Summary: A five message series on the resurrection with Small group study questions for five weeks.

Hope in the Midst of Despair

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ and Believers

1 Corinthians 15:1-58 (Part One - vs. 1-11)

The resurrection of Jesus and the promise of the believer’s resurrection offer the ultimate hope in the midst of a world of despair. We are caught between two resurrections -- pushed by one in the past and pulled by one in the future. The resurrection of Jesus Christ vindicates His claims to be the Messiah; our resurrection vindicates our faith in Him as the Messiah.


What our hope is not!

As far as many are concerned, we now live in world without meaning, without promise, without hope -- a world of despair. Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), a German philosopher, envisioned that the Western world would collapse into nihilism -- the belief that there is no meaning or purpose in existence. Nihilism is the logical consequence of evolution.

The first World War terminated Western Europe’s faith in modern progress -- the anticipation of the promise of a better future.. The dissolution of the Soviet empire has canceled faith in Marxism as the guarantee of progress -- Marxism’s promise of a better world never came to fruition. Though America has been spared the devastations of war and has continued longer in its belief in a better future through modern means, many seem to be accepting the evidence that hope in progress through human means is empty.

Our modern world has not only lost faith in man, but, at the same time, had already declared its independence from God , so that there is neither faith in God or faith in man, leaving only faith in nothing, or faith in faith, both of which lead to despair and disappointment.

Nietzsche was partially correct as Robert Jenson points out, when he predicted that “There would at once appear the hollow ‘last man’ and the glorious ‘superman.’ The hollow ‘last man’ is clearly on the seen, but the glorious ‘superman’ is so far missing” (Jenson, First Things , Oct. 93, p.19).

In this world of despair, many are the spiritual entrepreneurs who generate salvation programs to offer hope. One such program is that of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. “If, says Yogi, a sufficient number of people led by trained mediators could be induced to sit still and meditate for ninety minutes each morning and evening, the positive waves they emitted would ensure universal peace, improved economy, and a reduction of the crime rate, to say nothing of the physical and spiritual well-being of one and all. The cost to employ seven thousand mediators would be $20 million ...” (John P. Sisk, First Things, May 93, p. 9). Despair often becomes desperate. That desperation is seen in the proliferation of New Age, Eastern religion, cults, etc.

Biblical hope is not merely the promise of a better world. Biblical hope does not guarantee a solution to all the present crises of life. Biblical hope does not exempt us from present suffering. Biblical hope does not believe that modernism, human reasoning, education, government, liberal programs insure progress in the world.

Remember the men on the road to Emmaus after Jesus died and before they knew he was alive: Luke 24:21 "But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened.”

Proverbs 13:12 says: Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

What is our hope?

Our hope is a promise from God with a historical basis, tied to the prophetic word of the living God, connected to a future event. Essentially, the gospel is an eschatological message. Our hope is in a person Jesus Christ and all the events, both past and future, that involve that person.

How do we address a world of despair? Is there an anchor for that life which appears to be no more than a small cork drifting on the vast and unpredictable ocean waters?

Actually, the world of despair in which we live offers the church of Jesus Christ a fresh opportunity -- an opportunity we will lose if we fail to be “the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place” (2 Cor. 2:14, see 14-17). Because as Heb. 6:18-19 reminds us “... we may have strong encouragement, we who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast ....”

Foundational to the Christian hope is belief in the historical (time/space) resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus lives. Because He lives, we live also. Not only here and now, but forever with Him. His resurrection not only vindicates His claims but assures us that life is more than what we presently experience. Whatever may be your lot in this temporal world -- this world is not the end. Amen!

Paul’s teaching on the resurrection of the body inextricably ties together both the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the resurrection of believers.

I. The Resurrection is at the core of the gospel. (1-11) March 22

A. The Gospel is Defined .

What is the gospel? (3-4) ca. Roman 4:25; Romans 10:9-10

The “Person” of the gospel is Jesus Christ, the “Particulars” of the gospel is that he died and rose again; the “Purpose” of the gospel is that he died ‘in behalf of our sins; the “Proof” of the gospel is that it all happened “according to the Scriptures.” Don’t underestimate the power of those four words - “according to the Scriptures.”

Notice especially the third part of the gospel: “and he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”

How important is the resurrection to the gospel message?

1. Mentioned in the NT 108 times.

2. Christianity bases its entire claim upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

3. If the resurrection did not occur, then the Bible and our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is disproved and discredited.

a. Christian preaching is false.

b. Christian witnessing is false.

c. Christian salvation is false.

d. Christian security and hope are lost.

B. The Gospel is Delivered.

“first of all” - the Priority of the gospel

“that which I received” - the apostolic message received to be delivered.

The gospel is essentially a message that was delivered and is to be both guarded and delivered. To not remain committed to the gospel indicates that you have “believed in vain.” Continuance in the faith is evidence of reality of conversion.

C. The Gospel is Defended.

What are some of the evidences for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (let me recommend Josh McDowell’s book - Evidence that Demands a Verdict.)

A. The Empty tomb - there is very little disagreement even among those that deny that resurrection that the tomb was empty. How it became empty is debated but not the fact that it was empty.

B. The Witness of the Apostles

C. The Transformed lives of His Disciples.

D. The Conversion of Paul

E. The Appearances of Christ

1. To Peter (Lk. 24:34) According to Galatians 1:18 Paul spent about two weeks with Peter so he would know personally whether Peter made this claim or not.

2. To the Twelve (Lk. 24:36-42; John 20:19-20) “The purpose of the physical demonstrations is to show two things: first, that Jesus was raised physically, and second, that he was the same Jesus who had been crucified” (William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith, 281).

