It should probably come as no surprise that one of the leading parallels between the relationship of followers of Christ and the world is a preponderance of anti-intellectualism. It is a common human condition. We simply do not want to think. From our ever-increasing entertainment choices, to social media, to a desire to “veg-out”, to how we approach the Scriptures, believers are hemorrhaging from a failure to engage the mind in any semblance of coherent thought.
I’ve faced these battles in Bible studies from those who no longer attend because they want their “daily bread” and do not desire to have their thoughts challenged or informed by Scripture, to those who are not interested in a “head knowledge” study, but prefer more to discuss relationships and peel back layers of feelings. In fact, one could actually make the argument that the chief reason why Christendom is a mile wide and an inch deep is due mainly to anti-intellectualism, though certainly other factors have had influence as well.
However, this does not describe the burden that Scripture places on followers of Christ. The mind is central to the Christian faith. We are to love the Lord with all of our mind, renew our mind, set our mind on things above, set our mind on the Spirit, and serve the law of God with our mind, among other noteworthy passages.
Keep in “mind” that I am NOT saying believers need to be super-smart, have high IQ’s, or have advanced degrees in theology. We need only remember that exactly none of our Lord’s disciples had any theological training prior to their calling. They were mostly humble fisherman (and other ignoble professions) yet they spent three years learning at the feet of their Master.
What I am saying is that the mental capacity that we have been given, whatever that may be on an individual level, should be fully devoted to God and labor in understanding and applying the Scriptures. A lazy, anti-intellectual mind is antithetical to Christ.
With this long introduction out of the way, let’s turn our attention to the 15th chapter of Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians and look at his divinely inspired appeal to the mind as the third and final proof of the resurrection. Recall that in a prior post we introduced Proofs 1-3 and saw that first and foundation was the Authority of Scriptures, followed by the eyewitness experience of those who witnessed the risen Christ. Here we’ll expand on the third proof, namely the Logic of the Believer’s Resurrection found in 1 Cor. 15:12-19
“12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”
This may be somewhat difficult to follow, but let’s exercise our minds and attempt to follow the line of thought being communicated.
The apostle uses no less than six IF/THEN statements of logic and summarily includes at least nine consequences for denying the resurrection. First, we must note the basis for the logical argument of the bodily resurrection of believers is rooted in the bodily resurrection of Christ and, as we have seen, is supported both by Scripture and eyewitnesses.
That established, we find the following statements of logic in our passage:
1. IF Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead
(THEN) how can some of you say there is no resurrection
2. IF there is no resurrection of the dead
THEN not even Christ has been raised.
3. IF Christ has not been raised
THEN our preaching is in vain
And your faith is in vain
4. IF the dead are not raised
(THEN) not even Christ has been raised
5. IF Christ has not been raised
(THEN) your faith is futile
And you are still in your sins
THEN those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished
6. IF in Christ we have hope in this life only
(THEN) we are of all people to be most pitied
We can summarize this argument by looking at the consequences of denying the bodily resurrection, an error that the Corinthians had apparently fallen into in one form or another
Consequences of Denying the Bodily Resurrection
- Christ hasn’t been raised from the dead
- The Apostolic preaching is in vain
- Believers (Corinthian) faith is in vain
- Misrepresentation of God; God is a liar
- Christ hasn’t been raised from the dead
- Believers (Corinthian) faith is futile
- Believers (Corinthian) are still in their sins
- The dead in Christ has perished; i.e. annihilationism
- Believers (and Apostles) are most to be pitied.
The Apostle’s point through this argument is just how nonsensical it is to deny the bodily resurrection of believers. By stating this in the form of a logical argument, he creates a divinely inspired, airtight argument that appeals to the mind of the believer to THINK.
Think about the resurrection of Christ and its implications, particularly that of the bodily resurrection and the hope that it gives believers. Think about what it is that you believe and why. Think about all the promises of God that hinge first on Christ’s own resurrection and then on the resurrection of His people. Think about how the resurrection brings final deliverance from sin. Think about those who have gone before us that now enjoy the presence of the risen Lord and anticipate the resurrection of the their bodies to glory. Think on these things.
The mind set on Christ is never a mind wasted.