Thu, Jul 15, 2004

I CORINTHIANS 15:1-34

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.

I CORINTHIANS

 

            Please turn in your Bibles this evening to I Corinthians chapter 15 as we continue our study through the Word of God.  This chapter deals with doctrine and specifically the doctrine of the resurrection.  Without the resurrection of Jesus our faith would be in vain and thus, the enemy tries to negate the resurrection and sadly, many believe his lies.  The great 18th century British philosopher, John Locke said this regarding the resurrection, “Our Saviour’s resurrection is truly of great importance.  In Christianity, so great that his being or not being the Messiah stands or falls with it.”  Thus, this is a very important subject for us to understand and it will take us two weeks to get through this chapter for Paul is going to go into great detail regarding the resurrection and what it is all about.

            We are going to see Paul give to us six important facts about the resurrection in this section:  Christ rose from the dead – I Corinthians 15:1-11; Why the resurrection of Christ is important – I Corinthians 15:12-19; The resurrection order – I Corinthians 15:20-28; Moral implications of Christ’s resurrection – I Corinthians 15:29-34; The bodily resurrection of the dead – I Corinthians 15:35-50; and The bodily resurrection or translation of the living – I Corinthians 15:51-58.  And as Paul concludes this section he gives this powerful edification and it is basically saying, in view of all of this, Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.  I Corinthians 15:58.  With that said let’s begin reading in verse 1 of I Corinthians chapter 15 and see what the Lord has for us this evening.

I CORINTHIANS 15

 

VERSES 1-2

            Some may argue, “Where is the evidence of the resurrection?”  Paul tells the Corinthians that they themselves are evidence of the power of the Gospel which includes the resurrection of Jesus.  Paul preached the Gospel to them, they received it, placed their feet firmly upon it and through it they were saved.  The same is true today as Paul said in Romans 1:16-17, For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’

            Of this, church historian Kenneth Scott Latourette wrote in the History of the Expansion of Christianity:

            It was the conviction of the resurrection of Jesus which lifted his followers out of the despair into which his death had cast them and which led to the perpetuation of the movement begun by him.  But for their profound belief that the crucified had risen from the dead and they had seen him and talked with him, the death of Jesus and even Jesus himself would probably have been all but forgotten.

             - Kenneth Scott Latourette, History of the Expansion of Christianity, Vol. 1, p. 59

            Think about it.  Mohammed died on June 8, 632 at the age of 61 in Medina.  His tomb is visited by tens of thousands of people each year, but what are they going to see?  They come to mourn his death not celebrate his resurrection!  But we, as Christians, don’t go to visit an occupied tomb but we come to see the risen Lord for as He rose from the dead it gives to us assurance of the new life we have in Him, the forgiveness of sins and the resurrected life that is to come!  Here is the thing, do you want to mourn over a dead spiritual leader or rejoice in the risen Lord?

            In verse 2 Paul says, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you -- unless you believed in vain.  From this some have come to the faulty conclusion that we must hold onto our faith for if we don’t, we will be lost, we will lose it!  Think about that for a minute with this illustration.  Noah’s ark is a picture of our salvation.  God called Noah to come into the ark and God calls us to come to Christ.  God closed the door of the ark once Noah was inside and sealed him in, God seals us into the faith after we believe.  One thing I want you to note is that God did not instruct Noah to put pegs on the outside of the ark and then told Noah and his family to hold on tight and if you can hold on till the end you will make it!  I think The Living Bible gives to us a clear understanding of this verse as it tells us, and it is this Good News that saves you if you still firmly believe it, unless of course you never really believed it in the first place.

            Paul is speaking of people that may be religious but they are not saved.  Jesus spoke of them in Matthew 7:21-23, Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’  You see, it is obedience and continuing in the faith that shows we are saved, it doesn’t save us, only Jesus can save!

VERSES 3-4

            The Gospel means “good news” and it could be any good news but the message of Christ’s life, His death and His resurrection from the dead for the forgiveness of our sins is great news in a world that is dark, discouraging, without hope many times!

            Some of you may remember L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer and he and another man got together and decided to make up a religion, called it Scientology and he was right, people are gullible for many today follow this religion that was born out of the heart of man not from God!  Paul tells us that this Gospel did not originate from his own heart, his own mind, but from the Lord Himself.  Paul, in Galatians 1:11-12 tells us, But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.  For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.