3. To 500 brethren “most of whom remain until this time” - This statement is added to affirm that witnesses were still available for questioning.

4. To James (a half-brother of Jesus who along with his other brothers was not a believer during the lifetime of Jesus. However, in Acts 1:14 Jesus’ brothers are present in the upper room. In Galatians 2:9 James is called a pillar of the church. And we know from Josephus that James was stoned to death about AD 60 for his faith in Christ. What would it take you to believe that your brother is the Lord so that you would die for that belief, as James did?

5. “to all the apostles” - this includes the twelve and others (Acts 1:22).

6. To Paul himself (Acts 9:1-9) What changed Paul’s life from being a Pharisee, a rabbi, a respected Jewish leader who hated the Christian heresy and did everything in his power to stamp it out to one who suffered the most cruel of treatments and eventually martyrdom for his faith? Was it not because, as he said, “I have seen Jesus the Lord” (1 Cor. 9:1).

Paul was one “born out of due time,” i.e. he was born too late to be one of the twelve and he was converted after Christ ascended. Nevertheless, Jesus appeared to Paul and made him an apostle.

Verse 11 reminds us that Paul didn’t believe in cheap grace. He believed in a gospel that transformed lives and produced good works to the glory of God.

The testimony that different groups and individuals at different times saw the risen Lord is virtually indisputable.

So what? Two things are affected by our belief in the resurrection:

Our Theology

A. It shows God’s approval of the work of Christ. Rom. 4:25

B. It declares the deity of Jesus Christ. Rom. 1:4

C. It shows the greatness of God’s power, available to us and in us. Eph. 1:19-21

D. It provides for us an high priest and advocate. Heb. 7:25

E. It guarantees our own resurrection and the blessed hope of Christ’s return. 2 Cor. 4:14; 1 Cor. 15:20-22; 1 Thess. 4:14; 1 Peter 1:3

F. It makes us a part of the new creation. 2 Pet. 3:4-12; 2 Cor. 5:17; 1 Cor. 15:45-49

G. It is the basis of victory over sin. Rom. 6:1-10

H. It guarantees world judgment. Acts 17:31

Our Ministry

A. The twelve apostles based their entire ministry on the truth of the resurrection.

They lived unselfishly; they suffered without complaint; they died prematurely.

B. The apostle Paul knew that the resurrection was the greatest motive to witness for Christ.

C. The resurrection is the basis for our witness to Christ.

D. The gospel accounts of the resurrection are accompanied by commands to go and tell others. Matt. 28:6-7, 18-20; Mark 16:7, 15; Luke 24:8,9, 31-35, 44-45; John 20:17, 21-23.

E. The resurrection offers us encouragement to continue in the midst of suffering (Romans 8:18).


It is clear from our text that hope in the midst of despair will not be found apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel not only releases from the penalty of death for our sins, but also provides us with a purpose for living.

As we were out on EE the other night, we did questionnaire evangelism at a home in Ardsley with a young man. When we were done, he said, this must be really difficult for you to come out here and do this. I replied, not it’s not difficult because I have two great joys in life. One is the joy of knowing that I possess the gift of eternal life; the other is the joy of sharing with others how they may have that gift.

There is no question that we live in a world of despair; however, belief in the resurrection of Jesus and in our future resurrection assures us that life in this world is not the ultimate goal. The question this morning is: Have you found hope by placing your faith in Jesus Christ who died for you and rose again from the dead. If not, would you bow your head with me right now, and pray a prayer of faith?

Small Group Questions

1. Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-11.

2. How would you describe “despair”? Do you agree that we live in a “world of despair”? Why or why not?

3. From the text you’ve read, define the gospel. Explain Romans 10:9-10 (“believe that God has raised him from the dead”) in light of the gospel.

4. Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism do not even require the actual historical existence of their founders. Why is the historical resurrection of Christ such a critical part of the gospel?

5. Paul appeals to both historical facts as well as personal experience as an “apologetic” for the gospel. Why are both of these important? Why is personal experience alone insufficient to support a “truth-claim”? Why is belief in historical facts alone insufficient?

6. In what ways does the resurrection impact our theology? Read the following Scriptures and discuss the point of theology that is impacted by the resurrection.

A. It shows God’s approval of the work of Christ. Rom. 4:25

B. It declares the deity of Jesus Christ. Rom. 1:4

C. It shows the greatness of God’s power, available to us and in us. Eph. 1:19-21

D. It provides for us an high priest and advocate. Heb. 7:25

E. It guarantees our own resurrection and the blessed hope of Christ’s return. 2 Cor. 4:14; 1 Cor. 15:20-22; 1 Thess. 4:14; 1 Peter 1:3

F. It makes us a part of the new creation. 2 Pet. 3:4-12; 2 Cor. 5:17; 1 Cor. 15:45-49

G. It is the basis of victory over sin. Rom. 6:1-10

H. It guarantees world judgment. Acts 17:31

7. What is the relationship between belief in the resurrection and our commitment to witnessing?

8. How would you relate the truth of the resurrection to someone who just lost a believing loved one? What if the loved one was not a believer? How does the resurrection offer hope?

9. How would you relate the truth of the resurrection to someone who is struggling with life-controlling sin, such as drugs, sexual obsession, or laziness?

10. How would you relate the truth of the resurrection to a church that has become lethargic and complacent in its outreach to a lost and dying world?

Hope in the Midst of Despair

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ and Believers

1 Corinthians 15:1-58 (Part Two - vs. 12-28)

II. The Certainty of Resurrection (12-34) March 29

The question has been asked - “Why does man find feel so sad in the 20th century? Why does man feel so bad in the very age, when, more than any other age, he has succeeded in satisfying his needs and making the world over for his own use (Wells NPFT 53).

