Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Sermon Title: The Glories of the Resurrection
Sermon Text: 1 Corinthians 15:50-58
The Resurrection Brings Change (v.50-53)
The Resurrection Conquers Death (v.54-55)
The Resurrection Is a Gift (v.56-57)
The Resurrection Imparts Purpose (v.58)
I provide this manuscript as a courtesy. I do not follow the document word for word during the message. I also do not write the document with the intent of publication; there may be grammatical errors throughout. Unfortunately, there is not always time to proofread. I choose to use my available time for studying, finding ways to explain the truths of Scripture while keeping a balance of time for visiting and discipleship of people in the church. Thanks for understanding.
Today is the most glorious day of the Christian calendar. There is no holiday equal to the celebration of Jesus Christ rising from the dead; His resurrection. Since the beginning of mankind, all people have faced the inevitability of death. For thousands of years, every person who has died has remained dead. We may visit their grave sites, and their bodies lay dormant. But we all know of one man who, after being brutally murdered and laid in a tomb, got up and walked out of the tomb on the third day. That man is Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
This church bears His name. We gather together in His name. We sing songs to His name. We pray to the God of the Universe in His name. We support missionaries who go forth to tell others His name. We celebrate Jesus Christ, the man who walked out of the tomb.
Rather than look at one of the accounts that describe the events of Jesus resurrection, and what took place on the day He rose from the dead, we will be looking at a passage of Scripture that helps us understand what the resurrection means to us. In other words, we will see how Jesus’ resurrection from the dead over 2000 years ago impacts our lives. We will hear how we are to think and live because Jesus rose from the dead.
At the beginning of 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul confronts the church in Corinth and challenges them to think seriously and consider why they should not listen to those who are saying there is no resurrection. In Corinth, there are people who are denying that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. The Apostle Paul started the church in Corinth, and he is amazed to learn there are some in the church teaching Jesus did not walk out of the tomb.
In the first three verses of chapter 15, Paul begins by reminding them he brought them the gospel. In the preaching of the gospel, he told them those things which were of first importance, “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” These three facts, Christ died, was buried, and rose again, are the most important truths of the gospel we may preach. A denial of one of these facts is a denial of the gospel.
Paul continues with reminding the church in Corinth about the eyewitnesses who saw Jesus after His death. Paul says Jesus appeared to Cephas (who is Peter), then to the twelve. Jesus appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, and Paul says, by the way, most remain, and many of those are still alive if you want to talk to one of them. Paul continues in telling them Jesus appeared to James then to all the apostles; and last of all, Paul says Jesus appeared to him.
After refreshing their memory about all the eyewitnesses who saw Jesus after He rose from the dead, Paul asks a simple question: “Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” (15:12). Imagine how frustrated Paul was with the Corinthians. When he was with them, he told them of seeing Jesus. He taught them the gospel. And now, they deny the resurrection.
In chapter 15 of his letter to Corinth, Paul writes the most thorough presentations of the theology of the resurrection in all of the Scripture. (pg 159)
This morning we will be looking at the end of chapter where we find four glorious truths about the resurrection which every Christian may embrace and enjoy. Let’s read the passage together.
50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:50-58)
The first glorious truth about the resurrection which we may joyfully embrace is:
We will be changed. Our bodies of flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. We are made up of material which wastes away. We are perishable. We are born with an expiration date. The kingdom of God is an eternal kingdom. The inhabitants of God’s kingdom do not have an expiration date.
Our earthly body is not fit for heaven. There is a metaphysical incompatibility between the things of heaven and the things of the earth. Things in heaven are spiritual and imperishable, and the things of the earth are organic and perishable. What good is being a citizen of the eternal kingdom of God when upon arrival we can only live a few years?
It stands to reason that, because the flesh is mortal and perishable, the resurrection to eternal life is impossible unless something drastic happens. Change has to occur. This body we have must change for us to survive. Our decaying, wrinkling, arthritic, blind, deaf, cancer-plagued, and artery hardening bodies need a major overhaul for us to be imperishable and immortal beings.
Our minds and emotions need to change. We read the Bible and see great truths and we say ho-hum and go about our day. We hear of tragedy, with missionaries slaughtered and killed for the sake of the Gospel, and we scroll the news to find the sports scores. We watch a movie, and laugh and enjoy the entertainment, even though they blaspheme the name above all. We are broken people. We do not love or think as deeply as we should.
Paul says, “not to worry.” It will happen. Our bodies will change. Our minds will change. Our hearts will change. We are broken and perishable, but we will be made holy and imperishable. Yes, our bodies and minds are mortal and fixated on the now, but we will be made immortal and fixated upon that which is eternal.
Paul describes our change as putting on a garment. We will put on imperishability, and we will put on immortality like we put on new clothing. The new body covers the old body as a garment. Paul says as much earlier in chapter 15, verse 49, “Just as we have borne the image of the earthly, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.”
