The second consequence of denying the resurrection is found in verse 14. If Christ has not been raised, then preaching the Gospel is meaningless, and faith is futile. The Greek word Paul used here in verse 14 is translated as "useless" in the New International Version. This is the same Greek word that has been used for what has been called the "kenosis theory" of the incarnation. It means an "emptying." The theory is based on Philippians 2, where Paul said that Jesus emptied himself, not considering equality with God something to be grasped (v. 6). Rather, he emptied himself and became like us, a man, and died on the cross. The point here is that Paul is using the word "useless" in the same way. He is saying if there are no resurrections, then Jesus is not raised. And if Jesus is not raised, then our faith is emptied of all its substance.

Our study has brought us to the great chapter of the New Testament on the Resurrection, the fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians. In the first eleven verses of the chapter Paul reminded the believers at Corinth what they had been taught; namely, that the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified for our sins. Then, according to the Scriptures, he was buried and raised again on the third day, and he was observed by up to five hundred people, most of whom were still living at the time of his letter. So, anyone in doubt about the truth of the Resurrection needed only to go and talk to those who were eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ.

When Hollywood makes movies about the life of Christ, they are often very good up to the point of the Resurrection. I saw one of those films, and in it, at the scene of the Resurrection, the disciples were there, but Jesus was nowhere to be seen. Finally towards the end, there was a sort of mystical, cloudy head up in the sky, just floating away.

I once did a study of what Paul had to say about death in chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians. I found it interesting that he mentions death even more than he mentions the resurrection. The word death or dying or dead occurs twenty-five times in the chapter. And the word resurrection or raised, or anything related to that, occurs twenty-four times–just about equal, but actually the words for death occur more often. There are other terms that are related to it that increase those totals even more. That is interesting because when you talk about a victory, the greatness of your victory depends upon the greatness of your enemy. If you are part of a great armada that wins an attack against an army of fifty-three people, it is not a very great victory. But if a great enemy comes against your army and you win, that is a great victory. That is what Paul is saying here. Death is really an enemy, and a great enemy at that.

Now, in chapter 15, verse 35 and following, Paul was likely addressing those who acknowledged that the Resurrection is true. This audience believed that Jesus rose from the dead, and as a result of their union with him, they would rise too. Nevertheless, this group still had questions about the resurrection of the body. They could not understand how, if we will be in heaven with new bodies, that will really be any different from life here on this earth. That is a very legitimate kind of question to ask, especially by those who were not deeply informed by the teaching of Scripture. So, that is what Paul is answering here.