Summary: Only the true God, the Lord of life and death, could be our Savior.
THE RESURRECTION CONNECTION
Little children love to play “connect the dots.” If you were to go to most any restaurant and ask for a children’s menu, somewhere on the menu would be a “connect the dots” game. I suppose what makes “connect the dots” so interesting to a child is the way in which the picture or pattern progresses. As the lines and numbers are connected – one, two, three, etc. – a picture gradually emerges from the series of dots.
Small children aren’t the only ones who “connect the dots.” Life itself is progressive – one thing leads to another. That also applies to our understanding of God’s plan of salvation. Today, the apostle Paul teaches us that our Christian faith is not a random series of beliefs. Rather, there is a real progression to what we believe. And as we grow in our faith and understanding of the Savior, a wondrous picture emerges. And so Paul’s words aid us in our spiritual growth, as he explains: THE RESURRECTION CONNECTION. He connects the dots, so to speak between our life and Christ: 1) If Christ didn’t rise, then we can’t either and 2) Since Christ did rise, then we will also.
1) If Christ Didn’t Rise, Then We Can’t Either
Logic and reason. The Corinthians craved such things. In fact, they lived in a culture that prided itself on philosophical reason. Greek philosophy had a grip on the members of this ancient church. Philosophers such as Plato taught what was known as a dualistic view of nature that insisted that everything “spiritual” was good and everything “physical” was bad.
Such a viewpoint considered the concept of a resurrected body to be foolish and ugly, because the idea of a resurrected body gave the impression that the physical body could be glorified and on an equal level with the soul. And so some in Corinth were promoting the idea that there was no physical resurrection of the dead.
Such thinking has not died, but has been “resurrected” over the centuries again and again. Post-modern theologians believe and teach that Christ’s resurrection did not actually happen. Many pastors refer to the resurrection as something they call “the Easter event.” It is taught that Jesus did not actually rise, but that doesn’t matter. What is important is that people share in Christ’s existential death and resurrection. Those who deny the resurrection account claim that Easter is just a story that fills us with the hope that we can rise above our troubles in this life. We rise with Christ in the sense that we find the freedom to be true to ourselves, and to live a life that is open to God’s love. Such thinking tries to erase the bold pencil line of hope that connects us to Jesus Christ.
Yet what does St. Paul say in response? He boldly says, “For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” If people cannot be raised from the dead, then Christ could not have been raised either. You see how the apostle connects the dots for us? If Christ didn’t rise, then people who believe in him have a fruitless, empty faith and are hopelessly lost in sin.
The resurrection is God’s ultimate pledge of his grace – his undeserved love. And that flies in the face of self-serving hearts. Our sinful hearts do not desire a resurrected Savior because that is the ultimate proof that Christ has achieved our salvation for us. Sinful humans don’t want a God who offers the free gift of salvation wrapped up in his Son. By nature our hearts want a self-help manual to salvation.
Without a resurrection, Christianity is pointless. We are then wasting our time this morning. There can be no hope of Justification – God’s declaration that we are declared innocent for his Son’s sake. Without Christ’s resurrection there is no need for us to strive to live a godly life in honor to our risen, living Savior. We might as well indulge every sinful desire. We might as well live it up now because if Christ’s remains are still lying in some shallow grave in Palestine, then we are to be pitied more than all people. If Christ is still dead, then God is the biggest liar the world will ever know! All those loved ones who died in the faith will remain dead. That means the Bible cannot be trusted!
A missionary was teaching the Bible in a market place in North India. When he had finished his class a Muslim approached him and said, “Sir, you have to admit that we Muslims have one thing you do not, and it is far better than anything you Christians have.” The missionary smiled and said, “Please tell me what that is. I’d like to know.”