Not long ago my friend, evangelist Sumner Wemp, told me the story of when he confronted the head of a major Christian organization about not presenting the gospel accurately. Fortunately, this leader was teachable and he said, “Sumner, what do you mean I’m not presenting the gospel?” Sumner replied, “When you lead people in the prayer to receive Christ at the end of your telecast, you are asking them to believe in Jesus for their salvation but you never mention the resurrection of Christ.”
This leader was stunned and said, “Sumner…you are right…I’ve been asking them to pray the prayer of salvation, to believe that Jesus died for their sins, but I am not asking them to believe in the Jesus who died and rose from the dead for their sins.”
When he made the change in how he led people to pray to receive Christ, he reported to Sumner that the number of decisions for Christ increased by over 30% in a few short weeks.
You may ask, “What’s the big deal? Why do people need to pray to receive Christ, who died and rose from the dead?”
There are several reasons: First, it is the gospel. Paul said, in I Cor. 15:1-6…
“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. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 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…”.
For Paul, the gospel was the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
Second, it is what the apostles preached. In every single sermon that you read in the book of Acts, without exception, they include in their presentation the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Finally, it is clearly given to us in Romans 10:9… “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.” You can’t be saved apart from the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ!
You see, we serve a living savior, not one who is merely historical. He is seated in heaven today, in a literal and glorified body that was raised from the dead 2000 years ago. As Paul said, also in I Corinthians 15:16-20…
For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead…”.
Friend…Jesus is ALIVE!