Even though we have celebrated Easter and what a wonderful celebration
we had at Central on Sunday. It was great day of worship, preaching,
Bible study, and fellowship. So, I want to pose a question: What
difference does Easter make? It’s a well-known fact that from the
beginning there were those who doubted. On Easter Sunday when the
chief priests heard that the tomb was empty, they called the men who
had been guarding the tomb and offered them money to say that the
disciples of Jesus had stolen his body during the night (Matthew 28:11-
15). We can call it the original Easter conspiracy. It was the first but not
Let me ask the question again. What difference does
Suppose we switch the question around and ask it this way. What
difference would it make if Jesus had not risen from the dead?
What would be different in our world today if we found out conclusively
that Jesus was still dead? Or how about this? What if someone
conclusively proved they had discovered the bones of Jesus? What
difference would that make? The question may sound shocking and even
blasphemous, but I still want to ask it. What if Jesus didn’t rise from the
dead? That’s not a new question. The question “What if” has been asked
for nearly 2,000 years. It’s a biblical question, one that we can find in 1
Seven times in these verses Paul uses the little word “if.”
He is raising the question of contrary assumption in order to show us how
much hangs on the bodily resurrection of our Lord. To borrow from the
vernacular, this is the whole ballgame right here.
We need to be reminded that an astounding miracle lies at the
heart of our faith.
We believe something absolutely incredible–that a man who was dead
came back to life on the third day. We believe that God raised him from
the dead. That’s a stupendous thing to say. Sometimes we Christians
forget how amazing this sounds.
What if … What if … What if … Paul answers that question by showing us
four disastrous consequences if Christ did not rise from the dead. Each
one deserves our careful attention because these things are true if the
resurrection is false.
I. If there is no resurrection, our preaching is without purpose.
Focus on just one word— “useless.”
Some translations say “vain.” The word means “without content.” It
means that all that we have learned has come to nothing. No amount of
education, preaching, and Bible study can compensate if at the heart of
what we believe there is a gigantic falsehood. If the tomb is not empty,
we are wasting your time.
II. If there is no resurrection, our faith is without forgiveness.
1 Corinthians 15:17
The word “futile” is different from the word for “useless.” The word
“futile” means that which produces no results.
Think of it this way. We like to say that Christ died for our sins. But how
do we know that His death accomplished anything? That’s why the
resurrection is all-important. Easter is God’s great “Amen!” to Good
Jesus cried out, “It is finished. “God said, “Amen!” when He raised His
Son from the dead.
And because He is alive forevermore, we can know our sins are forgiven
forever. That is the great issue in Paul’s mind. Are we truly forgiven or
not? If Christ has been raised, the answer is yes. If Christ is still in the
tomb, the answer is no.
III. If there is no resurrection, our death is without deliverance.
1 Corinthians 15:18
Paul says that Christians who have died have “fallen asleep in Christ.” The
Greek word for fallen asleep is the word koimao from which we get
another Greek word koimeteria from which we get the English word
cemetery. In the beginning “cemetery” was a distinctively Christian word.
It means the “sleeping place.” That’s where the Christians buried their
dead—in the “sleeping place.”
Why did they say that? Because when we go to sleep, we expect to wake
up eventually. Even so, Christians have always believed that one day
those who have died in Christ will wake up in the coming great day of
resurrection. Paul’s answer is very clear. If Christ has not been raised,
death wins. If He is still in the tomb, there is no hope for anyone, this life
is all there is, and all who are dead will stay dead forever.
IV. If there is no resurrection, our service is without
significance. 1 Corinthians 15:19
For Paul this is the ultimate argument because he means that if Christ is
not raised, we are just fooling ourselves. If Christ is still in the tomb, then
all of the skeptics are right. If there is no foundation to our faith, then we
are nothing but self-deluded fools.
If Christ is not raised, then we have no message to preach.
If Christ is not raised, there is no God to hear our prayers.
If Christ is not raised, we are not saved.
If Christ is not raised, then let’s bring the missionaries home.
If Christ is not raised, let’s close every church and sell the property.
If Christ is not raised, then every Christian for 2000 years has been
And so we come to the end of Paul’s “if”s. If Christ has not been raised
Our preaching is without purpose,
Our faith is without forgiveness,
Our death is without deliverance,
Our service is without significance.
If … If … If … Is there any answer, any hope, any reason to believe in the
resurrection of the dead?
Here is Paul’s answer, clear as a bell, bright as the sun, truth with no
mixture of doubt: “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has
become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1
Corinthians 15:20 NKJV).
Consider how much hangs on those two little words—”But now.” The
resurrection of Jesus, our coming resurrection, and the resurrection of all
those who those died in faith, all of it depends on those two little words.
The term “firstfruits” refers to the first part of any harvest. For the
Israelites, it meant the first part of the barley harvest that was offered to
the Lord. It was a happy day when you offered the firstfruits because it
meant that there was a bigger harvest to come. Even so, the resurrection
of Jesus over 2000 years ago is God’s way of saying, “One day all my
children will rise from the dead.” Not one of them will be left in the grave.
Every single one will be raised Immortal, Incorruptible, Perfected,
And we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
This is our hope, our faith, our confidence, this is the faith of our
ancestors who believed then what we believe now.
We see the present.
God sees the future.
Our preaching has purpose,
Our faith has forgiveness,
Our death has deliverance,
Our service has significance.
In that “great getting-up morning,” we will all rejoice together, with our
tears gone forever and death a distant memory. What a happy day that
will be. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Amen.