Thursday, January 12, 2012

5. First Corinthians 15

(This is the sixth in a series of ten posts counting down my ten favorite chapters in the New Testament. My friend David is also counting down his ten favorite chapters in the New Testament. You can find the corresponding post on his blog by clicking here.)
On to the hallowed top five...

Following chapter 13 about agape (the Greek word for unconditional love) and chapter 14 about prophesying (speaking Christ for building up), the penultimate chapter of Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians is easily one of my favorites. Most of First Corinthians focuses on the cross of Christ as the solution to all problems in the church, such as divisions, lawsuits, and idol worship. However, chapter 15 goes a step further than Christ's death on the cross by focusing on the importance of resurrection. Resurrection is crucial to the Christian faith because it overcomes Satan's strongest attack - death.

Paul starts the chapter by placing Christ's resurrection with His death and burial as the essential items of the gospel (v. 3-4). Paul then uses Christ's resurrection to dispel the Corinthians' disbelief in the resurrection of all men. In verse 22, we see that all men will be made alive in Christ. In verse 19, we see that our experience of Christ in this life is but a foretaste of the experience of Christ in resurrection:
"If it is only that we have hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most miserable."
Without resurrection, we have no eternal hope! Paul then continues by explaining how the body of resurrection is a spiritual body, not a soulish body, with Christ Himself as an example in verse 45:
"The first man, Adam, became a living soul; the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit."
Christ was the last of the soulish race descended from Adam and through resurrection, He became a life-giving Spirit. What's more, First Peter 1:3 tells us that all the believers were regenerated through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We received a spiritual life, and when we are resurrected we will also receive a spiritual body. What was corrupted by the fall of Adam will be raised in incorruption!

I'll let Paul give you the details of the victory of resurrection over death and corruption (verses 52-57):
"In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. For this corruption must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality...then the word which is written will come to pass, 'Death has been swallowed up unto victory.' Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, 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."
What can you say to that? Nothing but "Amen" and "Praise the Lord" for the victory of resurrection!

First Corinthians 15 also contains two precious verses about our labor in the Lord. Verse 58 encourages that our labor is not in vain in the Lord (no matter how little fruit appears outwardly). After all, according to verse 10, we really aren't the ones laboring, but the grace of God is laboring in us.

Finally, verse 33 is a hidden gem that would almost seem more appropriate in Proverbs:
"Do not be deceived: Evil companionships corrupt good morals."


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