From the Pastor: The Resurrection I: Still in our sins?
"If Christ has not been raised ... you are still in your sins." 1 Corinthians 15:17|
A familiar motif in a courtroom drama involves the accused man depending on a star witness whose testimony would turn the case in his favour. However, events turn sour when someone in opposition, maliciously eliminates the star witness, and the accused is left in agonized resignation to say, "if only he were here." The case concludes and he is convicted. "If only..." is so often the story of our lives when things go sour.
When Paul faces head-on the major issue in the Corinthian congregation, viz. the denial of the resurrection of the dead, he raises a series of "ifs". These hypothetical propositions, "If Christ has not been raised ..." entail the most serious consequences. Like the defendant who loses his star witness, or his legal advocate, the case goes solidly against us, not by default this time, but by force of actual guilt. A dead Christ is no Saviour, no Advocate, no Justifier (cf. Romans 3:26), no Victorious Conqueror.
Praise God! Paul sweeps away the hypothetical "ifs" and affirms "Now Christ is risen from the dead". Such a claim requires evidence, and he does not hesitiate to cite it: many disciples had seen Christ alive after His death on many different occasions. On one such occasion more than 500 saw Him, most of whom were still alive at the time of writing, and could be consulted. This resurrection was bodily, since it reversed not only the state of death, but also of burial (1 Corinthians 15:4). In turn this puts us in an entirely different position: we are no longer "in our
sins", and no longer live for this life only.
Hence we sing,
Everlasting life is this