Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! Tonight, we’re going to be continuing our look at the doctrine of the resurrection based on 1 Corinthians 15. I’m only hitting what I consider to be the most important parts. A more exhaustive look can be found in the works of N.T. Wright and Mike Licona and I encourage the reader to read those anyway.
Time for a thought experiment. What if Jesus did not rise? What if you’ve lived your whole life as a Christian and then receive undeniable proof that Jesus did not rise? How would you respond? Would you choose to be a Christian anyway? If you didn’t, would you say it had been worthwhile anyway as you lived a good life?
Paul will have none of that. Look at what he says in verses 17-19.
17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
For Paul, this is the clincher. If Christ is not risen, there is no hope. If Christianity is a myth, I would tell you to abandon it. (To any atheists reading this, I know about your billboards and if you want to convince me it’s a myth, I need this little thing called evidence.) If Christ has not been raised, don’t be a Christian.
Why? To be a Christian is to identify yourself with Christ. Think of what that means at the start. The first century man was told to consider this man who was on the cross and was put to death by the Romans for claiming to be a king and by the Jews for a charge of blasphemy. By making him your savior, you are in essence saying your identity will be found in that man.
So you want to be identified with someone accused of rebellion against Caesar and of blasphemy in the first century?
The reason you would do so is that you believed God raised him from the dead and his resurrection was a vindication of his claim. It was God putting the stamp of approval on what Jesus said and did. In doing such, he overturned the same of the cross and brought redemption for all.
However, if he has not risen, there is no forgiveness and we are indeed deluded. We are in that case spending our lives identifying ourselves with a dead criminal. The pagans would not even want to do that! If that is the case, then Christians ought to be pitied. People ought to feel sorry for them.
Fortunately, that’s not the case. The reality is that Christ is risen and we do have hope. Paul will not have any of this nonsense of “It doesn’t matter if he rose again. The faith helps you be a good person.” If he did not rise, then by all means find another route to salvation to get yourself righteous before God.
May we all take the resurrection as seriously as Paul did.