Skip Heitzig - 1 Corinthians 15:1-34
We're in the book 1 Corinthians. We're in chapter 15. So turn your Bibles, get ready for that. A special welcome to those joining us online. A couple of weeks ago or a week ago when we were in England, in Sheffield, England, a couple that had been on our social media, and they have a coffee shop in England, and they said we watch online every week. And they drove several hours across England to be at the event at Sheffield and brought a copy of the Bible from 30,000 feet so I would sign it. And we spent a few moments together. And we asked them, hey, do you suppose you could use your coffee shop to do a watch party, bring friends together and watch it as a small church, as a group? And they said, sure. We'd love to do that.
So just in case you're watching, we know you're out there. Greetings to you. Also, to wherever you are, think perhaps of doing the same thing, starting a watch party in your home or at your business or wherever you're at in different states or in different countries. It just was such a huge eye-opener for me, a revelation for me, that here we have this church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and yet it's just so much bigger because of the online capability for people who are joining us. So we give you our greetings from here. Just about every week, we have people, I meet people from different states who go out of their way when they're on their way to somewhere else to stop by and come to a Wednesday night Bible study or a weekend. So anyway, we just want to give you our greetings and say we recognize the body of Christ is much bigger than just one little local church in a town. But anyway, welcome. Turn in your Bibles now to 1 Corinthians chapter 15. So good to be back in this format of Bible study.
Father, thank You for Your word. Thank You for Your people, people that are here, as well as those who are joining us from all over the country, all over the world. We pray that You would strengthen Your bride, the church, in these last days. Make us suitable to the task at hand in the environment in which we live. Help us to see that we are more than conquerors. We're not just survivors. We're not just those who can weather the storm. We are more than conquerors. We have the truth. And we pray that we would unashamedly proclaim and live the gospel in Jesus's name. Amen.
Well, if you know anything about the 15th chapter of the Book of 1 Corinthians, you first of all know it's very long. There are 58 verses in it. Now, I originally came here thinking I'm going to do 15 and 16, and we're just going to finish it out. I'm a realist at this point, as I sit before you, in all honesty. And I often realize that my intentions never or rarely are seen to fruition when it comes to how much territory I can cover on Wednesday night. Now, if we had a couple hours of Bible study, perhaps I could do that, but we don't. So we have under an hour. So we're going to look at the 15th chapter. And we'd like to be able to finish it, but you know how that goes. We'll just go through until our time is up. If you had to pick a list of the 10 greatest chapters in the Bible, I believe you would need to put 1 Corinthians 15 on that list because of its doctrinal content, because it is the definitive chapter on the Resurrection, our Resurrection, Jesus' Resurrection, the Resurrection as it pertains to the whole gospel message. It is just one of the greatest chapters in scripture.
As you know, the Corinthians were a group of people, a church, in a city that was riddled with problems. And Paul writes 1 Corinthians as a polemic, as a corrective to adjust their errant perspective on a number of behavioral and doctrinal issues. And evidently, they were confused in regards to the Resurrection. And perhaps that's why Paul made it so long, is because this was so vital, so important, that he wanted to take his time, belabor the issue. Because the Resurrection is not just Jesus' Resurrection, but because of Jesus' Resurrection, that guarantees our resurrection. It's part and parcel of the gospel, is the redemption of our physical bodies. And thus, he writes about the Resurrection.
Now, why was there confusion in the Corinthian Church about this issue? By the way, I find there's a lot of confusion today in church, in churches, regarding the Resurrection, regarding life after death. I've done a lot of funerals over the past several decades. And I listen to people, I listen to churchgoing people as they talk about the death of a loved one. And I know in the comments may be emotional comments, and I think that they're probably well-intended comments but inaccurate comments nonetheless. Well, I know George is up there right now, playing golf. Really? You think that's what heaven is? What about people who hate the game of golf? That sounds like hell, not heaven to them, especially if you have a bad game. But nonetheless, I digress. Really, he's up in heaven. So there's his body in that casket, and yet he's up there playing.
Now, how is he playing golf if his body's here? Oh, well, he has a new body. You think so? And do you think that in the future, that body is just going the way of all the Earth? Or does God have plans for that body? If that's a saved individual, what will become of that body? Well, if you are a Bible-believing Christian, there's only one way you can answer that. That body will, one day, though it is in the process of decaying and decomposition and will turn to dust, at some point, will be raised. There will be a resurrection. But I find that even believers are very sketchy when it comes to the details of this, like the Corinthians. But back to the question. Why were the Corinthians so confused about the Resurrection? Answer, they lived in a Greek culture. The Greeks abhorred the idea of a resurrection.
