Christ's resurrection is essential to the Gospel (D.W. Gooding)

“. . . [T]he story of the body of Christ lies at the very heart of the Christian gospel, does it not? When God set himself to save us fallen human beings, he didn’t remain in his high and lofty heaven. God is spirit; he didn’t remain simply like that, but sent forth his Son who, being God and never ceasing to be God, took upon himself a human body. He took it, not just as a temporary motel in which he might live for a few years and then discard it as irrelevant; he took a human body because a human body is an integral part of a human personality, and for our salvation it meant that he would become truly human like we are. His body was sinless, but listen to what the gospel says: ‘He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree’ (1 Pet 2:24). He took upon himself the death we deserved, the penalty and judgment under a holy God for our sin as human beings. ‘Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures’—he was really dead, ‘he was buried, but he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures’ (see again 1 Cor 15:3–4).

  The significance of it is glorious indeed. Take the first thing: The Bible says that Jesus Christ was delivered over to death for our trespasses, dying the just for the unjust, bearing in his sinless body our sins, paying the penalty (see 1 Pet 3:18). But he was raised the third day by God for our justification (Rom 4:25). In raising the body of Jesus Christ, God was saying, ‘It’s this same Jesus that stood before the cross as the representative of all mankind, truly human and therefore with a human body.’ He went to the cross to bear our sins in his body and bear the judgment of God against our sin. ‘And now,’ says God, ‘that judgment is past, the penalty has been paid. And the guarantee and demonstration of it is this, that holy body is raised again from the dead.’ It’s glorious, isn’t it? And Jesus Christ is raised, not as a disembodied spirit, but as a man still: a man who for our sakes died at Calvary, but has been raised as our representative man and received up into glory (1 Tim 3:16) . . .  The other part of the gospel is this, that one day all who trust him shall have a redeemed body, a body transformed to be like our Lord’s glorious body (Phil 3:21). This is not half a salvation; it’s God giving the whole of Christ, body, soul and spirit, for the whole of man, body, soul and spirit. When God’s redemption is finished, it shall not be a collection of disembodied spirits that God will have in heaven; it is a collection of whole men and women, spirits, souls and bodies, redeemed by Christ. A whole Christ for the whole human being . . . And finally, the bodily resurrection of Jesus proclaims him to be God’s Son, and is the evidence of a coming judgment. One day, because he is truly human and remains truly human, and because he is the Son of Man, all judgment shall be committed to him. The day will come when he shall speak the word and ‘those that are in the tombs shall hear his voice, and come out, those that have done good to the resurrection of life, and those that have done evil to the resurrection of judgment’ (see John 5:25–29). That is the Christian gospel.

  The wonderful thing, perhaps, for us is this. The risen Son of God tells us not merely that one day he will call the physically dead out of their graves to stand before his judgment throne; but the risen Son of God tells us that, even now, he longs to give us the gift of eternal life; imperishable, incorruptible, eternal life. ‘An hour is coming,’ said he, ‘and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live’ (v. 25).” David W. Gooding, “The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: ‘The Rattle of Dead Men’s Bones,” A Myrtlefield Transcript. (Coleraine, NI: The Myrtlefield Trust, 2017), 14-15. [Brackets mine.]