WHY THE RESURRECTION MATTERS | 1 Corinthians 15
Velvet Elvis… for Christians between the ages of 25-45, they may remember an adored author and surging speaker named Rob Bell who published a book by this name that had many Christians stirring. In the book, Bell introduces a concept of seeing your faith like a trampoline held together by springs instead of a building made up of bricks. In Bell’s understanding, you can remove a spring and a trampoline will not fall apart. With an understanding of faith like that of a building made of bricks, if you remove one, the whole thing comes crumbling down. In his estimation, you could remove a doctrine, like the virgin birth of Christ, and still have a strong, flexible faith. The problem with this mindset, however, is that it is not true. The virgin birth, the deity of Christ, and most importantly the resurrection of Jesus from the grave, which we celebrate at Easter, are absolutely essential to the Christian faith. As the Apostle Paul argues in 1 Corinthians 15, without the resurrection, we are to by the most pitied of all people, for our entire faith is in vain.
Paul says the death and resurrection of Christ are of “first importance.” Absolutely essential. They are bricks, not springs. One of the primary reasons why the Greek philosophers in the city of Corinth denied the Gospel was that they rejected the resurrection. Some of the “progressives” in the group were arguing- “Can we still be Christians even if we do not believe in the resurrection?” Paul says, “No!” Let’s THINK for a little bit about Paul’s presentation on the essential nature of the Resurrection-
The Resurrection is a Historical Event (1 Corinthians 15:1-8)
The Eye-Witness Testimony: According to Paul, Peter, the twelve disciples, over 500 witnesses (likely on Mt. Tabor), Jesus’ brother James, all the apostles (likely the 72 disciples Jesus sent out in teams of 2 in Luke 10:1) each experienced multiple encounters with the risen Christ. Finally, on the road to Damascus, Jesus appeared to Paul, who at the time was known as Saul, the lead persecutor of the church. Paul reminded them that the majority of those people were still alive and could be questioned. If this were a hoax or a myth, it would have been quickly quashed by anyone who did the slightest amount of investigative work. One historian put it this way,
“What gives a special authority to the list (of witnesses) as historical evidence is the reference to most of the five hundred brethren being still alive. St. Paul says in effect, ‘If you do not believe me, you can ask them.’ Such a statement in an admittedly genuine letter written within thirty years of the event is almost as strong evidence as one could hope to get for something that happened nearly two thousand years ago.“ Dr. Edwin M. Yamauchi
But, what if? What if the Resurrection was definitively proven to be a hoax? Paul’s conclusion is basically this- “It’s over… let’s go home.” Here is why…
If there is no Resurrection… (1 Corinthians 15:14-19)
1. Our faith is in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:14). Jesus is more than a martyr who inspires us to live better lives. He is a Savior who delivers us from death to life. Jesus did not come to make bad people good, He came to make dead people alive!
2. Our faith if futile. (1 Corinthians 15:17). In the resurrection, Christ defeated the two greatest problems that mankind has ever faced- Sin & Death! On the cross, Jesus defeated sin. Through the resurrection, Jesus defeated death!
3. Our faith is pitiful. (1 Corinthians 15:19). Each of the Apostles, except for John was executed for proclaiming Jesus rose from the dead & is the Christ. Why would anyone endure hardship, humiliation, suffering & even death if their faith is a fraud?
This is why an atheist considers a Christian to be a pitiful fool. Why would anyone give their life to worship a God who is dead, cannot forgive our sin and cannot give us eternal life? If Jesus is still dead… “walk away.” Leave Christianity behind. It’s pointless.
However… What if Jesus is risen? The logical conclusion can only be as Paul explains…
If Jesus is Risen… (1 Corinthians 15:20-22)
1. We have forgiveness. (1 Corinthians 15:17)
2. We have hope. (1 Corinthians 15:19) The atheist pities the Christian because he believes his hope is foolish, the Christian pities the atheist because his hope is empty.
3. We have life. (1 Corinthians 15:21-22)
4. We have victory. (1 Corinthians 15:54-57)
The resurrection of Jesus means that your sin and your death have been defeated, once and for all.
If Jesus is dead, then a Christian has no life. If Jesus is alive, then a Christian has no death.
Jesus IS alive, which means that everything He said is true! He has given us a mission and a purpose, and He is coming back for His own. May we not see the Resurrection at Easter time as a religious observance, but as a reason for giving our all for His glory!
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:5