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Chuck McKnight, AiG–U.S., discusses why Christians would be wasting their time if Christ had not risen from the dead.
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. (1 Corinthians 15:19)
Today’s big question: why would we be considered the most pitiable?
Perhaps you have heard of Pascal’s Wager? Seventeenth century philosopher Blaise Pascal suggested that we should bet on the truth of the gospel of Christ because “If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is.”1
Whether directly attributed to Pascal or not, this idea is still shows up quite frequently today. The argument basically states that if believers in Christ end up being wrong, they have lost nothing in this life. Is this the right view to have?
The Bible gives us a different perspective. Paul told us that if we are wrong—if our hope in Christ is misplaced, and He will not raise us from the dead—then we are “of all men the most pitiable.” That does not sound like we “lose nothing.”
The Christian life was never intended to be one of ease and luxury. We are told that “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). The world will hate us for His sake (Matthew 24:9; John 15:18). Following Christ may even cause divisions in our own families (Matthew 10:35–37).
This biblical truth stands in stark contrast to the “prosperity gospel” preaching promoted so often. That’s not to say that Christians won’t live a fulfilled life here on earth, but all our true treasures are stored up in heaven (Matthew 6:19, see also Hebrews 11:36–38). Everything that we do in this life is preparation for the next. So if we are not raised from the dead, our entire lives are in vain. How sad it would be to completely dedicate oneself to a lie!
Jesus is much more than “fire insurance.” Our reason for trusting Him should be based on who He is and what He has done. We are not called to a blind faith prompted only by fear.
Such reasoning would be logically inconsistent, and atheists see right through it. If our faith is based on a statistical gamble, then our faith is not truly placed in Christ alone. How can we be bold witnesses for Christ if we do not truly trust Him?
All of this would be quite depressing if Paul stopped at verse 19; however, he continued, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20, (ESV)). And so we too will be raised! Our faith is not in vain. We may confidently place our faith in the risen Christ.
Today’s big idea: we should not gamble blindly, but rather place our faith with full confidence in our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
What to pray: praise God that we are assured of a future resurrection through Him.