THE POWER OF THE RESURRECTION
1 Corinthians 15:12-34
Key Verse: 15:22
"For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”
We have learned the gospel Paul preached. What is the gospel? “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, he was buried, and he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures.” The heart of gospel is Jesus’ death and his resurrection. Through his death, we have been set free from the burden of sin and through his resurrection from the dead we have new birth into the living hope in the kingdom of God. According to this passage, there are two kinds of people in this world. One is in Adam and the other is in Christ. Where you belong to is very important because it determines your final destiny. Those who are in Adam will die because Adam died, but those who are in Christ will live because Christ lives. Through this bible study, we may have the assurance of the resurrection; we may have the hope of the resurrection; we may live with the resurrection faith.
I. Christ has indeed been raised (12-20)
Look at verse 12. "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?” Corinthian believers could not deny the resurrection of Christ because there were evidences and over 500 eye-witnesses of the resurrection. However some of them still could not believe the resurrection of the dead. The resurrection from the dead sounds ridiculously non-sense. It was against Physics, Greek-Philosophies, and even common senses. Do you know what happens to a body after dead? No one might have seen how a human body decomposes. Then, have you ever seen road killed animals? Scattered body parts all over a road or flattened body or rotten body infested with maggots by a roadside. Still can you believe the resurrection from the dead? They might have said, “Yes, we agree that Jesus was raised from the dead; we just do not think that rest of us will be.”
In verses 13-19, Paul tells that what they say is actually spiritual Non-sense. The resurrection from the dead is spiritual common sense. Look at verse 13. “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has not been raised.” According to Paul, denial of the resurrection of the dead means denial of the resurrection of Christ. Jesus’ resurrection is tied with the resurrection of the dead. They did not understand why God raised Jesus from the dead. The resurrection of Christ is not just for Jesus’ sake. It is for the resurrection of the believers. In fact, Jesus was fully human just like us. Jesus was conceived and born as a human. As we learned from Luke’s Gospel, Jesus was circumcised as a baby and he grew in wisdom and stature. In his physical body, Christ suffered and died on the cross. His dead body was taken down from the cross and buried in a tomb. But on the third day, Jesus was raised. The risen Christ showed his physical body that had wounds on his hands, feet and side. He even ate a broiled fish before his disciples. Jesus was raised in a physical body. Just Jesus was raised from the dead, so we will be raised from the dead. Because he lives, we live.
Denying the resurrection of the dead is very serious matter. In verses 14-19, Paul tells the disastrous consequences if there was no resurrection of the dead. Look at verse 14 and 17a. “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” “…your faith is futile.” First, if there is no resurrection, our faith would be useless; in vain. What do we believe and preach? We believe that Jesus Christ is the one and only Son of God; but he died for our sins and rose from the dead on the third day. We believe and preach this gospel because we are saved by this gospel. However, if Christ is not raised, all preaching would have been useless, which simply means a waste of time. If Jesus Christ did not rise, he would be still dead and death would forever be man’s conqueror. How could a dead savior save us from the dead? Who want to put their faith in the Lord if he is dead? Faith in a dead Savior is pathetic. This gospel without resurrection cannot save us.
Look at verse 15a. "More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God..." If there is no resurrection of the dead, every person who claimed to have witnessed the risen Christ and every person who preach the risen Christ is a liar, including Paul and the other apostles. If there is no resurrection, M. John is really bold liar who testified that he was saved by the words of God. Sh. David is really faithful liar who faithfully delivers the gospel of Jesus. If there is no resurrection, Jesus himself would be a chief lair who raised up disciples of lair to lead people to suffer and die for lies. It is nonsense. Because of the gospel, they were rejected, misunderstood, persecuted, and even martyred. There is on one who would die for a lie.
Look at verse 17. "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins." If there is no resurrection, we are still in our sins. This is the most terrifying consequence of if there is no resurrection. If Christ did not rise from the dead, then God has not accepted the payment for our sins; then sin won the victory over him and therefore it will continue to be victorious over all men. Then, when we die, we too will remain dead and condemned. If Christ was not raised, there would be no forgiveness of sins, no justification, no reconciliation, no peace and no eternal life. Simply if there is no resurrection, there would no hope for us at all.
Look at verse 18. "Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost." If there is no resurrection from the dead, then all the ancestors of faith, all apostles, all believers who had died would have forever perished; they were lost forever. We will never see them again, if there is no resurrection.
