A Website for Basic Christian Doctrine

Why the Resurrection?

By Jeremy Cagle

Since the very beginning of Christianity, there have been numerous attempts to prove that the resurrection of Jesus Christ did not happen.  One of these attempts is known as the swoon theory.  According to this theory,

Christ was indeed nailed to the cross.  He suffered terribly from shock, loss of blood, and pain, and he swooned away; but he didn’t actually die.  Medical knowledge was not very great at that time, and the apostles thought he was dead already.  The explanation assertedly is that he was taken down from the cross in a state of swoon by those who wrongly believed him to be dead, and laid in the sepulcher.  And the cool restfulness of the sepulcher so far revived him that he was eventually able to issue forth from the grave.  His ignorant disciples couldn’t believe that this was a mere resuscitation.  They insisted it was a resurrection from the dead.1

To refute the swoon theory, all one has to do is explain the swoon theory.  Here goes: After sweating blood and being put on trial and beaten all night . . . After being flogged by Roman soldiers: a punishment that often killed the condemned . . . After being crucified and having nails driven into His hands and feet: a punishment that paralyzed the condemned and ruined any use of His hands. . . After having a spear thrust into His side: a punishment that would have caused Jesus to bleed to death if He were not already dead . . . After being pronounced dead by Roman soldiers whose job it was to put criminals to death . . . And after being laid in a burial shroud in an empty tomb . . . Jesus woke up, quietly rolled the heavy stone away without waking the guards, and walked away.  It would take a miracle for all this to happen and, if one is going to believe in miracles, one might as well forget the swoon theory and believe in the resurrection.

A second theory to disprove the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the theft theory.  According to this theory, Jesus was not resurrected but, instead, His disciples stole His body from the tomb while the guards were sleeping.  Matthew 28:11-15 record the first mentioning of this theory:

Now while they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened.  And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, and said, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’  And if this should come to the governor’s ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble.”  And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day.

The theft theory is easily dismissed by one sentence from Professor E. F. Kevan: “The enemies of Jesus had no motive for removing the body; the friends of Jesus had no power to do so.”2  The Jews would not have removed Jesus’ body from the tomb because it would have proved that He had not resurrected and the disciples would not have removed Jesus’ body from the tomb because they were too afraid to.  After all, the disciples left Jesus at His arrest3 and, with the exception of John4 and Peter,5 were not seen again until His resurrection.6

A third theory to disprove the resurrection of Jesus is the wrong tomb theory.  According to this theory:

It is seriously a matter for doubt whether the women were really in a position to be quite certain that the tomb which they visited was that in which they had seen Joseph of Arimathea bury the Lord’s body.  The neighborhood of Jerusalem is full of rock tombs, and it would not be easy to distinguish one from another without careful notes . . . It is very doubtful if they were close to the tomb at the moment of the burial . . . It is likely that they were watching from a distance, and that Joseph of Arimathea was a representative of the Jews rather than of the disciples.  If so, they would have had but a limited power to distinguish between one rock tomb and another close to it.  The possibility, therefore, that they came to the wrong tomb is to be reckoned with, and it is important because it supplies the natural explanation of the fact that whereas they had seen the tomb they found it open again . . .7

The problem with the wrong tomb theory is that the Bible itself refutes it.  Mark 15:47 says “Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus were looking on to see where [Jesus] was laid” during His burial.  Matthew 27:61 says, “And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the grave.”  Luke 23:55 says “Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid.”  It is impossible to believe that these women would have forgotten the location of the tomb three days later.

The swoon theory, the theft theory, and the wrong tomb theory.

We do not have time to discuss the twin theory or the magician theory or the hallucination theory or the hypnosis theory or the spiritual resurrection theory or the alien theory but they all raise a very important question: What is the big deal?  What does it matter if Jesus swooned on the cross or if His disciples stole His body?  What does it matter if the women went to the wrong tomb on Sunday morning?  What does it matter if Jesus had a twin or if His resurrection was only a spiritual one?  What does it matter if He was nothing more than a magician?  Why would Christianity be any different if one of these theories proved to be true?

