The Fact of Christ’s Resurrection
1 Corinthians 15:1-28 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
The Fact of Christ’s Resurrection
Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
12 Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 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. 19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.
20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, 24 then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death. 27 For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. 28 When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.
In today’s text Paul addresses one of the most basic and yet one of the most critical foundations of faith in Christ, the “Fact of His Resurrection.” Paul says: If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Of the millions of people worldwide who profess to be Christian, I wonder how many might have this vain faith Paul is talking about. Certainly unbelievers doubt the fact of the resurrection. Like so many of the Biblical accounts they try to make it a story, an illustration, even a myth or fairy tale. But for those who follow Christ, believing that He both died for our sins on the cross and was bodily raised, resurrected from the dead, appearing to many here on earth, before He ascended to heaven with the Father, is vital to our faith. To believe that it is anything less than a fact that Christ literally died and was resurrected from death to life, makes faith in Christ vain.
Again the doubters will scoff and doubt. They will say there is no proof or evidence. Indeed there were no cell phone recordings of the resurrection. But Paul says: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles… This was no small conspiracy group who concocted this story, the resurrected Christ was seen by many. Not only that but we are also told in the account of the crucifixion: Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. (Matthew 27:50-53) Jesus Himself was not the only one to be raised. Many who had died in faith, were also raised and appeared to many.
Many who believe today have made the resurrection and our future hope of eternal life with Christ and the Father secondary to our life here and now. In many ways that is how we are to live. Jesus said : “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) He said: Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. (John 14:12) Even from the beginning of His ministry, Jesus said: “the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:17) Jesus has called and commissioned us, His followers to: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:15-18) That is the abundant life were are to live, here and now, a life with the power to change things here on earth, to cause them to align with the realities of heaven. That is the power and the promise of resurrection life, to be made whole, complete, restored to all that God originally intended when He created man, each of us, in His image and likeness. Jesus lived again in bodily form, not just as an eternal spirit. We too are to be alive in Christ in these bodies.
Still, Paul says: If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. He says: If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. The truth is no matter how well we live this life, even the most faithful servants of Christ, even those who live most powerfully advancing the kingdom of heaven here on earth, will one day die. Our physical bodies will be no more and in the course of human history our accomplishments will be memories. Jesus says: “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) It is not wrong for us to hold to the promise of the resurrection and ascension, that we shall not perish, but have eternal life. When the world looks at the evidence of our human life, regardless of how well or how poorly we may have lived it, in the end they will see that we, like others ended in death. Yet for us there is the hope, the promise, the “Fact of the Resurrection.”
Because He lives, I live. Life with Christ, resurrection life is not either now or later. Resurrection life is here and now, abundant life, advancing the kingdom of heaven on earth and also eternal life, forever with our Lord and Savior and the Father in heaven.
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit, I believe in the Fact of the resurrection. By Your power and grace may I live and walk in all that it means to have resurrection life here and now, on earth, knowing that when this life is over I have the promise of eternal life with You. Amen