Five Apologetics Every Student Needs: The Resurrection
by Sarah Nixon
This is the first article in our series, “Five Apologetics Every Student Needs.” The dictionary definition of ‘apologetics’ is: “systematic argumentative discourse in defense (as in of a doctrine).” In the current world culture of skepticism and relativism, it’s critical now more than ever that our next generation be equipped to defend their beliefs as true. In this series, we will present five Christian apologetics every student needs. Our hope is that you may use this series as a resource and guide to these often challenging conversations in your own ministry.
Imagine if in a few years you wake up, check CNN.com, and discover on the front page that archeologists found a tomb in Jerusalem and have announced they believe this is the actual tomb of Jesus of Nazareth – and there are bones in it! You skeptically laugh, but over the course of the next few weeks, as more and more information comes out, it becomes obvious that this is no hoax. Now although this is impossible to prove currently, imagine these scientists verify (through some future technology) that indeed these are the bones of Jesus. They found his body!
Here’s the question: would you still be a Christian? How would you respond if experts found Jesus’ body?
Every year when I teach on the resurrection, I start with this question. And every year, without fail, I have students who raise their hands and declare confidently that it would not change anything. Others hesitantly say they think they would still believe. Out of all my students, only a handful say what Paul himself would say: that if the resurrection is not real, then it is foolish to believe.
Paul says to the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 15.14: “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” It is in vain because the resurrection proves Jesus defeated our greatest enemies, sin and death, once and for all. The resurrection is the undeniable proof that Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on the cross actually accomplished something for sinful humanity. Not only that, but it validates all that Jesus said about Himself as the Messiah – one who would suffer, die, and rise (Matthew 16.20-21). In his undoing of death, Christ proves that he – not sin, not death – is the true victor. The resurrection reverses the damage that was done in the garden and gives real, concrete life for all.
As I’ve discussed the resurrection with students, their loyalty to their faith isn’t merely an issue of them being postmodern relativists who don’t believe truth matters. The problem is simpler: they don’t understand the resurrection.
My students don’t understand that when the Bible says Jesus was raised, it does not mean that his spirit was revived from his body and he appeared as a ghost to the disciples – but rather that life itself re-entered his body and he was physically raised.
Before starting with an apologetic for the resurrection, it is important that our students understand what the resurrection actually is…
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