7 FUTILE RAMIFICATIONS OF NO BODILY RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD < 7 NOTES OF EXULTATION
(:12) INTRODUCTION: THE PIVOTAL QUESTION UNDER EXAMINATION
“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?”
This is the issue that Paul is addressing in chapter 15. He waits until this point to introduce the pivotal question. People in the church at Corinth did not really have a problem with the fact of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ – the abundant proofs for that historical phenomena had just been set forth. But creeping in was potential uncertainty about the bodily resurrection of believers. Especially given the dualistic philosophical world view of that day concerning the distinction between the spirit which was good and the body which was deemed evil.
MacArthur: But in spite of the clear word of the Old Testament and in spite of the clear word of Jesus, in spite of the clear of apostolic preaching, in spite of the clear word of the apostle Paul, the Corinthians had come to the place where they were denying bodily resurrection. They had bought the bag of Greek philosophers and you remember the Greek philosophers taught that the soul was immortal, but the body was not.
That the soul would go on forever, but the body rotted in the grave and it was good-bye forever. So that immortality had only to bear on the spiritual. We would live spiritually forever not in any kind of corporeal sense. In fact, verse 12 of 1 Corinthians 15 has basically the statement these critics were making. “Now if Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?”
Quite typical to emphasize positive points by contradicting the associated negative points. So Paul takes us through a string of “What Ifs” surrounding the Christian faith. He does this not to raise the level of our doubts and uncertainty, but to confirm us in the victorious truths that are central and foundational to our Christian faith.
7 FUTILE RAMIFICATIONS OF NO BODILY RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD < 7 NOTES OF EXULTATION
Easy to outline this section
I. (:13) THE FUTILITY OF CHRIST NOT HAVING BEEN RAISED FROM THE DEAD = JESUS IS NOT ALIVE
“But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised.”
Think about the implications of that possibility.
These two concepts are mutually exclusive; you cannot have it both ways.
Assertion: No resurrection of the dead for people
Deduction: Jesus Christ has not been raised
Conclusion: Forget the whole affair
If Christ has not been raised from the dead – 18 negations —
– We have no Vine for the branches to derive their life from
– We have no Good Shepherd to guide and nurture the sheep
– We have no Advocate to plead our case before the Father
– We have no great High Priest at the right hand of God
– We have no Head of the church to direct us
– We have no Mediator between God and man
– We have no Door by which we can enter into the kingdom of God
– We have no Giver of the Holy Spirit to indwell and empower us
– We have no Living Water to invigorate us
– We have no Judge of all the earth to return and set matters straight
– We have no King and thus no future millennial kingdom on earth with all of its blessings
– We have no Divine Friend to confide in and to enjoy companionship with –
o “What a Friend we Have in Jesus”
– We have no Living Word to continue to communicate to us the essence of the Father
– We have no Solid Foundation for our faith and Christian life; no Anchor
– We have no Trinity with its blessed union of three in one
– We have no Way, no Truth and no Life
Spurgeon: When you know what rests on the resurrection, you know why if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
i. The divinity of Jesus rests on the resurrection of Jesus (Romans 1:4).
ii. The sovereignty of Jesus rests on the resurrection of Jesus (Romans 14:9).
iii. Our justification rests on the resurrection of Jesus (Romans 4:25).
iv. Our regeneration rests on the resurrection of Jesus (1 Peter 1:3).
v. Our ultimate resurrection rests on the resurrection of Jesus (Romans 8:11).
vi. “The fact is, that the silver thread of resurrection runs through all the blessings, from regeneration onward to our eternal glory, and binds them together.”
PTL: CHRIST HAS BEEN RAISED FROM THE DEAD!
Paul could have stopped at this point — He has already won the logical argument – look at the credible witnesses to the resurrection that he had set forth – the evidence was irrefutable and consistent with OT prophecy –
But Paul goes on to logically build one argument upon another so that there would be no doubt about the victorious, exulting state of Christians because of the reality of Easter
II. (:14A) THE FUTILITY OF PREACHING THE HOPE OF THE RESURRECTION = OUR PREACHING IS VAIN
“and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain”
What type of sacrifices had Paul made to invest his life in preaching the gospel of Christ?
What degree of suffering had he endured to embrace the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ?
What pleasures and comfort had Paul renounced?
How much effort and hard work and exhausting labor had Paul poured into this ministry?
Begg: not referring to whether it was a good sermon or bad sermon … just that the content is meaningless; we have nothing to say; “through the foolishness of the content of the proclamation God has chosen to save people” – facts about Jesus summarized in first 4 verses – modern man characterizes this as foolishness; compelling logic here; apostate preachers: you don’t really have to believe in any of the miracles – Illustration: like soccer – forget the ball, let’s just start the game; Example of apostate preaching: “I suggest that we confess openly that the resurrection is a myth; this is not to say that it is not true; to say that the resurrection is a myth is to say that it represents the deepest kind of truth . . .” You can’t take away the resurrection and think that you still have anything worth talking about; Why would sensible men and women listen to something like this?? Your preaching is useless.
This concept of futility reminds us of the familiar themes from the pen of that ultimate OT preacher – King Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes:
What’s the point to life under the sun – if you strip away the eternal perspective?
PTL: OUR PREACHING MINISTRY IS NOT IN VAIN!
Even though others would look at our efforts and say we are just wasting our time.
Nobody cares about truth; nobody wants to investigate the OT book of Isaiah – get a life!
What is the goal of our preaching?? Not just to hear ourselves talk; not just to accumulate pdf files and Sermonaudio.com messages …
III. (:14B) THE FUTILITY OF FAITH IN THE GOSPEL MESSAGE = OUR FAITH IS VAIN
“your faith also is vain”
This implication really hits home. This is the same charge we lay at the feet of all the false religions. What if our Christian faith is no different than any false religion.
