By Brooke Holt
“For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” - 1 Corinthians 15:16-19
My mom had a saying for me that holds true even to this day: “Frequently wrong but never in doubt.” All throughout my childhood, I embraced what I believed to be right, and I was dead set on that truth. As one who tends to be quite passionate about things, I am inclined to believe this is how I am hard-wired. Passionate people are all in for what they believe!
The Corinthian believers were also quite passionate! They loved spiritual experiences, loved to appear spiritual, loved attention, and loved to be in control. But here is the next part of the problem with their Christian views and assertions: if Christ was not resurrected from the dead, no one else would be either. If Christ was not resurrected from the dead, then he did not conquer death, sin, and Satan, which means there is no hope for mankind; they are all stuck in the bondage of death, sin, and the grip of evil. This does not sound like good news. (Remember that the word translated Gospel is evangelio which literally means “good news”!)
Now Paul wanted his readers to follow this train of Corinthian logic. If Christ was not raised from the dead, neither were those loved ones who had gone before them, nor the disciples, nor those martyrs who had given their very lives for the faith, and neither will be the Corinthians nor any others who put their trust in Jesus Christ. Essentially, there is no hope outside of the resurrection. Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Christian hope is in vain, and those who embrace that hope and live with that hope are the people to be most pitied in this life.
Why would Paul, the disciples, the early followers, and the Corinthians renounce this world to embrace a hope in the everlasting kingdom of God if they were not to see that kingdom? False hope is quite pitiful, especially if one has devoted his or her life to that hope.
Can passionate, all-in people recognize the error of their ways? I certainly have learned a godly humility that allows me to see my erroneous thinking when needed, and I pray that through Paul, the Corinthians and all misled believers to follow them would receive such enlightenment. It is better to be wrong and have hope in Jesus Christ than to be right and have only the promise of death.
Where do you see this faulty logic in the world today? Are there essential tenets of the faith that you tend to compromise so that the Christian faith is more palatable to you or a loved one? Think through this logical breakdown of Paul and consider ways in which you see similar logical breakdowns in the world today. Then choose hope, real hope, resurrected hope as one who is not to be pitied but redeemed! We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
In our six-week small group Bible study on the book of 1 John, you are invited to live and celebrate true life in Christ. Throughout his first letter, John wrestles with the assurance of salvation. How do we know that we are genuine Christians, and how can we recognize authentic faith in others? The Apostle John taught that you can enjoy full assurance through believing in the incarnate Son of God, walking in the light of obedience, and loving God and his children. Embark on this study with us today!
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