To ask this another way: Why was Jesus’ resurrection necessary at all?  What would it matter if Jesus Christ had stayed dead after His life was poured out on the cross?  What would it change?

The Apostle Paul answers those questions in First Corinthians 15.  And in this chapter, he tells us that the resurrection accomplished six things.

1. It Proved the Old Testament True

First Corinthians 15:3-8 says:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.

The phrase “the Scriptures” appears two times in these five verses.  Paul uses it in connection with Christ’s death (v. 3) and he uses it in connection with Christ’s resurrection (v. 4).  Jesus’ entire life, particularly His death and resurrection, fulfilled the prophecies that were written about Him in “the Scriptures.”

The Scriptures that Paul is referring to here is the Old Testament.  According to the Old Testament, a sacrifice must be offered to pay for man’s sins.  Leviticus 17:11 says:

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.

In order for an Old Testament Jew to be forgiven for his sins, he must offer a sacrifice at the JerusalemTemple.  He must kill a goat or a bull or a sheep or a lamb and, as the animal was put to death, God’s anger at his sin was appeased.  “. . . it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.”  As the blood of the animal was poured out on the altar, atonement8 was made for the sinner and his sins were forgiven.

In a similar way, the Old Testament prophesied that a Messiah9 would come who would spill His blood to save sinners.  In Zechariah 12:10, the Lord gives this prophecy to Israel:

I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.

God will come to mankind in the form of the Messiah and He will be pierced.  He will be slain for sinners.10

Isaiah 50:6 also says quotes the Lord as saying:

I gave My back to those who strike Me,
And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard;
I did not cover My face from humiliation
And spitting.11

But not only did the Old Testament prophesy that the Messiah would die for sinners, it also prophesied that He would rise again from the dead.  Psalm 16:9-10 says:

Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;
My flesh will dwell securely.
For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.12

Psalm 2:7-12 speaks of the Messiah’s future reign, which implies His resurrection since He was going to die.  It says:

I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord;
He said to Me, “You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron,
You shall shatter them like earthenware.”

Now therefore, O kings, show discernment;
Take warning, O judges of the earth.
Worship the Lord with reverence
And rejoice with trembling.
Do homage to the Son, that He not become
Angry, and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled.
How blessed are those who take refuge in Him!

All of this is what Paul is referring to in First Corinthians 15 where He says Jesus was “raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”  Jesus’ resurrection proved the Old Testament true.  As a matter of fact, Jesus Himself showed this to some of His disciples on the road to Emmaus.  After the resurrection, the Lord appeared to two of them and Luke 24:27 says, “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.”

Jesus Himself pointed to the Old Testament to explain His resurrection because His resurrection proved the Old Testament true.

2. It Proved the New Testament True 

First Corinthians 15:12-15 says:

Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.  Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised.

Apparently some in the church at Corinth were saying that it did not matter whether believers were resurrected or not.  Verse 12 says, “How do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?”  And Paul answers their question in verse 13, “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised.”  And this is what concerns us in this article.

What does it matter if Christ has not been raised?  Many religious leaders died and stayed dead.  Why is Jesus’ resurrection so important to Christians?

And in verse 15, Paul answers that question this way, “Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ.”

“If Christ has not been raised,” Paul says, “then I am a liar.  And so is every Apostle and so is every man who wrote the New Testament because they all wrote that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead.”  Every New Testament author agreed on the fact that Jesus Christ was resurrected.

Matthew,13 Mark,14 Luke,15 and John16 all devote chapters to Jesus’ resurrection.  The entire Book of Revelation is about the living Son of God returning to reign on the earth.17  The letters of Peter,18 Paul,19 John,20 and Jude21 all make references to the resurrection.  So if the resurrection never happened, then the entire New Testament is one big hoax.  In fact, if the body of Jesus Christ is still decaying in a tomb in Israel, the Bible is useless and it should be thrown away.22 Because, according to the Apostle Paul, if the resurrection did not happen, the Bible is a book of lies because Jesus rose “according to the Scriptures” and the Apostles preached a risen Christ in the New Testament.

