A STUDY BY
GARY RAY BRANSCOME
The Christian religion is founded on the truth of
Christ’s resurrection, and could not exist if Christ had never risen
from the dead. He left behind no philosophy or organization to hold His
followers together. Nevertheless, all believers are bound to Him in a
way that transcends ideology and organization, for our hope stems from
the knowledge that He rose from the dead. Because He lives we know that
He is who he claimed to be, that He has triumphed over death, and that
we “have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins,
according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7). [Galatians 3:13,
Hebrews 2:14, 1Corinthians 15:14,19, 1Peter 1:3.]
CHRIST WAS WHO HE CLAIMED TO BE
During Christ’s sojourn on earth, He identified
Himself with the Father, and even said that He and the Father were one.
In other words, to know Jesus is to know the Father and to see Jesus is
to see the Father (John 10:30, John 14:8,9). In a less obvious way, He
also claimed to be God by calling Himself the “Good Shepherd,” and
claiming to have the power to lay down His “life for His sheep” and “to
take it again” (John 10:11-18, Psalm 23:1). However, we know that His
claim was no idle boast, because He rose from the dead. On the
contrary, Jesus showed no inclination to boast. Instead, He set an
example by His humility and willingness to serve. Moreover, if He had
not been telling the truth He would have died as a sinner, death would
have triumphed over Him, and God would never have raised Him from the
dead. At the same time, He saw no reason to deny who He was, even
though the Jews sought to kill Him for it. [John 13:1-15, Philippians
2:5-8, John 10:27-33, John 5:18,23, John 19:7, John 8:58,59, John
17:5,24, John 20:28, Colossians 1:17, Revelation 1:8,11, Exodus 3:14.]
CHRIST WAS WITHOUT SIN
Since atonement can only be made by one who is
without spot or blemish, Christ would not have been acceptable to God
as an offering to atone for our sins if He had been guilty of any
transgression (Exodus 12:5, Numbers 19:2,9, Isaiah 53:9-11). If Christ
had sinned, that sin would have made Him a slave of Satan, and it would
have been impossible for Him to triumph over death (Romans 6:16,
Hebrews 2:14). Therefore, you can be certain that Satan wanted Christ
to sin. And if Christ had been only a man and nothing more, Satan would
have been able to confuse Him and bring Him under his power as easily
as he did Adam. [Hebrews 4:15, Hebrews 9:28, Hebrews 10:4, Matthew
3:17, Luke 9:35, Romans 5:19, Jude 9.]
BECAUSE CHRIST LIVES WE ALSO SHALL
Since “the wages of sin is death” the very fact that
we are going to die is proof that we are sinners, and the fact that we
cannot keep ourselves from dying is proof that we need a Savior (Romans
6:23). The good news is that we have a Savior because Christ defeated
death. Moreover, the words, “The gift of God is eternal life through
Jesus Christ our Lord,” tell us that eternal life is a gift (Romans
6:23). We do not have to do anything to earn it or make ourselves
worthy of it. On the contrary, Christ has already obtained it for us!
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that
whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting
life” (John 3:16).
In other words, we are the ones who deserved to die!
However, Christ not only loved us enough to take our sins upon Himself
and die in our place, but the fact that He rose from the dead is proof
that God accepted His death as the payment for our sin (1Peter 3:18).
Our salvation depends upon what He did, not what we do. No sin is ever
imputed to those who trust in Him. [Hebrews 10:12, Romans 4:6-8 and
11:6, Luke 18:13, Luke 23:42,43, Ephesians 2:8,9, 1John 4:9, 2Timothy
2:11, John 11:25, John 14:19, 2Corinthians 13:4, Romans 6:8, John
3:16,36, 1Corinthians 15:22.]
The good news that Christ died for our sins and rose
again in victory over death is the very heart and center of the gospel,
for it is only through the knowledge of His victory over death that we
can face death without fear (1Corinthians 15:1-4). In fact, because our
salvation depends on what He did rather than what we do, we see death
as a triumph not a tragedy. For that reason, first century Christians
often saw the death of a believer as an opportunity to share the hope
of the resurrection with the unsaved friends and relatives of the
departed. If some of those unsaved friends and relatives accepted
Christ and were baptized in the hope of being reunited with their loved
one at the resurrection, they were literally being baptized for [i.e.
in order to be reunited with] their dead relative (1Corinthians 15:29).
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!
1. What is the Christian religion
2. What does our hope stem from?
3. How do we know that Christ triumphed over death?
4. What did Jesus mean when He said that He and the Father were one?
5. What does the fact that Christ rose prove?
6. If Christ had been guilty of sin, would He have been acceptable to
7. Could a mere man resist the power and wiles of Satan?
8. What is the fact that you are going to die proof of?
9. What is the proof that God has accepted Christ's sacrifice?
10.What is the heart and center of the gospel?