Summary: Our hope is a sure and lasting one
A little girl lived near a cemetery, and often had to walk through it after dark. When someone asked her, “Aren’t you ever afraid?”, she answered, “Oh, no! My home is just on the other side.”
The best way to begin this sermon today I think, is to ask the question; ‘where are you going’? Do you have hope for journey’s end? As you pass through the dark shadows of this life, are you afraid? Or do you walk with a confidence that ‘home’ is just the other side?
It all comes down to this, you know; either you know that when you leave this life you will enter into eternal life with the risen Christ, or you have no hope at all for anything beyond this life, and in your soberest moments you must face the fact that life is ultimately futile.
Any other attitude about some kind of floating, spiritual bliss, becoming one with the cosmos, or reincarnation, or even total obliteration and nothingness after death, is deception with no basis whatsoever.
We know about the hereafter from the One who has been there and came to tell us about it and then returned, or we can only speculate; because all those of us who have passed over to the other side are still there, except for that One; Jesus Christ.
Paul is addressing the Christians in Corinth, when he says that some of them say there is no resurrection. These people were in error about the most important, the most fundamental truth of the Christian faith; a misconception that could only leave them hopeless. But Paul was to establish here that there IS hope, ...that our faith is NOT in vain, ...that Christ is indeed, risen from the dead, ...and that because He lives, we too shall live.
(read I Corinthians 15:12-20)
WHAT IF THERE IS NO RESURRECTION?
Paul was apparently addressing some Christians who were approaching their new faith, carrying a lot of baggage from the heathen philosophies they once adhered to.
They must have subscribed to the teaching that Jesus of Nazareth had risen from the dead. That was the primary message of the apostles and others who had been in and around Jerusalem during that time, and had actually seen the risen Christ.
But for whatever reasons, they could not believe that His resurrection held any promise that they too would rise.
Maybe they saw Christianity as a worthwhile religion, when compared to philosophies and religions all around them, but that is all.
Well, it might have been enough in their thinking. After all, it didn’t call for sacrifice of small children. It seemed based on high moral standards and did not call for going in to the temple prostitutes; a practice still actively held in Corinth even at this time Paul was writing.
Maybe they saw Christianity merely as a reformation. A ‘turning over a new leaf’ and living a more wholesome life.
I’m afraid that is how many people see Christianity today. Not only among the unsaved and unchurched, but even among many who are active members of the church.
Oh, there is no doubt that the message of Jesus rising from the dead is still out front and one of the fundamental beliefs of Christianity. Even many in the secular world know that.
Folks in the church surely know it, and they go one step further than the unchurched community and believe that they too will one day be in Heaven with Jesus.
Unfortunately, the truth of what Christ’s resurrection really means for us often does not translate into significant change in the thinking or lifestyle of the believer.
Let’s look at it this way. What if there is no resurrection from the dead? What would it be like to be a Christian then? What would we do; what would church be and mean for us, if there was no hope of a resurrection?
Well, first, I suppose our focus would all be on the here and now, wouldn’t it?
Since there would be no hope for anything after this life, then the point of Christianity would have to be whatever applies to ‘now‘.
So we’d have to start with a place to live. The church structure would have to be as pretty and as comfortable and as impressive as we could possibly make it. The larger the number of people in a congregation, of course, the more we could afford to put into the structure itself; therefore, the more impressive we could make it.
Then, since we would be in competition with all the other religions of the world, and in reality would have nothing more to offer than they, (since there is no resurrection from the dead), we would have to compete with them constantly with better music, better programs, better benefits, and a more attractive philosophy; one which does not offend or condemn or convict, but one which gives the listener a sense of peace and contentment and happiness and relief from the struggles of life. It would have to be a religion of comfort and personal satisfaction, so as not to drive potential paying members away.