The Resurrection – How Important?

Title: The Resurrection - How Important?

Bible Book: 1 Corinthians 15

Author: Paul E. Brown

Subject: Christian Living; Resurrection



One of the central teachings of the Christian faith is that the dead shall one day rise again.

This rising from the dead is called “resurrection.”

The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was raised from the dead--in other words, resurrected--after dying for our sins.

The Bible also teaches that all of us shall one day be raised bodily from the grave. This will take place when Jesus comes back to the earth. Each person’s body will be raised (the bodies of Christians first, later those of lost people), restored, reunited with his soul, and will live forever. Those who do not know Christ as Lord and Savior will live forever in that inexpressibly sad place of separation called hell--but those who, in this life, repented of their sins and, in faith, surrendered their lives to Jesus will live forever in heaven.

Now, apparently some of the folks at Corinth had raised questions about this teaching. Some of them didn’t believe it, and still others didn’t feel like it was all that important whether one believed it or not.

Thus, in answer to their questions and doubts, Paul--under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit--penned this great 15th chapter of 1 Corinthians. Contained in it are some of the clearest teachings in all the bible concerning the truth of the resurrection, and its importance.

Paul points out that if the doctrine of the resurrection is not true, than all Christians are in a pitifully deluded condition. In verse 19 he says, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” Obviously, then, the doctrine of the resurrection is of crucial importance. Indeed, it is the centerpiece of the Christian faith, upon which all else stands or falls. Why so?



The central theme of Paul’s preaching, and the preaching of the other apostles, was the resurrection. They proclaimed that Christ’s resurrection proved his divine identity. For example, in Romans 1:4 Paul wrote that Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, BY THE RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD.”

1 Corinthians 15:13 says, “But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen.” “If physical resurrection is an impossibility,” says Paul, “then Jesus wasn’t resurrected”--and if Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead, then he isn’t what he claimed to be.

Throughout his earthly ministry JESUS PREDICTED HIS RESURRECTION.

John 2:19-21 “Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body.”

Matthew 12:39-40 “But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah: For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”--in other words, in the grave. His clear point was that after those three days and nights he would not REMAIN in the grave.

Matthew 17:22-23 “And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again....”

The enemies of Jesus were very much aware of his having made those predictions-- and, following his crucifixion, they said to Pilate, in Matthew 27:63, “...Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.”

It was in no uncertain terms that Jesus stated that he would be raised from the dead. Thus, his integrity, his character, his very claim to be God’s Son, were all dependent upon his being raised from the dead. If he had NOT been raised on the third day, he would automatically have been proven a fraud, or at best a sincere but deluded man.


That being the case, it automatically follows, then, that OUR SALVATION DEPENDS UPON THE TRUTH OF THE RESURRECTION.

In verses 1-4 Paul reminds the Corinthians of the gospel message, which they had believed and by which they were saved--and verses 3-4 make it clear that the resurrection was a vital part of that saving gospel. In those two verses Paul said: “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day....”

In verses 14-15 he wrote: “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 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.”

I’ll tell you how important the resurrection is to me. if there were not clear evidences that Jesus rose from the grave, and if I did not believe that he did, I would never preach again--because I would have no message. If Jesus had not been raised on the third day, you and I who are believers would be in a pathetic condition, because we would be basing our lives here and hereafter on a myth, on a delusion.

Paul reiterated his point in verses 16-17, part of which I read a few moments ago: “For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.”

It follows, then, that unless a person believes in the resurrection of Jesus he cannot be saved. Romans 10:9 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” The unmistakably clear meaning is this: in order to receive God’s gift of salvation, we must not only believe that Jesus shed his blood for our sins on Calvary’s cross; we must also believe that he rose again and lives today. In other words, to be saved we must believe ALL of the gospel--and the resurrection is a vital part of that gospel.


In that same connection, there is also another vital reason that the resurrection is of supreme importance: THE BELIEVER’S VICTORY IN DEATH DEPENDS ON THE TRUTH OF THE RESURRECTION.

If the resurrection were not a fact, not only would Christ’s character be besmirched, and not only would our salvation be invalid, but, Paul says in verse 18, “Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.” Were it not for the resurrection, death would be a terrifying experience. It would be a blind alley--the final chapter--a fearful step into darkness and oblivion.

But because Jesus rose again, so shall his followers. Indeed, as emphasized earlier, ALL people will rise again when Jesus returns. Their bodies will be made whole, reunited with their souls, and from that point on the whole person--body and soul--will spend eternity in that place of final abode to which the soul went at the very instant of death. The lost will go away into everlasting punishment, but the saved will be ushered into the presence of God, to be with him forever in heaven.

