After establishing the context of 1 Corinthians 15 in part one, part two in this series will examine two of the five crucial realities that exist only because Jesus has been raised from the dead based on Paul’s argument in 1 Corinthians 15:12-20.
“Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about 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, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” –1 Corinthians 15:12-20
Resurrection Reality #1: The Gospel is True
Paul first argues that if Christ has not been raised, then the preaching of the apostles is in vain. The word preaching here is not referring to the actual act of preaching, but rather to what is being preached. If Jesus has not been raised from the dead, then everything Paul and John and Luke and Peter and James said is to be discredited. This means that the New Testament is a fairy tale. If Jesus remained dead and buried in a tomb, then there is as much to be found in the Bible as there is in Aesop’s fables. What’s more, the Bible is an incredibly foolish book if Jesus was not raised. There is no substance to any of Paul’s preaching if Jesus has not been raised. We cannot call sinners to repentance and trust in a dead Savior. There is nothing salvific in a rotting corpse.
But Christ has been raised! So, we find absolute truth in Paul’s preaching. We can rest in the absolute truth in the Word of God. We can confidently build our lives on the foundation of God’s Word. You can respond to the call to repent of your sin and trust in the work of a Savior, because that Savior is alive! The preaching of the gospel finds meaning and truth in the resurrection of Jesus. We preach because Jesus was raised. Find joy in the fact that each week you come here, the basis of every word that is preached is the resurrection of Jesus. The life that is not wasted is the life that rejoices in the truth of the gospel and radically works to make it known.
Resurrection Reality #2: Faith in Christ is Meaningful
Paul continues in his argument. If Christ has not been raised, then the faith of his people is in vain—it is empty. This is directly connected to preaching, because Paul sees the direct connection between saving faith and the gospel. Faith in anything other than the gospel of Christ is meaningless. And so, Paul argues, if there is no resurrection, there is no gospel, and where there is no gospel, there is no faith. There is no meaning found in faith in a dead Jesus. Non-Christian, if you are trusting in any religion, idea, philosophy, or worldview outside of one who died and rose for your sins, then your faith is misplaced and empty. There is no joy to be found in an empty faith.
We know this from experience. Faith in an untrustworthy person is empty. We all desire relationships with people who are trustworthy. If we put our faith in someone, we do not want that faith to be in vain. I am here to tell you that Jesus Christ is the most trustworthy person to have lived. He proved it in his resurrection.
Your faith in Christ is in vain if he has not been raised. But Christ has been raised! You have a risen Savior to trust in. You do not have a leader who is dead in a grave. You do not have an idol you have created out of wood or stone. No, you have a sinless Savior who suffered in your place and was raised for your salvation. Find joy in the fact that your faith is well-founded on a risen and reigning Savior—the most trustworthy one of all. The life that is not wasted is the life that finds a friend in Jesus and takes great risks for his glory, because he is trustworthy.