1 Corinthians 15:20-58

1 Corinthians   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:01:08
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I Corinthians 15:20-58

Last week we started chapter 15 of 1st Corinthians and we made it part way through our chapter, where The Apostle Paul was writing about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, as sort of the first premise of his argument, and now he continues on and begins talking about our resurrection. If you remember Paul presented evidence as if each fact was a witness in the courtroom as he was building his case. And now in verse 20, he stops building his argument, and simply declares the resurrection as fact. Look at it with me.
1 Corinthians 15:20–22 NKJV
20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
Christ has risen from the dead, case closed Paul would say, and not only that, not only was Jesus Christ resurrected from the dead, He was the firstfruits of more resurrections to come. You and I hear the word firstfruits and we try to stretch our 21st century minds to understand what Paul is talking about, and perhaps we think of our own family gardens. And we consider the first of the harvest, maybe some young radishes, or some new potatoes, the first few ears of sweet corn. Those firstfruits, or first veggies are so exciting! SO Jesus was the firstfruits has that sort of meaning, yet these Early Church Saints would have had a broader understanding…Jesus rose from the dead on the Feast of the First fruits.
Many of these believers came out of Judaism, those that didn’t, those that came from paganism still would have been very familiar with the practices and religious customs of that culture. The day of first fruits wasn’t the day everyone went outside and checked their radishes, or dug down to see if there were any potatoes. The day of firstfruits was a specific day on the Jewish calendar, always the day after the Sabbath, but not just any sabbath, the day after the sabbath that followed the passover sacrifice. On the day following the sabbath, that followed the passover, the offering of firstfruits was given to God. It was not a blood offering, it was a grain offering. It didn’t have to be a blood offering, because the passover lamb had just been sacrificed for the atonement of the people....It is very significant that Jesus was resurrected on the feast of the firstfruits, because He was the passover lamb that atoned for our sins perfectly and wholly, making a blood sacrifice no longer necessary!
In Old Testament Judaism, on the day of firstfruits. An offering was brought to the priest. We read about it in Leviticus chapter 23...
Leviticus 23:9–10 NKJV
9 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 10 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest.
So from those first few tender shoots of wheat that would come up from their land, they were to take from the best of it, a sheaf, or a bundle, wrapped with a string and offer that to the Lord, thanking Him for the harvest, acknowledging that it came from Him, but also trusting Him that it was OK to offer that up, because there was more to come. Jesus rose from the grave, was resurrected from the dead, on the feast of firstfruits, indicating that there was more to come, He was the firstfruits of the resurrection that we will be a part of. You and I Christian will one day be resurrected, receiving a glorified body. Brothers, sisters, ... We will finally have the perfect body!
What is that going to be like? I wish I knew more. I love how this book reveals more and more about God and His love for us, but the more I read, the more I want to know. I do know we are going to be like Jesus. In 1 John 3:2 we read...
1 John 3:2 NKJV
2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
SO, we know we are going to be like Him! When we see Him, we will be like Him. Oh, man, doesn’t that make you want to read and reread all of the Gospel accounts of the post resurrection appearances of Jesus!?! We know that He could appear and disappear right? Jesus could enter a room without going through a window or a door. Wouldn’t that take some restrictions off of us? I don’t want to be sacrilegious here, and my heart is not to be, but it fills me with wonder and amazement....was it like the old, old, star track, before it got weird, and Scotty could just beam Capt. Kirk to different places? His body would just kind of go fuzzy and de-materialize and end up somewhere else and all the little pix-elated dots on your TV screen would come back together? I don’t know if that was what it was like! But our resurrected bodies won’t be all Spirit either, right? Because the resurrected Jesus wasn’t all spirit.
Eight days after He first appeared to them, Jesus appeared again to the Disciples, this time Thomas was with them, and He invites Thomas to put his finger here and look at his hands, touch His side to put his finger into His side, to examine the wound (Man, Jesus is cool) isn’t He, I think it’s cool and gross, but mostly cool, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary find the empty tomb and run to tell the Disciples, Matt 28 tells us that Jesus met them and they held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. So glorified body, not just a spirit.
Other accounts tells us that some recognized Him while others didn’t... they were talking and walking with Jesus and didn’t, at least at first, know it was Him. We read that He ate honeycomb and fish, so again, not just Spirit, resurrected Glorified Body, perfect body, see our bodies aren’t made for the eternal, they are just an earthly tent. Paul tells us in second Corinthians...
