If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless.
—1 Corinthians 15:17
If Christ did not come, there would be no hope of life beyond the grave. In 1 Corinthians 15:17-19, we read about the only real hope that counts. Usually we read this passage at Easter, but it shouldn’t be the only time to read it. The hope of the resurrection is a good thing to celebrate 365 days a year. In this passage Paul is describing what would have happened if Christ had not been raised from the dead. What would our lives be like?
Paul says, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless” (v. 17). If Christ has not been raised, then everything you believe is a lie; your faith is a sham. If Christ has not been raised from the dead, then you are still in your sins. Why? Because that would mean when Jesus died, He wasn’t dying for your sins; He was dying for His own sins and therefore stayed in the grave. If there is no resurrection, then you and I still have to face the judgment of God for our sins. Not only that, but if Christ has not been raised, “those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished” (v. 18). That is, your loved ones who claim to be Christians and you thought were in heaven—if Christ hasn’t been raised from the dead, then they are not in heaven. They are in hell because their sins have not been forgiven either.
If Christ had not been born, then He could not have been raised from the dead. If Christ had not come in human form, He could not have died for our sins and risen again for our justification. But the fact that Christ was born, the fact that He did conquer sin and death, means that those of us who trust in Him will also conquer sin and death. There is a hope for us beyond the grave.
I realize many of you have lost a loved one. If that’s true of you, Christmas may be a bittersweet time for you. In one sense you’re grateful, as you look back on Christmas past, for the time you had together with that loved one, yet there’s the sting of reality during Christmas that your loved one is no longer with you. When you gather together as a family you can’t help but focus on the one who is not with you. But the fact that Jesus Christ came, died, and rose again means that one day those of us who trust in Him will rise again. One day we will not only see the Lord, but we will see again our loved ones again who trusted in Him for salvation. The fact that Christ was born means that we have a hope that goes beyond the grave.
The fact that Jesus Christ did come to Bethlehem means we have a Bible filled with fulfilled prophecy that we can trust. It means we have a Savior who has forever taken away our sins. It means we have a sympathetic Friend in heaven who understands us. And it means we have a hope, an assurance waiting for us beyond the grave.
Today’s devotion is an excerpt from “If Christ Had Not Come” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2012.