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#35 Resurrection Ramifications

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RESURRECTION RAMIFICATIONS

(A Series on I Corinthians)

Westgate Chapel 3/7/99 a.m.                       I Corinthians 15:12-28

PROPOSITION:  Either positions of rejecting or accepting the resurrection of Christ have serious and eternal ramifications for humankind.

I. introduction

-     THE culture in Corinth prided itself in being tolerant of all kinds of lifestyles and behaviors.

-     TOLERANCE was a virtue prized above all other virtues. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

-     THIS tolerance was carried into the life of the only church in Corinth in the first century.

-     THESE were new believers. Many of them saved from the pagan religions of Greek mythology for little over a year or two.

*     They were tolerant of the angry divisions that existed between them over leadership.

*     They were tolerant of bizarre sexual promiscuity.

*     They were tolerant of selfish and rude behavior when they came together for the Lord’s Supper celebrations.

*     They were tolerant of pride and arrogance on the part of those who fancied themselves as having superior wisdom.

*     They were tolerant of worship practices that were out of control.

-     THIS is so characteristic of our day.

-     ANYTHING goes.

-     LIVE however you want. It is politically incorrect for anyone to question or challenge you.

-     BELIEVE what you want. As long as it works for you.

-     TRUTH is relative. It is what you want it to be.

-     NO is willing to draw a line, to take a stand on what is right or wrong in critical life issues.

-     IN the Corinthian church, the apostle Paul had to step in with strong teaching to correct all of the error.

-     AND in I Corinthians 15 Paul addresses the doctrinal error that was being tolerated in the church concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

-     THERE were some in the church who were denying the teaching on resurrection....and nobody was bringing any correction to them.

-     THERE were three philosophies prevalent in the culture of Corinth at the time that were likely influencing the life of the church.

*     Epicureanism.

•     They didn’t believe that there was any kind of existence after death.

*     Stoicism.

•     They believed that when you died you were simply absorbed into the impersonal Divine.

*     Gnosticism.

•     They totally rejected the value of the material, physical world (including your body) and spiritualized resurrection, believing that it was simply coming out of the death of sin to spiritual life.

-     SO, the church in Corinth had a group that rejected the resurrection....and it was being tolerated.....and it was causing quite a stir.

-     TURN with me to I Corinthians 15:12 for Paul’s answer (page # 1139).

ii. rejecting 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?

-     IN other words, what are you doing going against the authority of the preached Word of God?

-     THE resurrection was one of the cardinal doctrines of the New Testament church.

-     IT was being preached as front and center of the faith that saves from death and sin.

-     MANY of the preachers of this Gospel had been firsthand witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection.

-     HOW arrogant of some of the believers of Corinth to flagrantly go against the preached truth of God’s Word!

-     BUT that seemed to be typical of the attitude in Corinth. They were unteachable. They knew it all themselves.

-     VERSE 13,

      “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.

-     IF you are going to argue that there is no resurrection from the dead, then you are denying Jesus’ resurrection.

-     VERSE 14,

      “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. (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. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.(16)For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. (17) And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. (18) Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.”

-     THERE are seven ramifications that Paul presents of denying the resurrection of the dead in this verse.

1.   Our preaching is useless to bring people to repentance and faith...because the Gospel message is based on the resurrection of Jesus (vs. 14).

2.   Your faith is useless...because it is based on the resurrection of Jesus (vs. 14).

3.   We (the apostles) have been lying all along (vs. 15).

•     The problem with this statement is that most of the apostles died for their testimony about the resurrection of Jesus.

•     Between 50 and 115 AD . . . only 20 years after Jesus actually lived, died and rose again. . . JOSEPHUS, a secular Jewish historian of this period wrote:

      "When Pilate had condemned him to the cross,  those who had loved him from the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive in the third day......And even now, the race of Christians, so named from him, has not died out."  (Written 100 A.D.)

•     Professor Greenleaf of Harvard Law School wrote about the claims of the disciples concerning Jesus resurrection:

      "The resurrection story they asserted with one voice (not one traitor) everywhere, not only under the greatest discouragements, but in the face of the most appalling conditions that can be presented to the mind of man."

4.   Christ has not been raised from the dead (vs. 16).

5.   Your faith is futile (vs. 17).

6.   You are still in your sins (vs. 17).

7.   Those who died, believing in the Gospel, are lost (vs. 18).

-     THERE are serious and eternal ramifications to correct doctrine.

-     THIS is not “come and join us and be cozy whatever you believe!”

