Not Just About Us
I sit on several boards that interview people for positions of leadership in God’s church—missionaries, ministers, and the like. During those interviews we always ask the question, “Could you please explain or give a summary of the Christian gospel?” Now one thing that heartens me is the fact that people always mention the cross. But sadly, people rarely mention the resurrection in their summary of the gospel. When prompted, they say, “Yes, it’s important,” but it’s interesting that they didn’t mention it first. Sometimes we reduce the gospel down to, “My sins are forgiven and I’m going to heaven.” At one level that’s true, but at another level that’s very individualistic and it’s very reductionistic to say that the gospel is all about me.
Resurrection Changes Everything
Jesus’s resurrection does not only guarantee my resurrection, important though that is, but Jesus is going to raise the universe, the heavens and earth. He will usher in a new heaven and a new earth and we will be part of that. And so when we talk about salvation and the gospel in those categories, to not mention the resurrection is a very serious omission.
Jesus’s resurrection changes everything. It forgives the past, it assures us of the fact that God accepted the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, but it also assures us of the future.
One of the things we need to realize is the fact that Jesus was not raised to heaven, he was raised to earth. We often confuse the resurrection and the ascension, but the gospels all agree and they’re very clear about the fact that Jesus was raised and appeared on earth for forty days before he ascended to heaven. It’s this resurrection that is the same physical body that was placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. It’s this same resurrection that is the first fruits of our resurrection.
The resurrection is cosmic in its effects. Jesus’s resurrection changes everything, it forgives the past. It assures us of the fact that God accepted the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, but it also assures us of the future. The resurrection is the guarantee that the wrath of God has been appeased by the sacrifice of Jesus and it is also the guarantee of the new heavens and the new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Ian K. Smith is the author of Not Home Yet: How the Renewal of the Earth Fits into God's Plan for the World.
The New Testament answers the question about whether Christians at the point of death are in heaven with the comfort that they are “away from the body and at home with the Lord.”
There really are two kingdoms that are competing within the gospels. There is the kingdom that is ruled by Satan and there is the kingdom that is ruled by Jesus.
After the resurrection of Jesus, God sends the Holy Spirit, who fills not just Israel, but the whole earth with his glory.