Points Covered: This sermon ‘The purpose of Resurrection’ details how a man has to live since the resurrection of the dead is a reality. Man’s response to the resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:29-34 29Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? 30And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? 31I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 34Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.
Open your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 15. The first 28 verses in this chapter says since Christ rose from the grave we will also rise up with glorified bodies in the trumpet call of God. Resurrection was the confidence of the saints throughout the Scripture. Job who suffered so greatly, endured that suffering, never had his faith falter. He said: Job 15:13 Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.
Job 19:26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God.
We know that when Jesus went on the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appeared with him. It was a declaration by God about those men after they had died physically; but God was still their God because they were still alive in His presence.
It was the resurrection hope that caused Stephen to offer himself to be stoned to death. Acts 7:59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” It was the resurrection hope by which Andrew was martyred by being tied to a cross and left for days to die, Peter crucified upside-down, and James beheaded.
Now religion promises life after death. The terrorists are living in the delusion that if they kill infidels, and in the process, take their own life, they’re going to end up with seventy-two virgins in some special place in heaven where all the virgins will be waiting for them on green pillows to satisfy them forever. A lie right out of hell, by the way, but a lie for which many gives their lives.
The truth is only in Christ. We can live our lives in anticipation of resurrection. We know that we are promised personal rewards. We know there is a crown of life, a crown of righteousness, a crown of rejoicing, that’ll be granted to us personally. So, there is a resurrection and there is hope for the believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.
How to live in light of the resurrection?
Now, in 1 Corinthians 15:29-34, Paul gives us 3 motivations because of the resurrection.
1. To be Saved.
1 Corinthians 15:29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?
The first motivation is that we are baptized because of the resurrection. I am saved and I am baptized because I hope that I will be raised again in the trumpet call of God. The act of proclaiming one’s union with Christ done in response to saving faith, the believer who has put his trust in Christ goes through an immersion as the symbol of His death, burial and resurrection in Christ. This is so synonymous with Christianity that baptism actually became a synonym for salvation.
In the Great Commission at the end of the gospel of Matthew our Lord says this: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” That is the evangelistic effort. it assumes faith in Christ. Baptism was so inseparable from saving faith that it is spoken of in its place.
The same thing happens in Ephesians 4:5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism. So we’re talking about Christian baptism here, the baptism of believers. Since there is a resurrection, we get baptized to join the Kingdom of God.
And what does it mean that believers are baptized for the dead? This means: “What will those do who are baptized because of the dead?” Why would anybody be baptized because of a dead person?
There are plenty of people who came to faith in Christ by reading something written by someone who is dead, or by recalling a testimony given by someone who is now dead – a parent, a friend – or even by the influence of the testimony of someone dying who is now dead.
Some people are being saved and baptized, entering the family of God because of the influence of believers who are dead. That could mean three things. That could mean, Number One, because of the testimony of believers who’ve gone before; the testimony of believers that we know who face death, secondly; and, thirdly, because of the promise of a reunion.
The hope of the resurrection and the reunion that follows resurrection is an incentive to salvation. Some are baptized because of the hope of reunion with those people who are dead.
Hebrews 11 gives us the list of a lot of dead people whose testimony is a motive to faith in Christ. This chapter talks about Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses. Then he comes down to Rahab the harlot, then Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, was righteous, and obtained promises of God.
These people are all dead. They all lived a life of faith looking for a resurrection. They experienced chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, ill-treated, tempted, some were put to death by the sword. Why did they do this, some all the way to death? It is because they knew there was a better resurrection. They are the dead who give us a picture of the life of faith.
Hebrews 12:22-24 22But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant.
Hebrews 12:2 ..fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. How Jesus faced death is how many saints faced death, looking for a better life, an afterlife, resurrection life.
Paul’s point is this: “If the dead don’t rise, then what’s the point of all these testimonies? Then what is the point of the reunion promises?” Reunion is a strong, strong incentive to salvation.
