I Can Only Imagine
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In the fall of 1971, John Lennon released his hit song, Imagine, the first few lines say, "Imagine there's no heaven/ It's easy if you try/ No hell below us/ Above us only sky." In the remainder of the song, he described a world of peace and hope that would result from living a life void of faith and ignorance of spiritual rewards and consequences for our actions.
I know that some people consider Imagine the greatest song of all times, but to be honest with you, I don't get it. It would take a mighty big dose of mind-altering drugs for me to believe life would be better without faith in God and an afterlife.
This morning, I don't want to ask you to imagine there is no heaven, like Lennon did in 71, instead, I want you to imagine there's no resurrection, like Paul did in 1 Cor. 15:13-22. What would life be like if there was no resurrection? Paul wrote, "But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised;  and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.
This is the pivotal issue of the Christian faith. If Jesus did not raise from the dead, there is no reason for this segment in the worship service-there is no need to proclaim from the teachings of scripture, because this is the truth that all other Christian truths are built upon. And the same is true of your faith. Without the resurrection, your faith is foolishness. The faith that brought you through your trials-the faith that sustains you when you are tempted-the faith that is the conduit for God's grace in your life when you need forgiveness-without the resurrection, your faith would be worthless.
Paul continues in verse 15, "Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we witnessed against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised." If Christ did not raise from the dead, then all the Apostles of old and teachers of today are liars. It would be a grand conspiracy involving all the Christian teachers for the past two millenniums to deceive.
And you know the state of well-being you have because of forgiveness you've received from God and from one another? Well, throw that out too. Without the resurrection, there is no afterlife and you are still in your sins. And all the Christians that you've admired over the years? Stop admiring them and start pitying them. That's what Paul says in the next few verses:  For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised;  and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.
I don't know if John Lennon believed in heaven and hell or not. I just
know that he asked us to imagine there was no afterlife, but I do know
what Paul believed. He believed in the afterlife because he believed in
the Resurrection. He wrote:  But now Christ has been raised from the
dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.  For since by a man
came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.  For as
in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive."