Our resurrection depends on the reality of Christ resurrection

Ds J Bruintjes
1 Korinthiërs 15:12 - 34
Preek Inhoud: 

So, let’s step back for a moment. Paul has made clear the basics of the gospel – the gospel that he proclaimed. And he stressed the resurrection has the capstone of that Gospel. It is the reason that it is the gospel (Good news) – it means the curse has been undone, death has been defeated, creation is going to be set free. The resurrection changes everything – how we think, how we live. This is not some spiritual fairy tale – this is about the redemption of all things, and the reconciliation of all things to their creator. The world was made by God through the word, and all things are renewed through that word made flesh to the glory of the creator.

Today is the next Sunday of advent. And advent is really about the waiting for the second coming of our Lord in judgement and Glory. But the point that Paul makes today is that advent is only good if Jesus is raised. If not, it is a terrifying reality that the wrath of God rest on us. And we have hell to look forward, and we might as well drink ourselves into oblivion now.

Our resurrection depends on the reality of Christ resurrection.

  1. If Christ has not been raised (we won’t be raised)
  2. Christ has been raised (so we will be raised)
  3. Paul’s life proves his faith in the resurrection!

If Christ has not been Raised

So, let’s get into the text, “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” Here is the problem that the chapter addresses. For some reason the Corinthians had come to believe that there would be no final resurrection. We don’t know exactly way. Maybe because they were so flooded with spiritual gifts, they through the end had already come. Or maybe they had become influenced by Greek thought – which scoffed at the resurrection. Whatever it was, this is what Paul address in this chapter.

And he asks them, “If the main part of the gospel I proclaimed to you says that Christ was raised from the dead, how can you say there is no resurrection?” Were you even listening?  You heard me preach about the resurrection as of first importance. It does not make sense that you would deny a future resurrection. Because as he says, “But if there is no resurrection from the dead, then not even Christ has been raised!”

And boy! If Christ as not been raised, then everything that we told you is wrong. Our preaching is empty – just a bunch of words – not the reality of a risen king who is speaking through us. We just saw a ghost. The curse of death is still a fact. He writes, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.”

So not only is the preaching in vain, but also the faith that comes from that preaching, is actually a joke. Forget everything that I ever said if Christ is not alive. There is no hope. It’s a big lie. It only makes sense if he was physically raised, and the new creation has burst into the old.

On top of that we are putting words into Gods’ mouth – and not representing, because we say that God has raised Christ, whom he did not raise. We sense that Paul a devout Jew shrinks from this, awestruck at the possibility of giving false testimony about God. God would find Paul guilty of such a great crime on judgement. The preacher must preach only that which is true about God!

 If you deny resurrection – the earthly body – the material creation as important as so many of the Greeks did, and many people throughout history have been tempted to do, then Christ is not raised either. “For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.” Because if you deny the resurrection as something that is impossible, then you must also deny the resurrection of Christ. And if you deny that – well then “your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” Your faith only makes sense in a real-life flesh and blood savior.  DO you see that church?  If he is not really alive, then sin still reigns, because sin reigns in death. And you and I should life in terror of judgement everyday. Advent become a terrifying thing if that Baby that came did not become a man, did not die, and was not raised from the dead. On top of that he says, “Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.” O what a terrible thing to even think that the resurrection will not happen in light of the funeral on Friday. What do we have to look forward to? No reunion. No. Only death and judgement.

And his conclusion is obvious now, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” The Corinthians who were bragging about gifts did not realize that they were most to be pitied f they did not believe the resurrection, no matter how great their gifts. Everything that we believe hinges on the fact that there is a real first century Jew who was born around the year 1 reigning over all creation at this point in time. Literally everything.  And that he speaks to us, and has given us the first fruits of the resurrection in his Spirit.

Christ has been raised.

But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. BUT! I love it! This is the foundation of Paul’s argument to verse 28. Jesus has been raised, therefore death is undone, and we will be raised. Paul uses the term “first-fruits ” (απαρχή) twice (vv. 20, 23), making the point that Christ ’s resurrection was an first event that points to a greater “harvest” still to come. Yours and my resurrection along with all who have believed in Him the resurrected one.

