The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead separates Christianity from all mere religion - whatever its form. Christianity without the literal, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is merely one religion among many. "And if Christ is not risen," said the Apostle Paul, "then our preaching is empty and your faith is in vain" [1 Corinthians 15:14]. Furthermore, "You are still in your sins!" [1 Corinthians 15:17]. Paul could not have chosen stronger language. "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable" [1 Corinthians 15:19].
Yet, the resurrection of Jesus Christ has been under persistent attacks since the Apostolic age. Why? Because it is the central confirmation of Jesus' identity as the incarnate Son of God, and the ultimate sign of Christ's completed work of atonement, redemption, reconciliation, and salvation. Those who oppose Christ, whether first century religious leaders or twentieth century secularists, recognize the Resurrection as the vindication of Christ against His enemies.
Those who would attack the Church and reject its gospel must direct their arrows at the most crucial truth claim of the New Testament and the disciples: That Jesus Christ, having suffered death on a cross, though sinless, having borne the sins of those He came to save, having been buried in a sealed and guarded grave, was raised by the power of God on the third day.
As Paul well understood, Christianity stands or falls with the empty grave. If Christ is not raised, we are to be pitied, for our faith is in vain. Those who would preach a resurrectionless Christianity have substituted the truth of the gospel for a lie. But, asserted Paul, Christ is risen from the dead. Our faith is not in vain, but is in the risen Lord. He willingly faced death on a cross and defeated death from the grave. The Resurrection is the ultimate sign of God's vindication of His Son.
Taken from "The Resurrection of Christ and the Reality of the Gospel" (used by permission).