Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20-34)

August 20 2023

Series: 1 Corinthians

All right. Let’s go ahead and turn with me to 1 Corinthians 15, and our title for today is The Resurrection. Talking all about the resurrection. I want to say before we start, thank you, Eddie, for leading us through the first few verses of chapter 15, giving us hope, giving us courage through the words of our brother Paul, and helping us to remember that this is good news. The resurrection is good news, that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, and so will we. I’m going to be taking a look at 1 Corinthians 15. Starting at verse 12, it says, But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there’s no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless, and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God. For we have testified about God that He has raised Christ from the dead, but he did not raise Him if, in fact, the dead are not raised.

or if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile. You are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all most to be pity. This is our main text for today. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead. The first fruits of those who have fallen asleep, for since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as an Adam, all die. So in Christ, all will be made alive. But each in turn, Christ, the first fruits, then when he comes those who belong to him, then the end will come when he hands over the kingdom of God, the Father after he has destroyed all Dominion, authority, and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he has put everything under his feet. Now, when it says that everything has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ.

When he has done this, then the son himself will be made subject to him, who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. Now there is no resurrection. What will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? I face death every day? Yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus, our Lord. If I fought wild beasts and Ephesians with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. Do not be misled, bad company, corrupt, good character. Come back to your senses as you are and stop sinning. For there are some who are ignorant of God. I say this to your shame. So continuing on from what Eddie shared with us last week, Paul, continues on his thought of the resurrection of Jesus with the truth that we, as Christians, can rejoice in. That Jesus has indeed been raised from the dead. Jesus has risen. And if there is no resurrection, there is no Christianity.

If there is no resurrection, preaching the gospel would be in vain. If there’s no resurrection, having faith in the gospel would be in vain. The apostles will be considered apostles. There will be no forgiveness of sin, and guilt will remain if there was no resurrection, death will be a certainty, and all who die will perish. There will be no hope beyond this life if there was no resurrection. But Jesus is risen. In verse 20, Paul refers to Jesus as the first fruit of those who have fallen asleep. And for those who may not know what a first fruit is, it’s the first sample of a farming crop that points to the nature and quality of the rest of the crop. So for us as disciples of Jesus, he is the first of a great harvest of all who have and will pass away. His resurrected body gives a taste of what his followers would be like in their new bodies. In Jesus’s resurrection, the certainty of the resurrection of those who follow him is guaranteed. For we have been raised with Christ. For we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.

I remember when I studied the Bible in 2018 and I was shown this scripture, I vividly remember just being in awe at the fact that God desires for everyone to experience resurrection like Jesus. We rejoice in the resurrection because it gives us hope that we will also be resurrected like Jesus. And this is such an amazing guarantee from God. And Paul then touches on how the reality of death and resurrection have been impacted by the actions of others. And I think it’s important that Paul touches up on these things because when we consider people’s actions, they truly have a long-lasting effect on our lives. I couldn’t help but think about when I was younger, probably in second or third grade, I’m not too sure, elementary school. I remember one day I was home, my dad came home from work. I don’t know how he got this from coming home from work, but he came home with the aloe plant. Being a kid, I was freaked out at the plant because it just looked weird to me. I didn’t really know what it was. But my dad saw how concerned I was about what type of plant this was, and he decided to chase me around the house with the plant.

That honestly impacted my way of looking at aloe to this day. I haven’t drunk any aloe water or whatever. I don’t even know what it is. I don’t think I’ve ever touched an aloe plant. But that really did impact the way that I see aloe plants, to be completely honest. Continue to love me, don’t judge me. But here, what Paul says is that death came through a man, and the resurrection of the dead came through a man. He’s leading us into seeing how, again, these men and their actions have played a huge part in where we are at today as humanity. He says, In Adam, all die. So in Christ, all will be made alive. And if we were to take a look back at the Book of Genesis, we see the role that Adam plays in the fall of mankind by taking a bite from the fruit. And this led to sin corrupting the heart of mankind. And as we know, sin leads to death. But as for Jesus, the son of God, leaving heaven, coming down to earth, living a perfect life, willingly choosing to lay down his life for my sin, for your sin, for the sin of the world, and allowing us to be made alive in him.

