The doubts and falsehoods that had taken hold upon some in the Corinthian church is but further evidence that the heathen philosophy that surrounded the church and which many would have once believed, was penetrating the confines of the church and continuing to influence the minds of some believers. How we must guard against the thinking of the world gaining an entrance to our hearts and minds. It will create a barrier against the sanctifying influences of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.
The heathen have no knowledge whatever of the future existence of the soul. All is conjecture and guesswork. Unassisted human reasoning can only guess at what lies beyond the grave. The resurrection of the body is deemed an utterly foolish thing. And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter, Acts 17:32. That attitude of jeering undoubtedly influenced some believers to modify their views on the resurrection of the body, 12.There is evidence of some Gentiles viewing the resurrection as figurative and having taken place already, II Tim 2:18. This error is still to be seen in a measure in the view some hold of Revelation 20:5-6.
Paul countered the Corinthian denials of the resurrection stating that Christ’s resurrection was a pattern of the resurrection of all the saints, verse 20. Paul had already stated the evidence of the Saviour’s resurrection, verses 5-11. Now he sets before the dreadful consequences if Christ did not rise from the dead. Tampering with the truth is no trifling matter.
There are three dreadful consequences which would render the Christian’s position most miserable if Christ is not risen, verses 17-18.
I. OUR FAITH IS VAIN
The child of God walks by faith. We live and are sustained by our faith in Christ.
1. We view Him as our surety. He discharged our debt on Calvary and we are free from the condemnation of the law. The proof of that full discharge of our debt by Christ was His resurrection from the grave.
2. We view Him as our advocate. We continue to offend in many things. Christ intercedes for us, pleading the merits of His death. I John 2:1, Hebrews 7:25. If He is not risen then He is not interceding as our Advocate.
3. We view Him as the Fountain from which springs all our supplies. If He is not risen, then we are rooted in One that is dead.
II. WE ARE YET IN OUR SINS
It is the believer’s privilege to stand before God justified and free from the spot and stain of sin. This is utterly dependent upon the resurrection of Christ.
1. The resurrection was the great proof that He was the Messiah. Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day, Luke 9:22. If He did not rise then He was not the Son of Man.
2. The resurrection is the great proof that His sacrifice was acceptable. There has been no atoning for sin if Christ is not risen. Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification, Romans 4:25.The word for bears the meaning of because. It was because our sins were put away that Christ was raised from the dead. If He is not risen then the only conclusion we may draw is that believers have not been justified.
III. SAINTS WHO HAVE DIED SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE WORLD HAVE PERISHED
This is the dreadful conclusion that Paul draws. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Daniel, etc., are destroyed, lost forever in God’s eternal judgment fire for they died trusting in a vain hope.
1. Heaven will be empty. God’s purpose to redeem a people from destruction by Jesus Christ has utterly failed and God shall dwell in eternal frustration, His defeat witnessed by the angels throughout eternity.
2. Hell will be full. All mankind shall have a part in the everlasting burnings.
3. Satan has triumphed. Having set himself to frustrate the purpose of God to redeem His elect, he will have succeeded. Instead of eternal bliss being the hope set before us, we have nothing but eternal torment in company with the devil, his angels and all mankind. There is no hope in this evil world. Such are the consequences if Christ be not raised.
Christ has risen, verse 20. Believers are not the subjects of such misery. But there are some here who are the subjects of such misery. For them the resurrection of Christ brings no eternal hope. They are the rejecters of Christ. They have neither part nor lot in His great life and death and resurrection.