If there is no resurrection
Title: The most frightening statement in the Bible: “If there is no resurrection.”
Text: 1 Corinthians 15:12-20
Theme of Passage: The resurrected Christ is the basis of our faith.
Interrogative: Do you doubt and even disbelieve the resurrection of Christ?
Proposition: Doubting the resurrection is a serious error.
Often, Satan tries to tempt us into thinking about the validity of the Bible. He tries to bring doubts about the fundamental doctrines of the faith. In fact, Satan has been trying to get people to doubt God since creation. He deceived Eve by saying, “Did God really say that?” Satan will attack any and every doctrine, but he will especially try to attack the credibility and truthfulness of God. He will try to bring in doubts and questions about the Bible and about God. One doctrine that he always loves to attack is the doctrine and belief of Christ’s resurrection. Immediately after Christ arose, Satan tried to bring doubt about the resurrection by having people say that the body of Christ was stolen. Satan has not stopped trying to bring doubts about the resurrection. Even today, he is trying to shake the foundation and pillar of our faith: the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
1. The Doubt about the Resurrection: there is no resurrection of the dead.
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul is refuting an error in some of the Corinthians theology. Some were saying that there is no resurrection from the dead. Some of the Corinthians were foolishly thinking that there was not a resurrection from the dead. The cause of their unbelief could be many things. For one, some Sadducees (the Jewish religious authorities) did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. Another cause could be the fact that ancient Greek philosophy rejected any type of resurrection. There are many possible causes for the doubt and confusion about the resurrection of the dead, but the reality is that their doubt had serious and terrible implications.
In verse 13 and 16, Paul makes the first and most serious implication. He says that if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not really raised from the dead. One that does not believe in the resurrection of the dead cannot believe in the resurrection of Christ. This was the basis of the Corinthians error: they did not believe in the physical resurrection of the dead; therefore, Christ’s resurrection was being called into question. Even if they did not doubt Christ’s resurrection, their thoughts would lead them to doubt the resurrection. Unfortunately, today, many people doubt that Christ did rose from the dead.
2. The Implications of the Doubt: if Christ did not rise, then these 6 things are true:
a. Preaching Christ is meaningless v. 14a
If Christ did not rise from the dead, then the preaching of Christ would be meaningless. Preaching would be completely empty and vain. Without a resurrected Christ, there is not power in the Gospel message. Without a resurrected Christ, there is no point in preaching about Him. Appl: I might as well quit preaching and teaching if Christ did not rise, but he did rise, so I will proclaim Him for all my life!
b. Faith in Christ is meaningless v. 14b
Just as preaching about Christ would be meaning less, so having faith in Christ would be meaningless. If Christ did not rise from the dead, then why would anyone put their faith in a dead man that proclaimed to be God? Trusting in a dead, Christ would be empty, vain, and pointless. All that went before Christ, such as those mentioned in Hebrews 11, would have meaningless and pointless faith. All those after Christ that had faith in him would have an empty, worthless faith.
c. Witnesses and Preachers of the resurrection are liars v. 15
This idea is closely related to verse 14. If Christ did not rise from the dead, then the people that claimed to have seen Christ are liars and the people that preach about Christ are liars. To deny the resurrection is saying that every apostle, prophet, teacher, preach, and leader of the New Testament is a liar. If Christ did not rise from the dead, then there are hundred and thousands of people that have lied about Jesus Christ. All the people that saw him had to be lying and mistaken.
d. There is no redemption from sin v. 17
If Christ did not rise from the dead, then believers would have a worthless faith and still be lost in their sin. If Christ did not rise from the dead, then there is no power over death and sin. If Christ did not rise, then he failed to defeat Satan and all his power. There would be no payment for sin. Christians would still be lost in the terrible state of sin just like those that do not believe in Christ.
e. All believers that have died have forever perished v. 18
If Christ did not rise from the dead, then all those that believed in Christ, and then died would have eternally perished. They would be lost forever in torment without God and without hope. Their faith would have been in vain, their sins would have been unforgiving, and they would be forever lost. If Christ did not rise, then Paul, Peter, John, and all the other apostles, all of the great men of the faith would be dead without hope in eternal life with God eternally lost in hell.
f. Belief in the hope of Christ is pitiable and pointless v. 19
If Christ did not rise from the dead, then Christians would be the pathetic, pitiful, and pitiable people on earth. People that go to church every Sunday, talk about Christ, are ridiculed for believing in him, and give their life for Christ would be wasting their time. Christians would be the most pitiable people on earth. The resurrection of Christ means everything to a Christian, so if Christ did not rise, then basically, a Christian has lost everything!
3. The Application of the Doubt: eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.
If one believes that Christ did not rise from the dead, then they should do as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:32: If the dead do not rise, Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die! The conclusion to doubting Christ’s resurrection is “live for today.” If there is no resurrection, then it is foolish to live for Christ.
Illustration: “In social meetings among the rich, when the banquet is ended, a servant carries round to the several guests a coffin, in which there is a wooden image of a corpse, carved and painted to resemble nature as nearly as possible, about a cubit or two cubits in length. As he shows it to each guest in turn, the servant says, ‘Gaze here, and drink and be merry, for when you die, such will you be.’” –William Barclay
Appl: Paul says in the next verse, 1 Cor. 15:33, “Evil company corrupts good habits.” He means, people that don’t believe in Christ’s resurrection have nothing to live for. Those people will corrupt you since they live for today!
