Why the Resurrection Always Matters
Well, we are going to continue on a series that we’re in together talking about the journey into the empty tomb. And I want to tell you this morning this topic for me is exciting, this is paramount, it’s the Christian faith, it’s the defining moment of really everything that I think is behind what I do for the Lord. And I think you’re going to see the Apostle Paul too, so I want to do this, I’m going to dismiss 10 and 11-year-olds for their class.
I’m going to invite you to 1st Corinthians 15 and we’re going to focus on the idea of the resurrection. We’re going to say central to that thought. And here’s what I hope we walk away with, if you’re a follower of Christ, believer in him, and you know what the resurrection’s about or at least the story behind the resurrection my heart is that you continue to be provoked in the worship of what God calls you to through this. And if you’re examining or seeking or trying to understand what Christianity is or what it’s about, today we’ll give you a perspective for understanding at least the basis for why I would say this event in history is so central to why we do what we do as followers of Christ. And this moment in history becomes our defining moment.
In fact, in 1st Corinthians 15, Paul is laying out the argumentation for the necessity of the resurrection and the implications of what it represents in our life. And He gets to this place positionally in verse 26 and at the end of 1st Corinthians 15 He says at the very end, “O death, where is your sting?” And Paul literally talks about the death of death. You think about that for a minute, death’s got one job, and now we’re talking about death to the death, which is pretty astounding to consider but the power of the resurrection is a representation of what God ultimately will do in our lives in giving us life in Him.
One of the reasons I think Paul just highlighter death here is because death is the greatest enemy that … when you talk about death it becomes relevant for all of us because all of us will face it. You may have already faced it personally in people that you’ve cared about in life or in your life at some point it will come for you. And so, death is extremely relevant subject for everyone that ever existed. But death at the same time is also a great magnifier to the importance of life. And we talk about resurrection, what we are talking about is life. And when we consider what the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is for us as followers of Christ it’s the greatest magnification of the love of God on display for you. God gives His life where He becomes flesh, dies for you and your sinfulness. The cross of Christ screams the love of God. If you ever ask the question, does God love me? The answer is yes. He’s given his life for you and what greater love can someone display? And so, this resurrection highlights the love of God and it’s really when we look at the antithesis of life and resurrection, we examine death that it magnifies the beauty of life in this resurrection that Jesus brings.
And so, today when we dive into 1st Corinthians 15, I want us to know, we’ve already really taken some time two weeks ago, we started this series. And that first week we started with 1st Corinthians 15. And so, the way this passage breaks down for us, I want us to think through this. When we engage this I want your mind to know how Paul’s going to articulate his argument here. In the first 11 verses we’ve already talked about but Paul lays the historical foundation for the resurrection. In fact, I would say for us this moment is defining in the New Testament. The culmination of everything that the writer’s expressed in the New Testament is central to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. The gospels, we said this two weeks ago, 40% of the gospels are about the death and resurrection of Jesus as if to highlight the significance of Jesus was about his death, burial, and resurrection.
In fact, I said, the 60% that’s described in scripture previous to Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection was only to validate Jesus as the Messiah so that we can see his purpose and fulfilling what He did on the cross for us in his death, burial, and resurrection. Some people read the gospels and wonder, why doesn’t it talk about Jesus being a kid? You got like one story, you got his birth and then you got a little story about him at the temple when He was younger. Why not his whole life? Well, the point of the gospels is not to share every detail about Jesus’ life because the significance of Jesus’ life was found in his death on the cross. And that death was for your sin, and his resurrection demonstrates it.
And so the first 11 verses of 1st Corinthians 15, what Paul does is He validates this stance on a historical basis. In fact, when you read throughout the New Testament especially get to the book of Acts you see how the church then moves early on after Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. What did the church do? Well, it describes it in the 1st Century Force in the book of Acts. And in Acts you see Paul and Peter’s sermons repeatedly. And the thing that they always tie it back to is the death, burial, and resurrection. They go back in the New Testament and they describe the Old Testament and all of God’s divine plan and the way he’s orchestrated in history culminating in the resurrection of Christ. The resurrections where they end in their messages and it’s central to the thought of what we are about as Christians. And so, Paul is dealing with the historicity of the resurrection and then He builds from there in verse 12-19. He then starts to describe why this is so important for us, not to undermine the significance of this historical event. And then in verse 20-28 He describes the theological implications of this. And then verse 29-34 practically then what that means.