Zeal without knowledge gets you zip.
Sincerity without truth is like taking the wrong antidote to a fatal disease.
What a blowhard if you are walking about proclaiming a message that is no better than vaporware – a cloud without any substance …
How would you like to be part of a church movement that endured painful persecution for an empty and futile cause?
Begg: Your faith rested on the preaching of the truth; if that is a sham, so is your faith; biblical faith is not some vague hopefulness; just important that we have faith – in what? Biblical faith rests on objective reality and propositional truth;
PTL: OUR FAITH IS NOT IN VAIN!
Paul even goes beyond to state that our condition would not just be neutral … as if we had wasted our life in a meaningless cause … but actually we have heaped blame and condemnation on ourselves by committing the horrible sin of blasphemy against God.
IV. (:15-17A) THE FUTILITY OF WASTING YOUR LIFE IN CHRISTIAN MINISTRY AS PROCLAIMERS OF A FALSE HOPE (BEARING FALSE WITNESS AGAINST GOD)
“Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless”
Grosheide: False witnesses of God: people who give their false witness in God’s name not only speak an untruth but they hold God in derision by covering their false witness with His name. Thus the apostles would then appear to have presented themselves as witnesses of God, while God actually did not send them. The object of the testimony is the resurrection of Christ. That was the message Paul and his co-laborers brought.
Begg: Acts 2:24; apostles were not advice givers; they were preachers of the truth; had great integrity; they died for their proclamation – not likely to have made this up; why get yourselves killed over known fabrication? They weren’t making money; they weren’t becoming popular … Man may die for a conviction, but man will not die for a concoction; they started from the conviction that Jesus had died; it’s pride that keeps people from believing in the face of such facts
REPETITION: BASED ON THEIR BEING NO RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD:
I. Futility of Christ not having been raised
II. Futility of Preaching and Testifying regarding the Gospel
III. Futility of Faith
PTL: WE ARE NOT FALSE WITNESSES
We proclaim the truth
V. (:17B) THE FUTILITY OF STILL BEING HELD IN BONDAGE TO SIN
“you are still in your sins”
This may be the cruelest “What If” of all of them. What if we have deceived ourselves into thinking that our lives have been freed from the bondage of sin?
Begg: dreadful predicament with no way to get clean; hands are stained with our sinfulness; remember what you were; they knew they were changed; we know we are not in our sins!
PTL: WE HAVE BEEN DELIVERED FROM OUR SINS
We can testify to the reality of this blessed state – we can compare our former condition to our current converted and transformed state and rejoice that we are a new creation in Christ Jesus. Nobody can argue us out of this truth. The Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are in the family of God. We are no longer the children of Satan. We have been delivered out of darkness into the blessed light of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
VI. (:18) THE FUTILITY OF THE CHRISTIAN DEAD HAVING PERISHED WITHOUT HOPE
“Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.”
Have you forgotten about your loved ones who have already died and gone ahead to the other side?
Don’t you have a longing to be reunited with them for all of eternity?
What cruel comfort is dispensed at most funerals – to a crowd of unbelievers who have concern for their relationship to a holy God until the moment comes when they long to play a Get Out of Hell Free card.
Oh, your loved one is better off … Is he or she?
Remember the way is broad that leads to destruction — many are rolling down that path; the gate is narrow that leads to eternal life – few there be that find it.
We have been called to rescue the perishing.
Begg: Those who have fallen asleep are lost; funeral messages would thus be lies; death is not falling asleep in Jesus and waking up to see His face; we all live without hope and without God; Christians in same predicament as pagans
PTL: THOSE WHO HAVE DIED IN CHRIST HAVE NOT PERISHED!
They also have not been consigned to some type of incomplete existence where they will remain separated from their body – instead their body will be raised incorruptible; they will be clothed again with a resurrection body like that of the Lord Jesus.
VII. (:19) THE MISERABLE CONCLUSION – SUMMING UP THE FUTILITY OF CHRISTIANS – THEY ARE A PATHETIC LOT
“If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.”
Hodge: “If all our hopes in Christ are confined to this life . . .”
Morris: If there is no resurrection they are pitiably deluded men. They have set their hopes on a Lord who is to bring them a richer, fuller life, and all that distinguishes them from others is a special form of hardship (cf. 2 Cor. vi. 4ff., xi. 23ff.). While Paul never minimizes the compensations the Christian has in this life in the way of peace within and the like, yet it is only common sense to see that, if this world is all there is, anybody is better off than the Christian.
Begg: we have to put up with a lot of difficulty and suffering … but there is an ice cream at the end; if we believed in the future when there was no future then we are of all men most pitied; yesterday is dead and gone; tomorrow is never coming … let’s live existential life of hedonism . . .
This whole paragraph should be deeply disturbing to those who have tried to make Christianity more palatable by removing the difficult things of the faith, the miraculous truths; end up giving nothing to people
PTL: BELIEVERS ARE DESTINED FOR GLORY AND REWARD!
Lowery: (:15-19) If there were no Resurrection, the pagans would be right. The “foolishness of the Cross” (1:18) would be just that, and men such as Paul and the apostles who had suffered for the gospel (4:9-13) could only be pitied. Those who lived for the pleasure of the moment would be right and the sacrifices of Christians would only be cruel, self-inflicted jokes (cf. 15:32).
(:20) GLANCE FORWARD: STATEMENT OF CERTAINTY AND CONVICTION
“But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.”
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is truth and the bodily resurrection of all true believers is equally true.
Once we assert the resurrection all of the above points of futility are removed