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. But in fact Christ has been raised. – 1 Corinthians 15:17-20
Every once in a while, someone comes along and claims that we don’t need to believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. We can still be Christians without the miraculous or supernatural elements of the Christian faith, they say. But the tragedy for them and anyone who follows such a claim is that the implications of there being no resurrection don’t just make the Christian life difficult; they make it ridiculous.
If there is no resurrection, Paul pointed out, then those who have died trusting Jesus have utterly perished, and there is no hope of ever seeing them again. If we try to live a Christian life without the resurrection, then “we are of all people most to be pitied.” In fact, Paul says, “If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die’” (1 Corinthians 15:32). If we don’t believe in the resurrection, then we ought to buy into all the clichés that so many say (but few truly believe)— “This life is what you make it” and “He who dies with the most toys wins!”
Enticing as such platitudes may be, we all have a sneaking suspicion that death is not the end. God has put eternity into our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11), and there is no scraping it out—no matter what force of rational skepticism or indulgent hedonism we apply to it. We know, by design, that there is more to life than life itself.
We also know that tomorrow, and in every tomorrow, there will be sadness, pain, loss, fear, and disappointment. How can anyone cope? Without the resurrection, we can’t. That is why Paul reminded the Ephesians that before being brought near to Christ, they had “no hope” and were “without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).
“But Christ has been raised.” And those five words make all the difference, not only to eternal life but also to life today. If you take God at His word and trust Him in faith, then there is never any reason for hopelessness. You have “a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). No matter what difficulties await you—and today, and tomorrow, there will be some—you will always have “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (v 4). “Because he lives, I can face tomorrow,” goes the song. So can you—and you can do so with joy.
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