All believers need to have strong convictions regarding certain truths about Jesus Christ. Primarily, we must be convinced that He was crucified, buried, and raised to life. If He was not resurrected, then He was just like any other man who was crucified at that time, and we’d have no forgiveness for sins and no hope of eternal life. His resurrection proves that Jesus is the Son of God, who overcame death. Because He lives, we too will be resurrected one day and live forever.
This was the primary message Paul delivered as he traveled around the Roman world spreading the gospel. He founded a church in Corinth, which was one of the most immoral cities of that time. When Paul wrote to them, he wanted to make sure they understood the truth about Jesus’ resurrection.
In 1 Corinthians 15:12-20, Paul very clearly explained why it is so vital to have a firm conviction about the resurrection. Let’s break this passage down:
Verse 12, “Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” To deny Jesus’ resurrection is to reject both the gospel message and the hope of our future resurrection as well. Without this hope, we have no assurance of life after death. Therefore, those who don’t believe Christ was raised to life may think that at death their bodies are put in the grave, and they simply cease to exist.
Verses 13-14, “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.” Without the resurrection of Jesus, we have no message worth preaching, and those who hear and believe our message have a worthless faith that accomplishes nothing. There would be no reason to attend a church service because there would be no purpose for a church to exist. Furthermore, if what the Bible says about Jesus being raised is not true, then we have no reason to trust anything else in the Scriptures.
Verse 15, “Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised.” Since God affirms in His Word that Jesus was raised from the dead, to deny this truth is to deny what the Lord has said.
Verses 16-18, “For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.” The resurrection proved that God the Father was satisfied with Christ’s death as the payment for our sins. If He had not been raised, there’d be no basis for the forgiveness of our sins, and we’d all have to bear the penalty ourselves, which is eternal separation from God. However, Jesus was raised from the dead, and now all those who believe in Him have absolute confidence that when they die, they will immediately be present with Christ in heaven (2 Cor. 5:8).
Verses 19-20, “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.” Our hope is not in this world or even in what Christ does for us here and now. There is another life coming, and we wait for it with great anticipation. Because Jesus was raised to life, we know that we too will be resurrected one day.
We have every reason to believe with conviction that Christ rose from the dead. And when we live by that conviction, we’ll see the difference His power and sovereignty make in our lives, and be ready to tell others about His gift of eternal life He gives to all who believe.
This article was originally published on July 15 ,2016, and is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message “Your Convictions About the Resurrection of Jesus Christ,” which airs this weekend on TV.