If Christ is not risen, our preaching is useless; our faith is futile; we become liars; we are still in our sins; we are still under the power of death. As a result, we will be the most pitiful men. Look at verse 19. "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men." The gospel without resurrection is not good news anymore, but really bad news which makes people to be most pitiful who believe for nothing, live for nothing, and suffer and die for nothing.
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead. Look at verse 20. “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead; the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Christ has indeed been raised from the dead. Jesus is alive. The resurrection of Jesus changes everything. It turns things all the way around. All the things previously mentioned were not true at all, but the opposite is true because Christ has been raised from the dead. Because Christ was raised, there will be the resurrection of the dead; we will also be raised from the dead. Because Christ was raised from the dead, the gospel is a good news of great joy for anyone who accept and believe the gospel will be saved. We are saved by faith in this gospel. We are found to be witnesses of the truth and of the living hope. Our sins are forgiven. Those who died in Christ are now with Christ in the kingdom of God. And Christians are the most glorious people in the world. Because Christ was raised, we have forgiveness of sins, justification, reconciliation, peace and eternal life, the gift of God. We have the living hope in the kingdom of God. Come back to your senses! Christ has indeed been raised from the dead!
II. In Christ all will be made alive (20-28)
In this part Paul tells the power of the resurrection. Christ has indeed been raised from the dead! The resurrection of Christ has changed ultimate destination of all mankind from death to life. The resurrection of Christ will bring ultimate victory against the power of death, and restore the kingdom of God. That is the power of the resurrection. Look at verse 20 again. “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead; the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” The resurrection of Jesus is the first fruits of the dead. This comes out of Leviticus 23. The law required farmers to bring the first of the crop to the priests as an offering to the Lord before he began to harvest his crops. The full harvest could not be made until the first fruits were offered. Christ’s resurrection is God’s first fruits of resurrection. This first fruits guarantee the entire harvest of resurrection of all believers. How could this happen?
Look verses 21-22. “For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” Some people may not know where death came from. It did not come through aliens from another planet; not through animals like swine flu or mad cow disease. Death came through a man Adam. Adam yielded to the temptation of the devil and disobeyed God. Because of his disobedience, sin came into the world, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men. The consequence of sin was death for everyone (Ro 5:12). Since then, everyone were held in slavery under the power of death (He2:15). Though men had desire to be holy, but there was no way to reach to the glory of God; there is no way to be free from sin and death. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” In Adam, all die. That was the reality of mankind. In Adam, we were doomed to death.
But one man, Jesus, had changed everything! How? Though Adam disobeyed God, Jesus absolutely obeyed God even to death on the cross. He gave his life as the Lamb of God for the sin of the world. Then God raised Jesus Christ from the dead and made him the first fruits of resurrection. The resurrection of the dead comes through a man, Jesus Christ. One man, Adam brought disaster, death and destruction into the world; but one man, Jesus brought us the forgiveness of sins and the resurrection through his absolute obedience to God. The resurrection of Jesus changes our eternal destiny from death to life. “… as in Adam all die.” This is certain. Those who are identified with Adam is subject to death. “… so in Christ all will be made alive.” Just as certain as death comes to us in Adam, in Christ, the resurrection makes us alive in Christ Jesus. All who believe in him will be made alive in body as well as in spirit.
Our destiny depends on where we belong to – “In Adam” or “In Christ” Since we were born with physical body, we were in Adam. We have inherited his sinful natures. When we remain in Adam, we will follow his footsteps as a slave of sin and death, and eventually fall into God’s eternal judgement. Then, how can we be in Christ? Jesus said, “Come to me…Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…you will find rest for your souls (Mat11:28-29).” “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they were born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit (Jn3:5-6); whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life (Jn 5:24).” Just as we were born in flesh, we need to be born again of the Spirit; we need to learn from Jesus; we need to believe in Jesus. There are numerous testimonies how a sinner has crossed over from death to life by faith in the word of God.
When I was in Adam, I was a slave of fear. Out of fear, I could not say a word before anyone. I was known as a man of few word; but in fact I was a man of fear. When I heard the word of Jesus “Son, your sins are forgiven,” the word of Jesus became the word of life and set me free from fear; set me free from the power of sin and death. The word of Jesus brought me life and changed a man of fear; a man of few word into a bible Teacher and a messenger. Standing here and delivering a message is a miracle of God. In Adam, I might have dead in fear of death. But In Christ Jesus, I have made alive. I have lived a new life with the living hope in the kingdom of God. In Christ, all will be made alive. The Risen Christ has the power to make us alive. In the Risen Christ there is no death; all will be made alive. When will it happen? Verse 23 says, “But each in turn; Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.”
