The 15th chapter of 1st Corinthians is an inspired treatise on the topic of resurrection. In it the Apostle sets forth practically every phase and point relating to this momentous subject.
In 1 Cor. 15:1 the Apostle Paul opens his letter by declaring the gospel unto them, the good news which they had earlier received from him and by which they were saved as long as they believed.
He begins by giving a synopsis of the Gospel in a few brief words;”How that Christ died for our sins… And that He was buried and He rose again the third day.” He then names the witness to attest the fact of Christ’s resurrection. His point is that the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead is one of the most important teachings of the Christian Church, that it was taught by all the Apostles including himself and so had they all once believed.
In the 12th verse we get to the controversy. “If you accept as a fact that Christ rose from the dead, how can some of you believe there is no resurrection of the dead?”
Now here we see the problem of the early Church at Corinth and it is the same problem of the great majority of Christian believers today. They can accept to a certain degree that Jesus was in some way resurrected but they are confused to whether He was really dead or whether people really die and need to be resurrected.
Confusion is a favorite weapon of Satan and was being introduced to the early church even in Paul’s day.
Greece was at the time the great center of learning. The first colleges of higher learning had been established in Athens by the renowned philosophers Aristotle and Plato. Their many teachings and their writings are with us to this day and are studied by many students. One of their teachings was the Immortality of the soul.
The immortal soul, the first great lie, as told to mother Eve in the garden of Eden. Gen 3:4. And the serpent said unto the woman, “Ye shall not surely die.” In the next verse the serpent adds, “your eyes will be opened and ye shall be as gods.”
In Gen. 2:17 God had carefully explained the penalty for disobedience. “Though shalt surely die.” And mother Eve was well aware of the penalty for disobedience. Gen. #;2,3 “God hath said, ye shall not eat of it, neither shall thou touch it, lest ye die.”
But Satan lied then and his great lie was later passed on to the heathen. All the heathen religions in the world have a place, a val-hal-a, a happy hunting ground, a place for dead ancestors, who they believe are not really dead.
Then from the heathen to the Greek philosophers, to the apostate members of the early counterfeit and the Christian Church.
The doctrine of the devils is so widespread today that is taught and believed by nearly everyone in the world.
The truth on the subject is found in the Word of God. Ecclesiastes 9:5 “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything..” Rom. 6:23 “The wages of sin is death.”Ecclesiastes 9:10 “Whatever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”
Yet today we are being bombarded from every side with exactly the opposite message. The clergy, especially at funerals would have us believe the dead are in bliss, they are in heaven. They do this I believe with good intentions. They want to make the living feel better but their message is not in harmony with the Bible.
The occult, the Spiritualists and the Mediums claim to be in contact with the dead.
Hollywood puts out movie after movie featuring stories about ghosts, dead people who interact with live people. The public is cleverly deceived into believing such things are really possible.
And then there is T.B. Everything from the movies ends up on television sooner or later and the people in charge could care less whether the material they use is true or false. Stories about so called out of body experiences are very popular.
The New Age philosophies, which are attracting many young people is old age error warmed over. They claim that most of the new light they have received is from people long dead, who are really alive and channeling information to them. They have dusted off old errors like reincarnation and offer it as something new and exciting.
As a result of this massive propaganda program the general belief amongst Christian people is that death is a delusion, and not a reality, that people merely seem to die, and do not die; that they merely experience a change to a higher form of being; they are saying, “there is no death.”
Here is a direct conflict between modern teachers and the inspired word.
The Scriptures claiming the dead know not anything, the modern theologians claiming the dead know everything.
The Bible claims the dead are really dead and have suffered according to the divine penalty for sin pronounced against our race “Dying thou shalt die.” The opposers take up with Satans delusive statement to mother Eve. “Ye shall not surely die,” that God’s penalty against sin did not go into effect, and that death, so far from being the sentence or curse upon their race, is really a blessing, a step in a general process of evolution.
The two theories are as far apart as the poles, and the two teachers of these two theories are God on the one hand, and satan “a liar from the beginning” on the other hand. Which should we believe?
The entire plan of salvation is connected with this question. If death was not the penalty of sin, incurred through Adam, then “life and the more abundant” is not the reward and blessing of God secured through Christ by a resurrection.
Satans proposition, which has been so widely accepted and which exercises so blinding an influence upon their minds, is the reversal, in every sense of the word, of the divine proposition, that death is the curse or penalty of sin, that Christ died to release man from this sentence or curse, and that release comes by the resurrection of the dead.
In the 11th and the 17th verses of 1 Cor. 15 the apostle affirms and emphasizes the fact of Christ’s resurrection and the 18th verse contains a statement that nearly all Christian people have overlooked or misunderstood.
