April 19, 2020
Why the Resurrection Matters – 1 Corinthians 15:20-28, 54-58
Minister Avery Ford
For the first time in my life and perhaps in the history of the United States, churches were closed on Easter Sunday. The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the American landscape in nearly every area the US. At first, the restriction seemed only to affect the more social types in the communities, with the closing of bars, clubs, and other nightlife activities. Then in a matter of weeks nonessential industries were forced to shut down or enable their employees to work from home. Seniors and other susceptible groups were told to stay home. Panic began to set in as Walmart and other grocery stores shelves were left all but completely bare.
Who would’ve thought toilet paper would be in such demand!
I first noticed hysteria when I stopped to pick up some donuts before Sunday school at Publix. I couldn’t believe the lines. People had full grocery carts at 9am and every checkout line had 3 to 4 people waiting. Praise God for the woman that must’ve read my face and allowed me to get in front of her. I pondered what happened during my ride to church but it wasn’t until during Sunday school that I realized the reason for the crowd.
What does all that have to do with why the resurrection matters?
Well COVID-19 is a sign of the times, but the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, is the sign of all times. Think about it, our historical record literally begins with the death and resurrection of Jesus. Approximately 2020 years ago Christ raised from the dead.
Let’s look at the Scriptures in today’s lesson.
1 Corinthians 15:20-28
20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.
28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
In this text Paul make some pretty large claims and uses logic to draw some radical conclusions. Let’s back up a bit to verse one of chapter 15. Paul states that he declared the gospel, that is “good news”, to the church at Corinth. And that the Corinthian’s believed the gospel that he preached. He then appeals to the intellect by challenging their faith with a logical argument. Paul frames the argument and all that matters, which is salvation.
Saved from what, they say…
Saved from what, they say, saved from the penalty of sin which is death and hell to be specific. Hell being eternal separation from God. Stated plainly Paul said “if Christ be not risen” his preaching, and ours, “be in vain.” That means that every effort to live for Christ by doing what the Bible says would be meaningless.
Let me say it this way, if the resurrection didn’t happen, then what are we doing? Everything that matters like salvation through belief in the completed work of the cross is of no value. It’s a complete waste of time and energy.
The resurrection of Christ means everything!
For us that believe that Christ paid the price for our sins, his resurrection is our only hope of salvation. When we recognize that our individual sin, not the fallen nature of man, renders us hopeless to stand before a Holy God in judgment. A sense of despair sets in. It’s plain to see that all our good deeds, adherence to religious practices do nothing to deter the impending doom at judgement.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Works alone won’t work!
We can never do enough good to outweigh all the wrongs done. We must put our complete hope and trust in the resurrection. If Christ’s resurrection is but an idle tail we might as well put our trust in Aesop’s fables, where lies are used to teach virtue and truth.
Simply put this cannot be!
The foundation of our whole faith rests in the fact that Christ raised from the dead with the keys to death, hell, and the grave. Hallelujah!!!
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
We can be free from the penalty of sin through faith in his name. And this, only because God excepted his death as a ransom or payment form for our sin. Salvation comes when we believe this. Let say that again, Salvation comes when we believe this.
Jesus did not just swoop in and pay our fee and swoop out with a random act of kindness. He made it possible for each of us to have a personal relationship with him. The intimate nature of his character is contained in the scripture, from Genesis to Revelation.
Let us consider the remaining scriptures in today’s lesson.
1 Corinthians 15:54-58
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
So, Christ didn’t die so that we could build churches or houses. Or so that we could be rich and drive fancy cars. He wasn’t “Paying it Forward” or performing a random act of kindness. Neither did he die, so that he could be our Genie in a bottle. Like a creator that exist to serve his creation. Christ died, so that we could be with him throughout all eternity! To God be all the glory for his grace and kindness towards us, forever and ever, AMEN!