According to the apostle Paul, if Jesus was not raised bodily from the grave, everything is meaningless. Here are the ramifications:
“But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; (14) and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. (15) Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. (16) For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; (17) and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. (18) Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.” – 1 Corinthians 15:13-18
If Christ is not raised, then all preaching is vain. Unfortunately, today, in too many American churches, preaching is already vain – not because Jesus wasn’t raised, but because the preaching is not biblical and rests on the opinions of men instead of the wisdom of God. If Christ was not raised, then faith in Christ is vain because we are trusting in a man who promised he would rise from the dead, but didn’t. Therefore, he is a deceiver or a lunatic. The apostles are then false witnesses of a resurrection that in fact didn’t happen. So, you can get out your scissors and cut out everything from Acts-Revelation. After that, cut out the parts of the gospels where the resurrection of Christ is recounted. After that, cut out the OT prophecies that predicted the resurrection. After that, pick up your Bible and see how light it is! And then see how much reverence you still have for an un-resurrected dead lunatic named Jesus. If Christ is not raised, we are still in our sins. The forgiveness and cleansing we think we have received is a pipe dream. Without a risen Christ, God cannot forgive us. We are still in our sins. If Christ is not raised, then everyone who has ever died is now in hell. Consider the funerals you have attended. In every case, I imagine, the minister told you that the deceased is in heaven. Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. But if Christ is not raised, then every deceased person is not in heaven. Furthermore, you and I will soon be in hell and there is no escaping it. There is no possibility of anyone getting to heaven if Jesus is not raised. We are just passing our time until that dreadful Day of Judgment when we will have to answer for our sins and be rewarded according to our iniquities. There is no hope. There is no way out. We can either eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow may be our last and this life is the only “heaven” we’ll ever experience, or we can try real hard to be moral in order to somewhat lighten the punishment we will receive. But, if Christ is not risen, we will all be in hell regardless. Notice from the passage, Paul doesn’t say that if there is no resurrection, then there is no God and no moral law and no such thing as sin and no Judgment Day. On the contrary, all of those things are still true. The difference is that there is no Savior. Imagine what life would be like if there were no resurrection.
Imagine what church would be like if there was no bodily resurrection of Christ! Actually, we don’t have to imagine. We can simply study those churches wherein the bodily resurrection of Jesus is denied by the ministers. That is, the liberal mainline churches. In the vast majority of cases, the pastors of these churches are trained at liberal seminaries by liberal scholars who deny the miracles of the Bible, deny the virgin birth of Christ, and deny the resurrection. What are those churches like? The preaching in those churches -- if you can call it that -- is vain and worthless. It consists of a 10 to 15 minute homily. It occupies such a short part of the worship service because there is very little interest in words written by fallible apostles obsessed with a dead man named Jesus. It usually consists of a few stories and moral lessons that could be preached and received just as well in a synagogue or mosque (other places where Christ’s resurrection is denied). The sermon text is generally not chosen by the minister because of any seeking on his part of the Lord's will concerning what to preach, nor because he has been reading the Bible and a given passage has spoken to him and he wants to pass on to the congregation the fruits of his study, nor because he has chosen a book of the Bible to preach through and is going verse by verse through that book. No, the sermon text is chosen for him by a lectionary calendar created by somebody somewhere. In some of these liberal denominations -- where it is not uncommon for the minister to disbelieve the bodily resurrection of Jesus -- I am told that someone at denominational headquarters prepares an outline and talking points and thoughts for the minister to read in his (or usually, her) sermon. The Bible is read, but not believed. Most of the ministers believe that Christianity is one of many acceptable religions and that the un-resurrected Jesus is just one of many ways to heaven. There is no blood earnest urgency in the preacher’s message, for he or she does not believe in hell or Judgment Day. The worship service at such churches is 90% ritual and 10% moralistic preaching. And the reason is because a religion built upon a dead man is hollow and empty. So, how can these liberal preachers get up in their pulpits and with a straight face talk about the resurrection they don’t believe in? Simple. They use the same words and mean different things by them. They use words like resurrection, Jesus, grace, life, faith, salvation, but they mean utterly different things by them than what the Bible actually means. Regarding the resurrection, they simply spiritualize it. That is, Jesus didn’t really rise bodily and physically from the dead. It was a spiritual thing. I’m not sure what that means. I guess it means that Jesus lives on in our memories. He lives in the spirit world. He lives as an inspiration and example to us of love and good works. In that sense, there was a resurrection! I’m not sure how that makes Christ any more special than any other dead person.
But if the preaching is vain, how can the rituals be any different? What of the responsive readings? What of the Apostles Creed -- which declares the resurrection, by the way. What of the singing of hymns -- many of which exult in the resurrection of Jesus? What of baptism? Baptism symbolizes union of a believer with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection. That's what the coming up out of the water symbolizes -- the resurrection! It becomes meaningless if Christ is not raised. Consider the “ritual” of Easter Sunday. This is a big deal on the calendar of many churches. Palm Sunday. Maundy Thursday. Good Friday. Pentecost. Meaningless! These things are hollow and empty and useless if they are nothing more than rituals honoring a dead man named Jesus. And not only a dead man, but one who was either a deceiver or deceived himself. For many times he promised his disciples that he would rise again on the third day after his death. If he did not rise, then the entire religion of Christianity is based on the wild ravings of a lunatic. Either Jesus is the person he said he was and rose again like he said he would, or he was a liar or he was crazy. We can’t have it both ways. This is why the liberal mainline churches have long been in decline. It is hard to sustain interest in a dead lunatic. The only reason to go to church is to make oneself feel good and socialize with friends.
Thankfully, we are not forced to continue with an empty and worthless religion called Christianity, honoring a dead lunatic. Jesus Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! He ascended to the right hand of God the Father. He now rules the universe from His throne, and He will be coming back one of these days. And because He lives, He is able to save forever those who come to God through Him. Thank God. Amen.
This blog is taken from a sermon which can be heard at the following link: http ://ww w.ser monau dio.c om/se rmoni nfo.a sp?SI D=331 13133 3491