Pastor's Pen

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

Imagine for a moment, what if Christ didn't rise? It's a chilling notion, isn't it? Something we dare not even entertain. Yet, the Apostle Paul delves into this very possibility in 1 Corinthians 15, unveiling five grim consequences that would haunt us if Jesus hadn't triumphed over death.

Firstly, picture this: if Christ remained in the tomb, preaching loses its purpose (v. 14). The resurrection of Christ stands as the cornerstone of the New Testament. It was the focal point of Christ's teachings before its occurrence, and the Apostles tirelessly proclaimed it thereafter. Remove it from the gospel narrative, and it all crumbles like a house without its foundation—futile and empty.

Consider this: A preacher without Christ's resurrection is like to a guitar without strings. His words become empty echoes, devoid of any substance. Every sermon meticulously crafted, every word spoken, leads to nothing but emptiness. And the listeners, it's a waste of time. Even worse, such a preacher is a liar, painting a distorted picture of God Himself, by claiming something that never came to pass—that God breathed life back into Christ's still form.

Take it another step: if Christ didn't rise, our faith crumbles (v. 17). Imagine placing our trust in a lifeless figure, buried beneath the sands of the Middle East. It renders our faith meaningless, echoing the thief's cynical taunt—if Christ couldn't even save Himself, how could He possibly save us?

This is vital: Christ staked the very validity of His teachings and claims on His resurrection. Remove this cornerstone, and the foundation upon which everything rests begins to fissure, crumble, and ultimately disintegrate, much like our faith.

While Christ's death stands as a profound testament to His love and willingness to redeem, it is His resurrection that validates His power and capability to save. Without it, our hope of salvation withers away, leaving us grasping at the remains of a lifeless frame. In essence, our faith clings to a decaying husk.

Furthermore, ponder this sobering reality: if Christ didn't rise, we remain ensnared by our sins (v. 17). They linger, haunting us like unpaid debts, casting a shadow of condemnation over our souls before the Almighty.

Additionally: if sin continues to stand against us, it inevitably stains our very nature. If Christ remained shackled by sin's grasp, how could He possibly liberate us from its clutches? We would find ourselves no different from any pagan, striving for righteousness through our own feeble efforts. Consequently, we'd remain ill-prepared to face the divine and unworthy of heaven.

If Christ didn't rise, the fate of the departed is bleak (v. 18). However, Paul paints a poignant picture of believers' passing as a serene slumber in the comforting embrace of Jesus. Their souls ascend to heavenly perfection while their earthly remains rest, still bound to Christ, awaiting the glorious resurrection. It's a truly awe-inspiring revelation, isn't it?

Yet, amidst the symphony of hope, Paul introduces a dissonant chord that jars us. If Christ didn't rise, those who slumbered in His embrace are not merely sleeping peacefully—they have met a grim fate, they have "perished." It's a grim and unsettling image. Their souls, once destined for the heaven, now face the terrifying abyss of damnation, while their mortal shells decay in the cold earth. Imagine their dismay upon reaching heaven's gates, only to find their Advocate absent, a poignant reminder that all hope has been extinguished. In this grim reality, death emerges as a cruel divider, severing the bonds of love with Christ. The departed, once cherished, are now condemned.

Consequently, let us grieve as those bereft of hope.

Moreover, consider this sobering truth: if Christ didn't rise, we are the most wretched of creatures (v. 19). Reflect on the immense trials and tribulations Paul endured in his fervent proclamation of the risen Christ. His life was a testament to self-denial and sacrifice. Yet, what fueled his perseverance in the face of adversity, amidst the threats of savage beasts and cruel men? It was the unwavering hope of the resurrection (vv. 30-32).

Note this stark reality: if Christ didn't rise, then Paul's existence is devoid of purpose and hope. He faces not only the absence of life in this world but also the bleak prospect of eternal oblivion in the hereafter. "Pity me," cries Paul, "more than anyone else on this earth." Indeed, anyone, regardless of their faith or beliefs, would be in a better state than a Christian devoid of the hope of resurrection. To be a Muslim, a Buddhist, or even a worshipper of darkness would offer more solace than to be a Christian stripped of the promise of life beyond the grave.

Now, envision the Corinthian believers as they listened to this letter being read aloud. How the shadows must have deepened, enveloping the congregation as Paul delineated the harrowing consequences of a Christ who remained in the grip of death. Yet, just as despair threatened to overwhelm them, a ray of light pierced through the gloom: "But now Christ is risen from the dead" (v. 20), Paul proclaims with unwavering conviction. He leads them to the very brink of despair, only to reveal the resurrected Christ shining brightly on the other side, endearing Him all the more to their hearts.

Let hope abound! For He has risen—indeed, He has risen!

Hence, preaching emerges as the most profound endeavor imaginable. Our faith finds firm footing in a Savior who lives. Our sins, once etched upon our souls, are now erased from our accounts and gradually purged from our hearts. Blessed are those who depart in the embrace of the Lord, and we, the faithful, are to be envied above all others.

Oh, unbeliever, do not lament for us; lament for yourself. Instead, turn your gaze to Christ, the source of enviable hope.