Very simply, because 20th century man has largely abandoned his belief in a transcendent God who created, became incarnate, lived, died, and rose again.

Did Jesus Christ really rise from the dead and does it matter whether or not He did?

The Jesus Seminar consists of a group of biblical scholars who are allegedly searching for the true Jesus Christ. 90% of the group has already concluded that there was no such thing as a virgin birth. Here is what they conclude about the resurrection: “The Bible’s account of the event ... is a poetic rendering of a devout wish but certainly not an authentic record” (Time, “The Message of Miracles”, 4/10/95, 70).

The typical liberal view of the resurrection is that it “... never happened, because accounts of Christ’s rising are meant metaphorically.... Jesus was resurrected in the lives of his followers; the body of Christ is the church not a constituted physical body” (Time, 70). Concerning all of the miracles of Christ one liberal scholar, Alan Roulston, responds, “Whether those actions actually occurred is somewhat irrelevant. It is the spirit of the message that is more important” (Time, 67).

Those who comprise the Jesus Seminar, along with liberal theologians, are radical skeptics who question all knowledge. They are motivated by a presupposition of unbelief that cannot be persuaded by any amount of evidence. They start with the beginning belief that miracles can not happen and that it is impossible for someone to rise from the dead.

We live in a world that has pretty much rejected the possibility of absolute truth and has adopted the erroneous and dangerous position that one’s belief has little or no relationship to the rest of his life. Often we hear someone say, “It doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you really believe it.” Or in a Christian context, “Doctrine is not important. Faith and love are all that really matters.”

I want to assert, not simply suggest this morning, that doctrine is important; that what you believe does have impact on your life; that there is such a thing as absolute truth; that the choice between living life with doubt and skepticism or living life confidently and courageously is a choice for which you are responsible.

For a system of belief (a world view) to be coherent and reliable it must pass certain tests: rational consistency, factual adequacy, and viability for life.

I Corinthians 15 offers an apologetic for the resurrection to believers. The resurrection of Jesus Christ has determined and defined our existence and purpose for all time and eternity.

Belief has implications and ramifications. Belief has consequences. Paul draws out the implications of belief both negatively and positively. Let’s follow his arguments.

a. If Christ is NOT raised (12-19)

“how say some” - Though they believed in the immortality of the soul, some questioned the resurrection of the body. Ancient philosophers said, “The hope of the resurrection is the hope of swine. The soul having been emancipated from the defiling encumbrance of the body; it is never to be re-imprisoned” (Hodge 319).

Three major implications of denying the resurrection that follow one upon the other;

1. If there is no resurrection, Christ is still dead.13

If the possibility of resurrection does not exist, then Christ did not rise. If resurrection is no possible, then Christ’s resurrection isn’t. If His resurrection occurred, then so can ours.

2. If Christ is still dead, then the Christian message is invalidated. 14-16

a. Preaching is vain (Romans 4:25; 1:3).

b. Faith is vain. Your faith in the saving power of Christ rests upon his having been raised.

c. Christians are false witnesses.

3. If the Christian message is invalidated, then the lost are still lost in their sins. 17-19

a. Faith is vain. Faith in a dead Christ can produce no real fruit. Faith is only as good as the object of faith.

b. We are yet in sin. This is a disturbing ramification. To be yet in our sin means that we are still under sin’s power, guilt, and condemnation.

c. Those who have died already, are perishing. Imagine, the eternal fate of those who died believing in a Christ who was dead and incapable of saving them. They are presently undergoing destruction. You thought they went to heaven; they presently suffer in an eternal hell.

d. Christians are to be pitied for they have given everything to proclaim a falsehood. Not only the future, but the present is lost. Take Christ away and we have nothing.

However, if the resurrection is true then all the negatives become positives:

1. Jesus is alive.

2. Preaching has content and power.

3. Faith has substance.

4. We are not liars, but witnesses to the truth.

5. Faith is valuable.

6. Those who have died in Christ are not perishing.

7. The world need not pity us for we have an inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, reserved for us in heaven.

b. But Christ IS raised (20-28)

1. I have a new promise (vs. 20) - the resurrected Christ stands as the Firstfruits

ca. Lev. 23:9-11; 15-17 where the Israelites took the first sheaf of the harvest to the tabernacle and offered it to God, consecrating the whole to Him, in faith believing that the rest was coming.

What greater guarantee do we have of a better future - safe and secure?

2. I have a new position (vs. 20-21) - If Christ is dead, then I am identified only with the first Adam and his death. If Christ is alive, then I am alive in Him - whatever is true of Christ is true of those in Christ.

To whom are you connected? Either Adamic death or life in Christ.

Romans 6:1-3; I John 3:1-3

3. I have a new prospect (vs. 23-28) - resurrected to participate in his regaining of all that Adam lost.

Adam’s sin temporarily disrupted God’s purpose in this universe. Satan became the ruler of this world; death became the enemy of every man and woman.

Where is this world headed? -- to a time of subjugation under the Lordship of Christ? Will you participate?

The placing of all things under the feet of Christ insures victory over …

-- the world

-- Satan

-- evil

-- death

ca. Psalm 2

4. I have an ultimate purpose - i.e. to share an eternal relationship (identification) with the Triune God.

In the Son’s relationship with the Father, as it concerns His eternal being, He is co-equal with the Father and Spirit.

In the Son’s relationship with the Father, as it concerns the created universe and temporal world order, Christ has willingly subordinated Himself to the Father, to be the mediator between God and man. This is the basis for his incarnation. Functionally he is subordinate; ontologically, He is equal.

