Lesson 50

Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

15:12 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? 15:13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ been raised. 15:14 If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith also is in vain. 15:15 Yes, we are found false witnesses of God, because we testified about God that he raised up Christ, whom he didn't raise up, if it is so that the dead are not raised. 15:16 For if the dead aren't raised, neither has Christ been raised. 15:17 If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins. 15:18 Then they also who are fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 15:19 If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable.  

Today's Lesson 

Paul began this important section of his First Letter to the Corinthians defending the centrality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ to the gospel that he preached. The early church was begun when the apostles began to proclaim that their leader, a man that had been put to death by the Romans at the behest of the religious leaders in Jerusalem, had been raised from the dead. He had been seen by a wide variety of witnesses. All this, the apostles proclaimed, was the fulfillment of prophecies from the Jewish sacred writings. God raised Jesus Christ from the dead and then began to reveal to his disciples why He had done this through the Holy Spirit, the "other" counselor that Christ had promised would come to them after He was gone.


It was the task of the early church to struggle with what that means. In some ways, Christians of every age have had to struggle with these questions, but undeniably the first century Christians faced the unique circumstances of trying to make sense of this mystery of God that had been revealed to their generation. It is understandable that in the struggle to comprehend the incomprehensible that there would be some missteps along the way.


One of the questions that seems to have arisen in Corinth involved the question of whether Christ would be the only person that was raised from the dead. Paul declares emphatically to the Corinthians that if Christ was raised from the dead then it must mean that all that are saved by faith in Him will be raised with Him as well. In Paul's gospel, one issue cannot be separated from the other. If Christ was raised from the dead, we will be raised from the dead, too. Some were saying that there was no resurrection from the dead. To Paul, that was the same as denying the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul taught that in the resurrection, God was declaring that the sacrifice that Jesus made for sin was acceptable. If Christ was not raised, then we are still dead in our sins.


Paul believed so strongly in this principle that he wrote the Corinthians that if they believed that there was no resurrection then their faith was "in vain." If they did not believe that the dead were raised to live again, then they had wasted their time. Christians live in order to serve God and believe that the truest expression of their service will come after this life is over, when they have been raised to a new life. The life to come, the full expression of the God's reign and rule in our lives, is yet to be.


Paul's admonition to the Corinthians is still applicable today. There is much effort to remove the mysticism from Christianity. If Christianity can be reduced to solely an ethic, a guide for living one's life in this world, then there will be little conflict between the believer and the world. But the power of the gospel of Christ, the capability that fueled the growth that exploded a minor sect of Judaism into a world religion was the belief that Jesus Christ was alive and would one day return to gather all believers home. The hope of the faithful was not that God would set everything right in this world, but that there would be justice in the world to come.


That is not to say that Christianity does not contain a viable ethic. Nor does it mean to imply that God does not act and work in this life to improve the lives of His people and the world in general. Christians are to live wisely and work for justice. But the ultimate goals of Christianity cannot be achieved in this world. As Paul puts it, "If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable."


Christians believe in the life to come. The dead in Christ will be raised to a new life. We believe that the assurance of the life to come can be found in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because Christ was raised from the dead, we too will be raised to live with Him. This is a central tenet to our faith. The resurrection of the dead is not an optional belief.


Do you believe in the resurrection of the dead? How important is the life to come for your relationship with God?

Psalm / Past Lesson / Next Lesson / Lesson Archive / Home

© 2002 adailywalk.com - These materials may be reproduced as long as they are never sold in any form.