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Mohler: bodily resurrection non-negotiable

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Without the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, there is no Christianity and no salvation for sinners, R. Albert Mohler Jr. told students and faculty during the Jan. 30 convocation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Continuing a series on the Apostles Creed, Mohler examined the phrase “the third day He rose again from the dead,” referring to the resurrection of Jesus. If the resurrection is not true, Mohler said, then Christ is still in the grave and Christianity is false and deceptive. Worse, sinners have no hope of salvation and will face God’s wrath, he said.

“It is the very ground of the church’s faith,” Mohler said. “Because He lives we can face tomorrow. Because He lives all fear is gone. Because He lives the disciples were willing to die. Because He lives the martyrs were willing to follow His example.

“If there is no resurrection, then close it up, sell the building, go home, eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die…. If Christ merely died as a substitute for our sins, but remains in the grave, we remain in our sins. No resurrection, no salvation, no victory –- nothing,” Mohler said.

The entire New Testament consistently teaches and insists upon the literal bodily resurrection of Christ as a central doctrine of Christianity, Mohler said, citing numerous New Testament texts depicting it as the center of the Gospel.

“This is one of the non-negotiables of the faith; there is no way around the empty tomb,” Mohler said.

Skeptics throughout history have attempted to undermine Christianity by denying the resurrection because it is the lynchpin of the faith, Mohler said. While some skeptics argue that Jesus’ death is meaningful as an example of self-denial even if the resurrection never happened, the Bible never separates the cross from the empty tomb, Mohler said.

Together, the cross and resurrection “become the very substance of the Christian faith,” he said.

Since the resurrection of Christ is true, then all people must respond in repentance, Mohler said. In raising Jesus from the dead, Mohler added, God has accepted His death as a substitute for sinners, a truth that undergirds the task of evangelism.

“Repeatedly in the apostolic proclamation, immediately after the resurrection is declared, there comes a call to repentance as salvation is declared in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that this Jesus who was crucified, God has declared Him, because He is alive, both Lord and Christ,” Mohler said.

“Resurrection leads immediately to evangelism, to the declaration of salvation which is immediately at hand,” Mohler said. “It leads immediately to the understanding that, because of the resurrection, Jesus is both Lord and Christ to all who will come to Him by faith. Thus there is the imperative to take this Word and proclaim it and this Word can never be less than the fact that God raised Him from the dead.”

Three members of the Southern Seminary faculty signed the Abstract of Principles, Southern’s statement of faith, which was penned by founding faculty member Basil Manly Jr. and adopted by the Louisville, Ky., seminary when it opened in 1859. Professors must sign the document, agreeing to teach “in accordance with and nor contrary to” its doctrines.

All three signatories teach at Boyce College, Southern’s undergraduate school: James A. Scroggins Jr.; Boyce College dean; Mark McClellan, professor of Christian theology and missions; and Jim Orrick, professor of literature and culture.
Jeff Robinson is director of news and information at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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  • Jeff Robinson

    Jeff Robinson is director of news and information at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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