What this means is our existence in the kingdom of God will be a bodily existence. Our body of flesh and blood receives a new garment. With our newly clothed bodies, we will enjoy the wonders of heaven in much the same way we do now, but in perfection. We will enjoy running in a field, feeling the ocean spray on our face, tasting the various fruits, gazing upon angelic beings, hearing the melodies of birds, and holding the hand of our loved ones. In heaven, we will have the unending strength and vitality of youth.
We will look at God’s face with clarity and flawless vision and brilliance of color, we will hear His voice with perfect hearing, and we will feel His loving hand caress our face with utmost sensitivity and sensation. We will live as we have never lived before, because of change. Each day we live will be just as amazing as the first because we will never decay or perish.
The timing of our change is inevitable. This world has an end. We live in an age. Our change occurs when the end of the age occurs. Paul tells us it takes place at the last trumpet. The “last trump” is a New Testament phrase signifying the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It will happen quickly, in the twinkling of an eye, and it will occur for all people, both living and dead. When Paul says we will not all sleep, he is saying some people will be alive when the end comes. It doesn’t necessarily mean Paul thought it occurred during his lifetime. In other passages, Paul speaks knowing of his impending death. Maybe we will be the fortunate generation to be alive at Christ’s return.
The way we will be changed is according to God’s mysterious power. God has powers which we cannot explain, and it is likely we will never understand. What we do know is God is all-powerful, and the same power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead will raise us up on the last day, and clothe us with change.
Be joyful the resurrection brings change.
The second glorious truth about the resurrection which we may joyfully embrace is:
Being clothed with a heavenly body is not all which takes place at the last trumpet. At the moment of our resurrection from the grave, when we put on an imperishable and immortal body, something very significant occurs.
The resurrection of our bodies is the complete and utter destruction of death. As we enjoy our new bodies in the glories of heaven, we will never, ever worry about our bodies dying.
The Apostle Paul quotes Isaiah 25:8. The entire context of the passage he quotes is beautiful and stunning. I will read from Isaiah 25:6-9, listen to what it says:
The Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, and refined, aged wine. And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples, even the veil which is stretched over all nations. He will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces, and He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken. And it will be said in that day, “Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.”
Since the beginning of time, billions and billions of tears have been shed because of death. All of us have experienced the loss of a loved one. For some here this morning, the loss of a loved one is fresh and vivid. For others, the loss of a loved one is imminent, as you stand by and nurse them in their final days of life. We have lost mothers and fathers, children, uncles, aunts, friends, and other relatives. We have been beside their bedsides as they pass before our eyes. We bury them in graves. Death, as Isaiah says, is a veil stretched out and covering all peoples and all nations. It is a gloomy, dark blanket covering all of life. No people escape its cover. Death is a tragedy of immense proportion. Death brings the greatest of all sorrow, the darkest of all depression, and grief which pangs the soul.
Praise be to God, who swallows up death. God gulps it down. The last book of the Bible, Revelation, tells us God throws death and Hades into the lake of fire, where it will be destroyed for eternity (Rev. 20:14).
Our time in the kingdom of God will be truly glorious because death has no place in God’s heavenly kingdom. We will no longer need to protect ourselves from those seeking our harm. The hand of cancer, sickness, accident, or hunger will not lay a finger on our bodies.
Paul quotes Hosea 13:14. In that passage, God turns the tables and declares to death, “O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction!” No longer will death be a plague nor will the grave be a destructive force. God overcomes both. Instead of being the destructor, death faces destruction and is rendered harmless to inflict wounds upon our new bodies.
The ultimate destruction of death begins with the resurrection of the dead: giving life to those who are laying in the grave. New Testament Scripture often refers to the dead as those who are asleep. That is because the grave is temporary. The grave does not have final say because believers are only resting until the Christ calls them forth like He called Lazarus. Without the resurrection, death conquers, and we remain in the grave forever dead. But, with the resurrection, we rejoice because the dead in Christ are only asleep.
When the dead in Christ rise from the grave and the congregation of the righteous gather in the courtyard of heaven, great rejoicing bursts forth. The praises in Heaven will spill forth from their lips as Isaiah says:
“Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.” (Isaiah 25:9)
God saves us from the destruction of death. We may joyfully embrace the truth that our resurrection conquers death once and for all.
The third glorious truth about the resurrection which we may joyfully embrace is:
Before we talk about the resurrection being a gift, we first have to understand what the Apostle is saying when he tells us the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
The Lord God took Adam and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it. The Lord commanded Adam saying, “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Not obeying God’s commands brings death. Adam’s sin brought death and death spreads to everyone because everyone has sinned (Romans 5:12). If we say we have no sin, we are liars.
The sting of death refers to what gives death its power. Take the stinging needle from the bee and it has no sting. Sin is the needle that gives death a sting. Removing sin removes the sting from death.
What gives sin its power is the law; God’s commandments. Romans chapter seven (Romans 7:7-13) explains this in detail. We would not know coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.” But sin uses this command to arouse all kinds of covetous desires! If there were no law, sin would not have that power. Sin takes advantage of God’s commands, and deceives us to sin. God’s Law is holy and good, but when a sinful person hears God’s laws, sin takes opportunity through the Law. Proclaim God’s law and sin jumps up and punches the time clock and says, time to get to work. Our sin nature hears the command of God and uses the command as a starting point, a launching pad, to rocket us into rebellion. Those who have children understand this to be true.