Paul had been in Athens, and when he was in Athens, which is a city just a few miles away from Corinth, and he was on the Areopagus on Mars Hill, part of Paul's message was the resurrection from the dead. And they laughed at him. They thought that was so bizarre. Because to a Greek, the idea that you would ever want this body to come alive again was absurd. Because the Greeks taught and thought that the body was a tomb for the spirit. Death liberated the spirit. And so why would you ever want to be shackled and imprisoned, entombed again in a physical body? That's how they saw it. So they did not believe in or entertain the thought of a resurrection. That's the culture of Corinth, a Greek culture. Also, it was culturally a Roman province, and the Romans did not believe in a resurrection.
You remember when Paul stood in Caesarea, and he preached to Festus, and he talked about the resurrection from the dead? He spoke about the death, burial, and Resurrection of Christ and that I believe in the resurrection of the dead, he said. And Festus interrupted him and said, Paul, your much learning has made you mad. Dude, you have been hitting the books, reading so much, it just drove you nuts. I mean, that's crazy. That's absurd. So the Greeks didn't believe in a resurrection. The Romans certainly didn't believe in resurrection. And a whole group in Judaism didn't believe in the resurrection. The Sadducees, the Pharisees did. But the Sadducees were pure materialists. They did not believe that there were angels or spirits, and they didn't believe in the Resurrection. In fact, they came to Jesus one time with a trick question. They said, we had this guy, and he was married to a gal. And she couldn't produce any children for him, so he died, and she married his brother, according to Old Testament law. And then he died and didn't produce children. And then she married another guy and another.
So he had she had, like, seven husbands. They all died. And then they thought they had Jesus, in the Resurrection, whose wife will she be? What they were trying to do is point out the absurdity of once you're dead, to have that body come back. And I love Jesus' answer. He said, you're ignorant. Well, that's not all he said. He didn't put a period at the end of it. He said, you are ignorant not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God. The scriptures say there's a Resurrection, and the power of God guarantees the Resurrection. It's not hard for God to resurrect a dead body and bring it back to life and reorganize all of the atoms, no matter where they are, anymore than it was for God to create life to begin with. So that's why Paul, when he stood before King Agrippa, he said, King Agrippa, why do you think it's an incredible thing that God raised the dead? If it's God, raising the dead isn't hard for the God who creates life to begin with.
So there was confusion in Corinth. And so Paul introduces the topic of the Resurrection, first of all, Jesus' own Resurrection as a premise for our resurrection. And you'll see how they tie in together. I can almost guarantee I won't get through the whole chapter of chapter 15 tonight, but it's important enough that we'll slow down through it and get a comprehensive view of it, maybe two parts, maybe. But nonetheless, it is so important that in the book of Romans, chapter 10 in verse 9, Paul said, "if you confess with your mouth", listen, "the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved". In other words, you can't be saved, you're not a true believer, a saved person, if you deny the Resurrection. It's part and parcel of the historic Christian gospel.
So again, in chapter 15, the first few verses, he is laying the foundation, showing us evidences of Jesus' Resurrection. Why? Because Jesus' Resurrection is the first fruits, that's the word he will use, or the template for our physical Resurrection. One guarantees the other. So moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel, gospel means the good news, which I preach to you, which you also received. I preached it. You heard it. You then received it. You internalized it. You made it your own. And in which you stand, by which also you are saved if you hold fast that word which I preach to you unless you believed in vain. Evidence number one for Jesus' Resurrection, number one, the fact that there were believers in Corinth, that in this pagan city, there were some who believed the message the Paul preached. And in believing the message that Paul preached, which is the death, burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, it totally transformed their lives.
That's the first evidence, is the existence of Christians in Corinth. Because he says, you also received it in which you stand by which you are saved if you hold fast that word to which I preached you unless you believed in vain. So the fact that there are people in Corinth who were Gentiles who believed the message of Christ, death, burial, and Resurrection, which is the gospel, as you will see, that's the first line of evidence that Jesus rose from the dead. You believe the gospel? Inherent in the gospel is the Resurrection of Christ from the dead. You see, a dead savior can't save. A dead savior does no one any good. The idea that Jesus lived a good life, He was a good person, He taught some wonderful things, then He died, He's dead and never came back. So what? That's a philosophy. That's not transformative. What is transformative is the guy who died got back up, which means he can conquer death.