And so, two weeks ago we looked at the historical significance of the resurrection. Today I want to talk about why that’s important, theologically what it means for us, how it relates to the life of a Christian, and then next week we’re going to then talk about how that demonstrates the will of God. What is God’s will for your life? What does God want you to do tomorrow? Well, next week we’re going to talk about what He wants you to do in your life tomorrow, so then I guess next week you can apply tomorrow to that time. So, if you want to know what God’s will for your life is in 2018 I would encourage you to come next week because we’re going to see how the resurrection is central to that and what God’s will is for our lives.
So, Paul lays out the historical foundation and let me just jump into this text and show you then how He builds from this event happening in history, for us, in trusting in the Lord. He says this in verse 12, “Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.”
And Paul gets to the basis here he’s like, look what you do as a Christian is vanity. The significance of this moment is important. And Paul’s revealing to us really the attitude of the perspective of some of the people in Corinth, their idea is that, well you know Jesus and the people are talking about this resurrection, but really you know it didn’t really happen psychically it’s sort of this thing that happened spiritually. And so, their emphasis religiously is this spiritual way of thinking and they’re undermining the physical resurrection of what is taking place. It’s a spiritual experience, that’s what they’re about. And so Paul is saying, no, no, no, no, we’re not going to go to that extreme. This resurrection is significant. And I want you to understand if you don’t hold to this then there’s vanity in what you proclaim as a follower of Christ. This resurrection is more than just an experience it’s a historical event and it’s central to our faith.
I think what Paul is arguing here, the case that he’s building is no different then maybe even what we find common in our culture today. You know a lot of the basis for religious way of thinking in our American society is based upon spiritual experience. We validate our faith on experience, which is really unique because I don’t think in any other area of life we really think this way. I think in most cases as human beings we try to put two and two together and say, hey that equals four. But then it comes to spiritual experience, it’s just kind of whatever you encounter and what’s true for you is true for you, and what’s true for me is true for me, but that puts us sort of in a conundrum. And I want us to know like if God created your mind, He doesn’t want you to think logically in everything else in life and then when it comes to your faith just abandon all logical thought and just go with whatever feels right. On that basis you have no place for validating truth. We as people we’re not created to start with experience, experience doesn’t determine truth. You start with truth and you base your experience off of that.
Let me give you a few examples why. You encounter maybe in a most practical way I could describe it. If you encounter someone who thinks stealing is okay, on what basis of life is based on experience can you argue against them? What if it goes like this, “I steal because it feels good. And since it feels right to me, and I feel like I should own that, I feel like I’m okay to steal. What’s true for me is true for me, and what’s true for you is true for you. And so, I want that, now it’s mine.” What higher law or governing authority can you argue with if you’ve determined the basis for truth is left unto the individual? See how that ends up in sort of a difficult circumstance. How can you tell someone what’s right and wrong if the only basis for determining what’s right and wrong is what you experience? You’ve got to argue to a higher moral logic or a moral law giver for the basis of determining that’s not right.
When I was seven years old someone stole my bike. And I needed them to know that I did not appreciate that. And there was this high school student that lived beside of me that decided He was going to help me find that bike. And being seven years old I remember riding in his truck to go drive around the neighborhood to find this bike. And I kept wondering, is this high school person only driving me around because He wants to see a fight? And in the neighborhood I lived in, in my life I had already been in a few. I started off life in a rough area. And so, I’m thinking, “Okay, if I get there what am I going to do? Because I think this person wants to fight, but this person has my bike, and I agree with this larger moral authority because it agrees in my favor that it is wrong to steal. I need this person to know that.” So this is what I concluded at seven, “If he’s smaller than me I’m beating him up. And if he’s bigger than me I am going to jump on the sucker and pedal like crazy.” Fortunately when I get there the person’s not home and the bike’s just sitting in the front yard and so, I took it home with me.
But, the point is if you base truth off of experience, on what way do you validate right from wrong? You think in our world today, there is so many different religious views and so many experiences in which people use to validate that truth or what they call truth. Every religion in the world claims the spiritual experience, but they can’t all be right, after all, they contradict one another. How do you determine what’s right and wrong? Well, the basis isn’t experience, it’s truth.
I’ve heard people argue when it comes to church, I’ve seen this debate actually get heated, I don’t know why, but people say about church, “This is our worship service.”
And some people say, “No, it’s a Sunday morning experience.” And they gloss over the idea. And which is it? Do we come to serve God or are we just here to experience? And I want you to know it’s both. And it’s both because of the resurrection. We come here to serve God and that’s a way of worship but because of what Jesus has done and given us life we can experience him too.
