Calvary Road Baptist Church

ďIF CHRIST BE NOT RISENĒ

First Corinthians 15.14

Happy Easter, on this Christian memorial celebrating the Lord Jesus Christís bodily resurrection from the dead, observed today by more than one billion professing Christians around the world. The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the crucial portions of what is termed in Godís Word the gospel, or the good news. ďChrist died for our sins according to the scriptures,Ē the Apostle Paul reminds the Corinthians in First Corinthians 15.3, ďwas buried, and . . . rose again the third day according to the scriptures,Ē First Corinthians 15.4. That is the gospel.

As we here at Calvary Road Baptist Church so often review in our assertions about Christís bodily resurrection from the dead, there are five historical facts that prove Christís resurrection apart from anything found in the Bible. From history, we know that Jesus died. From history, we know that the earliest Christians were so convinced they had seen the risen Savior they were willing to die for their faith, and no one dies for a lie. From history, we know that the greatest enemy of Christianity, the Apostle Paul, became the most successful advocate on behalf of Christianity because he believed he had an encounter with the risen Savior on the road to Damascus. From history, we know that the greatest of all skeptics, our Lordís half brother James, became the most prominent church pastor of the first Christian church because he believed he had seen His brother raised from the dead after His crucifixion. Fifth, and finally, we know from history that the tomb in which Jesusí body was buried was empty following His resurrection, a fact disputed by no one in the city of Jerusalem at the time, and a fact admitted by the enemies of Christianity at that time.[1] Thus, Christians eagerly and tenaciously cling to the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead for two persuasive reasons: First, the Bible predicted Christís resurrection a thousand years before He was crucified,[2] the Bible recorded the history surrounding Christís resurrection as it unfolded, and the Bible looks back on Christís resurrection from the perspective of those who were there and had seen the resurrected Christ for themselves. And second, secular history, as I rehearsed to you moments ago, offers five proofs of Christís resurrection, related to His crucifixion, early Christianís witness to the event, the Apostle Paulís testimony and conversion, half-brother Jamesí testimony and conversion, with the empty tomb and the utter silence of Christianityís opponents being historical proof number five.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is so foundational to Biblical Christianity that the denial of this truth would render Christianity to be no more Christianity, a reality acknowledged by the Apostle Paul in First Corinthians 15.14, which is my text for todayís message from Godís Word. Please turn to First Corinthians 15.14 and stand for the reading of Godís Word: ďAnd if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.Ē As important as the resurrection is, and as well established as the resurrection is shown to be in both recorded history and the Bible, you would think more people than seem to appreciate it would realize the implications of so significant an event. Such blindness of so many to this truth has resulted in almost no one comprehending the impact the resurrection of Jesus Christ has had on even those who deny the Christian faith and who themselves are not believers in Jesus Christ.

Most people enjoy games and puzzles in some form. Therefore, because today is Easter Sunday, and because so many people seem to have little or no appreciation for that stupendous miracle of the Son of God defeating death by rising from the dead, I have a proposition for you. Call it a consideration. Consider what this world would be like had Jesus Christ, the virgin born Son of the living God, not defeated sin, not defeated death, not defeated Hell, and not defeated the grave by rising from the dead on the third day.

Seven considerations related to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ:

First, WITHOUT THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN NONE OF THE FAMOUS CHRISTIAN LEADERS OF THE LAST 2000 YEARS

It goes without saying that had Jesus not risen from the dead His remaining eleven apostles would not have embarked upon lifetimes of gospel ministry. Each would have returned to his former way of life. Matthew would have resumed collecting taxes. Peter, Andrew, James, and John would have returned to their fishing boats in Galilee. Saul of Tarsus would certainly have not left Judaism for Christianity had he not seen Jesus on the road to Damascus. As well, the four gospels would not have been written, the book of Acts would not have been written, none of the writings of Paul, Peter, James, and John would have been written. In short, there would be no New Testament but for the resurrection, since the New Testament was written by men who claimed they had seen the risen Savior, or were companions of those who had seen the risen Savior.

If there had been no resurrection, there would be no great Christian leaders down through the centuries succeeding the apostles of Jesus Christ. Imagine no Saint Augustine. Imagine no Martin Luther. Imagine no John Calvin. No Protestant Reformation and a new Europe without Luther and Calvin. Imagine no John Wesley, George Whitefield, or Jonathan Edwards, all used of God to bring about the First Great Awakening in England and in the American colonies. However, had there been no resurrection those men would not have been gospel ministers, would not have preached in the great revival that glued the American colonies together to form the fabric that became our nation, and would not have produced the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution of the United States. After all, the driving force behind that entire movement was in large part gospel preachers such as John Witherspoon. Would the Pilgrims and Puritans have even come to the New World to practice their Christian faith if there had been no resurrection? Almost certainly not.

