Good morning everyone. After having spent 8 hours away from all technology, including computer, telephone and clocks, and liking it, I submit myself to the task at hand and re-enter this world once again. :-) We are continuing with 1 Corinthians 15.
For the last couple of days we have been addressing the phenomena of people denying or changing the foundation of our Christian understanding. We have been focusing on the particular problem of people denying the resurrection of Jesus Christ and thus the promise of the resurrection of the dead. Let's continuing by looking a little closer as to the importance of the resurrection:
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. vv. 20-23
To deny the resurrection is to deny the purpose of Jesus' birth and death. He came to undo what Adam had done. In the garden there was only one tree that Adam was not allowed to eat from which meant he had free access to the tree of life. After taking part in what was forbidden he lost access to the tree of life because God had told him beforehand that the consequences would be death, which is what we all face. Jesus came not only to pay for this sin of Adam, so that it could be made void, but he also came to give access to the tree of life again for those who accepted the canceled sin. Without this we have nothing. This is Paul's conclusion as well:
Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? I die every day—I mean that, brothers—just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord. If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised,
"Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die." vv. 29-32
Remember what he had written a few sentences before:
If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. v. 19
Paul deals with the real problem in two sentences. Remember that Paul is dealing with a people who have a tradition of welcoming various philosophies and debating them. He writes:
Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character." 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. vv. 33-34
First, he is writing to believers who have already been taught and who accepted Jesus as a result of this teaching. Paul is telling them to stop wasting their time with debating and entertaining various philosophies. They have a work to do now. Instead of following in their traditions of their culture they need to be instructing others about Jesus Christ.
It is not different with today. We get caught up with trying to figure out how Jesus is relevant for today. We try to make him fit into the various philosophies of today and yet people continue to die in their sins, completely ignorant of what Jesus has done for them. It is simple; 1. we were created with purpose; 2. we were separated from this purpose because of disobedience; 3. Jesus accepted to come in obedience to reconcile us with the Father so we could return to our purpose; 4. he did this by obedience even to his death on the cross, so that he could take our curse upon himself; 5. as he was raised from the dead he became the first born of a new creation, giving us the hope that we too will follow in his footsteps. Teach this and let the Spirit do the rest.
We are not to be pitied because our hope is real and it is based on the promise of Jesus Christ. We do not entertain ourselves today thinking we will die tomorrow. We know that death is not the end so we want to fulfill our purpose here so we will have a glad welcome when we finally arrive in our country.
So let us be careful that we are not distracted in our understanding. Let us stick to the Word of God and the teaching of the Spirit. Let us not pursue exciting teachings just to find them empty as death. Let us not be influenced by the many voices that would have us turn back. Instead, hold on for the days are growing shorter:
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)