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The Full Hope of the Gospel

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Can you think of times in your life when someone fundamentally, totally, completely missed the point? Example- you spend hundreds of dollars on a new toy for you child for his or her birthday, and it is one of those toys that comes in a rather large brown box. So, you take care to hide the present, and wrap the present, and when you finally give them the giant box and they unwrap it and briefly look at what it is, and then how do they spend the next three days of their time? Playing with the BOX! The toy is cast to the side and forgotten about, all they want to do is play with the box. They fundamentally, totally, completely missed the point (or maybe we are the parents are the one who miss the point? I’m never really sure).
In I Corinthians 15 Paul is reminding the Corinthian believers about something much more important than a box or a toy. Paul is dealing with the importance of the gospel itself. And he is concerned that the Corinthian believers have fundamentally, completely, and totally missed out on the point of the gospel.
I believe that some of us today are living in real danger of fundamentally missing out on the point of the gospel. The gospel was not simply meant to save us from hell- the proverbial get out of hell free card. The gospel is meant to save us from sin.
Paul’s goal in this chapter, then is to remind the believers in Corinth of the the full hope of the gospel- or the full or fundamental point of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.
This is also my goal, to remind you of the full hope of the gospel, and the full or fundamental point of the gospel is centered on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The first thing that Paul reminds them of is the full message of the gospel.

The full hope of the gospel is bound up in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (vv. 1-4)

1 Corinthians 15:1 KJV 1900
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
Paul is going to declare or make known or remind these believers of the GOSPEL! This passage is all about the message of the gospel. Paul states that they received this message (aorist- point in time), and that in the gospel they stand/ hold their ground (perfect tense- action in the past with continuing results) . The full hope of the gospel continues on, there is something yet coming in the future that is part of the gospel message.
1 Corinthians 15:2 KJV 1900
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
Saved- Prest, Pass, Ind-by which you are being saved- there is a continuous action to our salvation. There is more to come. There is a final hope to our salvation, God is not done in His working in our lives- His plan of salvation is so much bigger than we normally think about. And this full hope is tied to the idea of the resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:3–4 KJV 1900
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
This is the gospel, plainly stated. The gospel is when one believes on Jesus Christ- who died (aor) for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried (aor), and that he rose again (per- He is still alive, in fact He is alive forevermore!) All this is according to the Scriptures.
This is the full hope of the gospel. It is found in not only the death of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins. This is very much an incredible part of the hope of the gospel. Because of Christ’s work of propitiation on the cross, we can be fully forgiven of our sins, and we have been credited with the righteousness of Christ. But the hope of the gospel is just as much part of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. The truth that Jesus is risen and that He is alive forevermore, and because He has life we too have life is very much part of the full hope of the gospel. And it is this that Paul focuses on in chapter 15.
In vv. 5-11 Paul states the eye witness’ account of the truth that Jesus did indeed rise from the grave. He was seen by more than 500 brethren at one time, the truth of his resurrection is in accordance with the holy Scriptures. And it is this truth, the full truth of the gospel, that Pau preached to the Corinthians and which truth they believed.
1 Corinthians 15:11 KJV 1900
11 Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.
Paul is reminding these believers of the hope of the gospel and that hope includes Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. If you don’t believe in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead then you have denied one of the fundamental truths of the gospel itself. If you don’t have faith in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, then you don’t have genuine faith. Without a resurrection, the gospel ceases to be good news, and you have no gospel at all. The truth of the resurrection is central to the message of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. It is indispensable!

The full hope of the gospel is bound up in the bodily resurrection of the believer (vv. 12-23)