So I’m not saying experience isn’t important like from the depth of my being just a pastor that loves God and wants to walk with Him, for our church my prayer is that we can know the love of God, that’s what Paul prayed, to know the love of God and experience him but I want you to know the basis for that is not found in your experience because your experience can be misleading. When someone tries to steal from me, your experiences mislead you man and now you need socked upside the head, Nah that’s not what you need. But, you need to understand that there’s truth and the basis of truth and your violation of it. There’s a larger governing authority behind life. And just chalking it up to experience undermines that. If you tried it this way in your life if you go on the basis of, it’s all about experience and what’s true for you is true for you, and what’s true for me is true for me.
Try this today, go to your bank and be like, “I need $30,000.”
And then they’re going to look at your account and be like, “I’m sorry sir, you’ve got $10.”
And you can be like, “What’s true for you is true for you. What’s true for me is what’s true for me and I feel like there’s $30,000, give me $30,000.” You don’t think that way in any other area of your life. And if God created your mind, why would you base truth like that and as it relates to your relationship with God? It makes no sense.
And so that’s why Paul’s arguing in 1st Corinthians, that’s why He starts off with the historical statement about the resurrection. And He says in this first 11 verses, look Jesus resurrected, He appeared to 500 people at one time. And He starts listing some of those people. He’s saying to us, look hundreds if not thousands of people have seen the resurrection, this happened as a historical event, there’s a way to demonstrate that and that’s why we talked about it two weeks ago here as a church. So we say when we talk about believing in Jesus and the resurrection, we’re not just saying because we feel like it. That’s not the basis for it. It’s because it happened.
And then from the basis of that truth, we figure out how our life aligns with that. And so, Paul in this verse he’s arguing on this basis that we don’t start with experience you start with truth and you use that to validate experience. I don’t want to freak you out but if you don’t start with truth and you just simply base it on experience, how do you know the thing that’s leading you in that experience is really of God? Why can’t it just be a demonic angel appearing as light but really pushing you towards darkness? That’s freaky. I mean you genuinely really think that that’s right, but it’s not even of God. Is that possible? The only basis for walking away from that is truth.
And so, Paul’s saying here, look, don’t let go of the hope of the resurrection, it becomes central to our faith. And then He just describes this a little bit more for us so we don’t let this go. He’s wanting to push down the weightiness of this thought. So He says in verse 15, “Moreover then …” let me just go even further, “we are even found to be false witnesses of God,” Look, if the resurrection didn’t happen you’re a liar, “because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact 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 worthless;” I don’t know how much more significant you can make that, “and you are still in your sins.” So the demonstration of whether or not God can forgive your sins and Jesus is the Messiah was proven by the power of his ability to overcome the grave. On what basis do you have any hope at all if the one you that you trust in is still dead? You’re still in your sins. And if there’s one way you don’t want to meet God it’s with sin. Your faith is worthless, you’re still in sins.
In verse 18, “Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.” What he’s saying is Atheists are right. In a minute he’s going to tell you a little bit more about this and how you should live your life if that’s true. But he’s saying if those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished then what in the world are we doing? Because the Christian life is all about laying your life down for Christ, and you better live it up now because there is no tomorrow. And He goes on in verse 19, “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only,” and that’s all there is, “we are of all men most to be pitied.” We’re pitiful.
And so, Paul is trying to amplify the significance of this moment so He saw it historically, He starts to lay out what happened for us, and then He describes why this is so significant to the faith. This is the centrality of our identity and everything that we are to do as followers of Jesus. And so, now He starts to explain theologically why. Why is that so? And in verse 20 He lays out the theological implications for your life because of the resurrection of Jesus. He says verse 20, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.”
Let me just say this because these will say first fruits a couple times. In culture, this is common in Jewish culture, in other cultures as well, when you lived on what you could get out of the land and you depended on that for life. You didn’t have a refrigerator to keep things. And you needed the Earth. You didn’t want drought, you needed the Earth to create produce. And when that first harvest came out, cultures typically would celebrate what was provided. And the first fruits is a demonstration of everything else that is to come. And so, when it’s describing Jesus that way, Jesus is the first fruits of the resurrection.
Now I’d say it like this. In the Old Testament people died and their hope was in the future Messiah. And New Testament people are now looking back to the future Messiah. The way the New Testament describes this is that before the actual death, burial, and resurrection took place you couldn’t really ascend to God because there was no atoning work for your sin. No ultimate atoning work had been done by the Messiah that would give his life for others.
