The Consequences Of Unbelief

But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. (1 Corinthians 15:13-14)

The Consequences Of Unbelief

The early church lived in a time when many of the saints were eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Jesus. Paul reminded the Corinthians that over five hundred brethren saw Jesus at once, and most of those saints were still alive when he wrote to them. There was ample proof that the resurrection of Jesus took place. The twelve apostles had seen Jesus. James had testified to the resurrection of Jesus. Paul had seen the Lord himself. However, the false doctrine denying the resurrection plagued the church at Corinth. Paul had preached the resurrection when he was at Corinth. Why were their brethren who were denying the resurrection?

There were serious consequences to saying there is no resurrection of the dead. Paul’s argument is straightforward and demonstrative. He preached Christ was resurrected. If there is no resurrection, Paul is a liar. When a man denies the possibility of resurrection, he must deny what Jesus said He would do. He often told His disciples he would rise on the third day. Refusing to believe in the resurrection makes Jesus a liar. If the dead do not rise, the empty tomb is a lie. Resurrection is the foundation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Without the belief that Jesus died and rose on the third day, faith is empty, useless, vain, and the biggest lie committed to humanity.

Jesus came to take away the sins of the world. He died, was buried, and rose on the third day to confirm the covenant of grace with God and man. Salvation did not come because Jesus died and was buried. All men die and are entombed in one form or another. What makes the life of Jesus the eternal grace of God is that He rose from the dead and lives. The resurrection of Jesus is the cornerstone of the scheme of redemption. Without it, everything falls. With it, everything stands. The consequence of unbelief impacts the lives of all of God’s people who seek to die in the Lord. John writes in the Revelation that those who die in the Lord are blessed and rest from their labors. If there is no resurrection, this is a lie. Paul tells the Corinthians that all those who died as faithful children of God will be cast into Hell if there is no resurrection.

There are serious consequences to unbelief. The last enemy to be destroyed is death, but this will not happen without resurrection. Personally, a greater consequence to those baptized into Christ who see their loved one die in the hope of resurrection is knowing it is all a lie. Those who are baptized for the dead live in the hope of the saints who died in the Lord. Take resurrection away, and there is no reason to be baptized for the remission of sins. It is a hopeless and useless act. Paul would need to stop preaching salvation in baptism because what difference would it make? All of the work of the early disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel, baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is empty if there is no resurrection.

The language Paul uses of the baptism of the dead connects the spiritual death found in the waters of baptism to the hope of eternal life in physical death. Without the resurrection, none of this is necessary and has any purpose. The church Jesus died for needs to close shop, go home, and die miserable sinners with no hope. When a loved one dies in Christ, it is hopeless if there is no resurrection. But there is a resurrection! Jesus did rise from the dead. Baptism is the spiritual death, burial, and resurrection of the crucified old man. We preach Christ, and we preach the glory of the resurrection in baptism and the resurrection of the body. Many have gone before us and stand as spiritual sentinels of God’s grace that eternal life is real. Resurrection. Thank God for resurrection.

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