And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
1 Corinthians 15:14-19
Paul considers the question, “What if …?” What would the world be like if Jesus had not been raised? There are six history-changing facts that would have followed if Jesus had not risen. First, without the resurrection all preaching would have been a waste of time. All the messages you have ever heard or read, all the Christian books you have read, all radio and television broadcasts of the gospel you have listened to would have been a total waste of time had Jesus not risen from the dead.
Second, without the resurrection, all Christian faith would be useless. What would be the point of coming to church every Sunday morning, or going to a Bible study, or reading the Scriptures even, or trying to believe that God is there to help you? All that would be worthless, useless. It would be only a kind of religious game. Life would be reduced to grim, stark realities, with no hope now or later.
Third, if the resurrection is untrue, the apostles are the world’s greatest liars. They deserve to be treated as arch deceivers rather than as honored men of integrity and truth. They are hypocrites, and worse than that they are deceivers who have led us into gross darkness and gross error. Now, after twenty centuries of the preaching of these things, they have undoubtedly won the title of the world’s greatest liars. That is what Paul says. You cannot avoid that, if there is no resurrection, because the apostles staked their reputation on the fact that Jesus had risen from the dead.
Then a fourth point, and even worse: If Christ is not raised, then all our sins of the past are still with us; we are still in our sins. This means that even granting that there is a God, then we must stand at last before him and give an account of all we have done. And there is no way of escaping the justice with which God would deal with sin. There is no hiding place, no hope for mercy, no loving Christ to say, “I’ve paid the penalty for you; I’ve taken your place; I’ve loved you and given myself for you.”
The fifth thing, Paul says, is, “those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.” All those loved ones who have gone on to be with the Lord, we thought, whom we hoped to meet again, we will never see again. Our children, our parents, our friends, those who have been taken suddenly, those to whom we bid a weeping farewell with the hope that one day we would meet them again in glory, we will never see again. A terrible silence has fallen; they are gone forever.
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Finally, the sixth fact: “If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” Even the present is changed. We have to give up our beautiful dream and go back to coldness, selfishness, drabness, grimness, and darkness. It is all made worse by the fact that we once thought we had escaped; we once thought we had a hold of something so marvelous that it gave us great joy and peace and glory and blessing. But if there is no resurrection all this crumbles and is taken away from us; our darkness is all the darker for that.
Thank you, Lord, for the hope and purpose that the resurrection of Jesus gives me.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is totally crucial to the Christian faith, which in turn has changed the course of world history. Consider at least six major life-altering effects which would result if Christ had not risen from the dead, and be awed by this vast, historic reality!