“If we regard the resurrection as simply a kind of certificate of authenticity for the atonement and sterling evidence for life beyond the grave, we have sold the resurrection [ahem, the gospel] short.” So Mike Bird, in Evangelical Theology, 435-436. Which leads me to an opening question for this post:
If we factor in the resurrection, or if we make resurrection central, what happens to the gospel? What is the gospel if resurrection is a focal element of the gospel story?
Yes, resurrection must be connected to cross and prove that the cross is not the last word; yes, resurrection proves life beyond death. But what themes in the Bible are tapped into — brought into full light — when resurrection is told in the New Testament? The gospel of the Book of Acts is arguably — not even a debate for me — more emphatically a resurrection gospel than simply a cross gospel. Notice Acts 2:31; 3:26; 4:2, 33; 10:41; 13:33; 17:18. Here are Bird’s themes:
1. The resurrection is a revelation of Jesus’ identity, and it marks the beginning of the future age.
2. The resurrection constitutes the inauguration of new creation.
3. The resurrection is the objective grounds of salvation. Notice 1 Cor 15:17 and 1 Peter 3:21.
4. An integral feature of discipleship is anastasity (resurrection in Greek is anastasis).
5. Resurrection is an inspiration for kingdom ministry.
Now back to the question: What happens to our “message” if these elements are brought into play? What happens to “church” if resurrection is central? The aim of the gospel must transcend, while including, personal salvation and eternal life and include God’s mission for the world and for others as a whole new order is revealed.