Summary: In our lesson today, we learn about the hope of the Christian's resurrection.
We continue our study in The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians in a series I am calling Challenges Christians Face.
One of the challenges that Christians face is the issue of what happens to our bodies when we die. There are some who believe that the bodies of Christians are not resurrected. Let’s learn about this in a message I am calling, “The Hope of the Christian’s Resurrection.”
Let’s read 1 Corinthians 15:12-19:
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 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. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:12-19)
What happens to a person when he dies?
There are many different views in our culture about what happens to a person when he dies. I remember the days following 9-11. Americans said that the terrorists who hijacked the planes on that day went to hell. Muslims, on the other hand, said that the hijackers went straight to paradise where they received 72 virgins.
Generally, when a person who is loved, admired, or appreciated dies, she is said to go to heaven. But, if the person is not loved, admired, or appreciated, he is thought to go to hell.
Some in our culture have taught what is known as “soul sleep.” At death the body stops functioning and eventually disintegrates, while the soul or spirit sleeps.
Materialists believe in total extinction, that is, complete annihilation. Neither the body nor the soul survives after death.
Some, like John Stott, believe in eventual annihilation. The soul survives after death and will suffer torment in hell, but will, at some distant future point, eventually be annihilated.
Some believe in reincarnation. At death the body ceases to exist and eventually disintegrates. However, the soul is set free from the body, and is then attached to another living being. So, the soul passes from human to animal or from animal to human.
Others believe in what is generally described as absorption, in which the spirit, or at least a certain part of the spirit, returns back to its source and is absorbed back into the ultimate divine mind or being.
Some of the confusion over what happens to us when we die can be attributed to the Greek concept known as “dualism.” Dualism considered everything spiritual to be intrinsically good and everything physical to be intrinsically evil.
This philosophy was present in Corinth at the time Paul wrote his letter to the Corinthians. There was a common view that a resurrected body after death was repugnant. The Greeks had bought into the view that their bodies were the problem, which caused them sin, suffering, and misery. They were looking forward to becoming only spiritual beings in which they were no longer shackled to their physical bodies.
So, Paul addressed the issue of what happens to our bodies when we die. He addressed those who opposed the idea of our bodies being resurrected into glorified bodies. He wanted them to understand the hope that Christians have regarding the resurrection.
So, in our lesson today we learn about the hope of the Christian’s resurrection.
Let’s learn about this as follows:
1. The Claim of No Resurrection (15:12-13, 16).
2. The Consequences of No Resurrection (15:14-15, 17-19).
I. The Claim of No Resurrection (15:12-13, 16)
First, let’s look at the claim of no resurrection.
Paul began by examining their claim that there was no resurrection of the body. And he did so by pointing out that their claim was inconsistent and illogical.
A. The Claim Is Inconsistent (15:12)
First, notice that the claim is inconsistent.
Paul said in verse 12: “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?”
The Corinthians apparently believed that Christ had risen bodily from the dead. Remember, Paul had said to them at the start of the chapter, in verses 1-2a, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved . . .” (emphasis mine). Clearly, Paul believed that they were saved.