BY CHARLES WOODRUFFis really unbelievable, and even a little disheartening that some It professing Christians only go to church on special occasions; some only at . Sadly, I was once in that terrible slough of despond for a while that now seems far too long. It is wonderful to celebrate the , which is one of the central doctrines of the Christian faith. Tied into so-called Easter Sunday, are a lot of pagan traditions, including the name Easter taken from the goddess Eastre of Anglo-Saxon paganism. Don't let that divert you from celebrating the resurrection of Christ! We should do that every . As a matter of fact, we should do that every day!
Over the years I have written only 3-4 special pieces for this time of the year, and preached on it several times. I was impressed to do the following, and after comparing it with one I wrote five years ago, I had a laugh. It dealt with exactly the same theme, but with a little different slant. Oh well, I hope you think it is worthy of sharing. I want it to be an encouragement and blessing. As we look around us, we need the comfort of Christ. We had a physical storm here last night. Much worse are the spiritual storms we are now in. Don't look at the clouds, my friends. Look up ! For your redemption draws near!
“Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised. And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:12-17)
I gave you these six verses so you would have the context. But, what I want to emphasize, at least at the start, is the most urgent message in these verses; the absolute necessity of the bodily resurrection. Without it the entire Christian faith is nothing! It is a fabrication; a fantasy! Why would this be true? Because Jesus Christ would still be dead, and not our living saviour.
The summation of all that Paul tells us here is: “If there be no resurrection--Christ is not risen--and you are yet in your sins” What a horrible concept for those of us who have trusted in Jesus Christ. There are many who believe that the whole gospel is, at best, a fairy tale; something made up by man, like Peter Pan, or Pinocchio. There are many who will be attending churches on Easter Sunday morning this month that have no concept of what it is supposed to mean. I say “supposed to mean” because Easter is a misnomer. It came from pagan origins. It is important to distinguish the biblical doctrine of resurrection from the pagan customs associated even with modern day Easter. What do colored eggs, and bunny rabbits actually have to do with the resurrection of Christ? It is something that the enemy has thrown in to “muddy the water”.
The major point Paul was making should be crystal clear. The resurrection is real! The risen Jesus is crystal clear. Saul of Tarsus (later to be called Paul) met him while a religious, but unsaved Jew. He was a Pharisee on the Damascus road, on the way to persecute Christians. Contrary to his expectations, he had his life transformed, in an instant! Not only was his name changed, but Saul, the person, was changed irrevocably on the inside. This was the power of the resurrected, living, Christ. Much later in Paul’s life, in his letter to the Philippian church, he said: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” (Philippians 3:10-11)
After meeting Christ, Paul, for the rest of his life preached the resurrected Christ, and desired each day to know Him and the power of His resurrection. So he knew, as we must, that any other faith is vain. It is not “have faith in some kind of god”; “have faith in yourself”; “have blind faith”. It is only faith in the living Christ, who said at the tomb of Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead; “I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believeth thou this?” (John 11:25, 26) Do we really believe it? Ironically, just as I was writing these words, a carload of so-called Jehovah’s Witnesses came to my driveway. The lady who was sent to the door was so obviously one of their cult. She had her twisted New World Translation in one hand, and one of the JW pamphlets full of lies in the other. I immediately told her that I was a Christian. I told her the truth; that Jesus Christ is the living Jehovah, manifested in the flesh. (See 1Timothy 3:16). That He died for sinners, and rose from the dead (See I Corinthians 15:1-9), and that that she needed Him as her saviour. I also told her that those who die without Him will go to hell (which place they deny is real, but please read John 3:36). She made a hurried exit from my door. Sometimes I will talk with them at length, but did not think it wise today with two of my grandchildren here. All of them would have likely tried to come in, and while I was dealing with one, some of the rest might cleverly approach my grandkids. Please! Please! Don’t let you loved ones who are not grounded Christians discuss anything with them! They are totally contrasted to everything I am preaching today! They twist the Bible and distort it. I did tell the lady I would pray for her, and I meant it. I do pray for her. She is lost! She needs the resurrected Christ!
The central message of the Christian faith involves the resurrection. I don’t care what your denomination is; what your family heritage might be; whether you have been confirmed, sprinkled, immersed, took a catechism class, or whatever you have done; if you do not have this resurrected Christ in your life, you are lost! If your church is not preaching the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, they are not preaching the gospel! (Look again at 1 Corinthians 15:1-10). Anything else is a false religion; a false gospel. In our introductory verse we read: “But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:13, 14)
I am convinced that the majority of churches of whatever persuasion are not preaching the true gospel in our day. It is considered out of date by many. Other things have to be taught, and dubious methods used to build a “successful” church, it is believed. It isn’t really truth, if it is not Bible truth! It is not the gospel if it is not the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. In Galatians any other gospel is condemned. Those who preach any other are under anathema (a curse). “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”(Galatians 1:6-9)
How is it with you, dear friend? Do you believe the word of God? Do you believe the resurrection is real? Do you believe in your heart that God raised Him from among the dead? If you are going to be a true Christian, you must believe this with all your heart. Do you, or have you just been playing church? That won’t do. True faith acts toward the living Christ. It must!
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9,10).