“And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised” (1 Corinthians 15:14,15).
THERE IS A VERSION OF “CHRISTIANITY” IN WHICH ALL OF THE MIRACLES ARE ELIMINATED FROM THE SCRIPTURES. Many people today take it for granted, based on their philosophy and worldview, that such a thing as a miracle is simply impossible, so the scriptural accounts of Jesus’ miracles are assumed to be fictitious.
In particular, the resurrection of Jesus is held to be a legend — an idea created by later Christians and injected into the accounts of Jesus’ life and death. Many ministers who occupy pulpits on Sunday morning may preach on the resurrection, but if you ask them privately, they will tell you they don’t believe it literally took place.
But what do we have left if we leave the resurrection out of the gospel of Christ? Not much. We may have a positive-mental-attitude system of emotional uplift and benevolent motivation, but we do not have the Christian message of salvation, for originally that gospel promised the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Paul spoke with remarkable candor when he wrote to the church in Corinth that if Christ was not raised from the dead, “our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We [the apostles] are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ.” Some seem to think that it is only in modern times that people began doubting the resurrection, but as Paul indicates, many people doubted it from the start. And he is very clear as to the choice we must make: either we accept that the resurrection occurred and obey the gospel that is based upon it — or we deny the resurrection and dispense with the gospel as nothing more than a myth whose believers are “most to be pitied” (v.19).
Like it or not, sin is real and we are lost. But no alternative to Christ is available for our forgiveness. “If Christ has not been raised . . . you are still in your sins” (v.17). To be sure, wishful thinking must not make our decision. If the gospel is false, we must face the facts. But let’s not water down what’s at stake here: hope vs. no hope.
“The resurrection of Jesus is at the heart of apostolic preaching and upon it rests the truth of the gospel” (Paul Earnhart).