This morning would you take God’s word and turn with me to I Corinthians 15. I Corinthians 15 and we’re going to be thinking on this subject, What if Easter Didn’t Exist?
*In just a minute I want to share with you from the word of God but before I share with you from the Bible I want to ask you a question, have you ever heard of a man named Harry Houdini? Many of you have. He died in October of 1926. But his claim to fame was that he was a magician that specialized in spectacular escapes. As a matter of fact, he was said to have laughed at locks, sneered at fetters. They said of Harry that he had the flexibility of an eel. He had the lives of a cat. They did all kinds of things to try to incarcerate him. They would seal him in coffins. He would escape. They riveted him into a boiler. He escaped. They sowed him up in canvas bags. He escaped. They locked him in a milk can. He escaped. They sealed him in a beer barrel. He escaped. They put him in maximum-security prison. And old Harry somehow got out. But then in October 1926, old man death laid his hands on Harry Houdini and put him in a grave and he is yet to escape. As a matter of fact, he told his wife, if there is anyway out, I will find it. If there is any way out I’ll make contact with you and we’ll do it on the anniversary of my death. For 10 years she kept a light burning over his portrait. At the end of 10 years she turned out the light. Death had Harry and he couldn’t escape.*
Death laid his hands on Jesus as well. It put Jesus in a tomb. And there was a stone in the mouth of that tomb and the seal of the Roman government was placed upon that tomb. But on the third day, Jesus Christ stirred Himself. He rose from the sleep of death. And Jesus Christ passed through the walls of that rock-hewn tomb.
And Jesus Christ is alive. He is not behind us in a tomb. He is before us on a throne. But I want to ask you a question. Suppose that had not happened. Suppose death still held Jesus like it does Harry. Then what? What if Easter Didn’t Exist? Well the apostle Paul talks about that in 1 Corinthians 15, I begin reading in verse 12. READ TEXT
What if Easter Didn’t Exist? I’ll admit, it’s a loaded question. Much like, “What if you were never born?” That question is heavy, strong and loaded. But this question, What if Easter Didn’t Exist? should be considered very carefully. Because the truth is, an entire faith hinges upon this event. Churches today exist because they believe in Easter, in the resurrection. Countless millions of people place their faith in Christ because they believe His resurrection to be true.
What would our lives be like if the resurrection never occurred, if Easter didn’t exist?
1. Our message would be powerless: 12-15
Notice what the Bible says in verse 14. “If Christ has not been raised, the our preaching is in vain…” Now that’s a bold statement! That word “vain” there means “without effect” or “powerless.”
Paul says, if Easter doesn’t exist, then our message is powerless. What is our message? That God loved you so much He sent Jesus Christ to die for you on the cross. He took your place, what you deserved and paid the price for your sin. He suffered and died. He was buried in a borrowed tomb for three days. But He rose again on the third day by the power of Almighty God. He ascended to Heaven and now offers victory over sin through the cross and victory over death through the resurrection.
But if Christ didn’t rise, then Easter doesn’t exist. And if Easter doesn’t exist, our message is powerless. You see, the purpose of preaching is to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ but without the resurrection, there’s really not that much good news.
Think about presenting the Gospel without the good news. All you would have left is bad news. Could you imagine sharing with someone that because of their sin they would now be separated from God for all eternity in hell, a place full of fire and brimstone, a place where the worm never dies and the fire is not quenched. Then can you imagine the person coming under conviction for that sin and feeling the full weight of that penalty and then have them beg you to tell them what they could do to escape the coming wrath of God. If Christ was not resurrected then all we could say is “hey good luck with that.”
*Imagine if I knocked on your door one Saturday afternoon and said, “Congratulations, you have been selected as the winner of our sweepstakes. You have just won 10 million dollars! Now that would be good news. That would be exciting. And after you paid the church debt off, you’d still have some for yourself! Now, you’d be excited for sure…the only problem is. It’s not true. There’s no sweepstakes, there’s no winner, there’s no money. It’s all a lie. Now that’s pretty awful isn’t it! It’s not just a powerless message, it’s a cruel message.*
But our message is not powerless, because Easter does exist; Christ is risen! Paul says in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…”
Our message is not powerless. I’ve seen the preaching of the cross change lives, bring men and women to the point of repentance. I’ve seen drug addicts released, alcoholics give up the booze, marriages restored, prisoners set free from their sin, hateful people fall in love with Jesus!
