Most of those close to me know I’m a big time football fan. Of the things I often wonder is, what would it be like if the United States Football League won that lawsuit against the National Football League. Would Reggie White and Steve Young have been a world champions and hall of fame members? Would the Raiders have stayed in Los Angeles? Would the team now in Jackson be nicknamed the Bulls instead of Jaguars? Would the Oilers ever have become the Titans? There would be more hypothetical questions that would probably stretch until the Rapture. You know, “if” is a funny word. Many things have been proposed and assumed based on that word. But have you ever considered the implications the word “if” could have on Christianity?
To begin, let’s get a clear understanding of this “if” word. There are basically three conditions of the word if in the scriptures. First, there is the condition of if where it is assumed to be true. The word “if” can be substituted with the word “since.” For example, Philippians 2:1 can be written, “Since therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, since there is any consolation of love, since there is any fellowship of the Spirit, since any affection and compassion.” The second condition is where if means it is not. For instance, in Luke 7, after an immoral woman wiped Jesus’ feet at a Pharisee’s home, in 7:39 the Pharisee said, “If this man were a prophet (and he is not) he would know what sort of person this woman is…” (parenthetical added). And third, there is the condition where if means maybe so, maybe not. For example, 1 John 1:9 could be better understood, “If we confess our sins (maybe we will, maybe we won’t)…” (parenthetical added).
The truth of Christianity rests on the resurrection. In 1 Corinthians 15:13 – 19, the Apostle Paul gave us some insight into some implications if there were no resurrection. To help convince those who doubted the resurrection, Paul worked on the assumption the resurrection never took place then travels the logical flow and arrived at stunning conclusions.
Using the second condition in verse 13, Paul worked on the assumption the resurrection of the dead was not true and that meant Christ’s tomb is not empty. But that flies in the face of known evidence. Mary Magdalene saw the risen Lord. In verses 5 – 8, Paul listed many brethren who saw the resurrected Lord. No existing government was able to produce the body. All evidence then and now points to the resurrection, but if there were no resurrection of the dead, then the basis for Christianity is on sinking sand. Using the same second condition in verse 14, Paul continued to deny the resurrection. As a result preaching the “good news” or gospel and faith in Christ, the object of the gospel, is useless. If there is no gospel, then Paul wasted time in verses 3 and 4. In verse 15, he used the first condition and declared that you lie on God for telling others that God raised Christ when you know God did not. Such proclamation damages fellowship with God and makes a mockery of grace. In verses 16 –17, going back to the second condition, Paul said because the resurrection was not true, your faith has no value and you are still in total depravity because there is no covering for your sins or the sins of your loved ones who died trusting Christ. Even worse, in verse 19, you are in need of compassion because you are in deep misery. Your misery needs compassion from God but you find none because you serve a god who has no power to provide any because he cannot raise the dead. As a result you are in an endless cycle of misery because you cannot find compassion and no compassion because of the condition of misery. To sum:
1. Christ’s tomb is not empty and Christianity rests on a weak foundation.
2. Preaching the gospel and your faith is useless.
3. You tell untruths about God, making a travesty of grace.
4. Your faith is worthless and you are still a slave of depravity.
5. You are in a vicious cycle of misery with no help.
The picture with no resurrection is bleak. But friends the good news is this is only hypothetical. You know God raised the Son. You know you have hope because God validated Jesus by the resurrection. You know God has power. You know God is compassionate because Jeremiah said, “The Lord’s mercies indeed never cease, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is Thy faithfulness.” - Lamentations 3:22 – 23.
God raised Christ from the dead. Be faithful to Christ and and enjoy your resurrection celebration!
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