Following the fundamentals of Christian faith
The simplest explanation of fundamental Christian faith was first articulated by the apostle Paul in his words recorded in the first Epistle to the Corinthians 15:3-5 “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” Through the years, theologians have added more details to the apostles’ statement in what we call, “Creeds and catechisms.” However, the one fact that is emphasized as greatest in importance in all of Paul’s writings and for that matter, in the writing of the other apostles, is the last phrase, “and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” Most all the great Christian creeds include the statement, “I believe in the resurrection of the body.”
It is surprising then, that surveys show that of Americans who say they believe in a resurrection, two thirds do not believe in a bodily resurrection. Randy Alcorn, author of a highly acclaimed book called, Heaven, writes: “This is self-contradictory. A nonphysical resurrection is like a sunless sunrise. There is no such thing. The very word, ‘resurrection,’ means a recovery and reanimation of a physical body that was dead.”
Paul goes on to argue the supreme importance of a bodily resurrection in verses 12-17 of this same chapter. “Now if Christ is preached that he has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty, and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ, whom he did not raise up — For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!
“Therefore, it would be correct to say that any religious or philosophical view of immortality and after life that excludes a bodily resurrection is unequivocally unchristian for the apostle writes that if Christ did not rise from the dead that we are still in our sins. To be sure, there is also a spiritual resurrection, described in John 3:3 as a born-again experience. Another passage in 1 Corinthians 5:17 describes it this way: ‘If any man be in Christ he is a new creature. Old things have passed away, all things have become new.’”
However, the resurrection of the physical body is also necessary because we are told that the new heaven and new Earth prophesied in Rev. 20:1-2, will be specifically created to accommodate millions of resurrected human beings in physical dwelling places on solid ground and many of them will live in a very large city called the New Jerusalem.