This illustration is taken from 1 Corinthians 15:14, 16-18, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain…. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.”
Paul the Apostle writes a letter to the Corinthian church about how their church needs to act as believers in Christ; such as there should be no division among the congregation, church conduct in various instances, what are spiritual gifts and how they should be used appropriately. In chapter 15, Paul responds to the discovery of the Corinthian church accepting the doctrine of no resurrection of the dead, which is belief that is highly problematic for believers in Christ.
But why is it important to believe in resurrection of the dead? Why is it important that Jesus has risen from the dead? Is not Jesus’s death on the cross enough for salvation?
To answer these questions we must go back to the origins of sin and death in the Bible. In the beginning few chapters of Genesis, God created the heavens and the earth and everything in them, including man and woman, and God gave man one command, Genesis 2:16-17, “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.'” In Genesis 3, Man (being Adam) disobeyed God and ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; because of that, God says in Genesis 3:19b, “…till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to the dust you shall return.” Because Adam sinned against God, the curse of sin and death damaged all of creation with decay; and because of one man, every person is born into the curse of sin and death, because of one man. Just as Paul says in Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned–“
Sin against God does not only produce physical death, but produces second death which is spiritual death. Revelation 20:14-15, “Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” This is why Jesus, the Son of God, was sent. Through him, that we could have eternal life. Romans 8:2, “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Because Jesus is the only way to resurrection and eternal life. Jesus spoke about this to Martha just before he raised her brother Lazarus from the dead in John 11:25-26, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” Jesus even predicts his own death and resurrection in Mark 9:31, “for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.”
That is why Christ’s resurrection from death is so important. If Christ has not conquered death, then there is no resurrection to eternal life for the believers. If Christ has not been raised from the dead, then everything that believers in Christ do in life, in suffering, and putting our faith in Christ is a lie, and it would be for nothing. If Christ has not been raised, then Christianity would be a utterly pointless endeavor. This would not only be a very uncomfortable hypothetical outcome for the believers, but for the unbelievers as well. If Christ has not been raised from the dead, then we are still in our sin, and we will be judged as being spiritually dead, in which we will not enter in the presence of God. Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” If Christ has not been raised from the dead, then no one could come to God’s presence. We would all be like bones ushered into the consuming fires of spiritual death with no hope of averting the coming judgment and the eternal doom before us.
Thank God and Christ that he has conquered sin and death. 1 Corinthians 15:20-22. “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”
Because Christ has been raised from death to life, believers in Christ have eternal life and hope. A hope that has been endowed to all mankind. Anyone who believes and trusts in God, and in His son Jesus will be saved having eternal life. Romans 10:8-10, “But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”
In creating this illustration, I was also inspired from imagery in passages of Ezekiel 37:1-14 of Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones and Revelation 20:11-15 of the white throne judgment. This illustration created with the use of pencils, artist pens, and markers.