Evangelism rises or falls based upon the reality of the resurrection. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, there is no good news to share: sin and death still reign, we worship a dead and decomposing deity, and Christians should be pitied because we are deceived and pathetic. On the other hand, if the resurrection is true, every Christian should be compelled to share this good news liberally and with great joy.
In 1 Corinthians 15:12-20, Paul argues that for the Christian, everything hinges upon the reality of the resurrection. Here is what that means specifically for your evangelism.
1. Because the resurrection is true, proclaiming the gospel bears fruit and gives birth to faith that leads to life.
Because of the resurrection, dead people get raised to life with words. Such is the miracle of preaching the gospel. Not only is gospel proclamation a fruit-bearing activity, it gives birth to faith that leads to eternal life. Evangelism is not vain, unproductive, empty, and fruitless. Why? Because Jesus rose from the dead, sits at the right hand of the Father, and is calling people himself right now through our verbal witness.
Share the good news of Jesus because God will use it to bring about new life.
2. Because the resurrection is true, we can rightly represent God.
Christians are false witnesses if Christ is not raised from the dead: “We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised” (1 Cor. 15:15). Because of the resurrection. we can rightly present and represent God to a lost and dying world.
You are not some snake-oil salesman or ponzi scheme shill. You bear the approval and commission of the Creator of the universe. You can and should speak with conviction, love, and earnestness, pleading with the lost to believe. You can be winsome and kind in your evangelism, but also deeply sincere because God has sent you as a witness to his lost sheep.
3. Because the resurrection is true, your sins have been forgiven.
If the resurrection is false, then you are condemned to hell forever: “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). Because of the resurrection, your sins have been forgiven at the cross. It was accomplished, sealed, and confirmed. Nothing can undo what Christ has done at the cross.
How does this promise reorient our evangelism? We share the good news with freedom and gratitude. You can joyfully witness about Jesus because your terminal disease—sin—has been cured, forever. You have the privilege of sharing the cure with all who will hear. No more guilt or shame. You have been forgiven. Jesus’s blood is greater than any sin. Your sins have been paid.
4. Because the resurrection is true, all who die in Christ live forever.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:18, “Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.” There is no hope for anyone if Christ did not rise. All will die, perish, and suffer eternal torment away from God. Because of the resurrection, all who die in Christ live forever. All who believed in and followed Christ are with Jesus forever. No lasting death. “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55).
So we can proclaim this eternal hope: trust in Christ and be with him for all eternity. You can speak frankly at the bedside of the dying. You can have great confidence that deceased loved ones no longer suffer. Those who belong to Christ live forever.
5. Because the resurrection is true, we live enviable lives.
The Christian life is a sad and pitiful life if the resurrection is false: “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:19). Because of the resurrection, Christians live enviable lives. Knowing Jesus Christ—in his death and resurrection—far surpasses anything else in the entire universe. Yes, even in suffering. Yes, even if beheaded or oppressed or marginalized. Yes, even if we are considered close-minded, weird, or religious freaks. Like Paul, we can say, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:8). We can heartily sing, “Hallelujah, all I have is Christ. Hallelujah, Jesus is my life!”
You can have all the confidence in the world that the words you speak bring abundant and everlasting life. You have an answer that makes sense of all the questions about life. You can rejoice in your eternal hope reserved by God for you in heaven right now. You can promise that life may not get easier in the short-term—it may even come with great cost and suffering—but that Christ gives us a living hope, a future inheritance, joy inexpressible, and ultimately the salvation of your soul (1 Pet. 1:3-9). It will be worth it.
Therefore, as Easter approaches, consider 1 Corinthians 15:58—“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” Your prayers for the lost, your intentional spiritual conversations, and your labor in building a relationship of love with those who don’t know Jesus are not in vain. Be steadfast. Nothing done for God is in vain. Therefore, abound in the work of evangelism.
Let the reality of the resurrection reorient, motivate, and encourage your evangelistic zeal and love. May God be pleased to give you to joy of introducing someone to Jesus for the first time this Easter.