Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

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1 Corinthians 15-16

October 14th, 2012 by Vic

1 Corinthians 15-16

“In other words”

October 14, 2012


Last week we were not here and Ryan preached on the Resurrection.  I may repeat some of what he said.  Repetition is not bad.  We should understand majesty more and more.  We talk about this belief every Easter.  Hopefully I can summarize without diluting the truth.


We’ve all been in a lot of classes.  It was common during a lecture that the teacher would stop and say, “In other words…”  He would summarize the point he had been belaboring in detail.  That was when I would start writing notes.  Now that is what Paul is doing in these final 2 chapters.  He is going to give us the gospel in a nutshell.


Up to this point he has been responding to questions the Corinthians had sent in a letter.  There were factions in the church.  Morals were loose.  Sin was tolerated with a plastic love.  Worship had degenerated into a selfish desiring for the best and biggest.  Many old pagan ways of worship had been brought into the church.  Some new Christians who had been part of the Jewish sect of the Sadducees denied any possibility of life after death.  The new Christian Greeks had always believed in the immortality of the soul, but not the resurrection of the body.  Epicurean philosophy said, “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you die.”  The Corinthian Christians were trying to be a church while avoiding the divisive doctrine of a bodily resurrection.  They had a messed up church and did not know how to fix it.  They wrote to Paul with their questions.  Paul has been showing them a better way.


15:1-8  Paul says I want to remind you of our basic beliefs.  I received the gospel by the Holy Spirit who opened the OT Scriptures to me and I preached those Scriptures to you.  No human invented the gospel.  You received the gospel and you stand on it like a solid rock.  The Scriptures will give your life stability.  The Scriptures are the answer to your church problems.

The OT Scriptures told us the Messiah would die.  The Scriptures also told us His body would be buried and raised on the 3rd day.  The gospel is in harmony with and a fulfillment of the OT.


The Resurrection of the body has been validated.  It was not just a spiritual event or a group hallucination that the disciples experienced.  Peter, James, the Twelve, a group of 500, and Paul saw Jesus in the flesh.  The Romans, Greeks, and Jews never found a body.  We would have heard about it if they had.


15:9-11  Paul again reveals his humble heart and leadership style.  He does not claim to be a self-made man.  He is thankful for what God has enabled him to do.


15:12-19  Jesus’ resurrection demonstrated that truth triumphs over falsehood, good is stronger than evil, love is stronger than hate, and life is stronger than death.  Morality hinges on the hope of immortality.  Without hope we take an animal view of life and become immoral.


15:20-28  Some had been raised from the dead before, but Jesus was the first to receive a resurrected body.  For the Jews the first fruit was a sign of the harvest to come.  After the first sheaf of barley was brought to the Temple, grain could be sold at the market, bread could be made with grain from the new harvest, and the Feast of Passover could be celebrated.


Adam brought death.  Jesus brought resurrection.  Adam gets the credit for Eve’s sin.  He did not protect his wife.  The Jews believed that all men literally sinned in Adam.  They had a strong sense of solidarity.


Note verses 25 (Jesus is reigning now) and 23 (We will be resurrected when He comes).  In the Roman world when the emperor visited a colony, the citizens would go out to meet him at some distance from the city.  It would be disrespectful not to greet him properly before he got to the city gates.  They would escort him royally back into the city where he would put everything right.  When the Lord returns we are resurrected to meet the Him in the air.  We don’t stay up in the air but escort the Lord back to His domain– a new heaven, a new earth, and a new Jerusalem.


15:29-34  Baptism acknowledges belief in the resurrection of Jesus.  Baptism “for” the dead has been interpreted at least 20 different ways.  I like the idea of being baptized to replace a saint who has died.  As a new Christian I’m encouraged to fill the shoes of one who has gone before me.  But if there is no resurrection why would I want to become a Christian and die as they died?


A willingness to suffer for your belief in the resurrection confirms a strong belief.  Why risk your life if there is no resurrection?  Don’t be deceived.  Keeping company with Epicureans will mess up your thinking.  Human reasoning that seeks money, fame, power, and pleasure will mess you up and still have no explanation for life without a resurrection.  Wake up and stop sinning with your agnostic attitude.  Pretending to be smart you have asked a dumb question.


15:35-49  Paul answers the question that can’t be answered.  Stop and think about Creation.  If God can create everything can’t He do something we don’t know about?  Nature teaches that death itself is the way to a resurrection.  There are different seeds, different bodies, and different glories.  The new plant is not one giant seed.  The new plant does not exist until the seed dies.


This body that dies was born with an expiration date.  We will receive a spiritual body without an expiration date.  The resurrected body will be related to the body of flesh, but will become a different body of glory.  Maybe as now we have a visible body with a spirit, then we will have spiritual body with a visible form.  We will not lose our identity.

