Some people (including those who call themselves Christian ministers) suggest that you can be a Christian and not believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus. But is that possible?
Not according to the Bible. The apostle Paul deals with this very matter in his letter to the church in Corinth. Some people in that church were teaching that the dead are not raised, which Paul says must mean that Christ is not raised too (evidently denial of Christ’s resurrection is not a recent development – there is nothing new under the sun).
Firstly, Paul demonstrates that if Christ was not raised, then Christian preaching is worthless and so is the Christian faith: ‘If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith’ (1 Corinthians 15:13-14).
Secondly, Paul shows that if Christ was not raised, then the apostles are liars: ‘More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised’ (1 Corinthians 15:15).
Thirdly, Paul teaches that if Christ was not raised then there is no forgiveness of sin: ‘And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins’ (1 Corinthians 15:17). Christ’s resurrection demonstrates a victory over sin – Christ was not able to be raised from the dead if sin still hung on his shoulders. But his resurrection
demonstrates that the penalty for sin has been paid. But if he is not raised, there is no forgiveness for sin.
Fourthly, Paul tells us that if Christ was not raised, then those who have died are in hell: ‘And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost ‘(1 Corinthians 15:17-18). No forgiveness of sins means no eternal reward.
Fifthly, Paul explains that if Christ was not raised, then Christians are fools: ‘If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men’ (1 Corinthians 15:19). Being a Christian is tough at times in this world. If there is no resurrection, only a senseless person would bother going through such persecution.
So to deny the resurrection of Christ has major ramifications. Christian preaching is worthless, the apostles are liars (and anything they say should not be trusted), there is no forgiveness of sins, dead Christians are in hell and Christians are fools.
But the truth is Christ has been raised from the dead. Paul says: ‘But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep’ (1 Corinthians 15:20). So Christian preaching is worthwhile, the apostles can be trusted, there is forgiveness of sins, dead Christians are in heaven and Christians are wise.
So do you deny the resurrection of Christ? Do you realise what you are doing if you deny this crucial truth