“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 15:58)
An old TV commercial used to ask the question, “What if…?” That was the driving question behind everything that company stood for as they tried to find answers to the problems of our lives. The Apostle Paul thought that was a great question as well. “What if Jesus did not rise from the dead?” What difference would that make in our lives? Would it impact Christianity? An abbot was asked what if he gets to the end of his life and finds out there is no God. He replied, “Holiness, silence and sacrifice are enough reward in and of themselves. My life would not have been wasted.” The Apostle Paul wholeheartedly disagreed! As we move toward the celebration of the resurrection of our Lord from the dead let us reconsider what Paul had to say about this critical subject.
I. What If Jesus Didn’t Rise From The Dead?
Jesus is still dead – v. 13. Why would we follow a dead man? He claimed He would rise from the dead but He didn’t!
The Gospel is false (meaningless; vain) – v. 14. What Paul said in v. 1-11 is all false! Everything the apostles preached that established the church (that continues to this day) is VAIN (empty; meaningless; false; worthless). Their preaching is not GOOD for anyone, it is just a bunch of hot air!
Faith is empty; there is no object worthy of our belief – v. 14. Faith is OBJECTIVE, not subjective. Jesus CHRIST is Christianity; it is His PERSON (who He is and what He did) that we believe in, not just a moral code. If He is still dead He is an unworthy object of faith because He can’t do anything for us!
Apostles are liars / deceivers. They are not for God but are actually against Him – v. 15. They cannot help us if they are misrepresenting God! They are liars and deceivers. They are not helpful but harmful to people.
There is no forgiveness of sins – v. 16-17. Our faith that Jesus was the LAMB OF GOD THAT TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD is vain! If Jesus cannot take away our sin WE STILL HAVE IT! We are NOT forgiven but are still accountable!
Those who have died believing in Jesus are damned to hell – v. 18. They have perished and are now utterly destroyed. We all have reason to fear death! The message of the gospel does not give us hope beyond the grave because it is false. The contrast throughout history between believers and unbelievers in their deaths is all a façade. We are all in the same boat as people like: Thomas Hobbes (a skeptic): “If I had the whole world, I would give it to live one day. I shall be glad to find a hole to creep out of the world at. About to take a leap into the dark!” Thomas Paine (a noted American infidel and author): “I would give worlds if I had them, that ‘The Age of Reason’ had never been published. O Lord, help me! Christ, help me! O God, what have I done to suffer so much? But there is no God! But if there should be, what will become of me hereafter? Stay with me, for God’s sake! Send even a child to stay with me, for it is hell to be alone. If ever the Devil had an agent, I have been that one.” David Strauss: Outstanding representative of German rationalism, after spending years of his life trying to dispense with God: “My philosophy leaves me utterly forlorn! I feel like one caught in the merciless jaws of an automatic machine, not knowing at what time one of its great hammers may crush me!”
Christians are to be pitied more than anyone – v. 19. We are not “good people” living decent lives making a contribution to society. If there is no resurrection we are ABSOLUTELY DECEIVED & ARE DECEIVING OTHERS! We have been LIED TO and we are LIARS! We should be PITIED for being so gullible! We are wasting hours every day in prayer, bible study, memorization of Scripture, and witness to others of Christ. We are fools for giving up our hard-earned money to support churches and missionary work around the world!
Don’t be “saved!” – v. 29. Paul says we should not be “baptized (for; because of; in reference to) the dead.” People that watched someone die as a martyr then came to saving faith because of their testimony. Don’t bother to do that because those people were deceived! They will not be resurrected so why do you want to follow in their footsteps?
Don’t suffer or sacrifice – v. 30-32. Why would you commend Paul for suffering & sacrificing as he went around preaching the gospel? If there is no resurrection, that is not a GOOD thing, it is IDIOTIC! “If the dead are not raised, ‘LET US EAT & DRINK, FOR TOMORROW WE DIE.’”
