Why Belief In The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus Is Necessary but not Sufficient for Christian Salvation

Dr. Richard Land is President of Southern Evangelical Seminary
Dr. Richard Land is President of Southern Evangelical Seminary

A theological-doctrinal controversy has erupted among prominent evangelical leaders concerning whether Christians, in seeking to reach millennials in a post-Christian world, should focus paramount attention on the bodily resurrection of Jesus on the first Easter Sunday, or alternatively, should emphasize the complete accuracy and veracity of Holy Scripture.

It is certainly true that an authoritative and accurate Bible is the only guaranteed way to truly discern between the one true Jesus who was, is, and forever will be in contrast to the various counterfeit christs conjured up in the fallen hearts of men.

And yes, a belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus is essential to the Christian faith. However, while I am not questioning Pastor Andy Stanley’s motives, as a fellow Christian pastor I am deeply concerned when such an influential Christian pastor says, “If you believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, that’s all I need to know.”

No, it is not all you need to know. As a Christian pastor concerned about the spiritual state and the eternal destiny of every human being, I need to know far more than your objective, intellectual belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Nor is a person’s mental assent to the veracity and accuracy of Holy Scripture all I need to know about them.

Why? Because authentic New Testament Christianity is not merely intellectual acceptance of propositional truths and historical facts such as the resurrection. True, life-transforming, eternity-altering faith must go beyond the intellectual realm of the conceptual and the cognitive and move deeper into the volitional, emotional, and spiritual domain.

According to the Apostle Paul, belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus is essential to true Christian salvation, but is not by itself sufficient. The Apostle Paul, writing to Roman Christians declared, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom. 10:9). This pronouncement by the Apostle Paul is often cited by Evangelicals as the absolute minimum requirement for being considered a “born-again” Christian.

True Christian faith requires a commitment of the heart and soul, not just intellectual assent of the mind.

Unfortunately, it is perfectly possible, and far too common, for people to intellectually, cognitively affirm their belief in the Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ and still not cross the spiritual Rubicon to enter into a personal commitment to, and relationship with, the Lord Jesus Christ. There is an eternal difference between acknowledging Jesus as the resurrected Savior and affirming Jesus as your personal Savior.

True salvation involves personal repentance, confession, and surrender to the Lordship of Jesus as Savior and Lord.

As a Christian pastor and spiritual under-shepherd, I need to know all these things in order to make certain that someone has begun a first person singular, personal, intimate journey with Jesus that will culminate in being with Him in all eternity.

This article originally appeared on the Christian Post. 

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