And so, Luke 16 verse 19-31 gives this story of Abraham’s bosom. And it’s about the rich man and Lazarus. You see him in Sheol, which is the place of the dead. And you see this divide between the two, one whose hope is in the future Messiah, the other one whose hope was in self. And what it’s saying to us in the story is that those that have gone on with hope in the future of this Messiah for life they’re in a holding place waiting for the ultimate sacrifice of that Messiah to give his life for his people. And so, what he’s saying is now that Jesus has come, Jesus has been that sacrifice, he’s the first fruits of the resurrection. Now that He has provided that sacrifice for us we’re cleansed in the forgiveness of God because of what Jesus has done and we get to walk in the newness of life in relationship. So Jesus becomes that first fruit.
Then it goes on, “For since by a man came death, by a man also came life, the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He stands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.”
So what’s He saying here? Paul’s describing this. And I think it’s important just to say … we’re going to look in Philippians 3 next week when Paul calls himself the Hebrew of Hebrews. He was a leading man in his culture and He gives it all up, on what basis? Just because He felt like it? No. There was a logical purpose that entitled an experience with his life. And he’s laying that out for us that He just didn’t walk into this but he’s showing it. And he’s coming to the point of theologically this is what it deals with kingdom, kingdom and your relationship with God as it relates to Adam. So what’s in the basis of this text? And so, let me describe it to you like this.
God is King over all. God created everything belonging to Him as King and man rebelled. God’s desires to restore Shalom, he’s going to come against all sin. God hates sin. God’s wrath will be poured out on sin. God will destroy the things that destroy His creation that He created for Himself as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. God will come against that. And at the same time in the midst of this creation, the crown of His creation is humanity. God created us for relationship in Him.
In fact, in the beginning, Adam and Eve it says, “He breathed the spirit into Adam and Eve and it was when He breathed that spirit, man became man and woman became in living being.” We could relate to God, spiritually we are connected to God. But what happens is that in that kingdom of which God has created where man has perfect relationship and woman has perfect relationship with God, we rebel, we sin. And the Bible tells us that what happens in chapter two of Genesis being created that way by chapter three it’s split, it’s done.
In fact, Isaiah says it like this in Isaiah 59:2 He says, “Your sins have created a barrier between you and your God.” And in case you try to work your way back Isaiah 64:6 says, “All your righteous deeds they’re filthy rags before God.” And so, he’s saying it’s impossible to reconcile. The Bible describes that as death.
Sometimes we think about death as dying but God told Adam and Eve, “When you eat of the fruit you shall surely die.” But then Adam and Eve eat of the fruit and they didn’t die. What’s up with that? They’re still walking around. Well, what happened is, chapter two He breathes the breath of life, spirit into them, they come, a living being and they eat of the fruit and spiritually they die. And so, when God dies on the cross, when He reconciles us to Him, he’s not just doing it physically, He’s also seeing the nature of our spirit, which is dead.
In fact, Ephesians 2:1 talks about, we’re dead in our trespasses and sins. We’re dead. And by verse 8-9 He says, “But by grace, you’ve been saved through faith not of yourselves as the gift of God not of works.” That God comes in and does that reconciliation work for us. And so, what He wants us to understand in this passage is that God’s got this kingdom and God’s ruling and reining.
And Adam, we all died in Adam because when you have a spiritual being created for life but is dead, when that dead spiritual being recreates, guess what they recreate? Dead spiritual beings. It’s like this. When a squirrel and a squirrel get together what do they have? A mouse, right? No. A squirrel, right? When a dear and a dear find each other in the forest, next Spring you’ve got baby dear running around. When spiritually dead human being finds spiritually dead human being you procreate spiritually dead human being. And so, it’s relating us to this first Adam, and here’s why it’s important.
When Jesus came He came to give life and Jesus has promised a scripture to return. But if Jesus came with his kingdom right now to bring about that rule and reign apart from working in our heart first, when that King who comes who hates sin brings his wrath and we being a part of the first Adam are found to be sinful guess where God’s wrath’s poured out? No one wants to say that, but it’s us. That’s why when Jesus says in Jeremiah 31:31, Ezekiel 36:26, that the Kingdom of God starts spiritually in the new heart. God first brings life to the spirit that died all the way back in the garden, so that we can find the righteousness of God placed on us so that when God brings His Kingdom we rule and reign with Him. We belong to Him.
