Text: 1 Cor 15-16 (Ps 148)
Observe Paul articulates the heart of the Gospel – Christ died for our sins … and rose again (15:3-7). Those to whom Jesus appeared after His Resurrection are listed, from Peter first, ending with Paul , captive of Christ by pure grace.
Paul slams the conspiracy theory of his time: there is no bodily resurrection. But … if in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (19) This is countered in the next six verses – Christ the Risen One has conquered death. The old – Adam/death, is overcome by the new – Christ/life. Chaos is vanquished by order; death, the last great enemy, by real life in Christ.(26)
Paul neither commends nor commands the odd practice of baptism on behalf of the dead (29). However, he rails at those who ‘have no knowledge of God’; that is, they deny bodily resurrection. So what’s the point? The dead in Christ will be raised on His return – ‘nuff said.
As for what to expect, a series of contrasts, assures us … as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. (49), and a most wonderful mystery: In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, … the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. (52) Death has no power over us who believe. Christ’s death killed death.
Paul moves into last-chapter practicalities: he asks wealthy Corinthian Christians to financially support needy Jerusalem Christians, gives his travel itinerary, asks them to welcome Timothy, and writes out final instructions. One of these, … act like men (16:13c) exhorts the entire Corinthian church to foster courage and strength in the Lord, acting out of love. Naming those who are true servants, passing on greetings from the Asian church and a house church, the letter ends with a blessing (23) (for us, too!).
Interpret In the Nicene Creed’s final words, “We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.”. This credal statement is chapter 15 succinctly packed into one line.
Baptism on behalf of the dead is useless if baptizing dead bodies comes without the hope of resurrection, asserts Paul. Faith in the living Christ and personal relationship with Him are requirements. We get things so twisted by add-ons!
The Corinthians couldn’t fathom how limited, sick, decaying bodies could live eternally. Paul straightens them out – God changes the mortal to immortal (42-49). In eternity we will be truly imago Dei -- beautiful as God had intended. A resurrection body is no pipe dream, but a reality to be anticipated. Transformation awaits! Meanwhile, we live for Christ, bearing fruit in doing His eternally lasting work.
Apply Listen to the Messiah excerpt – a direct quote of 15:51-52; ‘mystery’ beyond anything we know. We will be changed; we can’t imagine how. But we prepare for change by living in thankfulness to God while bringing His Kingdom to others.
The ask in the closing chapter nudges us beyond our own needs. Our church, by the Holy Spirit, is moving outward, ripples widening as we reach others in Him. God is using what we have and give for His glory. We can’t stop once we’ve started!
Ask How can we become excited and inspired to let others know there is a future and a hope (Jer.29:13)? In this bleak time, as secularism ramps up its agenda against faith and truth, how can we build each other up in our faith? Small groups, cords, prayer alone or with others, reading and learning God’s Word in fellowship, helping in the church where we can … now, how can we participate as church more fully?
Pray Lord Jesus, keep me excited about You, about what You ask of me, about being with You forever, in Your likeness. Thank You for this glorious, mysterious promise, because You are risen and alive!
Sing Handel Messiah Behold, I tell you a mystery; The trumpet shall sound https://youtu.be/rQYv8EsGSQ
Ps 148: Graham Kendrick Praise the Lord from the Heavens
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In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.