Posted by: Heather | October 14, 2009

What does it mean to deny the resurrection?

Last Sunday I preached on 1 Cor 15:12-34

Here is the text:

1 Corinthians 15:12-34
(12) But if Christ is proclaimed, that He was raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
(13) But if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ been raised.
(14) And if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is worthless, and your faith is also worthless.
(15) And we are also found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified of God that He raised Christ; whom He did not raise if the dead are not raised.
(16) For if the dead are not raised, then Christ is not raised.
(17) And if Christ is not raised, your faith is foolish; you are yet in your sins.
(18) Then also those that fell asleep in Christ were lost.
(19) If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
(20) But now Christ has risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruit of those who slept.
(21) For since death is through man, the resurrection of the dead also is through a Man.
(22) For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all will be made alive.
(23) But each in his own order: Christ the first-fruit, and afterward they who are Christ’s at His coming;
(24) then is the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He makes to cease all rule and all authority and power.
(25) for it is right for Him to reign until He has put all the enemies under His feet.
(26) The last enemy made to cease is death.
(27) For He put all things under His feet. But when He says that all things have been put under His feet, it is plain that it excepts Him who has put all things under Him.
(28) But when all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subject to Him who has subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all things in all.
(29) Otherwise, what will they do, those being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not at all raised, why indeed are they baptized on behalf of the dead?
(30) And why are we also in danger every hour?
(31) Day by day I die, by your rejoicing, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(32) If according to man I fought with beasts in Ephesus, what advantage is to me if the dead are not raised? “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”
(33) Do not be deceived; evil companionships corrupt good habits.
(34) Be righteously awake, and sin not; for some have ignorance of God. I speak this to your shame.

It is apparent that some in Corinth were denying that we can hope for resurrection. They had made the resurrection a peripheral doctrinal issue. However, Paul begins by pointing out what the results are if there is no resurrection.

If there is no resurrection:

  1. Then Christ Himself did not rise from the dead
  2. Paul’s message to them is worthless
  3. Their faith (ours by implication) in the message of Christ is worthless
  4. Paul and the Apostles were liars.
  5. They were liars about God, because they said God raised Christ from the dead (not a trivial accusation)
  6. Our faith is foolish and we are still in our sins
  7. The dead have perished without hope
  8. We who have believed are to be pitied more than anyone else.

Let’s stop and think about #8 a little bit. Paul could say that about himself, and anyone could see it was true. Can I honestly say that? If Christ has not raised from the dead, what would change in my life? How about yours? Have I made the resurrection peripheral?

Let’s take some time to examine Paul’s view of the resurrection:

First, let’s look at the rest of this text. Paul points out how Christ is in the process of subjecting all of creation to himself, and then will turn it back over to God the Father as it should be. You see, the resurrection is not peripheral, we are. Jesus will in fact accomplish what He has started out to do. The Gospel that was proclaimed to them – and us – is that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures, that he was buried, and that He rose again on the third day according to the scriptures. The point is that God has been at work doing what He has set out to do, and that it will be done. Which side will I find myself on? He will subject all of creation to Himself with our without my approval. I am peripheral. Hence the warning in verse 34.

But let’s look into this a bit further. Is the resurrection truly central to the Gospel? I believe so. You see, in Romans 1:16 Paul proclaims that he is not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes. This is present tense, by the way. How does that tie in? Well, I want to look at verse 29 in our text in light of Romans chapter 6.

(29) Otherwise, what will they do, those being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not at all raised, why indeed are they baptized on behalf of the dead?

Some would imply that there was some sort of ritual taking place in Corinth where they were being baptized on behalf of the dead. I don’t know if this is true. However, baptism was a very clear picture to them at that time. We have lost some of the significance in our day I think. You see, “baptizō “was a trade word used in the textile industry of that time. When someone was “baptized” they were saying they wanted to be died the color of this teaching. They wanted to be identified through and through with the teaching. “paint me this color” in essence. If Jesus did not rise, he is not unique. He is just another dead guy who died for what he thought. Why identify with him? But since he did rise, we have access to power over sin. This is the idea presented in Romans 6. Read this text with that in mind:

Romans 6:1-14
(1) What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin so that grace may abound?
(2) Let it not be! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
(3) Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?
(4) Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father; even so we also should walk in newness of life.
(5) For if we have been joined together in the likeness of His death, we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection;
(6) knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be destroyed, that from now on we should not serve sin.
(7) For he who died has been justified from sin.
(8) But if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
(9) knowing that when Christ was raised from the dead, He dies no more; death no longer has dominion over Him.
(10) For in that He died, He died to sin once; but in that He lives, He lives to God.
(11) Likewise count yourselves also to be truly dead to sin, but alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(12) Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.
(13) Do not yield your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but yield yourselves to God, as one alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
(14) For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under Law, but under grace.

You see, this is the “power of God unto salvation” Paul spoke of earlier in Romans 1. I do not need to serve sin, because as literally as I am identified with Christ’s death is how literally I get to be identified with his life! I am not a slave to sin any more! What does that look like? Let’s look at Paul’s own words in Philippians 3:

Philippians 3:7-12
(7) But whatever things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
(8) But no, rather, I also count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them to be dung, so that I may win Christ
(9) and be found in Him; not having my own righteousness, which is of the Law, but through the faith of Christ, the righteousness of God by faith,
(10) that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death;
(11) if by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead.
(12) Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect, but I am pressing on, if I may lay hold of that for which I also was taken hold of by Christ Jesus.

In case you are thinking, “Well, that is Paul, he was unique. I can’t do that.” Let’s look at Paul’s exhortation to people like you and me in Colossians 3:

Colossians 3:1-17
(1) If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God.
(2) Be mindful of things above, not on things on the earth.
(3) For you died, and your life has been hidden with Christ in God.
(4) When Christ our Life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
(5) Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness (which is idolatry),
(6) on account of which things’ sake the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience,
(7) among whom you also once walked, when you lived in these.
(8) But now also put off all these things: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, shameful speech out of your mouth.
(9) Do not lie to one another, having put off the old man with his deeds
(10) and having put on the new, having been renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,
(11) where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, foreigner, Scythian, slave or freeman, but Christ is all things in all.
(12) Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender feelings of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering,
(13) forbearing one another and forgiving yourselves, if anyone has a complaint against any. As Christ forgave you, so also you do.
(14) And above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness.
(15) And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which you also are called in one body, and be thankful.
(16) Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
(17) And everything, whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.

So I ask again. Am I most to be pitied if Christ did not raise, or am I one who needs warned to wake up and be righteous? Oh, sure we say we believe the resurrection. And in our minds that is correct. But when push comes to shove, do I live like I believe the resurrection? Or am I still depending upon this world? Am I living with “resurrection power” or am I still a slave to sin? Tough questions. Friends, I want to know Him (I mean in shoe leather) and the power of His resurrection. I want to partner in His suffering and conform to His death. How about you?

Craig

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