15:50-58  Paul says we must all be changed, but he does not mention Jesus walking through walls and eating.  There is mystery.  He does not claim to have all the answers, but he sees some parallels.  1 Thes 4:16-17 says, “The Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”


Instantly we will be changed to welcome the coming of our King.  This seed will die instantly and become a thing of beauty.  Death will be gone.  This person you see will be putting on new clothes.  This is good news.  There is going to be a new heaven and new earth.


Paul has just written the longest chapter in any of his letters discussing the future resurrection of the body.  He could have said, “Therefore, since you have such a great hope, sit back and relax because you know God has a great future planned for you.”  He could have said, “Now that you are a Christian, everything in life will be better.”


Instead he says, “Keep on standing firm.  Keep working for the Lord.  Your work in the Lord is not without value.”  What you do with your body in the present matters because God has a future for your body.  What you do in the present somehow has an effect on the kingdom of God in your future.  You are not just oiling the wheels of a machine that is about to roll over a cliff.  You are not planting roses that are about to be dug out for a new building.  “Every act of love, gratitude, and kindness; every work of art or music inspired by the love of God… every prayer, all Spirit-led teaching, every deed… that embodies holiness rather than corruption – all of this will find its way, through the resurrecting power of God, into the new creation…” (Wright 208).  In the new creation the original human mandate to look after the garden will be dramatically reaffirmed.


16:1-4  Paul switches to some very practical matters.  He just said your labor is not in vain.  So now he says don’t forget to do good and give to the needy.  He gives 5 principles for collections taken in the church.

1. Giving is an act of worship.  It can be a sacrifice of praise.

2. Giving should be systematic.  (every week)

3. Giving was personal for each individual.  (Mal 3:8, reward, rebuke, revive the land)

4. Giving is proportional, as God prospers.

5. Giving is not to be externally motivated.


The offering should be handled responsibly.  Paul says, “I’ll send some letters to the Jerusalem church with the men you choose to hand deliver the offering.  If you think it is advisable, I will travel with them.”  According to Acts 11 there was a famine in Jerusalem.  The Christians in Jerusalem were severely persecuted by the Jews.


16:5-19  Paul expresses the attitude of his heart toward future ministries.  When it is no longer us living but Christ living in us then our plans are all contingent on the fact, “Lord willing”.  We are not in control of our destiny.  Paul says, “If the Lord permits.”


Paul sees a great opportunity for ministry in Ephesus and he sees many opposed to his ministry.  That is an interesting attitude.  I tend to think that opposition is an indication that God is closing that door of ministry.  Paul sees opposition as a reason for staying.  Paul seemed to expect greater opposition with greater ministry potential.  Wherever satan was working his hardest Paul wanted to minister there.  Paul did not flee opposition, but he did flee death threats.  When he found out he was on someone’s ‘hit list’ he got out of town.


Several people were involved in Paul’s ministry.  Timothy was young, but Paul was thinking of sending him to Corinth.  He is to be respected because of his ministry for the Lord; not because he will please everyone.  The wise Apollos was not about to go to Corinth even though Paul wanted him to go.  He was not going to be part of any church division.  Stephanus was the 1st convert in Achaia and became a leader in the churches.  The KJV says his household ‘addicted’ themselves to the ministry of the saints.  Are you addicted to ministry?  Are your kids addicted to ministry?  Aquila and Priscilla started a home church wherever they moved and they moved a lot.


Let’s note Paul’s final admonitions in 16:13-14.


1. Be vigilant, watch, stay alert.  Satan is a roaring lion (1 Pet 5:8).  The wicked servant does not watch (Matt 24).  When things get dark turn on your Light.


2. Stand firm in the faith.  Be faithful.  Don’t get squeezed into the world’s mold.  Don’t get blown away by seductive words of doctrine.  Keeping your feet on the ground is important in many games.  The Word of God is your anchor.  Do you know how to use it?  Stand faithful.  Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.


3. Act like men.  Be strong.  Take leadership in the church.  Take leadership in the home.  God tells Joshua three times, “Be strong and courageous” (1:6,7,9).  “Meditate on the Law of Moses day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.”  Men need to step up and say with Joshua (24:15), “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.”


4. Be loving.  This corrects male chauvinism.  Christian men are both strong and loving.


16:22-24  If anyone does not love the Lord he is cursed.  The problems in your church will never be corrected unless you love the Lord with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.  The Lord is coming again.


The word ‘grace’ is related to beauty.  May the beauty of the Lord Jesus be with you.


Paul concludes, “Don’t forget.  I love all of you in Christ Jesus.”  I want what is best for you.  I’m willing to give my life for you.  Fear God and do good.

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