If he can conquer death, and by the way, he predicted that was going to happen. No man takes my life from me. I lay it down of myself. I have the power to lay it down and take it again. Anybody that has the power to do that has the power to do anything else he promises. So if He promises he can transform your life, then He can and he will if you let Him. So that's the first line of evidence, the existence of Christians in Corinth. Evidence number two, the prediction of the Resurrection found in the scripture. Verse 3, "for I delivered to you, first of all, that which I also received". When did Paul receive that? When did Paul receive the gospel first? Well, the Damascus road was his moment of transformation. He had heard from Stephen about Jesus, but when he really embraced the gospel was the Damascus road. He received it. Then he spent three years in Arabia, working through the theological implications of that, internalizing it, before he went out and shared with the rest of the world.
So he heard it. He received it. He was transformed by it. "For I deliver to you, first of all, that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was buried and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures". The scriptures predicted the suffering of the Messiah. Isaiah 53, graphic detail, the suffering serpent. Actually, the end of Isaiah 52 and then Isaiah 53. In graphic detail, wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement for our peace was upon him. By his stripes, we are healed. Then you have Psalm 22, which uncannily describes death by crucifixion hundreds of years before crucifixion was even invented by the Persians and adopted by the Romans. And you have a list of these things that are predicted in the scriptures. So evidence number one, changed lives in Corinth. Evidence number two, fulfilled scripture from the Old Testament predicting the death of Jesus, the burial of Jesus.
Also, Isaiah 53 says he would be buried along with the rich. And then it says that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures. Now we have something interesting. Because you need to ask, where exactly does the Old Testament predict the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day? Well, you could, like Peter, look at Psalm 16. That's what Peter did on the day of Pentecost. He reached back to Psalm 16, quoting what David said in Psalm 16. David said, you will not allow your Holy One to see decay or corruption. And Peter makes the point that David wasn't talking about himself because he died, and his tomb is here in Jerusalem, and his body did decay. So when he said you won't allow your Holy One to see decay, Peter said he wasn't talking about himself. He was talking about the Son of David, the ancestor of David, Jesus, the Messiah, who did not see decay. He was in a tomb and rose again.
So he quotes Psalm 16. But still, you don't have three days. Jesus himself goes back to the book of Jonah and announces beforehand, for as Jonah was in the belly of the whale or the great fish three days and three nights, the Son of Man will be in the heart of the Earth three days and three nights. So Jesus points to Jonah. However, there's nothing in Jonah that announces the burial and residing of Jesus or the Messiah in the tomb for three days prior to a Resurrection. But interesting, in the prophet Josiah, Josiah said that God spoke through the prophets in similitudes or in parables. So that's why we believe and we know that there are types in the Old Testament that are fulfilled in the New.
So let me throw something out at you. In Genesis chapter 22, there's the story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac or almost sacrificing Isaac. Because the Lord said, take now your son, your only son, Isaac, to a place that I will show you, a mountain that I will show, you the mountain of Moriah, and you will sacrifice him there for me. Now, that's interesting wording because Abraham didn't have a single son and only son. He had two sons. He had Ishmael, and then he had Isaac. So when God said take now your son, your only son, Isaac, Abraham could have, said pardon me, God. First of all, your premise is all wrong. I have two sons, not one. But the point is God didn't recognize the son of the flesh, the work of the flesh. He only recognized the son of promise, Isaac. But the wording is interesting. Take your only son.
Sounds a lot like John 3:16, "for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son". Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, the very first time the word of "love" is used in the Bible, it's used there in Genesis chapter 22. And it's remarkable because the first time in the Bible the word "love" is used, it's used of a father sacrificing his only begotten son on a certain mountain, the mountain of Moriah. Fast forward a few thousand years. Jesus was crucified on Calvary, Golgotha, Mount Moriah. OK. So Abraham goes, probably he was down in Hebron, he goes toward Mount Moriah, which would become Jerusalem eventually. And he sees the mountain from far off. It says, on the third day, Abraham looked up and saw the mountain that he was to sacrifice his son. What does that mean? It means that for three days, Isaac was dead in the mind of Abraham. Take your son, your only son, and kill him. And he said, OK, I'll do it. So he's taking his son, and he travels to Moriah for three days.
