“If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
1 Corinthians 15:13-19
It has been a few weeks since we celebrated Jesus finished work for us on the cross. I pray every Christmas and Easter season that the Lord might reveal to me, in some way, something new about the season. I remember about 5 years ago during the Easter season I read a medical examiner’s report on the practice of crucifixion and what happens to a human body when nailed to a cross. That year I had a newfound love for Jesus Christ and the Easter season. This year, I spent some time looking into the historicity of the crucifixion. Our shared faith as Christians is unique among those of the world around us: our faith can be falsified. If someone were, with irrefutable proof, uncover the body of Jesus Christ then our faith would be in vain and we would be left in our sin. I wanted to see what proof scholars offered to prove the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Recently, I have become more interested in the study of apologetics. In world where we can transmit information so easily, sourcing truth has become….difficult. I have heard the basic apologetic arguments and could, if needed, offer a defense of the resurrection, but I really want to spend some time going through the information so that I could be confident that the resurrection is a real and true historical fact. I believed it, I professed it, but I wanted to gain a better understanding of the facts that supported my belief. After all, if a guy predicted he would rise from the dead and then does, that is a pretty big deal.
It is this passage in 1 Corinthians that we are able to get an itemized list of the proof we must have in order to ensure the resurrection and the item of our focus today: if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then our faith is useless. My reading of some apologists today has brought to light compelling evidence of the death and resurrection of Jesus. There is no doubt that he really did die and rise again. Non-Christian New Testament scholars believe it, ancient Roman and Jewish historians believed (and recorded it!), and the Apostles were willing to die for it. The evidence is clear, the question that remains is: do you really believe that Jesus actually rose from the dead as we profess in the Apostles Creed and celebrate every Easter? Does your life show it? After all, that was a world changing event, how has it changed your world?
My encouragement to all of you today is that you can rest in the knowledge that Jesus REALLY existed, he REALLY died, and REALLY was resurrected and our faith is not in vain, we have been delivered from our sins. With those truths as the foundation for our faith we are able to trust the words of the scriptures and believe that God is exactly who he has revealed himself to be.
If the idea of apologetics seem foreign to you, I would encourage you to pick up a book like The Reason for God by Tim Keller or Mere Christianity by CS Lewis, both these books give basic outlines for the proof of the Christian faith and are beneficial to the Christian life.
O Holy God, help me come to know the depths of your love for me in your Son, Christ Jesus. Lay upon my heart a firm belief in the historicity of the Gospels and the ministry of Jesus. Allow that belief to flow out of me like living water so that I can be the salt of the earth, a city on a hill. Solo deo gloria, Amen.