It’s an unthinkable question: What if there had been no Easter? What if death had conquered and Jesus Christ stayed in the tomb?
Now if Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 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. 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. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
1 Corinthians 15:12-19
There are six tragic things that would be true if Christ is still in that grave.
“And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain.”
If Christ is still in the grave, you’re wasting your time; I'm wasting mine. Preaching would be profitless, vain and empty.
“This is the gospel, that Christ died for our sins, that He was buried and rose again the third day…” (v. 4)
Without that, there is no gospel to preach.
Faith is no better than its object. Why put faith in a dead Messiah? A dead man can’t save anyone. Our faith in Jesus Christ is worthless if He is still in the grave.
But He is shown to be “the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). Confucius died; he’s dead. Buddha died; he’s dead. Mohammad died; he’s dead. Jesus Christ is alive. But if He’s still in the grave, faith is foolish.
Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God… (v. 15)
Paul is not saying “We’re mistaken.” It’s one thing to be mistaken; it’s another to be a false witness. Paul asserts, “If Jesus Christ is still in the grave, then we’re telling a lie.”
Were the disciples' liars? If so, why would they lie? The disciples openly exclaimed, “Listen, we have seen Him! We have touched Him!” And they died as martyrs: tortured, persecuted, burned at the stake, torn apart by lions. Hypocrites and martyrs are not made of the same stuff. People tell lies to get out of trouble, not into trouble. Few will die for what they know is a lie.
Was Peter a con man, John the apostle a crook? Was Paul a known perjurer? If Christ is still in the grave, the disciples would be deceivers.
“And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” (v. 17)
You have no hope of forgiveness apart from the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. If He is in the grave, then God did not accept the sacrifice of Calvary.
How do we know that Jesus Christ is not just a religious fanatic with a martyr complex who happened to get crucified? How do we know God accepted the sacrifice of Calvary? The resurrection. No resurrection, no Savior. No Savior, no forgiveness. His death without His resurrection cannot save anybody.
“Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ have perished.” (v. 18)
Do you have a loved one who has died? If Jesus Christ is not raised, then they’ve perished. It is over. Life is nothing but a cruel joke. All we can look forward to is the downward spiral to the grave. No! Something as glorious as human life has more meaning than that. Those fallen asleep in Christ have not perished. The Lord Jesus Christ grappled with the iron bars of death and is victorious. Death does not have dominion! Christ arose!
“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (v. 19)
Without the resurrection, we’re just poor, deluded fools, of all people most miserable. A wise man once said, “If Jesus Christ is still in that grave, nothing really matters. But if Jesus Christ came out of that grave, nothing but that really matters.”
A Hope Steadfast and Sure
Jesus Christ took the sting out of sin, the dread out of death, the gloom out of the grave, and gave us a hope that is steadfast and sure. Preaching is profitable, faith is feasible, the disciples are dependable, sin has been subdued, death has been defeated, and the future is fabulous…for we know where we’re headed!