2 Corinthians 5:1 NKJV
1 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Can you imagine if this was it? If this was all that there was to life, if this was all that there was to us? Like we read in Lamentations, if life under the sun was all there is to it? I personally think it takes more faith to believe that. If this earthly tent was it? How hopeless! Jesus was the first of the resurrection, and then us. Now when? And how? That is an exciting topic, but it’s a whole Sunday morning all by itself, but Paul gives us a clue about the order of events in the next verse, check out verse 23...
1 Corinthians 15:23–24 NKJV
23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.
SO Jesus first, after Jesus those who are Christ’s at His coming - which is speaking of the Rapture of the church and continuing on this first of the resurrection including all those that die in their faith in Christ - up to and including those that come to faith during the tribulation period,... not taking the mark of the beast, or worshiping his image, those that are martyred for their faith, then after that, as a separate event at the end, when He delivers the Kingdom to God the Father and puts and end to all rule and all authority and power.
The second coming of Christ (different from the rapture) when the Lord comes back with us, establishes His kingdom, but the fulfillment of this won’t be fully realized until the second resurrection, again, a whole separate teaching, but after the tribulation period, after the millennial reign, or 1,000 year reign of Jesus Christ, Satan will temporarily be released from the abyss, he will deceive the nations, they have the final battle with God, the Great White throne Judgement happens (all the stuff we see in Revelation 20) and death and Hades give up the dead, of the unsaved, that is the second resurrection. Let’s keep going, verse 25
1 Corinthians 15:25–28 NKJV
25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 27 For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.
Paul clarifies this for us, when all things are put under the Son, that doesn’t mean that one day the Father will be subject to the Son, the Son will always be subject to the Father, equal to the father, remember submissive, does not mean less than. Jesus is equal with the Father, but is, and will remain, submissive to the authority of the Father as part of the order of God.
1 Corinthians 15:29
29 Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead?
1 Corinthians 15:29–32
29 Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead? 30 And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour? 31 I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”
OK, a bunch of stuff here, but I don’t want to get bogged down in it. Verse 29 is where the Mormon church derives it’s heresy of baptising for the dead, it’s not an easy passage, commentaries often just note the number of different interpretations that there are… I think David Guzik says there are 30 different interpretations of it, I read other commentaries that say there are 200 different interpretations of it. Fortunately, you guys go to church here, and I have the right interpretation of it. Pastor Jim told me, Nicole confirmed it, so we’re good…no. But here’s my thought..
First remember this is a corrective letter to a messed up church that has allowed things to get weird, our next verse says don’t be deceived, evil company corrupts good habits, Paul could be saying,...you guys have let the culture around you, the pagan customs and practices mess you up. So maybe they were doing stuff like this. But remember, they were saying they didn’t believe in the resurrection for themselves, even if Jesus had been resurrected from the dead. So Paul could have been saying, if that’s the case, why bother with the baptism of the dead?
That is the Mormon philosophy, it’s why they are the ones to go to if you’re trying to chase down a genealogy. The idea is what if some ancient relative died in their sins without getting baptised, we can trace it back and get dunked for them. There’s lot’s of problems with that, but the biggest is that none of us are saved through baptism. It’s not baptism that saves us.
If we look at the language here, Paul says what will THEY do who are baptized for the dead, why then are THEY baptized for the dead. As in look, we don’t do this, but they do, speaking of the pagan religions around them. Corinthians, even your messed up pagan neighbors understand there is a resurrection of the dead…Paul continues on with some logical arguments...
1 Corinthians 15:30–32 NKJV
30 And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour? 31 I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”
Why in the world live like this if the dead do not rise. Let’s just eat drink and be merry. Why should we suffer? Why should we sacrifice? Why serve one another, why not just serve myself? Why give? Why, why, why, would we forgive? Why should I forgive if the dead do not rise? If we aren’t resurrected why not just live for ourselves? We’d be fools not to. Paul says here...
1 Corinthians 15:33–34 NKJV
33 Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” 34 Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.
Paul transitions here from what if the dead don’t rise, to what if they do!?! What then? What if Jesus is the firstfruits of the resurrection, and there is life after this life and we are resurrected into that? Should I really be glamming out my tent? Putting a hot tub on the deck of my tent? Building a deck at all onto the side of our tent? That sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? Those of you that have ever had tents, you know they are temporary, perishable, prone to decay. They mold, they rot, they get destroyed by mice. If you’re ever looking for a cheap tent, check the dumpster at your closest campground!