So when you read passages in Luke, like Luke 17:20, the Jewish people are asking, where’s the kingdom? Where is the Messiah? Where’s the ruling and reigning? And Jesus says, the Kingdom of God in that passage He says, “The Kingdom of God is within you.” That’s not to ignore that Jesus is going to rule and reign because this passage is saying he’s physically coming and he’s going to put all his enemies under his feet. But what it’s demonstrating in order for him to do that, because God created you for a relationship what He first wants to do is reconcile you to Him to give you life so that when His kingdom comes it’s not to your destruction but to eternal presence in the glory of God forever because this King desires Shalom and He wants that Shalom to start within your heart. Peace.
And so, in this story Paul is talking about the significance of the resurrection because the demonstration of Jesus’ resurrection is showing God’s approval in the sacrifice that took place to say, it’s valid in giving you life because Jesus has power over death. In fact, He goes on and says this verse 26, “The last enemy that will be abolished is death.” So you think about how Jesus is bringing this kingdom in. He brings the resurrection of your soul in him and all ultimately what’s going to happen is the death of death. In verse 27, “For is but all things in subjection under his feet.” But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is accepted who put all things in subjection to him, Jesus has approved when all things are subjected to him. “Then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.” Shalom. God is first reconciling our heart to bring peace to this world. And his resurrection tells us, it’s the evidence that he’s put all things in subjection to him. Jesus is the King who wins. And the death of death is accomplished. And Christ obliterates the enemy.
One of the neat things this text does, I love how this causes me to wrestle with the idea of death because … I want to tell you guys, I even had the beginning of this year the unexpected death of my step-mom and I don’t know that I ever go to a funeral without hearing this taught wrong. And I hear Christians say this, they’ll say, “We shouldn’t have to grieve. We don’t need to grieve, we need to celebrate because we have hope.” And there is some partial truth to that but I want us to understand something. I think more than anybody when death happens we should understand that our souls should grieve deeply if not deeper than anyone. And the reason is, is this, God never created you for death. God created you for life. Death is the result of the abandonment of God.
When Jesus went to the death of Lazarus when Lazarus died Jesus visited the tomb. Jesus knew He was about to resurrect Lazarus but a couple neat things happened there. Jesus says in that story, “I am the resurrection and the life.” So, He knew He had that power to overcome and He wanted to point people. It’s not just that Lazarus is going to be resurrected, “I am the resurrection and the life.” And so, Jesus is demonstrating his importance but before all that happens you know what Jesus does? Jesus knows he’s about to resurrect Lazarus, but you know what He does? He wept. He grieved. Why? The soul was not created for it. It was created to belong, it was created for life. And here Jesus is teaching us the significance of life by the magnification of death. And people see, here is Jesus about to bring someone back to life and He is grieved to the core over death.
When I think when death happens it gives us permission as people, we know what this is the result of, it’s sin, it’s the separation from God, it’s what God comes to defeat. God cares about us in our brokenness. God cares about us in our pain. Jesus demonstrates this in his life by defeating death. This becomes important but first Thessalonians 4:13 also says this, “We don’t grieve as people without hope.” Look, we know how the story ends. And so in the midst of this grieving, it’s important for our soul I think to grieve in death because we’re not created for death we’re created for life and God cares about the broken-hearted. That’s what his death and resurrection says. God cares about your pain. God cares about what destroys the soul. God cares about the death that we face. God loves us in the midst of that and God gives us life for that. It’s why in the middle of that, the grieving of what death is, we also can rejoice. Such a greater hope that waits.
Now just think for a minute. I want us to think about the weightiness of what I just said as it relates to Christ on the cross. Because when Jesus was crucified He says in Matthew 27:45-46 He gives this statement. He quotes Psalm 22, He says, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” When Jesus died on the cross He didn’t just die physically, He took on your spiritual death too. When Jesus is saying, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” and quoting that Psalm. What Jesus is saying for eternity, Father and Son they live in perfect harmony relationally for all of eternity, nothing has come between that. And now all of a sudden in Jesus taking on sin he’s separated. Theologians don’t understand how this happens. He’s separated in relationship to the Father because sin means death and what death means, it doesn’t just mean dying physically it’s talking about the death Adam and Eve experienced in the garden where spiritually they’re created with life but they’re separated from God. And Jesus takes that. That’s what Hell is.
2nd Thessalonians 1:9 it says, “Separated from the presence of God.” That’s how it describes hell. I think that’s important to realize. When Jesus was crucified for three days He didn’t go to hell for three days, guys, 12th Century church history started teaching that a little bit, that is not right. Jesus owed Satan and Hell nothing for the payment of your sin. He paid for you to the Father. He literally experienced Hell on Earth, separation. Why?