 But this glorious story is way bigger then just us. Paul is giving us a fast sweep of redemptive history from beginning to end, with Christ resurrection as the hinge upon which everything else turns. He goes back to the beginning, and says, ‘For as by a man came death (Literally it says, For as by a man, death)” by a man came the resurrection from the dead.”

Just like Adams sin was our death sentence. “For as in Adam all die,” So Christ resurrection is the sure pledge of our own glorious resurrection, “so also in Christ all will be made alive.”

 There is a chronological order to all this. It is the story of Gods work in history. “Each in its own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying ever rule, and every authority and every power.”  Paul here organizes the events into an ordered scenario that leaves no doubt as to how they will unfold. This indicates, first of all, that he expects an orderly realization of God’s plan.

Paul’s story begins at the time of the problem’s origin long ago in Genesis 3, the point at which God’s creation became marred by death. In addition to the power of death, other hostile powers came to have authority.   The story moves from the problem’s origin all the way to its resolution, which finds its first fruits in Christ.  Paul refers in v. 24 to the end (τέλος), the point when the powers will be defeated. He is speaking not merely of an endpoint being reached, but of a goal being attained, of the consummation of God’s work through Christ. This is the goal of all things. The Goal of history. The thing for which we wait!

All that is wrong with this world will be undone. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying ever rule, and every authority and every power.”  These rules and powers are the sin, wickedness, evil, and above all the evil one and death itself.

And Our Lord Jesus Christ is doing that now – as it says, “he must reign until he has put all things under his feet.” Until is the key word there. That means there is a purpose to his reign. To bring all things under his feet. How does he do that – through his word and Spirit particularly through he church! This is how he has chosen to shine the light, to show his glory. Through the church in this present age!

And he saves, and judges as the word is preached. and one day the last of his harvest will come and  every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth. And the last enemy that will bow is Death (v. 26). Earlier the Corinthians says stomach for food and food for stomach, but God will destroy both. And Paul says, no, actually it is not our bodies that will be annihilated, but the one that annihilates the body – death.

And he is not just talking about spiritual death – but physical death. When we will live physically forever – that is the point that we know the end is here. Again, do you see the importance that Christ has been raised. That means the end will for sure happen. There will be a final resurrection. The first coming God became a man – and in Christ resurrection and ascension, man was taken up. And because of that The universe will be set right. All that is wicked, and evil, and of the dust will be burned away.  And the good, the beautiful and the true will be all that is left.

And it is all the work of the Triune God – just as all things came from the Father through the Son in the Spirit so all things will return in the Spirit through the son, to the glory of the Father. As we read, “For ‘God has put all things in subjection under his feet.’ But when it says, ‘all things are put in subjection,’ it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him.”

Ps 110 is important in this regard; Christ reigns “until” (άχρι) the enemies are subdued (1 Cor 15:25). Like Psalm 110 says, “The LORD says to my Lord: ‘sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool.’” Christ reign is one now of reconciling all things to himself through he cross. That work will end. It will end when he returns.  Once the resurrection has taken place and death, and the final powerful enemy, has been defeated (v. 26), then the end will have been reached, so Christ will at that point hand the kingdom to God (v. 24). Do you see that. He is sitting there now for a time. This is the meaning of until.  

The nature of Christ ’s reign is also underscored through Paul’s reference to Ps 8. The psalm speaks of God’s creation and refers to God giving humanity dominion over what he had made, but Paul can also apply it to Christ (1 Cor 15:27), because he is the new Adam (v. 22). And he is acting now as the perfect Adam.

Just as Adam was God’s vice-regent and exercised authority, so Christ takes on that role as he works to restore the order of God’s good world, the order that was lost due to Adam’s failure. Christ the second Adam did what the first Adam never accomplished.

