Friday, July 8, 2022

Life After Death (1 Corinthians 15)

"And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!" (1 Cor. 15:17).

The cornerstone of the Christian faith is not, as some would say, “love one another,” but “He is risen!” The resurrection of Christ is the hope of every believer. When Paul penned his first letter to the Corinthians, they doubted whether there was a resurrection of the dead. Paul addressed this false notion by saying, “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 Cor. 15:13–14). The whole of the Christian faith anticipates eternal life—a life free from pain and suffering.

If the resurrection were not a reality, we could not have this hope, and there would be no freedom from our suffering. If we could not expect a resurrection, we have no “good news” to declare to anyone. Kant argued that if there is no life after death, there could be no basis for justice or ethics, thus making life meaningless. We can all attest to the fact that justice is often not met in this life—many people get away with criminal acts, and immorality abounds in every society. For there to be meaning in our lives, for there to be true justice, in many cases it must come in another sphere of existence. Dostoevsky maintained that if there is no life after death, existence is intolerable—our lives are simply a cosmic joke. Nietzsche came to the dark conclusion that a life with no hope of future existence is utterly meaningless. Such a philosophy only leads to despair. Ernest Hemingway embraced this pessimistic outlook on humanity and took his own life as a result. Suffering without hope is unbearable.

Yet Christianity overcomes suffering and despair because it offers hope—hope in a risen Savior. Just as death came into the world through Adam, so life comes to all who believe in Jesus Christ. By overcoming death, Christ has gained victory to all who are in Him. Our lives are not meaningless, for they obtain meaning in Christ. Our days on earth are not devoid of hope, but our hope is in Him who has freed us from sin and death. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).

Read John 14:1–3. How does this passage relate to the resurrection of the dead? What hope does Christ offer in this passage? How would you comfort a believer who is dying with this passage? What would you tell an unbeliever? Thank Christ today for the hope He has given you through His victory over death.