1 Corinthians 15:12 KJV 1900
12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
In the church at Corinth some were apparently teaching that there was no resurrection of the dead. Now to understand this you need to understand what is going on in the historical situation at the church in Corinth.
One of the main problems in the Corinthian church was a misunderstanding of what it meant to be “spiritual.” They were not truly spiritual, instead they were arrogant and puffed up.
1 Corinthians 4:6 KJV 1900
6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.
1 Corinthians 4:18 KJV 1900
18 Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you.
1 Corinthians 5:2 KJV 1900
2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.
1 Corinthians 5:6 KJV 1900
6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
They were a spiritually gifted church and they most likely measured their spirituality by the spiritual gifts they were given.
1 Corinthians 13:1 KJV 1900
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
They thought that they could speak with the tongues of angels, they thought they had reached the height of spirituality when in reality they were proud, selfish, and divisive believers.
One of the other problems caused by their misunderstanding of spirituality was that they cared little about the physical body. Even though they had physical bodies they considered themselves to be primarily spiritual- they considered themselves already as the angels. Out of this bad theology came a teaching that the physical body was eschatologically insignificant.
In other words they denied a future bodily resurrection of believers because, in their own estimation, they had already arrived. They already were like unto the angels, so a future resurrection was unnecessary. How poorly they understood the full hope of the gospel. So Paul writes to remind them of the gospel and to teach them the theological necessity of a future bodily resurrection for believers.
Statement #1-
1 Corinthians 15:13 KJV 1900
13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
Argument- if you say that there is no resurrection of the dead (of believers), then you are also saying that Christ is not risen.
Think about that. If you deny the bodily resurrection of believers you deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ- in other words, you deny the gospel itself!
These two resurrections are so closely bound together, that to deny one is to deny the other. And it doesn’t stop there. What else happens when one denies the bodily resurrection of the dead?
1 Corinthians 15:14 KJV 1900
14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
If you deny the bodily resurrection of the dead, then you also deny
The resurrection of Christ
The very preaching of the apostles, the preaching of the gospel itself- the apostle’s preaching becomes vain
The faith upon which you claim to believe that very gospel- you faith becomes vain
The domino effect doesn’t stop there either.
1 Corinthians 15:15 KJV 1900
15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
If you deny the bodily resurrection of the dead then,
4. Paul and the apostles end up being false witnesses of God (God cannot be the liar here), the apostles (and over 500 witnesses) have testifies that God has raised up Christ from the dead- but if the dead rise not- then it is impossible that Christ too was raised.
Statement #2-
Whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
Argument- if you say that there is no resurrection of the dead (of believers), then you are also saying that Christ is not risen.
Statement #3-
1 Corinthians 15:16 KJV 1900
16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
Argument- if you say that there is no resurrection of the dead (of believers), then you are also saying that Christ is not risen.
AND! What is the terrible logical conclusion of this argument?
1 Corinthians 15:17 KJV 1900
17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
If you deny the future resurrection of the believer, then Christ is not raise and your faith is vain, and you are still in your sins! Or there is no possible way for sin to be fully and finally dealt with- sin and all of its consequences primarily death will not and cannot be finally and forever vanquished.
Then-
1 Corinthians 15:18 KJV 1900
18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
Since sin will never be fully vanquished, those who are already dead have no future hope and have no choice but to perish in their sin.
AND
1 Corinthians 15:19 KJV 1900
19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
Christianity is nothing but a miserable, pitiful, hopeless religion. And notice why- because we would only have hope in this life. If you deny the future resurrection of the believer you deny the full hope of the gospel. You are missing out on the very purpose of the gospel.
You understand what a fundamental is don’t you? A fundamental is something so vital to the makeup of a thing, that if you do away with it, the thing cease to exist. For example- Someone comes into a Culvers and they order a cheeseburger- excuse me- a butter burger with cheese. The say, “I would like a cheeseburger with no cheese.” Did they just order a cheeseburger? No they ordered a hamburger. Cheese is fundamental to the makeup of the thing. If you take it away you no longer have a cheeseburger.
The bodily resurrection of the believer is fundamental to the gospel. In fact, to deny the future bodily resurrection of the believer is to deny the faith. You end up denying the very gospel itself and you are left with no faith at all. The resurrection of the believer is a fundamental truth of the gospel. You cannot deny it and still believe the gospel. Because if you deny the bodily resurrection you deny the resurrection of Christ Himself. This is fundamental to the faith. And it is paramount for us to grasp if we are to understand all the hope available to us is the good news of Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:20 KJV 1900
20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
Both the resurrection of the believer and the resurrection of Christ are fundamental to the gospel because they are inseparably linked. To help us understand this Paul uses the example of firstfruits. You know what firstfruits are right? If you think of a crop, the firstfruits are the first part of the crop harvested in a season. We planted a garden last year, and one of the vegetables we planted was cherry tomatoes. And I can remember the very first cherry tomato that turn red. I picked it, and brought it inside and I said, “Here is the firstfruit of our cherry tomatoes.” The implication is that if you have firstfruits you will also have the rest of the harvest. But, if you say that there is no harvest you automatically say that there is no firstfruit. In order to have a harvest you must by definition have a firstfruit, and if you do not have a harvest then by definition you do not have a harvest.
Christ is risen from the dead, and He is the firstfruit of those that sleep (believers who have already died). Because Christ is risen and we already have proof of a firstfruit, so then we also have proof of a coming harvest. You cannot have one without the other.
1 Corinthians 15:21–23 KJV 1900
21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
This is the full hope of the gospel- it is the bodily resurrection of believers and it is guaranteed because of the life we have in Christ, it is guaranteed because Christ indeed is risen from the dead. And because he has risen, we will rise! This is the full hope of the gospel.

