For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.1 Corinthians 15:3-7
First, Paul lays out the simple gospel of Jesus Christ. Then he states the reality that the truth of the gospel hinges entirely on the reality of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead…1 Corinthians 15:13-20
If we reject the truth of Jesus’s bodily resurrection from the dead, we reject the gospel–the whole of the Christian faith. We can call ourselves whatever we want, but if we leave behind the resurrection, we leave behind Jesus Himself. We might be able to construct a nice religious facade without the resurrection, a pseudo-Christian facsimile, but Jesus won’t be found anywhere inside. If we don’t embrace the resurrection, our faith is useless and we are still mired in our sin.
“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead,” and that changes everything! HE IS RISEN! HE IS ALIVE! Death and sin have been defeated and our victory has been won!