Resurrection: Reason We Hope

1 Corinthians   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  49:58
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Last week, we began our 3 week study on a critical topic… the topic of the… Resurrection. Chapter 15 deals intensely with this really important subject. Why is the resurrection so important? Resurrection is the power of the Gospel message. Without Christ’s resurrection, there is no salvation. Without resurrection, who we believe God and Jesus to be is all a lie. Without resurrection, there is no purpose to being here. Therefore, it is the reason we Preach as we discussed last week.

I. Reason We Preach

A. It’s Irrefutably True (v.1-11)

B. It’s Essential to our Faith (v.12-19)

as Paul concluded his logical thoughts about the what-ifs of the resurrection, he says,
1 Corinthians 15:19 ESV
If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
Christ’s resurrection doesn’t just become the reason we preach for today only, but Christ’s resurrection also becomes, point number 2 which we will discuss today, the Reason We Hope. It’s not just hope for today, but hope for our eternity. As we addressed last week, and as the Corinthians missed big time, Christ’s resurrection is so intertwined with our own resurrection so that death for us is not the end, but rather the beginning of something far greater.

II. Reason We Hope (v.20-28, 35-57)

It’s not just hope for today, but hope for our eternity. As we addressed last week, and as the Corinthians missed big time, Christ’s resurrection is so intertwined with our own resurrection so that death for us is not the end, but rather the beginning of something far greater.
After discussing the logical proofs so to speak of the Resurrection of Christ and of the dead, Paul adamantly asserts that we don’t need to wonder if Christ has risen, no Christ has factually risen from the dead as He has already built up in the first 19 verses and since He has risen from the dead.... who will be raised to life again?
1 Corinthians 15:20–22 ESV
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
All here, doesn’t mean that all will raised to everlasting life. Yes, in a sense all will be raised from the dead. Some to everlasting life and some to everlasting condemnation.
P.S- An interesting thought or line of study might be to ask the question, why must the dead who have not come to faith in Christ Jesus be raised to life? Why not just let there soul’s remain dead. One note is that in Philippians, we are told that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Christ is Lord. That has a literal meaning as even those who have died without a saving faith in Christ will be risen again to literally bow a literal knee before Christ before facing their ultimate judgement at the Great White Throne Judgement (Rev. 20).
Circling back around to our initial thought, when Paul says all will be raised to life again, Paul is referring to “so also IN CHRIST shall all be made alive.” Paul is referring in this context to only those who have put their faith in Him. All not just some, but all who have done so will be raised to eternal life. Not even one will slip through the gaps. It’s a guarantee! As certain as Christ rising from the dead.
Now I imagine, if you were there when Christ was speaking about the resurrection of the dead or you were in the church of Corinth maybe hearing this for the first time (which I’m thinking this was not their first time), what would your thoughts be about the certainty of the resurrection of the dead? What would your follow questions be in you knew that the resurrection of the dead was a guarantee? Mine would certainly be, well when is this gonna happen and how is this gonna happen? Paul foresees those being asked and even answers there questions on the matter of when and how.
Starting with...

A. The “When” of the Resurrection of the Dead (v.20-28)

Paul begins this section and line of thinking by laying out the Order of the Resurrection. As one that might not be aware, it does not happen all at once and we will see that there is a timeline to this event.

Order of Resurrection:

Last week, we identified that there are two resurrections of the dead. One to life everlasting and one to eternal damnation. John 5:29 and Daniel 12:2. But these also occur at different times.

