Moving from judgment to love.
This parable introduces us to a rebellious younger brother, an embittered but dutiful older brother, and a father who loves both of them extravagantly.
If Christ has not been raised/there is no coming resurrection from the dead…
- Our preaching is useless
- Your faith is useless
- The apostles are lying about God
- You are still in your sins
- Those who have died in Christ are lost
- We hope in Christ only for this life
- If #6 then we are to be pitied more than anyone else in the world
- Baptizing on behalf of the dead is useless
- Paul risking his life hour by hour is useless
- Paul fighting “wild beasts” in Ephesus is useless
- When you’re dead, you’re dead, so maximize pleasure now
On the other hand, If Christ HAS been raised/the dead in Christ will rise to glorious immortal lives in His Kingdom when He returns…
- Our preaching eternally significant
- Your faith is eternally significant
- The apostolic testimony is truth to live and die by
- You are no longer in your sins
- Those who have died in Christ are in paradise
- We hope in Christ both for this life and forever
- If #6 is true…The lowliest Christian is to be envied more than anyone else in the world
- Baptizing on behalf of the dead is meaningful
- Paul risking his life hour by hour is logical, meaningful, and fruitful
- Paul fighting “wild beasts” in Ephesus is light and momentary trouble compared to the glory of what’s ahead
- Since we are inheriting a kingdom that lasts forever, no inconvenience, hardship, or sacrifice is too great as we streamline our lives in “wartime” service of the gospel
Which all leads me to the following conclusions in summary:
- Either Christ is raised and, consequently, His disciples live with vibrant hope and bold sacrifice.
- Or Christ isn’t raised and everyone should quit Christianity today.
- What Paul doesn’t allow is a weird middle road where Christ is dead, but Christianity remains spiritually, morally, socially meaningful because of what we make of it.
Everything in the Gospel falls apart without Christ’s victory over sin and death.