In Paul’s writings, he often contrasts Adam and Jesus. Adam, had it all to be in the garden with God, to have that connection with God, to just imagine being able to name all the animals. He had that close relationship with God. He had it all. But he chose independence from God. Jesus had it all. But he chose to depend and submit to God to the point of death on the cross. Adam came from dirt. Jesus came from heaven. Adam represents death to mankind. But Jesus represents life to mankind. Thinking about the resurrection and thinking about Jesus representing life in verses 23 to 25, Paul lays out a somewhat of a sequence of how the resurrection will take place. And we see he starts off by saying, each in turn. And even again, if you read the NLT version of the New Living Translation, it says, But there is an order to this resurrection. So Paul lays out this order, and first, we have the resurrection of Jesus. Then we have the resurrection of the believers at Jesus’ return, and then we have the end. Now, the resurrection of Jesus is the first fruit, as we saw earlier when we read together, this happened over 2,000 years ago.

So Jesus has already risen. He’s conquered death, hell, and the grave. Then you have the resurrection of the believers. When Jesus returns to Earth, we will come alive and experience resurrection just like Jesus. And then we have the end. And Paul says that in the end, Jesus will give the kingdom to God after destroying all Dominion, authority, and power. All enemies of God will be crushed under the feet of Jesus. And even when we think about the end, it gives us a clear distinction as to who Jesus is, his Lordship. We see his strength, we see his power, and we see his authority. And we see that the last enemy to be destroyed is death. Death will die. And no matter what we do or how hard we try to ignore it, we are all destined to die. But death has been conquered when Jesus rose from the dead, and death will die at the return of Jesus. I want to take a second just to imagine how not only interesting but maybe even a little awkward it would be to attend a funeral with Jesus. Imagine being in line to view the body of an open casket.

You’re right behind Jesus, and you hear Jesus maybe bend down towards the body and say, Get up. Get out of the casket. You may turn around, and look at everybody. Why are you all crying? This person, he’s not dead. He’s only asleep. Why did Jesus do this? Why did he act this way? It’s because Jesus had a clear view of the other side. Jesus did not live for this world, but he lived for the next one. He knew that God will not and cannot let death have the final victory. And this is the true hope of every Christian, the hope of the resurrection. And the thing is that Satan would do anything to distract and destroy our focus on the resurrection. He knows that people who believe and live for the resurrection, we’re dangerous. So he attacks us in this area. But the more that we consider the resurrection of Jesus and even our own resurrection, it compels us to be more considerate of the way that we live our lives. Now I want to go into verse 29, and I’ll just read this again. Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead?

If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? Now this scripture has had Bible readers, and scholars, puzzled and confused for over 2,000 years. So if you read this and you’re like, What is that? You’re not alone. But no matter what this means, Paul’s point is clear. If Jesus was resurrected, his followers will be resurrected also. And I’m sure the Corinthians that they understood what Paul was communicating with this statement, and the reasons for us are unknown, but he refers to the baptism of the dead as a way to prove to them that they too will be resurrected and to stop listening and being influenced by the false doctrine of there being no resurrection. And I’ll give us this, there are three possibilities of what this scripture could mean. The first is baptism by proxy. And this refers to baptizing Christians for the dead to save their deceased in the afterlife. Now, this isn’t found anywhere in the Bible, but it was a practice that began to surface in the third century. Then we have metaphoric baptism. And this is, it characterizes a non-literal baptism of suffering, often leading to premature death.

It’s similar to the baptism Jesus describes in Mark 10:38. I would say maybe start that if you’re taking some notes. But what that says is, and this is the words of Jesus, Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with? That’s just a reference as we think about metaphoric baptism. Then we have ordinary baptisms. Essentially, that’s what we know baptism to be, someone being immersed in water for the forgiveness of sins, receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, and joining God’s church. Our very own Greek philosopher, Marcus Overtree, actually wrote a research paper on verse 29 this summer, and it explores these three possibilities. And if you would like to explore this deeper, he would be glad to share it with you. But again, church, we simply don’t know what exactly Paul meant when he said this. That’s the day. Yeah, we don’t know. But no matter what he meant, it does not affect the greater point he is making about the truth of our own to come. Amen? Amen. Now, something else we can see about Paul is that he longed for his resurrection. Thinking about the resurrection made Paul joyful, inspired, and evangelistic as a disciple of Jesus.

