What if no resurrection?

By Robin Schumacher
Originally Posted at Christian Post

It is the single game changer among all the religions in the world.

Despite the unceasing attempts of Internet atheists and others not educated on the solid historicity of Jesus Christ's life and death to try and paint the resurrection events as something pieced together from various pagan god myths [1], the facts of Christ's empty tomb that are agreed upon by both Christian and non-Christian historians are these:

1. Jesus of Nazareth was murdered by crucifixion and buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.

2. Three days afterward, His body went missing.

3. There were reported appearances of Jesus over the course of many days to various people, including both believers and skeptics.

4. Christ's reported appearances transformed both His followers and some skeptics into becoming bold proclaimers of his teaching and resurrection.

No historian who has studied the historicity of Jesus' resurrection disputes these facts. Of course, there is plenty of debate over the best explanation for the story.

But regardless, no one disagrees that other religious leaders like Buddha, Mohammad, and Confucius are all dead. Only Jesus has the empty tomb and is said to be alive.

But what if He wasn't?

What if no resurrection actually took place and somewhere, in some hillside or cave, the grave of the carpenter from Nazareth exists and has a body in it? What if billions of Christians have been duped into believing He is alive when in fact He's not?

In my mind, there are at least three important ramifications that come about from there being no resurrection of Jesus.

Liar, Liar

If Jesus wasn't truly resurrected from the dead, the first realization we come to is that we have a lot of people that need to be labeled as liars. This fact is admitted to by at least one of the potential liars — the apostle Paul — who wrote the following to the Corinthian church on the subject of there being no resurrection: "Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:15).

For sure, we'd have quite a few people who had supposedly committed themselves to the highest degree of ethics that are shown to be liars if the resurrection isn't true. As just said, Paul would be a liar (e.g. Acts 17:30-1; Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, 20, etc.), as would the other apostles (e.g. Acts 2:23-4, 4:10, 33; 1 Peter 1:3, etc.)

But in addition, Jesus Himself would be a liar (e.g. Matthew 16:21, 17:9; Luke 18:31-33; John 2:19-21, etc.), which is certainly troubling.

Lastly, even for those who go so far as to assert that the New Testament writers put words in Jesus' and the apostle's mouths that they never said, the Bible as a whole would be a lie as not only the New Testament affirms Jesus' resurrection, but the Old Testament also points to the Messiah being raised from the dead (e.g. Psalm 16:8-10).

One and Done

Second, if the Bible is a lie and Christ was not raised from the dead then there is really no reason to think that there is another life waiting past this one. As John Calvin said in his commentary on 1 Corinthians 15: "But in the death of Christ, considered in itself, there is seen nothing but ground of despair, for he cannot be the author of salvation to others who has been altogether vanquished by death."

Calvin is not alone in his observation. The previous chancellor of Germany, Konrad Adenauer, once remarked in a discussion about Jesus' resurrection with Billy Graham, "Mr. Graham, outside of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I know of no other hope for mankind."

Of course nearly all religions believe in some life after death, but what evidence is there to lend credibility to that belief? Where has such a thing ever been proven in space-time history?

This is why Christ's resurrection is so critical and why it is called the "first fruits" resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20) for those who believe in Jesus. As the Jewish harvest workers would examine the first fruits of a crop to determine whether the entire crop would be good or bad, Jesus' resurrection — if true — provides the confidence to believe God's promise of all believers one day experiencing the exact same thing.

But if the resurrection never happened, then there's no reason beyond blind hope to believe existence isn't just a one-and-done experience for all of humanity.

Add to that the realization that there are also no grounds for thinking that humanity will ever be triumphant over what Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer called "man's dilemma"[2]: the understanding that humans can exhibit kindness yet also terrible evil and that, outside of Christ and the resurrection that abolishes sin, there's no warrant for believing things will ever change for the better.

Pity the Christians

Lastly, if Christ was never raised from the dead, then billions of people now and down through history have committed their lives to a fantasy, with many enduring persecution, grief, and loss for absolutely nothing. This is why Paul said that, if Jesus wasn't truly resurrected, then "we are of all people most to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:19). Our faith, as Paul says, would be in "vain," which in the Greek means to be empty and devoid of value.

This is something I try and convey to all unbelievers who labor so hard at vilifying and combating Christians for living out their faith. Don't hate us, but instead feel sorry for us.


Without the resurrection of Jesus, Christ and the Bible authors would all be liars, this life would be all there is, and Christians are living some fairly pathetic lives. Sin, evil and death are winners, and pretty much humanity as a whole loses and loses big.

But that's not the outcome we reach when we look carefully at the events and evidence of Jesus' resurrection.

First, as has been said countless times, liars make really poor martyrs. If someone was about to crucify you upside down or filet you alive and all you had to do was recant a lie you'd been spreading, what would you do?

They died and they died alone holding fast to the conviction that they'd seen Him alive. There is no question that plenty have died for a belief that was false, but no one goes to that kind of death for something they know to be untrue.

Next, as to there being life after death, when all the resurrection hypotheses for Jesus are presented, the best the skeptic can do is put forward the hallucination theory, which crumbles fairly quickly under scrutiny.[3] The hypothesis "God raised Jesus from the dead" is far and away the best explanation for the resurrection's universally accepted facts, but it sticks in the craw of the naturalist because it lets the supernatural in the door.

Third and finally, there is no reason to pity Christians. In fact, there's every reason to have sympathy and compassion towards those who haven't received Christ as Savior.

Not only do non-Christians experience the consequences of sin in the here and now (as Christians do also), but if they reject Christ in this life, they will have their request honored in the next. That's something I want for no one.

The great news is we don't have to wonder what things would be like if there were no resurrection of Jesus. We can confidently say, and thank God today, for what Peter did two thousand years ago:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3)

[1] See: "Isn't Jesus Just a Copy of Pagan Gods?" for a PowerPoint presentation that covers the key arguments against Jesus being nothing but a conglomeration of various pagan god myths.
[2] Francis A. Schaeffer; The God Who is There.
[3] For a PowerPoint presentation that covers this and other data on Christ's resurrection, see: "The Essentials of Apologetics – Why Jesus (Part 2)?".

Image Credit: Senor Velasco; "round stone to seal burial tomb of kings, Jerusalem, israel"; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Celebrating-Holidays  | Jesus-Christ

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Published 4-1-15