September 29, 2014
I Corinthians 15:12-19
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
An Enigma is “a perplexing or baffling matter….” – Webster. And the Enigma of the Gospel is its simplicity and its complexity, at the same time!
The last point about the importance of the resurrection I want to make is that which Paul wrote in I Corinthians 15:12-19:
Now if Christ is preached that He has been raise from the dead, how do
some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if
there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if
Christ is not risen, then our preaching is vain, and your faith is also vain.
Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified
of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up — if in fact
the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then is not Christ risen.
And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!
Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this
life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most miserable.
In the very next verse, I Corinthians 15:20, Paul exclaims, “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Here is what Proverbs 3:9 and 10 says about firstfruits: “Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.” The first offering goes to God – with the expectation that He will bless you and give you a whole lot more!
Jesus – being the firstfruits of the resurrection – is the guarantee that there are a whole lot of other people who will be resurrected! This is plainly stated in I Corinthians 15:23: “Christ the firstfruits, afterwards those who are Christ’s at His coming.” So, the logical negative argument is as it says in I Corinthians 15:14 and 15: “…if Christ is not risen…the dead do not rise.”
There are several things that come out of Paul’s argument in our scripture: “…if…there is no resurrection of the dead…” (I Corinthians 15:12)…
• …if that part of the gospel is false, what part can we trust to be true?! The resurrection is presented as an essential part of the gospel! (Romans 10:9).
• …God and the whole Bible then cannot be trusted to be true! (John 3:33; 14:6; 17:17).
• …if Jesus was not raised, He died a tragic death as a common man! Our sins are not then expiated, and we remain condemned and lost before the Holy God! (I Corinthians 15:14).
• …there is no hope of new eternal bodies that are pain free, sorrow free, and death free! (I Corinthians 15:44 through 57; Philippians 3:20 and 21; I John 3:2; Revelation 21: 3 through 5).
• …we will never see our believing loved ones again, because “…those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.” (I Corinthians 15:18).
• …we Christians are depending on empty promises with an empty faith because we will simply remain dead – eternally! (Revelation 21:8).
• …we are deceived by a deceitful message, and we then spread that deceit to others when we witness to the gospel! (I Corinthians 15:15).
• …“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” (I Corinthians 15:19).
• …“Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” (Isaiah 22:13; I Corinthians 15:32).
“But now Christ is risen from the dead…”! (I Corinthians 15:20). It is true! God and the Bible can be trusted! Jesus was not just a common man! Our sins are gone when we trust in Him! We are not condemned! We do have the hope of new bodies! We will see our believing loved ones again! We are not depending on empty promises with an empty faith! We are not deceived! We are not most pitiable! It is not just all about this life!
Certainly, this study of Gospel Enigma is not exhaustive. But perhaps you can see in some ways how the simple gospel is also very complex! So go and share the gospel simply. And when more complex questions arise, be ready to give an explanation!