In the Son’s resurrection and glorification, He remains forever as the infinite God-man and retains His bodily identification with the redeemed. The resurrection of Jesus Christ sets in motion a chain of events that culminate in the destruction of death. The mediatorial work of Christ will be over; the functional distinctions in the Trinity will be removed.

Conclusion: Does it really matter whether the dead rise or not?

1. To those who are lost, it matters because it’s the difference between eternal life or eternal destruction.

2. To those who are saved, it matters because it’s the difference between hope or despair.

Small Group Questions

1 Corinthians 15:12-28

1. Some would say it really doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you really believe it. How does 1 Corinthians 15:12-28 show that there are real consequences to what we believe?

2. What are the three major negative implications of denying the resurrection from the dead (12-19)? (Christ is not raised; Christian message is invalidated; lost are still in their sins)

If this were true, how would this make you feel?

Do you ever struggle with doubt? Share an instance!

What are some of the emotional consequences of doubt?

How does living with doubt affect other areas of your life?

3. (20) What guarantee do we have for the future? How should our belief in this guarantee affect our daily lives?

4. (21-22) What does it mean to be “in Adam”? “in Christ”?

How are we connected to Adam? How are we connected to Christ?

Read and discuss: Colossians 3:1-3; Romans 6:1-4

5. (23-28) How does the resurrection guarantee your participation in regaining all that Adam lost in the fall?

6. Describe what the new world will be like when “all things are placed under the feet of Jesus.”

7. Read Philippians 3:10 and discuss what it means to know “the power of His resurrection.”

8. Read Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians in Ephesians 1:15-21. How does Paul’s prayer for “incomparably great power” relate to the resurrection of Jesus Christ?

9. Share how your belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and in your own resurrection is making a difference in some of the things with which you struggle in your everyday life.

Hope in the Midst of Despair

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ and Believers

1 Corinthians 15:1-58 (Part Three - vs. 29-34)

C. Practical arguments for Resurrection (29-34) April 5

These verses are part of a larger section beginning with verse 12 that considers the question: “Did Jesus Christ really rise from the dead and does it matter whether or not He did?”

Verses 1-11 dealt with the Historical evidences for the resurrection.

Verses 12-18 dealt with the Logical Implications of the Resurrection.

Remember in the last message we responded to the typical liberal view of the resurrection which said that it “... never happened, because accounts of Christ’s rising are meant metaphorically.... Jesus was resurrected in the lives of his followers; the body of Christ is the church not a reconstituted physical body” (Time, 70). We also responded to one liberal scholar, Alan Roulston, who said concerning all of the miracles of Christ: “Whether those actions actually occurred is somewhat irrelevant. It is the spirit of the message that is more important” (Time, 67). That article basically concluded two things about the resurrection: 1) It didn’t happen; 2) if it did, it doesn’t matter.

Is the resurrection relevant? Does it matter if there is a resurrection of the physical body? Are there any practical and moral out-workings in our lives because of a belief in the resurrection?

This morning from this Biblical text I would like to show that there are at least three practical areas of life that are affected by one’s belief in the resurrection.

1. The Practice of Christian Ordinances -- 29

This verse has posed great difficulty for Bible interpreters (over 40 solutions have been presented). Admittedly, it is easier to say what it doesn’t teach, then to determine historically what he refers to (See Gordon Fee, 1 Corinthians NICNT, 760-767).

This text has been taken out of context and used by some to teach contrary to what the Bible teaches clearly about baptism. The Mormons take this verse and teach that living people should be baptized in proxy for people who have already died. Therefore, they search out the genealogies of people to baptize living people in behalf of as many dead people as they can find.

Let me suggest to you a number of reasons why this verse can not be teaching the legitimacy of baptizing living people for those who have died.

1. It contradicts what the Bible teaches about the inability of the living to do anything for those who have already died (Lk. 16). You can not pray with any real effect for the dead (“Pray for the dead and the dead will pray for you” does not happen either way.) No matter what you pay you can not relieve their suffering, if they are suffering. Neither can you perform a baptism that has any benefit for those who are dead.

2. It is contrary to what the Bible teaches about baptism.

a. Baptism is for believers’ only (Acts 2:41-42)

When we talk of baptism we normally call it believer’s baptism. Baptism is neither for infants or for the dead, but for believers.

b. Baptism has no power to save or cleanse from sin (Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 3:24).

c. Baptism is a formal declaration of identification with Christ (Rom. 6:1-4) , discipleship and identification with the community of believers, the church (Matt. 2:19-20; Acts 2:41-42).

The two best interpretations of the passage are (1) that Paul is referring to a practice that he does not approve (notice the change to “they” instead of “we” and ‘you.” He does not take time to refute the practice, he simply shows the logical inconsistency of even a wrong practice such as this, if they really believe that the dead do not rise; (2) that the preposition “for” has the sense of “in the place of” and refers to the ongoing practice of baptizing new converts into the local church to “fill up the ranks left vacant by those who have died.” If the dead do not rise, then why continue Christian ministry and follow the hope of those who have died?

Whichever interpretation you choose, the end result is the same. There is logical inconsistency to continue the practice of Christian ordinances or even the misuse of Christian ordinances, if the dead do not rise.

However, if the dead do rise, then the practice of Christian ordinances (Baptism and the Lord’s table) are valid expression of obedience for those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ.

If you believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, then turn from your sin, place your faith in His sacrificial death and resurrection, and be baptized in His name.

