Summary: The resurrection of Christ is not simply a philosophical idea whereby His Spirit lives on in our memories. It is a reality of history. But what does this mean to us today?
Christ Is Risen!
1. In this chapter, Paul is dealing with the issue of the resurrection of the dead. Some in the church at Corinth were teaching that there was no physical resurrection of the dead.
• The Sadducees taught this. Acts 23:6-8
• It could have been Jews with a Sadducee background or pagans in the church at Corinth that were teaching that there was no resurrection of the dead. vs. 12
2. In verses 1-11, Paul dealt with the historical validity of the resurrection of Christ.
• The resurrection of Christ is not simply a philosophical idea whereby His Spirit lives on in our memories.
• It is a reality of history. You can prove it. You could go into a court of law and use the laws of authenticity that validate historical events, apply those same rules to the resurrection, and come away with historical certainty that He raised from the dead.
• Someone may debate what that event means (and only God's Word defines the meaning), but there is no denying the facts of it.
3. In verses 12-19, Paul moves from the historical validity of the resurrection to a very rational approach to the resurrection.
4. It seems that these people were not necessarily denying Christ's resurrection, but rather the physical, bodily resurrection of believers. Paul reasons in verse 13, “If there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen.” cf. vs. 16
5. If Christ is not risen, “we are of all men most miserable” (vs. 19). But I love what he declares in verse 20. “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept.” Christ is the first of many who will be raised from the dead!
6. What does all of this mean to us today?
First, it means that our preaching is not in vain. vs. 14
1. The word “vain” means “empty; worthless; meaningless.”
2. Paul had preached Christ in Syria, Asia, Israel, Europe, and Greece. If Christ be not risen, Paul says that it was all a waste of time. But praise God, He is risen, and it wasn’t a waste of time!
3. I spend hours preparing messages from God's Word to give to you. If Christ be not risen, I might as well quit and go sell insurance, or open a restaurant and let Deniece cook. You might as well stay home and watch TV. Let's just shut the doors of the church and go home.
4. The resurrection of Christ is the cornerstone of our faith, and it is what separates Christianity from all other religious systems in the world. It is not a religious system, but a faith built on the historical fact of the miraculous resurrection of Jesus Christ.
5. But if Christ is dead, there is no reason to meet and have church, or send missions teams out, do WTB, witness to your family and friends, etc. Our proclaiming of Jesus Christ is worthless nonsense. But aren’t you thankful for the empty tomb?
Second, it means that our faith is not in vain. vs. 14, 17, 19
1. The Corinthians had received Paul's gospel and trusted Christ as their Savior. Paul tells them in no uncertain terms that if Christ is still dead, they are still in their sins.
2. A dead Savior can't save anybody. If Christ is dead, then we are still dead in our sins.
3. Christ was made sin on the cross and answered sin's penalty. Christ bore our sins, but the Bible says that when He returns, He will return without sin. Hebrews 9:28
4. In between these two events, Christ put away sin. The sin that was placed on Him was done away with (Hebrews 9:26). His death paid the penalty of all sin and satisfied the righteous justice of God. Now God can look at us in Christ and declare us righteous.
5. In order for God to declare us righteous and just, Jesus had to be raised from the dead. Romans 4:24-25
• How do I know that Christ's death was satisfactory to the Father and that my sins have been forgiven and fully paid for? What is the receipt that says, “Paid in full?”
• The receipt that God puts in your hand is the resurrection of Christ. Christ was raised up with receipt in hand. All of His righteousness can be given to me because He was delivered for our offences and raised up to prove that it was enough!
6. If He is not risen, do you know whose death He died? He died His own death, and death still holds Him, and we are still in our sins. But look at verse 20.
7. If your belief system only gives you hope in this life and can't give you a sure hope beyond the grave, then get rid of it. It's not good. vs. 19