1st Corinthians 5:21 tells you, “He who knew no sin became sin on your behalf that you might become the righteousness of God.” Separated spiritual death for you to experience spiritual life. And ultimately this culminates in the death of death. And so, when Jesus is saying this, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” It’s just declaring the magnitude of the sacrifice, which God made in your life for Him. Cross screams He loves you. God loves you. In the midst of your sin, He loves you.
You think of what the beauty of what that is. In my life when I mess up or when something’s not going right around me and the world feels like it’s caving in … I have this tendency maybe I’m weird or maybe you can join me, but for me my problem looks like it’s this big and then everything else in life is like this and you gotta get a microscope out to kind of examine it. Especially when something first happens, like the first couple days, usually after a couple of days I’m good, but first day I’m like, “Ugh.” You wake up at night you’re, “Ugh. My world’s falling apart.” God loves us in that. God loves us in that. And think about this, Jesus is talking about the death of death.
Let’s put our problems in perspective here. Jesus is talking about the death of death. If God can destroy death what’s going to stop Him from the struggles in your own life? Think in comparison to what God’s tackled here. The last enemy is death. And you think that in perspective of what you face in life right now. How big or how small it looks, whatever you think it is, how you respond to that, if God can defeat death and God demonstrates His love toward beyond the cross, and death is the last enemy, the greatest enemy to ever be defeated. When I put my problems, my struggles in comparison to that, yeah at times in my life it may look huge but in perspective, to this Almighty God, He’s got this. God’s got this.
And I think for us this becomes exactly why Paul begins to respond the way he does because in verse 29 he starts talking about now, how does this resurrection make application in your life? What does it look like to wake up tomorrow and say, “I believe in the resurrection”? Do you just say that? How do you apply this historical event as something significant to your life? Because I told you in the beginning, yes, it’s historically important truth validated, but experientially it’s intended for you to make it very personal in your life. What does that look like? Well, verse 29 let’s look. He says this, he starts this way, “Otherwise what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?” I’m going to stop here and explain further because Paul’s just talking about a very practical thing here for Christians.
When we become followers of Jesus the Bible calls us to be baptized. You don’t see in the New Testament any follower of Jesus that wasn’t baptized. Now baptism doesn’t save you but it’s a demonstration of your salvation. What that means is it’s symbolic. When we go into the water for baptism we represent the old man, the sinful nature. And we die, buried with Christ, just like Jesus died for our sins, we die in the water, it’s a representation of that. When we come out it’s the representation of the newness of life because of Christ’s righteousness on us. When we get baptized it’s not because we’re perfect, it’s not because we’re great. We get baptized because God is. We get baptized because our faith in the God that is great and what He has done for us. It’s not about me and my worthiness it’s about Him and His worthiness. And so when we get baptized it’s like the Christian wedding day. It’s the declaration to the world that I have put my faith in Jesus and I am pursuing Him because of what He’s done in my life. He’s made me new and He’s cleansed me. He’s given me life and the hope of the resurrection.
And what this passage is saying, Paul is telling people, we tend to teach this passage wrong or something we can. Sometimes people have taken this verse and say, “What Paul is saying is to be baptized for dead people or otherwise what will those do who are baptized for the dead?” People try to take this verse to be baptized for dead people. I want you to know this verse is actually saying the exact opposite. Remember the argument here, if you don’t believe in a resurrection then why get baptized? Because the point of baptism is symbolic of the resurrection. And if you’re getting baptized without believing in a resurrection there’s no meaning to your baptism. So it’s actually the exact opposite. You’re not getting baptized for dead. You’re getting baptized because Jesus lives. And that demonstration of His life is the hope that you have that you would also be able to experience life.
And so he goes on in verse 30 and he starts to make more practical application. He says this, “Why are we also endanger every hour? I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.” If this resurrection isn’t true, what in the world am I doing? Every day I lay my life down for this. And he says, “If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, Let us eat and let us drink, for tomorrow we die.” So he’s saying, look if I did this for nothing what in the world am I thinking about? I want to live my life like Java the Hut man, whatever I see that pleasures me I’m just taking it because that’s all I go. Life is about me and my pleasure and there is no tomorrow so let’s just do it. I just want a personal instant gratification. My life is about that. It makes no sense if the resurrection isn’t true.
