Summary: In this lesson we learn that it is meaningless to live as a Christian if there is no bodily resurrection for Christians.
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 bodily resurrection, and particularly as it relates to how Christians live in view of our bodily resurrection. Let’s learn about this in a message I am calling, “What If There Is No Bodily Resurrection?”
Let’s read 1 Corinthians 15:29-34:
29 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? 30 Why are we in danger every hour? 31 I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! 32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame. (1 Corinthians 15:29-34)
This past week a mature Christian woman told me how she came to have saving faith in Jesus Christ. It was an interesting story, but one comment in her testimony really struck a cord with me.
She told me how she had grown up in a church-going home. As a girl she went to Sunday school and worship with her family. She heard about Jesus and the Bible, but none of that made any impact on her life.
After High School she went off to college. She attended a number of different churches. One Sunday she went to worship with a friend. That was when she made the comment that caught my attention. She said that she was struck by the fact that the minister actually believed the Bible. It wasn’t long before she herself came to believe in Jesus as her Lord and Savior.
Now, what was it about the way the minister spoke that made her sense that he really believed that the Bible was true? Did he shout? Did he manipulate his congregation? Did he have any special technique? I don’t think so.
I am reminded of the reaction of the crowds at the conclusion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Do you remember their reaction? Matthew tells us that “when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes” (Matthew 7:28-29). Their reaction was similar to the woman who shared her testimony with me this week.
So what was the difference between the teaching of the scribes and the teaching of Jesus? The scribes spoke “from authorities,” always quoting other rabbis and so-called experts of the Law. However, Jesus, as God the Son, spoke by his own authority. He did not need to quote other human authorities. His word was truth!
To the extent that Christian ministers expound God’s word and not other human writers, they will be authoritative. When they really believe the Bible, they will simply explain what it says.
Part of the difficulty that Paul had with the Corinthian church is that they believed that they had progressed beyond Paul. True, Paul planted the church. They had came to believe in Jesus through the ministry of Paul. They had received forgiveness of sins through the person and work of Jesus Christ. They had grown in their understanding of God’s truth through the ministry of Paul. Then Paul moved away. Some of the believers in Corinth were then led astray into believing false teaching. And this caused all kinds of problems in the church.
And so The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians was written to correct the many errors that some of the Corinthian believers had embraced.
One of the errors that some of the Corinthian believers had embraced is that there is no bodily resurrection for Christians. Chapter 15 is Paul’s teaching regarding the bodily resurrection.
In verses 1-11 Paul set down the evidence for Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead.
In verses 12-19 Paul showed that because of Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead, there can be a bodily resurrection for Christians.
In verses 20-28 Paul showed that because of Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead, there must be a bodily resurrection for Christians.
In verses 29-34, which is our text for today, Paul pointed out that it would be meaningless to live as a Christian if there was no bodily resurrection for Christians.
So, in our lesson today we learn that it is meaningless to live as a Christian if there is no bodily resurrection for Christians.