We Believe in the Resurrection – 1 Corinthians 15:10-34
The twenty sixth message in the 1 Corinthians Study.
(Find the other messages from this series here)
If you think really hard, you might be able to remember that when we started in 1 Corinthians on Easter, we started in Chapter 15. Paul spoke to them about the resurrection of Christ and he gave them 3 witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection.
Peter, James, and himself.
Peter was a failure.
James was a doubter.
Paul was a hater.
However all 3 were saved as Paul says here in verse 10
But by the grace of God I am what I am.
This has been Paul’s destination, this has been what he’s been working toward as he makes his way through the long list of issues that the Corinthians have.
He’s been working to bring the Corinthians along.
He started with where they were.
He covered where they ought to be.
He’s now looking to where they are headed.
You see the Corinthians had doubted the physical resurrection.
They doubted life after death or that if there was life after death if they would have a body in the next life or if it would just be their soul…
Paul challenges their logic, dismantles their arguments, and gives them hope and purpose.
Let’s look at this passage.
Smallpox was a deadly disease that was highly contagious.
It wiped out millions of people across continents. It was a terrifying disease.
In 1797 when America had just recently gained its independence, Dr Edward Jenner developed the first smallpox vaccine and the war on smallpox began.
Many countries required citizens to get the smallpox vaccines, outbreaks became fewer and fewer.
In the 1940s smallpox had been completely eradicated from Europe and North America.
In 1967 only 30 countries still had cases of smallpox.
A campaign in Asia, South America and Africa to spread the small pox vaccine to these countries went underway and by 1978, there were only naturally occurring cases of smallpox in Somalia.
In 1980 the world health organization announced that Smallpox had been eradicated, that there had been no more cases.
I’d bet that if you told someone in 1790 that in less than 200 years there would no longer be a threat of smallpox, they wouldn’t have been able to believe you.
I’d bet that if you told Edward Jenner who came up with the vaccine that, that he would struggle to believe it.
It was such a prevalent threat- it was tragic, powerful, and unrelenting…
In the Corinthian Church there were people who were struggling to believe that death could be defeated.
They rejected the idea that death could be overcome. Al they had seen was that death came for everyone and that everyone who died, stayed dead.
You see we not only believe that Christ raised from the dead, we believe that all who placed their trust in Christ will rise one day.
Today, those that put their faith in Christ and passed away are in heaven with the Lord but one day the Lord is bringing this world to an end and when He does, He will return to collect all those still living that believe in Him and He will bring with Him the souls of all who died believing.
The bodies of those who died believe will be reunited with their soul and they will be transformed into new spiritual, everlasting, eternal bodies.
Those still living who believe will be transformed as well and we will dwell for eternity with Christ in bodies that do not age or break down.
Here at the end of his letter Paul writes to them about the resurrection. He writes to convince them that death can be conquered and that in fact, it already has been.
Paul writes to convince them of their future resurrection by pointing to the the resurrection of Christ.
This brings us to Paul’s first point:
If there is no resurrection we are full of misery. (12-19)
13But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
16For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
Paul’s main premise is that if you say that no one can raise from the dead, then Christ didn’t raise from the dead…
If Christ did raise from the dead, what stops him from raising us from the dead. If he has the power to raise from the dead, he can raise us from the dead.
If He’s God, He’s God and He can do whatever He very well pleases.
If He’s God, He created life, He gave you a soul, and if He can do all of that, He can rescue your soul from death or oblivion.
We do not believe in a somewhat powerful being.
We believe in an all powerful creator.
We do not believe in an absent minded overseer.
We believe in a loving Savior!
There’s misery for 3 reasons.
1.If there is no resurrection, Christ is not raised and we are still in our sins.
17And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
The message of the gospel is that we can be saved from our sins, not that we avoid them but that we are saved from them! That they are done away with.
Death is an effect of sin.
Separation from God is an effect of sin.
The Resurrection of all who believe is the final triumph over sin because it conquers death and gives us a forever with God!
The Resurrection of Christ is what all of Christianity hinges upon because when Jesus got up, neatly folded and laid aside the burial clothes he had been put in, and walked out of the tomb He was demonstrating to the World that death could not hold Him and He would not let it hold onto us!
When Jesus stood and walked out of the grave, He was standing over evil and walking all over death, His conquered enemy.
We sing about Christ conquering death because that’s exactly what He did. We sing about Christ rescuing us from our sin and death and hell because that is exactly what He did.
