"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 Corinthians 15:12).
Our text comes from one of the mountain-peak chapters of Scripture, expounding the great theme of the resurrection-first the past resurrection of Christ, then the future resurrection of those who "are fallen asleep in Christ" (v.18).
In verses 12 through 19 of this chapter appear seven skeptical suppositions, each beginning with the small but potent word "if." The first of these is in our text above. The others are enumerated below:
"If there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen" (v.13). "If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain" (v.14). "If so be that the dead rise not (we are found false witnesses of God)" (v.15). "If the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised" (v.16). "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins" (v.17). "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable" (v.19).
Then, in a single, glorious answer to all these doubts and questions, the apostle Paul dispels the "ifs" with a "but!" "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept" (v.20).
And, indeed, all these issues are settled by the great victory won over sin and death and the grave by our Lord Jesus Christ! Our faith is not vain, but sound and sure; our preaching is not vain, but positive and powerful. Because Christ is risen, there will be a future resurrection of the dead, and our witness of God is true. Our sins are forever forgiven, and our hope in Christ makes this life one of peace and joy, not misery. The bodily resurrection of Christ is the most certain fact of history, and the resurrection of those whose faith is in Christ is the most certain hope of the future. HMM