The Focal Point of Christianity
by Gil Rugh
The resurrection of Christ, which is recorded in all four gospels, is the point on which Christianity stands or falls.
The salvation that Christ provided was through His death on the cross. Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death.” This means that the penalty that had to be paid to redeem us from sin was death. No other currency could cancel our debt of sin—not good works, or baptism or religious things—only death.
When Christ said, “It is finished” and bowed His head and dismissed His Spirit (John 19:30), the work of redemption was complete and accomplished because the wages of death had been paid in full.
When sinners come to believe that Christ died for them personally, they are cleansed, forgiven, and made new creatures in Christ.
Although Christ’s death paid our penalty in full, the resurrection is the crucial focal point of Christianity because it provides proof that Christ is the Son of God as He claimed to be and that His death was sufficient to provide salvation for all who will believe in Him. The resurrection testifies to the validity and effectiveness of the death of Christ on the cross. If Christ had not risen from the dead, His death could not have provided salvation because He wouldn’t have proven Himself to be God—and God alone can provide forgiveness from sin.
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul wrote the fullest development of the doctrine of the resurrection anywhere in Scripture. The chapter opens with an unfolding of the facts of the gospel of Christ. Paul wrote:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time (1 Cor. 15:3-6).
The whole issue of resurrection was under consideration as Paul wrote, for there were some at Corinth who denied a literal bodily resurrection. Paul explained why the bodily resurrection was crucial to Christianity:
But if there is no resurrection from the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain (1 Cor. 15:13, 14).
If Christ was not literally and bodily resurrected, then it is totally worthless and of no value to preach about Him. Furthermore, it is of absolutely no value for anyone to place their faith in Jesus Christ.
There are many men preaching today who deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, yet they preach about the love of Christ, the greatness of the life of Christ, and the importance of following the example of Christ. But the testimony of the Word of God is that if Christ has not been bodily raised from the dead, then that preaching is of no value.
Paul said it again in 1 Corinthians 15:17-19:
If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.
Paul said if Christ was not raised from the dead, and yet people were talking about Him, preaching about Him, and believing in Him, those people would be believing in a hoax! They might just as well believe in any other man or woman who ever died. They would get just as much value out of that faith as they would faith in Christ if He did not bodily rise from the grave.
There is almost universal agreement among liberal theologians as well as biblical theologians that Christ died. But there is great debate over His resurrection. This battleground is the focal point of Christianity, because the validity of our faith depends on it.