For three days, his son was dead to him. He knew that he was going to kill his son. But Abraham had a little bit of a, quandary didn't he? Because God promised him that through that son, Isaac, all of the promises of God would be fulfilled throughout history. So if I kill him, how is God going to fulfill the promise? Well, the Book of Hebrews answers that question. It says Abraham, by faith, took his son, Isaac, to sacrifice him, supposing that God could and would raise him from the dead. So he's taking his son. His son is dead to him for three days. He takes his son. He's going to follow through. He has the knife lifted up. But by faith, he believes I'm going to kill my son, then God's going to resurrect him. So he goes. His son says, dad, we got the wood. We got the fire. But where's the sacrifice? Listen to the answer of Abraham. My son, God will provide himself a sacrifice, not provide for himself. God will provide himself a sacrifice. And then he says, in the mountain of the Lord, it shall be seen.
That was a prophecy, a prediction. In the mountain of the Lord, Mount Moriah, Golgotha, Calvary, it was seen. So once again, back to 1 Corinthians 15. He died, He was buried according to the scripture, and He rose again the third day according to the scriptures, plural. So line of evidence number one, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ saved people in Corinth. Number two, the prediction of the scripture. Evidence number three, post-Resurrection appearances. Jesus appeared to people after he had risen.
Verse 5. "And he was seen by Cephus", that is Peter, then by the 12th. "After that, he was seen by over 500 brethren at once, of whom the greater part remained to the present, but some have fallen asleep". Fallen asleep is a euphemism for death because the corpse looks like it's sleeping. It's a nice way of saying they kicked the bucket, they died. We often say they passed on. We want to soften, whatever happened to so-and-so? Oh, he died. But if we say, oh, he passed on, for some reason, that's better than if you just say, yeah, he carped it. He's dead. He's horizontal now, room temperature. We have to soften it and be nice. And so they did too. They've fallen asleep.
And then verse 7. "After that, he was seen by James, then by all the apostles". Now, that's eyewitness testimony, post-Resurrection eyewitness testimony. If 500 people in Albuquerque saw somebody commit a crime, if you have that many eyewitnesses, well, 512, and then 13, I mean, if you add all these up, that's a sizable group for eyewitness testimony. In a court of law anywhere in the world, eyewitness testimony is the most powerful line of evidence. So if you had 500 and so many people seeing a crime committed in Albuquerque, do you think the person would suffer the consequences, go to jail? Well, maybe. Given our climate today, we might side with the poor victim. He got bit by a cat when he was 10, and you can't blame him for that. But in normal, sane times, yes, eyewitness testimony would be enough to seal the deal. But look at these post-Resurrection appearances. He was seen by Cephus.
Remember, Jesus thought that it was important that he had a special meeting with Peter after the Resurrection. Peter, do you love me? He asked him three times. He was restoring the apostle who fell. So he was seen by Cephus. Then by the 12th, Jesus appeared to his disciples on the night of the Resurrection. And he had been walking on the road to a mass that evening. He appeared, just appeared in the room in his resurrected body to his disciples and said, peace, shalom. And he saw them there when they were gathered together in the upper room. Then he was seen by over 500 at once, of whom the greater part remained at the present, but some have died. But out of that group, they're still around to tell the story. After that, he was seen by James. There are two apostles that are named James.
There's James, the brother of John, the son of Zebedee. They were in a fishing business together, one of the close associates of Jesus. Peter, James, and John were often with Jesus when the others weren't. They had special access. There was also James, the son of Alphaeus, who was one of the apostles. I don't believe either of them is the James Paul is talking about. I believe the James that Paul is talking about is James, the half-brother of Jesus, who became the head, the leader of the early church in Jerusalem in Acts, chapter 15. So Jesus was born of a virgin, conceived in the womb of Mary. After Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph had normal physical relations, produced children. Jesus had brothers and sisters, half-brothers, half-sisters. One of them was named James. James did not believe in Jesus.
John, chapter 7 says his brothers did not believe in him. In fact, they chided him and said, you ought to go up to the thing and show yourself. Nobody does these things in secret. Prove who you are. Because the footnote, John says, is that his brothers, even his brothers did not believe. So when did James believe? When did he get converted? Right here, the Resurrection. Jesus showed up. Hey, Jimmy boy. After the Resurrection, he showed himself to James. And I believe it was the Resurrection that brought the conversion of his half-brother. So he was seen by James, then by all of the apostles. Then last of all, he was seen by me also.
