Some in their midst — supposed brothers and sisters who gathered with them weekly to build up the church and take of the Lord’s supper — didn’t buy into resurrection. Oh, they knew that to fit in and get whatever they wanted to get out of being part of the gathering they had to sing songs and listen to sermons about Christ’s resurrection. But when it came to what they thought about their own life after death experience, they didn’t. They didn’t think about it because they didn’t believe it. “There is no resurrection of the dead,” they’d say (1Cor. 15:12). Three-score-and-ten on this earth, maybe a few more if you’re lucky, that was it. So they believed. So they lived. And so they went to church. And so Paul writes, “I say this to your shame” (1Cor. 15:34).
And Paul spells out the implications of “no resurrection of the dead.”
No resurrection from the dead? Then Christ has not been raised. Your faith is vain. What you believe is futile and you still stand in the rebellion of your sin before God.
And if Christ has not been raised from the dead then there’s no reason to be anticipating His return and His rule. No kingdom to come. And, really, if there’s no kingdom to come, there’s not much motivation for “Thy will to be done.” Makes no sense to keep filling the ranks of the believers if we believe our tour of duty is but for this lifetime. No reason to swim upstream, preaching a gospel that makes no difference beyond the here and now, if there’s really no there and then. In fact, Paul says,
If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
(1Corinthians 15:32b ESV)
By continuing to rub shoulders with those who denied resurrection, their bad company was eroding other’s good character (15:33). Tolerating their deceptive elixir of earth-bound religion mixed with eating and drinking and living for only today’s pleasure, with no eternal anticipation, just served to put others in a drunken stupor and to “go on sinning” (15:34a). And a religion like that, one that focused on this life only, was a pitiful religion (15:19). A miserable mess, creating only degrading confusion, with no real knowledge of God (15:34b).
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
(1Corinthians 15:20 ESV)
Paul also lays out the implications of resurrection. And those implications are huge. Because Christ is risen, we too will rise. Because He is with the Father, we too will be with the Father. Because He has conquered death, we too are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Because He is coming back, we live in light of His imminent return and of soon going to be with Him.
Giving meaning to today because of the certainty of tomorrow. Endurance for any trial because of the expectation it’s going to be worth it all. Hope, even while bearing a heavy burden, because the tomb is empty, the Savior is risen, and the King is coming.
Wake up, Paul says. Jesus is risen and you will too. Jesus is coming and your redemption draws near (Lk. 21:28).
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living, just because He lives
— Bill & Gloria Gaither
By His grace. For His glory.