And so he goes on, “Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals.” Become sober-minded as you ought, stop sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. What you do matters. And stop denying this truth. People need to know the Lord. They need the freedom that He brings. And Paul, makes this mark, this resurrection really his identity. You look at what he’s saying and he’s basing his value on here, look what he says, “I die daily” verse 31. “I die daily.” What Paul is saying is this historical moment has become not only just a history moment but such an experiential personal moment that my life is defined by this.
If God can defeat death what can’t He handle? When I look at the scope of what’s in my life when he talks about battling in Ephesus these wild beasts. If God can defeat death He can handle my battles, wild beasts or whatever. When my problems look this big I remember my God is bigger. Death is defeated in His presence. At the same time, this loving God gave His all for you. God sacrificed everything. What more could He give to demonstrate His love? In the midst of sin, He dies for us. You look how Paul’s responding he’s just thinking through the significance of this moment that God defeats sin and He loves me to this depth, and He calls me to Him. And so, therefore, in that circumstance I belong. And the reality is, the solution to overcome death is really the solution to every sin we face. By the sin lift to Christ. If you find the solution to defeat death you can apply it to anything you face as a Christian. Death is just the greatest extreme of the victory that we can experience in Christ, but it’s not the only victory it’s just the end of all things here.
And so Paul’s helping us to put all of this into perspective with the resurrection. And when I consider this, what Paul is saying here, in giving his life to God is really a foreign concept I think in the American way of thinking. The reason is culturally we teach that life is all about you and you define the point of origin and existence in you. And there’s all kinds of problems with that and we’ll talk a little bit about it, but you start with you.
And sometimes when we come into Christianity, when we start to listen to like a message I’m saying today because we’ve grown up in a secular way of thinking and we come in and we bring God in with that. What we tend to do is we think, “Well, okay here I am. Life’s about me and then I’m going to invite God into kind of figure out, get my God part to figure out how this sort of fits in the puzzle.” And so, we invite God into our life.
But the reality is what Paul’s saying, by I die daily is to understand that God created you and your purpose for existence isn’t in you it’s in Him. God isn’t our puppet where we invite Him into our life, He’s inviting you into His life. And finding the purpose for your existence that way. And so, Paul is saying this. I think we can hear this, “I die daily.” Equating with, “My purpose, value, meaning, and my existence is found in this moment. This defines me.”
And so, let me just ask the opposite of this question for a minute, just to think about it. If you don’t have God, how do you find purpose of life? In a Godless society the meaning and foundation of life, where is it? Where do you discover it? I think what culture emphasizes, which is us, it’s all about me. I wake up and I determine what I do that day by what I think best benefits me. And it’s all about me and my pleasure and that way of thinking kind of gets scary because when God created us He created things to serve people but now we use people to serve the things that we want. We abuse one another because of it. But in a Godless society the basis of life it becomes about me and it starts with myself on the thrown and I ask the question, “What do I want since I am the center of the universe?” But when you start with that basis there’s a couple struggles you enter into very quickly. One is, how do you determine right from wrong? And there other is, on what do you base your worth?.
Let me just start with how do you determine right from wrong? How do you know what should ultimately govern life? If all I am is some binary evolutionary process existing without some divine hand of God, truth is guys I’m no more valuable than the bird in the sky, the dog in the street, and the rock out in our parking lot. We all came from the same place. We sort of just evolved we just happened to exist. I just happened to exist this way, the way a dog just happened to exist that way and a rock happened to exist this way. We’re just stardust bumping into one another. And there’s nothing ultimately that gives me any more value than anything else.
It’s different the way scripture describes it but the basis for my worth isn’t determined by some higher value. And so, how do you find any basis for your worth? On top of that, am I really guilty of any moral failure? If there’s no ultimate value for determining moral law and no moral lawgiver, how can you ever tell me anything I ever do is wrong? What’s true for you is true for you based on your experience. And what’s true for me is true for me. I can’t be blamed for anything I do. I’m just a chemical reaction of things popping in my brain. What just happened, happened. Words are just happening to come out of my mouth right now because I was evolved to do that. And somehow it makes coherent sense. There’s no basis for it unless there’s some divine hand and direction behind it. And so, how can I be guilty of any moral failure?
If I’m a murdering rapist and I just say it feels right to me so that’s why I do that. On what basis are you going to tell me that it’s wrong? What do you go to? I think in the room today if we say, “Hey guys, rape is wrong.” How do you know? We’re going to appeal to something greater than it’s wrong because it’s definitely wrong. If you have no governing authority that’s where it’s wrong because it’s wrong. I guess. Of course, I could be wrong because that’s just my experience. On what basis? How do you argue? What do you appeal to? How do you determine your worth? Where does someone get their worth? Where do you get your worth?
