If Christ is not raised, there is no eternity in heaven – “Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished” (I Corinthians 15:18).
Paul says, “If Christ didn’t raise from the dead, then everyone who has died claiming to be a Christian, won’t enjoy eternal life with their Creator but either eternal condemnation or annihilation (depending on how you translate that word “perished.”) Either way, it’s not eternal life with God in heaven … and that’s awful.
We might believe one thing and end up somewhere else. There would be no future of any kind. In fact, our whole existence – past, present and future – is pointless.
R.C.H. Lenski writes about this predicament of ours without the resurrection –
“They love and die without God and hope in this world. But it is still more pitiful, because it is far more tragic, to have a great hope in the heart throughout life, to shape the whole life according to that hope, to crucify the flesh, to war against temptation, to bear the cross, to suffer reproach and many other ills for the sake of this hope, and then in the end to have that hope turn out to be an iridescent bubble, a vacuous dream. This is Paul’s commentary on a Christianity that exists for this life only without regard to what is to come thereafter. Yet this is the type of Christianity that not a few seek to popularize at the present time. A Christianity without a risen Christ and the sure and certain hope of our resurrection from the grave, whatever men may say in laudation of its moral influence and its good works, is worse than none.” (I-II Corinthians, pg. 658)
Imagine the anger and despair if you woke up in hell and you were able, in between the reverberation of pain and suffering, able to converse with another sufferer and asked him, “What happened? Why are we here?”
Imagine in between the tears of pain, that person responded to you, “Jesus didn’t really conquer death. His skeleton is still in that tomb. Salvation was not accomplished. We are here for good!” Can you think of any worse news than that?
Let me illustrate this another way. Remember the death of a loved one that knew the Lord. Remember the glimmer of hope and encouragement you found in knowing that you would see them again in glory. It helped the pain subside a bit knowing that their departure would not the end of your being with them.
Well, if Jesus didn’t raise from the dead, that hope and encouragement has been all erased. There will be nothing but terrible silence when they are put into the ground.