If Christ was not put to death and resurrected, “Then they also which have fallen asleep in Christ are perished!”
“Perished” means destroyed or annihilated and the apostle was not referring to just the bodies of those believers who had “fallen asleep” for the bodies of all perish and disintegrate unto dust. He was referring to the person, the individual, the being, the soul.
Ezekiel 18:4 “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” The Holy Word of God is teaching, if there is no resurrection from the dead then we have no hope for a future life and we will remain dead forever.
Satans theory declares death a blessing which brings the fullness of life and liberty and joy and would make of the resurrection a curse.
No wonder that, blinded by this deception of the adversary, the majority of the great theologians of Christendom are teaching their many followers error on the most important doctrines in the Bible. They no longer teach the doctrine of the atonement which declares in 1 Cor 16:21, 22 “As by a man (Adam) came death, so also by a man, (the man Christ Jesus), comes the resurrection of the dead: That as all in Adam died, even so all in Christ shall be made alive.”
The truth is that death is a reality. Death is not life in any since, but it is the cessation of life. It is not a blessing, it is a curse that has been pronounced against the race, as the penalty for sin.
The only hope we have, the only hope for the race is for a resurrection. That we may be created again, by the same power that first called us into existence.
I don’t have to tell you that we human beings have been going downhill for the last 6000 years. According to the Bible we started out perfect in the person of Father Adam and Mother Eve, but they lost the right to that perfect existence for all of us and now we are a dying a race. Even before we enter the grave we are all walking in the valley of the shadow of death and are now far below the mountain tops of perfection.
Now here is the question” where was the race when it began to fall? The answer is: Man was perfect, on the mountain tops of life, and not at all in the valley of death: not only perfect in being, but in full communion with his maker, who considered His handiwork “very good.”
Then as death means a failing from all this perfection, resurrection means a “Setting up again”, a rebuilding, a restoring of humanity from every vestige of death to the perfection of nature as represented by their head, Adam.
As by one man’s disobedience sin entered the world, even so by the righteousness of one, free grace has come. In other words, what Adam brought upon our race, sin, degradation and death: our Lord Jesus has set aside by reason of having paid the penalty on our behalf.
John 1:29 Jesus, “The lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.”
1 Tim 2:5, 6 “The man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”
The corresponding price has been paid, the price has been accepted, the center point of God’s plan is completed. Jesus willingly offered himself as a sacrifice, he died for our sins. Jesus ascended unto heaven and sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on High. He is a Divine being and He has offered to those who would become His footstep followers a similar reward, to be like He is. He has offered them exceeding great and precious promises, a heavenly reward, a change of nature from human to spiritual to become immortal divine beings, and with Him as their head they are the Messiah, the Christ, and will bless all the families of the earth. They take part in the 1st resurrection and their selection has taken a long time even though their numbers are comparatively few. “Straight (difficult) is the gate and narrow the way and few there be that find it.” “Many are called, few are chosen.”
Are we then to believe that God’s plan for the redemption of mankind is going to benefit only a few? Was Jesus sacrifice only for the Saints? The answer is found everywhere in the word of God. Jesus and His Glorified Church, His Bridge, the Royal Priesthood, will reign 1000 years, over the world of mankind. “Jesus Christ by the grace of God, tasted death for every man.” They will judge the world in righteousness, they will bless, they will heal, they will raise the dead, one by one from their graves, and gradually bring them up to the perfection, that was lost, that they may as perfect sons and daughters, receive eternal life, here on a then finished earth, Psa. 37:29. “The righteous shall inherit the land, dwell therein forever.”
Psa. 115:76 “The heaven, even the heavens are the Lords, but the earth had He given to the children of men.”
Matt 5:5 “Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.”
Our Lord referred to this same thought in John 5:25 “The hour is coming when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God and they that hear shall live.”
Somehow already heard the voice of the Son. “The sheep know the master’s voice” and from a reckoned standpoint have begun to live through faith in Christ. “He that believeth on the Son hath life.” They have life reckoned to them and so enjoying it by faith that it will be an everlasting life.
But when Jesus speaks of the unbelieving world of mankind in John 5:28 He says Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming in which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth, they that have done good unto a resurrection of life and that that have done evil unto a resurrection of judgment.
When the dead are awakened there will be an opportunity for all who have never heard the voice of the Son of Man to hear it and those who hear it in the proper sense of obeying will continue to progress to the attainment of life in its full sense.
1 Tim 2:4-6; It is the will of God that “all men shall be and saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” The great majority are in ignorance, but God wills that they all shall know, because, the apostle goes on to say “There is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all to be testified (to all) in due time.”
