Can You Deny the Resurrection and Believe Jesus is Alive?

Jesus is alive. But what does that mean for us? We’re used to emphasizing the importance of the Resurrection for our justification. But what about our sanctification?

The Revoice movement on sexuality erupted debates in the Reformed world over whether same-sex attraction is sin, whether “being gay” can be good, and whether a Christian can expect victory over sinful desires.

A self-proclaimed “6 on the Kinsey scale,” Memorial Presbyterian Church pastor Greg Johnson faced complaints for hosting the original 2018 conference in his church, which was then in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).  

I was new to the Reformed faith, and I watched as Johnson claimed to affirm doctrines in church courts despite contradictory associations and statements in public. And now we know that while the Revoice controversy raged, Johnson used church property to actively *host* the worship and service of the creature rather than the creator, serving cocktails and calling it missional.

Johnson and Memorial chose to leave the PCA in November to forestall any further ecclesiastical action. And while the PCA continues to roil itself over the issue, the wider Reformed world has greatly benefitted from the metaphorical Council of Nicaea that arose to defend the doctrine of progressive sanctification.

But throughout much of this, I remained uncomfortable with those who called Johnson a spiritual wolf.

After all, despite his error, he is celibate. That’s good … right? Don’t we want those who experience sinful desires not to act on them? That is a form of sacrifice, right? Isn’t that fruit of … something?

I’ve only just now realized that Scripture speaks to this exact issue in 1 Corinthians 15.

“If Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty” (v14).

Now Johnson does not deny the Resurrection—but he denies its power.

To deny progressive sanctification is to deny what it means for Christ to be raised. Of course, Johnson has always claimed to affirm the Confession, but his actions said otherwise. Now he embraces Revoice more than ever, bringing it back to his church in June 2023.

Johnson denies the Resurrection like any apostate who boasts of the Nicene Creed yet looks at the “forgiveness of sins” and redefines “sin” for himself.

Yes, Johnson is celibate. But to deny the power of the Resurrection? Does this not make him a “false witness of God” (15)? Does this not, then, make him “of all men the most pitiable” (19)?

Mr. Johnson, “if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (17).

While many Reformed churches do not give a calendar day like Easter special significance in our worship, we are especially reminded of the Resurrection this week nonetheless.

Because Christ rose again, I no longer live for myself (2 Corinthians 5:15). And I therefore will not regard myself “according to the flesh” as gay or straight. I am a new creation.

No matter what Adam’s imprint on me, it is put to death. Sin shall not have dominion over me.

Through the means of grace by which the Lord sanctifies, I should expect progressive growth in love for the law of God and (if I have fruit of the Spirit of God) self-control.

Whether I remain single or married, Christ himself tells me that “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness—for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6).

I will be filled. Not merely told that I matter. Not merely told I belong.

We do not have a bastard gospel that follows James 2:15-16 and tells the one hungry for righteousness, “Bless your heart,” and leaves him hungry. 

To truly affirm that I’m created in the Image of God is to tell me to “put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” (Colossians 3).

The “new man” only empowered and possible by the Resurrection

The men of Revoice can’t hide anymore.

In the aftermath of the Covenant School shooting, Revoice founder Nate Collins openly accused the parents of shooter Audrey Hale of sin, of inflicting “a devastating form of parental rejection.” This was in response to a report Hale, who identified as transgender, lived with her parents but wasn’t allowed to “dress as a man in their home.”

Because the Apostle Paul is more sanctified than me, I cannot weep when I say these men “are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame.” (Philippians 3:18-19).

Gospel without change is dead. We must pray that judgment will either fall on Christ in a glorious repentance or in a thwarting so glorious that all will know the Risen Lord Reigns. 

Andrew Branch is a freelance writer, journalist, and churchman in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America. He is a graduate of World Journalism Institute and a former WORLD Magazine contributor.