When it comes to the greatest work God has ever done there have been many theologians who have weighed in concerning what they believe is the greatest work God has ever done. David Johnson, a minister of the Sellersberg Church of Christ, said the greatest work God has ever done is the crucifixion. The author writes:
Jesus’ greatest miracle was all that he had to say and do in order to finish the words, “Your sins are forgiven,” words, plus his work on the cross for you and me, unique, unlike any other miracle Jesus performed. And so Jesus Christ is to be ever praised. Amen and amen.
Wayne Grudem, a prominent theologian in Reformed circles, wrote in his book Systematic Theology that the incarnation is the greatest act our Lord has ever done. Wayne Grudem notes:
[The incarnation] is by far the most amazing miracle of the entire bible-far more amazing than the resurrection and more amazing even than the creation of the universe. The fact that the infinite, omnipotent, eternal Son of God could become man and join Himself to a human nature forever, so that infinite God became one person with finite man, will remain in eternity the most profound miracle and the most profound miracle in the entire universe (pg. 563)
I would like to weigh in on what I consider to be greatest work that God has ever done (not to say that all of God’s works are not great!). The perspective I presents runs afoul of Wayne Grudem, and David Johnson, in terms of what they believe is the greatest work of God. I consider the resurrection of Jesus Christ to be the greatest work God has ever done. Let me present three reasons why the resurrection is the greatest work of God.
- Jesus points to the resurrection as a sign He has authority: Jesus Christ, in John’s account in chapter 2:13-18, was turning over tables due to the thievery of, the money changers in the temple of God, fulfilling the prophecy found in Psalm 69:9. It was here some of the Jewish leaders approached Jesus. and asked by what authority Jesus had to turn the money changers table’s over in the temple. Jesus responds in this manner:
19 Jesus answered them,” Destroy this temple , and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple , and will You raise it up in three days?” 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. (Jn. 2:18-20 NASB; emphasis mine).
The sign He gives the Jewish leaders at the time they confronted Him about turning the money changer’s table in the temple, was not the incarnation, was not His crucifixion, but the resurrection of His body.
- The resurrection shows the believer’s faith is not worthless: Paul, writing to the churches in Corinth tells about the resurrection of Christ and the faith of those who believe:
12 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? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. 15 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. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied (1 Cor. 15:12-19 NASB).
In this amazing passage Paul writes to the churches in Corinth about the consequences of what would have happened if Christ did not resurrect from the dead:
- The future resurrection (and glorification) of the saints would not exist (v. 13).
- Paul’s preaching and proclaiming the gospel would be worthless (v. 14).
- Paul essentially, would be a liar, and a false apostle, because he would be speaking against God’s word, saying God rose from the dead when He really did not (v. 15).
- The saint’s faith in Christ to appear, raise them from the dead, and glorify them would be worthless (v. 14, 17).
- The saint would still be in sins without the resurrection of Christ Jesus (v. 17b).
- Those saints who have gone before the believers have been destroyed in God’s wrath (v. 18).
- a saint’s hope would only be relegated to this life here, and not the life to come (v. 19a).
- The saint would be the most to be pitied because all those who gave their life, and everything they had, would have been given up for a lie (v. 19b).
Paul wrote this to the Corinthian church, not mentioning the incarnation, or even the crucifixion, but about the resurrection. Paul tells the believer that without the resurrection, no Christian, on the face of this earth, would have hope and an eager expectation for their glorified body, and the life to come.
- The resurrection accounts for all other facts of Christ and the Sacred Scriptures: Would the death of Christ mean anything without a resurrection? No, it would be just another death of another “spiritual guru.” Would the incarnation be anything in theology if there was no resurrection? No, He would just be another man. Would all of the works of Christ in His earthly ministry mean anything without the resurrection? No, He would be passed off as a magician, or a sorcerer (which by the way He was accused in the Babylonian Talmud for being).
The point is the only reason Wayne Grudem and David Johnson can write these things about the incarnation, or the crucifixion, is because of the resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus accounts for a number of theological truths: The veracity of the Old Testament Scriptures, the incarnation of God in human flesh in Jesus, the works and signs Jesus performed in His earthly ministry, the atonement of Christ on the cross for the believer’s sins, the authority of Christ given by His Father over the earth, the ascension of Christ to the right hand of the Father in heaven, the sending of the Holy Spirit among the Jews and proselytes resulting in the conception of the Church in Acts chapter 2, the founding of the church among the Gentiles by the apostle Paul, the intercession of the saints before the father by Christ Himself, the future resurrection and glorification of the saints at His appearing, the great Millennial Kingdom, and the establishing of the new heavens and new earth. These things hinge on the fact that Jesus Christ resurrected from the dead.
When believers in this age proclaim the forgiveness of sins in Jesus to those around them they do so with the reality that Jesus has rose from the dead. When believers talk about theology they do so knowing Christ resurrected from the dead. All of the activities concerning believers in Christ, such as prayer, fellowship, even church discipline are found in the resurrection of Christ. So although I respect the viewpoints of Wayne Grudem, and David Johnson, I will have to defer to our blessed Lord and Savior, and the apostle Paul inspired by the Holy Spirit, to make the case for the greatest work God has ever done-the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Let all believers thank God, for this greatest and glorious work of God, given to those who believe. Amen.
Until next time…
Soli Deo Gloria!