Some people trust most of the Bible, but not all of it. People have issues with things like seven headed monsters, giants, or people rising from the dead. They say those “things” can be ignored for the more “modern” mind. Although the Apostle Paul is a bit older than the “modern” mind, he gives us another reason to trust the gospel the Bible presents: imagine a world without iPhones, smartphones, TV, Xbox, or even automobiles. Now, realize when Paul wrote this letter to the church of Corinth, this world you are imagining was their reality. Since that was their reality, the only way to communicate or prove anything was through eyewitnesses. They did not have tape recorders, cameras, or the SnapChat that we have today. Paul is saying that since “Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead,” why do you not believe? In our day, Paul was basically saying, “Since people pulled out their iPhones and recorded Christ’s death and resurrection, why do you not believe?”
Dr. Edwin M. Yamauchi, associate professor of history at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio says, “What gives a special authority to the list (of witnesses) as historical evidence is the reference to most of the five hundred brethren being still alive. St. Paul says in effect, ‘If you do not believe me, you can ask them.’ Such a statement in an admittedly genuine letter written within thirty years of the event is almost as strong evidence as one could hope to get for something that happened nearly two thousand years ago.”
But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 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. 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 futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
Paul, an Apostle of Christ, spends six verses actually defending his opponents to prove their logical fallacies. He logically unravels what a denial of the resurrection would mean: “Since there is no resurrection from the dead, no one can rise from the dead; and since no one can rise from the dead, Christ did not rise from the dead; and since Christ did not rise from the dead, no one is forgiven by the gospel; and since no one is forgiven by the gospel, our preaching is to be pitied above all things to be pitied.”
That last conclusion makes sense because the gospel belongs to God: It is for Him, by Him, through Him, and to Him. Since the gospel belongs to God, it is the highest form of authority. Therefore, proclaiming God’s gospel of resurrection when it did not happen is the saddest belief known to mankind. It would mean that all of the church services, donations, and prayers have been in vain. But see, the critics are wrong. Paul’s logical conclusion: “we are of all people most to be pitied,” is very ironic. If Christ’s resurrection did happen, then the non-believing world is actually “of all people most to be pitied.”
Here’s the logic reversed: “Since there is no resurrection from the dead, no one can rise from the dead; and since no one can rise from the dead, what you do in the present life has no merit or value for it all ends in death; and since all of life ends in death, future life is a mere hope while death is a promise; that is, not only will your life be a meaningless vanity, but even your death will be another thing to be forgotten.” Yes, Christians ought to be pitied if there is no resurrection, but if there is no resurrection, everyone ought to be pitied.
Each of our lives deserve death because we have sinned, and death is the main consequence of sin that God warned Adam and Eve: “In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). But because a perfect person who did not sin took the punishment of death that we deserve, through faith in this Savior, Jesus Christ, you will not only have life after death, but everlasting life after death. Christ is our only hope because, although we die, we shall live. Eternal life is a promise Christ can keep because the death of the eternal Son of God was bound to end in resurrection for “death could not possibly hold Him” (Acts 2:24).
Just as the tree of life was the source of everlasting life for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Christ is our new tree of life—feast on Him.
This week’s devotional was written by Cameron Fathauer. Cam is a sophomore at Boyce College participating in Southern Seminary’s “Seminary Track” program to receive His undergrad in Biblical and Theological studies and receive a Masters of Divinity. He also blogs weekly on DearMrChristian.com.