1. Stages of the First Resurrection

Not only is there a different timing on the resurrections of the just and unjust but I believe that there are stages within the resurrection of the just as Paul here shares as well.
“Christ the Firstfruits” (v.23a)
Scripture has shown many times that Christ has in many way’s given us early glimpses of his plan’s through past events and through symbols in Israel worship system. Take for example, the passover and the rescue from slavery in Egypt. God’s spirit came and would take the life of the firstborn sons unless there was the shed blood of an animal, spotless and pure, on the doorposts of the home. This was to certainly help Israel understand that without the shedding of blood, there can be no remission of sins which would set the stage so nicely when Jesus the spotless lamb of God came and died for our sins, it should have made that clear what was going on. That event, passover, was so important that it become one of the many feasts they celebrated and remembered. But that wasn’t the only feast they celebrated or the only event that had future implications. The feasts of the firstfruits was another one of Israel’s major feasts and celebrations.
Leviticus 23:9–10 ESV
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest,
What was the feast of firstfruits? It was an annual feast that started the beginning of harvest time. The first fruits of the feast was meant to be prelimary deposit, a first installment, an example and guarantee of what is to come.
Example: we yesterday, picked our first corn ears from our “illustrious garden”. Those that came to our home a couple Sunday nights ago now that “illustrious” is far from the truth of our garden. More like the polar opposite. Regardless, we did our first harvest of our ears of corn. What we managed to get were 6 ears of corn, one for each member of the family. Most of the ears of corn were about yah sized and had roughly half or less actual corn on the cobb. It wasn’t super pleasant and not very filling. If this represented what was to come, well we better not tell all the neighbors that we have corn for them this year. Cause in fact, that was likely all the corn we are getting this year. There might be a few straglers, but if they come wont be too good because the staulk itself is quite small and pitiful looking.
Thankfully, when we consider Christ as the firstfruit it is much different.
Christ as firstfruit beautiful protrays what Jesus has done in His resurrection. What He has already accomplished is a prelimary deposit, a first installment, and example and guarantee of what is to come for us as well. So in Christ shall all be made alive.
Dr. Martin DeHaun points out that the harvest was divided into three parts. It was one harvest, the fruit of one season, presented on three different occasions.
And so it is with the resurrection as Paul points. So what is the next stage of resurrection of life or next stage of harvest.
“At His Coming” (v.23b)
1 Corinthians 15:23 ESV
But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
After the firstfruits followed the harvesting of the larger part of the crops.
First and foremost, although not explicit taught here in this passage, scripture is quite clear on the timing of the resurrection of the dead. The exact timing is unknown. No man knows the day or the hour of the Lord’s return.
Mark 13:32 ESV
“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
Though we don’t know the day or the hour, we do know what his coming will include.
1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 ESV
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
So what does that mean for today. Well as Theologian Erich Sauer has written,
1 Corinthians: The MacArthur New Testament Commentary Chapter 42: The Resurrection Plan (15:20–28)

“The present age is Easter time. It begins with the resurrection of the Redeemer and ends with the resurrection of the redeemed. Between lies the spiritual resurrection of those called into life through Christ. So we live between two Easters, and in the power of the first Easter we go to meet the last Easter.”

And note, as Jesus being the firstfruits of things to come, not only does it guarantee a resurrection for us a resurrected bodies like His as well. Romans 6:5
Romans 6:5 ESV
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
And this is what really stands out about Jesus’ coming back to life again. It’s different than the other’s who came back to life. Jesus wasn’t the first. Lazarus or widows son in days of Elijah. These were resuscitated from the dead… Jesus was resurrected. They were brought back in the same bodies as they had before, Jesus resurrected with a new body. Recognizable but different. More will be said of this in the preceeding verses but know that this is what we look forward to!!!
But wait there’s more… going back to the feast of firstfruits, harvest was not yet complete.
“Then Comes the End” (v.24)
Harvesting of the fruit was not complete after these 2 steps. It was not completed until the gleanings are added. Always there are loose ears that fall by the way, and these must be gathered up. This is called the gleaning. We recall how Ruth “came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers” (Ruth 2:3).
So what is the end and what is the gleanings?
Let’s start with “the end”.
Paul makes a few statements on what must be accomplished during that time called “the end.”
What is “the End”
“He Must Reign
Which has been predicted and was promised by way of covenant to the nation of Israel.
2 Samuel 7 tells of the Davidic Covenant made by Nathan the prophet to David that thru one of his descendants a Messiah would rise and establish a kingdom. When is that reign? Is it a spiritual reign or a literal reign on earth. I believe a literal reign more accurately fits within the larger scope of scriptures and that reign is still yet to come. The old testament writes and figures believed his reign to be literal so I believe that it makes more sense to believe it is still coming. There are too many other arguments in favor of a literal reign to be discussed at this time, but even without going outside of the context, I think we can see this. How else is his reign characterized and what does the end look like?
“He Must Destroy Every Rule & Power”
Today, we do not see this yet fulfilled. Many are still ruling in power and not in subjection to Christ. Further, what do we make of the rebellion led by Satan in Revelation chapter 20.
Revelation 20:7–10 ESV
And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
What do we do with this or Ezekiel 38 or the anti-Christ passages in Revelation or the prophecies of the man of lawlessness or the falling away and open rebellion talked about in 1 Thess. 5. And most of all, what do we do with death, the final enemy yet to be destroyed, the last enemy, as our passage indicates. And by the way, who does scripture state is currently the owner of death.
Hebrews 2:14 ESV
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,
So if we are to believe that the Davidic Covenant is fulfilled today in a spiritual sense, then why does death still exist? No, I believe Christ’s completion of the victory over death finds it fulfillment when death is forever gone. And when does that occur?
Revelation 20:11–14 ESV
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
By the way, I love what the imagery that we gain from a thorough understanding of scripture. Christ puts all enemies under His feet.

