Can you be a Christian and deny the resurrection?

“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:20-22)

In context, Paul is responding to a heresy going around in his day, which is still plaguing some corners of the world today, that there is no resurrection from the dead. He first expresses amazement that anyone in the church would say this, pointing out our entire faith hangs upon Christ’s resurrection and the promise of eternal life, asserting that if Christ remains in the grave, then we have believed in him for nothing and preached a false message that misrepresents God. In fact, unless it is a copy editing error in the ESV or the original manuscripts, Paul feels so strongly about these points, he says them twice.

He also points out the obvious: without the resurrection, we have no hope of seeing our lost loved ones again and all of the martyrs who have given their lives rather than deny Christ are the most pitiful people to have ever lived.

So now he asserts our great hope is true: because Christ rose again, so shall we one fine morning shake off the slumber of death. He then asserts the logic of the atonement: One man sinned, one man paid the penalty for sin. Because of one man’s sin, all humanity dies.  But all who are in one man, Christ, shall be made alive. The final fulfillment stands before us, but we have his spirit with us today, with his life in us as a down payment, or engagement ring if you prefer. Let us embrace in our lives today though we suffer the penalty for one man’s wrong, we also are having new life breathed into us through another man’s sacrifice on our behalf, our God and our Savior Jesus Christ.