“…if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain…” I Corinthians 15:14
Webster’s dictionary defines vain as “having no real value, marked by futility or ineffectualness, foolish.” That which is vain has an appearance that would make it desirable to our eyes, but it has no substance or worth behind its facade; it is a costume-jewelry diamond. That which is vain has an appearance of strength and security, but has no foundation or underlying reinforcement; it is a house built upon sand. That which is vain has an appearance of direction and purpose, but it is always bound up in the experiential and has no real basis outside itself; it is a pipe-dream, a grand and glorious promise that can never deliver. That which is vain has an appearance of power and effect, but it lacks the integrity and harmony to accomplish anything; it is a broken tooth, or a limb out of joint. And the Apostle Paul states emphatically that our religion, our doctrine, our faith, our liturgy, and our heritage is vanity if Jesus Christ be not raised. Consider what this means.
If Christ be not raised, mankind remains dead in their sins, destined to be forever separated from their Creator. If Christ be not raised, then our only destiny is death, and after death a certain awful judgment. If Christ be not raised, then the soul of mankind remains chained in captivity forever, and the gates of heaven shall never be opened to them. If Christ be not raised, then all the souls of the righteous dead have no hope of the promise of God being fulfilled for them. If Christ be not raised, then we are not just lost, but deceived, and our religion and life is void of purpose. It is a charade. If Christ be not raised, then we are squandering what little life we have upon this earth pursuing the wind. If Christ be not raised, then this world and all contained within it are shrouded even now in darkness, and will always bear the curse of sin as its lot. If Christ be not raised, then all creation is subjected to Satan’s dominion and his unholy lordship mocks the Name of God.
That is, if Christ be not raised. But Resurrection Sunday shouts hallelujah, He is raised; and because He is, our sins are forgiven, we have fellowship as sons and daughters of God, we have eternal life, heaven’s gates are opened wide to us, we are joined in the glorious communion of saints before God’s throne, our religion is alive and able to touch mankind’s heart, our lives have purpose which goes beyond this age, light has come in the world and people have seen it, and the serpent’s head has been crushed and his mocking accusations silenced forever.
For a time our world had been shrouded in darkness, and for a season Satan had his dominion. But the winds have changed, the fullness of time has come, and this season now belongs to us. It is a season of light and life, a season of joy and grace, a season of healing and deliverance, a season of power and the breaking in of the kingdom of God.
So lift your eyes to the heavens and hear the words of the angel proclaim, “He is not here, He has risen!” Hear those worlds of life and know that all the promises of God have become “Yes” and “Amen” in Jesus Christ. And then go forth in joy, knowing that the season of darkness has passed away with the rising Son, and that the salvation of our God has today been made manifest in our hearts! Christ is risen, truly He is risen! We are a Resurrection people and Hallelujah is our song.
Russell currently serves as an elder in the church. His own spiritual pilgrimage extends back almost 40 years and includes a sojourn in the Roman Catholic, American Baptist, Lutheran, Independent Charismatic, Independent Congregational, home fellowship, and Federated Congregational church settings. In these settings he has served as a catechist, bible teacher, independent school principal, outreach coordinator, and ordained pastor. His current life verse is Romans 1:15. “So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you…”