For someone who doesn’t believe the bible is true, what do you think is the most outrageous claim Christians make?
For some people, the entire concept of a God, or of our world being created, seems implausible. Maybe the miracles of turning water into wine, or feeding 5,000 people seem impossible.
But there is one unique claim that Christianity makes which seems to completely contradict our experience of the world: that Jesus came back to life after he was killed.
We all know that death is a part of life. It happens to everyone. As the famous saying goes, it’s the only thing apart from taxes that is a certainty in life, the final reckoning. So any claim to have beaten death turns our understanding of how the world works on its head. Sam Allberry looks at this in his book, to think about Jesus resurrection and what it teaches us about Jesus, and what this means for us.
Sam Allberry takes a look at four ways that he sees the resurrection of Jesus as impacting Christians today, to show how this is central to the Christian life, and not just an added extra:
"We need to think again. The resurrection changes everything. It guarantees our forgiveness, empowers us to change, and gives us a hope for the future and an urgent mission in the present. Four things: assurance, transformation, hope and mission" p.17
These four chapters think through what this means for us, theologically and practically too. The resurrection vindicated Jesus as the Christ and Son of God, giving us certainty of God’s forgiveness. The resurrection promises us transformation in this life, and the book explores how throughout the bible we see God transforming his people- with the resurrection being the ultimate example of this. The hope of the resurrection reassures us that we also have a certain future to look forward to, and Sam Allberry explores what this future hope looks like and what we can know about it from what the bible teaches. And finally the resurrection gives Christians a unique mission because of the exaltation of Jesus as our Lord and judge.
A lot of Christians can clearly explain the cross: the impact and importance of this for Christianity. But Allberry points out that a lot of explanations of the gospel, and the understanding of a lot of Christians stops there. Or it skips over the resurrection as simply a stepping stone to Jesus ascension and the great commission, without dwelling on the significance of the resurrection event itself. Many Christians don’t stop to think about the significance of this for the future and for now. Or else maybe they have questions that they don’t feel are satisfactorily answered: what will our resurrection actually be like? Why did Jesus need to rise from the dead? This book is great because it recognises these questions that a lot of Christians are asking and looks at how we can answer them biblically.
I found this book helpful in pushing me to think about how central we need to keep the resurrection to our thinking. Sam Allberry writes in a way that’s funny and engaging, and easy to connect with our everyday experiences (which is impressive for such a big topic!) But the book does end very suddenly: I felt like it cut off without all these different ideas and threads being pulled back together, and without a final challenge for practical application for our lives. Throughout the book Sam Allberry looks at the implications of this theology for our lives, but there he finishes without bringing these ideas about assurance, transformation, hope and mission back together to show an integrated ‘resurrection life’ for Christians.
This book is helpful if you want a starting place to think about the resurrection and why it is so important to Christian beliefs. Sam Allberry takes us clearly through the theology of the cross, and the implications of this, so is a great way to think deeper about what this means, and digs into a lot of questions Christians have around this. And he also points out how important it is that we get our theology of the resurrection and all our theology right, and he states it so well that its worth quoting him:
It’s worth bearing in mind that Christian truth- Christian theology- is integrated. It is all of a piece and hangs together in such a way that if we fiddle about with one part all the rest is affected. We cannot alter one part of biblical truth and expect all the other parts to stay the same…Do that and, like carelessly whipping out a foundation block in the game Jenga, the whole thing starts to collapse around you, as Paul is about to show. Muck about with the resurrection of Jesus, and you’ll discover you don’t have much of a gospel left. P.86
Lifted: Experiencing the resurrection life
(2010, Inter-Varsity Press)