            What did Paul receive and then give to the people in Corinth?  The good news, the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is seen in His death for our sins. As Jesus hung on the cross of Calvary the sins of the world were placed on Him.  It is as Isaiah 53:6 says, All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”  He was buried in a tomb as Isaiah 53:9 tells us, And they made His grave with the wicked -- But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth.  And He rose from the dead on the third day all in fulfillment of what the Scriptures said.

            Now where in the Old Testament does it speak of the Messiah, of Jesus being three days in the tomb before He would rise from the dead?  Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:39-40, An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.  For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.  So Jonah’s experience in the belly of the whale was a type of Christ and what He would do, rise on the third day!

            Peter, on the day of Pentecost tells us in Acts 2:25-32 as he quotes out of Psalm 16 for this illustration, For David says concerning Him: ‘I foresaw the LORD always before my face, For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken.  Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope.  For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy one to see corruption.  You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.’  Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.  Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.  This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.  The Jews believed that after 4 days in the tomb the body was corrupted and thus, Jesus rose on the third day!

The Old Testament is filled with illustrations, pictures of the Messiah rising on the third day and yet, for many, they don’t want to be bothered with the truth, they are happy where they are at but they won’t be happy where they are going if they continue to reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

VERSES 5-7

            By the mouth of two or three witnesses it is to be established and in a court of law, two witnesses are sufficient but here we see over 500 witnesses of the risen Lord, many who were still alive when Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians so what Paul said could be checked out, it was not a friend of a friend was told that her sister’s brothers friend saw the risen Lord, they could go right to the source!  Yes, no one saw the actual resurrection of Jesus but many saw the risen Lord! Of this Spurgeon said, “I suppose, brethren, that we may have persons arise, who will doubt whether there was ever such a man as Julius Caesar, or Napoleon Bonaparte; and when they do, - when all reliable history is flung to the winds, - then, but not till then, may they begin to question whether Jesus Christ rose from the dead, for this historical fact is attested by more witnesses than almost any other fact that stands on record in history, whether sacred or profane.”

            The James spoken of here is probably the half-brother of Jesus who became a believer after the death and resurrection of Jesus. He was also the leader in the church in Jerusalem according to Acts chapter 15 and the author of the epistle or letter of James.  What changed James?  The risen Lord! What changes us?  The risen Lord!

VERSES 8-11

            Paul was an apostle but not numbered with the 12, he was an apostle to the Gentiles and he was born in God’s time. And here is an issue that grieved Paul’s heart and caused him to work even harder sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that is the persecution of the church he perpetrated before he was saved.  In Galatians 1:13 Paul said, For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it.  Listen to how The Amplified Bible translates this verse, You have heard of my earlier career and former manner of life in the Jewish religion (Judaism), how I persecuted and abused the church of God furiously and extensively, and [with fanatical zeal did my best] to make havoc of it and destroy it.

            Please understand that this did not paralyze Paul, it motivated him as he tells us in Philippians 3:13-14, Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  By God’s grace he was saved and by God’s grace he was changed just as we are.

            Now some Christians believe if it is work, then it is not of God!  How foolish!  Yes, we are to trust God, rely on His strength, be directed by Him and then we are to work as hard as we can, that is what Paul is saying here.  And the focus of his ministry, the focus of the other apostles was to habitually preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that people may believe for if we don’t, then the grace of God in our lives is empty!

            As we have seen in I Corinthians 15:1-11, Christ rose from the dead, it is the heart of the Gospel and there were eyewitnesses who could testify of His resurrection, they saw the risen Lord, over 500 people!  Now, in I Corinthians 15:12-19 we will be looking at why the resurrection of Christ is important.

VERSES 12-13

            It is not that the Corinthians didn’t believe in the resurrection of Jesus, but they didn’t believe in the resurrection of their own bodies.  Thus, Paul is saying if they deny our own resurrection then you have to deny the resurrection of Jesus, you can’t have one without the other! Now Paul is going to drive home this point and show them the foolishness of believing or should I say not believing in the resurrection of our bodies.

