I Corinthians 15:17
If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): The apostle observes in this chapter, that unless He be indeed risen from the dead, our faith in Him would be in vain, and we should still be in our sins. The resurrection of Christ, therefore, is a doctrine absolutely essential to our hope and comfort.
ROBERT HALDANE (1764-1842): Why is so much stress laid on the resurrection? Was not the work of Christ in this world finished by His death? Most certainly it was. But His resurrection was the evidence that it was finished.
CHARLES HODGE (1797-1878): The resurrection of Christ, as the evidence of the sacrifice of His death being accepted, and of the validity of all His claims, is a much more decisive proof of the security of all who trust in Him than His death could be.
GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): That Jesus should rise from the dead was absolutely necessary. First, on His own account. He had often appealed to this as the last and most convincing proof He would give them that He was the true Messiah. “There shall be no other sign given you, than the sign of the prophet Jonas,” Matthew 12:39. And again, “Destroy this temple (of my body), and in three days I will build it up,” John 2:19. Which words his enemies remembered, and urged it as an argument, to induce Pilate to grant them a watch, to prevent his being stolen out of the grave. “We know that deceiver said, whilst he was yet alive, after three days I will rise again,” Matthew 27:63. So that had He not risen again, they might have justly said, we know that this man was an impostor.
JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): That our Lord Jesus Christ, though laid, was not lost in the grave; but the third day He revived and rose again, is a truth confirmed to us by many infallible proofs, as Luke witnesseth, Acts 1:3. We have testimonies of it, both from heaven and earth, and both infallible. From heaven, we have the testimony of angels, [Matthew 28:2-7; Mark 16:5-7; Luke 24:4-7]. We have the testimonies of it from men, holy men, who were eye-witnesses of this truth, to whom He showed Himself alive by the space of forty days after resurrection, by no less than nine solemn apparitions to them. Sometimes five hundred brethren saw him at once, I Corinthians 15:6. These were holy persons, who durst not deceive, and who confirmed their testimony with their blood. So that no point of religion is of more confessed truth, and infallible certainty than this―and blessed be God it is so. For if it were not, then were the “gospel in vain,” verse 14, seeing it hangs the whole weight of our faith, hope, and salvation, upon Christ as risen from the dead. If this were not so, then would the holy, and divinely inspired apostles be found false witnesses, verse 15. For they all, with one mouth, constantly, and to the death affirmed it.
JOHN NEWTON: The resurrection of Jesus Christ was God’s grand attestation to the truth of His divine mission and Sonship, for by it He was “declared to be the son of God with power,” Romans 1:4.
GEORGE WHITEFIELD: Secondly, it was necessary on our account. “He rose again,” says the apostle, “for our justification,” Romans 4:25; or that the debt we owed to God for our sins, might be fully satisfied and discharged.
HENRY MOORHOUSE (1840-1880): The resurrection of Christ is the proof that sin was put away.
JOHN NEWTON: It therefore set a divine stamp upon His sacrifice, bloodshedding, and death, showed God’s acceptance of His offering, and that sin was thus for ever put away.
GEORGE WHITEFIELD: Now had Christ continued always in the grave, we could have had no more assurance that our sins were satisfied for, than any common debtor can have of his creditor’s being satisfied, while his surety is kept confined.* But He being released from the power of death, we are thereby assured that with His sacrifice God is well pleased, that our atonement was finished on the cross, and that He had made a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the world.
JOHN FLAVEL: Our justification is truly ascribed to the resurrection of Christ. Therefore for Christ to have continued always in the state of the dead, had been never to have completely satisfied; hence the whole force and weight of our justification depends upon His resurrection.
JOHN NEWTON: Just think what would have been the dreadful consequences if Christ had not been raised from the dead, or if we had no infallible proofs of His resurrection. There would have been, there could have been no forgiveness of sin; and therefore, when the conscience became awakened to a sense of guilt and condemnation, there could have been nothing before but black and gloomy despair. [And] the Holy Ghost would not have been given had not Christ risen from the dead and gone to the Father.
JOHN FLAVEL: Christ’s resurrection is the ground-work of our hope. And the new birth is our title or evidence of our interest in it.
GEORGE WHITEFIELD: Thirdly, it was necessary that our Lord Jesus should rise again from the dead, to assure us of the certainty of the resurrection of our own bodies.
JOHN NEWTON: And it is likewise a sure pledge, that they who believe in Him shall be raised from the dead also, by virtue of their union with Him, and according to His pattern. For “now is Christ risen from the dead, and is become the first fruits of them that slept,” verse 20. Let us at present consider His resurrection―the sure consequence of it―that His people shall be raised from the dead.
JOHN FLAVEL: His resurrection was attended with the resurrection of many of the saints who had slept in their graves till then, and then were awakened and raised to attend the Lord at His rising. So you read, Matthew 27:52,53…This wonder was designed, both to adorn the resurrection of Christ, and to give a specimen or pledge of our resurrection; which also is to be in the virtue of His―[It was] but intended only to shew what God will one day do for all His saints.
JOHN NEWTON: What a train of weighty consequences depend upon His resurrection! If He rose from the dead, then He is the Lord of the dead and of the living—then He has the keys of death and Hades—then He will return to judge the world, and you must see Him for yourself, and appear at His tribunal—then, it is He with whom you have to do—and then, finally, unless you really love, trust, and serve Him, unless He is the beloved and the Lord of your heart, your present state is awfully dangerous and miserable. But let those who love His name be joyful in Him. Your Lord who was dead, is alive, and “because He liveth, ye shall live also.”
ROBERT HALDANE: The doctrine of the resurrection and the second coming of Christ is a great antidote against the fear of death and inordinate sorrow for the death of our Christian friends; and this doctrine we have a full assurance of, because we believe that Jesus died and rose again.
JOHN BOYS (1619-1625): The resurrection of Christ is the Amen of all His promises.
GEORGE WHITEFIELD: As it was necessary, upon these accounts, that our Lord should rise from the dead: so it is plain beyond contradiction, that He did. Never was any matter of fact better attested; never were more precautions made use of to prevent a cheat.
JOHN NEWTON: The resurrection of Christ being, as a fact, the great pillar upon the weight and importance of Christianity rests.
JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The resurrection of Christ is the most important article of our faith.
JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): Hold that fast: “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and shall stand at the latter day upon the earth,” Job 19:25; and, “I now have redemption in His blood, even the forgiveness of sins,” Ephesians 1:7. Thus being filled with all peace and joy in believing, press on, in the peace and joy of faith.
ROBERT LOWRY (1826-1899): Up from the Grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!
*Editor’s Note: In 18th Century England, debtors who did not pay their debts were jailed in a “debtor’s prison,” and they remained in jail until the debt was paid off in full. Thus the point of George Whitefield’s analogy that unless Jesus Christ is indeed risen from the prison of death, “we could have had no more assurance that our sins were satisfied for, than any common debtor can have of his creditor’s being satisfied, while his surety is kept confined.”