Summary: We learn about six consequences if Christ had not risen from the dead.
It is such a joy to gather on this Resurrection Sunday! Christians throughout the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ every Lord’s Day, but especially on this day.
We are hardwired to resist the idea of someone coming back to life from the dead. Lal Bihari is living proof of that. In 1975, he applied for a bank loan in India, but was denied because the government had him listed as “legally dead.” Bihari spent the next 19 years fighting Indian bureaucracy to prove that he was indeed alive. One report on his life listed “1955-1975, 1994-” following his name. After his great challenge to prove he was not dead, Bihari discovered he wasn’t alone. So, he created the Association of Dead People to help others with the same issue. Christianity doesn’t deny that it is difficult to believe a dead man came back to life, but that’s just the point.
Not everyone believes that Jesus Christ rose back to life after having spent three days and three nights in the tomb. Even in the early days following Christ’s resurrection there were questions about it. In his first letter to the Corinthian church, the Apostle Paul asked the question, “What if Christ had not risen from the dead?”
Let’s read his answer in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19:
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 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. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:12-19)
Jesus’ resurrection is central to the celebration of Easter, but fewer than half of American adults make the connection. The Barna Group asked people to describe what Easter means to them personally and just 42% tied Easter to the Resurrection. Adults between 18 and 25 were the least likely of all ages to connect the two together. David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, commented, “The Easter holiday in particular still has a distinctly religious connection for people, but the specifics of it are really fading in a lot of people’s minds.”
The resurrection of Jesus is central to the celebration of Easter. There would be no Easter and, indeed, no Christianity if Christ had not risen from the dead.
In his letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul answered the question, “What if Christ had not risen from the dead?” Paul wanted his readers to understand that there are six significant consequences if Christ had not risen from the dead.
So, in our lesson we learn about six consequences if Christ had not risen from the dead.
Let’s learn about this as follows:
1. Unproductive Preaching (15:14a)
2. Unfounded Faith (15:14b, 17a)
3. Untrue Witness (15:15)
4. Unforgiven Sins (15:17b)
5. Unsaved Souls (15:18)
6. Unhappy People (15:19)
I. Unproductive Preaching (15:14a)
The first consequence if Christ had not risen from the dead is unproductive preaching.
Paul said in verse 14a: “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain….”
The Greek word for vain (kenos) means “without result, without effect, or without purpose.”
Paul has just said in the previous paragraph that the heart of the gospel – the good news – is Christ’s death and resurrection on our behalf. He said, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…” (15:3-4).
Because of the incredible comebacks in the 2001 World Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the New York Yankees, Sports Illustrated ran an interesting article on comebacks. That series had three huge comebacks – the Yankees with two in New York and the Diamondbacks with their big one in game seven. The piece in Sports Illustrated was of a different nature though. Of the ten greatest comebacks, according to Sports Illustrated, only two had anything to do with sports. Number seven on the list was Harry Truman’s defeat of John Dewey in 1948. The sixth greatest comeback was humanity in the 14th century after 25 million people died from the Black Death. Third place went to Michael Jordan for his comeback to basketball after a two-year hiatus in baseball. Then right there on the pages of Sports Illustrated was their opinion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the number one comeback of all time! It simply reads, “1. Jesus Christ, 33 A.D. Defies critics and stuns the Romans with his resurrection.” The other nine spots on their list of greatest comebacks in world history are certainly debatable, but they were right on target with their assessment of Christ’s resurrection.