1 Corinthians 15 and other passages
Jerry A Collins
v What is the point of Easter for the church?
v What is the significance of Easter for the world?
v If Easter never happened, what would that mean for the world?
One of the major problems we face
in this life is the discouragement that comes from disappointment. There are times when things go very wrong,
times when we think that according to what we know of God it all ought to be
very different. In such times it is
awfully difficult to keep a proper perspective.
I have been involved with ministry for a good many years, but I am never
quite ready for some of the staggering things that occur in the service of the
LORD. Things that seem tragic and out of sorts with
how God might work, but later reveal the handiwork of God in it. At the Battle
of Waterloo the people of
1. EASTER IS FOR REAL; IT IS NOT A JOKE 1 Cor 15:2-8
There have always been skeptics. Of course, there would be. This is no ordinary happening. Noone has ever raised themselves from the dead before. It just does not happen—because it cannot happen. Unless you have the power to do so—Jesus did and does.
Twice we read that this event, so convincing in it’s stark reality, was according to the scriptures. What scriptures? Lk 24:25-27, 32, 44-48 Passgaes like Psalm 16 and Daniel 12 clearly describe and explain this. The Gospel narratives record the resurrection appearances of Jesus after his death and burial; and the apostles taught very plainly this truth of the Christ-event: that Jesus who suffered and died for our sins actually rose from the dead, physically and not just spiritually, and appeared to the disciples and to larger groups of people in his resurrected body. And the resurrection itself authenticated everything that Jesus had claimed about himself, and about his death, namely, that he was the Son of God who came into the world to die and also to conquer sin, death, and the grave, and bring immortality and eternal life to all who believe in him. It should come as no surprise that this doctrine has been attacked more than most in the Christian faith--just the idea that Jesus came back from the dead is a stumbling block to many. Modern theologians have tried to argue that the early Church simply made up the doctrine to give people hope and comfort, and then made it the foundation of their living faith. Others suggest that Jesus may not have been dead, but in a coma, and the cold tomb may have revived him. But the Scripture makes it clear—he was actually dead, and buried (under guard), and that he rose from the dead; and the apostles rightly based the Christian faith on his death and resurrection. Without the resurrection, Jesus died a martyr, a good man, a sample to his followers, but not as a Savior, and not as the incarnate God. With the resurrection we have the guarantee that his death was more than this, and that we will be saved, resurrected, and exalted to glory with him. Only Jesus could say, “I was dead, and am alive for ever more; and I have the keys of death and Hades” (Rev. 1). Many people were aware of it including His enemies Mt 28:11-15.
2. EASTER IS NECESSARY; NOT AN OPTION 12-18
First, if no Easter, then our preaching of it is vain—and so too our faith 14. This is an assumption for the sake of argument. It is empty, without content, nothingness, absolute void. Take out the resurrection and there is nothing left then. That is the inevitable conclusion of the matter.
Second, if no Easter, we are false witnesses 15. We are either a false witness about God or a false witness claiming to be from God. Such a false witness would make his message a myth, one arising from human wishes and at the same time be claiming that his message was the word of God. The resurrection of Christ is the foundation of the message we share. Without it that message cannot be trusted. No other faith has an Easter. Without resurrection our promise is not better than theirs. The message is nullified—disqualified. The gospel is groundless and worthless. We do not have faith in faith. Jesus staked His whole ministry and message on His ability to rise from the dead. He would be a false witness. The apostles staked their lives and ministry on resurrection Acts 1:22; ; . They, too would be false witnesses. You cannot have Christianity and no resurrection from the dead.
3. EASTER DESTROYED DEATH—OUR GREATEST ENEMY 20-22 26
Why could my dad, for nearly 11 months, dying of cancer, say to his family—don’t worry about me, I know where I am going and I will see you again? Where do you get that kind of confidence? Easter destroyed death. Oh, yes, we still die, even as believers but notice:
1. Jesus resurrection is the first fruits of those still asleep 21. Paul clearly is using the agricultural festival as an illustration of the resurrection, for he talks about planting the body in the ground when it dies, and in season a glorious new body rises from the ground; Jesus was the first to rise, and his resurrection is the harbinger that a whole harvest of people being raised will follow in God’s plan. Like a garden patch having first tomato to pick and eat—a sign of others yet to come.
2. Jesus resurrection assures it for all 21-22. Just as Adam’s sin universally brot death on man, so resurrection of Jesus assures us that all will be raised.
4. EASTER REMEDIED SIN—OR WE ARE STILL LOST 17
This ought to bring a shudder down the spiritual spine of anyone with a sense of scripture. We are simply left with no solution for our sin. The death of Christ, without a resurrection, was no different than the death of any other man. If those who are still living are still in their sin, those who have died have no hope of salvation whatever 18. They have perished. Everyone loses—the living, the dead, the soon to be dead. No one gets away with sin. It has to be paid for. No resurrection means we pay for it by death twice. One physical, the other spiritual. One temporal, the other eternal. Lost in their sins without any hope of eternal life. A Savior who cannot overcome death himself is as worthless as a life-guard who cannot swim. We are still in our sins and without hope. Easter changed all of that. Easter took Jesus from a mere martyr to a Living Savior. Took us out of our sin and into life everlasting. We are not just sincere Christians--sincere about an empty and false hope. Our faith is not misplaced. It is not futile. Christians have faith in God’s ability to deliver as He promised. Sin has been paid for. Salvation has been offered and received. Life everlasting is the result. God offers His free gift of salvation to all and any who believe will be saved.