This message is not powerless, it has the power to change lives! And it has the power to change your life as well. Have you been changed by the risen Christ?
2. Our faith would be useless: 14
Paul continues by saying, if Easter didn’t exist, or if Christ has not risen then our “faith is in vain.” It’s the same word used twice. In other words, what good is faith if Christ hasn’t risen from the dead.
If it never really happened, then your faith is useless. If Christ is not risen then it’s all a myth and there’s no need to follow Him with your life. You can live any way you want, act any way you want, do anything you want, say anything you want and it doesn’t matter at all. You see, if Easter didn’t exist, our faith wouldn’t matter at all.
You see, I believe that in every one of us there is a desire to find something or someone we can trust. Someone who when all seems to be falling apart in our lives will be there for us. That can help us no matter how bad things get in our lives.
*When we buy a product we want to make sure that we can count on it and trust it to work the way it is supposed to work. When you go and buy a car you are looking for reliability. A car that you know will carry you and your family safely for years to come. The car company tries to earn your trust by giving you a warrantee. The warrantee tells you how long and to what extent you can trust them and their product. Some are three years 36,000 miles, while others are 5 year 50,000 mile, some are 10 year 100,000 mile warrantees. But the problem with these warrantees is they eventually run out. You can trust them but only for a period of time. Our relationship with others is the same way. When looking for a husband or wife we look for someone who is trustworthy. Someone we can trust, someone we know who is going to be faithful to us over the course of a life time. But even in the best relationships people fail us and let us down. I believe that it is in the heart of every person and is there deepest longing to be able to completely trust someone. Someone who won’t lie to you, someone who will who won’t let you down. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead then we cannot trust him with our lives and we certainly cannot trust him with our eternity.*
But fortunately for us, Jesus did rise from the dead. Easter does exist, it’s real not fake, it’s true, not a lie! We can trust Him with our lives and live for Him.
Paul says in Galatians 2:20, “the life that I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Because Christ is risen you can trust Him. You can trust Him with your life, with your family, friendships, finances and future.
3. Our salvation would be pointless: 17-18
The Bible tells us in verse 17, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” If Easter didn’t exist, our salvation would be pointless. In fact, if Easter didn’t exist, there would be no such thing as salvation.
You see, salvation promises the forgiveness of sins. But the Bible says that if Christ is not risen we’re still in our sin, it’s not forgiven, we owe the debt ourselves.
Salvations promises a future, a resurrection one day and a home forever in heaven. But if Christ has not been raised from the dead, we can’t expect to be raised from the dead either. You see, a major part of our salvation is the forgiveness of sins and the promise of a resurrection. But if Jesus didn’t rise again, then we can’t experience this salvation at all.
Think about it like this: If Jesus did not rise from the dead we are still guilty of our sin before God. If we are stilly guilty of our sin, if we still owe a debt for our sin then we cannot have fellowship with God at all. Sin separates us from a holy God. If we are still in our sins then it means that God is holding our sins against us. To have fellowship with God our sin must be forgiven. No resurrection, no forgivness.
Now someone might say, “I thought Jesus paid for our sins on the cross?” And you are right. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:3, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.”
But the resurrection is just as important to our salvation. Romans 4:25 says, “He was handed over on account of our transgressions, and he was raised on account of our justification.” The reason that God raised His son from the dead was twofold. It was to vindicate that Jesus was truly innocent of sin and to validate our forgiveness as a demonstration that God had received Christ’s sacrifice for our sin.
Aren’t you thankful that Easter DOES exist; Christ is risen! And as a result of that, salvation is not pointless. In fact, it is absolutely essential and necessary! It’s not pointless, it IS the point of life.
4. Our life would be hopeless: 19
Let’s be honest, we want our lives to count for something; to matter and make a difference. But if Christ has not been raised from the dead, Paul says “we are of all people most to be pitied.” Why? Because everything we’re living for is a lie and it doesn’t matter.
If Christ has not risen, if Easter doesn’t exist, then life is hopeless. And all of the things you do in this life for Him, they don’t matter at all. If Christ has not risen, I’ve wasted my life living a lie, standing before you each and every Sunday for nothing. If Christ has not risen, our life would be hopeless!
