If Jesus never rose from the dead, men are still unsaved sinners, not because the resurrection would have saved them, but because without the resurrection the death of Jesus is shown to have been without saving efficacy.
That is why ‘we preach Christ crucified’ is the heart of the gospel. We also preach Christ born and living on earth (since He could not have been our Savior if He had not been made flesh and lived a sinless life). We also preach Christ risen and exalted (since by His resurrection He was publicly vindicated and by His exaltation He became our present mediator). But the emphasis in the New Testament Kerygma (preaching) is on the Savior’s atoning death for the sins of the world. Well may we echo Paul’s affirmation: ‘I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified’ (1 Cor. 2:2).
The first part of our simplified kerygma, then, is the proclamation of Jesus as Savior and Lord. The second part is the appeal to men and women to come to Him in repentance and faith.
~Excerpts from a Preacher’s Portrait (pg. 41)
By John Stott (1921-2011)
Take heed, therefore brethren [pastors], for the enemy hath a special eye upon you. You shall have his most subtle insinuations, and incessant solicitations, and violent assaults. As wise and learned as you are, take heed to yourselves, lest he outwit you. The devil is a greater scholar than you, and a nimbler disputant: he can transform himself into an angel of light to deceive: he will get within you, and trip up your heels before you are aware: he will play the juggler with you undiscerned, and cheat you of your faith or innocency, and you shall not know that you have lost it; nay, he will make you believe it is multiplied or increased, when it is lost. You shall see neither hook nor line, much less the subtle angler himself, while he is offering you his bait. And his bait shall be so fitted to your temper and disposition, that he will be sure to find advantages within you, and make your own principles and inclinations betray you; and whenever he ruineth you, he will make you the instruments of ruin to others.
~Excerpts from The Reformed Pastor
By Richad Baxter (1615-1691)
Sin will not only be striving, acting, rebelling, troubling, disquieting, but if left alone, if not continually mortified, it will bring forth great, cursed, scandalous, soul-destroying sins. The apostle tells us what the works and fruits of it are, Gal. 5 19-21, “the works of the flesh are manifest, which are, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like.” You know what it did in David and sundry others. Sin aims always at the utmost; every time it rises up to tempt or entice, might it have its own course, it would go out to the utmost sin in that kind. Every unclean thought or glance would be adultery if it could; every covetous desire would be oppression, every thought of unbelief would be atheism, might it grow to its head… And herein lies no small share of the deceitfulness of sin, by which it prevails to the hardening of men, and so to their ruin, Heb. 3:13…
~Excerpts from Temptation and Sin
By John Owen (1616-1683)