Read: 1 Corinthians 15:12-34
Consider: The following post was first published on 3rd February 2017. It is reproduced below as an encouragement to anyone struggling with the idea of Jesus being raised from the dead, as well as what happens when we die.
In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul deals with the thorny issue of what happens after death. People even in his day were unsure what would happen when they died and if they could really believe in the resurrection of the dead.
Paul deals with it quite logically by pointing out that the promise of bodily resurrection for the believer is predicated on the certainty of Christ’s resurrection. There are some people in the church who say they are Christians, yet have a real problem believing in the resurrection of Christ. In their opinion they make the resurrection a discretionary belief, a difference of opinion or interpretation that can be accommodated within the diversity of Christian belief. But how does the Bible deal with it? Starting with the gospels we can see that despite everyone knowing that dead people don’t come back to life, the gospel writers treat this incredible thing as a real event that happened. We must remember that the gospels were either written as direct eyewitness accounts, or recorded the eyewitness testimony of others. So it was easy for them to say ‘I was there and this is what I saw’. It then comes down to whether or not we believe their testimony.
Paul did not have this direct testimony. He had not been a disciple of Jesus, nor had he been present at his death, nor had he witnessed his resurrection. Admittedly he had met the risen Christ on the road to Damascus. Bearing this in mind, Paul tells the Corinthians:
And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.
1 Corinthians 15:14, 17 (NIV)
What he is basically saying is that if Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead, then we are wasting our time. The resurrection is so central to Christianity that without it there would be no point to our faith. If Jesus was not raised then we would still be in our sins and we would be lost. Thankfully Paul does not leave it there; he goes on to say in 1 Corinthians 15:20 –
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Pray: Father, we thank you that because Christ has been raised from the dead we can be sure that our faith is not pointless and that we are able to receive forgiveness. We thank you also that because of the certainty of Christ’s resurrection we can trust your promise that we too will one day be raised in newness of life. Amen