One: 1 Corinthians 15.12-34
August 4, 2013 Series: One | First Letter to the Corinthians
Topic: New Testament Passage: 1 Corinthians 15:12–15:34
1Corinthians 15.12-34: Resurrected Body
August 4, 2013
Introduction: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ (v. 3-8)
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. (1Cor. 15.3-8) Buddha is dead. Confucius is dead. Muhammad is dead. Ghandi is dead. Elvis is dead. Tupac is dead. Even Abraham is dead. You can visit all of their tombs. But Jesus Christ is alive. Chapter 15 is the chapter about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the only man in the history of the world who rose from the dead. And though even the Bible records stories of men and women who have been revived from the sleep of death (e.g. Lazarus)ï¿½ï¿½"in time, they all died again. The hope for my life, for my family, for my church, for my friends and neighbors rests on the one undeniable truth that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and will not ever die again.
If Jesus of Nazareth is dead, then everything I hope and live for is dead or dying. Without the resurrection, Jesus Christ is at best a nut job and at worst a liar. Without the resurrection Jesus Christ is another man who made empty promises. Without the resurrection, Jesus Christ cannot help me in this life or the next. Without the resurrection, I have no one to save me, no one to heal me, no one to forgive me, and no one to return for me. Without the resurrection, my life is meaningless and my current situation hopeless, for there is no help beyond myself and no certain future beyond this life.
As you can see, the resurrection is essential to the Christian faithï¿½ï¿½"there is no faith without it. Even though there are many in our culture who love Jesus the servant, Jesus the teacher, Jesus the healer, Jesus the friend of sinners, and Jesus the carpenter, there are very few who love Jesus the resurrected Lord. Just as the pressure of culture caused them to deny the offensiveness of the crucifixion, members of the Corinthian church have also begun to deny the resurrection. In chapter 15, Paul begins his defense of God’s raising of Jesus from dead by offering proofs that Jesus physically rose from the dead:
1. Jesus’ resurrection was predicted by O.T. prophets (including Jesus Himself).
2. Jesus suffered and died at the hands of professional executioners.
3. Jesus was buried in a familiar, well-marked, easily found tomb of a rich man.
4. Jesus appeared physically to his friends and disciples (e.g. ate, touched, etc.)
5. Jesus appeared to more than 500 people at one time.
6. Jesus was recognized by family (who began to worship him).
7. Jesus was worshipped by enemies. * (Adapted from Doctrine, by Breshears and Driscoll)
If there is NO resurrection of the dead (v. 12-19)
Paul continues in verse 12 describing the danger of DENYING these truths….12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
The Corinthians have begun to believe a different gospel than Paul preachedï¿½ï¿½"namely, one without the resurrection. Paul is concerned because, if there is no physical resurrection of the dead, then there is no gospel and no salvation. Christianity rests on this one event: the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Greeks believed in the immorality of the spirit but that the body was mortal and destroyed. The gospel Paul preached said that the body and soul are God’s creation and BOTH experience resurrection. On the last day, God intends to restore ALL that was corrupted in creation by sin, including our bodies, and eternity will be spent in a state of perfectly restored physical glory like Jesusï¿½ï¿½"we will be with Jesus in eternity as glorified human beings, not ghosts. The Corinthians believe dead don’t rise, ever. Denial of this foundational truth begins with Christ’s body still in the tomb…but it doesn’t end there. The apostles says:
1. If there is no resurrection, then our preaching is hollow. The story of Jesus is just that, a story, possessing no power or substance. Everyone agrees that the death of Jesus of Nazareth is horrible and unjust. A 30 year old carpenter name Jesus, who did nothing but serve and love people, is accused falsely, tried illegally, and murdered brutally. Without the resurrection, offers nothing more than confirmation that the world is broken.
2. If there is no resurrection, then our faith is in empty. I myself am found believing lies and putting hope in false promises. Without the resurrection, I trust in something without power; it cannot save, it cannot forgive, it cannot heal, and it cannot provide comfort in pain, or hope in death. Faith is useless.
3. If there is no resurrection, anyone who shares the gospel lies about God. The gospel is about God. It is not advice about what we are to do, but news about what God has done. If Christ did not raise, but that is what we preach, we are all found lying about what God has done. We are like Satan.
4. If there is no resurrection, we remain in our sins. Without the resurrection, God is still good, God is still just, I am still bad, and God is still angry. In my ungodliness, I cannot be in the presence of a holy God. Yet, my “good” will never be “good enough”ï¿½ï¿½"it will forever fall short of perfection. I don’t have the power to stop sinning and I cannot escape the coming wrath that will punish sin.
5. If there is no resurrection, our loved ones are dead and gone. Without the resurrection, believers do not enter into heaven with Jesus; he is not there to welcome them. There is no love, no rest, no joy, and no hope beyond the grave. Death is the invincible enemy to be feared.
