Without the Resurrection There is No Salvation
[I]f Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. (1 Corinthians 15:17, HCSB)
Think for a moment: what doctrines of scripture are essential to the gospel? What theological teachings are required to rightly claim the label Christian? Several should come to mind; one of them should be the bodily resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. The gospel is events, actual, historical events. Without these events, there is no gospel. What is more, without the meaning behind the events there is no gospel. Thousands of people have been crucified on Roman crosses. Only one satisfied the wrath of God against sin: Jesus the Christ.
The resurrection is so significant as to be essential to the Christian faith. What is so essential about the resurrection? Cannot a person simply believe that Jesus died? Paul deals with this question in 1 Corinthians 15. Apparently there were some in the church at Corinth who did not believe in a resurrection (1 Cor 15:12). Paul’s argument, his inscripturated logic, walks through the questions of the resurrection.
Paul’s first conclusion is that Christ’s resurrection is foundational to the faith proclaimed in the scriptures. Without Christ’s resurrection, the faith Paul proclaimed (that is, the gospel that we proclaim today) and our faith is baseless (1 Cor 15:13). But Paul goes on. It would be bad enough if our faith had no foundation without the resurrection, but it is worse than having no foundation. Without the resurrection, those who proclaim the resurrection are liars (1 Cor 15:15). Here’s a summary of Paul’s logic:
- If there is no resurrection
- Our faith is baseless and we are still dead in our sins
- Our proclamation is false witness
- Our life is most miserable because we have put our hope in Christ
But Christ was raised from the dead and seen by several hundred people (1 Cor 15:5-8). This historical event leads to several other implications that I won’t cover here (see 1 Cor 15:20ff). The resurrection validates our faith and our message. It is essential to the gospel and what it means to be Christian.