Sin is a powerful force which makes all mankind a slave. Every human is a slave to sin. There is no human able to resist the power of sin. The more the law increases, the more our sin increases. Because we sin, we die.
But, thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Those who put their faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ are joined with Christ (Romans 7:4). Because we are in Christ, we are no longer under the law. Christians in union with Jesus are dead to the Law. We to die to the Law through Christ’s death. We are in union with Jesus in His resurrection. We are dead to the Law and alive in Christ. Being dead to the Law removes the power of sin. If sin has no power over us, then neither does death have power over us.
Jesus overcame sin and death. Jesus is a life-giving spirit (15:45).
God gives us the victory through Jesus Christ. We may take no credit for the victory. We are unable to overcome sin. Try it. Go the rest of today without sin and let me know how you do. Jesus spent every day of His life without sinning. Because of that, Jesus is the perfect sacrifice, and God raised Him from the dead.
Victory over sin and death is a gift. We may not purchase this gift with money, nor may we earn it by working. There is nothing we have done nor will do to deserve victory over sin and death. There is none who does good, not even one. We are not so good that God decided He will give us the victory. We receive the victory because of God’s amazing grace. Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory.
Be joyful the resurrection is a gift from God through Jesus Christ the Lord.
The fourth glorious truth about the resurrection which we may joyfully embrace is:
The resurrection gives us purpose in life. The resurrection is the anchor of our soul. The resurrection is the hope within us we for which we are to give an answer. If we are going to put all of our eggs in one basket, let’s have the basket be named the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Here is the point; the resurrection is the driving force behind all that we say and do as believers. Paul tells us earlier in the chapter if there is no resurrection of the dead, and Jesus Christ did not walk out of His grave alive from the dead, our faith is vain. In other words, we gather together and play Christianity for no reason. All we do in the name of Christ is hopeless, pointless, futile, and worthless.
If Christ is not raised from the dead, our faith is worthless, and we are still in our sins. All those who have died before us have perished forever. If all we have is this life, then of all the people in the world, we are the people most to be pitied. We spend a great deal of our time reading the Bible, going to church, seeking to do what is right, giving away our money, and many other activities related to honoring Jesus and building His church.
However, Jesus is raised from the dead. His tomb is empty. There are eyewitnesses. We believe Jesus rose from the grave, and we bet our very lives on this truth. Because we believe, Paul gives us instructions.
He begins by telling us to be steadfast and immovable. In other words, continue in the faith. Don’t shrink away from the hope of the gospel. There will be many who will try to tell us we are dumb for believing in the resurrection. There will be some who will ridicule or even seek our harm because we believe the resurrection. Be steadfast in pressing forward. Be immovable from the truth. Keep the resurrection as a reminder to persevere. Live with anticipation of eternal life.
Paul repeats what he said at the beginning of the chapter. There he urged us to hold fast the word preached because what he preached was of first importance. Nothing is more important than the words, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” Be immovable from this truth.
Paul continues his instruction and tells us we are to be always abounding in the work of the Lord. Numerous times in this letter the work of the Lord refers to the building of the Church (3:5-15; 14:12; 15:10). We are to build upon the foundation already laid, which is Jesus Christ. We are to build on the foundation using gold, silver and precious stones and not wood, hay, and stubble. We are encouraged to build with quality, knowing our work is tested and rewarded by God. God gives us each of us gifts, and they are for the edification of His church.
As we work, we do so knowing our toil is not in vain. The church is all that will remain of this world in God’s heavenly kingdom. When I say, “the church”, I am not referring to the buildings, but I am referring to the people that belong to Jesus Christ, His bride. God will destroy everything else in this world at Christ’s second coming; everything except His bride.
Just this week, radicals killed four Wycliffe missionaries in the Middle East. Some might say their work is in vain. It is not in vain. Everything they did to bring the Word of God to a lost people stands. There is never an ounce of labor, or a word spoken contributing to the building of Christ’s church, spent vainly. Every bit of toil is valuable to God. It is gold, silver, and precious stones.
Therefore, don’t let anyone or anything seek to dissuade you from your faith or the building of the church. Always be abounding in the work of the Lord. Do this because the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead gives us a purpose in life. He saves us so we may live for Him.
Let me close with this.
Jesus spent three years performing miracles and teaching with authority. All eyes were upon Him. Jerusalem welcomed Jesus like a great King. God made Him famous.
Jesus laid down His life by His own initiative. He was in complete control of His death. He also was in complete control of rising from the dead. He came to the earth to walk out of the grave. The resurrection is His goal. We proclaim that which is of first importance. Christ died according to the Scriptures. He was buried, and He rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures.
Bgeloved. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is at the center of all events in human history. There is nothing comparable. The resurrection is intended to awaken every human to these truths.
This is the Lord for whom we have waited: Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.
May the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (from Hebrews 13:20-21)