What is the Theological and Practical Significance of Christ's Resurrection?
I’ve heard people say that Christ accomplished redemption by His resurrection. But that’s not quite right. It’s more accurate to say that Christ’s righteous life and death accomplished redemption. Christ’s resurrection, however, is the application of redemption. Redemption means “to be bought out of bondage and set free.” Christ’s resurrection was His own redemption. His righteous life and death bought Him out of bondage to the curse of death and freed Him to resurrection and eternal life. That’s because Christ’s life and death fulfilled God’s law, satisfied God’s justice, and therefore deserved to be rewarded with resurrection to eternal life.
Various texts that teach that Christ’s righteous death caused His resurrection. Hebrews 2:9 says that “Jesus” was “crowned with glory and honor [resurrection] because of the suffering of death.” The word “because” in Hebrews 2:9 shows that Christ’s suffering and death was the ground of His resurrection. Because Christ’s righteousness and death satisfied the law and purchased life, God was legally bound by His own justice to raise Christ from the dead.
Similarly, Hebrews 13:20 says, “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant.” Don’t miss the significance of the preposition “by.” God brought Christ back from the dead “by” the blood of the eternal covenant. Christ’s blood was instrumental in His resurrection. The blood of Christ was a causal means of His resurrection. Commenting on this verse, John Brown writes, “The words before us do not so much represent the resurrection as an act of mere power, as an act of rectoral justice.” In other words, Christ’s blood made Him legally deserving of His own resurrection.
In John 12:24, Christ said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” The death of a seed is the source and cause of its new life. In the same way, Christ’s righteous death is the source and cause of His resurrection to eternal life.
What’s the significance of this? There’s a good deal of theological and practical significance here.
1. Some Theological Implications of the Resurrection
Definite Atonement. The resurrection proves that Christ’s blood definitely produces resurrection and life. That means everyone for whom Christ bled and died will definitely be raised to eternal life with Him. None of Christ’s blood fails to accomplish life because it is powerful to redeem. Ephesians 2:5-6 says that God, “even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him.”
No Universal Atonement. Non-Calvinistic proponents of universal atonement teach that Christ died for the sins of people who will never live eternally. But the causal relationship between Christ’s death and resurrection makes that impossible. If Christ’s blood doesn’t necessarily purchase life, then God could have justly left Christ in the grave. An ineffectual universal atonement implies that Easter didn’t have to happen. But we’ve seen that Christ’s death caused His resurrection (Heb 2:9; 13:20; Jn 12:24; see also Phil 2:8-9); therefore, universal atonement cannot be true.
Irresistible Grace and Preservation of the Saints. Since Christ’s death purchases resurrection and life, then everyone for whom Christ died must also experience resurrection life with Him. Christ’s death for them means that they must be regenerated (a resurrected heart), justified (the resurrection verdict), preserved (a resurrected life), and glorified (the future resurrection). The resurrection means that Christ’s blood is effectual for total redemption. 1 Peter 1:3b-4 says, “He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”
No Apostasy of Genuine Believers. Classical Arminians, and others, teach that genuine believers, united to Christ and His blood, may fall away from Christ and perish eternally in hell. But it’s impossible for those washed in Christ’s blood to perish because Christ’s death guarantees resurrection and life. 1 Corinthians 6:14 says, “God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.” To be consistent, those who think it’s possible for those genuinely covered in Christ’s blood to commit apostasy would need to say that Christ might have justly remained dead.
New Heaven and New Earth. Christ’s blood not only purchased eternal life for the elect, but it also purchased resurrection life for the whole created order. Christ’s resurrection is the firstfruits of the (resurrected) new heaven and the (resurrected) new earth. This will be the redeemed place where God’s redeemed people will worship Him forever.
2. Some Practical Implications of the Resurrection
Assurance of Salvation. Everyone who trusts Christ’s blood can be sure that he has eternal life with Christ. The blood of Jesus guarantees everlasting life. Those covered by His blood will certainly live forever. This is a great comfort to all who trust in Him. 2 Corinthians 4:14 says, “He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence”
Strength to Persevere. Because Christ’s blood has made our hearts new creations, we can be encouraged to resist sin, grow in obedience, and love others as we have been loved. We know we’re able to resist sin, to grow in obedience one day at a time because the power of Christ’s death is certainly working His resurrection within us. Paul says, “Consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body to make you obey its passions” (Rom 6:11-12).
Perseverance in Trial. The fact that Christ’s blood purchased our future resurrection means that we can obey Christ no matter what it costs us. Obedience may cost us this-worldly pleasure, personal gratification, and comfort. It may even cost us our lives. But we lose nothing in obeying Christ because His blood guarantees our future resurrection to eternal life with Christ. The resurrection is one of the greatest motives in our obedience. Colossians 3:1 says, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is.”
Missions and Evangelism. Since Christ’s blood certainly purchased resurrection life for all of His people, missions and evangelism cannot fail. We never have to get discouraged in this difficult work. We can confidently preach the gospel knowing for certain that all those for whom Christ died will certainly respond and live.
Believer, when you celebrate Christ’s resurrection this weekend, remember that it proves the efficacy of His death for you. Christ’s resurrection means that when He bore your sins in His body on the tree, He completely satisfied God’s justice, and you are not guilty. His resurrection proves that you will live forever with Christ. His resurrection is evidence that Christ’s death greatly pleased and glorified God. So, when you think on Christ’s resurrection, give glory to God for the power of Christ’s death and for all the saving blessings it purchased.