Paul says wake up to righteousness, Since there is a resurrection, you should be sharing the gospel. First, you should repent, get baptised or go public with your salvation (don’t be a closet Christian - confess Him before men), seek to know God and do His will, and to make Him known. Paul says some do not have the knowledge of God, and there’s no excuse for that, it’s shameful in a world that has a single Christian in it....vs. 35...
1 Corinthians 15:35 NKJV
35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?”
Don’t misunderstand this gang. Our resurrected bodies are not just an improved version of what we have now. Our resurrected bodies are built for heaven not for earth, or for Hell wherever you’re going. That’s true, these tents aren’t built to sustain eternity, so our new bodies will be different, but recognizable…verse 36...
1 Corinthians 15:36–38 NKJV
36 Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. 37 And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.
God gives it a body as He pleases, all of our DNA can be found in a single cell…when we plant a seed in the ground it dies, and it is transformed. We don’t put a seed in the ground only to get another seed, or a best seed, or the best version of that seed. Do you guys know what this is? I know you can’t really see it, and it’s missing it’s hat, best I could do with four feet of snow on the ground, so I have a picture.
Better? What is it? An acorn. If I plant it in the ground and it dies, and the soil nourishes it, and the clouds give it rain, does it turn into another acorn? What does it become? A mighty Oak tree!
It is transformed, lets look at what Paul says about it...
1 Corinthians 15:39–41 NKJV
39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory.
1 Corinthians 15:42–44 NKJV
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
We inherit our natural body from Adam, and our spiritual from Christ. Sown in weakness, there is no greater weakness than dead, but we are raised perfect, powerful, no more weakness.
1 Corinthians 15:45–47 NKJV
45 And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.
1 Corinthians 15:48–49 NKJV
48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.
Our bodies are like this acorn, like Adam once we die, but then we are given a new body, that will bear the image of the heavenly Man, Jesus. I can’t wait for that…for you guys to be more like Jesus....
1 Corinthians 15:50–53 NKJV
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
In the twinkling of an eye, he’s talking about the rapture here.
1 Corinthians 15:54–56 NKJV
54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.
1 Corinthians 15:56 NKJV
56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.
1 Corinthians 15:57–58 NKJV
57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 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.
58 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.
Your labor is not in vain, meaning the end is not the end, it is only the beginning. Guys you need to know Heaven is not the end, it is the beginning of eternity. I don’t believe that it is a place of eternal rest either. From the very first chapter in the Bible we are told that men are made to work. Throughout the scriptures the Bible speaks against, and harshly condemns laziness. I don’t think we get up there and then just sit around on clouds, eat grapes, and play harps. We will have responsibilities...
The 1st 1,000 years we will rule and reign with Jesus. We will have jobs to do in that, there will be differing levels of authority. Heaven is not a place where everyone is equal and has the same size cloud or mansion. There is a Beama seat judgement of rewards, no need for that if Heaven is all a socialist equality. A place where we all get the same trophy, where the apostle Paul gets the same as me, or the thief that was saved on the cross and did nothing other than believe and died gets the same as you.
But I also don’t think it is a place where I’m going to be ashamed or bummed out by how much less authority I have than the Apostle Paul. I think I’ll just know that it is just and right. See we are to be steadfast it says, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, laboring. SO the question is what is your labor, how are you working for the Lord?
I try to remind guys all the time that you are alway interviewing for your next job, or your next promotion with what you are doing today. He who is faithful with a little is given more. I always thought it was ridiculous when the laziest slug on the crew would want to interview for the next promotion, or to be a manager. Not realizing that they have already blown it. It’s one of the reasons I generally hate it when I’m asked to give someone a letter of recommendation.
I watch your life now, your reliability, your effort, your labor…what am I supposed to say and maintain my integrity. They say that if you pay them more money, their attitude will change, they’ll start showing up, being reliable, working hard. Big fail so far, but it’s probably because you haven’t promoted them high enough yet.
I marvel at men that tell me they are called to ministry and want to become a pastor when they do nothing to serve the church, they don’t take care of the Bride of Christ! Steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, and it’s not in vain, it is our job interview for what is to come. Nothing goes unnoticed, every act of service and sacrifice is seen and recorded and is not in vain.
