Scripture Memory Meditation | 1 Corinthians 15:19-20
If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone. But as it is, Christ has been raised from the dead. . .
1 Corinthians 15:19-20 (CSB)
Some Christians have suggested that there’s no harm in accepting the Christian faith if it turns out to be false. If it turns out to be wrong, nothing is lost. If it turns out to be right, everything is gained. Or so the logic of this particular evangelism strategy goes. Yet, Paul argues that if the Christian faith is false (re: the future resurrection of each believer and the past resurrection of Christ) Christians should be the most pitied of all people. Why would Paul suggest that belief in Christian claims (should they prove false) is not simply innocuous, but detrimental?
First, if Christ did not defeat death than he certainly did not defeat the sin from which death stems. Those who look to Christ for hope for the forgiveness of sins would be looking in the wrong place – if Christ were unable to conquer sin and death. Sin and death would reign victorious.
Paul does not suggest that if the resurrection is not a reality, that God is not a reality. On the contrary, if the resurrection is not a reality, the reality of God and his judgment on sin remains. Thus, those who would turn to Christ to deal with their sins are not only misguided—they are condemned because they remain in their sins; their faith is worthless (1 Cor. 15:17).
Second, throughout 1 Corinthians, Paul has pointed to the eschatological future as the motivation and rationality for the Christian ethic. That eschatological future is inconceivable apart from the resurrection. As such, if the resurrection is not true, both the motivation and the rationality of the demands of Christian discipleship would be dispelled.
There is, therefore, no virtue in placing hope in the promises of the Christian faith or in abiding by the Christian ethic if Christianity is not true.
But, as it is, Christ has been raised from the grave. In his past resurrection, we find our own future resurrection. In his defeat of sin and death, we are pardoned for our sin and welcomed into life. Because Christianity is true we have hope and we have it abundantly.