When I was in college, now more years ago than I care to admit, a friend of mine and I were discussing my new found Christian faith. I had not been a Christian long and he asked me a question that has stuck with me for well over forty years. An unbeliever, he asked, “I believe that historically Christ was crucified and arose from the dead, but what difference does it make?” At that time my answer to him was, “If you don’t embrace that truth with all your heart and submit yourself to the One who was raised from the dead, then it makes no difference in your personal life.”
I still abide by the answer that I gave as a nineteen year old, but after almost forty-five years of a relationship with the risen Christ of the cross I can expand upon my initial answer. The historical evidence for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is so overwhelming that only a hardened skeptic or one willingly ignorant of the facts would deny. So, what difference does it make that Christ was crucified and arose from the dead?
For me the Christ event, his death on the cross and resurrection, is the foundation of my confidence in life. How does the Christ event give us confidence in the various areas of our lives?
First, Christ’s death and resurrection gives us confidence in who He was and what He said. The fact that the Lord raised the Christ of the cross from the dead gives us confidence that He was who He said He was, the Son of the living God. The resurrection is God’s approval that Christ was the promised Messiah and Savior. It is hard not to have confidence in One who has been raised from the dead. Buddha, Mohammad, and other religious leaders of the past are still in the grave. Jesus was resurrected by the power of the Father, giving us confidence that He was more than just another religious leader, but He was who He said He was: the Son of God, the Word made flesh among us.
Second, the death and resurrection of Christ gives us confidence that God accepted the work of Christ for our forgiveness and reconciliation (a restored relationship with the Father). A perfect holy God demands perfect holiness in return, which imperfect humanity cannot comply. Christ came to live the holy life that you and I are incapable of living. But that is not all He came to do. Since holiness opposes sin, that which is unholy must be judged. You and I are sinners who cannot satisfy the perfect demands of holiness; therefore, judgment of our sin is our fate for not being able to comply. Christ, who knew no sin, became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21).
How can I be assured, how can I have confidence, that Christ fulfilled the perfect holy life which holiness demands, and how can I be sure He fulfilled the demands of judgment for humanity not being able to comply? That God raised Christ from the dead is proof and confirms that Christ’s life and work on the cross was accepted as complete and finished. The resurrection of Christ is God’s authenticating proof that I can have confidence that His life and death on the cross was sufficient for me to have my sins pardoned, to have a relationship with the Father and to someday dwell with Him in heaven.
Third, the death and resurrection of Christ gives us confidence that the Scriptures are true. All through the Book of Acts the Apostles interpreted the Christ-event by the Scriptures of the Old Testament. Over 300 OT prophecies were spoken by the prophets regarding the predicted Messiah. Jesus fulfilled to the letter every prophecy concerning the long awaited Messiah. How do we know He fulfilled them all perfectly? The resurrection is undeniable proof that he perfectly and completely fulfilled the prophecies, giving me confidence that the Scriptures are true. How do I know the Bible is true? I need no other argument than the resurrection light of Christ which reveals the Scriptures are true and can be trusted.
Fourth, the death and resurrection of Christ gives us confidence in the Holy Spirit. After Jesus arose from the dead, those frightened disciples, locked away for fear of suffering the same fate as Jesus, became men of courage and fearlessness. What happened? Christ empowered them with the Holy Spirit. Our resurrected Lord has promised to abide with each of His followers though the Holy Spirit who indwells. We can have confidence in the indwelling power and presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives because of the resurrection. His resurrection is the assurance He has given us a heavenly power that will sustain us through life’s trials, temptations, and tests. We can have the utmost confidence in the Holy Spirit because of Christ’s triumphant resurrection.
Fifth, the death and resurrection of Christ gives us confidence in the power of the Gospel Message. And what a message it is – God came and walked amongst us in Jesus Christ, lived a perfect life, willingly died on the cross for the sins of humanity and rose again on the third day. When that message is truly believed and embraced lives are changed. The resurrection gives us confidence that the message is true and that it has the ability to change a life (2 Cor. 5:17). When we read the Four Gospels and the Book of Acts we see how the message of Christ can change a life. That he arose gives us confidence that lives can be transformed when the message of His life, cross and resurrection is proclaimed and embraced.
Sixth, the death and resurrection of Christ gives us confidence when facing death. Death will visit us all eventually. It is appointed unto man once to die. What are we to do? The resurrection of Christ gives me confidence when death knocks on my door. Jesus, who was raised from the dead by the power of His Father, assures us, “Because I live, you shall live also” (John 14:19). Because Jesus overcame death and the grave, by faith in Him, we share in His victory. Christ’s victory was my and your victory. What a glorious truth to penetrate our hearts and souls, that because of His atoning death and resurrection we can have confidence in the face of death.
Yes, it has been well over forty years since my friend asked me, “So Christ was crucified and arose from the dead, what difference does it make?” Oh, what a difference the Christ event makes in the lives of those who believe His message and surrender to His grace and love!! If you have not experienced Christ’s saving power He invites you to come to Him today. All He did He did for you and me that we might know the power of His life in us, that we might live daily in the confidence of His atoning death and resurrection.