“EYES ON THINGS ETERNAL”
(A Series on I Corinthians)
Westgate Chapel 3/14/99a.m. I Corinthians 15:29-44
PROPOSITION: The resurrection of Jesus brings the perspective of eternity to the lifestyle of the believer, to the friendships of the believer, and to the death and burial of the believer.
- (HOLD to His hand...) Sing the chorus.
- BUILD your hopes on things eternal.
- WHAT does that line mean?
- IT means living your life, building your hopes and ambitions with your eyes on eternity every day, all the time.
* Not the stock market.
* Not your house.
* Not your girl friend or boyfriend.
* Not your family.
* Not your career.....but eternity.
- THESE things are all passing away. They may be good things, but they are still passing away...and you with them if they are all that consume your waking hours and days.
- IT means living your life, expecting to see Jesus, expecting the culmination of your salvation to be eternity in His presence.
- IT means asking of every pursuit, every activity, “How does this effect my plans for eternity?”
- ONE of the problems we face today is that preachers have made eternity too ethereal, too misty, filled with too many harps and clouds....to be something we build our lives towards.
- A NINETEENTH century pastor of Holy Trinity Presbyterian church in St. Andrews, Scotland preached a sermon in the realities of heaven and eternity in the late 1800’s......I would like to read a few lines to you out of a little old book I found in an antique book sale in Grand Rapids, Michigan a few years back.
- (READ excerpts)
- HAVING your eyes on eternity will effect every area of your life.
- IT did for the apostle Paul.
- AND he suggests in the passage from I Corinthians 15 that we are going to examine this morning, that having an eye on things eternal will effect our lifestyle, our friendships, and our death and burial.
ii. EFFECT on our lifestyle
- PAUL is rejecting the heresy creeping into the church at Corinth that there was no resurrection.
- IT was most likely the heresy of the Gnostics, who rejected the material physical world as with our any value, and only valued highly secretive spiritual knowledge.
- SO, in verse 29, he opens round two of his attack on this heresy by looking at the effect of what we believe concerning the resurrection on our daily lifestyle choices.
- VERSE 29,
“Now if there is no resurrection...”
1. WHY do some people (there were all kinds of weird doctrines in Corinth) baptize for the dead?
* Verse 29,
“...what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?”
• Some Corinthian believers were so convinced of the resurrection that if one of them died before being baptized, they would baptize someone in proxy for them (there is record of second century heretics who also practiced this kind of baptism).
• Their conviction in the resurrection, their eye on eternity, had immediate implications for their lifestyle in this matter of baptism for the dead.
• Paul doesn’t even waste time here arguing the stupidity of the practice, he simply uses it to make his argument.
• The rest of his epistles and the whole New Testament clearly refute the practice. There is only one way to be saved, and that is through a living faith in Jesus Christ.
* In fact, Paul’s use of second person pronouns in verse 29, “those who,” “for them,” distances the apostle from the practice. In the next verses he switches to “us,” and “I,” when speaking of other lifestyle choices.
• But Paul’s point is that these people in Corinth had their eye on eternity so much that it effected their lifestyles...namely baptism for the dead.
2. WHY are we apostles willing to be exposed to danger every hour for the Gospel of Christ, if there is no resurrection?
* Verse 30 says,
“And as for us (contrasted with those who baptize for the dead), why do we endanger ourselves every hour?”
• The apostles lived with their eyes on eternity when it came to handling the dangers of their calling....because of their belief in the resurrection.
• They were building their hopes on things eternal. That was how they faced danger every hour.
3. WHY was Paul willing to die every day, literally, but also to his own desires, ambitions and interests if there was no resurrection.
* Verse 31 says,
“I die every day-- I mean that, brothers--just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
• Paul was building his hopes on things eternal. That was why he could lay his life down every day.
4. WHY was Paul willing to face fierce and potentially devastating opposition for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ if there was no resurrection?
* Verse 32 says,
“If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained?”
• Paul’s lifestyle was impacted because he was looking for the “gain” coming to him in the resurrection.
• Paul had a reward in mind that he expected to receive in eternity that made the battles of this life worth going through.
• I Corinthians 9:25 says,
“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”
• II Timothy 4:8 says,
“Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-- and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
• I Peter 5:4 says,
“And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”
• Paul was building his hopes on things eternal.
