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All Rise - The Resurrection Plan

"29 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? 30 Why are we also in danger every hour? 31 I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 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 drink, for tomorrow we die. 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” 34 Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame."
I Corinthians 15:29-34

Good Morning Beloved,

Welcome to worship, we're so glad you're here!

As we continue our study in The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians in a series I've called All Rise.
One of the challenges that we Christians face, is the issue of bodily resurrection, and particularly as it relates to how Christians live in view of our bodily resurrection.

I had once been chatting with a mature Christian woman, who told me the story of how she came to have saving faith in Jesus Christ. It was a rather interesting story, but one comment in her testimony really struck a cord with me. She told me how she had grown up in a Christian home. And as a little girl she went to Sunday school and worshiped with her family. Throughout her youth, she heard about Jesus and the Bible, but none of that made any impact on her life.

After High School she went off to college. She attended a number of different churches. One Sunday she went to worship with a friend. That was when she made the comment that caught my attention. She said that she was struck by the fact that the minister actually believed the Bible. It wasn’t very long before she herself came to believe in Jesus as her Lord and Savior.

What was it about the way that preacher spoke that made her sense that he really believed that the Bible was true? Did he shout? Did he manipulate his congregation? Did he have any special technique? I doubt it.

Her story reminded me of the reaction of the crowds at the conclusion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. I'm sure that you remember their reaction? In Matthew 7:28-29, Matthew tells us that "when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. Their reaction was quite similar to the woman who shared her testimony with me. 

So, as I was preparing for today's message, I began thinking about what was the difference between the teaching of the scribes and the teaching of Jesus? The scribes spoke "from authorities," always quoting other rabbis and so-called experts of the Law. However, Jesus, as God the Son, spoke by the authority of God. He did not need to quote other human authorities. His word was truth!

To the extent that Christian ministers expound God’s word and not other human writers, they will be authoritative. When they themselves really believe the Bible, then, they will simply, passionately explain what it says.

Part of the problem that Paul had with the Corinthian church, is that they believed that they had progressed beyond Paul. True, Paul planted the church. They had came to believe in Jesus through the ministry of Paul. They had received forgiveness of sins through the person and work of Jesus Christ. They had grown in their understanding of God’s truth through the ministry of Paul. Then Paul moved away. Some of the believers in Corinth were then led astray into believing false teaching. Which we had studied earlier, had caused all kinds of problems in the church.

And so The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians was written to correct the many errors that some of the Corinthian believers had embraced. One of the errors that some of the Corinthian believers had embraced is that there is no bodily resurrection for Christians. As we have been studying in Chapter 15, is Paul’s teaching regarding the bodily resurrection.

So, in our continuing study of I Corinthians chapter 15, today we learn that it is meaningless to live as a Christian if there is indeed no bodily resurrection for Christians. Again, we have come to another portion of Scripture, that many today, skip over, they avoid its teaching. And, as I have stated many times before, no man, no teacher of the Word, has been given that authority. Regardless of how uncomfortable, how controversial a passage is, those of us who have been called are therefore, charged with the responsibility to teach it.

First let's bow our heads in prayer.

Heavenly Father,

We thank You for this astonishing Word, with truth that fascinates us with insights, clarity and power. Thank You for those You have chosen to gather with us today, from around the world. Help us O' Lord, that we would understand that this life is a vapor, that appears for a little time and then vanishes away, and then we'll live forever. Those of us who are Yours, will live forever with You.

Thank You for the promise of eternal life, a promise that takes all of the emptiness and uselessness of living under the sun away, and replaces it with a longing and a hope for what is to come and changes how we live here, all for Your glory.

Lord, we pray that Your Word today, will cause us to live in the light of heaven, anticipating the day we will be with You, our blessed Christ, the glorious reunions with loved ones and saints, who’ve gone before us, that we will live our earthly lives in sacrificial service, knowing that we will be rewarded in Your presence and be privileged to cast our crowns at Your feet. That we’ll live lives of sanctification being purified in the hope of that resurrection which will unite us to You. Lord, how we long to hear those coveted words, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

May we live in anticipation of that glorious day to come, with our hearts eager to embrace it may it cause us to hold on lightly onto this temporal life, as we know what lies ahead. An eternity of glorifying, worshiping and praising You living in Your presence. Lord, this we pray in Your precious name

Today's Message: All Rise - The Resurrection Plan

Open with me your Bibles, if you would to the book of I Corinthians chapter 15. As you know, we've been in the book of I Corinthians for sometime. There reason is there is so much to learn from the apostle Paul, in the rich text in his epistle. Today, we'll be studying verses 29-34 of this same chapter.
Follow along with me as I read to you from today's text, to get our hearts and minds settled on it.
I Corinthians 15:29-34.