I turned on the news today because I wanted to see if Russia was going to do anything on a Sunday. Turns out I guess they only work in the offices Monday to Friday too so for the news this morning they decided to tell me all about Carrie Underwoods life. I need to know about Carrie Underwood so here they go with Carrie Underwood. And apparently Carrie Underwood had lots of stitches and then they wanted to let us know what Twitter said about the different opinions on Carrie Underwood’s stitches. And some people just described Carrie Underwood as vain and just maligned her on their Twitter accounts. And then other people told her how beautiful she was and she’s going to get through this. If you don’t know what happened to Carrie … I don’t really know what happened to Carrie Underwood but she got stitches. And when I’m watching these wonderful opinions on Carrie Underwood and why I need to know what Twitter says about Carrie Underwood and why in the world this is taking time on my news, like how is this news? And so, I’m watching this happen and I’m asking one question, on what basis? On what basis do you determine she’s vain? Or on what basis do you determine she’s beautiful?
Let’s take the positive route for a minute. On what basis have you determined the worth of Carrie Underwood is beautiful? What makes her beautiful? She can sing. You might find her attractive. She’s got wealth. I mean what makes her beautiful? What consist of her value? Where does she find that? What happens in 10 years if she can’t quite sing? She doesn’t have the same ability, or maybe her beauty fades, or she loses all her money. What of her value then? What made her beautiful? Why respond that she’s beautiful? Is she beautiful because you said she’s beautiful? In which case is her beauty always determined by what you think of her and so she has to serve you her whole life in order for you to think that she’s beautiful so she feels beautiful? Is her whole life about serving people so she feels beautiful?
On what basis do you determine your worth and value? I think without God that’s what we’re left to. Like, what do you think of me? What do you think of me? Oh God, please accept me. Where is my worth in this? I don’t have much therefore I’m not worth much. In societies today there are really debating this apart from God. What does a human being find their worth in? Is there some sort of standard that you gotta live up to that? And so if you can’t perform that, that you’re sort of this burden to society so you’re not worth as much, so let’s get rid of you? Is that really where you find your values? Some societies are moving that way. Apart from God, I don’t know how you can’t. The basis of your worth apart from God is based on what you can do and if you can’t do then you’re not worth as much. Is that really what we’re about as human beings?
And what Paul is saying in this passage is, “I die daily,” because his value and worth isn’t attributed by other people. It’s God. The basis and standard for life isn’t experience, it’s truth. It’s this event, this moment. It’s where he sees the love of God and God’s power and the feat of death. And therefore, God’s power in his life. God is life. The resurrection and the life. That’s what trusting in Him and the conclusion that Paul’s drawing is the sustenance for our life. If there is a God and He can defeat the greatest of enemies, death then He’s also able to impart life. If He has the power and He has the authority, if He has the authority I don’t start life with me or my worth with me. It starts with Him who gave everything for me to demonstrate my worth, not because of what innately rests within me but what rests within Him.
When you think about the story of the gospel, God defines you in a beautiful way. God defeats sin to start life in Him. And God then gives everything proper worth, value, and meaning. And the reason why we live. I don’t start my day to day with what do I want but rather what is the King of Kings all about? And therefore, based on that, how does God see life? What is life about in Him? God’s inviting me into Him to define myself in Him, to experience the goodness of life in Him because we were created for that reason, not himself but in dying to self.
And the reality is at the end of the day if the resurrection has any application in your life at all, I think it’s important to see that the resurrection isn’t just an intellectual argument. It’s not just a historical factual argument that at the end of the day it really is a hard issue. It’s a hard issue because all of us every day will wrestle with this. Who sits on my thrown? Who rules my life? What do I determine will be the course of my action? What is my life about?
Paul said, if it’s about you man Java the Hut it up. You better live for the pleasure of today because tomorrow you die. But if it’s for Jesus there’s a greater purpose and value to your life. God’s defined it. His cross screams it. In the midst of our brokenness, he loves us through it. And one of the beautiful things to rest as we just close here is this, God uses messy people. God uses messy people. No matter where you are today God’s not done with you. God’s got a future, a hope, and a plan and you say, how do I know? How do I know that? Do you know what I’ve done? Because he defeated death. He defeated death. And so when you think in perspective to your circumstance no matter what it looks like there is nothing bigger that’s going to come against God then death. And if God can defeat that on your behalf and love you through all of that, what God is calling you in that. In Him the worth of your life is far greater than anything in this world that you can attribute onto it because what Christ has done.