Next, WITHOUT THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST THE SANCTIFICATION OF HUMAN LIFE WOULD NOT HAVE OCCURRED

Consider infanticide, the murder of newborn babies, an almost universal plague in the early days of Christianity. However, if there is no resurrection there is no early Christianity and therefore no opposition to the practice of drowning unwanted baby girls and murdering little babies who are weak or in any way abnormal. Murdering babies was pandemic in every part of the world prior to the arrival of Christian influence. India, China, Japan, the jungles of Brazil, as well as among the Eskimos and in many parts of Africa. It was Christianity that put a stop to that senseless slaughter, but without the resurrection, there would be no Christianity to oppose such practices anywhere. When they did not murder newly born babies in days gone by they abandoned them. Greeks, Romans, Africans, you name it. Christians not only opposed child murder and child abandonment, but also took such castaways into their homes and adopted them, eventually creating the orphanages that were an abandoned childís last hope of a normal life.

Christians were the first opponents of human sacrifice. Christians were the first opponents of suicide. Christians were the first opponents of the barbaric blood sports known as gladiatorial games, where men would fight to the death for the entertainment of the audience. What would life be like if those practices had continued without interruption to this day? How brutal our culture would be. Historians have looked in vain for any evidence of guilt by anyone of that day associated with child murder, abortion of the unborn, slaughtering of other human beings, or being entertained by blood sport. Thus, much of the barbarism of the past, barbarism that is seeping back into our culture was opposed by Christians and would not have been opposed had there been no resurrection.

Third, WITHOUT THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN NO ELEVATION OF SEXUAL MORALITY

No resurrection, no Christianity. No Christianity, no morality associated with sex and marriage. Author and radio commentator Dennis Prager wrote an article in which he observed that every major civilization known to man was given over to homosexual sex prior to the spread of Christianity, be it Rome, Greece, among the Native Americans of both North and South America, throughout the Far East, in Africa, and in India. Marriage was considered no more than a necessary expedient for bearing and raising children, but sex outside marriage was not considered wrong anywhere in the world until Christian witness arrived, showing marriage to be sacred and sex outside marriage to always and in every case be wrong.

Only Christians advanced the notion wherever they went that adultery and homosexual activity by a marriage partner was grounds for divorce. In fact, apart from Christianity (based upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ) there would be no real dignity and sanctity in marriage, since it was Christians who advanced the notion that marriage was ordained by God to be one man and one woman for one lifetime. I know that Christians are under attack in our culture for being homophobes, though there is no evidence for such a charge as that. The truth is that Christianity preaches as sinful all sexual activity of every kind, except for sex between a husband and a wife with each other. Thus, be it homosexuality, bestiality, or fornication and adultery, it is all wrong.

Think of a society where nothing of a sexual nature was wrong. Some people think of it as freedom, but Godís Word shows such a world to be degraded and wicked beyond measure, with homes, marriages, and young children being the victims of not only the disruptive effects of such conduct, but also being the targets of sexual predators as they were in days gone by, and as they are becoming to a great degree once again.

RELATED TO THE PREVIOUS POINT IS THE FREEDOM AND DIGNITY THAT WOMEN ENJOY AS AN ONGOING CONSEQUENCE OF THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST

Keep in mind that the first witnesses of Christís resurrection were women.[3] Keep in mind that Christianity asserted as was nowhere else asserted a womanís equality before God.[4] Christianity insisted that men love their wives and treat their children properly.[5] To be sure, the foundation for this freedom and dignity afforded to women and the proper treatment of children can be found in the Old Testament, but it was taken to the world by the advance of the gospel. However, the gospel is predicated upon the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. No gospel, no advance of Christianity. No advance of Christianity, no dignity and personal freedoms for women, and no proper treatment of sons and daughters. Only the Christian faith teaches that wives are with their husbands heirs together of the grace of life, First Peter 3.7.

Christianity welcomes women. In Christian churches, women are treated with respect and honor. Widows are also prescribed honor. However, in pre-Christian India, Scandinavia, and among the Chinese, the Finns, the Maori in New Zealand, and with some American Indians before the arrival of Columbus, widows were routinely burned to death. You never see painful binding of feet among Christians, as was the case among the Chinese, or genital mutilation, as occurs in as many as 26 African nations, most of them Muslim countries. Why not? Because the Christian faith opposes such treatment of women.

What would it be like in the world today if Christianity, predicated as it is on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, had not been the compelling force it has been for the proper treatment of women and children? Go to Afghanistan and South Sudan and see for yourselves.