"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? Why are we also in danger every hour? I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 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 drink, for tomorrow we die. Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame."

Paul said in verse 29: "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?"

Many find this verse to be one of the most difficult to understand in the entire Bible. And, there are a number of commentaries for this verse. Now what is difficult for us to interpret was apparently not so for the Corinthians to which whom Paul wrote. He wrote about something that they mutually understood. therefore, he did not elaborate, which is likely why it is so hard for many of us to understand what Paul really means.

The reason this verse is so difficult to interpret is that there is no passage in all of Scripture that describes a baptism on behalf of the dead. Furthermore, Paul does not condemn the practice. Instead he pointed to the absurdity of believing that there would be no resurrection of believers in light of the practice of being baptized on behalf of the dead. Frankly, if the dead are not raised at all, then there is no reason to be baptized in their behalf.

Perhaps the most likely explanation is that Paul did not approve of the practice of being baptized on behalf of the dead. Commentator Richard Pratt points out that Paul referred to the practitioners in the third person, people, rather than in the first, "we" or second person, "you", probably avoiding close association with them.

If this be the correct understanding of this verse, then Paul pointed out the inconsistency between their practice and their denial of a bodily resurrection for Christians. He then asked what sense it would make for people to deny the bodily resurrection of Christians, while practicing vicarious baptism for the dead.

The Mormon Church, practices baptism on behalf of the dead. However, this heretical practice is not supported anywhere in all of Scripture.

Now, baptism is to be a symbol of our union with Christ in his death and resurrection. That is why Paul says in Romans 6:3-5: "Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection."

The point Paul is making here, is that if baptism did not symbolize resurrection, then why did they practice it? Of course, Paul did not approve baptism on behalf of someone else, on behalf of the dead. However, he did imply that baptism is useless if there is no resurrection from the dead.

I have frequently wondered, if when Saul, who on the road to Damascus, was confronted by Jesus, if he wasn’t struck again by the unforgettable moment when the dying, hopeful, confident, triumphant words of Stephen, that he had heard some years previously. Now, knowing and believing, that he would again meet Stephen, in whose death he had earlier participated.

However, if the dead do not rise, there would be no reunion, the grave is the end. There is no hope, nothing to anticipate, to long for, there’s nothing beyond the grave. So, beloved, if we deny resurrection, we lose this great hope and salvation incentive. In other words, if there is no bodily resurrection, then our baptism is useless.

Further, if there is no bodily resurrection, then ministry is useless. Paul appealed to the sacrifices that he and the other Christian leaders made for the sake of ministry because of their profound conviction of a future bodily resurrection for Christians. He asked in verse 30: "Why are we also in danger every hour?" Those who were involved in active ministry, they did so at risk, and great personal cost. They were imprisoned, beaten, stoned, and even murdered. Do you remember how Paul put it in his second letter to the Corinthians?

Speaking of false servants of Christ, Paul said in II Corinthians 11:23-28:
"Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches."

Beloved, this is why Paul says at the end of verse 31, "I die daily!"

Paul next referred the Corinthians to an event about which they knew. He said in verse 32: "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 drink, for tomorrow we die."

Acts 19:1 through 20:1 records Paul’s difficulties during his three-year stay in Ephesus. He faced significant difficulties there. However, most likely, Paul did not actually face beasts at Ephesus. Paul was a Roman citizen, and no Roman citizen was to be thrown to wild beasts for his own punishment and the entertainment of the Roman community. It is more likely, that Paul was speaking figuratively about those who violently opposed him as beasts.

Whatever Paul specifically had in mind, he made it very clear that he would never have endured such difficulties if only for merely human reasons—without the certainty of a future bodily resurrection in mind. He would not have gained anything if he had endured great personal suffering if there was no such thing as a bodily resurrection for Christians.

If it were true that the dead are not raised, then Paul would not have lived such a difficult life. Instead, he would have embraced the philosophy that was common in that day, and frankly, is common in our day too, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die" I Corinthians 15:32.

Paul was quoting Isaiah 22:13, which says, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." Isaiah was rebuking his listeners for not taking the warnings of divine judgment seriously.

Similarly, Paul said that irresponsible sensual revelry would be the only reasonable approach to life—if there was no bodily resurrection for Christians.

The Greek historian Herodotus tells of an interesting custom of the Egyptians. He said:
"In social meetings among the rich, when the banquet was ended, a servant would often carry around among the guests a coffin, in which was a wooden image of a corpse carved and painted to resemble a dead person as nearly as possible. The servant would show it to each of the guests and would say; "Gaze here and drink and be merry, for when you die such you shall be."

