Title: The Resurrection of Believers
Text: 1 Corinthians 15.35-57
Introduction: Ps 119.18: I came across a quote recently. I had seen it before. But, it got me thinking about the issue of how we live out our faith.
Mark Dever, writing on this issue: If Spurgeon, Luther, Moody, or some other preacher from another century were to ‘wake up’ and observe our ‘Christianity’ would they even recognize this faith that bears the same name as their own? Or, what about some other Christian from earlier, say, Augustine or Clement – would they recognize Christianity? Or, Dever then asks this question: have we shunned the gospel for so long, that it is no longer even recognizable to the saints of old?
Here are the 3 parts of 1 Cor. 15:
- The Foundational Element of the Gospel is the Resurrection (1-17)
- The Faithful’s Example in living out the Gospel was their hope of a future Resurrection (18-34)
- The Future Experience of the Resurrection is still our hope (35-58)
Let’s Review: three weeks ago, we looked at the Gospel. Paul gives the components or elements to the Gospel story quite often. Look at v1-4; Namely,
- Christ died (for sins),
- he was buried,
- he was raised,
This resurrection of Christ was validated by hundreds of people (so says vs 5-11).
In v12-34, we looked at the hope of a future resurrection for believers who’ve died. Added to this, our WEBS focused on 1 Thessalonians 4.13-18, where Paul describes the resurrection of those he refers to as “those who have fallen asleep” (cf.: 15.6, 18, 20). There is a 4th element to the Gospel message that we see quite often and that is:
- Jesus will come again. That’s the hope that we believers have for end times. We identify this apocalyptic time in v21-28; 1 Thessalonians (4) is so helpful here in clarifying for us just what that will look like. When Christ returns, for those who have gone before, they will rise first, then we who are alive will be raptured together with them and so we will be with the Lord forever.
- More specifically, we understand at death, the body gives up the spirit. The body is buried in the earth or sea. The spirit is with Jesus. To be absent from this body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor 5.8). And, as we see in Zechariah 14.5 and 1 Thessalonians 4.15-16, The Lord returns with those who’ve gone before. On his return the bodies are resurrected, the sea will give up their dead and the tombs will give up their dead. We will receive a new body… that’s what our passage today is all about.
And so we pick up in v35.
Read 1 Corinthians 15.35f; here we see the first of two requirements in this experience.
- Death: it’s that 1st death I was telling you about last week. Do you remember? Jesus mentions the two births in John 3 to Nicodemus: There is a birth, being born of the water. What happens to a woman who is about to give birth? Her water breaks. That first birth is being born of the flesh. That’s this tent we live in. The 2nd birth is being born of the spirit. That is that moment when we receive Christ as Savior.
The CIT (Central Idea of the Text) sometimes I call this the “Big Idea”, remains the same. Paul has been encouraging them to stand firm in their faith. (1f; 34; 58; ill.: Master and Commander of the Far Side of the Sea).
Their call to stand firm and be immovable is a strong challenge to them. And, it is for us, too. We’re not experiencing the level of persecution they were, but we’re challenged nonetheless! Especially in this day and age in the US.
And the truth is, there are more martyrs dying for Christ around the world today, than at any other time in history! And, as each day passes by, as we move closer to the return of Christ, that threat is a very real threat for you and for me, too.
Let me ask: are you up for the challenge? If the realities of Revelation come to pass in our lifetime, are you up for that challenge? Either way, death comes, it is the first reality in a move toward the resurrection.
exp.: rd v36-49;
transition: Then, there is a 2nd element to experiencing this resurrection from the dead.
exp.: rd v 50-57; I tell you a mystery;
ill.: some folks think that to live by faith, you must walk blindly. Nah, I don’t think so. There is valid evidence for the things we believe. I think of evolutionary theorists and how they come up with their theories. And yet, we have the same evidence, we only filter what we see through what we know with Scripture, and then it all makes sense. Yes, it involves faith, but there is a valid, intellectual side to it, too.
t.s.: And honestly, I think that is Paul’s goal here. Point: we have hope in a future resurrection because we have a resurrection that took place as evidence. Furthermore, there are valid witnesses to corroborate this event.
Truth #1: The Resurrection is an essential element of the Gospel Message. Truth #2: The Resurrection is validated by the tremendous body of evidence. Truth #3: The Resurrection can only be experienced through Death and Faith. Truth #4: is presented in v 58, the culmination of what he’s been driving at since v1.
The Effect: The Resurrection will affect your life and how you live. (58)
exp.: ὥστε; Marker of result; Because of this; For this reason; then you should – One vb: to be; become; γινομαι; two adjectives to describe; two participles (verbal adjectives) to describe;
- Become steadfast; this info, the gospel message, the overwhelming evidence, and the explanation of how it will all be, should plant you firmly where you are; and
- Become immovable – this info should not only plant you firmly but make you immovable; there is a 3rd description of what this does to you;
- Abounding in your Work;
ill.: 10 missionaries murdered in Afghanistan in 2010; or, The 5 Ecuadorian Missionaries in 1955; Lost people don’t get why we do what we do! They say, “They didn’t have to die!” Listen, We’re not afraid of death! We, believers, don’t do our work for money, prestige, or power. Some of those missionaries were doctors who left lucrative medical practices to help the poor! Christians do their work, because of this last PTC mentioned: we know
4. Knowing your work isn’t empty; κενός; Phil 2.5; I love this word knowing – this is faith in action! Heb 11.1
t.s.: When you gain an understanding of the resurrection, not just of Christ’s, but even your own: The Resurrection will affect your life and how you live. – and might I add, how you die.
Conclusion: I’d like to close with a video of Jordan Peterson. Dr. Peterson is a clinical Psychologist and a new believer. He’s also one of the smartest people on the planet. He began posting his classes at the University of Toronto in the early years of YouTube. So, there are 1,000s of hours of his lectures available. Anyway, while speaking in Australia, he was caught off guard by the high volume of questions concerning his belief in God. That’s a part of his story here.