Summary: Death, Hope, Eternal Life
THE RESURRECTION QUESTION - The Last Enemy
1 Corinthians 15:12-34 (p. 801) April 2, 2017
Anyone here today ever heard of a man named Charles Momsen…his friends called him "Swede"? Probably not, but Swede Momsen was responsible for one of the most remarkable rescue devices ever invented…."The Momsen-McCann Rescue Bell…
During the early years of submarining…if a ship sank…the crew died…there was no chance at rescue. In 1925 the Sub S-51 sank and all on board perished…in December of 1927 Sub S-4 sank…the difference was it was in shallow water…All her officers and men made it to non-flooded compartments…however, the majority soon succumbed, but six men made it to a forward torpedo room alive…heroic efforts was made to rescue these men…but a storm forced a stop on December 24 all forty men lost their lives…the last message the six men in the torpedo room tapped out to divers in this extremely cold water, 34 meters down was…."Is there any hope?"
It was this tragedy that motivated Swede Momsen to design and build a rescue chamber…it was this chamber that was used to rescue all 33 men on the submarine
Squalis in 1939. It took four dives and 13 hours…but all 33 were rescued in the first deep submarine rescue ever…no longer was a sunken submarine an automatic death sentence…now there was hope.
[Neal Straight once said, "Take from a man his wealth and you hinder him; take from him is purpose, and you slow him down. But take from man his hope, and you stop him. He can go on without wealth and even without purpose for a while…but he will not go on without hope"]
Folks, without the hope of the resurrection we are sunk…there is no chance for our rescue…and death wins.
Look with me at what the Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians…It’s his first letter in the 15th chapter on page 801 and he's dealing with just this subject.
1 CORINTHIANS 15:12-19 (p 801)
I. THE RESURRECTION IS OUR ONLY HOPE OF RESCUE
"If there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised…And if Christ hasn’t been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (v 13,14)
“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, AND YOU ARE STILL IN YOUR SINS.” (v 17)
"If Christ is not raised, those who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.” (v 18)
Sin has consequences…sometimes those consequences are immediate and severe….jail, broken marriages, pregnancy, disease, embarrassment, loss of a job…bad, bad stuff.
But the most profound and final consequence is death…Romans 6:23 tells us ”The wages of sin is death"…Paul even calls it "the Last Enemy" in our text.
Why is it the final enemy?
Where death is concerned there are no do-overs, no mulligans…no reset buttons.
“It is appointed that everyone will die and then face the judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)
1 out of every 1 people will die…and the important question Paul seeks to answer is…what then?!!
Even in the first century the church had been infiltrated by individuals who said, “Nothing happens. There is no resurrection of the dead. It’s impossible for the dead to live again.”
Even the religious leaders, the Jews, argued this issue. The Pharisees believed in a resurrection. The Sadducees did not…that’s why they were sad…(you see).
And there was a group which arose in The New Testament Church called the “Gnostics,” individuals who claimed a special secret knowledge from God…they taught all flesh was evil, therefore Christ was not physically raised from the dead…it was just His Spirit.
It’s this heresy that Paul deals with…It’s a heresy that exists even today.
He says, “If they are right then we are liars about God, for we have testified about God that He raised Christ from the dead.” (v. 15)
He then says something amazing to us as believers… “If our hope in Christ is only in this life, then we are to be pitied more than all men.” (v. 19)
Paul's' saying…if I live my life for Christ and others and then on the other side of death there is nothing…you should feel sorrier for me than anyone else…I should have partied harder here….I should have selfishly given into every sin, because Christ's death was worthless and it doesn't matter…I've wasted my only chance to eat all I want, drink all I want…because tomorrow I die and that's it…game over.
If our hopes of eternal life have fallen on dead ears…and there’s nothing more for me or my loved ones in Christ…after we die and we lived for Him and others instead of using this life selfishly then, we should be pitied as fools.
[I’ve stood next to my dad’s casket, my best friend’s, and countless other friends and church members…all committed believers. I can only imagine the turmoil created in the heart of these Corinthian believers when some people told them… “You’ll never see them again because there is no resurrection of the dead.”