Living By Faith
This is Resurrection Morning, popularly referred to as Easter Sunday. An article this past week in the Columbus Dispatch caused me to think and meditate on the resurrection of the dead. The title is Most don’t expect to rise from their graves. It goes on to say that only 36% of those surveyed answered “yes” to the question: “Do you believe that, after you die, your physical body will be resurrected someday?” 54% answered, “No.” !0% were unable to make up their minds.
This shocking revelation answers another question: “Why is this generation so non-committal?” There is little doubt that we are in the Laodicean age where the Bible says that church people are lukewarm and Christ stands outside trying to get into the hearts of men. What is our problem? It lies right here. We do not seriously believe in the bodily resurrection of the dead. Consequently, we do not know the power of the resurrection (Philippians 3:10).
If we are going to live by faith, we must believe without a doubt that if we die our bodies will be raised from the grave. To understand the importance of this doctrine, we must turn our attention to I Corinthians 15.
I.) Genuine Faith (Vs. 1-11)
Genuine faith demands that we believe in the resurrection. In verses 1-4, Paul sets out for us the facts of the gospel. Gospel means good news. Which would you like first—the good news or the bad? Let’s start with the bad. We are sinners (Romans 3:23) and the wage for sin is death (Romans 6: 23). So what is the good news?
The good news consists of five simple facts:
1.) Christ died (vs. 3)
2.) Christ was buried (vs. 4)
3.) Christ rose again the third day (vs. 4)
4.) He did this according to the scriptures (vs. 3&4)
5.) He did it for my sins (vs. 3)
Notice that the resurrection is central to the gospel message. If we do not believe in the resurrection of the dead, we cannot be born again. The earliest church creeds contained statements to this effect and orthodox faith handed down from the apostles affirms it. The same philosophy that gave rise to evolution denies it. The curse of the man who trusts in man is think that life is only what he makes of it, and death is the end.
People who believe in the resurrection are seen as simple, ignorant, and unlearned. This is not new (Acts 17:32). The philosophers that Paul addressed on Mars Hill in Athens are the fathers of the evolutionists and atheists of our day. They have not changed. They daily mock and ridicule those who believe the Bible. They speak of reason vs. faith, as if our faith is unreasoned.
Paul points out (vs. 5-11) that our faith is based upon eyewitness accounts. Hundreds of people saw the risen Christ. Paul who zealously persecuted Christians saw the risen Savior. Not one ever recanted his story even in the face of torture and death. They knew the power of the resurrection and committed themselves to it.
II.) Empty Faith (Vs. 12-19):
Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
Paul begins with a question. If the resurrection of the dead is central to the gospel message, how is it that some people who profess to be Christians say that there is no resurrection of the dead (vs. 12)? If there is no resurrection, then Christ is a dead body in a tomb (vs. 13). Our faith is vain and empty (vs. 14). The eyewitnesses are liars (vs. 15). Christ is not raised (vs. 16). Our faith is vain and empty, because we have no savior (vs. 17). If we die, our body rots in the grave without hope of tomorrow (vs. 18). We are of all men most miserable (vs. 19)
The last verse applies only to those who have been willing to commit everything to Christ. Those who have sacrificed all for Christ do so because they do not believe this life is all there is. The reason why most professing Christians fail to make any serious commitment to Christ is that they do not seriously believe in the resurrection..
III.) Living Faith (Vs. 20-28):
Living faith starts with Resurrection Morning and Christ risen from the dead. It then sees Christ as the beginning (vs. 20). Through the first Adam sin and death entered into the world. Through Christ, the second Adam, comes life and resurrection from the dead (vs. 21). In Adam all die, because all sin. Even so, all who are in Christ live (vs. 22). The resurrection of Christ is just the beginning. Those who sleep in Jesus will be raised when He comes (vs. 23).
Christ is coming to rule and reign. He is coming to triumph over all His enemies. The last enemy is death (vs. 24-28).
IV.) Moral Faith (Vs. 29-34):
Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead? 30 And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? 31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die. 33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. 34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
The baptism for the dead is not some Mormon rite. God does not want us to be baptized for dead people. This is simply water baptism. When we go through the waters of baptism, we say that we want to die to self.
Paul asks, “If there is no resurrection what is the point of baptism, where we identify ourselves with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-4)?” Why would I give up my past life? Why would I want to live in newness of life? Why would I sacrifice and expend myself in service to Christ? Why would anyone face death by wild beast in a Roman arena, if they did not sincerely believe in the resurrection of the dead?
Paul says that if the dead rise not, we may as well eat, drink, and be merry; for tomorrow we die (vs. 32). On the other hand, if there is a resurrection, and we believe it, then we need to wake up and act like it (vs. 33-34). The bottom line is that many in this world do not know God, because professing Christians do not really believe in the resurrection. If they did they would not act the way they do.
V.) Real Faith (Vs. 35-50):
But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? 36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: 37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: 38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
The unbelieving Christian wants to change the subject. They ask, “How are the dead raised up and with what body do they come (vs. 35)?” Paul is blunt. He says, “Thou fool (vs. 36).” We would like to excuse ourselves from the claims of Christ by asking foolish questions.
Paul likens the resurrection to a seed planted in the ground. The farmer puts the seed in the ground and it dies. But out of it springs forth new life. At Easter, we have the example of a lily bulb. It looks very humble, rude, crude, and even ugly. Planted in the ground, the bulb dies. In its place though rises something glorious and wonderful. Christ said “that even King Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like on of these (Matthew 6:28-29).”
Think of the picture! Our resurrection bodies will be so much more glorious than what we have now that we cannot even fathom how wonderful it will be!!!!
Real faith apprehends that truth. It is prepared to give all to the glory of God. It is willing to commit itself to Christ. It is will to sacrifice all. It will go to the grave for Christ. It will even live for Christ, because our destiny is a glorious eternity bearing the image of the heavenly (vs. 49).
VI.) Triumphant Faith (Vs. 51-57):
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul says, “I show you a mystery (vs. 51).” Here is something very mysterious. Not every believer will die. Some will be alive when Christ comes to rapture the church. We may very well be alive, when Christ returns, but we will be changed. It will happen so fast that you will not even be able to see it (vs. 52). The dead in Christ will be raised with their glorious and wonderful new bodies.
We will be changed—transformed instantaneously into the image of Christ. We will put on incorruption and immortality (vs. 53). When that happens, “Death is swallowed up in victory (vs. 54). The sting of death will be no more. Our sin nature will be gone forever more. We will sin no more. “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (vs. 57).”
Conclusion (Vs. 58):
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
”Therefore”—”In light of that,”—we ought to commit ourselves to Christ. We ought to put all on the altar for Him. We ought to give up our self life and live for Him. We ought to be “stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” We can do this, because our labor is not in vain!!! He is risen, and we will, too!!!!
Next Lesson: God Seeks To Kill Moses