The figure of putting His enemies under His feet comes from the common practice in ancient times of kings and emperors always sitting enthroned above their subjects, so that when the subjects bowed they were literally under, or lower, than the sovereign’s feet.

Further, we have the imagery of a defeated king. The Conquered King was literally prostrate or lying prone on the ground as the victorious King placed his feet upon the head and neck of the defeated one symbolizing his total subjection to Him. That is what it means that Christ will reign and all enemies defeated.
“Deliver the Kingdom to God the Father”
After all this is fulfilled after the 1,000 year reign, it says that Jesus will deliver the Kingdom of God to the Father. Not a suggestion that Jesus is any lower or of lesser value than God or to be glorified any less than God, but again an act of submission to all the Father has planned as is His part in the trinity.
Why also does He give it over to God. As MacArthur pointed out.

Telos (end) not only can refer to that which is final but also to that which is completed, consummated, or fulfilled. In the final culmination of the ages, when He delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, all things will be restored as they were originally designed and created by God to be. In the end it will be as it was in the beginning. Sin will be no more, and God will reign supremely, without enemy and without challenge. That gives us great insight into the divine redemptive plan. Here is the culmination: Christ turns over the restored world to God His Father, who sent Him to recover it.

So then what are the gleanings? The gleanings are those believers who put their faith in Christ during the tribulation and were martyred for their faith. This lines up with what Scripture tells us.
Revelation 20:4–6 ESV
Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.
All of these things are consistent with the promises of the New Testament and the Gospel. If we were to take a collective look at all the passages in scripture that refer to the end, we would see it encompasses far more the just judgment, but Christ’s return or the Day of the Lord or Day of Christ. Which include many of the components of rapture, tribulation, judgment, establishing of the kingdom, and even reward.
So we have Christ the firstfruits, then we have the harvest or the resurrection of the saved at the rapture, and finally the gleanings or the saved of the seven years’ tribulation period.
Interesting note: some who have trouble with stages of the first resurrection, believing that Jesus taught on one return not many returns, so believe that all the first resurrection needs to occur all at once, meaning the rapture occurs then immediately following it occurs the second coming of Christ. It is interesting to point out though that there is a large gap in the first stage of the resurrection, Christ as firstfruits, then his coming for the saints. I see no reason to have issue with another time of gap between the 2nd and 3rd stage just as there were stages and gaps in the actual harvest celebrated in Israel.

2. Second Resurrection

We’ve seen the “when”ish of the resurrection of the Dead as Paul described but not let’s address the next question of How starting in verse 35. We are skipping verses 29-34 but will come back to them as we finish Revelation 15 by talking about Resurrection being the Reason we Labor.
So the How...

