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?…
I. AS TO THE APOSTLES. We are "false witnesses" — liars, the whole twelve of us. Peter heard Him say, "Lovest thou Me?" I heard Him ask, "Why persecutest thou Me?" We have risked our lives for the pleasure of telling a lie which has landed us in poverty and disgrace. What do you take us for? Men now try hard to find some standing-place between the assertion that Jesus was the Christ of God, and positive denial of His claims. They talk of His "moral influence"; what! the moral influence of an impostor? Jesus claimed a place which no ordinary man can claim without blasphemy. Yet we never accuse Him of blasphemy or madness.
II. AS TO THE DISCIPLES.
1. Theirs was an empty faith, and they were yet in their sins. An empty or void faith is one which has no centre, an empty thing like a soap-bubble, a filmy something floating in vacancy. For faith must have a person to whom to cling. Faith towards God will be strong or weak according to our conception of what God is. But if God sent Christ into this world, and then treated Him so as the Crucifixion indicates, what kind of a God is that to trust in? What an appalling mystery that the Creator, whom we call Father, should evolve into being such a soul as that of Jesus, simply to dash it into nothingness! No doubt of this being a devil's world then.
2. They were yet in their sins. The idea that Christ lifts us out of our sins, is one of which we cannot make too much. But if man is to die the death of the swine, why may he not live the life of the swine?
III. AS TO THOSE WHO HAVE FALLEN ASLEEP. They are perished. Fallen asleep in Christ! Suggestive word — so full of rest and quietude! But those of whom we thus think are not in this beatific state. If Christ be not risen, they are perished. We cannot believe that. Our loved ones are gone hence. Their going was a loss to us; oh, how great! Where is he? she? The idea of immortality is in my mind. How did it get there? How could it get into a mind not preadapted to receive it? Then this intuition is corroborated by Jesus the Christ. "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you." "Now see," says one, "what these sceptics require us to believe: that all those who have shed a sunshine upon earth, and whose affections were so pure and good that they seemed to tell you of eternity, perished utterly as the selfish and impure! You are required to believe that the pure and wise of this world have been wrong, and the selfish and sensual all right." But how can we believe it? The thing is impossible. The resurrection of Jesus the Christ says that they who have fallen asleep are not perished; they are in His keeping to whom all power is given in heaven and on earth. Perished! Why, even the material does not perish; it changes, but that is all. Why the spiritual?
(Reuen Thomas, D.D.)
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?