VERSES 14-19

            First of all if Christ did not rise from the dead then what Paul and the apostles were preaching was empty, there was nothing to it, which brings them to an empty faith!  Secondly, if they were preaching a resurrected Christ and knew that He did not rise from the dead, they didn’t see him, they would be liars and people would have believed a lie!  But even worse, if Christ did not rise from the dead then our faith is empty and we are still lost in our sins!  Do you see how important the resurrection of Christ is?  You see, if death had power over Jesus, if He was defeated by death, then Jesus is not God and if He is not God then He can’t pay the penalty for our sins! And, as I have said, our sins are still upon us because if Jesus Christ is not risen, He can’t save us!

            Paul continues on and says that if Christ hasn’t risen from the dead then those that have died in Christ have perished, there is no hope, life is over!  The conclusion is simple, if we have placed our hope in an empty faith, if we are still in our sins, then we are the biggest fools around! In fact, we are the most pitiable, the most pathetic people around!  But Paul is not going to leave us in this hopeless condition for he tells us, But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  I Corinthians 15:20.  We will deal more with that glorious truth in a minute.

            On this Spurgeon tells us, “The fact is, that the sliver thread of resurrection runs through all the blessings, from regeneration onward to our eternal glory, and binds them together.” Look t how it is played out in our lives:

  • The divinity of Jesus rests on the resurrection of Jesus – and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.   Romans 1:4.
  • The sovereignty of Jesus rests on the resurrection of Jesus - For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. Romans 14:9.
  • Our justification rests on the resurrection of Jesus – who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.”  Romans 4:25.
  • Our regeneration rests on the resurrection of Jesus – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  I Peter 1:3.
  • Our ultimate resurrection rests on the resurrection of Jesus – But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.  Romans 8:11.

            Most of you remember Houdini, the great magician.  Houdini claimed that on the 50thanniversary of his death he would come back from the dead.  Thus, on that date a group of his followers gathered together at his grave site in San Francisco waiting for him to return, and they waited, and waited and nothing happened, maybe he got lost?  You see, the tomb of Jesus is empty, He did rise from the dead and Paul is going to expound on that now in I Corinthians 15:20-28 as he speaks of the resurrection order.  Not only did Christ rise from the dead but we too will rise from the dead one day, we will get new bodies for our spirit and soul to dwell in!

VERSES 20-23

            Paul has given us the facts of Christ’s resurrection, the eyewitness testimony, and now he is just restating that fact – Christ is risen!

            Firstfruits was a Jewish feast that took place on the day after the Sabbath following Passover.  At this feast, which took place in the spring, they would bring a sheaf of grain and wave it before the Lord and it represented a fruitful harvest that was to come as they gave to the Lord. (Leviticus 23:9-14).  Jesus rose from the dead on the Feast of Firstfruits and thus, as Paul said in Romans 6:5, For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.  It is as Trapp said, “As in the Firstfruits offered to God, the Jews were assured of God’s blessing on the whole harvest; so by the resurrection of Christ, our resurrection is insured.”  It is as Paul said in Romans 8:23, Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

            Paul continues on and shows us that through Adam we have all be born into that sin nature and with it came spiritual death, separation from God.  But Christ has come to give us life once again as Paul said in I Timothy 2:4-6, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.  Now please don’t come to the wrong conclusion that Paul is saying or speaking of some kind of universal salvation, where everyone is saved in the end, that is not at all what he is saying here in Corinthians.  Listen carefully to what he does say, all who are IN Adam will die and all who are INChrist will be made alive!  Thus, if you are not in Christ, if He is not your Lord and Savior, then you will not enter into that eternal life with him, your spirit will remain dead because we have all been born in to Adam and thus, we need to be born again!

It is as Paul said in Romans 5:12-21, Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned -- (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.  Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.  But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man's offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.  And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.  For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.  For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous.  Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

            Christ is the beginning, He was the firstfruits and there is coming a bountiful resurrection from the dead.  The word coming is PAROUSIA in the Greek and in general terms it speaks of a person’s appearance.  But when it is spoken of Christ, it relates to His second coming, as Matthew 24:27 tells us, For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.

