The Wandering Pulpit – An Empty Tomb = Full of Faith
Which holiday do you look forward to more Easter or Christmas? For a vast majority of people, the answer is Christmas and for many good reasons, including that a majority of people tend to get more time off and spend longer periods of time together with family and friends at the Christmas season compared to Easter. Throw in many of the old and strong cultural and family traditions and it is clear why Christmas seems to consume an entire month (or three if you go to Walmart) while Easter has but one day. However, I would like to point this out. If I were Satan and I had to choose between the two (Christmas and Easter) as to which one I wanted to distract people from I would choose Easter. For to believe in Christ’s coming at Christmas can be seen as simply a nice story or even history and I imagine old Satan would be just fine with that. This is because ignoring Easter would still keep Christ removed from our present lives. Easter is entirely different for the miracle of the resurrection makes Jesus Christ an active force today and if believed on by people in the world will most often lead to salvation and the production of a follower of the Risen Savior.
There are many facts that separate Christianity from the rest of the world’s religions but at the top of that list is the message of Easter, the Resurrection! If there was no Easter, the message of Scripture would be entirely different. The fact that the tomb is empty and that Christ is risen from the dead is what makes our salvation possible and our hope of eternal life in heaven a reality. Take a moment to consider this while reading the words of 1 Corinthians 15:12-19.
Did you read it? If so, let’s dive into it. From these verses we can see three things that would be true of our faith if Christ did not rise from the dead that Easter morning.
- Our Faith Would Be Vain – 1 Corinthians 15:12-14
This word “vain” in the Greek describes something that is hollow or empty. In other words, if the tomb were full our faith would be empty. If Christ did not rise from the dead, then we would have no hope of eternal life in heaven. For He is our interceding High Priest who has conquered both sin and death. If He did not rise then this would not be the case and the believer would still be under the penalty of sin and the sting of death (1 Corinthians 15:54-57). The resurrection is absolutely essential! However, the tomb is empty and therefore our faith is full! Instead of having a vain faith we have a completed faith. Complete faith refers to a perfect faith in Scripture (Hebrews 12:1-2) since completion implies perfection. And this is so all because of the resurrection.
- Our Faith Would Be Worthless – 1 Corinthians 15:15-17
If Christ did not rise our faith is not just empty, that is lacking any substance, it also has absolutely no value in the end. Faith in something that is not based in truth may produce temporary success but in the long run and especially the eternal run it produces nothing of value. For if Christ did not rise we are told we would still be in our sins, meaning our final destination can only be condemnation. However, Christ did pay the price of our sins on the cross and rose from the dead in victory and now extends freely to us the gift of salvation. Meaning that our faith has the utmost value, the value of the very sacrifice of Christ and a restored relationship with God (Romans 6:23; Colossians 2:13-14)!
- Our Faith Would Be Pitied – 1 Corinthians 15:18-19
If Christ did not rise than our faith should honestly be pitied by every inhabitant of this earth. That any person would hope in such an empty and worthless faith is among the saddest things I can conceive. I look to history as well as the world today and I see the efforts of countless people working diligently, sacrificing and giving their all for causes which are fleeting and hold no lasting value (wealth, fame, comfort, pleasure, pride, even religion [as opposed to a relationship with the Lord through Christ]). There is nothing sadder than a life that is wasted. If the tomb is not empty then faith in Christ would be listed among these things. However, Christ did rise and so our faith is not to be pitied but desired by all! For by faith in the work of Christ alone can we be saved from the penalty of sin and have the assurance of a home in heaven (Ephesians 2:8-9). This faith does not just provide a future hope but it provides a present peace that even in the fiercest of life’s storms we have an anchor, a solid rock upon which we can stand. That is the power of faith in a resurrected Savior!
As we reflect upon this special time of year and we each take time to celebrate the greatest act of love the world ever has or ever will know let us remember that the message of Easter is the heart of the gospel, the good news which imparts God’s heart for mankind. Because of the resurrection there is salvation. Because of the resurrection there is Christianity. Because of the resurrection all of world history has been completely altered. No matter what you end up doing on Easter Sunday I encourage you not to forget the importance of the resurrection. Let us take the time to praise God for His great work and take time to share this message with all those whom God has placed around us. In order that Easter, though it may never be as popular as Christmas in our culture, may not be overlooked. For when it is our faith is empty, worthless and pathetic rather than complete, valuable and envied just as God intended it to be.