(1 Corinthians 15:12-19)
Resurrection is the central core of what Christianity is all about. Christianity does not exist without it and it was the resurrection of Jesus Christ when the fulness of Christianity commenced. That is why resurrection is so important to us because without it, there is no Christian religion.
But not all who call themselves Christians truly believe this to be the case. Not all truly accept that Jesus Christ was raised and that a resurrection awaits all who live and have lived on this earth, either to be resurrected to life eternal in Jesus Christ or eternal damnation apart from Him.
So let us look at what Paul says about this issue in these few verses.
Some Do Not Believe
The first few verses of this section are quite damning for anyone who calls themselves a Christian but does not believe in the resurrection. Note what Paul wrote,
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. – (1 Corinthians 15:12-13)
I ask myself the question that if a person does not believe there is a resurrection, what then do they think Christianity is all about?
Christianity is not some feel good philosophy about good deeds and turning the other cheek and so on. Those things are part of the way a person may live when they be me Christian, but it is not fundamental to Christianity. Many false religions, even paganism preach the need for good deeds and care for others.
Christianity, rather, is based upon faith in God. Moreover it is faith in what God has done for mankind through the sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ. It’s not about good works but about what a person believes.
And the central belief upon which Christianity hangs is the belief in the resurrection of the dead. This one belief separates Christianity from all other religions.
The rest of the world does not believe there is a resurrection, and sadly even some Christians do not believe. There are some preachers who even teach that there is no resurrection, and clearly this is not a new phenomenon for it is this exact issue Paul writes about here.
And yet we proclaim His death and His resurrection every year at Easter, and we also proclaim His death and resurrection in the breaking of the bread as we remember His sacrifice for us.
As we continue to look at these verses we see that by not recognising the resurrection as it is , we put ourselves in a dire position.
14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 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. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. – (1 Corinthians 15:14-16)
In verse 14 we find that if there really was no resurrection, then preaching Christianity is pointless and in vain. There is no point preaching about something that is not real so those who do it are wasting their breath and their time. They might as all do something else rather than waste effort and energy preaching something that is not real, if they believe there is no resurrection.
Furthermore, if there is no resurrection then not only is what we say in vain, but we are misrepresenting God, who we are saying resurrected Christ and will resurrect all mankind at the Day of Judgment. We are effectively calling God a liar by saying He did something He did not do if we say there is no resurrection.
Taking this another step for those Christians who do not believe there is a resurrection, they are effectively rejecting God and Jesus Christ because they are reacting the core of what Christianity is about. They are not believing the truth of Jesus Christ but a lie when they reject Christianity.
Death of Religion
Finally we see that the religion of Christianity dies if there is no resurrection. As I have said, resurrection is the core belief of Christianity and without it there is no religion.
Paul further emphasises this point in the last few verses of this section saying:
17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. – (1 Corinthians 15:17-19)
The point Paul is making is that if there is no resurrection then all that we believe is futile and in vain. Why? Because all that we believe as Christians rests on faith and in particular on faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ wrought by God.
Paul says in verse 17 that if there is no resurrection and that Christ was not raised, then we are still in our sins.
It is because Christ was resurrected that we are set free from sin and also set free from law. It is by His resurrection that we have the freedom we have as Christians from sin, from law and from death.
Paul goes on in verse 18 showing that all those Christians who have already died have died without hope and have perished eternally if there is no resurrection. He says this because we believe through Christ that there is a resurrection of thfaithful to eternal life yet to come. But if there is no resurrection, then that would be a futile belief.
And finally in verse 19 Paul says that if there is no resurrection, then we Christians alive today are to be pitied above all men because we are believing something that is false. We are hoping in something that is hopeless if there is no resurrection. If there is no resurrection, then we might as well enjoy this life for what it is rather than the struggles and sufferings we endure as Christians, because there is nothing else.
But we believe and we know that Christ was raised from the dead. We believe that all the promises of God are fulfilled in Him and we believe we too will be resurrected to eternal life in Him.
We believe all the promises of God we receive are through Jesus Christ and all of these promises in Christianity have their foundation in the resurrection. As I said at the beginning of this post, no resurrection, no Christianity. But because we KNOW Jesus was raised, we have hope as we await the salvation that comes from and through Him.
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