-     THAT is why in verse 19 Paul says,

      “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” (I Corinthians 15:12-19)

-     THE apostle Peter picks up this same theme in I Peter 1:3-5, where he writes,

      “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (4) and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, (5) who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”

 

iii. accepting the resurrection

-     BUT, just as there are serious ramifications for rejecting the resurrection of the dead, there are equally strong blessings for accepting and believing the resurrection.

-     VERSE 20,

      “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”

-     HERE is the basis of our faith and our hope....Jesus was indeed raised from the dead!

-     HE is the firstfruits for those who die.

-     THE firstfruits concept comes from Leviticus 23:10, where the farmer was to bring the first few sheaves of harvested grain to the priest to wave before the Lord as a thank offering for the rest of the harvest....which still stood in the field.

-     IT was the first, visible proof that the harvest existed back in the field, and the visible promise that the rest of the harvest would soon be gathered in.

-     THAT is how Jesus’ resurrection effects us.

*     His resurrection is the first visible proof that the harvest of resurrection exists for us too.

*     His resurrection is the first visible promise for the rest of us who are still in the field that we too will be raised from the dead.

-     VERSE 21, some good theology concerning how you and I become eligible for this resurrection of the righteous. It is through relationship with Jesus,

      “For since death came through a man(Adam), the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man(Jesus). (22) For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

-     NOW, just like there were serious ramifications for rejecting the resurrection, now Paul turns to eternal ramifications for accepting resurrection.

-     VERSE 23,

      “But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. (24) Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. (25) For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. (26) The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

-     THE doctrine of the resurrection gives us the critical sequence of the end of the world in these verses(each in his own turn).

1.   First, Jesus’ resurrection broke the power of death and hell (vs.23).

2.   Then, next, Jesus is coming (vs. 23).

3.   And when He comes, those who belong to Him will be raised from their graves all over the world (vs.23).

•     This is the first resurrection.

•     Until that day, we believe that those who are “in Christ” are in His presence in some spiritual form awaiting the day of resurrection.

•     In Philippians 1:23, Paul speaks of his dilemma....to stay and be with the churches or to “depart and be with Christ.”

4.   Then the end will come (vs.24). This is the end of the world as we know it....after the resurrection of the righteous.

5.   Simultaneous with the end of the world, three things happen,

•     Jesus destroys all dominion, authority and power of darkness (vs. 24).

•     Jesus destroys the enemy death (vs. 26).

•     Jesus hands over to the Father the kingdom of saints that He died to save....Jesus’ completed work (which is why I believe the rapture happens then, because those who are alive and remain at His coming also are part of that kingdom He hands over to the Father). (vs. 24)

-     NOW, just in case Jesus universal authority is misunderstood as it concerns His relationship to God the Father, Paul writes in verse 27,

      “For he "has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. (28) When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.” (I Corinthians 15:20-28)

-     WHEN Jesus’ saving work is complete on the earth, and He presents us before His Father, He will continue in His role as only begotten Son at the right hand of Father’s throne.

-     THIS submission to the Father is nothing new. It is what Jesus practiced during His time on earth.

-     SUBMISSION characterizes the life within the Godhead.

-     REBELLION against and resistance to authority is what characterizes our sinful life here on earth, not the throne room of heaven.

iv. conclusion

-     SO there it is!

-     IF you deny the resurrection, Paul spells out the ramifications.

1.   Our preaching is useless (vs. 14).

2.   Your faith is useless (vs. 14).

3.   The apostles were lying (vs. 15).

4.   Christ has not been raised from the dead (vs. 16).

5.   Your faith is futile (vs. 17).

6.   You are still in your sins (vs. 17).

7.   Those who died, believing in the Gospel, are lost (vs. 18).

-     PRETTY serious stuff.

-     ON the other hand, if you believe the resurrection, it opens up the most important stuff of eternity to you.

1.   Jesus’ resurrection broke the power of death and hell (vs.23).

2.   Jesus is coming (vs. 23).

3.   And when He comes, those who belong to Him will be raised from their graves all over the world (vs.23).

4.   Then the end will come (vs.24).

5.   Simultaneous with the end of the world,

•     Jesus destroys all dominion, authority and power of darkness (vs. 24).

•     Jesus destroys the enemy death (vs. 26).

•     Jesus hands over to the Father the kingdom of saints that He died to save....Jesus’ completed work (which is why I believe the rapture happens then, because those who are alive and remain at His coming also are part of that kingdom He hands over to the Father). (vs. 24)

-     WHICH side are you on?

-     IT is that simple.

 

 

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