In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul notes five things that are true if Christ has not been raised from the dead. It is important that we mark these five points so that we realize just how central the resurrection is to Christian faith. Paul writes this to those in Corinth who were saying there is no resurrection of the dead....
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of 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, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.So here are Paul's five points. If Christ has not been raised then:
- Christian preaching and Christian faith are both useless. If Christ has not been raised then every Christian preacher ought to go out and get a "real job" and every Christian should find something better to do on Sunday mornings. In short, we might as well "eat and drink for tomorrow we die". At least, that is probably what I would do if I did not believe in the resurrection of Jesus.
- The apostles were false witnesses. If Christ has not been raised then Christianity is the greatest hoax foisted upon humanity and ought to be rejected outright.
- We are still dead in our sins. This is the conclusion of Paul who knew all too well the law of the Hebrew Scriptures and how far short we all fall from it. If Christ has not been raised then there is no reason to believe that he died for our sins and the crucifixion offers no hope. If Christ has not been raised, then we are in the same sorrowful condition as each of Jesus' first disciples were between his death on Friday and his resurrection on Sunday.
- Those believers in Christ who have died are lost. There is no hope for them. If Christ has not been raised why should we believe in a future life at all? If Christ has not been raised then it is most likely that this life is all there is and we have no valid hope of seeing our loved ones again.
- Christians are to be pitied more than all other human beings. If our hope in Christ is only for this life, if Christ's teachings merely help us "make the best of a bad job" but do not offer hope for eternal life, then we are in a pitiful condition. Why? Because we have been hoping for an everlasting life that will never be ours. We have suffered and sacrificed in this life with no hope of return on our investment.
Paul draws these five conclusions simply to point out that Christianity without the resurrection is meaningless. However, if Christ has been raised, then we can draw some very different conclusions. We will look at those tomorrow....