So this is the fourth line of evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul said, I saw him as well. And he was the last to see him. It was on the road to Damascus. Post-Resurrection and post-ascension, Jesus had already ascended into heaven, and yet he makes an appearance, a special appearance, to Sol of Tarsus, who becomes Paul the Apostle. Paul said, I saw the resurrected Christ. He looked up, and he saw that bright light. And he said, "who are you, Lord," not knowing it was Jesus. Because he didn't expect the Resurrection. He didn't believe Jesus rose. He believed Jesus was dead and buried and decaying in a tomb in Jerusalem. And he was out to hunt down and persecute, maybe kill, but at least imprison, believers who had gone from Jerusalem to Damascus. He was hunting them down. Because he said, this is stupid. They're believing in a guy who died. He's not risen from the dead. So he says, who are you? And the Lord answered, I am Jesus. What? You are Jesus? You're still around? I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.
Now he realized he's alive. So he appeared to me also as one born out of due time. What a fascinating description of himself. I was born just a little too late to be in the original lineup of the 12. Wouldn't it have been great to have known him in the flesh and to be discipled by him like those others for three and a half years? "I was born out of due time, for I am the least of the apostles who are not worthy to be called an apostle because I persecuted the Church of God". There is really no reason why Saul of Tarsus should be converted. He was a violent oppressor and a violent unbeliever. But he was converted radically because of the Resurrection. So Paul pulls that out. He goes, I have a personal stake in this. I saw him.
Interesting, there was a lawyer years ago named Frank Morrison who made this statement. He said, he was an unbelieving attorney at the time. And you get an unbelieving attorney, and that's a force to be reckoned with. I know we have some attorneys in the room tonight, so I'm glad you're saved. And I hope you like me. But Frank Morrison said, there are two things that must be addressed to overturn the credibility of Christianity.
Number one is the Resurrection of Jesus, and number two is the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. Those two things, if you can overturn the credibility of the Resurrection and the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, you can explain those two radical things, you could overturn Christianity. He was an unbeliever, and he sought to do exactly that through research. He was determined, I'm going to debunk Christianity once and for all. The idea of the Resurrection, that has to be done. Conversion of Saul has to be done.
In the process of his research, he became converted. He gave his life to Jesus. And the name of his book that he was going to, he was going to write this book proving that it didn't happen, but he now wrote the book after that called Who Moved the Stone? And it's a book on his discovery that Jesus is indeed who he claimed to be and his journey of faith in trying, in compiling the evidence, trying to overturn the Resurrection and conversion of Saul. And he said, I couldn't do it. I was faced with the evidence, and now I either had to put it out of my mind to walk away or respond to it. And I decided to respond to it. And he was saved, converted. So it happened to me. "I saw him, the apostle born out of due time, for I'm least of all the apostles. I persecuted the Church of God". But I love this part. "But by the grace of God, I am what I am".
Now he's an apostle. Now he's a representative. Now he's a saved teacher of truth, preacher of the gospel by the grace of God. And let me just say, you heard it tonight in our exhortation to worship, the grace of God is what makes all the difference. And no matter who you are, what you've done, where you've come from, apply the grace of God to your life. Everything changes. Everything changes. Everything is different. All things are possible. If anyone is in Christ, he's a new creation. All things are passed away. All things become new. "By the grace of God, I am what I am. And his grace toward me was not in vain, but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet", he's kind of saying than the other guy, the other apostles, "yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me".
I do marvel at the energy of Paul. He says, you know, I labored more than those guys. I don't know. I'm not going to get into that. But as I read the account, it's like the Eveready bunny or like Timex watches. They take a licking and keep on ticking. Or that wind-up, you just keep, you get him up in the morning, you wind him up, and he just goes. Hits a wall, keeps going. Gets beat up, keeps going. Gets threatened, keeps going. Gets bloodied, and they think he's dead, gets up, keeps going. Finally, they kill them, chop his head off. If it weren't for that, he'd keep going. The grace of God which was with me. Therefore, whether it was I or they, whether it was myself or the other apostles, so we preach, that is the Resurrection, and so you believed. So those are the lines of evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. That's the foundation before he gets into the rest, and that is our Resurrection.
