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Consequences Of The Resurrection

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Prelude

Welcome

Call to Worship

1     Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers;

2     but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night.

3     They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.

6     for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous.  (Psalm 1 NRSV)

*Praise                see insert            Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (#703 UM)

*Invocation  (Lord’s Prayer)         here in this place and in this hour have mercy on us. God of light, shine into our hearts. God of goodness, deliver us from evil. God of power, be our strength. God of love, let your love flow through us. God of life, live within us, now and forever.

*Gloria Patri       # 575

Our Offering to God            As we prepare to bring our gifts to God, let us reflect on who we are in relation to the people of the world and to our own community .  

*Doxology          #572

*Prayer of Dedication          O God, we will never really respond as we would like to respond to the needs of others.  We cling to our securities and our perceptions of our own needs and fail to be as generous as we would like to be.  But please receive what we have given and bless it this day.

Scripture Reading                 Jeremiah 17:5-10 (NRSV)

5     Thus says the Lord: Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals and make mere flesh their strength,

whose hearts turn away from the Lord. 6     They shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when relief comes. They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. 7     Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. 8     They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit. 9     The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse— who can understand it? 10     I the Lord test the mind and search the heart, to give to all according to their ways, according to the fruit of their doings.

*Hymn of Prayer         # 28           Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Pastoral Prayer          

But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.       Acts 6:4     

 

Praise God for... a warm home, a bed, food and clothing.

 

Ask God for... assistance (spiritual, physical, emotional or otherwise) for troubled families.

 

Thank God for... those who continues to heal after surgery.

 

Healing for... those who are dealing with addictions.

Thanks be to you, O God, for the blessings and the wounds of woe – for each is your gift to us.  Thanks be to you for the truth in every age and the prophetic voices of   people who care about others so much that they are willing to disturb us.

Come, bless our lives as well as our gifts.  Put us on your shoulders that that we may see the world afresh, then lift us down and turn our minds toward renewed action for justice.  Warm our hearts if they have become cool with complacency and stir up in us a sense of urgency if we have stayed our hands with easier options, while others starve and weep and wait for enough.  Show us their faces as we wait before you.

Take our prayers and turn them into commitments for change.  May we be energized by your creativity and inspired by your footsteps that walk in front of our lives as you show us your living way.  Let our ears hear the cries of the people alongside your firm rebuke, so that we never forget the great hope to which we are called.

Hold us when we falter in determination.  Touch us if we fail to see what lies ahead.  Reach for us if we fall on the wayside and lift up the light of your dream before our every choice. 

*Hymn of Praise          # 25           Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee

         

Scripture Reading                 1 Corinthians 15:12-20  (NRSV)

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of 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, then Christ has not been raised. 17 If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. 19 If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.

Message                      CONSEQUENCES OF THE RESURRECTION

INTRODUCTION: The gospel is not the gospel if the resurrection is removed. The resurrection of Christ is key to our continued existence as a church. Without the resurrection, just as the gospel ceases to be the gospel, so the church ceases to be the church.
Paul was very concerned that the Corinthian church got it straight. The resurrection was foundational to the church, foundational to Christian teaching, foundational to our future hope, foundational to the teaching of the apostles, and foundational to the future ministry of the body of Christ.
Denial of the Resurrection of the Dead Negates the Gospel (15:12–19) Now Paul is ready to get directly to the issue at hand: some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead (v. 12). His argument in a nutshell is this. There is a divinely purposed unity between three elements in the gospel that the Corinthians have received and in which they stand (15:1). To break or deny any one of these three links is to destroy the whole chain of God’s saving purposes in Christ. The three links are the future resurrection of the dead, the present experience of the forgiveness of our sins through faith, and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. To deny or eliminate any of these three is like trying to sew a fabric without a knot in the thread (Brunner 1947:563).

In the passage we have before us today, Paul develops the negative consequences of the resurrection, or should we say the consequences of not having a resurrection. Afterwards, Paul then shares with us the positive consequences of the resurrection, or the consequences of having a resurrection.
Some of the Christians at Corinth are saying there is no such thing as the resurrection of the dead (15:12–34). They believe that the Christian faith is for this life only, without any hope of a future beyond the grave.

Paul strongly disagrees. He argues that if there is no resurrection, the Christian faith collapses. Without resurrection, Jesus must still be dead. If Jesus is dead, then the gospel message is a lie. If the gospel is a lie, then there is no forgiveness of sins, no new life with God and no hope for the future.

If there is no resurrection, says Paul, we are all helpless sinners facing eternal judgment. If there is no future hope, the apostles are pathetic creatures preaching an empty, powerless gospel. They are either criminal liars or deluded and mad.

If there is no resurrection of the dead [in the future], then not even Christ has been raised, v. 13 clearly shows this linkage. Paul has already rehearsed in detail the evidence for the resurrection of Christ from the dead (vv. 4–8), which presumably the Corinthians (or at least most) did accept when they first believed Paul’s preaching. If they deny this, then that which is preached is void and so is their faith (v. 14). Furthermore, the apostles (we) are found to be false witnesses because they preached that God … raised Christ from the dead (v. 15).

