1 Corinthians 15:12-19
Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?…
The religion founded by Jesus Christ has many teachings in common with other religions of the world; spiritual teachings which concern the relationship of God to man, and moral teachings which concern the relationship of man to his fellow-men. Eminent among the truths thus exclusively proper to Christianity is the truth of the resurrection from the dead. The resurrection is essentially and notably a distinctive Christian truth. Other religions of the world have entertained, with more or less clearness, notions of the immortality of the soul. The ancient religion of Egypt (as we learn from the custom of careful and costly embalming, from the erection of massive sepulchral pyramids, and from the teachings of the Book of the Dead) manifested a consciousness not only of the immortality of the soul, but also of the ultimate re-union of the soul with its revivified body. But none of these ancient teachings are comparable, either in scope or perspicuity or inspiring power, with the Christian revelation concerning the rising from the dead. None of them unfold, as does St. Paul (chap. 1 Corinthians 15.), the characteristics of the risen body and the risen life. And, what is more important than all else, it is Christianity, and Christianity alone, which has furnished to the world a historic illustration and example of the risen life. No doubt there are many earnest, conscientious persons who find great, sometimes even insuperable, difficulty in accepting the fact of Christ's resurrection. It is a fact so wonderful, so awful, so glorious, so altogether unique in majesty and sublimity: it is, moreover, a fact so utterly unlike anything which the world has ever witnessed either before or since; both science and religion are helplessly unable to supply any parallel to it — that multitudes of thoughtful people shrink from accepting, and even utterly reject the fact. Yet, while fully allowing the possibility of honestly doubting, or even denying, the resurrection, still it seems to me that the difficulties of doubt are greater than the difficulties of faith; the difficulties of denial greater than the difficulties of acceptance.
1. For, first of all, it is clear that the course of the world is a course of progress — progress frequently hindered by lapses and retrogressions. It is surely, then, natural — and none the less natural because of the retrogressions of Mohammedanism — to believe that this great law of progress and ascent should apply to religious knowledge and religious conduct and religious aspiration; and that Christianity should contain illuminations brighter and more heavenly than any of the religions which preceded it.
2. The inherent wonder of the resurrection is not greater than the inherent wonder of many every-day occurrences. In itself, and apart from the frequency of its occurrence, a birth is more marvellous than a resurrection; it is more marvellous that a life should begin to be than that its existence should be renewed and prolonged. If resurrections were as frequent as births, births would be considered more marvelous than resurrections.
3. But the non-recurrence of the resurrection, instead of being unreasonable and unnatural, is just the opposite. For why has there been only one resurrection in the long history of mankind? Simply because, during the whole course of that long history, there has been only one Christ. The resurrection was as natural, as necessary, to the Christ, as death is natural and necessary to us. The perfections of His holiness, and the prerogatives of His Sonship, made His corruption impossible and His resurrection a necessity. If the Son of God has, indeed, taken human flesh, then, I ask you, which is the more reasonable and the more credible supposition — to believe that His body never saw corruption, or to believe that His body is dead, eternally dead?
4. This, moreover, is our answer to those who affirm that the resurrection of Christ goes contrary to the laws of nature. For who, we ask, shall say what was the law of nature in the instance of the Christ? If there had been many Christs and only one of them had risen, while all the others had turned to corruption, then we should rightly have deemed that the one resurrection was contrary to the laws of nature operating upon the Christs. But as there has been only one Christ, we have no means of judging what were the laws of nature in His case, except from what actually happened to Him.
5. And what is the alternative of rejecting the resurrection? The alternative is that Christianity is founded on a falsehood; and that Christ and His apostles are deceivers and untrue.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?