Don’t base your life on the doctrine of the resurrection – v. 33. Bad company (associations; theology) corrupts good morals. It’s not okay to believe any theology you want just because it makes sense to you. If it is wrong, it will corrupt you both now and in eternity!
II. What If Jesus Did Rise From The Dead?
Jesus is alive! Illus: Dr. Seamands tells of a Muslim who became a Christian in Africa. “Some of his friends asked him, ‘Why have you become a Christian?’ He answered, ‘Well, it’s like this. Suppose you were going down the road and suddenly the road forked in two directions, and you didn’t know which way to go, and there at the fork in the road were two men, one dead and one alive—which one would you ask which way to go?’”
The Gospel message is true (meaningful)! It is not vain but full; it has incredible meaning for every area of our lives (now and eternity).
Faith is meaningful; there is an object worthy of our belief! Jesus is the Creator, Sustainer, Savior, Risen King, and Coming Lord! Faith in Him is meaningful because of WHO He is and WHAT He did!
Apostles told the truth. They are genuine witnesses for God! They are telling the truth! They also claimed that this was the ONLY Gospel message that would save!
There is forgiveness of sins! All my sins have been washed away! I can KNOW FOR SURE that I am forgiven because Jesus rose from the dead! God was satisfied with the payment Jesus made!
Those who have died believing in Jesus are alive & well; Heaven is secured! We have no reason to fear death! Dr. Cullen: “I wish I had the power of writing; I would describe how pleasant it is to die.” John Arthur Lyth: “Can this be death? Why, it is better than living! Tell them I die happy in Jesus.” Philip Heck: “How beautiful! The opening heavens around me shine!” John Bunyan (author of “Pilgrim’s Progress”): “Weep not for me, but for yourselves. I go to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will, through the mediation of His blessed Son, receive me, though a sinner, where I hope we shall meet to sing the new song, and remain everlastingly happy, world without end.”
Christians should not be pitied! Their hope is solid! There should be no pity for someone that has come to know the truth and has everything this life and the coming life could ever offer!
Be saved! Repent of your sins, believe on the Lord Jesus, and confess Him publicly through baptism.
Sacrificially serve! Don’t be a drunkard and a glutton. Don’t just “take it easy.” Don’t live a normal, safe, risk-free life! Go for it knowing that your eternal future is secured!
Live your entire life based on the doctrine of the resurrection! Do not entertain the deceptive philosophies of men that deny the resurrection! It will corrupt your good morals! The theology of the resurrection is vitally important to the Christian for it affects his salvation and his sanctification. In 1 Peter 1:3 Peter points out we are begotten unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. There are several reasons for this: The resurrection authenticates Christ as the Son of God (Rom. 1:4); the resurrection proves the atoning value of Christ’s work (Rom. 4:25). “Raised because of” means it proves the sufficiency of His atonement for our justification. The resurrection did not provide our justification, it proved Christ’s death was sufficient to bring justification by faith. Therefore, having been justified (as proven by the resurrection) we have peace (Rom. 5:1); the resurrection ensures our salvation (1 Cor. 15:17-19). It provides assurance for the fact of our salvation and affords comfort with regard to our deceased loved ones (1 Thess. 4:13f); it is the basis of our sanctification (Rom. 6). As Christ was victorious over sin and death, so we may be victorious by our identification with Him; Christ’s resurrection as the first fruits from the dead is the guarantee of our own resurrection and of the glorified body we will receive at the resurrection of saints (Phil. 3:20-21).
If Jesus did not rise from the dead ignore Christianity completely. BUT HE DID RISE JUST AS HE SAID HE WOULD! “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”
GO FOR IT! And bring as many people with you as you possibly can to our Good Friday service tonight at 7pm and our Easter Resurrection service on Sunday morning at 9am. I look forward to seeing you and celebrating our risen Lord – “Hallelujah! What a Savior!”