2. The Willingness to Suffer in Sacrificial Service -- 30-32

Paul asks: Why do we face mortal danger every hour? Previously, the Corinthians have questioned Paul’s apostleship. One of their arguments was: If you’re a true apostle of Jesus Christ, why do you suffer so much? Since Jesus rose from the dead does that guarantee immunity to human suffering? Presently, NO! Ultimately, YES!

Maybe your thinking runs along the same lines at times in your life. Perhaps your thinking has been subtly influenced by a “health, wealth, prosperity” gospel. Maybe your commitment to obey Jesus Christ is conditioned by the degree of suffering it will bring.

In another place Paul says that he glories in his suffering. Here he takes what they perceive to be a weakness (suffering) and places it in another light. He places his suffering in the light of the resurrection.

a. First he says that his suffering has resulted in their coming to Christ. He boasts (rejoices) in this. Would you see your suffering differently if somehow you saw God using it to touch the lives of others for eternity?

If somehow you could make the direct connection between your suffering and specific people coming to Christ, maybe that would make a difference? Or a direct connection between your suffering and the accomplishment of God’s eternal purposes in your life and the lives of others, would that make a difference?

Most often we are not able to make that connection. God is!

b. If the dead do not rise, then Paul’s suffering for the gospel is meaningless and hedonism may be an acceptable philosophy of life. Hedonism is living life only for the immediate gratification it may bring or living life or living life only in light of this world. All of our labors and suffering are absurd if there is no resurrection.

One’s theology of suffering is developed only through the lens of the resurrection and the future glorification of believers:

Romans 8:18-25

2 Cor. 4:7-14

2 Cor. 5:1-10

2 Thess. 1:3-12

2 Tim. 1:7-12

2 Tim. 2:1-10

2 Tim. 4:1-8

Heb. 10:32-39

James 1:2-4

1 Peter 4:12-19 “Let those also who suffer according to the will of God, entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”

Rev. 2:8-11

3. A commitment to Holy Living -- 33-34

a. The Choice of Companions - Two things most influence you in life -- the books you read and the people with whom you associate.

Who are the evil companions in this context? those who promoted the false teaching that there is no resurrection.

What is the result of evil companions? they corrupt good behavior.

What is the danger? that God’s people be self-deceived to think that they are exceptions to the rule.

“Stop being deceived” is a familiar way that Paul uses to warn believers of the danger of self-deception (ca. Gal. 6:7-8).

Because Jesus is alive, it is important that those who exercise primary influence over our lives are those who encourage us to live in light of the resurrection. The Psalmist said: “I am a companion of those who fear thee and keep your precepts.”

Heed the warning of Phil. 3:17ff.

b. The Conscious Pursuit of Holiness - 34

Do you live today as one who believes in the resurrection?

Be sober-minded - Every occurrence of this word in the NT is in the context of resurrection, the coming of Christ, or future life. Come back to your senses, for living that disregards the future life is senseless living. Another indication that the mind can not be set aside in true worship of Jesus Christ -- that living the Christian life is not primarily an experience of the senses but one that demands the conscious consideration of truth. Unrighteous living is the product of wrong thinking.

True Religion is more than a good feeling, a euphoria, an experience - It is first an appeal to the mind and to the will.

“as you ought” - The condition of insobriety is inappropriate for the life of a believer.

“stop sinning” - This particular word for sin has the idea of “missing the mark.” Stop missing God’s design for your life. If you would go back and review the problems in the church at Corinth, you would see clearly how they missed God’s design. They were guilty of division, carnality, worldliness, immorality, tolerating sin. etc. His point is that to abandon Biblical teaching is to pursue a course of sin.

“for some have no knowledge of God” -

“Be sober minded” - My insobriety (clouded thinking) is a hindrance to the salvation of others. Any way of thinking that deadens my spiritual sensitivity and clouds my spiritual focus confirms men in their lost condition.

“Stop sinning” - My impure living is a hindrance to the salvation of others.

“I speak this to your shame” - The therapeutic world in which we live teaches that shame is bad. There are even books written to vilify what they call “shame-based Christianity.” What is shame? According to Webster it is “the painful feeling of having lost the respect of others because of improper behavior.” I want to suggest that shame has its proper place, and that having shame because others know that I have failed to live according to God’s moral standards is a good thing. That shame is part of God’s gracious work in my life to help me see the serious of my sin.

I perceive today that often God’s moral standards are lowered to alleviate shame. When everything becomes acceptable there is no shame. When every sin is no more than an excusable human weakness there is no shame.

There is only one way to deal with shame - Not by lowering God’s expectations nor by excusing what we have done on the basis of human weakness.

Only when sin is repented of, confessed, and forgiven, can shame be removed.

To remove our shame before God and say “I have sinned against you. Forgive me for Jesus sake.”

To remove our shame before others and say, “I have sinned against you, Forgive me for Jesus sake.”

It is the blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses our consciences (Heb. 9:14).

Because Jesus Christ is alive and there is a resurrection for all ...

We should obey him in Christian ordinances

We should obey him in Sacrificial service

We should obey him in holy living


Grasp the truth

Decide to obey it

Put it into daily operation

Small Group Study Questions

1 Corinthians 15:29-34

1. Discuss the theological reasons why verse 29 can not mean proxy baptism for the dead.

2. Since you can not be baptized in behalf of someone who has already died or, for that matter, do anything for the dead, what should our commitment be to the living?

