Sermon on 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 | If the Dead Stay Dead

If the dead stay dead

If the Dead Stay Dead (1 Corinthians 15:12-19)

Funerals are painful experiences.

But we grieve in hope. We believe that we will see our loved ones again. 1 Thessalonians 4:13.

However, some in Corinth were teaching that the dead were not raised. Some honestly believed this lie. The Greeks believed the spirit lived after death, but that the body would never be resurrected. The Sadducees denied a resurrection. Some in Corinth had bought into this philosophy.

Paul asked, “If you believe Jesus was raised, how can you believe that the resurrection is impossible?”

Paul then talks about the effects of this belief.

If the dead stay dead,

The Christian’s Lord is Dead, v 13

If the dead are not resurrected, then Jesus id dead. Either all the dead—including Jesus—are raised, or none of the dead—including Jesus—are raised. It cannot be both ways.

Paul proceeds to discuss what effects a dead Jesus would have.

The Christian’s Faith is Baseless, v 14

If Christ is dead, the Apostles’ preaching is empty. Empty means that the preaching produces nothing. The whole of their teaching is worth nothing if Christ has not been raised. Christianity either stands or falls on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

If Christ is dead, our faith is empty. There is no point to our faith if Jesus is still dead. There is no point in believing something we know to be false; e.g., there is no point in believing the earth is flat.

The Christian Apostles Lied, v 15

If Christ is not raised, Paul and the other Apostles are lying about God. The Apostles are proclaiming that indeed Jesus has been raised from the dead. But if the dead are not raised, then God did not raise Jesus.

Lying about God is a serious offense. Paul implies that he does not want to lie about God.

God hates lying. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Ex 20:16). Seven things are an abomination to God (Prov 6:16-19). Two deal with lying—God hates “a lying tongue” and “a false witness who speaks lies.”

How dare we accuse the Apostles of lying about God!

The Christian is Still in His Sin, v 17

If Christ is dead, our faith is futile. In other words, our faith is meaningless, useless. If Christ is dead, what we believe is based upon a bunch of lies that won’t do us any good.

If Christ is dead, we are still in our sins. The death of Jesus was not at all that was necessary for our salvation—we needed him to be raised, too. But if Jesus has not been raised, we have no hope whatsoever for salvation.

Dead Christians Have Perished, v 18

If Christ has not been raised, then those who have died in Christ have perished. If God can’t raise Jesus, how can we expect him to raise anyone else? The simple truth is he couldn’t—if he couldn’t raise his very Son, he can’t raise me!

If Christ is still dead, then our loved ones who have died are in hell. If Christ is dead, they died in their sins. Hell would have been the only place for them to go, and hell will be the only place for us to go after this life is no more.

Christians Deserve Pity, v 19

If Christ is still dead, Christians deserve more pity than anyone else. If the resurrection did not occur, we are a miserable, pitiful people. The world just needs to pick us up and take care of us because we’re too stupid and miserable to take care of ourselves.

Paul knew what he meant. 1 Corinthians 15:30-32. Paul’s life was in jeopardy. He fought with wild animals in Ephesus. Paul gave up everything he had to follow Christ. If the dead are not raised, Paul deserves our pity!

We, too, deserve pity. Many of us have given up fame, wealth, and the like to serve Jesus. But if the dead are not raised, there isn’t any purpose in it.

1 Corinthians 15:32. If the resurrection of the dead is not real, we need to forget morality and live life to its fullest. Because, after all, there is no guarantee of tomorrow.


If the dead aren’t raised, we’ve wasted our time this morning.

But the good news is the dead are raised and Jesus himself has been raised. 1 Corinthians 15:20. We can have confidence because Christ has been raised and one day we will be raised to live with him.

But we will only be raised to live with him if we have been obedient to him. John 5:28-29. We can only participate in the resurrection of life, if we’ve been washed in the blood of the Lamb.

This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Owingsville church of Christ in Owingsville, Kentucky.

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