1 Corinthians 15:14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
We sometimes forget just how totally central to the Gospel the resurrection of Jesus is. We act like Christianity was just like any other religion, cooked up by somebody in a back room somewhere, when it is founded on absolutely astounding historical facts, and the resurrection is the greatest of them all. If Jesus had not risen, there would be no reason to believe His crucifixion was anything more than just another execution. If Jesus had not risen, then Pentecost was just mass hysteria. The devil has tried desperately over the centuries to claim both those things, but he’s arguing in the face of the facts. As Paul says here, if Jesus was not raised, then why believe in the first place? However, as millions have experienced over the centuries, the facts are there, and we serve a risen Savior. It is possible to manipulate people psychologically in a Christian setting, and sadly, some churches do exactly that. However, when believers are gathered and Jesus shows up by His Spirit, lots of things happen that can’t be explained away. The Japanese for this verse says that without Jesus’ resurrection, both the preaching and the faith are “without reality.” Praise God, the reality is there! That said, there is certainly a subjective element to it all, because faith is not something decided by external facts. However, as again millions can testify, there is nothing better than the assurance of our Creator’s love and forgiveness, demonstrated and certified by the death and resurrection of our Lord.
I remember very clearly a pivotal moment in my personal faith. My family happened to be driving on the US Air Force base where I went to school, and I remember even the exact location, close to the apartment building where a friend of mine lived. For some reason I asked my mother, “How do I know Jesus is real?” Her answer was simple and profound: “It’s like the song says, ‘He lives within my heart.’” Just as that song says, if we don’t know we serve a risen Savior, we have no real foundation for our faith. However, when we have that assurance, nothing in this world can shake us.
Father, thank You indeed for sending Your Son not just to die but to rise again, demonstrating the reality of the victory of the cross over sin and death. Help me walk in the reality of that victory all the time, leading others into it as well, so that many may be brought from death to life, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!