3. What are those things/beliefs for which you are willing to suffer?

4. How does God use our suffering to bring others to Himself?

5. How does God use our suffering to accomplish His purposes in our lives?

6. What do these texts say about Christian suffering?

Romans 8:18-25

2 Cor. 4:7-14

2 Cor. 5:1-10

2 Thess. 1:3-12

2 Tim. 1:7-12

2 Tim. 2:1-10

2 Tim. 4:1-8

Heb. 10:32-39

James 1:2-4

1 Peter 4:12-19

Rev. 2:8-11

7. What does verse 33 have to say about our choices of friends? Why are none of us immune to evil influences?

8. In verse 34, what is the relationship between our character and our witness?

9. In what ways are we morally responsible for those around us who lack the true knowledge of God?

10. Many argue today against any teaching that causes people to sense “shame” over their behavior. Why is “shame” appropriate? How does God use “shame” to bring us to repentance?

Hope in the Midst of Despair

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ and Believers

1 Corinthians 15:1-58 (Part Four - vs. 35-39)

III. The Resurrection Body (35-49) Easter Sunday April 12


We all saw in the news a few years ago a tearful Fireman, holding in his arms the burned and mangled body of an infant lifted from the ruins of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City. That body and the bodies of many others were laid in a grave. We who viewed this tragedy from a distance were moved with feelings of anger toward those who did this and compassion to those who suffered.

Let me dare to ask this morning, Why do we care? If that child and the others are but products of evolution, whose existence came about because of time and chance, there was then no meaning to their life and no ultimate value to it? If God does not exist and consequently there is no resurrection, then it ultimately does not matter whether they live or die? “If there is no God, then man and the universe are doomed. Like prisoners condemned to death, we await our unavoidable execution. There is no God, and there is no immortality. And what is the consequence of this? It means that life itself is absurd. It means that the life we have is without ultimate significance, value, or purpose “(Craig, Reasonable Faith, 1984, 58-59).

Belief in immortality and God assures us of ultimate meaning and significance for humanity. If life ends at the grave, then it makes no ultimate difference whether one has lived as Stalin or saint. If immortality and God are not true, then life has no more ultimate meaning and ultimate value than a mosquito or a barnyard pig. If there is no God or immortality, then that blackened corpse represents a life that is forever gone, a life that really had no meaning or value.

But, we all sense something different. The only answer that atheism can give to a family that suffers such loss is that life is absurd and you have to live it bravely.

What answers does the Bible give? The Bible does not give personal and immediate explanations for all the tragedies of life. It does offer an ultimate explanation grounded in two things: that a personal Sovereign God exists and that there is immortality - life after death.

The hope of the resurrection assures us of God’s power to deliver us from the weaknesses of this temporal evil world and to fit us with capacity for eternal habitation with Him.

The teaching in this section continues an apologetic for believers concerning the resurrection. It offers both comfort and hope and gentle warning.

There is comfort and hope because we are promised a transformation of our mortal bodies; there is gentle warning that we not live this life without a view to eternity.

A. The Resurrection body is consistent with Nature (36-37)

“thou Fool” - A wise man accepts God’s revelation about the resurrection of the body; a fool follows his own depraved naturalistic reasoning.

36 - There are numerous examples in nature where death is followed by life.

Every farmer, every gardener, and all who benefit from their efforts depend upon a belief that resurrection will take place. The farmer doesn’t place the seed in the ground with tears saying a final good-bye. The farmer places the seed in the ground with hope of the harvest.

37 - Nature not only teaches a resurrection but a transformation also. Bare grain is sown, but bare grain is not what is resurrected.

Every farmer, every gardener anticipates a transformation of what was sown.

B. The Resurrected body is consistent with Creation (38-41)

These verse reminds us that there is difference in the things God created. These difference exist because God gives different bodies to accommodate different purposes in this world.

a. 38 These differences are based in God’s sovereign choice. “as it pleased Him” These differences include distinct species (reproduction after one’s kind) and distinct chromosomal make-up.

b. 39 These differences are apparent between earthly bodies themselves.

The human body, animal life, aquatic life, plant life all have bodies suited for a specific purpose.

Even human bodies have the obvious difference of male and female (i.e. obvious to the normal person, not so obvious to others.)

c. 40 These differences are apparent between earthly and heavenly bodies.

The moon is different than the earth. The earth is fitted for human habitation the moon is not.

d. 41 These differences are apparent between the heavenly bodies themselves. The sun and moon, the planets, and distant galaxies have differences.

If God has so created a diversity of bodies in this universe fitted for specific purposes, then why not a resurrection body fitted for the world to come.

C. The Resurrection body is Consistent with the Need of the Human Race.(42-44)

The apostle Paul asked the question in Romans 7, “who will deliver me from this body of death.” He was aware that even thought his inner man was transformed by the presence of the Spirit of God, he was yet living in a mortal body that did not share that transformation.

a. Note the fourfold description of the human body when it is laid in the grave. This description fits, not only the body as it’s laid in the grave, but he whole nature of life in the body.

1) Corruption - subject to decay and rottenness. This is the nature of all things in this life (Matt. 6). Look at your own experience as well as that of others. All of us are decaying!

2) W/O Honor - it is a vehicle of humiliation, especially in contrast to the resurrection body. Being in these bodies is a humbling experience. Even super athletes have bad days and go to the grave without glory. We may protect, delay, and cover this fact through diet, exercise, cosmetics, clothing, etc., the fact remains.

3) Weakness - do you sense this at times about your body. No one’s body is exempt. The best end up on the disabled list. I like to watch the Strongest Men in the World contests - pulling cars, lifting massive rocks, carrying buckets of concrete, etc. As powerful as these men are, they all get tired and inevitably someone gets hurt.

4) Soulish - not meaning “physical” but related to this world and this life. The body we nor have is fitted for life on earth. That’s why astronauts where space suits.

