THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST GUARANTEES ULTIMATE TRIUMPH
It is always satisfying to be on the winning team. But life is much more than a game. Our eternal destiny hinges on the validity of the resurrection of Christ. And more than that, the ultimate triumph of God’s entire kingdom program derives from the reality of the resurrection of the God-Man.
In contrast to the hypothetical dreaded consequences of no resurrection of Christ as contemplated in the previous paragraph (v.12-19), Paul now moves forward with decisive certainty and assurance to the blessed consequences of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Review: Since Christ has been raised from the dead:
– OUR PREACHING MINISTRY IS NOT IN VAIN!
– OUR FAITH IS NOT IN VAIN!
– WE ARE NOT FALSE WITNESSES
– WE HAVE BEEN DELIVERED FROM OUR SINS
– THOSE WHO HAVE DIED IN CHRIST HAVE NOT PERISHED!
– BELIEVERS ARE DESTINED FOR GLORY AND REWARD!
I. (:20-23) VICTORY FOR BELIEVERS — THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST GUARANTEES THE ULTIMATE TRIUMPH OF INDIVIDUAL BELIEVERS OVER SIN AND DEATH AS THEY FOLLOW CHRIST IN RESURRECTION
A. (:20A) The Bodily Resurrection of Christ is a Certain Historical Reality
“But now Christ has been raised from the dead,”
1. Strong Contrast – But
Small conjunction but One of the most beautiful and powerful words in the Greek NT
Paul does not leave us hanging with regards to his argument – he dismisses the negative consequences associated with the premise of no resurrection
2. Providential timing – in the fullness of time –
Paul ministered at a very special time in human history – in the immediate afterglow of the blazing glory of the resurrection of Jesus Christ
No longer straining to look forward to see the fulfillment of the types and shadows and prophecies of the OT regarding the death and resurrection of the coming Messiah; looking back in blessed fulfillment
3. Bodily Resurrection – Perf. Tense — past action with abiding results
4. Separation from one state to another that is completely different
B. (:20B) The Bodily Resurrection of Christ is the Pledged Pattern for all Believers who have Died and the Guarantee of Their Participation
“the first fruits of those who are asleep.”
1. OT background of feast of first fruits
Stedman: Paul is referring here to the ritual that was given to Israel in the 23rd chapter of the book of Leviticus, where on the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which followed the Passover, on the morrow after the Sabbath, there would be the offering of the first fruits of the barley harvest. The Jews were commanded to bring a sheaf of grain, the first of the harvest, to the priest, who would wave it before the Lord.
Now if you have been carefully following the chronology of Scripture, you know that was the exact morning of our Lord’s resurrection. There, in the feasts of Israel, you have a prediction that the resurrection of Jesus would be the first fruits of the harvest. Paul’s argument is that not only did Jesus rise from the dead on the exact day predicted by the ritual, but, furthermore, his resurrection is a sample and a guarantee of the entire “harvest” of resurrection, which would include ours as well.
Guzik: The offering at the Feast of First fruits was a bloodless grain offering (Leviticus 2). No atoning sacrifice was necessary, because the Passover lamb had just been sacrificed. This corresponds perfectly with the resurrection of Jesus, because His death ended the need for sacrifice, having provided a perfect and complete atonement.
2. Significance of first fruits
3. Concern of believers regarding their fellow Christians who have fallen asleep
Only believers are in view in this context; not speaking of the resurrection of all men to judgment
C. (:21-22) The Resurrection of Christ Mirrors the Causal Relationship Established Back at the Fall of Man (Rom. 5:12ff)
Principle: The Action of One Man Determines the Fate of All Men He Represents
Where did sin and death come from?
1. Remember the Effects of Our Union with the First Adam in Universal Sin and Death
“For since by a man came death”
“For as in Adam all die”
2. Rejoice in Our Union with the Second Adam in Certain Resurrection to Eternal Life
“by a man also came the resurrection of the dead”
“so also in Christ all will be made alive”
MacArthur: Now watch, it depends upon the link with the man. That’s the point. Who died? All who are in Adam. Who live? All who are in Christ. You see the all has to be connected to the individual and his work. Listen by natural descent from Adam, we all die and all who are naturally descendent from Adam will die. And all who are supernaturally descendent from Christ will live. That’s the point. It is the all of who…who you’re in. All in Adam die. All in Christ live. If you’re not in Christ, you’re still in Adam, you die. You see?
The first all includes all who are in Adam by the common factor of sin. The second all includes all who are in Christ by the common factor of faith. All who are in Adam die. All who are in Christ live. So Paul’s first point is the impact of the resurrection. It deals with the resurrection of the redeemer and it is the first fruits, the guaranty, the source, as Adam was the first fruits and source of death, so Christ is the source of life.
