Christianity is a historical faith. The New Testament, especially the four Gospels, tells the history of Jesus. The major creeds also provide an outline of his life. To tell the story of Jesus is to preach the gospel, for the Christian faith is based upon what actually happened in the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The death of Jesus was no accident or tragic mistake. Jesus did not give up his life as a victim suffering from a cause. He died on the Cross fully trusting that through his death, and by his obedience, the purposes of God would be fulfilled (Matthew 16:21-23; Mark 8:31-33; Luke 9:22). His arrest and trial by the religious authorities, the death sentence imposed by the Roman government, the terrible crucifixion he endured, his death and burial in a borrowed grave - these were not the meaningless events they appeared to be at the time to his followers (Matthew 26:47-27:56; Mark 14:43-15:41; Luke 22:47-23:49; John 18:1-19:37). Though they were due to the actions of sinful people, it became evident that God was at work through Jesus in all that happened, and the offering of his life was God's gift to the world (John 10:17-18; John 11:49-52; Acts 2:22-23; Romans 5:5-19).
The death of Jesus was not the end of the story. The whole New Testament resounds with the proclamation that God raised Jesus from the dead (Matthew 28:5-6; Mark 16:1-7; Luke 24:1-9; John 20:1-18; Acts 2:32; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). The Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ in bodily form turned apparent failure into triumph and confirmed the power of self-giving love over evil and death. God's transforming presence brought life out of death: Jesus is exalted as Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36).
The New Testament presents the Resurrection as the fulfillment of prophecy (Luke 24:46). The empty tomb and post-resurrection encounters with the believers give witness to its truth. In the Resurrection, the Kingdom of God burst through by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is also our assurance of life to come in all the fulness that God wills for us.
No satisfactory explanation of the birth of Christianity can be given without taking seriously the conviction born in the disciples that their Lord was risen from the dead. The existence of the Church, Christ's living Body on earth, is evidence of his risen life.
The Ascension of the Lord Jesus signified the end of the post-resurrection appearances recorded in the Gospels, and the return of the Son to the glory eternally shared with the Father and the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:50-52; Acts 1:9-11). It also prepared for the Church's understanding of Christ's continuing ministry as intercessor in Heaven.
The return of Christ is an integral part of the gospel as proclaimed in the New Testament (Matthew 25:31-46; Matthew 26:64). Jesus himself warned against speculation about dates and times, but we look forward expectantly to Christ's ultimate triumph; we pray for his return and prepare ourselves for the consummation of God's purposes through the return of his Son (Matthew 6:10; 1 Corinthians 15:23-24; Colossians 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 2:13-18; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4; Revelations 22:7; Revelations 22:20).