The Resurrection: Historical, Necessary, and More Than Sufficient (1 Corinthians 15:12–20)
Is the resurrection necessary? Evangelicals Christians say, “Absolutely. Undoubtedly. No question.” Other “Christians,” Protestant Liberals, are less committed. Who’s right?
Thankfully, the Bible is not indifferent or ambiguous to the question. In 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul spends an entire chapter arguing for the centrality of the resurrection. Last week, we saw how verses 1–11 articulate the gospel of Jesus Christ crucified, buried, risen, and reigning. This week, we examined how verses 12–19 address the question of the resurrection’s historicity, necessity, and sufficiency. In particular, we find in the historical necessity of the resurrection a sufficient foundation for our hope and a word of life to anyone facing death.
You can listen to sermon online or read the sermon here. Below there are discussion questions and resources for further study.
1 Corinthians 15:12–20
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
- What was the conflict in Corinth that led Paul to spend 8 verses on the historicity of the resurrection? Look at verse 12.
- In 8 verses Paul makes at least 6 IF-THEN statements, what does that say about the use of logic? What would you say to someone who says Christianity is a “thoughtless religion.”
- Similarly, what proof does Paul give for ‘proving’ the resurrection? See 15:3–8. Why are the historical testimonies of these witnesses so important?
- What is lost if the resurrection is false? What is secured if the resurrection is true?
- How does the resurrection secure our hope? And how does, or how could, the resurrection impact your daily living?
- What are three ways that the resurrection brings comfort to us today? See 2 Corinthians 5:17 (also Romans 6:3–4), 2 Corinthians 4;7–11, and 1 Corinthians 15:20–28.
- Who do you know that needs to hear about the resurrection and the hope of the gospel? Take time to pray for them.
For Further Study
The Resurrection in Cultural Discussion
- President Carter, Am I a Christian? — a Protestant Liberal response that plays fast and loose with the resurrection
- Am I a Christian, Pastor Timothy Keller? — a Reformed Evangelical response that faithfully bears witness to the gospel and resurrection of Jesus Christ
- What the Corinthians Did Right by Bill Smith
Articles on the Resurrection
- Jesus’ Resurrection by William Lane Craig
- Don’t Rapture The Resurrection by Brandon Smith
- Answering Alternatives to the Resurrection by Michael Patton
- 5 Resurrection Realities That Reorient Our Evangelism by Stephen Lee
Books on the Resurrection
- The Message of the Resurrection by Paul Beasley-Murray — a readable theology of the resurrection that considers every major passage on the resurrection
- Resurrection and Redemption: A Study in Paul’s Soteriology — Gaffin shows why the resurrection, and not just the cross, is central to Paul’s doctrine of salvation
- The Resurrection of the Son of God by N.T. Wright — not everything Wright writes is right, but this book is a modern classic on the historical reality of Christ’s resurrection.
Soli Deo Gloria, ds