What would life be like if you had never been born? This was the premise of the 1946 holiday classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Protagonist George Baily, struggling with the emptiness of life in light of a series of unfortunate happenings, is contemplating taking his life, when an angel shows him how valuable his life really is. The angel Clarence tells George, “You’ve been given a great gift, George: A chance to see what the world would be like without you.” … “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”
What if only one thing in history had happened differently, how would the world change? What about a major historic event? Imagine a world in which Adolph Hitler had been assassinated in 1938 before the rise of the Nazi party to power. What if Abraham Lincoln was never assassinated? What if the Confederate army had won the battle of Gettysburg? Such are the subjects of science fiction and can be interesting to think about. But what if the most important event in human history had never happened? What if Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead? Many skeptics, atheists, and other religions claim that He did not; and even some Christians live as if there were no resurrection.
In our text this week, the apostle Paul, having established the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the common ground of all Gospel preaching and the Christian faith, moves into the main point of his argument, namely refuting those who deny the final resurrection of the dead. Apparently some in the Corinthian church were saying that there was no final resurrection of the body. Paul takes up this thought considering what life would be like if there were no resurrection. First in verses 12-28 Paul appeals to logic showing 1) that a denial of the resurrection of the dead is theologically false and would result in the futility of the Christian faith (v. 12-19); and 2) the consequences since the resurrection of the dead is true, namely that God is sovereign and omnipotent, so death must be conquered by a resurrection (v. 20-28). Then in verses 29-34 Paul makes an ad hominem appeal that, like his first argument, exposes the logical result and therefore illogical nature, of their thinking. If there is no final resurrection, then both he and they are fools for following what in the end has no value.
The irony is that many professing Christians who would never deny the resurrection, nevertheless live lives as if there were no resurrection. This week, read the text and think of ways that perhaps you and your family ought to live in light of the reality of the resurrection.