Our faith is based upon facts and not merely opinion. Without the resurrection our Christian faith would be in vain. The great facts of the gospel are that God was incarnate in Christ Jesus, that he lived on the earth a sinless life of holiness and love, that he died upon the cross for our sins, that he was buried in the tomb, and on the third day he rose again from the dead.
Paul knew that without the resurrection our salvation could not have been possible.
1. If there be no resurrection, Christ is not risen. (verse 13)
If the resurrection of the dead is impossible, Christ cannot have risen from the dead. Now, the apostles bore witness that Christ had risen. They had met him, they had been with him, they had seen him eat a piece of a broiled fish and of a honeycomb on one occasion. They touched and handled him.
Remember doubting Thomas, who said "...Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe." - John 20:25.
Eight days later Jesus came to him and the disciples within and said "Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing."- John 20:27
He was also later seen by 500 witnesses. (1 Corinthians 15:6)
2. If there be no resurrection, our preaching is in vain. (verse 14)
If Christ was not raised from the dead, the apostles were false witnesses. Why would they lie? They suffered many things for preaching that Christ was raised from the dead including death. Despite this, they openly declared that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God, that he died and was buried, that he rose again, and that there was salvation for all who believed in him.
3. If there be no resurrection, our faith becomes a delusion. (verse 15)
Now, if he did not rise from the dead, we are believing a lie. Think about this: if he did not literally rise from the dead on the third day, this faith of ours, that gives us comfort, this faith which has renewed our heart and life, this faith which we believe is leading us home to heaven, must be abandoned as a sheer delusion; our faith is fixed on a falsehood.
4. If there be no resurrection, they remained in their sins. (verse 17)
If he did not rise, we are still dead, still under sin, still without the divine life, still without eternal life that is to be our life in heaven throughout eternity. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, took upon himself the sum total of the guilt of all his people. “The Lord hath made to meet upon him the iniquity of us all.” He died, and by his death paid our sin debt in full.
Tetelestai is the legal term Jesus used in John 19:30, meaning “it is finished” or “paid in full”. It shows up in the backs of 1st-century legal documents indicating that a debt had been paid in full.
Our debt is nailed to the cross "He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross." Colossians 2:13-14. NIV
5. If there be no resurrection, the fallen asleep in Christ are perished. (verse 18)
If Jesus Christ be not raised, the godly dead are yet in their sins, and they can never rise; for, if Christ did not rise from the dead, they cannot rise from the dead. Only through his resurrection is there resurrection for the saints.
Many of us have had family members and friends who have died in the Lord, and we know that the full assurance of their faith was no mistake. They were not mistaken. Believing in Christ, who lived, and died, and rose again, they had confidence in the midst of pain, and joy in the hour of their departure. We shall see them again; therefore we are confident that Jesus Christ did rise from the dead.
6. If there be no resurrection, our source of Joy is gone. (verse 19)
If Jesus did not rise from the dead, we, who believe that he did, are of all men most miserable: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”
How else can we say "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" Philippians 1:21?
Death has never been the end for the believer, but simply a gateway to eternal life in heaven. Abraham was ready to sacrifice his only son Isaac because in faith "he considered that God is able to raise men from the dead" (Hebrews 11:19). The Lord assured Daniel that believers "will awake ... to everlasting life" (Daniel 12:2).