The most important historical event for Christians is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ—without the Resurrection, there is literally no Christianity. This is because the Resurrection is proof that God accepted Jesus death for our sins, and that we will be raised with Him when He comes again. But many Christians don’t have a clear understanding of what the Resurrection entails. For many, the afterlife entails floating around amongst clouds with harps and halos, but the biblical picture is much more robust.

What is the doctrine of the resurrection?

The New Testament actually gives us a very clear record of Christian belief about the Resurrection, and what it tells us is, by definition, normative (i.e. it gives a completely accurate description of correct Christian belief about the Resurrection).The Apostles’ Creed says that Jesus “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified died and was buried … the third day He rose from the dead; He ascended into heaven” and asserts belief in “the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.” While the Creed itself is not Scripture, it contains a summary of the Scriptures’ teaching and shows that this was one of the core beliefs of early Christianity.

The Gospels tell us that Jesus actually died on the cross at Calvary; his body was actually dead when it was wrapped in cloths and put in the tomb. When some women came to finish the burial rites several days later, the stone covering the tomb had been rolled away and the tomb was actually empty. When Jesus appeared to the witnesses of the resurrection, He had a physical form; He wasn’t a ghost-like apparition, but a person who could be touched (John 20:27); He even ate some fish to prove that He was a real physical being (Luke 20:41–43). This physical body ascended into Heaven (although Heaven is not ‘up’)….

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