The resurrection of Christ gives us the ultimate victory against the power of death. Look at verses 24-28. Jesus rose again from the dead to reign. After destroying all other evil forces, kingdoms, and even the last enemy - death, Jesus will restore God’s righteous reign to the world creation. Jesus will put everything under God. Sin will no longer reign in the world, but God will rule supremely. Look at verse 28. "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." That is how history ends. God will be all in all. God will be everything to everyone. Jesus’ victory over death through the resurrection promises the ultimate victory for all who are in Christ. Death cannot hold us anymore. There is nothing to be afraid when we live by resurrection faith. In Christ, all will be made alive.
III. I face death every day (29-34)
Some of us may say “so what? Resurrection will happen after death. Now in present there are so many other things we should focus on such as school study, reports, final exams, children’s education, job, house and car maintenance, and so on. It seem like the resurrection of the dead does not give any practical benefits. However, the resurrection of Jesus ought to drastically change how we live. Look at verse 29. I do not know exactly what this means. What motivate people to take such action is the hope of the resurrection. The resurrection faith has a great effect upon us. It will change our life. It will make us do thing that we would not otherwise do.
Paul tells us how the Risen Christ changed his own life. Look at verses 30-31. “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.” In reality, Paul’s life was full of suffering and danger while he lived as a missionary across Asia Minor and Europe. Before he met Jesus, he had been full of selfish ambition for power and recognition. He had spent all his money, time, and strength just to build up his carrier. The Risen Christ changed his life; the hope of the resurrection changes him. With the resurrection faith he literally face death every day to preach the gospel of Jesus. Seeking the living hope in the kingdom of God, he lived for the glory of God with all his strength, all his money, all his time and all his life. Then, he could become a powerful gospel worker and experienced the power of the resurrection.
We can say many things about resurrection faith. If we truly believe the resurrection, this faith is reflected in our lives and in the choices we make. The resurrection faith changes how we live life, how we spend our money and our time, and how we invest ourselves. Because Abraham had resurrection faith, he offered Isaac thinking God has the power to raise the dead (Heb 11:19). All the ancestors of faith in Hebrews 11 choose to be mocked, scourged, imprisoned, stoned, afflicted, and even put to death. When Jesus had resurrection faith, he endured the cross and scorned its shame (Heb 12:2). When Paul had resurrection faith, he died everyday and experienced the resurrection life here and now (15:31).
If we do not have this hope, what hope might we have? Look at verse 32. “Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die.” To eat, drink and die will be the rational thing if there were no resurrection. If there were no resurrection, we should party and take life easy. If the dead are not raised, there will be no moral accountability and there will be no need to walk the straight and narrow road. If there were no resurrection, there is no need to get up early and gather daily bread; no need to do Bible Study; no need to write a testimony every week; no need to go out campus; no need to live common life; no need to invite 2 generation; no need to have 5L2F orchestra; no need to gather together and pray. Going out campus; sharing one word of God is like fighting wild beasts. But Christ has indeed been raise from the dead.
“Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Please do not be misled by bad company those who live without resurrection faith. Look verses 33 and 34. "Do not be misled: Bad Company corrupts good character.' Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning..." Those who live without resurrection faith are ignore the power of God which raised Jesus from the dead. We should not be deceived by the world. “Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die.” No! That is not true. Tomorrow we will not die, but tomorrow we all will be raised. Those who seek the hope of this world will be raised to eternal death; God’s eternal punishment. But those who seek the living hope in the kingdom of God will be raised to eternal life. (Jn5:28-29) Paul warns believer not to be fooled by people that deny the resurrection or follow people that purse a party life-style. We need to come back to senses. This is the gospel; Jesus died for our sins, he was buried and he was raised from the dead.
May God bless each of us this week to meditate on the word of God until it changes our hearts. The resurrection faith may strengthen us to preach the gospel of Jesus to all campus. The hope of resurrection may enable us to choose to take up our cross and follow Jesus. The power of resurrection may strengthen us to make decision of faith to be shepherds for this campus.