If there is no resurrection, we have no hope beyond this life. We should, as the Corinthian say, go, eat and drink, for tomorrow we dieï¿½ï¿½"SIN IT UP! Without the resurrection, what we do in this present world does not matterï¿½ï¿½"we are not obligated to accomplish anything. We are like the disciples on Saturday, after Good Friday, without Sundayï¿½ï¿½"with Christ still buried. They had devoted three years of their lives to a man they thought would be King. Consider then…how pitiful is that these guys, knowing Jesus was dead, would spend the remainder of their lives preaching, giving, sacrificing, suffering, and dying for a hopeless lie. Why witness? Why endure persecution? Why deny themselves anything? What a pitiful way to spend the time they have on this pleasure-filled planet…or is it?
If there IS a resurrection of the dead (v. 20-28)
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.
Those who believed are not to be pitied, but imitated, because GOD DID RAISE JESUS from the dead in the same way He will raise US from the dead one day. At birth, all men are made dead in Adam. At rebirth, men are made alive in Christ. We experience this now spiritually now, but physically in the futureï¿½ï¿½"we still die. Why doesn’t he just restore us right now? Well, He has an order to thingsï¿½ï¿½"Jesus resurrection, Jesus rule, Jesus return, Jesus resurrecting those who belong to Him, then Jesus judging those who don’t. So there is a NOW and NOT yet experience to the Kingdom. NOW, Jesus Christ reigns as Lord and King, working to bring every authority and power under his rule and saving more and more souls. THEN, at His return, we will all see God’s enemies finally destroyed by Jesus, including death; our spirits will be reunited with our bodies like Jesus, and we will be delivered back to the Father with Jesus.
Jesus is reigning. How would your attitude change if you believed that? See, even though sin and death still bring damage and sorrow, the resurrection unmasks them as conquered enemies. Christ’s resurrection signaled a cosmic change that is experienced now and in the future. Paul’s implication is that, if we genuinely believe in the resurrection, we shall live differently. Even though there are still 64% of Americans and 94% of Christians claim to believe in the resurrection, many seem confused as to how this truth impacts our daily lives. Does your belief in the resurrection change how you live? If you stopped believing in the resurrection this moment, how would your life look or feel different?
1. Belief in the resurrection gives me identity in life now. I am a servant of the living King who lived and died for me. And I am provided for and protected by that King as a citizen of His Kingdom. My desire is to bring honor to the King by living honorably and by heralding His Lordship to others.
2. Belief in the resurrection gives me purpose in life. I know that what I do in this life matters in the next life. Because of what Christ has accomplished for me, there is work to accomplish for Christ. This work does not save me from God’s judgmentï¿½ï¿½"faith in the work of Christ has done that. But there is a different kind of judgment for believers, there is work that will be tested and rewards to be received.
3. Belief in the resurrection gives me perspective as I live: The world has very little to offer me because NOTHING in the world will lastï¿½ï¿½"and nothing can save me from death. It will all burn up in the end. I will, therefore, willingly lose anything if it means knowing Christ. I will deny myself any temporary relationship if that means I will gain the one relationship that will last for eternity.
4. Belief in the resurrection gives me comfort when I fail to live as ought: Christ is continuing to make all things knew. The resurrection reminds me that I have a new life. I am comforted to know that I have the power to fight sin AND that I am forgiven when I fail.
5. Belief in the resurrection gives me humility when I live as I ought: Men contributed absolutely nothing to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I have done nothing to accomplish my rebirth. If I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. Therefore, if I succeed, I will boast in the power of the resurrected Christ living through me.
6. Belief in the resurrection gives me courage, even joy, as I suffer: A mind on the resurrection is a mind remembering the eternal perspective. [70 MILLION YEARS] I can, therefore, grow in every trial knowing that life is but a breath. The resurrection does not remove emotion or intellect, it directs it.
7. Belief in the resurrection gives me hope in life and death. I believe in the God the Resurrection. My God is the one who creates with a word out of nothing, the one who can make beauty from ashes, and the one who brings life from death. Therefore, I will not lose hope when I suffer, when others suffer, or if I die. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Phil. 19.21)
Conclusion: Then…Wake up, stop sinning, and start heralding (v.29-34)
29 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? 30 Why are we in danger every hour? 31 I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! 32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.
Paul reminds them of their hypocrisyï¿½ï¿½"they baptize dead people by the resurrection of Christ but don’t believe in the resurrection of dead. Their actions do not match their convictionsï¿½ï¿½"are we much different? Beyond Easter, how often do we speak about the Resurrection? He charges them, as I charge you, to WAKE UP, STOP SINNING, AND START PREACHING to yourself and others the resurrection. Live as if you believe. Someone who believes in the resurrection of Jesus Christ believes, thinks, and perceives, and experiences life differently. We experience loss differently. We experience suffering differently. We experience joy differently. We experience temptation differently. We experience everything differently because I know that, if death is the worst thing, nothing is hopeless. If the resurrection is true, we will talk about more than on Easter, we will take risks for Jesus all the time, and we will endure persecution when you do …FOR WE KNOW we have something to accomplish, and WE KNOW that our work is never wasted or forgotten, and we KNOW that something greater is coming.