Perusal* – Spring 2013, Empty Faith & Hope…

(* perusal; to examine or consider with attention and in detail)  

1 Corinthians 15: 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? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

Paul wrote these words to the Corinthian church to correct aberrant resurrection theology.  Some of them were thinking like the Sadducees of old, denying the resurrection as the only hope for eternal life.  They made a crucial mistake – assuming there is the Christian faith without the raising of Jesus Christ from the dead.

The denial of the resurrection eliminates the necessity of preaching, reveals the shallowness of the unfaithful, contributes to an elusive hope, leaves us in our desperate sinful condition, and makes liars of Christians.  Doesn’t sound like Christianity, does it?  If Jesus did not rise from a borrowed tomb then His submission and obedience were hypocritical no matter how well intentioned he was.  Christian disciples have been duped for 2000 years to believe a lie and Jesus was a dope for believing the prophecy in Psalm 16, “I will not suffer my holy One to see corruption…” It leaves people of faith cold and removes trustworthiness from the character traits of believers.  Either the Christ was gloriously raised from the dead or life is unquestionably meaningless.  A moral eclipse soon follows - the suffering and shame of Calvary were immoral and if immoral then sin cannot be forgiven.  The church is a farce and the Gospel it claims to represent is a fable.   

Believers are to think and look beyond a culture that is reticent about the veracity of the Savior’s resurrection.  His resurrection was attested to by numerous eye witnesses and confirmed to the disciples by a woman, Mary Magdalene, the first to see Him Sunday morning.  If the disciples were constructing a story why would they record Mary as witness to the raised Jesus of Nazareth?  Why not fabricate an air tight alibi secure in the number of men that saw Him.  Because the Gospels were telling two truths – 1) a majority of men fabricated lies during the Lord Jesus’ trials, and condemned Him to death, and 2) the last laugh, so to speak, was three days later.  The consequence of death by crucifixion would be followed by the unintended consequence of the resurrection. 

The purposes of the resurrection are many but it primarily displayed the satisfaction of God the Father with the obedience and passion of His Son.  The holiness of God condemns sin and demands punishment, even death, for the perpetrators. God’s promise of peace on earth and goodwill to men came at a princely price - the Prince of Peace died and shed His blood to forgive sin. This Jesus did willingly, though perhaps at times He seemed reluctant to drink the cup of wrath meant for sinners like you and I.  Bearing the shame and disgrace reserved for a true criminal He bore the brunt of punishment reserved for underserving sinners. Grace is truly amazing, overwhelmingly amazing, and thankfully amazing.  Little wonder He was raised back to life promising the very same for as many as receive Him by acknowledging our sinfulness, repenting of our rebellion, and confessing faith in His death, burial, and resurrection.

The Trinity’s holiness separates sinners from the divine order.  But holiness must be accorded to sinners in order to see God for only God can satisfy Himself.  Never was this truer than His act of sacrificial love and grace in the person of Jesus Christ, who knew no sin and became sin for us. The writer of the book of Hebrews reminds believers in the 1st and in the 21st centuries that God is for peace. 

Shalom is granted to those that believe in the Gospel of a Person, Jesus Christ.  The truth of the Incarnation gives to us a man that is the “great Shepherd of the sheep”, that died that we might be forgiven and was resurrected that we might become holy like Him.

Hebrews 13: 20 “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Thankfully, the resurrection is the most attested event in all of ancient history and knowledge of Jesus as Savior does accord peace to sinners.  Luke would write in Acts 4,

“Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead...However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.”

It is my prayer that the Holy Spirit will reveal the truth of scripture to you this Easter and that you might confess Jesus as Lord and Savior.The Lord is risen indeed!

Sola Deo Gloria! Pastor Carey