If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Jesus Himself was not raised from the dead. And if Jesus was not raised from the dead, then all is lost.
A topic we usually don’t talk about unless it’s Easter Sunday or a funeral is Jesus’ resurrection. Maybe you have never slowed down enough to think about the doctrine of the resurrection or tried to visualize what this might look like. It’s a bizarre reality – but it’s an extremely important part of our reality. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Jesus Himself was not raised from the dead; and if Jesus was not raised from the dead, then all is lost.
What Paul says to the Corinthians who were rejecting the notion of a resurrection from the dead is, “Jesus was raised from the dead, so how can you say there is no resurrection from the dead?”
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.
– vv. 12-13
If you reject the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead, you also reject that Jesus was raised from the dead. And if you reject this, then there are four consequences:
1) You can’t trust the apostles’ teaching.
And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.
– v. 14
The apostles taught that they saw Jesus alive, they saw Him killed, they saw Him dead, they saw Him buried and then they saw Him alive again (vv. 3-8). If all this was not true, then all that we have in the New Testament would be vain and hollow. The resurrection was what confirmed and validated everything about Jesus. The resurrection is what fills the gospel with power.
2) You can’t trust the apostles at all.
We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.
– vv. 15-16
So not only is the apostles’ teaching vain and empty if Jesus was not raised from the dead, but it is all lies and deception. Either Jesus’ resurrection was the truth or else all the apostles were lying.
3) Our faith is futile.
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
– v. 17
Without Jesus’ resurrection, our faith would not only be vain (v. 14), but it would also be futile and misguided. Faith in Jesus Christ only makes sense if He was raised from the dead in the resurrection.
4) There is no hope beyond this life.
Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
– vv. 18-19
If Jesus hadn’t been raised from the dead there would be no hope of awakening for those who have fallen asleep in Christ (i.e., died). Without the resurrection, we Christians would just be pitiful. We would be wretched, sad, misled people who gave up everything for a false hope.
Jesus’ Resurrection Matters
The resurrection of Jesus split history in half. It turned blue collar guys into messengers who spread the news of Christianity across the world over time. It sparked a 2,000-year movement we call “the church” that is still going strong. So the question for us is: Do we believe in resurrection? First, do we believe that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, and second, do we believe that people will also be raised from the dead one day?
If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Jesus was not raised from the dead. And if Jesus was not raised from the dead, then all is lost – we can’t trust the apostles’ message, we can’t trust the apostles at all, Christian faith is vain and futile, and there is no hope beyond this life. But because we do believe in resurrection, we can trust the apostles, our faith is full of meaning, purpose and value, and there is hope beyond just this life.
Discussion Starters (based on 1 Corinthians 15:12-19)
- What is the doctrine of the resurrection?
- Do you believe in the resurrection of the Jesus Christ?
- Do you believe in the future resurrection of the dead?
- If Jesus Christ was not raised from the dead …
- why would the apostles’ teaching be in vain (v. 14a)?
- why would our faith be in vain (v. 14b)?
- how would the apostles be “misrepresenting God” (v. 15)?
- in what way(s) would our faith be futile (v. 17a)?
- how could we be still in our sins (v. 17b)?
- why would we have no hope in this life?
- What does the resurrection of Jesus Christ mean for you?