THE CORNERSTONE OF THE GOSPEL
"But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 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. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied." - 1 Cor. 15:13-19
The resurrection of Christ is not only the most pivotal event in Christianity, but in the history of the world. It is on this one fact that Christianity either stands or falls. Pastor John MacArthur says, "just as the heart pumps life giving blood to every part of the body, so the truth of the resurrection gives life to every other area of gospel truth". It is the grand crescendo of the work of Christ; for it is the validation of Christ's witness, divinity, and sufficiency of his atonement. Not only that, but our faith, preaching, and eternity rest on this truth. This is why we call the resurrection the cornerstone of the gospel: if it is true, then the gospel is true, and if gospel is true, then it possesses true life-giving power.
To be a Christian, one must believe that not only the dead will be raised, but that Christ was indeed raised from the grave. These two things are inextricably linked; they stand or fall together. So if we say that we are Christians, but deny the resurrection, then we are guilty of a blatant contradiction. We would have to reject Christianity if we were to deny the resurrection. And if Christ did not raise, then he, his apostles, and preachers would all be blaspheming heretics. This is essentially Paul's argument in 1 Cor. 15, which contains the most extensive treatment on the doctrine of the resurrection in all of Scripture.
Since Christ is in fact raised from the dead, then the gospel has true life-giving power. Those who are united with Christ, through faith, are certainly raised with him (Eph. 2:4-6). We are not only guaranteed new life and freedom from sin, but also an assurance of a future bodily resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20-22, 51-54). Unlike all other religions in the world, we do not visit a shrine or a tomb to mourn the death of our founder, instead we gather together to celebrate the victory of Jesus our Savior and King who does not rest in a grave, but rules from a throne in heaven. That is what we come together on Easter Sunday to remember, celebrate, and declare.