Part two of a study of 1 Corinthians 15:12-34
We are looking at how Paul answers the heresy that had cropped up in the Church of Corinth.
Today we look at 5 problems he poses that would militate against a Christianity without the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, and by extension the bodily resurrection of His followers.
Difficulty # 1
If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:13
It seems that this heresy simply stated was that Christ had been raised from the dead, but we will not be. That our future was in spirit only, so physical appetites would never be experienced once we pass into eternity.
It seems to me that Paul is saying, if Christ can be raised, clearly God could manage to raise us as well. It is not as if God does not have the power to raise us, and clearly He has demonstrated this by raising Christ.
The verse that jumps to mind is Romans 8:11
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.
…and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:14
I talked about this a bit last Friday, so I am going to let you peak back there for a discussion of vain faith.
More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:15
Speaking to a mostly Jewish community of believers, the next part of his argument is that if all this is a lie, then he, Paul, and all who preach the Gospel, Peter, Apollos, they are all liars, which in a culture where you are preaching about a man called Truth – could not be worse. There is just about nothing worse in Hebrew culture than a liar.
That culture of Truth is even stronger (or should be) in a Christian culture. After all we call our selves by the name of Christ, and He called himself The Truth. He is the Word made flesh, and David said “Thy Word is truth.” The Word of God is the ultimate source of Truth, and Jesus is the express image of that very Word from the mouth of God.
For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:16-17
There was a real eye opener for me.
These Christians who had come out of the Jewish religion, knew all about the Messianic prophecies. Hundreds of them. I am told there are over 300 prophecies that Jesus fulfilled during His life among us.
Can you see how clearly fulfilling 300 specific detailed prophecies would identify a person.
For example, to prove I am who I am to a bank web site, I need to specify my SS#, and answer a few specific questions that only I would know the answer to.
Perhaps a better example would be that if I want to get a piece of mail to my daughter across the country, I only need a few specific details to get it directly into her hands, and there will be no doubt if she is the right recipient either.
With a name and address made up of a few details like street, city, state, country, zip, etc, I can ID almost anyone in the world.
Ok – so these Corinthian Christians know that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, and was the sacrifice that God supplied for their sins.
If He did not rise from the dead, not only are they still in their sins, because they have abandoned their Jewish ways (perhaps) but even the Jews, who are looking for a Messiah are out of luck.
You see if Christ did not rise, then the hopes of every Jew were done. There was no other Messiah forthcoming. Jesus was it, and if it did not work, every lamb sacrificed for thousands of years was for naught.
Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:18
Clearly there is no hope for those who have died with their trust in a dead Christ.
Paul sums it up pretty well here with this final statement.
If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:19
But don’t despair! Come back tomorrow for some really (I mean REALLY) good news.