April 5, 2023
Thank you for praying for our prodigals and for revival. The only reason we pray with hope is because we know He lives!
Alexander Maclaren, a pastor/preacher who lived from 1826 to 1910, once said, “The risen life of Jesus is the nourishment and strengthening and blessing and life of a Christian. Our daily experience ought to be that there comes, wavelet by wavelet, that silent, gentle, and yet omnipotent influx into our empty hearts, this very life of Christ Himself.”
Today we are turning to the New Testament, to the book of 1 Corinthians, because it contains the greatest chapter in our Bible on the subject of the resurrection of Jesus Christ: chapter 15.
Paul is the author of this book and he is writing to a local church in the city of Corinth. It was an immoral, idolatrous city, and God in His grace worked mightily. The story is found in Acts 18.
Years after the church was planted, the Christians became divided because they lost their focus. They were consumed with prominent figures and thus started taking sides. They forgot that their spiritual gifts were from God and they started to show off. They became self-focused rather than Christ-focused.
This letter was written to steer them back on track, to reframe their thinking to be from God’s perspective, and to get their minds on Christ rather than on themselves. Here are a few examples:
Chapter 1: the cross of Christ
Chapter 2: the wisdom of Christ
Chapter 3: the foundation of Christ
Chapter 6: the body of Christ
Chapter 9: the law of Christ
Chapter 13: the love of Christ
Chapter 15: the resurrection of Christ
We can approach Easter Sunday with the absolute confidence that Jesus is alive! In this chapter, Paul established essential truths about the resurrection that embrace the past, present, and future.
I like the way Bob Goff summarized it, “Darkness fell. His friends scattered. All hope seemed lost. But Heaven just started counting to three.”
The foundation for the resurrection is laid at the start of the chapter where the basics of the gospel are set forth: “That Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
There could be no resurrection without a death. Jesus said the same. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). These believers from Corinth, along with us, are the fruit Jesus was talking about.
It wasn’t just that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again, but that He was seen by many! There were witnesses that affirmed it.
Paul then explains the reality of resurrection life. The message is clear that if Christ did not rise from the dead, everything we do is for nothing, and we are the most miserable, pitiable, and deceived people on earth (1 Corinthians 15:14-19).
But let’s face it — we are not miserable, pitiable, and deceived. We are “alive” in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:22).
It’s not a show. It’s not a pretense. It’s not an illusion. It’s real.
It’s authentic, and it’s the life of Christ within us. His life fills us, motivates us, and enables us.
Next, the hope that His resurrection brings is confirmed. It’s great to be saved from sin. It’s great to have the life of Christ empowering us, but there’s more. We all have a future, and the future for the believer is amazingly awesome!
Death is never a pleasant thought, but Paul puts a different spin on it. He says, “So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:42-44).
When we die we will be transformed from perishable to imperishable, from dishonor to glory, from weakness to power, and from natural to spiritual. “Get ready,” says Paul, “We shall all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51).
The irritations of life will be a thing of the past. The hurts and brokenness will be forever gone. Our limitations and natural tendencies will be removed. We shall be changed! And what’s more, we shall be like Him, “who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21).
Death is described as your last enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26). But because of Jesus’ resurrection, that enemy will be destroyed once and for all. In fact, “He must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet” (1 Corinthians 15:25).
When Jesus died and rose, He broke the bands of death. There is a day when it will be totally annihilated. The reigning Christ will do it!
Paul says, “‘Death is swallowed up in victory. “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’” (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).
Lastly, we learn that the resurrection of Christ gives value to all that we do. “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58). Paul encourages us to keep going, to not give up, and to flourish, excel, and abound in our work for God.
Whatever your background, whatever your present circumstance, whatever your gifting, whatever your sphere of service, no matter how menial or mundane or seemingly insignificant, your labor has great worth to God. He knows, He sees, and He appreciates all that you do for Him!
These words of unknown origin may help you with your perspective as you seek to live for Him — “Live as though Christ died yesterday, rose from the grave today, and is coming back tomorrow.”
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel