Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 21, 1961

The Resurrection Of Christ And Its Implications For The Christian Life

L. A. Mott, Jr., Las Vegas, Nevada

"Now if Christ is preached that he hath been raised from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither hath Christ been raised: and if Christ hath not been raised, then is our preaching vain, your faith also is vain. Yea, and we are, found false witnesses of God; because we witnessed of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, neither hath Christ been raised: and if Christ hath not been raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable." (I Cor. 15:12-19)

The resurrection of Jesus is basic in the Christian faith. It is the focal point of Christianity. The death of Jesus as represented in the Scriptures is a marvelous sacrifice and a wonderful expression of God's love. The death is represented in Scripture as that in virtue of which man is forgiven of his sins. But if Christ was not raised from the dead his death loses all of its virtue and significance and becomes merely the death of another noble martyr who gave his life for a cause he believed to be right; if this is the case our faith is vain. Contrariwise, if Christ was raised from the dead, then he "was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead; even Jesus Christ our Lord," and we are assured that his blood is efficacious to cleanse every sin.

In 1 Cor. 15, Paul suspends all of our hopes of immortality upon this one point: Was Christ raised from the dead? If he was not, then the following consequences are true: (1) The preaching of the apostles which had the resurrection as its very heart is vain. (2) The Christian's faith is vain. (3) The apostles who from the beginning testified that Jesus arose are false witnesses. (4) Christians are yet in their sins. (5) The dead in Christ have perished. (6) The apostles who gave their lives to serve Christ and had no worldly accomplishments are of all men most to be pitied. But if Christ was raised, then one of these consequences follow; the very reverse is true. All of our hopes are made to depend entirely upon whether Christ arose. Beginning at verse 20 Paul asserts that Christ did arise and is a pledge of a general resurrection at his return. The proof of immortality is that one, Jesus Christ, did arise from the dead.

The resurrection also has important implications in reference to the life of an individual on earth. Hear Paul farther: "Else what shall they do that are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for the dead? why do we also stand in jeopardy every hour? I protest by that glorying in you, brethren, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If after the manner of men I fought with beasts at Ephesus, what doth it profit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. Be not deceived: Evil companionships corrupt good morals. Awake to soberness righteously, and sin not; for some have no knowledge of God: I speak this to move you to shame." (vv. 29-34)

If Christ did not arise, then we have no hope of a resurrection. If we are not to be raised, then we are living only for this life and the philosophy of the latter part of verse 32 is altogether in order.

However, if Christ did arise, and if, therefore, we shall arise, then we ought to be willing to give our lives in service to Christ. If, as Paul asserts, this mortal body shall put on immortality, we ought to be "stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord," knowing that our labor is not in vain. (v. 58)

I want to suggest that if an individual does not believe that Jesus arose, it is all the same as if he actually did not arise, as far as its effect on this individual's life is concerned. For if he does not believe Jesus arose, he has no basis for hope that he shall arise, and can live only for this life. Worldly minded Christian! Listen! This is a strong indictment against you! If in your life you emphasize this present world and are not stedfastly serving Christ, you place yourself in the company of infidels who disbelieve the resurrection of Christ.