The Reality of the Resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:12-34
But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. – 1 Corinthians 15:20 NLT
The future resurrection of the dead may have been in question with some of the believers in Corinth, but Paul affirmed it’s reality. His argument was that if there is was no such thing as a future resurrection of the dead, then Christ Himself was not resurrected. Their rejection of the doctrine of bodily resurrection had ramifications. It eliminated the possibility of Christ having been resurrected from the dead. “And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless” (1 Corinthians 15:14 NLT). And if there was no such thing as the resurrection of the dead, then Paul and the other apostles were nothing more than liars, having taught that God raised Jesus from the dead. Without the doctrine of the resurrection, there is no such thing as a risen Savior, forgiveness of sin, or an eternal estate. All it would leave us with is the present reality of this world, then death.
One of the things that jumps out at me in this passage is the danger of human logic and reason. When men begin to try and explain away what they see as difficult to understand, it almost always leads to heresy. The Corinthians were wrestling with their cultural concept of the dichotomy between the flesh and the spirit, the body and the soul. They had been indoctrinated with the idea that the body was material and therefore evil. But the soul was spiritual and therefore good. So the idea of a resurrection of the body was inexplicable to them. They couldn’t fathom how that could be. So their human reasoning kicked in and they simply denied the possibility of a bodily resurrection. It didn’t matter to them what God may have to say about the subject. They had reached their conclusion and were completely comfortable with it. But Paul wasn’t. He wanted them to understand the dangerous ramifications of their human reasoning. By denying the bodily resurrection of the dead, they were denying the very thing that was the key to their forgiveness and future glorification: The resurrection of Jesus. When God raised Jesus from the dead, it was not just to prove His own power, but as a precursor of what was to come. As Paul said, “Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died” (1 Corinthians 15:20 NLT). Paul made a comparison between Jesus and Adam. When Adam sinned, he brought death (both physical and spiritual) to the world. When Jesus was raised from the dead, He brought new life (both physical and spiritual) to the world. Paul gave them a glimpse into the future when he wrote, “Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back” (1 Corinthians 15:23 NLT). He is referring to the Rapture of the Church. Paul goes into greater detail about this future event in his letter to the Thessalonian believers. “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NLT). Just a few verses earlier in this passage, Paul made it clear that when Christ returns for His Church, He will be accompanied by all the believers who have died. But then he wrote that all “the Christians who have died will rise from their graves.” They will return in their spirit form, but will be reunited with their resurrected, renewed bodies. And those believers who are alive at the time of Christ’s return will also be given new bodies. Paul addresses that a few verses later in this section of his letter to the Corinthians. “It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies” (1 Corinthians 15:52-53 NLT).
The resurrection of our earthly bodies is a non-negotiable aspect of our faith as believers. God is not redeeming just a part of us, but all of us. He is going to restore ALL things, not just some things. He will redeem and restore what has been marred by sin, including all of creation and our bodies. All that God made in the physical universe He deemed as good. But it has all been damaged by sin. God will restore it all. He will bring back to life even those bodies that have been dead and buried for centuries. But if none of this is true, and there is no resurrection, then as Paul said, “Let’s feast, and drink, for tomorrow we die!” (1 Corinthians 15:32 NLT). But Paul also warned the Corinthians to avoid people who thought that way. He wanted them to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the resurrection was a reality. Christ Himself was proof of it. And His own resurrection was ample evidence and assurance of our own future resurrection. It’s going to happen. We don’t know when or how, but it is going to happen. “So encourage each other with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18 NLT).
Father, thank You for this timely reminder. We live in a world where everything is growing old, decaying, and falling apart. While I have Your Spirit living within me, my body continues to show the effects of sin. But there is a day coming when I will receive a new, resurrected body. You will make all things new, including my own physical body. Your work of transformation in my life will be complete and whole, because You don’t do anything halfway. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men