Jesus’ rising from the dead is not some trivial event.  The entire Word of God is built around it.

3. It Brought Us Out of Our Sins 

First Corinthians 15:16-19 says:

For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

It is pretty common today to hear people say that it does not matter whether Jesus actually saves sinners or not.  It does not really matter whether there is a Heaven or a Hell and it does not matter where people will spend eternity.  What matters, as the thinking goes, is that we try to imitate Jesus in this life.  Jesus lived a good life.  Jesus gave Himself for others.  He taught universal love.  So, where I spend eternity is a side issue.  What really matters is that we all follow Jesus’ example in the here and now.  Jesus was very selfless when He lived on this earth and we should be selfless as well.  And we should do it while the sun is still shining because this life is all that really matters.23

The Apostle Paul would disagree violently.  In verse 19, he says, “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.”

Jesus did not come just to give us a good example to live by.24  He came to save believers from damnation.25  And He saves us, Paul says in verse 17, by His resurrection.  “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.”

The Greek word for “worthless” here could also be translated “useless.”26  If Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless . . . it is worthless . . . it has no point.  Faith in a dead Jesus saves no one.  As one commentator put it, “Christ dead without resurrection would be a condemned, not a justified Christ.  [If He did not rise], how could He justify others?”27  If Jesus died for our sins but never rose from the dead, our sins would be punished but we would have no hope of a future life.

His death showed God’s condemnation.28  His resurrection showed God’s justification.29  In other words, His death put our sins to death and His new life gives us new life because it brought us out of our sins.  Jesus coming back from the dead showed that God approved of His sacrifice so much that Jesus can now enter Heaven in His new resurrected body.  His resurrection defeated death once-and-for-all and therefore it broke the curse of sin.  As Paul writes later in First Corinthians 15:55-57:

“O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?”  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

First Corinthians says that our hope of salvation . . . our hope of a future life in Heaven rests on whether Jesus rose from the dead or not.  If our Savior is still dead, what hope do we have of eternal life?  If the Messiah cannot defeat death, how could we ever hope to?  Paul would say that we could not.

The resurrection was necessary because by it, Jesus brought us out of the punishment of our sins and into His resurrected life.

4. It Raises Us from the Dead 

First Corinthians 15:20-23 says:

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.  For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.  But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at his coming.

“First fruits” in verse 20 is an agricultural term.  It referred to the first fruits of the harvest.  Leviticus 23:9-11 says:

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,

“Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, “When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest.  He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord for you to be accepted; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.”

The Israelites were commanded to bring the first crops of their harvest every year to the Lord to symbolize that they trusted Him to provide the rest.  In a similar way, Jesus is the first fruits of those who will be resurrected.  His resurrection from the dead came first and the resurrection of His followers will come afterwards.

If you are wondering how Jesus’ resurrection relates to our resurrection, theologians have answered that question with the word: imputation.  Imputation is “The attribution or transfer of one person’s sin or righteousness to another.”30  On the cross, our sins were transferred to Jesus.  At the resurrection, Jesus’ righteousness was transferred to us.  He took our death that we might have His life.

And one result of His life being imputed to us is that we will be resurrected from the dead to be with Him.  First Corinthians 15:22 describes this imputation really well, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”  Adam sinned and sin and death have been imputed to the whole human race.31  Jesus Christ rose from the dead and that resurrected life has been imputed to everyone who would ever believe in Him.  Jesus Himself said it this way in John 11:25-26:

I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who believes in Me will never die.

To have eternal life, you must come to Jesus Christ; for He is the resurrection and the life.  He raises us from the dead.

5. By the Resurrection, Jesus Will Ultimately Defeat Evil 

First Corinthians 15:23-28 says:

But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.  For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.

The last enemy that will be abolished is death.  For He has put all things in subjection under His feet.  But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him.  When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.

The greatest enemy of Jesus Christ and His church is Satan.  And verse 24 says that after His resurrection and the resurrection of His followers, Jesus will destroy all rule and authority and power.  Verse 25 says that He will put His enemies under His feet.  Verse 26 says that He will abolish death.

