Summary: Sermon explores God's program for bringing in His kingdom (the New World Order), beginning with the resurrection of Jesus. In this Easter message, God's program for a new world is contrasted with the world's efforts to do so without God.
1 Cor. 15:20-24
Today I want to talk with you about the New World Order.
When it is fully established there will be no more war or bloodshed. Terrorism will be a thing of the past. Poverty will be unheard of. No one will ever hunger or thirst again in this new economy. All the problems that plague our earth will be fully resolved. Everyone will live in perfect bliss.
Turn with me to 1 Cor. 15 and let’s see how this will all come about.
Our text found in verses 20-24 “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.”i
These verses summarize the implantation of the New World Order that God is bringing about. Notice in verses 23 and 24 three general phases of this plan. (1) Christ the firstfruits (2) afterwards those what are Christ’s at His coming. (3) The comes the end.…” There are details about each of these phases that are not spelled out in this passage.ii Paul is giving to us a general outline of establishing God’s New World Order.
Phase I: Resurrection of Jesus Launches New World Order.
Without the resurrection of Jesus, there could be no New World Order. Col. 1:18 says that He is the beginning, “the firstborn from the dead.” Here Paul refers to Christ in His resurrection as the firstfruits. The word firstfruits was meaningful to the Jewish mind. As harvest time approached they would bring the first ripened part to the temple as a wave offering unto God. It was thanksgiving for the whole harvest. The firstfruits was exciting evidence that the entire harvest was on its way.iii Jesus’ resurrection is the guarantee of your resurrection as a believer. Without the resurrection of Jesus, there could be no New World Order.
Paul passionately argues that point in 1 Cor. 15. There were some people spreading the old Sadducee heresy that the there is no resurrection.iv “God might be up there in the sky somewhere; but when you’re dead, you’re dead—it’s over. Live a moral life; be nice to people; that’s better for you and for society. But forget about life after death.” Paul jumps on this error with both feet. If Christ is not raised from the dead, then your faith is vain. What is the use of being a Christian if in this life only we have hope? It was the resurrection that declared Jesus to truly be the Son of God.v It was the resurrection that proved He is everything He claims to be. It is the resurrection of Jesus that is the basis of our hope as believers. Paul says in 1 Cor. 15:17 “And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” The death of Jesus on the cross paid for our sins, but the resurrection proved that His sacrifice was acceptable before God.
Without the resurrection of Jesus all hope is lost. Paul even said in verse 19 “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” Paul himself had paid a big price for His testimony of Jesus. He had been a privileged Pharisee of Pharisees.vi In the natural he had it made before he met Jesus. He could have lived a soft, comfortable life. But Paul met the Resurrected Christ on the Road to Damascus. Paul knew Jesus was Messiah because he had seen Him in His resurrected body. That encounter turned Paul completely around. That encounter changed the whole paradigm of Paul’s life. Now he suffers all kinds of abuse and reproach for the sake of His Master. He is stoned. He is beaten. He is shipwrecked and rejected.vii What a foolish way to live if there is no resurrection. In verse 32 Paul says, “If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!’" If there is no life after death, if there is no moral accountability, if there is no judgment, then the logical conclusion is "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!" Live for your own pleasure and comfort.
I wonder how many people claim Christianity, but in practice that’s pretty close to their philosophy in life. They do it if they want to. They do it if it fits into their plans. They serve God on their own terms and mostly just serve their own desires. If we really understand the resurrection the way Paul understood it, we would serve God wholeheartedly-- because nothing short of that makes any sense. Hebrews 11:35 talks about people who “were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.” What do you do that you might obtain a better resurrection? Does Resurrection Day drive your decisions in life?