No resurrection, no Christianity, Mohler tells convocation audience

Communications Staff — January 31, 2007

Without the truthfulness of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, there is no Christianity and no salvation for sinners, R. Albert Mohler Jr. told students and faculty during the annual Spring Convocation Tuesday at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Continuing a series on the Apostles Creed, Mohler examined the phrase “the third day He rose again from the dead,” referring to the resurrection of Jesus. If the resurrection from the dead is not true, Mohler said, then Christ is still in the grave and Christianity is false and deceptive. Worse, if God did not raise Christ from the dead, sinners have no hope of salvation and will face God’s wrath, he said.

“It is the very ground of the church’s faith,” Mohler said. “Because He lives, we can face tomorrow. Because He lives all fear is gone. Because He lives the disciples were willing to die. Because He lives the martyrs were willing to follow His example.

“If there is no resurrection, then close it up, sell the building, go home, eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. Worse, we will face the judgment of God and we are found to be false witnesses of God…If the dead are not raised, then Christ is not raised, our faith is worthless and we are still in our sins. If Christ merely died for as a substitute for our sins, but remains in the grave, we remain in our sins. No resurrection, no salvation, no victory—nothing.”

The entire New Testament consistently teaches and insists upon the literal bodily resurrection of Christ as a central doctrine of Christianity, Mohler asserted. Mohler surveyed numerous texts across the New Testament which place Christ’s literal, bodily resurrection at the center of the Gospel.

“This is one of the non-negotiables of the faith; there is no way around the empty tomb. There is no way to suggest that the tomb has been misidentified. There is no room for equivocation in understanding that this is a bodily, physical, historical resurrection.”

Skeptics throughout history have attempted to undermine Christianity by denying the resurrection from the dead, Mohler pointed out, because it is the lynchpin of the faith. Some skeptics argue that Jesus’ death is meaningful as an example of self-denial even if the resurrection never happened, but the Bible never separates
the cross from the empty tomb, Mohler argued.

“The cross and resurrection cannot be separated. They become the very substance of the Christian faith,” he said. “We know who we are because we are people of the cross and the resurrection. We know what the Gospel is because it is the Gospel of the cross and the resurrection. We know what the future is because it is a cruciform future because of the resurrected Christ.”

Since the resurrection of Christ is true, then all people must respond in repentance, Mohler said. In raising Jesus from the dead, God has accepted His death as a substitute for sinners, a truth that undergirds the task of evangelism, Mohler noted.

“There is a direct tie between resurrection and repentance,” Mohler said. “Repeatedly, in the apostolic proclamation, immediately after the resurrection is declared, there comes a call to repentance as salvation is declared in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that this Jesus who was crucified, God has declared Him, because He
is alive, both Lord and Christ.

“Resurrection leads immediately to evangelism, to the declaration of salvation which is immediately at hand. It leads immediately to the understanding that, because of the resurrection, Jesus is both Lord and Christ to all who will come to Him by faith. Thus there is the imperative is to take this Word and proclaim it and this Word can never be less than the fact that God raised Him from the dead.”

Three members of the Southern Seminary faculty signed the Abstract of Principles, Southern’s statement of faith, which was penned by founding faculty member Basil Manly Jr. and adopted by the school when it opened in 1859.

Professors must sign the document, agreeing to teach “in accordance with and nor contrary to” its doctrines.

All three signatories teach at Boyce College, Southern’s undergraduate school: James A. Scroggins, Jr., Boyce College dean; Mark McClellan, professor of Christian Theology and Missions and Jim Orrick, professor of literature and culture.

Mohler’s convocation sermon may be heard in its entirety at

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