The gospel contains three core elements: Christ died was buried and then rose to life on the third day. Each of these elements is vital to our faith. If Jesus had not died, we would not be reconciled to God. And if He had not been buried then it would be hard to prove that He actually died. But the third point, Jesus’ resurrection, is the truth upon which our hope for the future is built. Since Jesus Christ defeated death and rose to life, we have hope of future resurrection with Him.
Unfortunately, some of the first century Christians at Corinth were being deceived by a popular belief that stated there is no resurrection. Period. It was a common belief among the Greek philosophers and was also shared by the Jewish Sadducees. However, accepting this belief causes issues with Christianity, issues that Paul addresses in this next section of 1 Corinthians 15.
“Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”
~1 Corinthians 15:12-17
Without resurrection there is no victory over death, which thus means no victory over sin. So in order for sin and Satan to be defeated Jesus needed to rise from the grave and conquer death. This is why the resurrection is such a crucial element of the gospel and why we celebrate it every Easter! Without it we would still be lost, forever a slave to sin and destined to eternal death.
But Christ has been raised from the dead and is seated at the right hand of God above. Therefore, the victory over sin has been won and we are no longer lost. But that’s not all that Jesus’ resurrection gives us. Because Jesus rose from the grave and received a new, eternal body so also we will be raised from the dead and given immortality. Paul beautifully proclaims this truth at the end of 1 Corinthians 15.
“I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
~1 Corinthians 15:50-57
The resurrection is the glory of the gospel and the truth upon which our hope is built. Because of it, death has lost its power and sin no longer holds us because Jesus Christ defeated both and triumphed over them. Therefore, we no longer need to fear death nor be held captive to our sin. We can face the unknown and trials of this life with confidence because we know that at the end of the age we will be raised to new life and immortality. Therefore, may our response to this new freedom and glorious hope be obedience to Paul’s exhortation to be steadfast and immoveable, never losing heart or growing weary in following God.
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
~1 Corinthians 15:58
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