The God of Paradox

1 Corinthians 15 is packed full of information.  I am sure that many sermons could be preached on various points.  However, most of this chapter confines itself to the resurrection of the dead.  A cursory glance of the Old Testament would reveal only limited statements regarding this wonderful reality while the New Testament seeks in many places to fix our gaze on the unending delight God’s saints will experience after death.  Paul is noted in the book of Acts as reasoning with both Jews and Gentiles.  Similarly, Paul in this chapter reasons how the Gospel is linked with our eternal hope and the most logical way to live if there were no resurrection from the dead.

The Gospel Defined

Probably the clearest definition of the Gospel in the New Testament is found in verses 3-4 of this chapter.  “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: 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.”  Paul shares with us that this message was of “first importance”.

The Importance of Christ’s Resurrection

For sake of brevity, I would ask you to read verses 12-19 where Paul has painted a rather bleak picture of a Christian’s predicament if “there is no resurrection from the dead”.  Since Christ has been raised then the opposite of these verses must then be what Paul desires to call our attention to and I would submit to you the following implications. 

Because there is a resurrection

  • Christ has been raised!
  • Our preaching has a purpose!
  • Our faith is valuable!
  • We are representing God accurately in proclaiming Christ raised from the dead!
  • We are saved from our sins!
  • We of all people should be envied for the treasure we have in Christ!

As Paul states in verse 57, “…thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Best Way to Live if there is No Resurrection

I recall participating in a Bible study during my teenage years and one of my fellow teens asked the youth leader who was hosting our study something to the effect of, “What if this isn’t true?  And you have devoted your life to a lie?”  The youth leader answered the student’s question by saying, “It’s still a good life.”  It seemed a reasonable answer to me at the time but I either hadn’t read 1 Corinthians 15 at that point in time or didn’t really grasp the message of it.  Paul makes clear that if we are deluded in our understanding then we should be “most pitied” and concludes in verse 32, “If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die’.”  What does that mean?  We would do better to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of this world or to put it another way, “Let’s eat our cake and have our ice cream too!”  Simply put, if we don’t have Christ, we have nothing of lasting value.

Hope for Today

You may be wondering how this applies to you right now my brother or sister in Christ?  Unfortunately, we live in an age of uncertainty and even more so at the present hour with the coronavirus effectively putting a stop to much of our daily lives.  But whatever may come our way in this life, the loss of a job, the death of a loved one, illness, or any other manner of difficulty “nothing in all creation can separate us from God’s love”.  If we have Christ, we have everything we need and more than we could have possibly hoped for.  You may be wondering how it is possible for God to work out the present circumstances for his glory and our good (Romans 8:28)?  The Gospel gives us hope because though the death of our Lord and Savior was the worst thing to ever happen, it was also the best thing to ever happen for by his death our debt has been paid.  Let us rest that if God will likewise be with us amid this epidemic.

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