So to summarize all of this . . . Because of His resurrection, Jesus Christ will crush all evil powers including the Devil himself.  Today, Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father in Heaven but a day is coming when He will reign over all the earth.  And in that reign, Jesus will put an end to Satan’s power.32  But none of that would be possible if Jesus was not resurrected.  If He is not living today, there is no reason to think that He will be living in the future.  If Jesus is dead now, He cannot come back then.  And if He cannot come back then, we have no hope that He will put an end to the powers of Satan and Hell.

Our only hope of seeing evil finally defeated is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  If He has no life now, He will have no life in the future.  And if he has no life in the future, He will not be able to return and rule and destroy all evil.

6. It Explains Our Present Suffering 

First Corinthians 15:29-32 says:

Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead?  If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?  Why are we also in danger every hour?  I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.  If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me?  If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.

Verse 29 is a very controversial passage.  The Mormon Church takes it literally and uses it to justify the baptism of their members for the salvation of dead people.33  A better interpretation of verse 29 would be that the hope of dead believers is the resurrection.  Those who followed Christ and are now dead hoped to have eternal life in Him and people in Paul’s day were being baptized as a result of their Christian testimony.34  They are being baptized, so to speak, for the dead.

But what good is a man’s testimony if the dead are not raised?  “If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?”  You could reword verse 29 to say, “If the dead are not raised, what good would it do to be baptized because of their testimony?”

But Paul’s greater point in this passage is that the resurrection is necessary because it explains our present suffering.  Verse 30 says, “Why are we also in danger every hour?”  Verse 31 says, “I die daily.”  Verse 32 says, “If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me?”  “If there is no resurrection,” Paul asks, “why should we go through the trouble of following Jesus Christ?”  And the answer to that question is found at the end of verse 32, “If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

“Why should we go through the trouble of following Jesus Christ if there is no resurrection?”  Paul’s answer: “We shouldn’t.”  “Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die.”  Anybody who says that we should follow Jesus’ example because it makes this life better and more meaningful should have a long talk with the Apostle Paul.  True, Biblical, repentant, life-changing Christianity is about self-denial35 and persecution36 and suffering.37  It is about God’s glory instead of ours.38  It is about the expansion of the kingdom of God and not the expansion of our little kingdoms here on earth.39  Our prize is in the next life, not in this one40 and if there is no resurrection, Paul says that there would be no reason to go through the trouble of following Christ.  Jesus’ resurrection raises us from the dead and, if it never happened, then the difficulties of following Him in this life are not worth it.  The reward of a resurrection encouraged Paul to persevere in his life with Christ.  It should do the same for us today.

In his book, God in the Docks, C. S. Lewis observed that:

I haven’t always been a Christian.  I didn’t go to religion to make me happy.  I always knew a bottle of Port would do that.  If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.41

Christianity is not about a reward in this world; it is about a reward in the world to come.  It is about your best life then; not your best life now.  And, if there is no life to come, Paul says in First Corinthians 15 that our present suffering is not worth it.  If there is no eternal hope through the resurrection, then according to the Apostle, there is no earthly one.


In my third year of Seminary, I took a class entitled “Apologetics and Evangelism.”  In that class, one of our assignments was to describe salvation in a four page paper.  That did not seem too hard for me until the professor made this comment towards the end of the assignment, “And if you don’t include the resurrection in your paper, I will fail you for the class.”  Not “I will fail you for this assignment.”  He said, “I will fail you for the class.”

The reason that comment caught my attention is because that is exactly what I was going to do.  I never thought the resurrection was that important.  It was something we talked about once a year around Easter time or it was something we saw at the end of a Jesus movie but I never considered it to be much more important than that.

For some of you reading this, you may be thinking just like I did in that class.  “Fail me because I don’t mention the resurrection in a four page paper on salvation?”  “Surely, it’s not that important?”  “We can be saved without the resurrection, right?”  “So what if Jesus’ disciples went to the wrong tomb?”  “So what if Jesus had a twin or if He body was stolen or if He only swooned on the cross?”  “What difference would it possibly make to me?”  “When it is all said and done, who cares?”

