6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: In our text Paul calls the resurrection a "firstfruits" event. What does he mean? Consider these two opposite (but connected) realities, the fallenness of man and the firstfruits of God; the first is our condition – the second, God’s response to our nee

If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ.

But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

Just this week I read a periodical about Easter. The writer is a Grinch at Christmas. However Easter gets a higher rating:

It’s Easter and I like Easter for a number of reasons that aren’t necessarily religious. For instance, the Easter season doesn’t last six months and there aren’t any Easter carols for the malls to play as I fight the crowds buying Easter presents while wondering who I’ve forgotten. I’m quite happy that, at least so far, the Easter Bunny (unlike Santa) isn’t bigger than Jesus and the Easter tree hasn’t caught on. Not only that, I haven’t seen a figurine with the Easter Bunny kneeling before the empty tomb and no church that I know of has a performance of "The Singing Easter Egg." All things considered, not half bad. [1]

Paul’s letter to the Corinthian believers contains the simplest, clearest rendering of the Gospel (15.3b,4). "Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day, according to the scriptures."

Theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg said that …the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection is so strong that nobody would question it except for two things: First, it is a very unusual event. And second, if you believe it happened, you have to change the way you live. [2]

Another preacher put it this way, The resurrection is the fulcrum of faith. The resurrection is the axis, the center, the core, the pivot point of faith for a Christian. If there is no resurrection of Jesus, then Christianity is just another ancient religion with its own particular form of spirituality and morality. The truth of Christianity hinges on the resurrection. [3]

In our text Paul calls the resurrection a "firstfruits" event. What does he mean? Consider these two opposite (but connected) realities, the fallenness of man and the firstfruits of God; the first is our condition – the second, God’s response to our need.


Original Fallenness

The story of Adam and Eve, their fall and punishment is not a children’s bedtime story. It is really too scary! We live in a world that was intended to be perfect in every way. However this world was tainted by the first sin of the first resident, and we have been compounding the problem ever since.

Note that 1Co 15.21 says that sin came into the world via ONE man, and so death (sin’s penalty) passed on all men. That does not mean we pay for Adam’s sin directly. But the truth is that it is difficult to grow up and be perfect in a world that isn’t. It is like dressing in a snow white suit and attempting to stay clean standing on the fifty yard line while the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills are locked in mortal combat in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. Won’t happen!

Original fallenness leads to

Ongoing Fallenness

We would agree that the history of the world is one of sin. We would point to our forbears in antiquity, and say "Barbarians" –"Cretans." We would even agree in our day that Iraq and Afghanistan and certainly the “third world” countries are still in the Dark Ages with their human rights abuses; but not us! America is the land of the free, home of the Brave – we’re not that way; we’re enlightened, civilized. We are getting better and better; every day, in every way.

It’s pretty commonplace to be able to look at other people’s sin and shake our heads, cluck our tongues. It’s a safer ground to condemn others than to look at the reality of our own sins. America, Randolph County, has its share of abortion, homosexuality, guns and drugs in school. There is immorality on the streets of our little country towns, and behind closed doors.

Well, we excuse it by saying that nobody’s perfect; everyone has some wrinkles to iron out. Beloved, we have a problem of ongoing fallenness, and increasingly so. And it isn’t a matter of antiquity – it’s here and now in America. It isn’t just far away – it’s Franklinville!

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