Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #232 of the Bible 2021 podcast.  We are reading 1 Corinthians 15 today and our focus is on how The Resurrection of Jesus is the Central Belief of Christianity – A Christianity Without The Resurrection if Meaningless and Powerless..  We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new in listeners in  Thanks for listening!  Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\

Today’s episode is not an attempt to prove the validity and historicity of the resurrection of Jesus. Since 2020, I have given many reasons for belief in the resurrection, and even written a book on it. https://www.amazon.com/Easter-Fiction-Reasons-Believe-Jesus/dp/1545407932 Today’s episode is more about declaring how the resurrection of Jesus is the essential center of Christianity – the non-negotiable core and foundation of our faith. 1 Corinthians 15 – I call it the resurrection chapter, because it is 58 verses that are all pretty much exclusively focused on the resurrection of Jesus. it is far and away one of the most important chapters in the Bible, and in this chapter, Paul  makes an audacious claim that absolutely guts and demolishes a certain kind of religion that has become more and more prominent in the west over the past few decades:

13 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 proclamation is in vain, and so is your faith. 15 Moreover, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified wrongly about God that he raised up Christ—whom he did not raise up, if in fact 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 worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Those, then, who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. 19 If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone.

This is quite a claim by Paul – boil it down and it says that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then Christianity is worthless and Christians are the most pitiful people in the world. And yet, there are many millions who go to church and label themselves as Christians who do so only because they want to follow the moral teachings of Jesus. They do not believe Him to be the Son of God. They do not believe Him to be literally resurrected, and what Paul says in vs. 19 must certainly apply to such a “believer.” They are to be pitied more than anyone. If Jesus isn’t the Son of God. If Jesus did not die for our sins and defeat death. If Jesus does not provide eternal life for all who look to Him in wholehearted faith…then why follow Him? Sure, His teachings are great, but if they are merely the teachings of a man – even a great man – surely we can find better and more relevant human teachers today, after 2000 years of human progress, right? Hear what I’m saying – I am not downplaying the teaching of Jesus – I am saying that it is all vain and unimportant if He was not who He said He was, and if He did not rise from the dead like His followers universally testified that He did. Dr. Adrian Warnock expounds on this thought, writing:

Jesus predicted his resurrection repeatedly. Was he a liar, misleading his followers deliberately to think that he was divine? Could he have been that evil? Could the man whose teaching has never been surpassed also be a con man on such a massive scale? How likely is it that instead he was a deluded fool who falsely believed death could not hold him? Jesus’ credibility is destroyed if he did not rise from the dead. You cannot believe in him as a savior or a good teacher if he deceived us or was himself deceived so completely about something so fundamental. Either he rose and is therefore divine, or he did not, in which case he is no savior, and certainly not God. God is immortal and is not rotting in a tomb somewhere in Judea.

Warnock, Adrian. Raised with Christ: How the Resurrection Changes Everything (pp. 43-44). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

Once again, there is no Christianity without the resurrection.

Now, you might think the followers of Jesus, being born in the first century, were quite credulous and superstitious – vulnerable to believe anything. And yes, while it is true that the early Jews did have a vague belief in the resurrection, it is also true that the Roman empire – which was swept by a beyond viral belief in Jesus over the decades after His death – the Romans and other religions did NOT believe in literal resurrection – they would have been adamantly opposed to such a claim, as imminent scholar N.T. Wright notes:

“Christianity was born into a world where its central claim was known to be false. Many believed that the dead were non-existent; outside Judaism, nobody believed in resurrection.” (From: The Resurrection of the Son of God)

Think about that: Christianity was born into a world that utterly rejected the idea and notion of life after death, and yet it took deep root all across the known world at the time – spreading to every language, people and culture with a message that the people were pre-conditioned to disbelieve. If you are a skeptic who denies the resurrection of Jesus, you still have to account historically for the amazingly pervasive spread of that belief. If it was a false claim, then how did the falsehood deceive so many millions of people across thousands of cultures? Do keep in mind that nobody claims that Christianity spread in the first few centuries by power, or military might, or money, or anything along those lines. Yes, the Catholic church showed great signs of corruption in the middle ages, and the modern Evangelical church has shown great signs of corruption recently, but such things weren’t seen in the first 3 centuries of the spread of the belief in the resurrection of Jesus, and yet that belief spread like a wildfire in dry and dusty California. How? Because the people were so credulous? NO! They were NOT predisposed to believe in coming back from the dead – they were probably more biased against such a belief then than moderns are today. And yet you can historically and sociologically track the rapid spread of Christianity, spearheaded by the proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus, as it travelled to every nook and cranny of the globe.

Let’s close with some final thoughts from Dr. D.A. Carson on the centrality of the resurrection:

Nothing is more central to the Bible than Jesus’ death and resurrection. The entire Bible pivots on one weekend in Jerusalem about two thousand years ago. Attempts to make sense of the Bible that do not give prolonged thought to integrating the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus are doomed to failure, at best exercises in irrelevance. Jesus’ own followers did not expect him to be crucified; they certainly did not expect him to rise again. Yet after these events their thinking and attitudes were so transformed that they could see the sheer inevitability that Jesus would die on a cross and leave an empty tomb behind, and absolutely everything in their lives was changed.

Carson, D.A.. Scandalous (Re:Lit) (p. 11). Good News Publishers/Crossway Books. Kindle Edition.

Bible Memory verses for the month of August: Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 

The Bible 2021 Podcast Is a ministry of Valley Baptist Church A church in North Salinas, California.

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