No matter what he faced or the suffering he went through, he longed for his resurrection. He was dedicated and devoted to the resurrection. This bled into the way that he lived his life. He picks up in verse 30 and says, Why do we endanger ourselves every hour? When we think about the life of a Christian, especially during this time in the scriptures, Christians were mocked, they were beaten, they were stoned, and even murdered for their faith. Paul was a man willing to sacrifice his own time, his own energy, and his own life. He says he faced death every day. He was willing to die, even dying for himself. And we can even see the accounts of Paul’s life where he literally would be in danger. You don’t have to turn there, but a noteworthy comment from Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:8 says, We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despair of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God, who raises the dead.

He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us again. On him, we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us. Paul’s hope was in the resurrection. He understood that the life that he chose to live as a Christian would be a life of hardship, potentially torment. But with his eyes fixed on Jesus, he knew what await him in the end. How often do you consider the resurrection? The resurrection of Jesus? And even your own resurrection? And when we take these things into consideration, again, as I said before, this compels us and moves us to truly live a life knowing that we have been redeemed, but also knowing what awaits us in the end. For someone who may not consider this guarantee from God that we too will experience resurrection just as Christ has, they could possibly fall into this mindset. Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die. If there is no resurrection, then we should be able to just find all the meaning and joy and satisfaction and the things of this world. But we must live our lives with the assurance that there is a resurrection, and the decisions that we make in life do matter.

Being a Christian is not always easy, but we must remember that we have a resurrection that we can look forward to. That suffering on this earth won’t be long, but when Christ returns, we have a home in heaven. Let’s close out with verses 33-34. Paul, says that bad company corrupts good character. We often use this verse to help us stray away from bad influences. You could use the scripture in that way, but that’s not exactly what Paul is talking about. I’m in context, Paul is saying, don’t hang around with people not focused on the resurrection. Don’t spend a lot of time with people who are caught up in the drama and the desires of this world. Even Christians. And a sobering question to ask ourselves is, Am I someone who is a good company or bad company? And then in verse 34, Paul rebukes the Corinthians Church. He says, Come back to your senses as you are and stop sinning. For there are some who are ignorant of God. I say this to your shame. Paul didn’t want the Corinthians to be swept away not only by the teachings and the false teachings and opinions of others but their own sin.

And I want to implore us and really encourage us. If there is any sin we need to be open about, do it. Reach out to someone. Seek to be close to and lean on God. Sin blinds us from who we were created to be, and it hinders us from reflecting on the glory of our own resurrection. And some encouragement that I want to leave with us is that God wants us to know that what we will receive will be so much better than what we could ever ask or imagine. Being able to experience resurrection is one of the best things, if not the best, that can happen to a Christian. When we reflect on the glory of resurrection, we will no longer fear death. Funerals become graduation ceremonies. Death becomes a course to a new life. And too many times, we view dead Christians as if they are missing out on the party. And that’s completely wrong if we reflect on the glory of the resurrection. I have a couple of challenges for us today, and I didn’t put it up just because it’d be pretty brief. But for the disciples here today, do some self-reflection.

Take some time to consider your resurrection in Christ. I remember before I was studying the Bible, before I was baptized, I wrote a letter to God, just sharing how grateful I am to experience not only resurrection at baptism but also the opportunity to experience eternal life. Maybe you could write a letter to God, just being vulnerable with God about where you’re at, but also your gratitude for experiencing resurrection. I say that because, again, we must remember that Satan desires to steer you off course, but focus on the glory of the resurrection. And if you’re here, you’re seeking God, you desire to have a relationship with God. You desire to experience this resurrection that Paul is talking about. We would love to show you the word of God, and what it means to live a resurrected life. But we, too, desire for you to experience this resurrection that is a guarantee from God.

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