An Essential Doctrine
1 Corinthians 15:12-34
I. What if the Resurrection is False?
1) Jesus Christ is still dead in His tomb (v. 13, 16)
- There is an unbreakable solidarity between Jesus Christ and the believer, since Jesus is the ‘firstfruits’ from the dead – v. 20
- If it’s true that Jesus rose from the dead as a fact of history, logic compels us to affirm the future, bodily resurrection of all of His followers. We cannot have one resurrection without the other!
2) Christian preaching is useless (v. 14)
- “The convention of an afterlife is a fairytale story for people afraid of the dark.” – Stephen Hawking
- If the resurrection did not happen, Stephen Hawking and the atheists are 100% correct in their assessment of Christianity.
3) Christian faith is useless (v. 14, 17)
- Having a sincere belief about something doesn’t necessarily make it valid or true
- If the resurrection didn’t happen we Christians may be sincere in our beliefs, but we are sincerely wrong!
4) The Apostles are liars and blasphemers (v. 15)
- To deny the resurrection is to conclude that the Apostles intentionally made up an elaborate lie for which they were willing to suffer and die. (v. 30-32)
- Denial of the resurrection also makes Jesus into a liar since He predicted it (cf. John 5:28, 6:44, 11:25)
5) We are lost in sin and eternally condemned (v. 17)
- A dead saviour cannot give new life to his followers
- A lying or deluded saviour/ religious leader is not worthy of our devotion and worship
6) All believers of the past are eternally condemned (v. 18)
- If Jesus was a fraud all the Messianic hopes and beliefs of the Old Testament saints were delusions
- If Jesus was a fraud we will never see our deceased loved ones again. We also need to live with the grief of knowing that they are all eternally lost in hell
7) We are pitiful and to be pitied (v. 19)
- ‘Pascal’s Wager’: Blaise Pascal argued that a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God. If God does not actually exist, such a person will only have a finite loss (ie. some pleasure, luxury), whereas if God does exist they stand to receive infinite gains and to avoid infinite losses.
- On this point, Paul could not disagree more strongly – if we bet on Christianity and turn out to be wrong we have wasted our lives and suffered for nothing. If the resurrection isn’t true, ‘let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die’ (v. 32)
8) Baptism is a meaningless ritual (v. 29)
- ‘Baptism for the dead’ – a very obscure expression
- It is possible that the Corinthians were baptizing by proxy – a strange practice that Paul mentions in the text, but does not necessarily approve
- It is possible that this is a unique way of explaining Baptism’s symbolic meaning. Whenever we baptize, we do so on behalf of a person who was once spiritually dead and is still heading toward physical death.
- If there is no resurrection, believer’s baptism loses its ability to communicate truth, and instead grants us a false hope.
II. What if the Resurrection is True?
1) We have the hope of live after death in glorified, human bodies
- Jesus’ death for sin becomes the basis of our death to sin, and his resurrection becomes the basis of our eternal hope of new life!
- This principle of solidarity is illustrated by Adam and by Christ
- Adam was given as the federal head (ie. representative) for all humanity – his disobedience plunged the entire human race into spiritual and physical death
- Jesus Christ was given as the federal head for all God’s elect (cf. John 6:37-40, John 10:15-16)
2) We have the hope of a King and a Kingdom
- The Christian hope is not to live forever as disembodied spirits/souls – our bodies will rise!
- The Christian hope is grounded in the cosmic victory of Jesus Christ over the power of death