The Resurrection Chapter

Text: 1 Cor. 15:51-58

 

I believe this to be one of the grandest chapters in the writings of Paul.  It is especially grand to those of us who have lost loved ones. No sooner do loved ones pass away , do questions begin to arise, “Shall We Meet  With Them Again”?

Paul answers this question, and gives a consolation we can find so clearly stated nowhere else as in our text verses 20-23

 

20But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.

 

What a comfort to know as we bury our loved ones beneath the earth, that they shall  be raised on that last great day, along with us. "28Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation".                       John 5:28-29

 

I have often walk into a cemetery, and visualize the time when the graves shall give up their dead. My mind will reflect on some of the great comforting passages of this chapter,  we hear these used at a funeral, and why should be we surprised, for they give so much comfort to the bereaved.  They have become known as, the burial verses, because we hear most often at funerals. I think that is an unfortunate expression. The apostle Paul never referred to burial here,  notice verses 42 and following…..

 

42It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

 

If I bury a bushel of corn, I never expect to see it again, but if I sow it, I expect it come forth… Jesus expressed this idea in John 12:23-24       in speaking of His own death:

23The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. 24Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

 

I thank God for these marvelous comforting, verses this morning, our loved ones are not buried, but are sown. Sown in hope of the great resurrection day. More than forty years ago, my brothers and sisters laid the bodies of our parents to rest in the family cemetery in Crossville Tennessee.  I expect them to come forth  and I expect to meet with them again.

 

The Gospel as preached by the apostles rested upon certain pillars,

 1st the atoning death of our Blessed Savior Jesus Christ, His burial and resurrection,  His ascension to the right hand of the Father,  and finally He is Coming Again.  By these truths the Gospel must stand or fall.  In the opening verses of this chapter   Paul clearly includes the resurrection as a part of the Gospel he preached  I Cor. 15:3-4

 

3For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

 

Now Paul is going to summons witnesses to prove the resurrection.  Verses 5-8

 

 5And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

 

 Beloved that is pretty clear testimony, strong enough to satisfy any sincere and candid inquirer. It is quite evident that the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead had been denied in Corinth,  and that this false doctrine had obtained a footing in the church itself.  And so Paul raises the question:  1 Corinthians 15:12

 

12Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?  This was then a Sadduceean doctrine that had crept into the church. To deny the resurrection is to admit that we will never see our loved ones again. If Christ is not risen, then this life is the only one, we are as the beasts of the field.  I think I would rather hate than love if there is no resurrection.

1 Cor. 15:14-19

14And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

 

I would like to notice the doctrine of the Resurrection as taught in the Bible . 1st the Old Testament

In the Old Testament we only catch glimpses of this doctrine.   But the saints of old evidently believed in the resurrection of the dead. Abraham nearly 2000 years before Christ showed his confidence in the resurrection.

 

When on Mt. Moriah, obeyed God's call to offer us his only son Isaac. The Hebrew writer states     Heb 11:18-19

 

18Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:  19Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

 

Five Hundred years later we find God stating to Moses in Deut. 32:39

39Behold now that I, Am ....  and none  is  God except  me:

   I kill, and I make alive;

 

The prophet Isaiah by inspiration wrote:

8He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.        Isaiah 25:8.    This passage is quoted twice in the book of Revelation.

 

You remember the words of David when his child died conceived out of his adulterous affair?  While the child yet lived, David fasted and prayed,  the Bible says he laid right upon the earth. The elders tried to comfort him, but he would not be comforted.  But notice  what David  does after the child had died.      2 Samuel chapter 12,  beginning in verse 19

 

19But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David perceived that the child was dead; and David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead. 20Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel; and he came into the house of Jehovah, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat.

21Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread. 22And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who knoweth whether Jehovah will not be gracious to me, that the child may live? 23But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me..

 

And finally in the book of Daniel we have another glimpse of this doctrine.  Daniel 12:2-3

 

2And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

 

And so the doctrine of the resurrection is clearly taught in the Old Testament scriptures. But the word resurrection appears some 41 times in the New Testament. Many times during the ministry of Christ did he refer to the resurrection of the dead.  The Sadducees once came to Him with what they thought to be an unsolvable  question about the marriage relationship and the doctrine of the resurrection.   They thought this proved without dispute the absurdity of the resurrection.... Read  Matthew 22:23-32

 

On yet another occasion Lazarus the brother of Mary and Martha had died. John chapter 11. These sister were very distraught by the dead of their brother. But Jesus spoke these comforting words to Martha “Thy brother shall rise again. John 11:23.  Martha believed and understood her brother would be raised.   John 11:24:

24Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. 25Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

 

Death Has Reigned From The Garden of Eden, since sin enter the world, death has reigned making the earth  one huge grave yard.   The words of God to Adam and Eve

 

19In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.  Genesis 3:19

 

Every generation of humanity follows the path of their fathers.   Many things unexpected befall us in our so-journ here, but death is not one of them.  We do not know how or when it shall happen, but if the Lord tarries, we know it will happen.

5For the living know that they shall die:  Eccl 9:5

 

I have heard some say that belief in a risen Savior is not essential to one being saved.  But everyone who becomes a Christian must believe in the resurrection of Christ — Notice the words of Romans 10:9-10

 

9That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

 

 If Christ is not risen, wherein is He different from the two thieves who suffered with Him.  If Christ is nor risen it is impossible to admire His words:

   

40For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.  …….  Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

 

Paul tells us :  Romans 1:4  that Christ was

4 declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:  5By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:

 

Hear what Paul writes: 1 Corinthians 15:14-19

14and if Christ hath not been raised, then is our preaching vain, your faith also is vain. 15Yea, we are found false witnesses of God; because we witnessed of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, neither hath Christ been raised: 17and if Christ hath not been raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable.

   

Our final picture of the death- burial and resurrection come to us from  Romans 6:1-7  (read)

Christian baptism is a public testimony to our faith in the resurrection of Christ.  It is a public statement that the martyrs who have gone before have not died in vain, but that we expect to meet them

 

How important to us is the doctrine of the resurrection?  Read:  1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

What would Christianity be without a Resurrection?  Where would we be without Christianity? I rejoice that in the resurrection we will stand near our empty graves singing ¾  

55O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?  56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Cor 15:55ff

 

Have you been united with Christ in death and in the resurrection?