If you don’t believe in the literal events recorded in Gen. 1-3 you have major problems in your theology –
D. (:23) The Resurrection of Christ Provides Confident Anticipation of the Future Resurrection of Believers – there is a prescribed order of future events
“But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming”
1. The Order of Future Events – not exhaustive; many gaps
Much could be said here – there are a number of different resurrections – even what is called “the first resurrection” has different stages
– resurrection of NT church saints at the time of the Rapture
– resurrection of Tribulation saints and OT saints – just preceding the Millennial Kingdom
– resurrection of the unbelievers right before the Great White Throne judgment not really in view here
2. Reference is to the destiny of believers, not unbelievers
The Good Shepherd never loses any of His sheep or forgets about them – words of great assurance; we belong to Jesus Christ – that union will be fully manifested when He returns; He knows His sheep and calls them by name
3. Anticipation of the Return of Christ
This is the event we look forward to now with great anticipation – just as He ascended up into heaven as He commissioned His disciples to be about the fulfillment of the Great Commission in His absence … so He will come again .. we live in the last days
II. (:24-28) VICTORY FOR THE TRIUNE GOD — THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST GUARANTEES THE ULTIMATE TRIUMPH OF GOD’S KINGDOM PROGRAM AS THE MEDIATORIAL KINGDOM PUTS DOWN ALL ENEMIES AND PASSES RULERSHIP BACK TO GOD THE FATHER
A. (:24) The Resurrection of Christ Sets the Stage for the End Game of Kingdom Transfer
1. What is this “end” that is in view?
“then comes the end,”
2. What is the Difference between the Mediatorial Kingdom and the Eternal Kingdom?
“when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father,”
3. What is involved in this ultimate triumph?
“when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power”
B. (:25-27) The Resurrection of Christ Sets the Stage for His Subjection Over All
1. (:25) Victory Over All Enemies —
The Necessity, Duration and Objective of the Mediatorial Reign of Christ
“For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.”
Piper: First, it means that Christ is reigning NOW! He rose from the dead, ascended to heaven and sat down at the right hand of God (Col. 3:1). His kingdom does not begin at the second coming. When Christ comes again there will be a thunder clap of great victory in his reign over evil. You can see it in verse 23 — at his coming those who belong to Christ will be raised from the dead. But that thunder clap of victory will not be the beginning of his reign. His reign is underway now.
The other thing that the word “until” means is that Christ’s kingly warfare against his enemies is going on right now. In other words his reign is not passive. If a football player gets injured and the coach wants to take him out of the game, but he says, “No, I am playing until we win,” you know two things: you know that he is playing now and that he is playing to win.
So when Paul says Jesus must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet, you know two things: he is reigning now and he is reigning to win. . .
There is no disease, no addiction, no demon, no bad habit, no fault, no vice, no weakness, no temper, no moodiness, no pride, no self-pity, no strife, no jealousy, no perversion, no greed, no laziness that Christ does not aim to overcome as the enemy of his honor. And the encouragement in that is that when you set yourself to do battle with the enemies of your faith and your holiness, you will not fight alone.
2. (:26) Victory Over the Last Enemy = Death
“The last enemy that will be abolished is death.”
Guzik: Death will be present during the millennial reign of Jesus (Revelation 20:9; Isaiah 65:20). But afterward, death will be abolished. It is truly the last enemy that will be destroyed.
3. (:27) Total Subjection to Christ – With One Exception
a. Total Subjection to Christ
“For He has put all things in subjection under His feet.”
b. One Exception
“But when He says, ‘All things are put in subjection,’ it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him.”
C. (:28) The Resurrection of Christ Sets the Stage for the Ultimate Glorification of God the Father
“When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.”
We will finally have the perspective of God = it is all about God – not all about us
Stedman: But there is coming a day when we will thoroughly understand, emotionally, the makeup of God, and we will understand the great truth God has been seeking to teach us all through this earthly experience that he is all we need, that God is everything to every one.
Guzik: In Ephesians 1:10, Paul reveals God’s eternal purpose in history: that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth in Him. Paul wrote of the “gathering together” of all things in Jesus, or of the “summing up” of all things in Him. Here, in 1 Corinthians, he looks forward to the time when all things are resolved in Jesus Christ and He presents it all to God the Father, giving glory to the God who authored this eternal plan of the ages.
CONCLUSION: Live triumphantly as those who have been given the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ
1 Cor. 15:50-58
Apostle Paul makes the application for us – vs. 58