Summary: This sermon suggests seven consequences if the resurrection of the dead is false. But, because the resurrection of the dead is true, we have hope!
As we continue our series in The Apostles’ Creed I would like to examine today what it means that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day. Please listen as I recite the Apostles’ Creed:
I believe in God the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended into hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
It was late Monday afternoon. The phone rang. I picked it up. “Hello, Freddy. I have some bad news. Don just died about an hour ago.”
All of us have had similar news at one time or another. We have all received news of the death of someone we knew personally or at least knew about. Some of us have had a close relative who has died. Others of us have received news in the past few months of a close relative or friend who has died.
This past week we saw pictures on TV and learned about the path of destruction taken by Hurricane Charley. At least 23 people died as a result of Hurricane Charley.
We have all felt the sting of death. But for those of us who believe in Jesus Christ, there is a balm. A sweet balm. And that sweet balm is. . . the resurrection.
The resurrection is all we have to cling to when death has stripped a loved one from our arms. It’s the solace of a soon-coming spring in the bitter breeze of death’s darkest winter. Without the resurrection, our lives would have no meaning.
Today I want to talk about the hope we have because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church and clearly demonstrated that Christ had risen from the dead. Listen to how he put it in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8:
"Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born."
Apparently, however, some in the Corinthian church believed that Jesus had been raised from the dead, but they doubted the resurrection of men and women. So Paul asked in 1 Corinthians 15:12, “But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?”
Then he suggested several consequences if there was no resurrection of the dead. Listen to how he put it in verses 13-19:
"If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 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. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men."
Paul questioned the contention of some that there cannot be a resurrection of the dead. He suggested seven consequences if the resurrection of the dead is false. Paul stated that if the resurrection of the dead is false, then. . .
1. Christ has not been raised (15:13, 16)