Fifth, THERE IS THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST AND THE MATTERS OF CHARITY AND COMPASSION

I am not for a moment suggesting that only Christians have engaged in acts of charity and in displaying compassion toward others. However, I am asserting that charity and compassion would not be so widespread and of such magnitude in the world today but for the influence of Christianity. After all, Jesus taught that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, and who broadened the concept of neighbor beyond the narrow range of countrymen that was embraced by Jewish people. Had He not risen from the dead, who would have paid much attention to anything He taught?

Extending charity to the poor, the ailing, and the dying has not been a pagan practice anywhere in the world, with but few exceptions from time to time. Consider these examples to illustrate my point: The much-admired Greek philosopher Plato said that a poor man who was no longer able to work because of sickness should be left to die. A Roman philosopher embraced the consensus when he argued, ďYou do a beggar bad service by giving him food and drink; you lose what you give and prolong his life for more misery.Ē Among the Hindus and Buddhists, the concept of karma carries the idea that whatever misery a person experiences is their own fault, because of bad deeds done in a previous life.

How do Christians respond? I have already made mention of Christian opposition to abortion, Christian opposition to murdering and abandoning newborn babies, and to disposing of widows by burning them alive. However, Christianity has stood for charity as well as against brutality. Consider orphanages. Consider old folks homes. Consider the YMCA as it once was. Consider the Salvation Army as it once was. All of these were Christian endeavors, with Christianity based in part on Christís resurrection. However, it does not stop there. Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville visited the United States in 1831. Along with his observation of the nationís pulpits being aflame with the gospel, he astutely observed, ďIf an accident happens on the highway, everybody hastens to help the sufferer; if some great and sudden calamity befalls a family, the purses of a thousand strangers are at once willingly opened and small but numerous donations pour in to relieve their distress.Ē

Where does the entire world turn for help in times of national emergencies and natural catastrophes? Do they not turn to the United States? Why are we the most generous nation that has ever existed? Where did we acquire this concern for our fellow man, for our neighbor? Is it not a part of our Christian heritage? Would such a heritage have ever been possessed had Jesus not risen from the dead? Then where would the world be, where would many helpless individuals be, when tragedy struck them? Under whose influence have hospitals been built to help the sick and needy? Under whose influence has the profession of nursing come into existence and spread? What is the name of that worldwide relief agency, the Red what? The Red Cross. Any idea where that organization came from? Did it originate in a Muslim country, in a Buddhist country, in a Hindu country, or perhaps in a communist country?

Consider also slavery. It was Christians in Great Britain and the United States that fought to end slavery. The Imperial British navy enforced a ban on slave ships as a result of Christians working for decades to end the transatlantic slave trade. The abolitionists in Great Britain and the United States were in great measure men and women of Christian persuasion. Would they have been of Christian persuasion had Christ not risen from the dead? Where does slavery presently flourish in the world? In countries in Africa and Southeast Asia that are not Christian.

Sixth, WHAT ABOUT THE EFFECT ON EDUCATION, SCIENCE, AND MUSIC OF THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST?

To be sure, education existed before Christianity, and education would exist without Christianity. However, before the Christian faith, education among the Greeks was reserved only for the elite. Education among the Romans was reserved only for the elite. From the beginning, however, Christianity has emphasized education for all, including both men and women. Though Cairo, Egypt lays claim to the oldest university in the world, the names of the most famous universities in the world are institutions that were begun by Christians. The Sorbonne in Paris. Oxford and Cambridge universities in England. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Brown, Rutgers, and on it goes in the English colonies that became the United States. Originally, Christian schools founded to provide Christians higher education.

Christians have always recognized the importance of education, and have never been afraid of quality education, with our love of education extending into the world of scientific exploration for expanding manís knowledge of the natural realm. Where would we be in the field of science and technology without the resurrection? Would there have been a Nicholas Copernicus, a Johannes Kepler, an Isaac Newton, a Michael Faraday, a James Clerk Maxwell, or a Lord Kelvin? Consider that the founders of modern science as we know it were men who recognized from their Christian mindset something that Arab, Hindu and Chinese investigators did not envision, an orderly creation as a result of a reasonable Creator. It was the Christian investigators who were able to reason from scientific observations to coherent underlying theories because they assumed a reasonable God would bring into existence and maintain an orderly creation governed by natural laws.

However, what would have happened had those men not embraced Christianity because there was no Christian faith in existence without Christís resurrection? Read the writings of these early scientists and you discover that one of their primary motivations in looking through telescopes and microscopes, and engaging in other scientific pursuits, was to glorify their God. However, such were Christian pursuits engaged in by Christian men, who would have done other things with their lives had they not been Christians interested in glorifying God. Though scientists of our day are not all Christians, perhaps not even a majority are Christians, it is still true that modern scientific pursuits are built upon the distinctively Christian assumption of an orderly creation brought into existence and maintained by an orderly Savior, Colossians 1.17.

