Hope and the Resurrection
Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:12-28
In the late 1800s, an English journalist by the name of Frank Morison wanted to learn about Jesus, but under the influence of the skeptics of his day, he doubted the resurrection of Christ and set out to disprove it. Perhaps you know what ultimately happened? If not, read on…
There have always been skeptics when it comes to the resurrection. In 1 Corinthians chapter 15 we read of Paul’s response to those who were promulgating the false teaching that Christ had not risen from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:12). The church in Corinth had its share of problems, most having to do with misbehavior of one kind or the other. But in the denial of the resurrection they were confronted with a theological heresy which attacked the very foundation of their faith. So the Apostle Paul responded in the strongest possible terms.
What if there were no resurrection? The Apostle Paul spoke to that. He said if there were no resurrection then those who preach the gospel do so in vain and are false witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:14-15). Yet eleven of the twelve Apostles (all witnesses of the resurrection) suffered martyrdom in preaching that message. The only exception being the Apostle John, who himself experienced his share of persecution. Why would these men choose such suffering if the resurrection hadn’t happened?
If there were no resurrection then those who believed, have believed in vain and are still in their sins (1 Corinthians 15:17). What is the gospel message? “Christ died for our sins…(and) he was raised on the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3). That gospel message, that message “of first importance” would bear no good news of triumph over sin if Christ had not been raised! There would be no salvation and no hope! And those who have died will have perished (1 Corinthians 15:18)! But Christ has been raised and there is good news to believe in and to share!
Perhaps most disconcerting is Paul’s statement in verse 19, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” John MacArthur has commented on this: “So when somebody trickles along with a philosophical argument that there’s no resurrection, says Paul, the ramifications are stupendous. God is a mocker, every preacher is a liar, all of our faith is useless, every message is pointless and we’re all in our sins and damned to hell. That’s the end of everything…All we’ve got left if there’s no resurrection is the here and now, right? That’s it. Here we are, folks. And…verse 19 says…in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men…what?…most miserable. If all Christ can do for me is something in the here and now and nothing in the afterlife…forget it. Who needs it? I can do for myself what I want. I’ll become a Hedonist. I’ll become a practical existentialist. Why should I bother?”
Verse 20 is pivotal. The first word in the verse makes all the difference–”BUT!”…“Christ has been raised from the dead!” The truth of it being attested to by those all those who have believed, by the Scriptures and by those who personally saw the risen Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). Christ is the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep–meaning, of course, there’d be more to follow. Including all who have believed. A glorious transformation awaits every Believer (1 Corinthians 15:50-58)!
What happened to Frank Morison, the one who set out to disprove the resurrection? Instead of disproving the resurrection, his investigation into the Biblical record led to his discovery of its validity in a moving, personal way. The book he went on to write, “Who Moved the Stone?”, is considered by many to be a classic apologetic on the subject of the Resurrection. Thomas Brooks once said, “We are more sure to arise out of our graves than out of our beds.” In the resurrection of Christ, we possess a sure and triumphant reason for hope!
In Christ’s Resurrection You Possess a Certain Reason for a Living Hope!
Heavenly Father. We praise You for the glorious, good news of Christ’s death for sins and resurrection from the dead! By your grace and mercy, and through Him, we’ve been forgiven and set free from sin’s penalty and power! When it comes to the resurrection, we live in a world of skeptics, yet You’ve planted the truth and reality of it in our hearts! As we live in this sin-cursed world, walking through the valley of the shadow of death, let us always be mindful the tomb is empty, Jesus is risen from the dead! The day is coming when we will all be changed, when the perishable and mortal will give way to the imperishable and immortality! We will praise You forevermore for Your victory won through our Lord Jesus Christ! Help us to abound in Your work now as we anticipate that day!