Our Future Hope Gives Us Reason to Work Today

Take note of the last lines of 1 Corinthians 15. In this chapter, Paul has gone on and on about the resurrection of Jesus and how our faith hangs upon that fact. Because Jesus lives we are assured a blessed future. Our weak and corruptible bodies will be transformed in a flash. Because Jesus lives, so will we. But that future tense doesn’t mean the Christian life is gazing off on the horizon. We do look ahead and can sing a triumphant song, as Paul does, because in Christ we have the victory. But in Christ we still live our lives in the present. Paul writes:

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

He says “therefore” showing that this line is building upon the truth of the resurrection and our future hope. Because we will be made new in Christ, we now work for the Lord in all we do. The Christian hope does not remove our responsibilities for this life. Rather it should give us all the more reason to work for Christ’s kingdom today, knowing that such labor will never be in vain.

Questioning the Resurrection of the Dead

Continuing the topic of resurrection in chapter 15, Paul voices some of the questions or objections that he has heard to this fantastic notion of the dead being raised. Some have asked how this happens? If in fact it does happen, what sort of body will they have?

Paul uses several mini-parables to answer this, looking at seeds, animals, and celestial bodies. Even with his concise illustrations this can still be a difficult passage. Or maybe I should say, of course it is a difficult passage. Resurrection is not an easy thing to believe in. In a very literal sense, it’s not natural for us. Nature allows for birth and death, but no more. The resurrection is supernatural.

For such an amazing concept, maybe watching a short video will help. Here’s NT Wright on resurrection and its understanding in the first century. It’s not very long (6 min), but it is part of a much longer video, if you’re feeling adventurous.

But thanks be to God for the victory we have in Jesus Christ

We’re back to having a Bible visualization this week. (I’m still trying to catch up on last week.) 1 Corinthians 15 is a powerful chapter on the resurrection of Jesus Christ and what that means for us as well. Paul puts it succinctly near the end as he lays out a great contrast. We all face death and are under the power of sin. The law could do nothing to save us from such a fate. Then Paul uses that wonderful, good news-filled, gracious phrase: but God. Or at least in this section, “but thanks be to God.” Death is not the end nor does sin have the power. God, through Jesus Christ, gives us the victory over such things in his death and resurrection.

 Memory Verse for 1 Cor 15.56-57

Call for questions on 1 Corinthians 14:26-15:34

I have been gone quite a bit over the last two weeks and have not managed to do much more than put up the Bible study handouts for the readings. In the meantime we’ve had some great bits in 1 Corinthians and rather than brush over them and move right along to what we’ll start tomorrow, I wanted to put out a call for any questions. Was there some standout part of these last two weeks of readings that you have a question about? Was there something that you weren’t quite sure about? Maybe you just want to see if there is more to know about a section that you’ve always liked.

I can’t do it all this week, but I’d love to have a few suggestions that can be addressed. So if you have one–go back and see if you had something underlined or had written in a little question mark in the margins–let me know. Either email me, leave it in the comments, or some other third way of reaching me. I look forward to the feedback!

What is of first importance in 1 Corinthians 15

Paul structures the section we read this week in two parts, and the second flows from the first. First we look to Jesus Christ and his resurrection. Paul mentions what here is of "first importance." These are core events to the Christian faith, and without them–without Christ then the we would have nothing else. But since we do have such a hope that has been passed on to Paul, to the Corinthians, and through generations to us, then we see in what follows that Christ’s resurrection provides a way for our resurrection.

Christ’s resurrection is like the bottom Jenga piece that if you remove, everything else falls apart. If Christ is not raised from the dead, as Paul writes, "we are of all people most to be pitied."