Now Paul’s point again is that there is a unity between the future resurrection of the dead and the resurrection of Christ. If the dead are not raised, then Christ is not raised; if Christ is not raised, then the dead will not be raised, and salvation by faith is destroyed, together with the forgiveness of our sins (vv. 16–17).

Furthermore, all hopes for those who have died (fallen asleep, or better “laid to sleep,” in hope of being raised) are lost (v. 18, apollymi, perish, destroy). For Paul it is not a continuation of the life of the soul that gives hope for those who have died, but the resurrection of the dead. This hope of resurrection is grounded in and inseparable from not a spiritual resurrection or the soul’s presence with God, but the resurrection of Christ from the dead.

With this sense, then, Paul would be saying, We are to be pitied more than all men because without the future resurrection of the dead, all the negative consequences of verses 13–18 would then be true (Christ is not raised, preaching is useless, faith void, there is no forgiveness of sins, and the dead are lost forever). This is of course precisely what Paul does not believe, and he will now turn to the positive and its consequences. // - what he truly believes — that Jesus Christ is raised from death. He is raised, not just for his own victory, but for ours as well. Jesus is the first-fruit of a great harvest. He is the prototype of all who have died and will be raised. Paul is so sure of this that he describes death as merely ‘falling asleep’, in the certain hope of waking again to new life in Christ.

Paul explains. The entire human race shares a sinful nature and is sentenced to spiritual death. In Bible terms, this is the desperate plight that we have inherited from Adam — the first human. But now all people can be saved through the sacrifice and victory of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the ‘new man’. He is the founder of a new humanity — the restored children of God. Just as we inherited spiritual death from Adam, so now we inherit spiritual life from Christ.

Because Christ Has Been Raised, All Who Belong to Him Will Be Raised (15:20–28) Jesus’ resurrection is not merely a example of the future resurrection but is actually the beginning of the future resurrection itself. People will be raised from the dead because they participate in and are identified now with Christ, and they will share his final victory over the last enemy, death, when he comes.

A nurse’s first experience of meeting Christians who had this hope came while working in hospital wards where some believers and some nonbelievers were dying every day. “There was such a peace with some patients, she wanted to know why.” Her first interest in the Bible came as a result of this experience.

Firstfruits (aparchē, vv. 20, 23) is a metaphor drawn from Old Testament harvests. A small portion of the anticipated grain harvest was offered up symbolically, dedicating the whole future harvest to God. The “firstfruits” came first and contained in them the whole rest of the grain harvest to come (Ex 23:16, 19; Deut 26:1–11; cf. Rom 11:16). Similarly, Christ’s resurrection is part and parcel of the future resurrection of all who belong to him at his coming (v. 23): Christ alone now, the rest to follow. In Paul’s mind, then, to deny the future resurrection is in effect to deny and nullify the resurrection of Christ, because the two are a unity.[1]

But if everyone who trusts in Christ will be raised to life, why have some believers died? Paul says that all who have died believing in Christ will be raised to life when he returns. The reign of Christ has begun and his victory is certain — but death will be the last of his enemies to be destroyed.

When Jesus Christ returns, he will overcome all the powers of evil, and present his people to his Father. Just as God placed his whole creation at humanity’s feet (Psalm 8:6), so Christ will offer himself and the new creation back to God the Father.

Paul points out that Corinthian Christians are living as though the resurrection is true. And Paul himself has been involved in fierce fights for the truth of the gospel. In Ephesus he challenged occult powers and risked death at the hands of a mob. Why would he endure such hardship and suffering, if the resurrection is a myth?

Paul urges the Corinthians to stop their slide back into paganism and superstition, and renew their life of holiness and knowledge of God[2]

If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. (1 Corinthians 15:19)

In this day of the “throwaway” and the temporary, Christians must live according to their belief in eternity. The apostle Paul reminded the believers at Corinth that if their hope in Christ were related only to this life, they would be the most miserable men of all (1 Corinthians 15:17–19). The anticipation of God’s tomorrow makes it possible for Christians to live joyfully today—regardless of life’s circumstances.


The resurrection is the most important truth to the church today. It is foundational for everything else we do and say.
The church is not a crutch for a dying world, it is its lifeline ONLY because of the resurrection!    

*Hymn of Response    see insert            Because  He Lives (#364   UM)

*Sending forth           Go forth and be the people of God.  There is no other way toward the fullness of life that is our eternal calling.

 

*Postlude

 


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[1]Johnson, Alan F.: 1 Corinthians. Downers Grove, Ill. : InterVarsity Press, 2004 (The IVP New Testament Commentary Series 7), S. 290

[2]Knowles, Andrew: The Bible Guide. 1st Augsburg books ed. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg, 2001, S. 589

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