Now, if there is no Resurrection like the Sadducees say, like the Romans say, like the Greeks say, if there's no Resurrection, then what? Then what? Well, he answers that. First of all, if there's no Resurrection, than Jesus is still dead. Verse 12. "If Christ has preached that he has not been raised, if Christ has preached that he's been raised from the dead, how do some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen". So if there's no Resurrection, then Jesus didn't get raised. And that means he's still dead. That means everybody's worshipping a dead, decomposed historical figure. There's no power in that. There's no gospel in that. There's no transformation in that.
That's number one. Number two, it would mean Jesus is a liar. If there's no Resurrection, Jesus is flat out the biggest liar in the world. Because he predicted his Resurrection. He said, I'm going to Jerusalem. They're going to beat me up, they're going to kill me, and on the third day, I'm going to rise again. And he predicted over and over again that he would die, get buried, and be raised up. If he didn't get raised up, he's dead, decomposed, and he's a liar. Number three, if there's no Resurrection, then our preaching is ridiculous. Verse 14. "If Christ has not risen, then our preaching is vain, and your faith is also vain".
The reason it would be vain or ridiculous, empty, is because the Resurrection is at the heart of the gospel. It was at the heart of every single message preached in the Book of Acts, the Resurrection, the Resurrection, the Resurrection. This is why, in Jesus's ministry, when He was on the Earth three and a half years, His enemies were the Pharisees, not so after Jesus rose again and ascended. The enemies of the early church in the Book of Acts were the Sadducees because the apostles and the Christians preach in every message the Resurrection, the Resurrection, the Resurrection. So if there's no Resurrection, Jesus is still dead, he's a big liar, and our preaching is absolutely empty and ridiculous.
Number four. If there's no Resurrection, the disciples are all liars. Verse 15. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ, whom he did not raise up if, in fact, the dead do not rise. You remember the disciples were pretty, they were pretty amped up over the Resurrection. At first, when they didn't believe it, of course, they weren't, the women came from the tomb going, the tomb is empty. I think he's alive. And it says the disciples paid no real attention to that. Oh, these are women. They're emotional. I know they love Jesus. They didn't see, it was early in the morning. There's tears in their eyes. They didn't get that right. OK. God bless you. Pat on the back. See you later. But they didn't believe. But then Peter and John went to the tomb. They looked in. They believed. Then Jesus appeared to all of them. Then they believed. Even Thomas, the doubter, believed. And they went everywhere with that message, animated by that message that Jesus is not a dead savior, but he's alive. But if there's no Resurrection, then they're liars.
Number five, if there's no Resurrection from the dead, there's no forgiveness for sin. Four, if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile, empty. You are still in your sins. Because part of the transaction of forgiveness necessitates not just his death, but his conquering of death in the Resurrection. We are justified by believing in his death, burial, and Resurrection. But if there's no Resurrection, then there's no forgiveness.
Number six, "if there's no Resurrection, then death is the end for all of us, for every person". Verse 18, "then those who have fallen asleep", or died, "in Christ have perished". Think back, if you know your history, to the early days of Christianity, when the number of Martyrs was exponentially growing. To be a believer in the Roman Empire, to assert that you believe in the death, burial, and Resurrection, and you follow Christ mean you were harassed, meant you were persecuted, meant you lost your job, meant you got beat up, and many of them, many of them, killed. Between the second century and fourth century AD, there were 10 waves of persecution by the empire against the Christian Church in which they were beheaded, they were flayed alive, burned alive. They were disemboweled. They were put on poles alive, covered with pitch, used as torches to light up the gardens of the emperor at night.
There were a litany of things that they suffered. Worthless suffering, worthless, stupid if there's no Resurrection. There's no hope beyond this life. A physical Resurrection, not just being with the Lord. Because it's promised in the scripture, promised by Jesus. If there's no Resurrection, then death ends it all, and we have no future. And then verse 19 is the summary verse to all this. Here's the summary. If, in this life only, we have hope in Christ, we are, of all men, most pitiable. That's the summary statement. There's no Resurrection, and we just are living this little pipe dream. It's a little fool's paradise to believe in Jesus, that he rose, and we're going to, it's a fool's paradise. It's a feel-good religion, but it has no real teeth for transformation for the future. If, in this life, we have hope in Christ only, we are, of all men, most pitiable.