            Now for some, they have a hard time with Jesus being the firstfruits because we read in several instances in the Bible of people who were raised from the dead long before Jesus was!  So how could Jesus be the first?  Think about it for a minute, they died and were resurrected once again in their physical bodies that eventually died once again but Jesus was raised in glory, He received a new body that will never fade away and that is what we are waiting for in our own lives. Thus the order is as follows: Jesus is the start, He is the firstfruits of the harvest that is coming. Then there is the harvest of the saints which has an order:  From Pentecost till the Lord comes in the rapture all the dead and those who are alive will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and receive our new  bodies.  (I Thessalonians 4:16).  Next are those who come to Christ during the tribulation period and are martyred for their faith, they will receive their resurrected bodies at the end of the tribulation period.  (Revelation 20:4).  The Old Testament saints some feel will receive their resurrected bodies here at the end of the tribulation period while others feel it will be at the time of the rapture.  (Daniel 12:2).  Lastly, those who are born during the millennial kingdom and those who enter into the millennial kingdom after the tribulation, those who survive the tribulation period and are saved will get their resurrected bodies at the end of the kingdom age, after Satan’s short rebellion. There is an order!

VERSES 24-28

            After all of this; the rapture, the kingdom age, the short-lived rebellion of Satan at the end of the kingdom age, Jesus will present the completed work to God the Father. There will be no more rebellion, God is in control and we will enter into that everlasting life with Him in the new Heavens and the new Earth!  There will be no more death!  But why do we as Christians have to die now?  Because these physical bodies can’t enter into the kingdom of God, we must be changed, we must be transformed and so as these physical bodies go back to the dust of the earth, God will be giving to us a glorified body for our spirit and soul to dwell in at the time of the rapture, and these new bodies will never fade away!

            As some read these verses they try to say that Jesus is inferior to God the Father and thus He is a lesser God, not Almighty God!  That is totally wrong and does not follow what the Scriptures teach but those false doctrines are nothing more than doctrines of demons!  Hodge put it this way, “The son of a king may be the equal of his father in every attribute of his nature, though officially inferior. So the eternal Son of God may be coequal with the Father, though officially subordinate.”  In John 10:30 Jesus said, I and My Father are one.

            This one verse proves the Deity of Jesus, and of course there are many others.  This verse shows that Jesus is equal with the Father.  You see, the word that Jesus used for one in the Greek is HEN and it does not speak of Jesus and the Father being one identical person, for all those who are Jesus only people!  It speaks of them being one in essence!  You see, the Father is God, The Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, but don’t make the mistake as some do and say that the Father is the Son and the Son is the Father, that is not at all what is being said. Thus, the Scriptures teach one God manifested in three distinct persons; Father, Son and Holy Spirit!  Thus, Jesus willingly submitted Himself to the authority of the Father even though they are equal, they are one, they are God!

            Now Paul moves on to the moral implications of Christ’s resurrection in I Corinthians 15:29-34.

VERSES 29-32

            What in the world is Paul talking about here when he speaks of baptizing the dead?  The Mormons believe that those who have died outside the Mormon faith can be saved if you are baptized for them, that is why genealogies are so important to them, you don’t want to forget anyone!  That is just foolish for Paul tells us in Hebrews 9:27, And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.

Paul’s point is simple even though there are some thirty ways this verse here in Corinthians has been interpreted. He is saying, “If you do not believe in the resurrection of your body then why do you baptize the dead?  If there is no life after death your actions are foolish!”  You see, it was a common pagan practice that he is not saying we should do, only that there is the resurrection of these bodies and if the pagan’s believe it, why didn’t they?  And truthfully, if there is no resurrection why would Paul put his life in jeopardy, he might as well eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you die!

VERSES 33-34

            The Corinthian believers picked-up this evil doctrine by associating themselves with the unsaved who either didn’t believe in the resurrection or had bizarre ideas about it.  Was this such a big deal?  You bet because the resurrection is the heart of the Gospel and without it, it lead them into immorality!  Paul says they were resisting the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives, this transformation process.  Denying God’s Word leads to sin. You see, false teachers, false doctrine does not lead a person to holiness!  Paul wants them to wake-up to this truth and not to travel down this road of sin any longer!

            Obviously we will not be able to finish this chapter tonight so next week we will pick-up with the bodily resurrection of the dead in I Corinthians 15:35-50 and we will finish up this great chapter dealing with doctrine, the doctrine of the RESURRECTION!

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