David in 2 Samuel 12, when the little baby conceived in his sin by Bathsheba died, you remember David’s reaction. David was sorrowful, sad, weeping, crying over the death of this baby, until the baby died. And when the baby died, David washed his face, cleaned up, wiped away his tears and said, “I will go to him.” He’s not talking about being buried in the same cemetery, he’s talking about a reunion: “I will go to him.”
When his adult son Absalom, who basically fomented a rebellion against him died getting his hair caught in a tree and being slaughtered, David couldn’t be consoled. It was impossible to console him, because he knew he’d never see him again, never because he was going to hell.
Paul says in writing to the Thessalonians, “Who is our hope or hope or joy or crown of exaltation? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming. You are our glory and joy.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 13Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. We’re all going to meet together again. This is reunion.
Resurrection, life after death has always been an incentive for people to come to Christ. How many have come to Christ by watching someone die and seeing their faith in the face of death? So, there is life after death, there is a hope for reunion so all must be saved and baptized.
2. To Serve.
1 Corinthians 15:30-32 30And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? 31I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
If there’s no resurrection, there’s no motive for service. There is no motive for a believer’s sacrificial work the Lord. Paul served in the boldest way. He identified himself as a soldier, a warrior, a boxer, a wrestler, and a runner. Paul and the other apostles basically lived their entire life in danger.
1 Corinthians 15:31 I face death every day. Paul is telling that because of his faith he suffers and his life is in danger every day. 1 Corinthians 15:32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? In Acts 19:23 Paul was in Ephesus. Because of Paul’s teaching, a considerable number of people turned from idols. Demetrius, the silversmith lost business and he gathered the other craftsmen were filled with rage. They began crying out, saying, ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’ The city was filled with confusion. They rushed with one accord into the theater where Paul was and dragged Paul along with Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia.
Is it that sort of metaphoric wild beasts, or was there some other time when he actually was thrown into an arena with wild beasts? Could be either. There is a legend that and maybe it’s borrowed from Daniel that Paul was put in an arena with wild beasts, and the wild beasts treated him the same way the lions treated Daniel; they just sat there and never attacked. The word used here is the kind of description that we see connected to the gladiators who fought the lions in the arena. We don’t know. Whatever it is, Paul says, “Why am I doing this? Why am I living every day on the edge? “Hey, if there’s no resurrection, if I don’t exist in the future, then why am I doing this?”
2 Corinthians 5:1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Another eternal body, a resurrection body. But if there’s no resurrection, there’s no incentive for service.
There’s a third incentive that Paul mentions, because of the resurrection we should be motivated to be holy.
3. To be Sanctified.
1 Corinthians 15:33-34 33Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 34Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.
“Do not be misled or deceived” is a very common NT warning: It could be read, “Stop being deceived. Bad company corrupts good morals.” It’s basic meaning is association, communion. It has reference to marital intimacy. It has overtones of seduction and even sexual behavior.
You must know this: bad associations, bad friends, exposure to seductive content, exposure to bad teaching, bad theology corrupts good character.
What kind of associations are we talking about? The answer comes in Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, not stands in the path of sinners, not sits in the seat of the scornful. Bad doctrine, bad perceptions, bad information corrupts good morals. And here is some bad information: There is no resurrection. That corrupts good morals.
1 John 3:2-3 2Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
The hope of resurrection reunion with Christ is a purifying hope. 1 Corinthians 15:34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.
If you’re following these people who are completely ignorant of God and you’re following their bad theology, stop. Wrong doctrine produces evil behavior.
A metaphor for that is seen every day in the news. When riots happen in any city and the people know that the police can’t stop them, they tear the place down, because they know there will be no consequences. The ultimate consequence, of course, for the unbeliever is hell; the ultimate hope for the believer is heaven. Both of those lay a heavy, heavy claim on how we live our lives.
1 Corinthians 15:34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.
Conclusion: Is there life after death? Of course, there is. There is a resurrection. There is a going to be a reunion with our loved ones. So how do I live? First I give my life to the Lord and I be baptized to join Christ and his universal church. Secondly, I will live for the Lord. I will do service for Jesus with suffering and even martyrdom. I will serve God even with my money belongs because there is a resurrection. Thirdly, to be holy is my goal because I will be rewarded eternally. Anything less than this is a shameful deception.