How often does an Isaac Newton come along? How many Johannes Keplers have lived? What would science and technology have accomplished, what would our world be like, had such men not trusted a risen Savior for the remission of their sins and then been prompted to glorify that same risen Savior with a life devoted to scientific pursuits? Do you think we would be where we presently are, enjoying what we presently enjoy, without such men? Make no mistake; they were the men they were because of what they believed, because a scientistís assumptions are always foundational to his discoveries. Do you think their assumptions about the nature of nature were self-evident? Think again, and remember that nowhere else in the world or throughout history had investigators who were not Christians made the assumptions about God and His creation those men made.

Just a word about music. History reveals that the anthem, the oratorio, the symphony, the sonata, the cantata, and the concerto were musical forms developed within Christianity and by Christians. Where would todayís music world be without Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frederic Handel, both devout men? Then there was Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Haydn, Shubert, Brahms, and in our own day Igor Stravinsky. Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, their music would not have aspired to glorify God and exalt Jesus Christ. My friends, life as we commonly understand it is not possible apart from Christís resurrection.

Seventh, IF JESUS IS NOT RAISED FROM THE DEAD THERE IS NO HEAVEN, NO HOPE

The Apostle Paul was being brutally honest when he wrote, ďif Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins,Ē First Corinthians 15.17. If Christ was not victorious over sin, death, Hell, and the grave, as evidenced by His resurrection from the dead, then there is no Christianity, there is no Savior worthy of our faith, and we who are Christians are still in our sins, just as those who are not believers in Jesus Christ are in their sins. Without the resurrection of Christ there is no forgiveness, there is no justification, there is no satisfactory offering to God for sin, there is no gift of God which is eternal life, and there will be no future of any kind in heaven.[6] Why not?

If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then He was mistaken when He predicted He would rise from the dead, making Him a flawed and very fallible Savior. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then the predictions of the Old Testament about Him are all wrong, and there is no hope of deliverance from our misery and our sins.

Do you not see, my friend, that the world as it presently is could not be this way apart from the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Our ethics, our morals, our science, our technology, our music, our institutions, our love for our babies and our treatment of our women and of each other, is predicated on the influence of the Christian faith, which would not have existed and could have influenced no one apart from Christís resurrection. Had Jesus not risen from the dead, His enemies would have mocked His disciples, ridiculed their faith, scorned their hope, and relegated them all to the dustbin of history. However, the Christian faith, based as it is on the resurrection of Christ, was not relegated to the dustbin of history, but has so much made the better portions of human history by opposing what was evil and promoting what is good and right.

How irrational it is, then, for you who are not Christians to live as you do in a world that has so obviously been shaped by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. You enjoy so many of the benefits of Christís resurrection. You love the technology. You benefit from the education and the treatment of the young and women. You endorse the expressions of compassion. You love the finer parts of the culture produced by the influence of the Christian faith. You are so willing to accept and luxuriate in what only the resurrection of Jesus Christ can explain and produce, yet you see no paradox in rejecting any consideration of the cause of the effects you see around you.

Do you not begin to see your blindness to the truth? Do you not understand that by your willingness to ignore the resurrection, to discount the resurrection, to pretend there was no resurrection, you consign yourself to the punishment that awaits sinners who have no hope of the resurrection? Jesus suffered, bled, and died, and then rose up from the dead to save sinners from their sins, from the wrath of God. Deny His resurrection and you deny the gospel, the good news that Jesus delivers sinners from their sins and from Godís wrath.

Thus, if there is no resurrection there is no good news. If there is no good news, then you will suffer the penalty required for sinning against God, because apart from the gospel there is no forgiveness. Consider the world around you, and those parts of the world that are better than they could have been had Jesus not risen from the dead. No resurrection? If that were so, the entire world would be a backward third-world type country, with downtrodden women, dead babies in the streets, poverty and sewage everywhere, men excited only by blood sports to the death, and the grossest forms of sexual promiscuity. Without the resurrection, you might as well be a Hindu, or a Buddhist, of a Muslim, or even a communist. What is to lose if there is nothing to gain by turning to Christ and enjoying the benefits of His resurrection?

Many today benefit from Christís resurrection in many ways, though they do not enjoy the ultimate benefit of life eternal through faith in the risen Savior. Happy Easter, my friends. Jesus is risen.



[1] Matthew 28.11-15

[2] Psalm 110.1

[3] Matthew 28.1

[4] Galatians 3.28

[5] Ephesians 5.25-33; 6.4

[6] Romans 4.25; 6.23



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