5. LASTLY, Paul brings up the lifestyle of the rest of the pagan Corinthians who were not building their hopes on things eternal.
* In verse 32b, Paul writes of their priorities,
“If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’” (I Corinthians 15:29-32)
• That is called narcissism, a lifestyle based on self-love and self-gratification....without any consideration for things or people outside of ones own sphere of existence.
• That is what happens when you do not build your hopes on things eternal.
• You make yourself a god.
- SO, having your eyes on things eternal effects your lifestyle.
iii. EFFECT ON our FRIENDsHIPS
- BUT it does something else.
- IT effects your friendships.
- IT appears from the next few verses that the Corinthian believers who rejected the resurrection were following the lifestyle of verse 32b, and encouraging their friends to do the same....because in verse 33 Paul writes,
“Do not be misled...”
- GNOSTICISM was one of the most prominent heresies of the first century church.
- GNOSTICS believed that the material physical realm, including the body, was of no value...and only the spiritual realm counted for anything.
- THEY believed therefore that it didn’t matter how you lived in the physical realm, since the physical realm had no value.
- YOU could have special spiritual revelation and knowledge and live any way you wanted.
- GNOSTICS did not believe in the resurrection of the body because the body had no value.
- AND these were the folks, inside the church in Corinth, who were influencing others in the fellowship to sin....since the body was of no value anyhow.
- THEY were misleading others in the fellowship with their heresy.
- SO Paul gives the Corinthians a warning to not be misled....or led astray.
- THEN in the rest of verse 33 he goes on to instruct them concerning their friendships.
“‘Bad company corrupts good character.’
- IF you believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- IF you have been born again and are a follower of Jesus Christ, it matters who you hang out with.
- YOU will be seduced by the values and beliefs of the people you hang out with.
- THAT was what was happening to the believers in Corinth who DID believe in the resurrection and were truly born again....but were filling their lives with friendships that did not have eternity in view.
- THAT is why Paul says in verse 34,
“Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God-- I say this to your shame.” (I Corinthians 15:33-34)
- THE Greek for “ignorant of God” is not just an intellectual knowledge of God, but an involvement of the heart as well.
- ASSOCIATING with those who rejected the resurrection and lived by any standard they pleased....
* Dulled the senses of the true believers. Got them off into activities they should have known were wrong.
* Seduced them into sinning themselves.
* Disconnected their hearts from God.
- AND Paul is writing in the hopes that his challenge to them on this matter will shame them into repentance.
- IF we build our hopes on things eternal it will effect who we pick for our friends....they will be like-minded believers who are going after God together....leaning lightly on this world and heavily towards eternity.
iv. EFFECT ON our death and burial
- LASTLY, if we are building our hopes on things eternal, it will have a huge effect on how we dies and are buried.
- A MORBID subject, you say?
- MAYBE, but we had better think about it before we get there.
- BECAUSE how you live will determine how you die and are buried.
- VERSE 35 says,
“But someone may ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?’ (36) How foolish!
- IT is a foolish question because it ignores the God of all creation and His re-creative power for those who die in Christ.
- PAUL takes the Corinthians to three natural, physical realms to answer the question about how you die and are buried.
- HE reminds the Corinthians that the resurrected body we will receive when Christ comes back will be different than the body we have now in three ways.
1. DIFFERENT in form.....but that is no big deal. We see that in nature every day.
* Verse 36,
“What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. (37) When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. (38) But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.”
2. DIFFERENT in type....but that is no big deal. We see that all around us every day.
* Verse 39,
“All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.”
3. DIFFERENT in splendor, or glory....but that shouldn’t surprise us. We see that in the universe every day.
* Verse 40,
“There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. (41) The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.”
- THEN in the next few verses Paul tells us what death and burial are like for those who build their hopes on things eternal.
- VERSE 42,
“So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; (43) it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; (44) it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” (I Corinthians 15:35-44)
- NO wonder he writes a few verses later,
“‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’....(57) But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (58) Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
- THAT is how we face death and burial if we build our hopes on things eternal!
- IT will effect your lifestyle.
- IT will effect your friendships.
- IT will effect your death and burial.
- IN Colossians 3:1-4, Paul ties all of these thoughts together for us...
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. (2) Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (3) For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (4) When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
- SO, you had better.....”Hold to His hand...”