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. What if Jesus did not rise?

WHAT IF JESUS DID NOT RISE?

 

1 Corinthians 15:12-20 12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15We 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. 16For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”

http://longrunsolutions.typepad.com/.a/6a00d834515ea269e20115701441d2970b-800wiIntroduction.

In the light of the sermon I preached on Friday morning entitled “what if Jesus never died?” I thought it might be good to preach a majorly edited version of the sermon I preached two years ago on the “Glory of the resurrection” under a new title: “what if Jesus did not rise?”

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central event of God’s redemptive history.  Serving as proof that God has accepted Christ’s sacrifice, it is the cornerstone of the Christian faith.  Everything we are, have, and hope to be is dependent on the reality of Christ’s resurrection. Now, we know that Christianity is the only religion that can point to an empty grave. In Matthew 8, the angel categorically tells Mary that Jesus was not there, but He is risen. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:4  “that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” It was not only in accordance with the Scriptures but Christ’s own words to Martha in ESV John 11:25 where He says: "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,”

The resurrection of Christ was so important that if you were to ask Paul what He values in life, he will tell you that he counts everything as rubbish and that he spends his life pressing forward to one thing and that we read about in Philippians 3:10-1110 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Now the last time I preached this section I joined John Piper in his version of it by turning all the negative statements into the positive. For today, I want to go back to the way Paul originally gave it, and present it in the negative.

What if Jesus did not rise from the dead? If Christ did not rise according to Paul, there are 6 things that are in utter shambles. So what if Christ did not rise?

Point 1: Preaching is in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:14 “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain”

If Christ is not raised, I need to stop preaching right now. Preaching is the method God chose to make His manifold wisdom known and this grace has not been given only to me but to all preachers who are preaching Christ. Just think, if Christ was not raised, we are all wasting our time, and each one of you sitting in the pews is wasting your time listening to us. If Christ has not been raised, let’s shut the doors of our seminaries as we are all wasting precious time. But Church family, Christ is raised, faith still comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God and we will preach it, boldly, passionately and expository because Christ is raised from the dead. It is God who chose the foolishness of preaching to astound the wise, but if Christ was not raised, the main theme of our preaching disappears as we preach Christ crucified, risen and coming again.

The death and resurrection of Christ is the very heart of the gospel. Look at 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 3 “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,  4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” Apart from the resurrection Jesus would not have conquered sin, death and hell and the very good news we proclaim will actually be bad news and all our preaching would be worthless. So, because Christ is raised preaching is not in vain but it has a glorious eternal purpose.

Point 2: Our faith is in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:14 “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”

Our faith is not useless and in vain, no it is well founded, and it is worth contending for. ESV Jude 1:3 "Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints". This faith by the way still comes by hearing the Word of God. So there is a faith worth contending for. But friend it is more than a faith that we hold on to. It is in the context of the resurrection. It is a person we hold on to namely the resurrected Christ and we can trust Him absolutely.

A dead Saviour would not be able to give us life and we will have to say with Asaph in ESV Psalm 73 “All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence.” If you are not a born again believer this morning and you are longing for someone that you can count on through thick and thin, someone who is absolutely trustworthy. I present to you that someone. His name is Jesus, He is the resurrected Christ. You can put your faith in him, it won't be in vain. He is the answer for the world today and above Him there is no other. When you have come to faith in Him you are no longer in your sins, and all your longings are satisfied by the resurrection of Jesus.

The death of Jesus proves his love for us, and the resurrection proves his power over every enemy of life because life becomes Christ in me. Because Christ is raised our faith is secure, because Christ is risen.

Point 3: We will be misrepresenting God.

ESV 1 Corinthians 15:15 “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.” What Paul is saying is that if Christ is not raised the apostles and all those who claimed to have witnessed the resurrected Christ are all a bunch of liars and have fooled us, and we are fooling the world. To lie like that would have called for the greatest conspiracy in an age where it would be most difficult without all the modern means of communication. They would all have to be in daily contact to ensure the same story. If they lied about the resurrection of Christ, how can we believe them in regard to anything and if Christ was not raised, was He not a liar as well? Time and again He said that He will die and rise on the third day.

The apostles and we by the way are not only true representatives of God, but we are representatives of the truth of God which by the way is absolute. Without the conviction that there are absolutes for the church and the people of God that can be shared and made the basis for society, the only end will be anarchy where everyone does what is right in his own eyes. If Christ is not risen, let’s do exactly that. Jesus said very clearly in ESV John 14:6 "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

He rose from the dead to vindicate his claim. Jesus has a right to tell us what is absolutely true because in the resurrection God proved him to be absolutely true and because Christ is raised we are true representatives of God.

Point 4. We will still be in our sins.