When Paul wrote to the Thessalonian Church, one of the issues he was dealing with is they were so worried about their loved ones who had died before the coming of the Lord. And for some reason, they thought, my loved ones who have died, they died before Jesus could return. They're going to miss out on the glorious kingdom age. So Paul writes to them and says, brethren, I don't want you to be ignorant concerning those who have fallen asleep lest you sorrow like those who have no hope, lest you sorrow like those who have no hope. When I do a funeral and I look out at the audience, I can tell, just by looking at people, who believes and who doesn't. Anybody could. It's not like I have some magical, mystical powers. I know who's saved and I don't. But you can tell when you're at a funeral, when you are facing the hard, cold reality of death, and you bring up the promises of God.
You can see people who are, yes, man, I believe that, or it resonates or comforted by it, and others, just blank stares. They are sorrowing with a hopeless sorrow. Those who believe in the Resurrection, they sorrow, but not like those who have no hope. They're filled with hope. They know they're going to see that loved one again because of the Resurrection. So that's the summary statement. In this life, only we have hope in Christ. We are, of all men, most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, so he's affirming it. Christ is risen and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. Now he's transitioning to our Resurrection. Jesus was the prototype, the template. His Resurrection guarantees our Resurrection. Because Jesus said, if you believe in me, you'll never die. If you believe in me, some will be resurrected to damnation. Others will be resurrected to life. If you believe in me, you'll be raised to new life. He predicted our resurrection.
So his resurrection is the template, the prototype, and the guarantee of our resurrection. So Christ is risen from the dead. He has become the first fruits. What does that mean? In the Old Testament, there was a festival in Judaism called the Festival of First Fruits. It was the ingathering. And they would bring a sheaf from the harvest, and they'd tie it up, and they would wave it before the Lord. Now, that sheaf that they waved before the Lord was emblematic that there's a whole harvest. They didn't take everything that they cut from the fields and wave it before the Lord, just one sheaf. But the sheaf is the statement that the whole harvest belongs to the Lord. That's first fruits. Jesus' Resurrection was like waving that sheaf. It's the guarantee that there'll be a harvest of souls who will also be raised up.
So one is the prototype and the guarantee of the other. Four, "since by man came death", who was that man that brought death? Adam. You know your Bible. "By Man," capital M, "also came the resurrection of the dead", for, as in Adam, all die. You could write in the margin of your Bible, Romans chapter 5. Look at that later, not now. "As in Adam, all die. Even so, in Christ, all shall be made alive". That is, Adam sinned and passed death on to every, and the consequences of that fall, that sin, to every human being, as we mentioned this last weekend. So Adam, then, acted as what we call, or theologians call, the federal head of the human race. What he did we all suffer the consequences for. I know. You go, well, that's not fair. Adam blew it. I didn't make that decision. No, you didn't, but you would had you been in that same spot.
Well, how do you know that? Well, because all have sinned. It says right after that in Romans 5, all have sinned. Have you sinned? I know I have I. I'll nod yes. We are sinners by nature and by choice. So you might say, well, that's not fair. I wasn't there when it happened, and yet I'm suffering the consequences. OK, you're right. I'll give it to you. It's not fair. But neither is it fair, because you weren't there at the crucifixion, it's not fair that you should be forgiven all of your sins. That's not fair. You deserve punishment, and so do I. But God isn't giving you what you deserve, what is fair. He's putting all the punishment on Jesus so you can have what's not fair, salvation.
So one man blew it for everybody, but one man got it all back. And that is Jesus. So you could say, it's not fair. OK, good. It's not fair. It's not fair that Jesus took the blame for you and that you get the benefit of what he did. That's not fair, but it's grace. And by the grace of God, I am what I am. So in Adam, all die. "Even so, in Christ, all will be made alive. But each one, in his own order", order is a military word, in rank, or in a certain procedural time frame would be a translation of that. "Each one in his own order", that is, different resurrections for different people. "Christ, the first fruits. Afterwards, those who are Christ at his coming. Then comes the end when he delivers", I love Paul's eschatology. It's so concise here. "Then comes the end when he delivers the kingdom to God, the Father, when he puts an end to all rule and all authority and all power, for he must reign until he has put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death".