Because of these truth we have passages like Romans 8; 1 Cor. 9:27;

b. Note the description of the body when it is raised:

1) Incorruption - no more subject to decay ( the medical, cosmetic, health and fitness industry will not be needed.

2) glory - Phil. 3:20-21 We sing a song that anticipates this:

When all my labors and trials are o’er, and I am safe on that beautiful shore, just to be near the dear Lord I adore, will through the ages be glory for me. O that will be glory for me, glory for me, glory for me, when by his grace I shall look on his face, that will be glory, be glory, for me.

3) power - though we experience the power of God in our lives, we often find that our physical being battles against it. One day we will have a body and spirit that work in complete harmony to the glory of God.

4) Spiritual - related to things of the spirit. This word does not have the sense of immaterial. The resurrection body is not “spirit” but is a body adapted to the environment of eternity.

D. Resurrection body is consistent with our union with Jesus Christ. (45-49)

Adam and Christ are here discussed as primary representatives of original creation and the new creation.

a. Adam - First birth

1) Physical life - “ a living soul” Adam was fitted with a body that was adaptable to the world in which he was placed.

2) Out of the earth - Gen. 2:7

3) Connected to Adam - we bear the image of Adam - which is the image of God that is damaged by sin but in this context the focus is on that physical body we have that relates to the physical world in which we live.

b. Jesus - The New Birth (ca. Luke 24:36-39)

The contrast is between the two worlds or ages with which Adam and Christ have to do. Adam represents this pre-eschatological, incomplete, transitory, and provisional world-age, while Christ represents the eschatological, complete, definitive, and final world-age (see Gaffin 1987, 83).

1) Spiritual -- life-giving Spirit.

When and how did Jesus become this life-giving Spirit? He functions as life-giving Spirit only on the basis of His resurrection. The resurrected Christ is the life-giving Christ.

2) Out of the heavenlies - John 6:51

3) Connected to Christ - we are of the heavenlies. i.e. “born from above” (John 3:3-5). We bear his image in the resurrection.

The believer’s resurrection then takes on a cosmic connection. The contrast between Adam and Christ designates “the successive reign of two comprehensive principles in history, two successive world orders, a first and second creation, …” (Gaffin 1987, 83).


1. Redemption is not complete until the body is transformed (already/not-yet tension)

2. Death is not the end of life; it is only the end of life as we now know it. (corruption, humiliation, weakness, this-worldly)

3. Union with Jesus Christ insures to us the benefits of his victory over death.

If you are only connected to Adam, you will die a death that knows only corruption. If you by faith are connected to Jesus Christ, then you will share life and his glory.

Someone put it this way, “if you’ve only been born once (a human birth) you’ll die twice (physical and eternal death); if you’ve been born twice (human and new birth), you’ll only die once (physical death but resurrected to glory).

Small Group Questions

1 Corinthians 15:35-49

1. What is it about “life in a mortal body” that makes a resurrected and transformed body so comforting? What are some of the things you have physically endured or watched others endure that “at times” makes you wish for being released from a mortal body?

2. What are some ways that people attempt to relieve the pain, the discouragement of living, the defeat of living in a mortal body?

3. How do you feel about your own mortality?

4. Read 15:39-41. Does Paul’s reasoning concerning difference in types of bodies provide a legitimate basis for thinking about a resurrection body? Why or why not?

5. If you died today, where would you be? What would happen to your body? What hope would you have for your body? How do you know for sure?

6. Read 15:42-44. Discuss the contrast of your mortal body and the resurrection body. Does spiritual mean “immaterial”? Was Christ’s resurrection body a real body (John 20:26-28)?

7. Read 15:45-49 Discuss who and how one is connected to Adam and what that means? Discuss who and how one is connected to Christ and what that means.

8. Share how you would communicate the hope of the resurrection in the following situations:

a. To an unbeliever who is dying of cancer? To a believer?

b. To someone whose saved loved one has just passed away?

c. To someone whose apparently lost loved one has passed away?

d. To someone who is discouraged in serving the Lord?

e. To someone who professes to be saved but is not living for Jesus Christ?

Hope in the Midst of Despair

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ and Believers

1 Corinthians 15:1-58 (Part Five - vs. 50-58)

IV. The assurance of triumph (50-58) April 19

“What are you doing with your life today that you will be glad you did 10,000 years from now?” Only what is truly done to the glory of God.

This question applies to not only what we see as direct Christian ministry such as teaching Sunday School, evangelism, Small groups, music, church boards, children and youth work, etc., but it also applies to all that we do with our lives. Do you work each day to the glory of God? Are you living out retirement to the glory of God? Are you a student to the glory of God? Have you spent the winter and spring to the glory of God? Will your summer be spent to the glory of God?

If there is no resurrection then why even consider these questions. If there is, then why do we not consider these questions?

The hope of the resurrection assures us of ultimate victory over sin and death, providing persistence and significance in the work of the Lord.

“only one life will soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”

2 Cor. 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ …”

This text today continues answering the question of verse 34.

Why a resurrection body?

Notice as an overview the line of argument that these verses set forth:

I. The body in its present form cannot inherit the heavenly existence (50)

II. There must be a transformation (51, 53).

III. This transformation takes place at the parousia (51-52).

IV. At that time, Christ’s victory over sin and death will be fully applied to us (54-57).

V. In light of this we should steadfastly labor in hope, for there is an ultimate and eternal value to our work (58).

I. The body in its present form cannot inherit the heavenly existence. (50)

“flesh and blood” is a common pair of words that describes humanity as part of this earthly order of things.

Matt. 16:17: Gal. 1:15-16 see the phrase “flesh and blood” to contrast information that is attainable by natural means and that which is revealed by God.

