The cross was the decisive and atoning conflict. The resurrection was the conqueror's return with the captives of war which issued in the enthronement of the victorious King.
Away with the preaching of a pitiful, helpless Jesus.
He is not an exile hopefully watching to see what happens. He is the enthroned Lord into Whose nail-pierced hands the control of all things and all men has been given.
It needs to be shouted from the housetops now as perhaps never before that everything depends on a man's union with a living, present Saviour. In the absence of that union, even the gospel of the cross loses its saving efficacy. "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins" (I Corinthians 15:17).
Atonement remains impersonal and largely irrelevant until we make contact with the One Who atones; and contact of a vital kind is possible only if Jesus is risen, alive and on the throne now.
James Denney in his book "The Christian Doctrine of Reconciliation", says that "nothing could be more curiously unlike the New Testament than to use the resurrection to belittle or disparage the death." But we do not disparage the death of our Lord.
We simply insist that unless Christ is now enthroned, the death is powerless to save.
We insist that without a living, present, reigning Christ, with Whom, through faith, the believer can come into union, all the benefits of His death would have had to stand unappropriated forever. It was on the resurrection and ascension fact that the church was built.
This was the gospel of the apostles. It was the experience of union with the risen, exalted, living Lord that made them conquerors. Let their gospel once more be preached.
This excerpt is from a Rolfe Barnard sermon entitled, "The Ascended Lord" from the book, The Sermons of Evangelist Rolfe Barnard. Edited by Eulala J. Bullock. Free PDF edition by Grace-eBooks.com.