But Christ did rise from the dead; so instead of being pitied we should be envied. Because the life we live does matter! That is why Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”
And because Christ rose from the dead we too should be envied because of the glorious rewards that are waiting for us in the life to come. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:17, “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.”
*A woman was diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. As she was getting her things in order, she contacted her pastor and asked him to come to her house to discuss some of her final wishes. She told him which songs she wanted sung at her funeral service, what Scriptures she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in. She requested to be buried with her favorite Bible. As the pastor prepared to leave, the woman suddenly remembered something else. “There’s one more thing, “She said excitedly. “What’s that?” said the pastor. “This is important,” the woman said. “I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.” The pastor stood looking at the woman, not knowing quite what to say. The woman explained. “In all my years of attending church socials and potluck dinners, when the dishes of the main course were being cleared; someone would inevitably lean over and say, “Keep your fork.” It was my favorite part of the meal because I knew something better was coming—like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie.” “So, when people see me in that casket with a fork in my hand and they ask, “What’s with the fork?” I want you to tell them: “Keep your fork. The best is yet to come!”*
What if Easter Didn’t Exist? 1 Corinthians 15:12-19
Intro: *Have you heard of Harry Houdini? died in Oct. 1926; claim to fame, magician specialized in spectacular escapes; laughed at stocks, sneered at chains; flexibility of an eel, lives of a cat; sealed in coffins, riveted him in boiler, sowed him in bags, locked him in milk can, sealed in beer barrel, maximum-security prison, But then…Oct. 1926 he died; could not escape death; told wife if there’s a way out I’ll find it; I’ll make contact with you on anniversary of my death. For 10 years she kept a light burning over his portrait, at the end of 10 years she turned out light. Harry couldn’t escape death.*
Jesus escaped death; not behind us in a tomb, before us on a throne. But, What if Easter Didn’t Exist? READ TEXT Everything hinges on this. What if resurrection never occurred?
1. Our message would be powerless: 12-15
EX – “preaching vain” – “without effect” or “powerless.”; what is our message? Gospel. Good news; without resurrection not really good news. Only bad news left. “hey, good luck with that.”
IL – Sweepstakes…10 million dollars; Not just a lie, it’s cruel.
AR – Message is not powerless – Rom. 1:16; I’ve seen it! Addicts, alcoholics, prisoners, prostitutes, hateful, cruel.
AP –not powerless, it has the power to change lives! your life. Have you been changed? 2.
2. Our faith would be useless: 14
EX – “faith is in vain.” what good is faith if Christ hasn’t risen from the dead? Myth, no need to follow; do whatever you want; doesn’t matter. Within us, desire to find something or someone to trust.
IL – *Warranty with new vehicle – 3 yr, 36k; 5 yr, 50k, 10 yr, 100k; Relationships- someone who is faithful/trustworthy; best warranties run out, best people let us down
AR/AP – We can trust Jesus. Easter DOES exist; Galatians 2:20; trust Him with your life, with your family, friendships, finances and future.
3. Our salvation would be pointless: 17-18
EX –your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” no such thing as salvation; no resurrection means we still owe our own debt; no resurrection means no salvation and no forgiveness; still guilty before God, no fellowship with God, separated bc of sin; no resurrection = no forgiveness
AR – 1 Cor. 15:3, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” Rom. 4:25, “He was handed over on account of our transgressions, and he was raised on account of our justification.” Reason for resurrection: vindicate Jesus and validate our forgiveness
AP – Easter DOES exist; salvation is not pointless, it IS the point!
4. Our life would be hopeless: 19
EX – we want to make our lives count, but if no resurrection “we are of all people most to be pitied.” Everything we live for is a lie and doesn’t matter; w/o Easter, life is hopeless; I’ve wasted my life, living a lie, every Sunday for nothing.
AR – but Christ DID rise; so we are not to be pitied; life does matter! 1 Cor. 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” Rewards await: 2 Cor. 4:17, “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.”
*Woman w/ terminal illness, 3 months to live; talk to pastor; songs, Scritpure, outfit, favorite Bible; “One more thing, This is important, Iwant to be buried with a fork in my right hand.” Confused pastor; “Someone would always say, “Keep your fork.” It was my favorite part of the meal because I knew something better was coming—like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie.” “So, when people see me in that casket with a fork in my hand and they ask, “What’s with the fork?” I want you to tell them: “Keep your fork. The best is yet to come!”*
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