IF JESUS CHRIST HAS NOT BEEN RAISED
"If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised.... But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead...." (1 Corinthians 15:13-20 NIV).
Every year, the Christians all over the world set aside a Sunday in either late March or early April to remember and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Why do they attach much importance to the celebration? Does it have any difference today if Jesus Christ is dead or alive? After all, famous world religious founders are dead. What if Jesus Christ has not been raised from the dead? Do we still have an anchor for our souls?
One of the problems of the first-century Corinthian church that made Paul to write his first epistle to them was the denial of bodily resurrection - a belief that crept into the church through the influence of Greek viewpoint of immortality of only the soul. To an average Greek, there was no bodily resurrection of the dead. Even the Sadducees - a sect of the Jews - did not believe in the resurrection of the dead (Matthew 22:23; Mark 12:18; Luke 20:27; Acts 23:8).
The basis of Christian message and life is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If we, the twenty-first-century Christians doubt the resurrection of the dead, then we have to agree with these six logical arguments:
The first argument for the resurrection of Jesus Christ and other believers is that the Christian message would be useless if Christ has not been raised. Paul boldly stated in 1 Corinthians 2:2, "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (NIV. See also 1:22; 15:3-4; Galatians 3:1; 6:14). Crucifixion in the first-century Greco-Roman world was a notorious punishment for criminals. If Christ has not been raised, what would be the pride in preaching about crucified person?
The second argument is about our Christian faith. The Christian faith rests on the crucified and resurrected Jesus Christ. There is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved. Peter put it clearly in his defence before the Sanhedrin: "…then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is 'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.' Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:10-12 NIV). Jesus Christ is the Way! Such faith in Christ would have been useless - empty, without cause, without success if Christ has not been raised.
Preachers of the gospel are notorious liars - false witnesses - if Christ has not been raised. The Scriptures would also be one of those misleading literatures in the world. However, hear Peter again: "We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty" (2 Peter 1:16 NIV).
Jesus Christ is our sacrificial Lamb that 'propitiate' for our sins through His death (Roman 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:10). He was a substitute for the punishment we deserve due to our sins. Because of this, we will not be judged again (Roman 8:1), we have been justified (Roman 5:9). No doubt, if Jesus Christ has not been raised from the dead, His death would be useless, and we would still be in our sins and still carry the guilt and condemnation of sin. The reason is that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the proof that His death actually atoned for our sin.
Jesus Christ promises in John 11:25-26, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (NIV. See also John 3:36; 5:21; 6:39-40, 44). If Jesus Christ has not been raised from the dead, then such promises are vain promises and the departed and even the living Christians would find themselves in hell. Eternity would have been an illusion.
If the above argument is true, then Christians should be pitied most because all reasons and purposes for life itself are destroyed. If Christians have hope only for this life, unbelievers are better off than then. It would have been most disastrous for them.
Whether the Greeks, the Sadducees, and even the whole world believe in the bodily resurrection or not, the good news is that Jesus Christ was indeed raised from the dead (Matthew 28:1-6; Mark 16:2-7; Luke 24:4-7; John 20:1-9; Acts 1:3; 2:23-24, 32; 13:30; 17:31; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Hebrews 13:20). He is alive! He has defeated sin, death, and the devil!
In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, Paul chronicled some historical events that served as proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Many other extra-Biblical sources attest to this historical event. In fact, His appearance to this people for over a period of forty days is a convincing proof that He is alive (Acts 1:3). He is still appearing to many people today. Praise the Lord!
Glory be to God for fulfilling His promises in raising Jesus Christ from the dead. Nevertheless, does His resurrection have any meaning to you? Has it had any impact in your life? Have you experienced the work of salvation that Jesus Christ perfected in His resurrection? Commemorating this historic event should not be on a special day each year alone, or even on every first day of the week only, but on every day of our lives.
In His service,
Bayo Afolaranmi (Pastor).
This message was first sent out on April 11, 2004.