Walk in Wisdom – Gleanings from the Scripture
1 Cor. 15.19 – If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
I heard a sermon the other day by a very sincere and well meaning man, who challenged his hearers in the following way regarding the Gospel – “If you are right, and the Gospel isn’t true, then I’ve lost nothing. I’ve lived a better life for it, been kinder, more loving, and had joy. But if I’m right, then you have everything to lose. Because you will not have Jesus Christ.”
The Apostle Paul would have disagreed most heartily with that line of argument. In fact he DID disagree. In the text cited above. If the Gospel isn’t true, if Jesus didn’t die, or the message isn’t true, or if He didn’t rise from the dead – then the entire thing is a sham. And no one is better off living a lie. No, Paul says, if this is it, if in this life only we have hoped in Christ, then we are one pitiful lot. A bunch of duped idiots. More, he really ups the ante in this regard. In 1 Cor. 15.13-32 he gives us a run down of just what it would mean. This, all tied to whether or not Jesus rose form the dead. For if He didn’t, all bets are off. He puts it in 9 propositions.
If there is no resurrection unto eternal life – then:
1. (13) Christ has not been raised. If there is no such thing as resurrection at all, then the plain truth is, Jesus hasn’t risen
from the dead either.
2. (14) Our preached message is empty – vain. We’ve got nothing TO preach. It is empty words that end at the grave. That’s no Gospel, its foolishness.
3. (14) Our FAITH is empty too. Contrary to one popular notion, merely having faith isn’t enough. We must have faith IN something – or better SOMEONE! Our faith that our sins are forgiven – is nada. Our faith that we have been reconciled to God, is foolish. Our faith in life after death, is stupid. Our faith in eternal life with God is nothing but the stuff of myth.
4. (15) then everyone who has ever preached this message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a liar. Especially so since we claim to be telling you the truth from God. We’re not just wrong, we’re immoral.
5. (17) We’re all still guilty before God and facing judgment yet. If Christ hasn’t been raised, we’ve got nothing to look forward to but eternal judgment. Hell. Endless, hopeless desperation. There is NO answer to the human condition. All suffering is just the reality of this accidental life on this ball of dirt in nowhere.
6. (18) Everyone who died before us, is just gone. Vanished. Nothing. They are returning to dust and nothing more. Their lives were short and meaningless. It is all over. Like so many germs or bacteria. The lives of those we loved and who loved us – were little more than a temporary an illusion.
7. (19) Christians are the dumbest, stupidest, most gullible fools of all. Of ALL men, we should be pitied most – living in this illusion, this false hope, this imaginary non-existence.
8. (29) Baptism is a completely meaningless religious rite. Why in the world should we identify ourselves with a bunch of losers and dupes who went before us? What nonsense, to risk our lives to participate in something that truly means and does nothing.
9. (30-32) Paul’s own life, ministry and sufferings are just so much meaningless trash. He’s no more than any who died before. His ministry is trash. His sufferings, just the lousy luck of the draw on this cold stone called Earth.
BUT! Christ HAS been raised from the dead. He IS risen. And all who put their trust in Him have the true, rock solid hope of the forgiveness of sin, the life everlasting, the redemption of every sorrow and pain, and the inheritance of God Himself.
He DID die, He DID die, He IS coming back.
If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But if we have hoped in Christ unto life from the dead – we are of all men, most to be envied. And we, need to take pity on them.