Beloved, if this life is all there is, then why not do whatever you want to do? Live as you want to live? Why not grab all you can get, do all you can, and really live it up? If there is nothing more, if you die only to remain dead in the grave, I suppose then, that hedonism would make perfect sense.

However, what would not make sense is the sacrificial ministry of those "who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, . . . wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth" Hebrews 11:33-34, 38.

Their hope that "that they might rise again to a better life" as told in Hebrews 11:35, would have been futile and empty.

Paul appealed to the Corinthians to consider his own life as a strong evidence that he really believed God’s word. The future bodily resurrection for Christians was one factor that motivated him in his ministry. It would be absolutely absurd to serve as hard as he did, and to go through all the suffering that he did, if there was no certainty of a future bodily resurrection for Christians.

So, first, if there is no bodily resurrection, baptism is useless. Then, secondly, if there is no bodily resurrection, ministry is useless. And thirdly, if there is no bodily resurrection, obedience is useless.

Paul closed this section of the discussion with a stern warning. He worried that those who denied a bodily resurrection for Christians would corrupt sincere Christian believers. So he said in verse 33: "Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’" This is an important for all of us, even today.

This quotation was actually a well-known proverb in Paul’s day, even as it is in our own day. It was found in Manander’s Thais.

The Corinthian Christians associated with people who scoffed at the notion a future bodily resurrection for Christians, and Paul wanted them to break off these associations. He did not want them to be deceived. These associates probably advocated Greek philosophy, not only denying a bodily resurrection, but also influencing some of the Corinthians to pursue worldly wisdom.
So, Paul sternly said in verse 34: "Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning."

Paul said that a wrong view of the resurrection was sin. He wanted the Corinthian Christians to correct their misunderstanding of the resurrection of Christ. He wanted them to understand that Jesus really did raise from the dead. And he wanted them to understand that because of Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead, there can and must be a bodily resurrection for Christians as well.

The reason that some deny the resurrection of Christ and of Christians is because they have no knowledge of God, 15:34, which says, "Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame."

Paul said all of this to their shame. One application for us is that we must be very careful with whom we associate. Obviously, God has left us in the world in order to be salt and light. We are to influence our community and culture for Christ and the gospel.

However, too often it is exactly the opposite and we are influenced by the culture of this fallen world. For example, our culture says that many forms of immorality is not a choice, no more a choice than is the choice of our skin color Our culture teaches acceptance and tolerance.

In 2007 the Pew Global Attitudes asked the question, "Should sexual immorality be accepted by society?" Forty-nine percent of the respondents in the United States said that it should be accepted by society, whereas forty-one percent said that it should not be accepted by society.

Now, I don’t know what the statistics would be for Christians, but I will guarantee that acceptance of sexually immoral behavior is growing by Christians. And that is largely because Christians are being deceived. Why? Because many Christians do not study God’s word. And so, instead of basing their views on the Bible, they base their views on what our current culture teaches. Which say adultery is Ok, most everyone does it. Premarital sex is OK, its only natural. Nothing could be further from the truth! Sexual immorality is not Ok with God. While it is true, that Christ will be any of us wherever we, in whatever sin, however, we are not to be left in it. We are to turn and repent, and sin no more.
Salvation is not a license to continue living in sin.

Paul’s point is that belief in a bodily resurrection produces obedience. We have a great hope that one day we will be with Christ for all eternity. We know that our mortal bodies will die, but when Jesus returns our spirits will be reunited with our bodies. From that point on our bodies will be immortal. And that future hope is a motivation to our current obedience.

So, to reiterate, first, if there is no bodily resurrection, baptism is useless. Second, if there is no bodily resurrection, ministry is useless. And third, if there is no bodily resurrection, obedience is useless.

In Closing....

Beloved, let us embrace the apostle Paul's teaching to us in his letter to the Corinthian believers.
Jesus Christ really did rise from the dead three days after he was buried in the tomb. He was seen by many different groups of people who testified that they had seen him alive. The evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is irrefutable.

Further, because Jesus has been resurrected from the dead, we too, can be certain that we are going to experience bodily resurrection. When we die our bodies will be put to rest in the ground. Our spirits will immediately be ushered to be with the Lord.

Then, on a future day, Christ will return to earth. All Christians alive at that time will not die but will be raised up to heaven, in much the same way Enoch and Elijah were. All Christians who have died and whose spirits are in heaven will be reunited with their bodies. These bodies will be glorified bodies, much like the body of Jesus Christ, after His resurrection. Then Christ will judge his enemies and destroy the last enemy—death. And Christians, we will be with our Lord for all eternity.
What a glorious day that will be!

So, in view of this glorious hope, let us remember our baptism, serve well in ministry, and walk in obedience to our wonderful Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
May it be so...

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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