Summary: Part of an adult Sunday school class series on the Person of Christ.
1. To the Old Testament prophecies. Paul writes that Christ’s resurrection, as well as His death, was “according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:4), which means primarily the Old Testament writings. David prophesied of Christ’s resurrection when he wrote, “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [the grave]; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10). Peter indicated the resurrection of Christ fulfilled the prophecy of Psalm 16:10 (cf. Acts 2:25-27). H. A. Ironside writes, “Now, these words, you say, are expressed by David in the first person. When he wrote that sixteenth Psalm one might have imagined perhaps those experiences were to be his own, but Peter shows it was the Spirit of Christ speaking through David, leading him to write as he did.” - Lectures on the Book of Acts, p. 58.
2. To Christ’s person. Christ predicted His resurrection on several occasions. At first He used only vague terms, such as “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). But later on in His ministry He spoke quite plainly. Matthew writes, “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matt. 16:21, cf. 20:19). And Mark records Jesus saying, “But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee” (Mark 14:28). To the women who came to Christ’s tomb wondering where He was, the angel said, “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said” (Matt. 28:6). “The Resurrection authenticates our Lord as a true Prophet. Without that, all that He said would be subject to doubt.” - Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology, p. 267. Christ’s resurrection was also the seal of the Father’s satisfaction with His life and work on the cross. Someone has said, the Resurrection is God’s “Amen” to Christ’s “It is finished.”
3. To Christ’s work. If Christ did not rise from the dead then, of course, He would not be alive to do all His post-resurrection ministries. His ministry would have ended at death. We would not, therefore, have a High Priest, an Intercessor, Advocate, or a Head of the Church. His second coming would also be impossible if He did not rise from the grave.
4. To the Gospel. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 Christ’s death and resurrection are said to be “of first importance” (“first of all” KJV). Paul writes, “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain [empty]” (1 Cor. 15:14). Emery H. Bancroft explains what the gospel would be like if Christ was not risen:
"If Christ be not risen, our preaching is emptied of good news; the gospel has lost its note of joy and is changed into a funeral dirge. It has become a gospel of death, a mere biography of a man who lived an extraordinary life, but died an ordinary though ignominious [shameful] death—’even the death of the Cross.’ It is then only a weird story which has for its anticlimax a crown of thorns, a rugged cross, a stiffened corpse, and a cold, dark tomb. What mean you, angels of light, by bringing that message of good cheer on that fair night of His birth, if Christ be not risen? Did angel lips speak lies when they sang, ’Behold I bring you glad tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord’? If Christ be not risen, they did. Better had those angel voices been forever silent than to awaken hopes never to be realized.
"If Christ be not risen, our preaching is emptied of its power. It then becomes only the history of man who failed, and such a tale could never save anyone. No matter how many good worlds fell from His lips, or how many good deeds were done by His hands, if Christ be not risen, the gospel is not the power of God unto salvation. It is the resurrection of Jesus Christ that gives the gospel its dynamic and vitalizing power. Unless Jesus Christ gained a victory at Calvary, as evidenced by His resurrection over death, hell, and the grave, then we are still their victims, no mater, what may be proclaimed to the contrary.’- Christian Theology, pp. 128-9.
5. To us. In 1 Corinthians Paul lists several disastrous results for Christians “if Christ be not risen.” First, “if Christ be not risen . . . your faith is also vain [groundless]” (1 Cor. 15:14). In verse 17 Paul also writes, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” Faith in a dead Savior is both preposterous and pathetic.