The entire revelation of the Bible as God’s Word centres in the atonement–the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross and His triumphant resurrection. Atonement restores the sinner to God’s favour. It is a total reconciliation and union. Therefore the greatest event of all of history is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the heart of the Christian message. In fact, without the resurrection there is no Christian message. It all revolves around the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The key components of the Gospel are revealed through three simple historical facts–events that have actually taken place in human history and are attested by many reliable witnesses: He died, He was buried, and He rose again the third day.
There are three ways in which Christianity–based on these facts–differs from every other major religion. The first way is that Christianity is totally centred in a person: Jesus of Nazareth. It is not merely that He was the one who delivered the truths of the Gospel, but it is in His life and death and resurrection that the entire Gospel is centred. You cannot take away Jesus and have the Gospel. You cannot take away Jesus and have the New Testament. That is not true of other religions.
A second distinctive fact about Christianity is that it is rooted in history. It is not something subjective or theoretical. It is centred directly in human history. If the events on which it is based are true, then Christianity is true. If they are not true, then Christianity is not true. There is nothing in between. It is a complete commitment to a certain set of historical facts.
Third, Christianity claims that it will be verified in the personal experience of those who believe–and base their lives around–these three vital facts: Christ’s death, His burial, and His resurrection. Believing in Jesus and in these facts about Jesus will produce a supernatural transformation in the lives of everyone who believes.
Although the resurrection of Jesus is a historical fact, there are still many who reject it. I believe there are two main reasons for this: the first is psychological, the second is spiritual.
Psychologically, people do not wish to acknowledge the possibility of God’s direct, supernatural intervention in human affairs. They resent the thought that somehow God can change what they regard as a fixed course of events. And yet, there are no logical or scientific reasons for this attitude.
The second reason why people reject the resurrection of Jesus is spiritual. In 2 Corinthians 4:4, Paul says, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (NIV).
The “god of this age” is one of the many titles of Satan. He is the life-taker, while Jesus is the life-giver. On the cross, Jesus met and conquered Satan. The work of the cross ends Satan’s power to dominate humanity and inflict upon them his cruel will and the endless agonies for which he is responsible–emotional, physical, and spiritual.
Therefore, Satan now has one supreme objective: to keep men and women from understanding the truth of what happened when Jesus died and rose from the dead.