I want you to use your imagination. Today I want to imagine that everything about Easter is the same. We are in church celebrating Easter. We go about our church day the same way we would in our real world. The only difference is, in our imagination, Jesus DID NOT rise from the dead.
We actually do not have to use our imaginations! First Corinthians 15 shows us what the implications are of Christ not rising from the dead. Let’s look at those thoughts today:
Jesus is not our Savior v. 13
This first point is probably the most straightforward and the most simple. If there is no such thing as the resurrection of the dead, in general, then Christ is not risen from the dead. This point runs a little deeper than simply saying that Christ died on the cross but just didn’t rise, what the point of this verse is saying is that Jesus would not be God.
Remember, throughout the Gospels, Jesus claimed to be God. He never made it a habit to hide his identity from people. If Jesus did not rise from the dead then Jesus was a liar.
There are many opinions about who Jesus is and what he was here to do. But I would submit to you today, much as C.S. Lewis did, that if Jesus was not God then Jesus was not someone to be trusted. He had to be either a complete lunatic or a liar. Most people who would argue that the resurrection is not real would at least say that Jesus was a good person. They would argue that he was a very moral person, the Muslims teach that Jesus is a prophet that we all ought to respect and revere, but they do not believe that Jesus is God. You can’t have it both ways, you can’t claim that Jesus was great but he wasn’t God.
The resurrection is important in proving the deity of Christ. I can say all day long until I am blue in the face that I am God. I can even perform some parlor tricks into tricking people to think that I am God. But if you nail me to an old rugged cross and brutally kill me, I am not going to rise from the dead. Why? Because I AM NOT GOD, but Jesus is God, so Jesus rose from the dead.
Understand this today, the resurrection of Christ is the baseline of Christian belief. This is the first domino in losing everything precious to our faith. If there is no resurrection, then we have no Savior.
Preaching is pointless v. 14
If Jesus is not our Savior, then preaching is pointless. Why would we go to church if Jesus did not rise from the dead? The passage tells us that if the resurrection is not real, then we are wasting our time going to church and hearing preaching.
Think about my situation! If Jesus did not really rise from the dead, I wasted years of my life, preparing in Bible study, learning HOW to study the Bible, praying over sermons and making sure they were Biblically accurate. What a terrible waste of time for me! If Jesus had not risen from the dead, we would all have been better off going fishing every Sunday. I would have been better off selling balloons at a theme park every day! The resurrection of Jesus Christ is what makes the church important. Without Jesus’ resurrection, we would be sitting in a pointless building doing meaningless activity.
Faith is pointless v. 14
Not only is our preaching in vain, but our actual faith is in vain. What is our faith in? the answer ought to be Jesus Christ. But if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then we are trusting in someone who has been dead for over 2000 years. By the way, the resurrection of Jesus is what makes us different from other religious faiths. The Buddhists, Muslims, and others practice faith in someone who is dead. You can go to the tomb of Buddha and of Muhammed. You can go see the tomb of Joseph Smith. They practice dead religious founded by dead men. What makes our faith different is that our faith rests in a living God and a living founder. But if Jesus were still dead then our faith is in vain.
What is the point of praying if Jesus is dead? And what is the point of trusting in the Lord if Jesus is dead? What is the point of leaning on the Word of God if Jesus is dead? If Jesus were still dead, we would have been better off in placing our faith in something tangible, like ourselves, rather than rely on God. The resurrection does not just add validity to preaching, but it adds validity to our faith.
The Bible is a lie v. 15
One big reason why our faith would be pointless would be because the Bible is a lie if Jesus did not rise from the dead. Think of how much of the Bible hinges on the fact that Jesus rose from the dead!
I am not just talking about the Gospels and what Jesus said about the resurrection, what about the rest of the New Testament? What about Paul’s experience on the Damascus Road? Couldn’t have happened it Jesus were dead! What about all of the writings of Paul that argue for the resurrection, as well as the writings of the other apostles? What about the book of Acts? The apostles went out and were energized by ,of course, the Holy Spirit, but also by the fact that they were eyewitnesses of a resurrected Lord. What about the book of Revelation where Jesus himself gives John what to write. The entire New Testament would be a lie! A lie that the apostles maliciously made up for self gain!
The Old Testament wouldn’t escape our scrutiny. What about all of the prophetic passages about the resurrection of Christ? Or what about the first mention of Christ in Genesis that says that the serpent would bruise Messiah’s heel, I would say that being dead and staying dead is not a simple heel injury! What about the imagery peppered throughout the Old Testament that pointed toward a resurrection? Furthermore, what about all the places that said that the Messiah was, indeed God. If there is not resurrection than there is nothing in the Bible that we can trust, every single word of it is a lie.
You are lost in your sin v. 17
I have said before that many times, when it comes to salvation, we tend to overemphasize the idea of “going to Heaven”. Understand, I cannot wait to go to Heaven. But the longer I am saved, the more I understand that I was not saved to go to Heaven, I was saved to be forgiven of my sins.
Because I accepted Jesus as my Saviour, God no longer sees me as a sinner, but he sees me as a saint. And that is what salvation is all about, forgiveness of sin, being justified, declared righteous, before God.
But if Jesus did not rise from the dead then I am still lost in my sin. I have not been forgiven, God does not see me as righteous. I will forever be lost in my sin. But, truthfully, that really wouldn’t matter a whole lot because of what we are going to look at next:
There is nothing after death v. 18
If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then there is no life after death. There is no Heaven, there is no Hell. When we die, our bodies go into the ground and we forever cease to exist. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then this is the only life that we will ever live, and that is pretty miserable!
Christians are worse off than sinners v. 19
Lastly, if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then Christians are worse off than the unsaved. Why? Because then we have given much of our lives to a ridiculous delusion. Many of us have sacrificed so much for something that is not even real. We have given ourselves fully to a lie. The rest of the world has spent their lives in merry frivolity. We should have as well, but instead we spent our lives pursuing a righteousness that was not even real. What a pathetic group of miserable people we are, if the resurrection of Christ were not real.
Don’t you see today! The resurrection of Christ is not just a PART of our Christian faith, it is the most important part of our Christian faith. Tt is the truth that ties everything that we believe together. Everything from Genesis to Revelation hangs on an empty garden tomb.
As bleak and as disturbing as the first part of this post was, I want to remind you again: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is a FACT.
Gilbert West and Lord Nyttleton were two young men who hated Christianity in the 16th century and they sought to disprove it. They came to the conclusion that they needed to disprove to major moments in the New Testament in order to unravel all of the Christian faith: the first major moment to disprove was the conversion of Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus Road, the second was the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The two men split the duties and decided that they would meet back up in a year to discuss their findings. After a year, when they finally got back together, the one said to the other, “I have researched and studied the life of Saul of Tarsus and have come to the conclusion that his conversion is an undeniable fact, and I have accepted Jesus as my Savior because of it.” the second man began to beam and he said, “I too have studied the resurrection of Christ and have come to the conclusion that it is an undeniable fact, I too have accepted Christ as my Savior.” These were two men who hated the Scriptures but upon studying it and researching, they walked away with full assurance that the Bible is true and that Jesus did exactly what he said he did!
Because the resurrection is true, we have a faith, we have a Bible, we have a church, and we have a Savior. Because the resurrection is real, we have a way to heaven!
The resurrection is not just important for some abstract reasons, it is important because it is your way to be forgiven from your sins and it is your way to have an eternal home in Heaven.
For more writing by Curtis, check out his author page.