Introduction to Resurrection and Easter Faith

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Audio (4:24)

"Resurrection" (1512-1516), by Matthias Grünwald (German painter, c. 1480-1528), 106x112-1/2 in. The Isenheim Alterpiece (Diptych), Musée d'Unterlinden, Colmar. Larger image.

It seems like the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is always under attack from one quarter or another.

In March 2007, "Titanic" director James Cameron made news by promoting a documentary claiming the discovery of "The Lost Tomb of Jesus,"1 purporting to contain the ossuaries of Jesus' family -- Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and their child Judah. Besides being based on bogus research and shoddy scholarship, it is an insult to Christians who know there aren't any bones to be found. Christ is risen!

But unfortunately this kind of attack isn't confined to non-Christians. Retired Episcopalian Bishop John Shelby Spong reduces the disciples' proclamation of the resurrection of Christ to a way of saying that "in the particular life of the spirit person Jesus, they saw not only God, but also a picture of what each of us might look like in our fulfilled spirit state."2

German theologian Rudolf Bultmann ascribed the accounts of the resurrection to subjective visions that Jesus' disciples experienced.3 Professor Gerd Lüdemann wrote that Jesus' body may be rotting in the ground, but to the question, "Can we still be Christians?" one can answer a confident "Yes."4 Huh?

The truth about the resurrection matters. If Jesus wasn't raised bodily from the dead then Christianity is a sham, a pious fraud, a failure. Paul wrote some twenty centuries ago:

"And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men." (1 Corinthians 15:17-19)

Our study begins with the assumption that the Bible accounts should be taken seriously. We don't reject resurrection out of hand because it requires a belief in miracles. Instead, we seek to understand what the scriptures actually say about the subject.

Resurrection and Easter Faith, by Ralph F. Wilson
Now all the lessons are available together in e-book and printed book formats.

First, we examine resurrection from its earliest mentions in the Old Testament to Jesus' teaching about resurrection. Then we look at the accounts in each of the four gospels to determine to the best of our ability exactly what took place that Easter morning. Next, we survey alternate explanations of the resurrection and discuss the strong facts of the resurrection which underlie our belief in Christ's physical resurrection from the dead. Then we explore the theological and practical implications of Christ's resurrection. Finally, we consider what the New Testament teaches about our own resurrection on the Last Day.

My prayer is that as you study about the resurrection your knowledge will be increased, your faith grounded solidly in the Word of God, and your hope polished to see ahead the return of Christ and your own resurrection at the Last Day.

Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Wildwood, Loomis, California
Lent 2007


  1. "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" (VisionTV, 2007).
  2. John Shelby Spong, Why Christianity Must Change or Die (HarperSanFrancisco, 1998), pp. 115-117.
  3. Rudolf Bultmann, Kerygma and Myth (SPCK, 1953), pp. 38-42, cited by Paul Beasley-Murray, The Message of the Resurrection (Inter-Varsity Press, 2000), p. 242.
  4. Gerd Luedemann, The Resurrection of Jesus: History, Experience, Theology (translated by John Bowden; Fortress Press, 1994), p. 180-183.

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