.

You can deny it if you wish, but you do so at the peril of your very soul and eternity. Because, if Jesus truly did rise from the dead on that Easter morning nearly 2000 years ago, you have a living God to whom you are accountable. And the Bible warns us:

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31).

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