The four gospel writers proved the resurrection of Jesus was a fact. So what are the consequences if we do not believe in the resurrection and what are the consequence of believing in the resurrection?
Discussing the resurrection (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-58), Paul gives the consequences of both believing in the resurrection and rejecting the resurrection. To encourage his brethren and us, He gives several reasons to believe in the resurrection.
His discussion begins by stating as a fact that Jesus died and was “raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” He tells of the appearances Jesus made to Peter, James, the other apostles, 500 brethren and even to Paul himself. Paul then speaks of the consequences to not believing the resurrection and then closes the chapter with the consequences for believing the resurrection and an encouragement to believe in the resurrection.
Beginning with the negative, not believing in the resurrection, Paul argues that the resurrection cannot be denied because the resurrection has been preached. He draws the conclusion, if there is no resurrection, then Christ Himself is not raised from the dead. Taking it a step further he says that his preaching is in vain if Christ is not raised; he has misrepresented the actions of God; the faith of the Corinthians is in vain; they are still in their sins and those who have died have perished. And finally he says if there is no resurrection then our hope in Christ is for “this life only” and Christians “of all men [are] most to be pitied.”
However, because there is a resurrection Christ is the “first-fruits” of the resurrection; He has made it possible for everyone to be resurrected. Christians “shall be made alive” at the return of Jesus at which time He “delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father.” Because there is a resurrection, a person should be living “sober-minded” and not with the attitude “eat and drink for tomorrow we die.” They should “stop sinning.” Because there is a resurrection, the sounding of a trumpet, Christians will be raised “imperishable,” putting on “immortality” no longer having a “flesh and blood” body but one suitable for an eternal world.
One final argument Paul makes is that because there is a resurrection then death will no longer seem to have the victory. Death will have lost its sting and Christians will be given “the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul’s conclusion is for Christians, his beloved brethren, to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that [their] toil is not in vain in the Lord.” In other word be acting and living God’s way.
Carlton G. McPeak is an evangelist working in the Florida Gateway region. All Scriptural quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Holman Bible Publishers, unless otherwise stated. He may be contacted at email@example.com.