Good morning everyone. Good to have you with us this morning. We are continuing to look at 1 Corinthians 15. Paul certainly packed a lot in this chapter but then again he was dealing with an important subject.
What is your hope? What do you live for? Why do you do the things you do? Some people claim to believe without knowing what they believe. They do everything Christian yet they have missed the foundation completely. There are whole sections of the Church who are now denying that Jesus was raised from the dead. Two thousand years later they think they know better than the hundreds of eye-witnesses who gave testimony to this event. Impossible, they say. Then simply put, they are not Christian.
You can't call yourself something and then reject the foundation of what you claim to be. Two days ago I named three facts that we base our faith on:
1. Jesus dies on the cross to pay the price for our sins
2. He was buried
3. He was risen from the dead
If a person rejects this then they reject all of Christianity:
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? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. vv. 12-14
This means that thousands of years of prophecies and a couple of thousand years of faith and miracles and transformed lives have all been a lie. It means that the hope that we have held on to has been a false hope. In fact, it means we have a lot to answer to YAHWEH because we have been false witnesses:
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. v. 15
The resurrection of Jesus Christ must be a piece of the foundation that we defend with our life and never let go of. If not then we make him out to be a liar because if is Jesus who told his disciples that he would rise on the third day. Without the death on the cross, the burial and the resurrection all hope is lost:
For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. vv. 16-18
Ours is not a belief of good living and good deeds. Those things are part of the transformation that is taking place, preparing us for our own resurrection. But everything leads to that resurrection, that moment when everything will be changed:
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. vv. 51-53
Do not think for a moment that Christianity is just one method to live a good and valuable life. It isn't. The Christian gospel is about eternity and our part in helping our neigbours escape death:
If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. v. 19
Indeed, we are fools to live a Christian life and not hold on to the foundation of our beliefs, that Jesus died and was raised from the dead to be the first born among many, that we too would be raised from the dead, or at least changed in the twinkling of an eye. We cannot allow people to call themselves Christian who do not hold to this basic truth, or at least we should not consider them part of us. They are to be pitied because their faith contains no hope.
Let us check one another and encourage one another to stay true to the words of Jesus Christ. For it is he who said to his disciples:
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." (John 14:1-3)
It is the promise we hold dear to who we are, what we do, what we believe, and what we hope for. My hope is not a hope of desperation. My hope is a hope of certainty. I know there will be a resurrection of the dead because I know Jesus died on the cross so my sins could be forgiven, that he was buried and that he was raised from the dead, to take his place at the right hand of the Father. I know this because of the testimony of the Word of God. I know this because the Spirit testifies to me that it is the truth. It cannot be refuted.