What would life be like if Jesus were a real person, who lived an admirable life, with powerful and effective teaching, who did good things for people wherever he went, who died a noble death of innocence, yet did not rise from the grave?
Some would have us believe that this life of Jesus brings great hope and inspiration for living. Even though his body remains in the grave, long since decomposed, his life and teaching provide the basis for a fulfilling life on earth.
Is this so?
We need only ask his closest followers, those who knew him best, who watched his admirable life, who learned from his powerful and effective teaching, who both observed and received the good things that he did for people wherever he went, who knew first hand of his innocence in death.
What did they do after this death?
They did not spring forward, driven to pass on this wonderful teaching. They did not go out to live it.
They mourned in sadness, in disappointment. They were not motivated to conquer evil by the memory of his life. They regressed to the old ways of life, bemoaning their fate now that their hope was gone.
In contrast to modern liberalism and its descendants, the mere life and death of Jesus was not a powerful motivation to live well and do good. Why? Because they who walked closest with Jesus knew the futility of it all apart from his resurrection.
Such powerful motivation and ministry that pervades the early church comes only from his resurrection.
These close followers of Jesus mourned his death and then quit. Such is the effect of a lifeless Christ, a resurrectionless Christianity.
Only a risen Christ can explain the phenomenon known for 1900 years as Christianity. Only a living Christ can provide the hope to live right, do good to all men, and be free from the power and damnation of sin.
A dead Christ is damning. A risen Christ life-giving.
Liberalism is not liberation. It is bondage—bondage to a doomed life of hopelessness, a life built on a charade.
If Christ be not raised, our faith is in vain (1 Corinthians 14:14).
Only a risen Lord can bring freedom from the brokenness that is in this world through sin. Apart from him there is no hope; there is nothing.
Only the blackness of darkness forever.
HT: Machen, Christianity and Liberalism
Adapted slightly from original post of November 19, 2009.