Our Hope is not in Vain

Richard Hays concludes his excellent treatment of I Corinthians 15:

Those who affirm the truth of Christ’s resurrection will be given the moral confidence to live in a way that shows that their hope is not in vain.

Sermon: The Empty Threat of Death, Part V, I Corinthians 15:35-41

People of God, we return to our series on I Corinthians 15. One of the great accomplishments of John Calvin was his preaching ministry in Strasbourg in 1539. Many of us today still look to find brilliant analysis of different passages in Calvin’s commentaries, which were the fruit of many years of careful biblical study. Calvin left Strasbourg in 1539 in the middle of his preaching ministry, and returned in 1541. On his first Sunday back to the pulpit he picked up exactly where he left off a couple years earlier.

Your task is not as complicated. It has been a month since we last discussed I Corinthians 15, and we are going to pick up exactly where I left off in verse 35.

Let’s begin by summarizing our text.

Chapter 15 may appear to be an abrupt change of subject matter of the previous 14 chapters, but Paul is very purposeful. In essence, he is saying: “What is the use of any of these instructions? What is the use of discipline, what is the purpose of tongues in the church, of order and decency, community, love, and gifts if there is no resurrection?” More

Baptism for the Dead

Paul’s “baptism for the dead” language in I Corinthians 15:29 has been the source of enormous headache for exegetes. Gordon Fee does a superb job in elaborating the different possibilities. He concurs that the most natural textual reading implies that “some Corinthians are being baptized, apparently vicariously, in behalf of some people who have already died” (764). The problem with this is that there is no biblical or historical precedent for this, and further, that “there is no known practices in any of the other churches nor in any orthodox Christian community in the centuries that immediately follow; nor are there parallels or precedents in pagan religion.”

Fee’s conclusion is a humble one at the end of his lengthy analysis: “But finally we must admit that we simply do not know” (767). Whatever the conclusion one may reach, it is clear that Paul saw this as “highest expression of absurdity.”

Fourth Sunday of Easter: The Empty Threat of Death, Part III, I Corinthians 15:20-28

First Sermon

Second Sermon

People of God, this is the Fourth Sunday of Resurrection! We are still immersed in this season of joy and celebration. And we have chosen I Corinthians 15 as the background theme to this feast. Why? Because the resurrection is God’s response to death and Caesar. God does not make false promises. He fulfills His creation purpose: to renew all things and to make the Light the center of His universe. Namely, that Light is Jesus. The Light is so powerful that the darkness of the tomb cannot contain it.

The great Princeton Seminary professor, B.B. Warfield, enjoyed saying to his students: “Gentlemen, I like the supernatural.[1] We are believers in a supernatural God who made an unknown tomb to be the center of a supernatural faith.

Out of this empty tomb God is making something new. We call it the New Creation . This New Creation  was not the invention of man; it was the entrance of God’s kingdom into this world. It was not the Church that created a story to keep their dying faith alive, it was the resurrection of Christ that created and sustained the Church. As F.F. Bruce wrote:

“The early Christians did not believe in the resurrection because they could not find his dead body. They believed because they did find a living Christ.[2]

The tomb is empty because the threats of death are empty. And this is the apostolic goal in this chapter: to re-affirm and to revel in the resurrection of the Messiah. More

Third Sunday of Resurrection: I Corinthians 15:12-19,The Empty Threat of Death, Part II

People of God, this is the Third Sunday of Resurrection! We will continue our study through Paul’s narrative in I Corinthians 15. This is Paul’s resurrection magnum opus; it is the Bible’s greatest treatment of the bodily resurrection of Jesus, the Messiah.

This new creation, this new Church has its root in this glorious event in history. The Church did not create the resurrection story, the reality is the resurrection of Christ created the Church.[1]As F.F. Bruce once stated:

“The early Christians did not believe in the resurrection because they could not find his dead body. They believed because they did find a living Christ.”[2]

The tomb is empty because the threats of death are empty. In fact, the threats of death are so foolish that Paul goes so far as to taunt and mock death at the end of this chapter: “O Death, where is your victory? O grave, where is your sting?”[3]  Paul is pushing the idea that if there is no resurrection, then death will have the final word. In fact, I Corinthians 15 is structured in a way that explains this resurrection theme through various perspectives and angles. “Christ is risen, so we have hope.” “Christ is risen, so you may live a resurrected life.” “Christ is risen, so you are no longer in your sins.” These are the implications of the resurrection. This is why Paul takes such time and care to teach this immature congregation in Corinth why the resurrection is central. More

Communion Meditation: The Table of Joy

The Resurrection of Jesus created this newly gathered body, called the Church. Of course, the Church has existed since the Garden, but never has the Church possessed such glory, such overflowing joy, and such unity than when she was bathed in the Resurrection waters. The Old Church needed a thorough cleansing, and from the empty tomb flowed these rivers of life that begins this washing and cleansing of Christ’s Bride. Christ was raised for the sake of His Bride and World.

This meal is a continual celebration of the empty tomb. This is why this is a table of joy. The last Supper is now replaced with a new Supper each time we meet. And because this is a new meal it never becomes bitter to our taste. His mercies are new each time we gather as Resurrected people.Come and eat.

Future Bodily Resurrection

According to St. Paul, without the resurrection, everything is futile (mataia). But the opposite is also true. If you deny that there is a future bodily resurrection, then you cannot claim that Jesus rose bodily from the dead, and your faith is also futile. Messiah’s resurrection implies the corporate bodily resurrection. N.T. Wright summarizes succinctly:

To deny the future resurrection would entail the denial of the Messiah’s resurrection, which in turn would undermine Christian faith (The Resurrection of the Son of God, 331).