A SURE HOPE
To you Lord Jesus, the One whose name is above every name, I offer my praise and thanksgiving today.
Read 1 CORINTHIANS 15:12-24
The Resurrection of the Dead
12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
What do you ‘hope’ for? Praise God that the Christian hope is sure and certain, based on the unfailing promises of his Word.
In former periods, Christians thought much about the end times. Some of this thinking was speculative and unhelpful. Understandably, this led others to shy away from an interest in Christ’s return and the events which will surround it. It’s important to avoid divisive and pointless speculation, but it’s also vital that we properly consider the return of Christ. The Bible gives us a sure way forward.
Let’s join some of the dots of Paul’s thinking. First, we see that Christ is risen from the dead, the ‘firstfruits’ of those who have ‘fallen asleep’ (v 20). ‘Firstfruits’ is an agricultural term drawn from the Old Testament. It denotes the first yield of the harvest with the rich promise of more to come.1 Next, if we have put our trust in Jesus we are now ‘in Christ’ (v 18). As time passes some of these believers die but some remain alive. Now to the central point. Christ will return, the dead in Christ will be raised (or, in the imagery of this passage, those who have ‘fallen asleep’ will awake) (vs 13,20). Then those still alive will also be transformed (cf v 52). This is part of the big story of Scripture, the grand narrative that reminds us what has already happened and shows us what will surely come.
Knowing this enables us to live with great hope. Verse 19 puts it negatively: if this isn’t true we are to be pitied indeed. Positively, if it is true (and it is!) what a sure hope we have. For Paul this hope is so real it breaks through into his present and infuses everything he does with life. If we truly appreciate what God will do and live in the light of it, our discipleship will also be characterized by such life and hope.
How can this sure hope mark you out as different as you go about your work today? How can it free you from despair, fear and half-heartedness?
Father God, I thank you for the living hope I have through the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. I’m grateful I can live fully now and one day I will live forever.
1 E.g. Deut 26:1–11
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