James S Stewart, a 20th century Church of Scotland preacher and theologian wrote, “Christianity is essentially a religion of resurrection.” I think he is right. The apostle Paul wrote, “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. … if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15v13-17). There is no grey in this area with Paul: he stakes everything on the resurrection of Christ and the future resurrection of the dead. If these are not true, Christianity is nothing more than a collapsing house of cards.

Of course, for Paul and the other apostles of the New Testament who were witnesses of the risen Christ, this was not a house of cards, but a firm and sure foundation for faith. The resurrection is thereby a cause for both glory and praise to God, and for full assurance of our future resurrection.

But the reverse “if” is equally as clear for Paul. If the resurrection is true, then this has to have a direct and significant impact on our lives here and now. Later in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul says “ ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory’ … therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.” (v54-58). Paul is instructing the 1st century Christians that at the resurrection they would stand before their Lord – and at that moment their work would be shown for what it is: so get your priorities right. This 1st century challenge is also a 21st century post-Easter challenge: to what extent am I now living in the light of the certain future resurrection?