Suppose when the world ends the believing-dead from all times and places won’t be raised. Suppose there’s no resurrection.
The Corinthian Christians are saying “no resurrection”. What does Paul think?
But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? (1 Corinthians 15:12).
Paul’s preached it: the crucified Christ “has been raised from the dead”. That’s the gospel they received, the gospel on which they’ve taken their stand (15:1). How, then, can they now say “there is no resurrection of the dead” at the end of the age? (Probably they believe in a “spiritual” [pneumatikos] resurrection.)
Paul will have none of that. It’s bodily resurrection or nothing. Let’s suppose, though, (says Paul) there is no resurrection. Then what?
If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised (1 Corinthians 15:13).
Logical. And consequential. Big time. As Paul will point out.
Note first, though, there are probably some who are happy with a not-raised Christ. They applaud his teachings, such as the Sermon on the Mount. They won’t abide miracles, though. Jesus died a martyr’s death. Showed us what love is. But he’s still in the tomb.
Listen, Christianity is a miracle-faith. “Christ has been raised from the dead”. If not, though, here are the consequences . . .
And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith (1 Corinthians 15:14).
Paul’s preaching is “useless”. So, too, all the apostles’ preaching. So, too, the Corinthians’ (and our) faith. It’s empty. It has no basis.
Christian faith isn’t faith in faith. Christian faith has content. It believes Christ died for our sins, was buried–and was raised from the dead.
If not, everything he taught, everything he claimed is empty. It’s nothing. He’s proven a faker. And faith in a faker is useless.
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 (1 Corinthians 15:5,16).
Not only is the apostles’ preaching useless, the apostles are liars. Rip from the Bible Romans through Revelation. The authors lied. They are like politicians “spinning” the truth for votes. (Although in the apostles’ case their Christ-resurrected “lies” got them beaten and killed.)
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins (1 Corinthians 15:17).
Without resurrection, Christ isn’t the sacrifice for sins. Resurrection gives proof to the efficacy of his death. Without it, his death was just another Jew-death. And the Corinthians are not washed from their sexual immorality, idolatry, adultery, homosexual practice, thievery, greed, drunkenness and revelry (6:10,11.)
Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost (1 Corinthians 15:18).
The Greek, apolonto, means to perish. “Help us, Lord,” cried the disciples in the storm-trapped boat, “for we are perishing!” (Matthew 8:28). But the word means more: the opposite of being saved from eternal death, which is hell. “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:9).
If Christ hasn’t been bodily raised from death, those who’ve died believing in Christ are simply gone. No future for them. They’re like disciples eternally trapped in a sea-swamped boat.
If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men (1 Corinthians 15:19).
Paul doesn’t imply “this life” holds no blessings for Christians, that everything is “pie in the sky bye and bye.” Then, without resurrection, why are Christians to be pitied? Because this life is brief like the wildflowers of the field, like a vapor of air. And typically it ends with suffering. “If only for this life we have hope in Christ” not only are the blessings shrunk, we’ve believed in a future (hope) that doesn’t exist. Like delusional patients in a mental institution, people should feel sorry for us.
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The Gospel calls us beyond the acceptable common, ordinary, natural. It demands we accept the uncommon, the extraordinary, the supernatural.
We can live with a vague, “spiritual” heaven-future–clouds, angels and such. What most apparently can’t live with (especially the “intellectuals” on college and university campuses) is future bodily resurrection. That’s a bridge too far.
Sadly, that’s true even of some professed Christians in so-called “mainline” Protestant churches. Christianity teaches us to love, show how Christ loved–but don’t go sounding like a TV evangelist and preach bodily resurrection for all the believing-dead at the end of the world.
But, you see, Paul’s inspired logic won’t allow for Christianity that denies bodily resurrection. The whole package falls apart without it.
Am I willing to believe in such an extremist Gospel? Am I okay with being known as the guy who believes one day all the dead will rise? Am I going to stake my future on this “crazy” idea?