The Biggest “If” in the Bible

First Corinthians 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet 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 which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11 Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed. 12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Today we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord, referred to as Easter Sunday. Is there any obligation in the Bible for us to observe Easter?  Not really. Jesus did command us with the communion in the Last Supper to do this in remembrance of him. The Bible doesn’t command us to celebrate Christmas or Easter. Should we, on this day, remember the resurrection?  Yes. Anytime is a great time to think about what Jesus did 2,000 years ago. If we’re not careful, the commercialism of Christmas and Easter will distract us. Christmas is not gifts and Easter is not a bunny. It’s not wrong to do these things, but they are not what it’s about. 

In verse 12 Paul commented that some, those who had been saved, were now being persuaded that Christ didn’t raise from the dead. Corinth was the heart of Roman culture. That culture had different views on the after life. Death takes us from this life to the presence of the Lord. One day when God calls me home, this earthly house–my body–will stay here; the real me will vacate and go to the Lord. Christians say the body and soul will be reunited at the resurrection. The dead in Christ will rise first and the believers will meet them in the air. Body and soul will reunite. Mortal will put on immortality and corrupt will put on incorruption. What a time!

Job is considered the oldest book in the Bible. Even at that time Job posed the question If a man die, shall he live again? Job asked if there was such a thing as resurrection. In the New Testament the Pharisees put more emphasis on ceremonialism. The Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection. Many scriptures tell us there is. Luke 20:27 tells us the Sadducees didn’t believe it. In Acts 26:8 Luke asks Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?  God put you here.  Can he not resurrect you?

Some say the disciples went to the wrong tomb that day and didn’t find Jesus. Some say the body was stolen. That would have been hard with all the guards at the tomb. A Roman guard consisted of 16 soldiers, 4 of which stayed awake and guarded while 12 formed a circle around them to sleep. They took turns. To steal a body would have been difficult.  Verse 6 tells us Jesus was seen by over 500 people. Others say Jesus resuscitated. After being nailed to the cross, pronounced dead, taken to a tomb, all of a sudden he resuscitates? Others say he didn’t really die. Romans were good at crucifixion. Two others were on a cross the same time as Jesus. Their legs were broken to hurry their death. With broken legs they were not able to push themselves up to get air into their lungs. They didn’t break the legs of Jesus; this was fulfillment of scripture. They saw that Jesus was already dead. He was buried. He did get up out of the tomb and is alive forevermore. There are all kinds of things wrong if Jesus was not resurrected.

If there was no resurrection:

(1) Jesus is a liar. I don’t say this in any demeaning way. It’s just simply that if there is no resurrection, Jesus is a liar. He repeatedly said he would die and rise again.  Look at these: Matthew 12:39-40, Matthew 20:18-19, Luke 9:22, John 2:19. Jesus had the power to do it. The Chief Priest and Jews may have condemned him. The Roman soldiers may have carried it out. But nobody took his life. He gave it!  They had no power to do it. Even on the cross Jesus could have come down if he’d wanted to, but that God he did not. By staying on the cross he paid our sin debt. There are enough scriptures to prove he knew he would die and rise again. He is not a liar.  

(2) All preaching is meaningless. Verse 14 says  if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain. I’m wasting my time if Christ did not resurrect. Why would I do that?  I wouldn’t. But HE IS RISEN.  

(3) The dead will remain forever in the grave. When the preacher says the last words at the grave site and you go home, all hope is gone if there is no resurrection. When we see the resurrected body of Christ, I get homesick. He has a glorious body. Sin has an effect on our body. One day sin will be removed and our new body will be glorious like the Lord’s. Jesus’ body is immortal. We’re wasting away. We battle illness and death. The virus of today is not the first and as time goes on there will be others. Thank God for a land where sickness won’t enter. We’ll never grow old. He had a powerful body. We get weary and tired. Time catches up with all of us. Gone are the days when I could go all day long. With my new powerful body I’ll walk and not get tired; I won’t get weary.  

(4) All Christians are false witnesses. In First Corinthians 15 we’re told that the disciples were witnesses. Five hundred others were. Even Paul was. To be considered an apostle, one had to have seen the resurrected Christ. Paul saw Jesus on the Damascus Road. They saw it; they are not false witnesses.  

(5) We are yet in our sin. We can disagree on many areas of doctrine and still be brothers and sisters in the Lord. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a doctrine you must believe in order to go to heaven. If you don’t believe it, you are still in your sins. It’s essential.  If I ask you if seats are essential for a car to run, you’d say no. They’re nice but not essential. Brakes essential? No. Headlights essential? No. Windshield wipers? No. Air conditioning? No. A spare tire? No. All these are good but not essential. However, without a motor, can a car run?  No Without gas? No. A motor and gas are essential for a car to run. The resurrection is essential to be a Christian.  

(6) We will not see our loved ones again. Verse 18 says Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. This is not annihilation.  You will be somewhere in eternity forever.  Without the resurrection I’ll not see my mom and dad again. First Thessalonians 4:13-14 tells us this: But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. Who is he bringing? The real us. This is the order of things. The Lord will descend with a shout, with the voice of the trumpet. The dead in Christ will rise first and the believers who are alive will meet them in the air. This is why we can look in the face of a dying Christian and say “see you later” instead of “goodbye.” 

Are you a Christian? Have you ever asked Jesus into your heart? Christ became the firstfruits of them that slept. What about Lazarus and the others Jesus raised from the dead. They all died again. Jesus did not. Jesus said I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE.  Jesus ended his statement here with this question. Do you believe this? We’re living now in our short life. We’ll go to our long life one of these days. We can go to heaven. It’s not enough to believe in your head. It must be in your heart. Only you can open your heart and let Jesus in.

Jesus came and lived a sinless life for 33 years; he was the only one worthy to die for sin. God accepted the sacrifice. He was buried and arose for our justification. When we look to the cross and accept the blood sacrifice for our sins, we’re saved. When we believe in the resurrection, we are justified. God sees us through his Son. He loves us. Don’t leave this world unprepared. If you’re not saved, bow your head and ask the Lord to save you. He will if you mean it in your heart.

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