The full hope of the gospel is bound up in the future certainty of the kingdom (vv. 24-34)

The full hope of the gospel is bound up in God’s final plan of believers dwelling with Him forever in the kingdom. This is the reason that Christ died, that Christ was buried, and that Christ was raised from the dead. So we could live forever with God in the kingdom.
1 Corinthians 15:24–26 KJV 1900
24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
This is the reason Christ saved us, he saved us from sin itself, all of the effects of sin, even death. The last enemy to be destroyed will be death. This is God’s plan, this is the hope of the gospel. God will remove every negative effect of sin, even death itself and we will rule and reign with Him forever and ever in the kingdom.
Revelation 21:1–4 KJV 1900
1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
You don’t get this without a future resurrection. And this is the final hope of the gospel. If we don’t have this hope, we are of all men most miserable!
Clarification:
1 Corinthians 15:27–28 KJV 1900
27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith, all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
Revelation 22:3–5 KJV 1900
3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: 4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. 5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.
What hope we have to look forward to as believers in Christ. For those of us who stand firm in the gospel we stand firm in the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and if we stand firm in Christ’s resurrection then we stand firm in our own bodily resurrection, and we stand firm in the coming kingdom where we shall reign for ever and ever!
This truth is NOT something that should only effect our lives in the far future. Paul wanted this truth- the full hope of the gospel to effect our lives this very moment! How is that?
1 Corinthians 15:29 KJV 1900
29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?
Very difficult verse: Many interpretations- (We know what it doesn’t mean- it doesn’t mean that you can get baptized in place of the dead so that the dead can be saved from their sins. Remember we use clear passages of Scripture to interpret unclear ones. We know that once people die in their sins without Christ they cannot be saved, e.g. Heb 9:27- “appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement”)
What I think this means: If there is no coming kingdom, then why would believers go through with water baptism on account of the righteous dead or in light of the righteous dead, if the righteous dead do not rise at all, then why are current believers going through with water baptism in light of the righteous dead?
The process of water baptism is a public identification of being a follower of Christ. It is also a pledge of a good conscience toward God, it is an act of obedience and it means that the believer intends to faithfully follow Christ no matter the cost or price. In the days of the Corinthian church there were believers who were being martyred for their faith. Paul makes reference to this.
1 Corinthians 15:30–32 KJV 1900
30 And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? 31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.
If you saw a Christian get torn to pieces by ravenous lions in the Colosseum at Ephesus, why would you then in light of the death of these believers go through with a public display of your faith, that is water baptism, if you did not fervently believe in a future bodily resurrection and the promise of reigning with God forever and ever in the kingdom?
If the dead are not raised- Paul says enduring such persecution is of no advantage to me! Instead, we might as well adopt a completely secular wordly philosophy about life- “Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die.” This is very much alive and well today by the way- “When you die, that’s it- you die so you might as well live it up while you can.”
But if you are standing firm in the truth of the gospel- that Christ died for our sins and was buried and on the third day He rose again, then you must also stand firm in the resurrection of believers and the certainty of the coming kingdom where the very presence of sin will be destroyed and we will reign with God forever and ever. And this truth must impact your life NOW!
1 Corinthians 15:33–34 KJV 1900
33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. 34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
Awake to righteousness- The English term awake doesn’t quite cover the meaning of this Greek word. This word has the idea of one recovering form a drunken stupor- “Sober Up!” “Come to your senses!”
ESV- “Wake up from your drunken stupor” Imperative!
And awake unto righteousness! Stop sinning!
The full hope of the gospel must impact your life now. For many Christians it’s like we are stumbling through this life in a drunken stupor. We know in the back of our mind that Christ is coming again, because He is alive, I too will be alive, and I will reign with Christ forever. We know this, but we walk around inebriated by our sin. We walk around as one who is drunk, out of our senses, living in sin. Be impacted by the hope of the resurrection. Awake unto righteousness and stop sinning. Paul says it is like believers are walking around having not the knowledge of God- they live ignorant of the hope of the gospel- Paul says, I say this to you shame.
Sometimes at the end of the night, if my kids have all their chores done, and their homework done, and they are all ready for bed I let them used the last hour or half hour to have some fun before bed. It’s play time, but they must finish all their responsibilities first. And it can be frustrating sometimes. You tell them, “Clean your room, you are running out of time.” And they rush to clean their room and they pick up one toy, and then they have a squirrel moment. Do you know what I mean? Watch the movie UP if you don’t know what I am talking about. They get easily sidetracked. They know they are only wasting their own time, that eventually they will have squandered all their time and they will have to go to bed without getting any play time. But they wander around like they are in a drunken stupor. And you have to constantly be there to tell them, WAKE UP!
Sometimes, we act like that as believers. We waste the life that God has given us on sin. We know the hope of the gospel, the certainty of the resurrection. Then why do we get so easily distracted, why do we go on sinning as if totally inebriated? The full hope of the gospel should cause us to WAKE UP and to STOP SINNING. Stop living your life as if you had no knowledge of God, stop living your life in shame. Live in light of the full hope of the gospel.
The full hope of the gospel is bound up in:
The death burial and resurrection of Christ
The bodily resurrection of the believer
The future certainly of the kingdom
Are you standing firm in the truth of the gospel by which you are being saved? Are you living you life as if you are awake? As if you truly understand the knowledge of God?
Or are you living in the drunken stupor of sin? Are you living in willful ignorance? Are you living in shame?
Live your life impacted by the full hope of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.
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