When you heard the testimony your responsibility began. When the heathen shall hear their responsibility will begin. Those who hear during the millennial age in the since of obeying that great prophet and teacher, Christ the head and the church, His body, will be brought up gradually by restitution processes, until at the end of the millennial age they shall live and those who refuse to hear the prophet will be according to Acts 3:23 “utterly destroyed amongst the people.”
The resurrection of Christ is the guarantee that all those whom He redeemed by His precious blood shall have not only an awakening from death but also an opportunity to attain to all the blessings and favor lost in the fall. That was the assurance which God gave to all men in that He raise Christ from the dead Acts 17:31
There is no question that our Lord Jesus was resurrected from the dead and further the scriptures declare He was the first risen from the dead. Acts 26:23 “That He should be the first to rise from the dead.”
1 Cor 15:20 “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the first born of the dead that in all things He might have preeminence.”
Rev 1:18 “I am He that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive evermore.”
Ephesians 1:20-23 “Which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, for above all principality and power might and dominion and every name that is named, not only in the world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.”
Our Lord Jesus Ch Christ was resurrected and glorified by divine power. He was elevated to the same spirit nature as His father in HEaven. He is immortal, a divine being.
Now here is the good news from our scripture text 1 Cor 15:22 This what is going to happen “All will be made alive.” The next verse tells us how and when. 1 Cor 15:23 “But every man in His own order; Christ the first fruits afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming.”
The just who receive life again at the first or chief resurrection are the faithful footstep followers of our Lord Jesus who being justified by faith are rewarded by being changed into the same spirit nature as Jesus. They are pictured as the bride of Christ. Our Lord is named Everlasting Father in Isa. 9:6 He is the life giver of the race and together with His wife, they will, like loving parents raise all who were unjust to perfection. Not just to being alive, they will be restored to the perfection lost by the end of the 1000 year millennial kingdom.
In verse 24 through 28 the apostle shows us the work that is to be accomplished during the kingdom. Jesus will have brought the present evil social order to nothing and will establish a perfect government.
Every vestige of evil and sin will be overcome and mankind will therefore not be dying as a result of the “wages of sin.”
And when the work is complete, then Jesus shall deliver the Kingdom to God, even the Father, then shall the Son also Himself by subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.
In verse 29-32 we are asked “If there is no resurrection why do we follow Christ?” “Why are we baptized?” “Why believe?” “Why serve?” “If the dead rise not, we might as well eat, drink and be merry: for tomorrow we die.”
Verse 33, 34 “But be not deceived, awake to righteousness, for Christ is raised from the dead.”
In verse 35 we have the beginning of a little question meeting.
Question: How are the dead raised up?
Answer: God giveth it a body as it pleases Him.
Question: With what body do they come?
Answer: The body your bury is not the body that shall be. There will be no resurrection of the old body. The bodies of all return to the dust. “Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die and that which thou sowest, thou sowest is not the body that shall be.”
It’s like planting grain. If you plant a kernel of corn you don’t expect to harvest that same piece of corn but you do expect to harvest another one just like it. If your bury a man you expect a man to be resurrected.
The body sown is not the identical thing that springs up, though the body raised will have the same identical personality, able to recall its former degraded condition and to glorify God for the blessed change.
Verse 40 “There are also celestial bodies and bodies terrestrial but the glory of celestial is one and the glory of the terrestrial is another.”
A few will receive glorious spiritual bodies and the many will in due time receive perfect human bodies.
When I first came to the knowledge that the dead were to be resurrected it was the most joyous event of my life. I could hardly believe it was possible, yet that is exactly what the Bible taught. In fact we know that the restitution of all things has been taught by all of God’s holy prophets since the world began Acts 3:19,20 I had believed in Sunday school that a few, that is, the just would rise again, but the resurrection of the unjust, the chance for everyone, good and bad to have an opportunity to become healthy, happy human beings and to live forever on a perfect earth with a perfect KIng: that really got my attention. And the more I studied, the better it got. It was just what you would expect from an all wise, powerful, just and loving Heavenly Father.
Verse 54 “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
The resurrection of the dead will make everything right, all the injustices of the last 6000 years will be corrected. Pain, sickness, sorrow, evil and death will be no more.
These are all true teachings from the Word of God yet at this time the vast majority of the world are unaware of them.
In closing I would like to leave you with two thoughts about the coming resurrection morning. First as I understand verse 55 it is our knowledge of and our faith in the resurrection, that lessons our fear of death.
Every death is a positive guarantee of the resurrection. As justice claims each individual before the ransom is applied so will it release each and every individual after it is applied.
Finally one last thought. The world will tell you only two things are sure, Death and Taxes. The Bible tells us two sure things are “Death and the Resurrection of the dead.”