In an earlier post we discussed the efficacy of the blood. You can find the post here: Efficacy of the Bood and misunderstandings therein. Let’s review and explore this topic just a little further.
17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.
What is the whole package of atonement? In Leviticus 16 if the scapegoat is not taken out to the uninhabitable desert land then what God commanded for the atonement of the Israelites sins would not be complete. If the blood is not carried behind the veil into the Holy of Holies and sprinkled on the Mercy Seat, then the atonement would not be complete. It takes the sacrifice on the altar, the bulls and the goats, the riddance of the sin and the purifying of the shadow of the things in heaven to complete the atonement.
In Christ we have shown to us the entire commanded atonement process. And His resurrection is the final stamp on what takes away your sins. The cross and the shed blood are the identifying point when the process began. Thus it is what is mentioned when we speak of our salvation.
The entire process was the cause of atonement. ALL of the shed blood and the requirements thereof. Read Leviticus 16. The atonement was not complete simply with the death of the sacrifice. There were requirements with the vessels made of human hands, the copies of what are in heaven. Read Hebrews 9. The blood must be sprinkled on the mercy seat and that is not on the altar, but behind the veil, the veil that was torn so that we could enter into the Holy of Holies. The resurrection was the final step of the process. If it ended on the cross then the death of the goat would suffice, but it did not. The blood was carried to the Holy of Holies, before God the Father in heaven.
But, Paul is quite clear — in fact, God through Paul — if Christ is not raised you are still in your sins. Christ’s resurrection is not simply a reminder of what happened on the cross; it is not proof that the shed blood really occurred. It was not some stamp of approval on Jesus’ sacrifice. It was an integral part of the salvation process. From the cross, in the shed blood, through the decent into hell, and with the resurrection: salvation is the whole of this atonement process. Without any part of it there would be no salvation. One moment prior to the resurrection you were still in your sins — therefore atonement was not yet complete.
The Cross is the focal point of the shed blood. It is the focal point where the sacrifice was made, and it becomes a most powerful point in any scripture that discusses the blood sacrifice. The blood is all this; the cross was the altar upon which it was shed. The debt indeed was paid. Colossians 2:14 tells us that the ordinances that condemn us were nailed to the cross for every accuser to see. The blood cleanses us. Leviticus tells us what is required of the blood, and it doesn’t stop with the shedding. It begins there. The whole process, the whole blood trail, is the atonement.
In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul is addressing those who would preach that there was no resurrection of the dead. In so doing Paul assures them that if there were no resurrection then Christ could not have been raised. If Christ was held to the grave then we are lost. If Satan could have stopped the resurrection then we are lost. There is no other reason for Paul (God through Paul) to even mention a worthless faith, a condition where we would still be in our sins. There is no reason to mention that salvation would have been lost, that our sins being taken away from us is somehow tied to the resurrection if the cross and the shed blood was enough without the resurrection. Paul specifically ties the resurrection — or the lack thereof — to whether we remain in our sins. The resurrection is not a guarantee that the cross happened, rather it is the final scene in a three day act of redemption. It is all necessary for our redemption.
It is the entire blood trail, from Cross through Resurrection. From shedding through sprinkling. From the first lash that tore his flesh, even the crown, to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. All of this makes for atonement of our sins. And it is quite clear in the quoted verse: without the resurrection you are lost.