Some might think that Christianity could survive if the resurrection of Jesus Christ was not true.
The Apostle Paul would beg to differ. In one of his tight summaries of the Christian gospel, he holds up the resurrection of Jesus as of first importance. We read in his letter to the church in Corinth: ‘For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born’ (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).
Paul not only states that the resurrection of Jesus Christ occurred. But Paul gives proofs of it by recounting Christ’s appearances in a resurrected body to many different people on multiple occasions. Paul says that Jesus appeared to Peter, the twelve apostles, then to over five hundred other Christians. Jesus also showed himself to his own brother, James, and to the Apostle Paul.
Thus to deny the resurrection would be to deny a fundamental belief of the Christian faith. It would mean denying all Christ’s resurrection appearances to his many followers. Appearances that formed a core of the teachings of leaders of the early church.
Now, why is it so important to Paul that Christians believe in the resurrection? Because without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, there will be no resurrection of Christ’s followers. In the same chapter of his letter to the church in Corinth, Paul warns of the foolishness of believing that there is no resurrection of the dead: ‘But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 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. 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. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 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. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men’ (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).
Paul is rather blunt. If Christ is not raised from the dead, then we’re to be pitied more than everyone else. Why? Because we’re following a man who claimed to have power over death but has been proven not to have such power. Faith in such an individual is the height of stupidity!
But thankfully Christ has been raised from the dead and so our faith is not foolish. It is well grounded in his resurrection and such faith will one day be rewarded with eternal life.
Do you have such faith in Christ?