Naturally at Easter time, for most Evangelicals, thoughts turn to the resurrection. Almost every evangelical pulpit in America will have a message concentrated on or at least connected to the resurrection. This gives me pause to wonder.
In a recent study session on Isaiah 53, the last of the Servant Songs found in Isaiah, it seemed fairly evident that for all that Isaiah said about the servant and his sacrifice for sin, there was nothing said about the resurrection. This seemed a bit odd to me. Yes, in the NIV there is a comment that “he will see the light of life” but this phrase is spurrious at best. The NASB, ESV, AV, RSV, RV or the LTB do not have this wording. Which might cause one to conclude, even though the Masoretic Text has it, that it may not be part of the original. Even so, at best, it would be a backhanded reference to the resurrection. Which leads me to this question. Is the resurrection essential to salvation?
If we put things in some semblance of order it seems awareness of separation from God, confession and repentance of the sin that caused that separation, and a belief in Christ as the one who atoned for that sin and brings us back into a right relationship with God, is what constitutes salvation. If that is the case, then one wonder’s where the resurrection comes in.
Does the resurrection factor in, in some way? Is it essential to salvation? If Christ were not raised from the dead would that nullify his salvific work on the cross? Apparently so. Paul says “…If there is no resurrection of the dead then not even Christ was raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain…and you are still in your sins (1Cor 15:13-14, 17b ESV).”
It seems that the only way faith has foundation is through the resurrection of Christ. Through God’s great mercy “…he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…(1Pe 1:3 ESV).”
What should we say about those who believed in Christ before the resurrection might be similar to what we would say about them and their belief prior to his death. It seems irrelevant. They believed in the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the world and all that entails and that was sufficient. After the death and resurrection, there was a verification of Christ’s role and mission. And everything took on new meaning.
Praise God for Easter Morning!