One thing this makes clear is that God is not abandoning his creatures, or his physical creation but this about subjecting the powers that marred it. In Paul’s vision, the physical creation is not rejected but redeemed.

When all things are put in subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. Right now, Jesus Christ reigns, But one day the Father will reign through the son in the Holy Spirit. When that day comes the work of the Triune God in the redemption of creation will be complete. No longer will the father reign through the son in the Holy Spirit. But he will reign as Father Son and Spirit – one God!

Wake up and live as if Christ has been raised!

“Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised why are people baptized on their behalf?”  WE have gone through many difficult and hard passages int his book to understand. And here is one more. WE don’t know if this was a practice, or what exactly Paul is referring to. But what we do know is that baptism is a sign of death and resurrection. But our baptism means nothing if the dead are not raised. But if he is raised, then we ought to life that way now! WE ought to life out our baptism. We ought to die to the old nature – and life for Christ. we ought to live resurrection lives now, even as we still inhabit this body of death.

This is the argument Paul goes on to make. His whole way of life is an arrow pointing to the coming resurrection of the dead. His whole life in a sense is advent. If I don’t believe in the resurrection, then why in the world would I go through what I have gone through? Why are in danger every hour? I protest brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day!” In baptism we are called everyday to die to ourselves – why? Because we are certain of our resurrection – so we don’t hold onto this life. But for the sake of the church Paul is willing to die to himself everyday – even suffer physically because he knows he will be raised.

That’s why he goes on to say, “What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus?” If knew I was not going to be raised, why would I put my life in danger. My whole life would be a joke if the dead are not raised – indeed if I was not going to resurrected. Can you say this about your life. That you are living radically differently now, because you believe in the reality of your resurrection? IF there is nothing after death – then we might as well suck the most out of this life, and live a life of nihilism – that nothing matters. If the ressrection will happen, we will begin to life a live of love, self-sacrifice. WE will not clutch with both hands to this life. WE will not mourn as those who have no hope and funerals.

As Paul says, “If the dead are not raised, “let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

Dear church, the resurrection changes the way you live now. Your life is going to reflect what you believe! If you believe that Christ has not been raised, then you are going to hold onto this life, make it about this life, get the most out of this life. If Christ has not been raised then we are still in sin, under Gods wrath. What is left to you then but to eat, drink and die.

 Only if you believe in the resurrection of Christ, and therefore your own resurrection will  you be freed to love unconditionally, to life sacrificially, to give generously, to pursue holiness in the body. Because you know this is the beginning of forever.

 “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” Wake up – don’t let them hypnotize you with the drink of death!  Evil, error and heresy, is viral, and contagious. If you let it be shared, it will go viral through the church. This includes what you watch who you allow yourselves to be discipled by online. So don’t believe everything you hear.  

“Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. Many of them thinking that there was no resurrection were probably living in sin. Like the Christians who were living in sexual immorality in chapter six who said. Stop sinning! Christ is raised. He is returning! Live that way. Keep your eyes on him. It has been said that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is mentioned 318 times in the 260 chapters of the New Testament and that this teaching occupies one in every twenty-five verses from Matthew to Revelation. And almost everytime its in connection with how we live day to day life. Money, sex, engagement with culture..

Sin is the whole reason death came! Why in the world, now that God has restored you to life through Christ would you return to sinning!

For some of you have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.” It is a shame to Paul that they have allowed people that do not believe in the central fact of the resurrection among them. Its an absolute embarrassment. That is why we ask new members and young people, what is the gospel. The church is the church of the resurrected one! His real resurrected life is ours.

Dear church if Christ has not been raised then sin has no been paid for, we are still in our sins, and our condemnation under the just wrath of God is sure!  And then we may as well eat, drink, and be merry. For then there is nothing left. But He has been raised! He lives, and because he lives, we may know for certain all things will one day be set right. All things will be reconciled to him. The wickedness, the evil, the suffering, and death will be trampled!  And we will live forever on a new heaven and new earth. And today we ought to begin living as he has shown us. For life in the body matters. Eternally.