1 Corinthians 15:17 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”

This fits with one of my points on Friday morning when we asked the question, what if Christ did not die? Do we realise the implications of a dead Jesus on our sins and the need for forgiveness. If God still holds our sins against us--and we all have sinned!--then there is no hope of anything else from God. The foundation for every other blessing from God is that God won't hold our sins against us. Everything hangs on forgiveness. Now we know that the blood of Christ is sufficient for the sins of all people even though we know it is not efficient for the sins of all people. Christ died for our sins that is why Paul writes in ESV 1 Corinthians 15:3 “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures.”

Now we are sinners on every level and radically depraved. Just like an onion is layer for layer onion, you and I are layer for layer sinners. It is important that we understand this, because if there is any moment in life that you are not aware that you are a sinner, you no longer need Christ. Now, how is the resurrection connected to our forgiveness? Isn't it the death of Jesus that takes away our sin, because he bore our sins and took our judgment according to verses 3 that we just read? Yes, so why would we still be in our sins if Christ was not raised?

The connection with the resurrection is very important. Romans 4:25 puts it like this. ESV Romans 4:25 “Christ who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” So the resurrection of Jesus validates the infinite value of the blood of Jesus. This means that by his death as our substitute He paid the penalty for our sins, He purchased our acquittal, our justification, our forgiveness. And since the achievement of the cross was so complete and the work of our justification so decisive, God raised Jesus from the dead to validate our forgiveness and to vindicate his Son's righteousness and to celebrate the work of justification. In a real sense the resurrection was the completion of the marvellous work on the cross.

Everybody in this room this morning needs forgiveness. To be "in your sins" is the opposite of being "in Christ." When we are "in Christ" we get what Christ can do for us, namely, eternal life. When we are "in [our] sins" we get what sins can do for us, namely, eternal condemnation and death (Romans 6:20-23). Praise God for what Christ did for us on Calvary and at the empty tomb. Because Christ is raised, our sins are forgiven.

Point 5. Those who die will perish.

18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.”

Atheist Bertrand Russell wrote in 1925, “I believe that when I die I shall rot, and nothing of my own ego will survive.” Now if Christ is not risen, this is true, but because Christ is risen we do not come to an empty end after a full and valuable life. Some religions teach a ‘soul sleep’ theology, where the body disintegrates and the soul or spirit rests till the return of Christ and are then raised, Materialists believe in utter distinction, then there are those who believe in reincarnation. Based on this life you are born again to a new life, normally as a reward of the previous. Death is not just a quiet end or worse than that the damnation of a believer.  Paul says in verse 18 that because Christ is raised those who have fallen asleep in him--those who have died in faith--have not perished. Or positively, they are alive. They will live for ever.

If Christ was not raised Paul’s words found in 1 Corinthians 15:32b become applicable to all of us here today: "If the dead are not raised, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." Now we already know that if Christ is not raised the dead are not raised. The lifestyle that so many believers display seems to indicate that we have no hope for the resurrection and everlasting joy with Christ. We so easily live as if the only pleasure to be found is in this life.

Because Christ is raised, those asleep in Christ graduate to glory.

Point 6. We are to be pitied above all.

1 Corinthians 15:19 19 If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

If Christ is not raised then living for him, doing what he says, following his will is a great delusion and we are insane and need to be pitied. Researcher Josh McDowell said, “After more than seven hundred hours of studying this subject and thoroughly investigating its foundation, I have come to the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the most wicked, vicious, heartless hoaxes ever foisted upon the minds of men, OR it is the most fantastic fact of history.” His conclusion was that the resurrection was the most fantastic fact of history.

I believe with him that it is the most fantastic fact of history and since he has been raised and is alive and reigns as King forever, all our obedience, all our love, all our self-denial and even our trials are to be envied. ESV 2 Corinthians 4:17 "For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,”

Tell me my friend, is your life well spent? Are you living for His glory? Or is your life empty, pointless, useless, insignificant and therefore pitiable. People, if Christ is risen we have no choice but to obey. Paul knows this. That's why he ends this whole chapter on the resurrection (v. 58) with the words: ESV 1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.” Church family; let’s not go to our graves and say, "I've wasted it!" It does not have to be. Christ is raised and everything done in his name--by his strength and for his glory--is not in vain.  Those who reject Christ need to be pitied; we are to be envied because we know that our labour in the Lord is not in vain.

Because in fact Christ is raised, we are of all people most to be envied.

So we have determined this morning that because Christ is raised, our preaching has a glorious eternal purpose, our faith is secure, we are true representatives of Christ and the truth, our sins are forgiven, those asleep in Christ do graduate to glory and we need to be envied. Let’s live as people in whose lives the resurrection of Christ has made a remarkable difference as it did in the life of Paul, Peter and others.

Amen

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church:- 20 April 2014