4. The Correction of the Doubt: Christ is risen from the dead!
The truth of the matter is Christ rose from the dead. He came to earth, died, and after three days, he rose again. The Gospels- Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John- all proclaim that Christ raised from the grave. Christ himself said that he would rise from the grave. Christ appeared to numerous people after his resurrection. His resurrection is undeniable!
Let me list a few things that prove His resurrection:
a. Christ’s own proclamation (John 2:19; Mark 14:58)
First, Christ himself predicted his resurrection. In John 2:19, Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” He predicted his own resurrection, and he proved it by rising from the dead. Some people say that Christ was a good man and a righteous man, but he was not the Son of God and he did not rise from the dead. What kind man would go around saying that he would rise, but really did not? A liar– We would not call that man good and righteous!
b. The empty tomb and inability to produce a dead body (John 20:11-17; Matthew 28:11-15)
Second, the tomb where he was buried was empty on the third day and the enemies of Jesus never could produce the body! If they could have produced the body, then Christianity would have been stopped in its tracks! They did not find a body! The truth is that Christ really, actually died and then arose. The disciples did not steal his body because they were too scared to do something that ridiculous! If Christ did not rise, the Roman and Jewish officials surely would have produced a dead body!
c. The dramatic change in the disciples lives (Acts 4:33, and all the epistles)*
Immediately after the crucifixion, the disciples were terrified! What made them go from being hidden and scared to even go out in public to the boldest men on the earth that were willing to risk their life for Christ? What changed their minds from thinking that the resurrection was just (Luke 24:11) “idle tales and nonsense?” It was the resurrection! They truly saw and believed Jesus Christ! Their fear was turned to joy. These men had the courage to turn the world upside down! Acts 17:6
d. The numerous eyewitnesses (1 Corinthians 15:3-7) *
Twenty years after the resurrection, Paul wrote to the Corinthians and said to some very skeptical Greeks, “He rose again the third day, He was seen by Cephas, the twelve, by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, by James, by all the apostles, and then by Paul.” (1 Corinthians 15:4–6). ~In other words, Paul was claiming that skeptics who wanted to could find almost 500 eyewitnesses that were still alive 20 years later. The early church was growing not in a fanatical flush of gullibility, but in the presence of eyewitnesses to the resurrection.
e. The fact that the Church still stands (Matthew 16:18)
After 2000 years, the church is still in standing. All around the world Christ is being preached at churches. Christ said that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church since the church is built on Christ. People have tried to eliminate the church, the Bible, and Christians, yet they all still stand because of the foundation- Christ!
f. The amazing life changing power of Jesus Christ is seen in many people, even in may of your lives!
Many of you can bear witness to the personal life-changing power of the living Christ. When you put your faith in him, he came by his Spirit into your life and began to show his power and love in your experience. There began a new love for God, a new love for people, a new hope and joy, a new patience in trouble, a new freedom from old enslavements, and courage to stand for justice and righteousness. The changes that he has made in us, and thousands of people before us, are undeniable evidence that he is alive and real.
Ill: Charles Bradlaugh an atheist in England challenged a minister by the name of Hugh Price Hughes to debate with him the validity of the claims of Christianity. Mr. Hughes, the minister, immediately accepted the challenge and added one challenge of his own. Hughes said that he would bring 100 people to the debate that had had their lives changed by the power of Christ. Hughes challenged Charles, the atheist, to bring 100 men changed by the teaching of atheism; in fact, if he could not fine 100, he could bring 50, if he could not bring 50, then he could bring 20, if not 20, then 10, but if he could not find 10, then Charles could just bring 1! Charles quickly withdrew from the debate!
App: Atheism or any other of men’s ideas cannot change a person from the power of sin! Only Christ has the power to change a person completely!
All of these are great proofs to Christ’s resurrection. There are many more that I could list, but these are the most common and obvious. Jesus Christ truly rose from the grave. His tomb is empty. He conquered death; men can preach his name because he is risen. Our faith is not in vain, our sins can be forgiven, the dead in Christ will rise again, and believing Christ is not pitiful! Believing in Christ’s resurrection is not foolish, but rejecting him is foolish and ignorant. Believe in Christ and his glorious resurrection!
5. The Application of the Truth: live for Christ since he is raised from the dead!
Illustration: During the Second World War, a certain city church in London was all set out for a harvest love feast. In the centre of the gifts was a sheaf of corn. The service was never held, for, on the Saturday night, an air raid laid the church in ruins. The months passed and the spring came, and someone noticed that, on the bombsite where the church had stood, there were shoots of green. The summer came, the shoots flourished, and in the autumn there was a flourishing patch of corn growing amidst the rubble. Not even the bombs and the destruction could kill the life of the corn and its seeds. The Resurrection is the final proof that life is stronger than death. The resurrection can be attacked, doubted, and denied, but it does not change the fact that Christ rose from the dead!
You have two choices: you can believe that Christ is risen from the dead or you can believe that Christ did not rise from the dead. If you believe that he did not rise from the dead, then you should just go out and live your life how you want. You should not worry about pleasing and serving Christ. Just go and live for yourself. It will be a waste, but that is what Paul said to do if you don’t believe in the resurrection. If you don’t believe in the resurrected Christ, then your life on earth will be much better than your eternal life in hell.
On the other hand, if you believe that Christ raised from the dead, then you should do as Paul said to in 1 Corinthians 15:58, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. Live your life for Christ. Live with his eternal promises in view. Allow him to control you life and use the days of your life to serve and work for him so that others may know of his resurrection.
I plead with you, if you do not believe that Christ rose from the dead, you need to examine the Scriptures and believe in Jesus Christ. Listen to what Paul says in Romans 10:9-11 and believe. That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.