The Apostle Paul certainly cared.  He spent an entire chapter in the Bible describing the resurrection to the Corinthian church.

If Jesus is not raised from the dead, the Old Testament was wrong and the Apostles were liars.  If Jesus’ body is still decaying in a tomb in Israel, then we are all still in our sins and we will not be raised from the dead.  If Jesus is not alive today, then He will not come back to defeat evil and our present suffering makes no sense at all.

As Christians, we have crosses on our church buildings and we have them hanging around our necks and that is good.  We are saved by Jesus’ work on the cross and we need to remember that.  But we are saved by His resurrection and we need to remember that, too.  Without the resurrection, the cross would only be a punishment without a reward.  Without the resurrection, we would have no purpose in this life and no hope in the life to come.

As you come to the Easter season with your friends and family, remember that Jesus’ resurrection is not just a holiday for Christians.  Jesus’ resurrection is Christianity.  It should be celebrated every day of our lives.

“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”42




  1. J. N. D. Anderson, quoted in Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict: Historical Evidences for the Christian Faith (Campus Crusade for Christ, Inc., 1972) 241-242. []
  2. Quoted in Evidence that Demands a Verdict, 248. []
  3. Mark 14:43-50. []
  4. John 19:25-27. []
  5. Mark 14:53-54, 66-72; Luke 22:54-62. []
  6. Luke 24:36-52; John 21. []
  7. Krisopp Lake, quoted in Evidence that Demands a Verdict, 265. []
  8. Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, ed. by Ronald F. Youngblood (Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995). Atonement is “the act by which God restores a relationship of harmony and unity between Himself and human beings. The word can be broken into three parts that express this great truth in simple but profound terms: ‘at-one-ment.’ Through God’s atoning grace and forgiveness, we are reinstated to a relationship of at-one-ment with God, in spite of our sin” (139). []
  9. The Messiah is “the one anointed by God and empowered by God’s spirit to deliver His people and establish His kingdom” (Ibid., 826). []
  10. C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 10 (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrisckon Publishers, 2001 ed.). Such an interpretation is controversial but
    is shared by many commentators.  C. F. Keil writes: “This is Jehovah, according to v. 1, the creator of the heaven and the earth . . . Daqar does not mean to ridicule, to scoff at, but only to pierce, thrust through, and to slay by any kind of death whatever (cf. Lam. 4:9).  And the context shows that here it signifies to put to death . . . As Zechariah repeatedly represents the coming of the Messiah as a coming of Jehovah in His Maleach to His people, he could, according to this view, also describe the slaying of the Maleach as the slaying of Jehovah. And Israel having come to the knowledge of its sin, will bitterly bewail this deed (610).” []
  11. Edward J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, Volume 3 (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972).  Young says this about the Messianic prophecy in this verse: “The servant now presents details to show how he was not rebellious.  The striking language calls to mind immediately the physical sufferings of our Lord (cf. Matt. 26:67 ff.; 27:26 ff.; John 19:1 ff.).  The description makes clear how completely and fully obedient the servant was. There is majesty in the description, as though the servant were in full control of the situation.  He sets himself forth as one who acts.  Instead of saying  that men beat him, he declares that he himself gave his back to those who struck him.  He either voluntarily yielded himself to flogging, or he offered himself thereunto (300).” []
  12. Allen P. Ross in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, ed. by John F. Walvoord & Roy B. Zuck (Colorado Springs, Col.: Cook Communications Ministries, 2004).  The Apostle Peter quoted these verses in reference to Jesus in Acts 2:26-27 and Paul quoted them for the same purpose in Acts 13:35.  Allen P. Ross explains the New Testament use of this passage in the following way: “Verses 8-11 were cited by Peter on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:25-28) and Psalm 16:10b was quoted by Paul in Antioch (Acts 13:35-37) in reference to Christ’s resurrection.  So the words of David are typological; they transcended his own experience and became historically true in Christ.  Preservation from the decaying grave is the idea behind both David’s and Jesus’ experiences, but with David it came through a deliverance from death, whereas with Jesus it came through a resurrection from death (804).” []
