SUMMARY: Christians should never take the resurrection lightly. This would be like asking Coach Wooden to take winning, strategy, and teamwork on a basketball team lightly. But for some reason it happens. Christians may dismiss the resurrection as not important for belief in Jesus Christ. In today’s Resolute Podcast, the Apostle Paul presents a compelling case for the resurrection in an argument to the Christians in ancient Corinth.
I hate to admit it, but sometimes there is arguing in our home. Between me and my wife, or my kids with each other, or even a kid with a parent. And why do we do this? Often because we have experienced some form of injustice. And sometimes these moments end well and sometimes they don’t. Mostly because we are carried along by our emotions, and then we end up saying some things we should not have said about the character of the other person.
Today we are going to look at a text written to the Church at Corinth about the resurrection. It has a tone like an argument. What we will discover is that Paul, the writer, is arguing for the resurrection. He is answering the question – “What would be the impact if Jesus was not resurrected?”
While the tone is strong, I do not think Paul intends to argue, like me and my wife occasionally argue. His argument, is an attempt to logically persuade the Church at Corinth of pivotal truth that they are easily dismissing. Paul will use a logical progression to persuade Christians that without a bodily resurrection of Jesus that there would be several results (actually seven). Seven, that would forever impact the backbone of our faith.
Paul demonstrates his ability, in this text, to build an effective argument that requires him to oppose another’s view. It really is less like and argument between two people, and more like watching a political advertisement. You know, one of those ads that cast a glaring view of the opponent based on decisions they have made, or will make when elected to office. These negative ads attempt to argue/persuade us on a couple of things. First, they attempt to argue against the rationale of the opponent’s views. Second, they attempt argue that their facts are incorrect as you have heard them stated. Paul will use both tactics except he is aiming to argue with a Christian audience who claim that there was no need to believe in the resurrection of Jesus.
It is crazy that Christians were claiming that there was no need to believe in a bodily resurrection of Jesus. This is like trying to remove baseball from Babe Ruth, or coaching from John Wooden, or comedy from Chris Rock. You simply cannot do it. They just go together. And so does the resurrection with Jesus. But for some reason people do this all the time to Christianity. Mostly outsiders. However, in this case, it appears to be followers of Christ.
So, Paul’s argument will accomplish two things. First, it will help us to see the importance of the resurrection for the believer, and second it will help us to see the consequences of the thought of non-resurrection for the believer. And since Paul is trained in the art of debate, he is going to dismantle the soundness of the opposing logic. So, while we could read this as a personal attack, I assure that it is not. Paul is simply dismantling the idea, without assassinating the character of the Christians in Corinth. And he must dismantle the logic in their idea because he cannot just state an opposing viewpoint without explaining the flaws in the logic of their viewpoint. To persuade them he must do both. One, explain the correct way and two, show them the flaws in their logic.
In our search for truth, we must demonstrate that a view is superior in logic, whether ours or theirs. And this is what I love about God. He does not ask us to accept a non-logical faith. Faith does not mean we are drawing an illogical conclusion. But that we add great faith to sound logic.
And Paul is the perfect candidate for this discussion. And why? Well because Paul was an extremist on the other side of the fence regarding Jesus and the resurrection. He was the ultimate real life opposition to the resurrection. He was no doubt around or involved at the flogging, trial and sentencing of Jesus. And Paul was perhaps one of the greatest opponents of Jesus Christ. Until the moment, he is traveling the Damascus road where he saw Jesus the risen Christ face to face. Therefore the fact that he supports and gives every evidence for Jesus’ resurrection is the fatal blow on eye-witness accounts. Who better to explain the resurrection than the Apostle Paul?!
But let’s read the text. Our text today is from 1 Corinthians 15:12-19. Here are the words from the Apostle Paul.
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 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. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
So Paul here is dismantling the idea that there is no resurrection. Seven conclusive statements of logic. They are as follows. If there was no resurrection…
1) Then Christ was just a man.
2) Then our message is a lie.
3) There is nothing to believe.
4) Then the church is perpetuating a lie.
5) Then sin still separates us from God.
6) Then the faith of our fathers in unfounded.
7) Then get ready for eternal punishment.
Paul uses these seven conclusive statements to make one profound point. And what is his main point? That we can believe everything about Christ, and if we do not believe in His resurrection, then really, we believe nothing. Because everything in our faith hangs on this one premise – Jesus was raised from the dead. It is the resurrection that substantiates everything about our faith. And this is a big deal.
In fact, Paul implies that calling ourselves a Christian, and subsequently choosing to not believe in the resurrection, impacts our identity. It is so crucial that it changes our identity from “Christian” to “Liar.” He definitively insinuates this. This is because the resurrection changes everything. Everything.
You see not believing in the resurrection is not – no big deal. It is not something we can just write off as something of no consequence. We hang our identity, our hope, our future, our past, our message, and our eternity on this. We cannot dismiss it. That makes this a big deal.
In Romans 1:4, Paul makes this even more clear. “And [He] was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead…” It was by the resurrection that through Him we receive incredible blessings.
And you already know what these are. They are the opposing ideas to the before mentioned. The resurrection means that…
1) That Christ was more than just a man.
2) That our message is truth. Not a lie.
3) That we have reason to believe and have faith.
4) The church tells a message that is evidence of Him.
5) We are victorious over sin. Not dead in our sin.
6) Our the forefathers and the prophets were right in their hope and faith.
7) Our eternity awaits us.
Men, these are amazing things and all of them are products of the resurrection of Jesus Christ for each of you.
So here is your challenge today. Embrace the resurrection with eagerness today, and the linchpin of your faith, and the gift that provides you with hope. Become aware of the resurrection which sustains your faith and works through you. Romans 6:5 says,
“For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.”