Speaking of that…there are some men here this morning that we want to recognize what the Lord is doing in their lives and how God is using them already in this church. In the scriptures we have two offices that we recognize in the church. The role of Elders and Deacons.... there are several places in the Scriptures that talk about these roles and the qualifications of the roles. We aren’t told to appoint them, we are told to recognize them. To see what the Lord has done. It is a role that the Lord gives through being steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord…and is ultimately recognized by Him and sometimes man. There are several deacons and deaconesses that the church has not yet recognized their role and service, and probably some elders as well, but the qualifications the Bible gives us are quite serious and stringent. And a calling is different than actually following through on that calling in a way that others observe and recognize...
Let me read to you from one passage in 1 Timothy 3:1-4
1 Timothy 3:1–4 NLT
1 This is a trustworthy saying: “If someone aspires to be a church leader, he desires an honorable position.” 2 So a church leader must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach. 3 He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent. He must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not love money. 4 He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him.
Leader here is referring to elders as they are the overseers of the church, and serve the church in the role of under-shepherds, Meaning they tend to the spiritual needs of the sheep, of the church. They are to be set aside for teaching the Word of God and for prayer. Elders according to the Scriptures have to be able to teach, but that can look different than being behind a pulpit like Jim or I. Elders can teach through counseling in the Word of God, exhorting, discipling, rebuking when necessary, and may minister to you through prayer. They are called overseers, because that is what they should be doing. Looking out for you and caring for your spiritual well being. Thaty should know the state of the herds the Bible says, how you’re doing and what is going on in your lives...They are men that we trust are going to give you good counsel in the Word of God and accurately represent the doctrine of the Scriptures and the positions of this church.
Deacons have many of the same qualifications, but aren’t required to teach as their role is more the physical needs of the facility and the church. Like clearing the parking lot, turning on the heat, providing security, cleaning up spills, inside and outside of the bathrooms. It is not glamorous, but it is labor that is not done in vain before the Lord. There is an example in the Bible where 7 men are chosen, full of the Holy Spirit to take care of the daily food distribution, taking food to the widow and those in need, so as to not take the Elders away from distributing the Word of God. Both are needful. Continuing on in 1 Timothy concerning Elders....
1 Timothy 3:5–7 NLT
5 For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church? 6 A church leader must not be a new believer, because he might become proud, and the devil would cause him to fall. 7 Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the devil’s trap.
That is what we expect of our Elders... and now the Deacons…vs. 8
1 Timothy 3:8–10 NLT
8 In the same way, deacons must be well respected and have integrity. They must not be heavy drinkers or dishonest with money. 9 They must be committed to the mystery of the faith now revealed and must live with a clear conscience. 10 Before they are appointed as deacons, let them be closely examined. If they pass the test, then let them serve as deacons.
1 Timothy 3:11–13 NLT
11 In the same way, their wives must be respected and must not slander others. They must exercise self-control and be faithful in everything they do. 12 A deacon must be faithful to his wife, and he must manage his children and household well. 13 Those who do well as deacons will be rewarded with respect from others and will have increased confidence in their faith in Christ Jesus.
SO, this morning we want to recognize two of our current Deacons, Brian Porter and Sean Veilleux, that have served well, Brian’s turned all his kids into little deacons and deaconesses, running around here after every service, these men have served well, but make no mistake, a Deacon is not a stepping stone to becoming an Elder, but sometimes the Lord changes our call. Through our Growth Groups, these men have become Elders, and I think you church recognize that, so let’s pray for them as they transition into this role. It doesn’t mean they are done serving, they just serve more people now. Let’s pray....
And now Eric Martin. I’m not sure how long Eric has attended here now, but I’ve known Eric for over 20 years. I’ve had the pleasure of watching him grow into the man God has called him to be. He’s had the pleasure of watching me his brother-in-law become a little less of a punk than I was 20 years ago. God has been good to both of us. Eric has been a servant since day one of attending here, and in many ways that you guys don’t see. From cutting the grass, to moving out our old chairs, helping other people move, however, wherever he can be used,... and he’s faithful to be in prayer meeting nearly every Sunday morning praying for you guys before the service. We are thankful for Eric and his family, church will you pray with me for Eric?
Now since these guys are here to serve you, we don’t have a fancy reception for them. But, if you need your car scraped off grab Eric, if you need prayer catch up with Brian or Sean.
Grace and Peace church!
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