“Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:” (1 Corinthians 15:12–13, KJV)
When I was in college, someone gave me an old Ford Galaxy. They got it to our house somehow while I was at school. When I got home, my mom informed me of the gift. Well, I got into the car, put the key in the ignition, turned it to the right and the starter engaged, turning the engine. However, it would not start. Now, I knew a little about cars at that stage. I had done tune-ups, changed the cylinder head on another, and even removed and replaced an engine. I figured that it was just a matter of time until I would get it running. We’ll I spent a lot of spare time working on the car. I checked the ignition components, the fuel, you name it, but nothing worked. Every thing I did had no effect. All my effort was in vain. Well, having done everything I knew to do, and my folks, tired of seeing the car sitting on the street in front of the house, called a junk yard. They came and gave my dad $25.00 for the car and towed it to their yard. All my efforts were in vain.
In life, there are many things that we do, which seem to be vain exercises. These are futile efforts to make a difference in situations that need correcting. Consider this from the religious perspective. Many people are “religious.” They have a church. They have a religious affiliation. They participate in religious ritual. Thus, they seemingly trust in something, but is their religion in vain?
Paul wrote here to the church in Corinth regarding the importance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Apparently, there were some in the congregation who were saying there is no resurrection from the dead. To this Paul wrote that if there is no resurrection, then even Christ had not been raised. Moreover, if this were the case, then the entire reason for being as a church was meaningless. He gives them several reasons and three of them in these verses.
First Paul stated, “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:14, KJV) Without the resurrection, all the marvelous sermons ever preached are empty words that mean nothing more that a bit of entertainment, meaningless as far as the deepest need of men. Without the resurrection faith would mean nothing.
Second Paul wrote, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:17, KJV) The resurrection of Jesus from the grave is the believer’s assurance that Christ is in fact our Savior and that He paid the penalty of sin in full. Apart from the resurrection, our faith would be futile, accomplishing nothing. If Jesus had not risen, we would still be under the penalty of sin.
Third he wrote, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1 Corinthians 15:19, KJV) If Christ had not risen, then we would have no real hope. Any semblance of hope would be in this life only based upon participation of a vain religious system. We would not have the confident assurance of eternal life.
Unfortunately, today there are myriads of people who have joined in vain ritual religion without true hope. It is because they have not experienced the true resurrection power of Jesus Christ in their lives. Yes, they have their religious rules. They have their religious ritual. However, they do not have the abundant life found only by faith in Jesus Christ alone, His death, His burial, and His resurrection.