Christianity confronts the basic issues of life and death with the affirmation of the historical fact of Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead. The great emphasis on this is evidenced in the documents that comprise the New Testament. It is seen in the report of eyewitnesses (cf. Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20-21; 1 Corinthians 15), the preaching of the early Christians (Acts 2-5, 9-10, 13, 17, 22-24, 26, et al.), and the regular weekly assembly to eat the Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:42; 20:7; 1 Corinthians 10:16; 11:20-34; 16:1-2). These documents say nothing about an annual observance known as Easter. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states that the term Easter “does not properly occur in Scripture. . . . There is no trace of Easter celebration in the NT” (Porter 889). Thus, the practice of Christianity based on the New Testament will result in disciples meeting every Lord’s Day (i.e. the first day of the week) to eat the Lord’s Supper and, in this special way, remember their Lord.
Facing betrayal, arrest, judgment, and death in just a matter of hours, Jesus of Nazareth assembled with His apostles in a large furnished upper room somewhere in Jerusalem. On that occasion He said, “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also” (John 14:19). One of those who saw and heard Jesus in that upper room was the apostle John. He was also one of those to whom Jesus presented Himself alive by many infallible proofs for a period of forty days (Acts 1:3). Sixty-five years later, while banished to the island of Patmos off the southwest coast of Asia Minor, John saw and heard Jesus again as he received and wrote the final words that complete the New Testament canon. John wrote: “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and Death” (Revelation 1:17-18).
Christianity provides a solid, certain, and secure answer to the age-old question: “If a man die, shall he live again?” (John 14:14). Warren observed, “Down through the centuries men have asked themselves these very intriguing questions: ‘Will physical death be the end of me? After physical death, will I live on as a unique center of consciousness?’ . . .” (vii). Jesus made it clear that, although one’s body is mortal and will die (even as His did), the soul is immortal and not subject to the same death (cf. Matthew 10:28). By His resurrection, Jesus has provided assurance that it is certain that the corruptible and mortal body that dies at physical death can “put on incorruption . . . [and] put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53-54; cf. 2 Timothy 1:10).
Robert G. Lee called the denial of the resurrection “the world’s blackest assumption” (126). It is the hypothetical situation that Paul described in his epistle to the Corinthians when he asked, “. . .[H]ow do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? . . . And IF CHRIST IS NOT RISEN then . . .” (1 Corinthians 15:12, 14, emp. added).
Paul powerfully summarized the case for the resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-11). Heaven revealed it as the Scriptures prophesied it (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Eyewitnesses verified it (1 Corinthians 15:5-8). The apostles preached it, and the Corinthians believed it (1 Corinthians 15:11). Then, with flawless logic, Paul set forth the implications of the proposition: Christ is not risen (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:14-19).
If Christ is not risen, then gospel preaching is unsubstantial. Without the resurrection “our preaching is vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14). The word translated vain means “empty and without content. . . . Take out the resurrection and there is nothing left” (Rogers and Rogers 386).
If Christ is not risen, then Christian faith is unreasonable. “Your faith also is vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14. Faith is futile and purposeless without the resurrection.
If Christ is not risen, then the apostles of Christ are unethical. Paul stated, “. . .[W]e are found false witnesses of God . . . if in fact the dead do not rise” (1 Corinthians 15:15). If Christ is not risen, then the apostles were deliberate deceivers, colossal liars.
If Christ is not risen, then the soul of man is unredeemable. Without the resurrection “you are still in your sins!” (1 Corinthians 15:17). A dead savior cannot save, but JESUS is able to save since “He ever lives” (Hebrews 7:25).
If Christ is not risen, then the end of life is unrewardable. “Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished” (1 Corinthians 15:18).
If Christ is not risen, then the Christian life is undesirable. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (1 Corinthians 15:19). One is not better for being a Christian if Christianity is false. Rather, he should be pitied for believing what would be a monstrous lie.
If Christ is not risen, then the above six implications are true. However, the above implications are false. Therefore, it is also false that Christ is not risen. As Hardeman so eloquently declared, “He plucked the rose of immortality from the realm of the dead and planted it to blossom and to bloom upon the bosom of His own grave, thus giving hope and joy to mankind” (40).
In spite of life’s setbacks, heartaches, discouragements, defeats, doubts, and depression, the living Lord Jesus Christ provides a life that is hopeful. Across the shores of time the voice of Him who is the hope of glory speaks words that can forever heal our broken hearts, calm our apprehensive souls, wipe away blinding tears, relieve our pains, quell our doubts, and give us hope of life forevermore because He lives!
Charles C. Pugh III
Hardeman, N. B. One Dozen Sermons. N.p.: Hardeman, 1956.
Lee, Robert G. The Top Ten of Robert G. Lee. 1971. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1976.
Porter, H. “Easter.” James Orr, gen. ed. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. 1920. Vol. 2. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1939.
Rogers Cleon L., and Cleon L. Rogers III. The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998.
Warren, Thomas B. Immortality: All of Us Will Be Somewhere Forever. Moore: National Christian, 1992.