Is There Life After Death?

For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either” (v. 16).

- 1 Corinthians 15:1-28

In his day the apostle Paul confronted the same question Job had asked centuries before. There were some in the Corinthian church who wanted to be Christians, but who also wanted to deny life after death. Paul wrote to them and said, “If it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised” (1 Corinthians 15:12–13).

Paul calls on his readers to think through this issue. If there is no resurrection at all, then could Christ be raised? Obviously not. But if Christ has been raised, then there must be a resurrection. Then Paul urges them to consider the implications: “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (v. 14). If you are preaching about a living Jesus, and that Jesus is dead, then your preaching is futile. If you’ve put your trust in Christ and His resurrection, and there is no resurrection, then your faith is useless.

More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead” (v. 15). In other words, Christians who say that God raised Jesus from the dead when in fact there is no resurrection are liars. If there is no resurrection, Paul says, Christians are guilty of slandering God.

Moreover, Paul continues, “you are still in your sins” (v. 17). That is, we haven’t been justified. Christ was raised for our justification (Romans 4:25), and if Christ was not raised, then we are still in our sins. We have not been united to His justifying resurrection, and we have not been delivered and given new life.

Finally, “those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost” (v. 18). In other words, our dead Christian friends and relatives are gone forever. They were “in Christ,” but ultimately it did them no good. People foolish enough to believe such a contradictory religion, says Paul, “are to be pitied more than all men” (v. 19).

The historical fact of this resurrection gives us confidence that we too will be raised. Those who doubted Christ’s resurrection needed only to verify it through one of the hundreds of eyewitnesses.

Coram Deo

In 1 Corinthians 15:12–19 Paul employs logic and reason throughout as he argues with the Corinthians. What does this say to you about the importance of these verbal tools in the furtherance of the Gospel? Should your church offer a short course on logic and logical fallacies to sharpen the minds of believers?

Passages for Further Study

Hebrews 9:27
1 John 5:10–12, 18–20
Revelation 21:9–27

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you do not make more than 500 physical copies. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred (where applicable). If no such link exists, simply link to www.ligonier.org.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343