2.If there is no resurrection, Christ is not raised and all who have perished have no hope.
18Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
Paul says, if there is no resurrection of the dead, then those that passed away believing in Christ, those who were killed for their faith in God, then they’re just gone…
That’s not the case!
Scripture tells us again and again that there will be a great reunion of those that have placed their faith in Christ.
There will be a great coming together, there will be a great gathering of all those that have gone ahead to be with the Lord.
When my 25 year old cousin died in a motorcycle accident 7 years ago, my sister wrote an essay about the cousins table.
On my mom’s side of the family there are 17 cousins.
When we would gather for holidays there was the adult table and the kids table, which we called the cousins table.
My Sister said, Troy’s seat at the table will be empty but there’s a table that he saving for us on the other side.
He’s got seats for all of us over there.
The resurrection isn’t just true, it’s beautiful.
3.If there is no resurrection, Christ is not raised and we are wasting our time.
14And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
19If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
Paul said, the reason that we do what we do, the reason that we are in danger, the reason that we are beaten and thrown in jail is that we preach this message of Jesus no matter what.
We preach this message and we live our lives in this way because of this truth.
If we are kidding ourselves, if we are fooling ourselves, if we are living in this way and there is no next life, we are miserable because we are investing everything we have into something that doesn’t exist.
Paul said, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die…
Because of the resurrection we are full of hope. (20-28)
20But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
23Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
We hope because those who have perished in Christ will rise.
22For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
24Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
26The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
We hope because Jesus Christ shall destroy death.
Jesus has conquered death.
He will then destroy death.
Have you ever killed a snake?
If so, thank you.
But when you kill a snake, it still writhes around.
You’ve cut off or crushed its head, but it’s still flopping around.
Jesus crushed the head of the serpent when He stepped out of the cross and right now its flopping around, but when Jesus returns He’ll scoop up the devil and all his minions and throw them into the fire.
David Lytle wrote an article that was in the summer edition of the Fusion Sunday School material our adult classes use.
A year ago I sat on a bed in Huntsville, AL and looked at the faces of my three small children. I had to tell Isaac (five), Jude (three), and Naomi (one) that their mother was dead.
It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I hope it’s the hardest thing I’ll ever do.
Does it actually matter what someone believes about heaven when life becomes hell?
In this life, there is no amount of truth that will cure grief, but truth gives us robust sense of hope than many of us ever thought possible.
We often think that our hope is that our souls will escape our bodies at death.
We have polarized the spiritual and the physical.
The apostles taught otherwise. They saw Jesus’ physical resurrection as the first of many. Paul argues at length in I Corinthians 15 that our bodies will be raised from the dead and glorified just like the dead body of Jesus was gloriously, physically resurrected. Jesus is the “firstfruit” of God’s new creation.
Christian hope is not based on a vague platonic ideal of spiritual existence after death, but rather it is grounded–and I do mean “grounded”–in God’s work of restoring his physical creation because of Jesus’ resurrection.
Does this provide comfort? I believe it does. A few weeks after Bethany died I wrote a friend, “When it’s said and done, I am greatly comforted that Bethany (the physical, real life Bethany that I love so much) is going to be raised. She will have a body that can never, ever get Cancer. She will be perfect, body and soul.”
Through the resurrection we are given great purpose. (30-34)
30And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?
If Christ didn’t raise from the dead, if there is no resurrection from the dead, then why do we do what we do?
Why do we put ourselves in danger?
If there is no resurrection, Paul says let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die…
Then notice what he immediately says after that…
33Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
you see that eat and drink for tomorrow we die was a common phrase among the Greeks and Paul says, don’t be fooled by the common refrain- recognize that evil communication corrupts good manners-
People just use that saying to justify doing what they want.
There are such sayings today-
You only live once!
Bad decisions make better stories!
Sleep All Day – Party All Night – Never grow old – Never Die
Then Paul says,
34Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
Live in light of eternity.
This isn’t the end, this is just the beginning.
This isn’t all there is, this isn’t even fraction of all there is.
Awake to righteousness – Live differently, live free from sin, live free from your brokenness, live free from destructive behavior, live free from the slide downward that culture is in… See that there is a different way to approach life.
“Some know not the truth of God, I speak this to your shame.”
There are people all around us who do not know this truth. They are not looking toward the next life, they are consumed with this life.
That’s not how we should live.
We should live thinking of and investing in the next life.
When we live in light of the next life and we are not consumed with this one, it will be so much easier to speak of this truth with those around us.