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This is a good question in view of the Easter season that just passed. Christians believe that Christ rose from the dead. They believe that the death and resurrection of Christ was predicted in the Old Testament and carried out and fulfilled in the New Testament.
More specifically, Christians believe that the resurrection was literal. Jesus really died and rose again. This begs the question: Why did Jesus need to die? Christians point to a theology of sin. They posit that Jesus was a sacrifice for sin. After this punishment, Jesus rose from the dead not only to forgive, but also to give eternal life.
Paul, the apostle, wrote most about this. In 1 Corinthians 15, he writes:
1 Corinthians 12:12-18
12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
As you can see, Paul believed in a literal death and resurrection. For him it made all the difference. Moreover, the resurrection of Christ is central to his theology. This is why he is a missionary trying to spread this good news, which he calls the gospel.
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