B. The “How” of the Resurrection of the Dead (v.35-57)

1 Corinthians 15:35–36 ESV
But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
Notice as we begin both the question and the reaction it raised from Paul?
You foolish person!
Note of the nature of different words used. Jesus and Paul had called people fools before, but how does this then fit into the warning of Matthew 5:22. Did Jesus break his own command.
Matthew 5:22 ESV
But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
Difference lies in the word usage in Greek.
Aphron: senseless, without thought or reason, rash
Raca- empty, senseless, empty-headed, a term of reproach
Aphron was the term Paul used here. It wasn’t the only time people struggled with believing a resurrection. Acts 26:8
Acts 26:8 ESV
Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?
Here’s the thing and perhaps Paul’s thinking. Why would anyone who acknowledges God as creator think that His restoring bodies, in whatever way, would be any more difficult for Him than making them in the first place!!!
MacArthur notes that these questions asked were not of those of someone who wanted to know and were hungering for the truth, but were the mocking taunts of someone who thought he already knew. Which is what aphron means.... they were rash with their thinking quick to form thoughts and conclusions without actually hearing, learning, and listening to truth.
So to get these ignorant and stubborn people back on tract, he begins to describe by inspiration of the Holy Spirit the Resurrection details. And to begin to help them understand, he first uses...

1). Resurrection Comparisons

To help them understand the resurrection, he compares the resurrection to seedtime and harvest.
1 Corinthians 15:36–38 ESV
You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.
And in this way, it shares 3 comparisons to the seed and harvest.
First, the seed must die.
When a seed is planted in the ground it dies, actually decomposing as a seed: it must cease to exist in its original form as a seed before it can come to life in its final form as a plant. Jesus said as much in John 12:24
John 12:24 ESV
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
Second, there is a remarkable difference in the forms of the seed and the crop. So too is there a difference in our bodies now and then after the resurrection. We talked about Jesus’ resurrected body already. What was different about it? Now I don’t know all the details here, Jesus’ body showed scares. Will our scares be present on our resurrected bodies? Certainly an interesting question. But what is true of his resurrected body was the fact that it was no longer limited by time, space, or even material substance. He entered rooms without using doors. Appear and disappear seemingly at will. Incredible really.
Third, the plant is still directly linked to the seed from which it came from… meaning that there is still resemblance there. This is what is meant when it says “but God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own.” A wheat seed does not become barley, nor a flax seed become corn. When Jesus rose, he was recognizable to His disciples.

Surely it is not too hard to believe that the God who has worked this process daily through the centuries in His creation of plants, can do it with men.

Paul then uses the illustrative comparisons of the created world to further help them understand the difference between the physical bodies they have now and the resurrected bodies believer’s will have later.
Look first at all that God has created in this world.
1 Corinthians 15:39 ESV
For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.

Seeing the vast differences in God’s creation, we should not question His ability to create bodies that are different and yet continuous.

Then he speaks about the heavenly bodies, the stars, moons, heavenlies.
1 Corinthians 15:40–41 ESV
There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
And these offer a different glory than the glories of earthly bodies. So it is with the resurrection of the dead. Resurrection bodies will differ from earthly bodies just as radically as heavenly bodies differ from earthly. And resurrection bodies will be as individual and unique as are all the other forms of God’s creation.

2). Resurrection Realities

-The Concept (v.42-49)
-The Follow Thru & The Exceptions (v.50-57)
Do we play the part of the fool. Mocking call things impossible and dumb before really having a heart to learn and know. Many doctrines of truth have been rejected simply from a rash thought about God. One such that I often think of is the doctrine of election. It didn’t fit their view of God so rejected all together. Yet, this is rash thinking cause what then do we do with the many verses that talk about election. They can’t simply be cast aside and not believed. But many would form thoughts about things and come to conclusions before they are truly willing to learn or they will simply go on the word of another before actually studying it for themselves. Don’t be a fool.
What great rejoicing will attend the first resurrection! What great anguish at the second! What a responsibility we have to share the Gospel!
As Jude concluded in his letter,
Jude 17–23 ESV
But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.
We too by the recognition we have of the final days, must with greater motivation, with greater anticipation, and greater sympathy, share the gospel because indeed the fire of judgement is coming soon.
Maybe we don’t care, because we don’t know or care about anyone without the truth. I know that feeling. Only knowing people or caring about people that I like, most if not all are “professing Christians.” My challenge is, do you even care. Is there not a soul out there that it would eat you up knowing that their final demise is the lake of fire. Do you even put out the effort to find someone who is lost to care about?
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