Over the last three weeks, we’ve been considering the biblical and theological implications of the resurrection of Christ. First, we examined the significance of the resurrection as it relates to the person of Christ. Over the past two weeks, we took a look at eight implications the resurrection of Christ has for believers in Him. Because of the resurrection, the believer enjoys the blessing of regeneration and deliverance from the fear and slavery of death; the resurrection is the foundation of justifying grace, the guarantee of the indwelling Holy Spirit and the present intercessory ministry of Christ, the ground of our sanctification, power for holiness and for ministry, and the guarantee of the promise of a resurrection body of our own, free from sin and decay.
But today I want to ask: What does the bodily resurrection of Christ say to the unbeliever? What is the significance of the resurrection for those of you who remain outside of Christ? Whether you’re an atheist or agnostic; Buddhist, Hindu, or any other religion; or even if you call yourself a Christian but have only an outward attachment to Christ—you would regularly attend church, and even read the Bible and listen to sermons—but you have no vital union to Christ, no living relationship, and you still cling to your sin and aim to be lord of your life: what is the significance of the resurrection for you?
The Proof of Judgment
In the first place, the resurrection is the proof and guarantee of God’s coming judgment.
Acts 17:30–31: “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere [must] repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
The empty tomb of Joseph of Arimathea stands throughout the ages as the sure guarantee and reminder of the coming Day of Judgment. And you, dear reader, are going to be there. And Christ your Judge is going to be there.
These days you see people walking around with shirts and hats and some even with tattoos that say the most ridiculous thing: “Only God can judge me!” Do you ever see that? As if to say, “You don’t dare pass judgment on me or my sinful lifestyle! Only God can judge me!” I can’t for the life of me figure out why in the world that is a comforting thought to them.
My friend, God will judge you. He has fixed a day when He will judge the whole world! And His standard will be righteousness, measured not by how good you’ve been in comparison to other people around you. No, He will judge all the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed. The standard of righteousness by which you will be judged is the standard of Christ’s righteousness. Of perfect righteousness.
And when you stand before Him to answer for your life, what are you going to present before Him? The filthy rags of your own so-called “good works,” mixed with the filthiness of unrepentant sin? My friend, you have no hope if you are trusting in yourself to avail with God in the Day of Judgment! The only hope for the forgiveness of sins and for reconciliation with the Father on the Day of Judgment is to be clothed in the perfect righteousness of the risen Lord Jesus Christ—to have the perfectly righteous life of Jesus Christ counted to be yours, because your filthy life of sin and shame has been counted to be His on the cross (2 Cor 5:21).
And both of those “countings” or “reckonings” happen through repentance and faith alone. That’s why the text says that God is now declaring that all must repent. If you remain a stranger to the grace of God, I entreat you to turn from your sin and lay hold of Christ.
The Ground of Gospel Mercy
Because that same empty tomb that is God’s pledge of certain judgment, is also the empty tomb that is the solid ground for the offer of Gospel mercy.
- Romans 10:9 – “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
- Acts 5:30–31 – “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance…and forgiveness of sins.”
- Acts 13:38 – Because Christ did not undergo decay, but was raised from the dead: “Therefore let it be known to you that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, things from which you could not be freed through the Law.”
The resurrection is God’s vindication of Christ. It is the proof that what He accomplished in His life and death had been accepted as a full payment of sin—that all of the Father’s righteous wrath has been satisfied! The resurrection is God’s receipt that full payment has been made—that all that is necessary for your salvation has been accomplished by Christ! It only falls to you to abandon your hope of entering eternal life on your own merits. Receive the resurrection life of Jesus Christ by trusting in Him alone.
What Jesus said to Martha on the day He raised her brother from the dead, He says to you today: “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Do you believe this?