There is not a general resurrection, as some suppose. Some think that we're all going to die, and then at some point in the future, everybody stands before God at one time, and there's a general resurrection and a general judgment. Not the case. Now, you might think that's the case if you were to read John, chapter 5, and it says "the hour is coming when all who are in the graves will hear my voice, and some will be raised to the Resurrection of life. Others will be raised to the Resurrection of condemnation". It might sound, just because Jesus said that, that that's all going to happen at once. But it won't. He didn't say it will. And if you read the rest of the book, we know there's 1,000 years between our resurrection and unbelievers or our Resurrection and unbelievers' resurrection and judgment.
So at his coming, it says, our resurrection. 1 Thessalonians, chapter 4, voice of the archangel, the trumpet of God, the dead in Christ, the dead in Christ shall rise first, rise first. So those who have died, all your loved ones who have died who are believers, at the rapture of the Church will be the resurrection of their physical body. Their spirit and their bodies will reunite. You say, that doesn't sound like a good thing for me to get back in my body. I'm getting old now, and I don't want this, I don't want, don't worry. You're not going to look like that when that happens. But that's a whole other discussion. I'm looking at the time. I don't have time to get into that because it's kind of covered here later on in the chapter. So Jesus' Resurrection, then he comes back, rapture of the church. He comes for the church in the air.
1 Thessalonians, chapter 4. The dead in Christ rise first. Then there's a translation. Those who are alive and remain will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. That's at his coming. But then after he comes back and there's a seven-year tribulation, and then Jesus comes back with us to the Earth, his foot touches the Mount of Olives. That's his second coming. Then there's 1,000 years, 1,000 years of peace on the Earth. We call it the Kingdom Age. That's the Old Testament idea. The New Testament idea in Revelation 20 is the Millennium or the Millennial Kingdom, the Kingdom Age, 1,000 years ruling and reigning with Christ upon the Earth, a renovated Earth. After that comes another Resurrection for unbelievers.
Revelation 20, it says, after the 1,000 years, I saw the dead, the dead, those who had died, raised up, standing before the great white throne judgment of God. And all of those people, their names, they were not written in the Book of Life. They were cast into the lake of fire. That is the second death. Now, that resurrection for unbelievers happens at the end of the 1,000-year period. So some will be raised to life, rapture of the church, others to condemnation 1,000 years later. So that's the order of it. He must reign until he has put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that would be destroyed his death. Again, I commend to you, read Revelation, chapter 20. It says "and death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire".
It's the day when death dies, because now everyone has been resurrected. Everyone will live forever in their resurrected bodies, either in heaven or in hell. Death is no longer an issue. Death dies. The last enemy that is destroyed is death, for he has put all things under his feet, verse 27. But when he says all things are put under him, it is evident that he who puts all things under him is accepted, that is, God the Father. Now, when all things are made subject to him, then the son himself will also be subject to him who put all things under him that God may be all in all. Jesus left heaven, came to the Earth, was subject unto his Father, ascended into heaven at the right hand of the Father. He'll deliver the kingdom to his Father. The Triune God will be, at that point, once again, not one on Earth subservient to the other. But the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one Triune God throughout all of eternity in the eternal state.
Let me just finish the verse, and I'll explain that, and we'll move on. "All things," verse 28, I already read that, "that God may be all in all. Otherwise", I won't even get into verse 29. Rapture of the church, 1,000 years later, unbelievers. After that, death dies. After that, heavens and Earth are destroyed. And John says, I saw a new heaven and a new Earth, and there's a new capital city, new Jerusalem. We call that the eternal state. So after the Resurrections comes now the eternal state. So all men saved or unsaved, living forever in one place or the other in a resurrected body, either one to condemnation or one to life.
And the reason I'm not going to get into verse 29, I'll read down to verse 34 and then pick that up, because you'll see why. Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead? What on Earth is going on here? Who baptized? Were there Mormons back then? Because that's the only group today who baptizes for the dead. And you know why they do it? Because of this verse, erroneously and contextually wrong, misinterpreted. "Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead do not rise at all, why then are they baptized for the dead? And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour? I affirm by the boasting in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily". That is, I face the possibility of death daily.
"If in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, let us eat, drink, for tomorrow, we die. Do not be deceived. Evil company corrupts good habits. Awake to righteousness and do not sin, for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame". OK. Now, that's 34 verses. Most chapters are about that long. So I have covered the average chapter, though I haven't covered the 15th chapter because there's 58 verses in this. But we did pretty good. And yet, what does it mean to be baptized for the dead? That I will explain when we pick up Corinthians again.