In verse 20 Paul says, “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” We learn from Leviticus 23:10 that in Old Testament days when a grain crop had ripened, the farmer would bring the very first sheaf of grain as an offering to the Lord--and that sheaf was called the “firstfruits.” It was a symbol and proof of the harvest to come. In like manner, Christ’s resurrection was not only the first of its kind, but also God’s assurance of many more to follow--in other words, God’s assurance that Christ’s followers would also be raised.

Thus, death holds no terror for a Christian. In verses 55-57 Paul says, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The law of God makes us conscious of our sins; and it is sin that makes people fear death--in other words, sin gives death its “sting.” “But,” says Paul, “through Jesus the sting of death is extracted.”

Jesus, by his shed blood and by his resurrection, has delivered us from sin’s dominion and condemnation, so that in the ultimate sense death for the Christian is victory. Although a believer is saddened at the thought of temporary separation from his loved ones, death has no sting for him, because for him death is but the dusky gateway into a place more wonderful than anything this earth can afford. No wonder the writer of Revelation 14:13 said, “...Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord....”


One other thing needs to be said regarding the tremendous importance of the resurrection: OUR MOTIVATION AND POWER FOR RIGHT LIVING DEPENDS ON THE RESURRECTION.

In verses 32-33 Paul wrote, “If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die. Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.”

Paul was saying that your beliefs determine how you live. He was saying that if Christ had not risen from the dead we would therefore have no hope of life after death, and thus would be tempted just to “pull out all the stops” and “live it up” in the here and now.

You check it out for yourself. Look around. In some cases, simply look within. People who mistakenly think that this life is all there is aren’t likely to be all that concerned about walking the straight and narrow. They’re not likely to be striving to guard their tongue, or to follow a strict, clean moral code, or to be faithful in church. Their attitude is pretty much that of the old beer commercial, “You only go around once, so grab all the gusto you can”--and hang the consequences! What a fearful awakening such folks are going to have at the judgement bar of God!--but, tragically, it will be too late then.

But, on the other hand, right convictions about spiritual realities lead to right living. When a person has committed his life to the crucified, risen Christ, he not only has the motivation for clean, honorable living, but through the living Lord he also has access to the power for right living. In Philippians 3:10 the apostle Paul expressed the deepest longing of his heart when he said, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection....”

Paul had already been saved, but he yearned to know Christ even better--and he wanted to experience in his life even more of God’s resurrection power--and that same power is also available to you and me, once we repent of our sins and in faith yield our lives to Christ. Think of it! The same supernatural power that raised the dead body of Jesus from the grave is available to you and me, those of us who are born again, to help us overcome temptation and to meet the challenges of everyday life. But it doesn’t flow into our lives automatically--we can only experience it as we meet God’s conditions. What are those conditions? He requires that we discipline ourselves to read his Word, and pray, and reassert our allegiance to his lordship on a daily basis. In other words, we must do our part--and then we can be sure that God will do his part. James 4:7 puts it like this: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Romans 5:10 says, “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” The inspired writer is saying to his fellow believers, “Our sin debt was paid by Jesus on the cross, and now because he didn’t remain in the grave but rather is alive he will save us--that is, deliver us--from those snares that Satan places in our path.

1 Corinthians 15:58 says, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

The song writer said it like this:

Because He lives I can face tomorrow,

Because He lives all fear is gone;

Because I know He holds the future

And life is worth the living just because He lives.


God sent His Son - they called Him Jesus,

He came to love, heal and forgive;

He lived and died to buy my pardon,

An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.


And then one day I'll cross the river,

I'll fight life's final war with pain;

And then, as death gives way to victory,

I'll see the lights of glory - and I'll know He lives.


Because He lives I can face tomorrow,

Because He lives all fear is gone;

Because I know He holds the future

And life is worth the living just because He lives.

Are you linked up with the living Christ? There’s only one way to get linked up with him, and that is by repenting of your sins and making an all-out, nothing-held-back surrender of your life to him. If you’re already a Christian, this would be a great time to ask his forgiveness for your wandering and disobedience, and to rededicate your life to him. Jesus didn’t rot away in that tomb. He arose--and he is alive today, waiting for you and me to respond to him--some in that initial act of repentance and faith, to be born again, and others of us, already believers, that he might move us forward in our spiritual growth and effectiveness.

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