  13. Matthew 28. []
  14. Mark 16. []
  15. Luke 24. []
  16. John 20-21. []
  17. See especially Revelation 19 and 20. []
  18. See 1 Peter 1:3. []
  19. See 1 Corinthians 15. []
  20. See 1 John 5:11-12. []
  21. See Jude 21. []
  22. Some people ask the question here, “Why can’t the Bible still be useful if there are errors in it?  Why do we have to throw it away if it records a few misstatements?”  In response to this, Harold Lindsell makes a very insightful remark in his book, The Battle for the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1977).  Talking about inerrancy, the doctrine that the Bible is without error, he writes: “Once limited inerrancy is accepted [the teaching that the Bible has a few errors in it], it places the Bible in the same category with every other book that has ever been written.  Every book contains in it some things that are true.  And what is true is inerrant.  Only two things remain to be determined once this position is acknowledged.  The first is what proportion of the book is true and what proportion is false.  It may be 90 percent false and 10 percent true; or it may be 90 percent true and 10 percent false.  The second thing that needs to be determined is what parts of the book are true.  Since the book contains error and falsehood, of necessity, other critics outside of the book must be brought to bear upon it to determine what is false and what is true.  Whatever the source of the other criteria, that becomes the judge of the book in question.  Thus the book becomes subordinated to the standard against which its truth is determined and measured (p. 203).” []
  23. Millard J. Erickson, The Concise Dictionary of Christian Theology (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2001).  This idea is an old heresy from the 1500’s called Socianism.
    According to Millard J. Erickson, Socianism is “A movement deriving from the thought of Faustus Socinus that emphasized morality; denied the deity of Christ, predestination, divine foreknowledge, and original sin; and regarded the atonement of Christ as an example rather than as satisfaction paid to the Father” (185-186). []
  24. Jesus did come to give us a good example to live by (Jn 13:15; 1 Cor 11:1) but He did not come just to give us a good example to live by. []
  25. John 3:16-18. []
  26. Joseph H. Thayer, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1996).  The Greek word is mataios.  It means “devoid of force, truth, success, result . . . useless, to no purpose” (392-393). []
  27. Leon Morris, 1 Corinthians in The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, Ill.:
    InterVarsity Press, 1985) 208. []
  28. Romans 3:25; 2 Corinthians 5:21. []
  29. Romans 4:25. []
  30. Erickson, 98. []
  31. A. W. Pink, The Doctrine of Human Depravity (Pensecola, Flo.: Chapel Library, n. d.).  Pink effectively describes this imputation when he says: “Adam was very much more than the father of the human race; he was also their legal agent, standing in their stead.  His descendants were not only in him seminally as their natural head, but were in him also morally and legally as their moral and forensic head.  In other words, by Divine constitution and covenant arrangement, Adam acted as the federal representative of all his children. By an act of His sovereign will, it pleased God to ordain that Adam’s relation to his natural seed should be like unto that which Christ sustained to His spiritual seed – the one acting on the behalf of many (37).” []
  32. To see what that will look like, read Revelation 19 and 20. []
  33. Jerald & Sandra Tanner, Major Problems of Mormonism (Salt Lake City, Utah: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1989) 228-230. []
  34. John MacArthur, 1 Corinthians in The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1984) 424-427.  For different interpretations of this verse, see Gordon Fee’s The First Epistle to the Corinthians in The New International Commentary on the New Testament, ed. by F. F. Bruce (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1987) 763-767 and W. Harold Mare’s 1 Corinthians in The Expositor’s Bible
    Commentary, ed. by Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976) 287-288. []
  35. Luke 9:23-24. []
  36. John 15:20; 2 Timothy 3:12. []
  37. Romans 8:17; Philippians 3:10-11; 2 Timothy 1:8. []
  38. Psalm 19:1; 72:19; Isaiah 48:11; 1 Corinthians 10:31. []
  39. 1 Chronicles 29:11; Matthew 6:10, 33. []
  40. Matthew 6:19-20; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. []
  41. God in the Dock (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1970) 58. []
  42. New International Version translation. []