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. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 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. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 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.
~1 Corinthians 15:12-19~
In America, the story of the resurrection of Jesus Christ has been so fully covered by Christian and secular societies alike that it seems to have lost its effect. The culture has been so saturated in the narrative of Jesus that the miracle of the resurrection has become nothing more than a nice story.
Nowadays, studies show that many who call themselves Christians, do not believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some religions say that Christ was not raised bodily but spiritually. This erroneous belief cannot be held by true believers. In order to truly be saved, one must believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Paul writes in Romans 10:9, “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
There is no salvation outside of full belief in the entire gospel; the death, burial, and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Abandonment of any of these beliefs is to deny the gospel. Paul also writes in 1 Corinthians 15 verses 1 and 2, “Now I would remind you, brothers,[a] of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.”
The gospel that Paul reminds them of is that “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…” Paul continues the chapter by giving evidence of Christ’s resurrection. This is the beginning of Paul’s argument for the importance of the bodily resurrection of Christ.
The first evidence we see is that Scripture testified to it. Jesus’ resurrection was a fulfillment of the Old Testament.
Psalm 16:9-10, “Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.”
Peter, in his famous sermon in Acts 2, states with confidence that David, the writer of Psalm 16, was prophesying about Christ Jesus’ resurrection. Scripture gives evidence of Christ’s resurrection.
Paul also says that many saw Jesus alive after His crucifixion; the apostles, five hundred at once, and, lastly, Paul himself. They all testify that Jesus resurrected from the dead. The apostles even touched Jesus and ate with Him; both things that a spirit cannot do.
The question is raised, what is the big deal if Jesus rose bodily or spiritually or at all? The answer can be summed up in this statement: The entirety of the Christian hope rests on the bodily resurrection of Christ Jesus. There is no hope for anyone if Christ were not resurrected. Paul helps us understand that in the passage written above.
Paul wrote this argument to put to rest false teachings that the Corinth church had begun to believe. Corinth was a wicked city, filled with idols and steeped in Greek philosophy. One of the philosophies that influenced the Corinth church was known as Dualism. This belief stated that everything spiritual was pure and good while everything physical was evil. It was ludicrous to believe in the bodily resurrection of the believer. Though the Corinth church did appear to believe in the resurrection of Christ, they did not believe that there was a resurrection from the dead for the believer. The resurrection of Christ and the future resurrection of the believer are so closely connected that Paul rests his argument for the resurrection of the believer on the resurrection of Christ. He gives us seven consequences to not believing in the resurrection from the dead. Four will be covered in this post and the remaining three in a future post.
The first consequence in saying that there is no resurrection from the dead is that not even Christ would have been raised. If the dead are not raised, neither was Christ. From this first consequence, flow all the others. This is where we see the significance of the bodily resurrection of Christ Jesus.
Paul continues and says that if Christ were not raised, the preaching of the gospel, of Christ’s life, would be in vain. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15:3 that the gospel, Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, was of first importance. Nothing in the apostles’ preaching was of greater importance and significance than the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Were He not resurrected, their preaching would be in vain. It would be utterly worthless.
Every claim that Jesus made was shown to be true when He rose from the dead. Every action He made, every teaching He taught was given weight when He resurrected. If He had not resurrected, preaching about His life would be as vain as preaching about my life.
Not only would our preaching be in vain, our faith would also be in vain. The preaching of the apostles and the faith of the believer are so tied to the resurrection that if it had never happened, everything in the Christian faith would be in vain. There is not a single part of the Christian faith that does not have implications in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every martyr would have died in vain. Every believer would have lived for God in vain. Everything that we believe in would be worthless if Christ had not resurrected.
Paul continues and says that he, the other apostles, and every other believer that has preached the gospel, would be misrepresenting God; they would all be liars. The true preaching of the gospel will always include the resurrection of Christ Jesus. If Christ were not raised, every person who has preached the gospel would be misrepresenting God. To deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus would be to call Matthew, John, Paul, Luke, and all the other writers of Scripture liars. It would be to ultimately deny the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture. ~JW