Cover, A Christian Guide to Spirituality

“The third day he rose again from the dead.” [1]

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Why should we believe in the resurrection?

The truth of the resurrection became the most important confession of the early church. In John’s Gospel faith consists, primarily, in believing in the resurrection (John 20:25–29). Paul’s letter to the Romans states it plainly: “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom 10:9). Paul knew this truth first hand because the risen Christ appeared to him on the road to Damascus—a story recorded three times in the Book of Acts [2]. At one point, the risen Christ appears to more than five hundred witnesses in just one setting (1 Cor 15:6).

The resurrection event changed the Apostle’s lives forever. Ten of the eleven faithful apostles died a martyr’s death [3]. The fact that they were willing to die for their beliefs is strong historical evidence for the truth of the resurrection.

Peter’s sermon at Pentecost in Jerusalem speaks of both the prophecy of the resurrection and the eye witness accounts. Peter cites this prophecy: “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption” (Ps 16:10). The original context of the Psalm points to King David [4], but Peter, as an apostle, correctly interprets the “holy one” as referring also to Jesus (Acts 2:27–31). Peter’s next statement is most telling: “This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.” (Acts 2:32) Peter’s argument was both truthful and compelling because it convinced more than three thousand people to be baptized that day (Acts 2:41).

At least three reasons motivate us to believe in the resurrection. The first reason was given by Paul: “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” (1 Cor 15:17) We obtain forgiveness from God only because of Christ’s perfect sacrifice as the Lamb of God. A second reason follows from the first. Jesus’ resurrection makes our resurrection and eternal life possible. A third reason is that in the resurrection God attested Jesus as the Christ (Acts 17:31). Jesus’ path in life, death, and resurrection then becomes the template for our faith and the only source of our salvation (Phil 3:10–11).


[1] The references in this chapter to the Apostle’s Creed are all taken from FACR (2013, Q/A 23). Another translation is found in (PCUSA 1999, 2.1—2.3).

[2] Paul’s conversion was so powerful that he ceased being one of the church’s chief persecutors and he became one of the early church’s strongest evangelists (Acts 8:3). Also see: Acts 8:3–5, 22:6–8, and 26:13–15.

[3] The Apostle John was the only one of the eleven faithful disciples that did not die a martyr (Fox and Chadwick 2001, 10).

[4] The verse is a Hebrew doublet. The two parts repeat the same thought. Therefore, holy one refers to my soul.


Faith Alive Christian Resources (FACR). 2013. The Heidelberg Catechism. Cited: 30 August, 2013. Online:

Fox, John and Harold J. Chadwick. 2001. The New Foxes’ Book of Martyrs (Orig Pub 1563). Gainsville, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers.

Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PC USA). 1999. The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)—Part I: Book of Confession. Louisville, KY: Office of the General Assembly.


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Preface to A Christian Guide to Spirituality

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