1 Corinthians 15:55 | Death to Life

When we think of life and death we think being born and then one day dying thus life and then death. But the Christian world view is the opposite. Death and then life. Before life there is only death. The distinction is very important and the twist changes everything about how this current life is lived. People do not like to think of death in real sobering terms, but since we are on the Halloween season where zombies and skeletons are all the rage I do want to pause and be sober about the reality of death.

God through the Bible tells us that because of sin (all the evil stuff we do) there is no amount of good that we can do to counterbalance all the bad we have done in life. This world is dead. This world is temporary. We may see life, building, and new but it is all temporary. A last gasp of air leaving us and the planet dead.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. Ephesians 2:1-2 ESV

Sobering. Not as much fun as Halloween but scary as hell. Death does not await because death has already arrived. So if we are not moving from to life to death because we are already dead then how does one move from death to life? How do we exit the nightmare of hell, zombies, and curses?

Before I answer that question, I have a question for you dear reader. Are we the sum of physical chemical reactions and when those stop, we cease to exists? When this body dies is there nothing? How we answer that question points to life.

The church in Corinth had a faction that rejected the idea of a resurrection. They believed the same as the secularist today that when this body expires that that was that. To this Paul in his letter to the church clearly states that what is a Christian who does not believe life is the future state?

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:12-14 ESV

Central to the belief in God is that life awaits. And God has already demonstrated his power over death by raising Jesus from the dead on the third day. Jesus all of his physical chemical reactions were done. He was dead. He was placed in a tomb with all the burial procedures and left there for three days.

That is the end of the story death is still lord and master of this world. Christianity never has a start because Christ died. “You were dead in trespasses and sins” the Bible states. You “were” dead does not mean you “are” dead. Christians are no longer dead they are alive. Why because Christ did not stay in that grave.

[Jesus Speaking] I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Revelation 1:18 ESV

Death is defeated. Jesus makes all things subject to his authority as part of the triune God. Death has no hold on the Creator. So the opportunity stands how to move past the horror of Halloween and into the spring of life. Jesus draws all peoples to him for life. Dear reader there is nothing more important than this life or death choice. Live with Christ or stay dead in your sins. Call on Jesus. Enter into a conversation with the Creator who made you more than the physical and chemical reactions of your present body.

53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 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.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 1 Corinthians 15:53-55 ESV

1 Corinthians 15:3 | The Very Best Miracle

Miracles are more than just important to Christians, they are foundational to what is believed about the universe, God, and His intervention into the lives of humanity. When people think about miracles, the first thought might be Jesus walking on water or healing the sick, but I want to direct attention to the most spectacular miracle in the Bible.

More than walking on water or healing the blind the most impressive of all is the resurrection of Jesus on the third day. We cannot repeat history to see for ourselves exactly what happened so we must rely on the multitude of eyewitnesses who left their accounts recorded for the next generations to read and study. There is no evidence that they lied, or manufactured a legend. One only needs to point to the fact most all of these men died because they claimed Christ resurrected and their witness is consistent from the beginning.

Paul claims hundreds of people witnessed the resurrected Christ:

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 ESV

Paul providing his defense to the Romans:

“For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner.” Acts 26:26 ESV

Peter making a case for Christ and the Gospel message:

“For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” 2 Peter 1:16 ESV

So why is the death, burial, and resurrection of “first importance”? Paul answers that question and puts it this way when it comes to the centrality of the miraculous that surrounds Christ…

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. 1 Corinthians 15:12-14 ESV

The resurrection of Christ is the hope of the world because God so loved the world (John 3:16) which leads this miracle to become even more spectacular in that it impacts individuals even today. The 5,000 that Jesus fed are long gone and that food does not do us any benefit today. The miracle of the resurrection however continues on in my life even now. The resurrection is a miracle that happens daily all over the world. It is a miracle that we can see in the changed lives of our friends, coworkers, and family. The resurrection propagates miracle of salvation on each individual who calls on Christ. The very gift, the deposit of the Holy Spirit, given to those who believe in Jesus is a miracle because God the creator of the universe gives to His children hope for the now and a promise for eternity.

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV

The Easter Resurrection

Paul reminded the Corinthian church of the gospel, the good news, which was delivered to them. This good news is the same for us today and is the message of the Easter holiday that is celebrated at this time of the year.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas [Peter], then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 ESV

Paul testified to the fact that Jesus had died on a cross and then was raised on the third day, just as the Old Testament scriptures had promised. Paul reminded this church of the hundreds of people who Jesus appeared to after his death. Many of those people were still alive at this time verifying what Paul was writing in this letter.

Easter is about what Jesus did on the cross and the good news that this brings to each and every person. The good news, as Paul listed it here, is #1 Christ died for our sins as predicted by the Old Testament. #2 He was buried and physically dead. All the chemical reactions were done. #3 on the third day as predicted by the Old Testament Jesus was resurrected. This resurrection is new life not undead life. This is no zombie, but life restored and better than before because it is life that has overcome death. Resurrection of this kind is an event that human effort has been unable to replicate, and is accomplished by the direct intervention of a Creator who has authority to break the rules of time space.

The resurrection is key to the life giving power of Christianity. When we die that is not the end. We are eternal beings even when the physical breaks down and dies. Yet we reject the idea that the Creator has interjected himself into the affairs of men. We reject that God will require an accounting of what we have done with the life he created in us. In Paul’s day just as in our day many people rejected the idea that a resurrection is possible. We are all stuck in the physical of time space. We focus only on the closed off system and the natural laws that rule this system. Resurrection breaks those laws and is not a repeatable event to be studied and analyzed by men. Thomas one of the disciples refused to believe the testimony of his closest friends on this matter.

Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” John 20:24-25 ESV

The even more amazing thing about Thomas’ refusal to believe that Jesus was alive was that Thomas had witnessed countless times that Jesus had broken the laws of nature. Blind men seeing, the sick healed, food multiplied, and Thomas had firsthand eyewitness proof that resurrection is possible. He was there when Jesus resurrected Lazarus from the dead.

Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go”… So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” John 11:14-16a; 41-44 ESV

If it is hard for someone like Thomas to accept that the natural laws of what is possible and what is impossible can be broken then what chance do we who live in the age of science have?

The answer is that the Creator is not subject to the laws of the creation. We are all bound to the space time container yet what separates God is that as creator he is outside of the creation and is not bound as we are to the natural laws and to the forward direction of time.

An explanation of space time

In regard to the system we live in called space time Jesus put it this way…

And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. Revelation 21:6 ESV

The Alpha is the first letter of the Greek Alphabet and Omega is the last letter. Jesus who is God in flesh stands outside of time; he sees and interacts with the beginning and the end at the same time. It is the only way God can be all the things that make God ever present and all powerful. He is not limited to the space time container or to the natural laws that limit the creation.

If the Creator truly interacts and has plans for his creation then choose this day what you will believe. Easter is the good news that we can be given new life, a resurrection from the dead. God is calling us to serve him and he is the Creator who is worthy of our worship. If you refuse and continue in rebellion then do not think that once you die that this container of space time is all there will be. Jesus continued…

To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:7-8 ESV