Imagine that you have been invited to attend an international seminar of world religions and ideologies. Sponsored as a joint project by worldwide television and radio networks, the meeting will be held in spacious chambers of the United Nations building in New York.
You have been selected to present a biblical message to the entire world. You will be privileged to speak for 15 minuets. Your words will be instantly translated into every language spoken by mankind. Communication satellites to every person on the planet will beam your televised message.
You desire to present the central concepts of Christianity as set forth in the bible. What will you say? What are the distinguishing characteristics of the Christian faith? What makes bible Christianity different from all other religions in the world?
The Christian faith, of course, includes several major key concepts: the oneness of God; the worth and potential of each person as the object of Godís love; salvation by Godís grace through his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ; the second coming of Christ as the worldís only hope; and the realization of Godís plan for this planet through Christís future kingdom on earth.
The one concept which most precisely separates Christianity from all other religions and ideologies, however, is the central importance of the resurrection.
Resurrection is the central concept of the Christian faith. It is the fundamental theme of the gospel. The resurrection of Christ and the future resurrection of Christians constitute the major premise of the Christian theology.
Manís relations know about death; Christianity knows about resurrection. Sinners face a hopeless end; Christians have an endless hope. That hope is resurrection to immortality when Jesus comes.
Death is a reality that all persons must face,
Psalm 89:48 What man can live and not see death, or save himself from the power of the grave?
Hebrews 9:27 Just as man is destined to die once, Ö All men alike lie down in death to sleep together in the dust.
The last chapter in a personís biography is his obituary, with its account of his death, funeral service and burial. No matter how famous or intelligent or wealthy or powerful a person may have become, death brings that individualís life to a conclusion. For the Christian, however, the obituary is not the concluding chapter of his biography. He has the future promise of immortality and eternal life. Another chapter awaits to be written to follow the obituary in his life story. It will describe the Second Coming of Christ and the resurrection of that believer to immortality and eternal life in Christís kingdom. (TRIUMPH OF THE RESURRECTION, pg. 64-65
I. CENTRAL EVIDENCE OF THE RESURRECTION
... you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:7-8
"Witness" means eye witness
Witness of the Resurrected Christ
1.Strong, unmistakable evidence
... a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have." ... he showed them his hands and feet.  ... and ate it in their presence." ... The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,... You are witnesses of these things. Luke 24:38-48
Not only seeing; feeling, walking with, talking with, eating with, even sleeping with.
Witnessed by 100ís (All?)
that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,  and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.  After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, ... he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,  and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 1 Cor. 15:4-8
1. ... he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. Acts 1:21-22
II. CENTRAL MESSAGE OF APOSTLES
Great Witness of the Resurrection
1. ... the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus... Acts 4:33
B. Peter Healing Cripple
... the God of our fathers, has glorified ..., but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. Acts 3:12-15
... Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;  Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. Acts 10:34-41
Witnessed in opposition to Authorities
1. From prison. Angel said, "tell the people the full message of this new life" 5:20
... God of our fathers raised up Jesus... God exalted with his right hand... And we are his witnesses of these things; ... Acts 5:29-32
2. Peterís Message to Cornelius
C. Paul in Temple at Antioch
... But God raised him from the dead:  And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. Acts 13:15-31
III. CENTRAL TO LIFE
What does resurrection mean?
Biblical Usage- One dead is Raised to Life
B. Jesus was raised from death to life.
1. Jesus "he"
... and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Matthew 16:21
2. Death for sins, raised for our justification
He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Romans 4:25
"He" not some possession or part.
Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who diedómore than that, who was raised to lifeóis at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Romans 8:34
No possibility for error. It was Jesus Christ (Messiah) WHO died.
Not WHAT died.
IV. CENTRAL FOR SALVATION
Gospe1 by which you are saved.
Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
... (1) that Christ died ... that (2) he was buried, that (3) he was raised ... 1Cor. 15:1-4
Where was Jesus between the time he died until he was raised?
Modern definition of "RESURRECTION"
Not that dead persons are raised, but that dead bodies are raised.
Not "made alive" but the living person coming into flesh.
Thatís pure an d simple, incarnation (not in the bible_
Christian Science definition
"a new and higher idea of immortality, or spiritual existence"
More generally held, An immortal person reentering a physical body.
Believe in your Heart
That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9
NEB "If on your lips is the confession, ĎJesus is Lordí, and in your heart the faith that God raised him from the dead, then you will find salvation".
"In your heart the faith"
"Faith" is not words. Faith is what you "believe".
All professing Christians say that Jesus "died and rose again"
But what do they believe?
Conclusion: What was it that excited the Apostles and members of the early church? What was at the heart of their undaunted faith? What was central to their message? What were they called to be "witnesses" of?
The message of the resurrection is still a message of tremendous excitement to those Christians who understand what resurrection means.
Yet to the vast majority of Christians today, the resurrection means next to nothing. They may know it is supposed to be an exciting truth but they have no idea why. As one Christian put it when I asked him why the resurrection hope for the Christian was so important if it is as you say that dead Christians arenít really dead at all but are gloriously alive in heaven. He said, "Well, itís something were supposed to look forward to".