2 things that make Christianity unique to other religions

In short, they are Substitutionary Atonement and Resurrection.  In today’s sermon we primarily look at the death of Christ and His atonement (payment) for sin.  Without Christ’s payment, you and I would not have a means to be made right with God.  Without it, our religion would be one of works: do what you can to be a good person and hope and pray that God is merciful in the end.

But the crucifixion of Christ is not the end of the story.  If it were, perhaps our faith would have little difference with other religions.  All religions have a teacher and example—whether it be Muhammad or Buddha or L. Ron Hubbard.  Most religions also have their martyrs.  But none but Christianity has a living Savior.  Christ’s death is crucial to our faith.  But it is not finally effective without the victory of the resurrection.

I need to hear this as much as you do.  Growing up, I noticed a fixation upon the resurrection in the teaching I received, to the point that I perhaps neglected to fully understand the need for atonement (a payment for my sin). I have been guilty of now fixating on the atonement to the neglect of the resurrection.  But Christ’s death and resurrection cannot and should not be separated.

Imagine if you and I were with the disciples after Christ’s death, but had not yet experienced His resurrection.  Can you remember the hopelessness?  Can you recall the lack of understanding that their sins had been paid for?  We need the resurrection.  It is our victory cry.  It is our assurance that we have been made alive in Christ and await the day of final consummation.  And so we proclaim with Peter, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet 1:3).  Praise God for the resurrection. Christ is at His Father’s right hand, interceding for us (Rom 8:34).