Summary: Epiphany 6(C) - The risen Christ is our living hope for a meaningful life now and an exalted life forever after.
THE RISEN CHRIST IS OUR LIVING HOPE
February 12, 2006 - Epiphany 6 - 1 Corinthians 15:12-22
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Dear Fellow-Redeemed & Saints in the Lord:
The resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of believers are the foundation and the very cornerstones of our Christian faith. Christianity is the only religion that teaches a resurrection, a resurrection where the believer is united with his Lord and God and Savior for eternity. Scripture is quite clear that the promises that God makes are true. Because of those promises and the fact that we know that there is more to this life than just earthly living, we, as our bulletin cover says, rejoice and we are glad. We are glad because of the resurrection of Christ. We are given a life on this earth that is meaningful; and we will be given a life where we will be exalted forever because the resurrection of Jesus is our living hope.
In Philippians Paul describes the choice for the believer. Paul says it can be a hard choice – a meaningful earthly life or an exalted eternal life. "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain...I am torn between the two. I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far" (Philippians 1:21,23). So this morning in our text the Apostle Paul in these words to the Corinthians would have us consider our earthly life that it has meaning. God through Paul would have us also consider and reflect on the fact that no matter how much we value this earthly life, our future eternal life is better by far. So we consider the fact that: THE RISEN CHRIST IS OUR LIVING HOPE. This fact provides:
I. A meaningful life now, and
II. An exalted life forever.
I. A MEANINGFUL LIFE NOW
Probably in this first verse of this text those words sound strange to us that people would be questioning the resurrection. Verse 12: "But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?" The main message of Paul was to preach that Christ indeed was put to death and he had also been brought back to life. The grave did not, could not, hold Jesus. There were many in Corinth who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. There were two reasons for that: (1) this message of the resurrection was a brand new message. This was the first generation to hear that the Savior Christ had come by being born on earth, lived and was put to death. This very same Jesus was also brought back to life. This new fact was something that people still had to grasp and know and believe in their hearts and minds. (2) The philosophy of the age was that there was no resurrection--people died and that was it. It may sound strange to us, but back then the resurrection was unheard of, impossible.
Paul continues: "If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised." He sets up an argument--"If you don’t believe in the resurrection, then you can’t believe in Christ being raised either. Paul says: "And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." That statement probably made these believers think. The Corinthian believers realized the whole purpose of Paul’s life was to preach Christ’s resurrection. Paul had given up his earthly life, so to speak, and spent the rest of his adult life going on missionary journeys to spread that same message. Christ has been raised. They knew then Paul’s preaching was not useless. They had to make that connection that if Christ is raised, so are people; and especially the believers.
In case they still did not want to believe Paul adds in verse 15: "More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead." Paul says, "If Christ is not raised, then we are making up lies or stories." Paul writes: "But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised." The result of no resurrection: "For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins." Paul concludes that everything – his preaching and their faith – is useless by believing in no resurrection. Finally, there is not even salvation.
Why didn’t they believe in the resurrection? (1) It was new to them; (2) it was the philosophy of the age. The philosophy of the age from Plato and other philosophers was that everything earthly was evil. So if a person has an earthly body, it is evil and can’t expect to be connected to the spiritual. Death comes and that is the end. You may remember when Jesus came and taught in the temples, who were there? There were two types of leaders in the church. There were Pharisees on one hand and the Sadducees on the other. What about the Sadducees? They were leaders in the church. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection. Believing in a resurrection was quite a problem of society of that day. Paul makes the fact if they are not going to believe in the resurrection of the body, they can’t believe in the resurrection of Christ. If they do not believe in that, their life is meaningless. Their faith is futile, and the preaching they heard was useless.