A Complete Gospel
BY HEATH JARRETT
I once had a neighbor who liked to talk about theology. He liked to discuss the Bible. But he didn't believe in the resurrection. I told him he wasn't a Christian . . . and he didn't like that. He had an incomplete gospel. And he didn't have Christ. From that point on, our talks were different.
I'm curious how many people have an incomplete gospel. While we are right to focus on the death of Christ for our sins, that's not the whole gospel. There's more. Jesus was buried and he rose again. He's alive and well, continually at work.
“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Cor 15:17).
The resurrection of Jesus is so central to faith that the Old Testament predicted it (Psalm 16:8–11; Acts 2:22–36); every gospel records it; Acts is replete with sermons that emphasize it; and the epistles repeatedly explain how the resurrection relates to daily life.
In every sham of a trial Jesus was subjected to, he was pronounced innocent yet was still condemned to death. However, God vindicated his Son by raising Jesus up again. Since he was righteous, the grave could not hold him (Acts 2:24). The resurrection is God's definitive verdict that Christ was innocent.
Jesus “was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom 1:4).
Paul knew there would be people like my neighbor who would question the resurrection. That's why he told the Corinthians that they could interview hundreds of eyewitnesses, including the apostles (1 Cor 15:5–9). “Doubting” Thomas didn't believe until he saw the resurrected Christ (John 19:24–29). We proclaim Jesus to people without that luxury. But we are not at a disadvantage. The same Spirit who raised Christ empowers our witness about Christ. You won't find a better eyewitness than the Spirit.
Beloved, though we have not seen the resurrected Christ, we are blessed because we see him by faith. Jesus asked Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 19:29).
As we reach out to our neighbors with the gospel, we cannot neglect the resurrection. It's of first importance (1 Cor 15:3–5). An incomplete gospel is an ineffective gospel.