Eph. 6:11-12 uses the phrase “flesh and blood” to say that our struggle is not with human physical forces but with spiritual powers.

Heb. 2:14 uses the phrase “flesh and blood” to speak of Christ’s incarnation.

The phrase “flesh and blood” clearly speaks of human existence in this earthly order.

Let me pause here for a moment to say that just as “flesh and blood” (humanity as we know it) is not compatible with heavenly existence, neither is it sufficient for living the Christian life.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly ...”

“For the flesh wars against the spirit ....”

The Christian life is lived supernaturally through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

In these verses he uses two words that describe the body’s present existence - perishable

(subject to decay) and mortal (subject to death).

The perishable body cannot inherit the imperishable life of the future.

The mortal body cannot inherit the life of the future in which there is no death.

As we saw last week, a resurrection body makes you adaptable to the new heaven and earth that is coming.

Knowing that the things of this life are subject to decay, we should heed the advice of Jesus to lay up our treasures in heaven (Matt. 6:19ff).

II. There must be a transformation. (51, 53)

“we shall all be changed” - This transformation applies to all believers, it is future, and it is something that happens to them, i.e. they are passive recipients of this powerful transformation. You might ask - how? By the power of God!

Earlier (1 Cor. 6:9-12) Paul taught that a transformation of one’s character must take place in order to inherit the kingdom of God.

He now adds that transformation of one’s bodily existence must take place in order to enter the kingdom of God.

The “corruptible” puts on incorruption.

The “mortal” puts on immortality.

This reminds us of what some have called the “already/not yet” tension of eschatology.

“Already” the inner transformation has taken place.

“Not yet” has the outer transformation taken place.

III. This transformation takes place at the parousia. (54-57)

Paul had taught this earlier in 1 Thess. 4:13-18. 1 Thessalonians is one of the earliest books of the NT.

This is a mystery - i.e. something that it is reveled to those who have the Spirit.

The last trump is a military phrase referring to the sound of the trumpet calling the soldiers to wake up, pack up, fall in line, and march away.

This will take place in a moment ( atom - indivisible, though we do know now that an atom is divisible). (In NY they say that the definition of a “twinkling of an eye” is the amount of time between when a light turns green and someone behind you blows their horn.)

This transformation will take place for some without them ever experiencing “sleep” - this word describes the experience of the body lying dormant in the grave until resurrection. The soul/spirit is with the Lord already (Phil. 1:21-23; 2 Cor. 5:7-8).

What happens? 2 Cor. 5:1-5

IV. At that time, Christ’s victory over sin and death will be fully applied to us. (54-57)

Isa. 25:8 gave the promise.

Death entered the world through the first Adam (Rom. 5:12, Gen. 2:16)

The universal fear of the human race is death (Heb. 2:14-15).

Death has a sting in that it inflicts harm and hurt because of sin. When sin is removed the sting is gone. Sin’s power comes from the law, i.e. sin is strengthened by the law because one becomes proud through achieving portions of the law or one’s actions are clearly seen to be against God by the law.

The law has no power to save “therefore by the deeds of the law .....”

“Already” we experience many benefits of his victory.

“Not yet” have we experienced the full benefits.

‘thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Through Jesus Christ the curse of the law has been lifted (Gal. 3:13); sin has been forgiven (Eph. 1:14); and death has been conquered (Heb. 2:15).

The Holy Spirit is the “earnest” payment assuring us of more to come.

V. In light of this we should steadfastly labor in hope, for there is an ultimate and eternal value to our work. (58)

Midway through this discussion on the resurrection, Paul exhorted this church to “awake to righteousness and stop sinning, for some have not the knowledge of God.” Now at the close, he exhorts them and us again to persist in the work of the Lord..

What is the work of the Lord? the kinds of activities that are specifically Christian and redemptive.

The work of the Lord is the work of reconciling sinful men to a holy God.

This work has at least three characteristics:

Christ - centered (1 Cor. 3:11)

Church - based (Matt. 16:18)

Commission - oriented (Matt. 28:19-20)

How should we do the work of the Lord?

Be Steadfast and immovable! The work of the Lord takes place in the midst of opposition by evil forces which seek to thwart the Lord’s work of reconciliation.

Why should we do the work of the Lord?

Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the guarantee of our own resurrection, we know that our labor in the Lord in not in vain.

Let me ask you again: “What are you doing with your life today that you will be glad you did 10,000 years from now?”

Small Group Questions

1 Corinthians 15:50-58

1. Why is it reasonable to believe that a new body is necessary for the new heaven and new earth?

2. What are some of those things that constantly remind us that “our bodily existence in this earthly order” leaves something to be desired?

3. Read I Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52. In your own words describe what would happen if Jesus Christ came back in the next 5 minutes.

4. If Jesus Christ returned in the next five minutes, how would you feel? (ashamed, disappointed, embarrassed, relieved, joyful, regretful?)

5. “What are you doing with your life today that you will be glad you did 10,000 years from now?”

6. Read 1 Cor. 15:54-57. Describe the emotional tone of those words. Do they sound like words of triumph and joy? How do you respond to the hope of the resurrection?

Why not take a moment here to pray vs. 57?

7. Why should we be encouraged in our labor for the Lord?

8. What is it about the work of the Lord that requires us to be steadfast and immovable?

9. Describe what “abounding in the work of the Lord” looks like practically. What does a life look like that is “abounding in the work of the Lord”? What does a church look like that is “abounding in the work of the Lord”?

10. Explain how 2 Corinthians 5:10 relates to 1 Corinthians 15:58.