Lesson Nine – The Resurrection of the Dead

The Resurrection of the Dead

Lesson Text:  I Cor. 15:1-58.

Introduction

“Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken a stand.”  I Cor. 15:1.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according the Scriptures.  I Cor. 15:3, 4

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?  I Cor. 15:12

This is the final topic Paul will review and teach for the church in the I Corinthian letter.  Please review the literary analysis in Part II, Lesson Five, see Introduction.

There are three eschatological doctrines in chapter fifteen that will be considered in this lesson:

  1. How did Satan get the power of death over humanity?  Please review Part II, Lesson One.
  2. What will be the nature of the body faithful Christians will receive for our resurrected “self?”  See my book entitled The Kingdom of God, Part VI, Lesson Two, or log onto the Website,  http://www.whydidgodcreateyou.com
  3. How does the church of God relate to the kingdom Jesus will turn back to God?   See “The Kingdom of God” book, Part VI, Introduction.

Lesson

Questions about the resurrection of the dead are the beginning of “other world” thinking for most people.  They ask other questions; Is there something going on we cannot perceive by sight?  Is there truth?  How can I know?  What will happen after death?  The answer to these and other speculations is defined as a person’s “world view.”  Everybody has one, although they may not be fully aware of its force on their behavior.  Unless they have accepted by faith a “resurrection from the dead” plan for their spirits, they do not have satisfaction for one of their strongest God-given needs – security.  This need is manifested in a new born baby just after he or she has been pushed from the safety of its mother’s womb.  The proud parents immediately spring into action and for several years make every provision possible for the satisfaction of their child’s need for security.  The Bible offers the answer for all peoples’ speculations about the meaning of life and death.  Jesus came that we might have both grace and truth (John 1:17).  However, many people prefer to remain speculators “because their deeds were evil.”  John 3:19.  They don’t ask God the things He has prepared for the satisfaction of their inherent needs (Jas. 4:2).

Paul commented, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.”  I Cor. 15:19.  In context, he is saying to Christians, If after having faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we decide there is no life after death, we are to be pitied because we will live the remainder of our lives like everyone else.  We will not have a program to satisfy our higher needs (I Pet. 1:7).  The mature people in the world do not have a program to satisfy their need for security.  Although this will have a great effect on their decision making, they may not be aware of the reason for these decisions.  The following are the Hebrew writer’s comments on the sad case of people who do not live with a hope of the resurrection of the dead.

Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.  Heb. 2:14, 15

They must live with the fear of death.  This fear robs people of courage to live a full, interesting and happy life.  How did Satan attain the power of death over “the first man Adam (who) became a living being” and all other living souls?  Satan assumed the role of a crafty schemer and deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:1-6; II Cor. 2:11; 11:3).  Adam listened to his wife and got the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 3:7, 17, 22).  They became aware they were naked but they also became aware of what is good and evil.  Sin is lawlessness.  The law Adam and Eve broke was imbedded in the covenant God gave them (Gen. 2:15).  Sin and death entered the world through one man.  Death passed to all mature people because all sinned (Rom. 5:12-14).

Why do all sin?  The answer is, because we all have the knowledge of good and evil.  This spiritual death process does not happen until the maturation of a person’s inner man.  Maturity means youths’ hearts, minds and consciences mature along with their bodies.  The personality of each person begins to develop on the “path of learning” they choose to attain the satisfaction for security and other innate needs.  See my book entitled, The Sermon on the Mount, Part I, Lesson One.  There is a growth process of children before an adolescent youth “knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right.”  Isaiah 7:15, 16.

At some point, which they will understand, an adolescent will begin to hold mind court on themselves (Rom. 2:14, 15).  When, not if, they violate their lists of good and evil, they will pronounce their behavior as guilty.  They have been compiling their lists since they can remember.  Guilt becomes a for their consciences.  Their guilt of sin will separate them from God.  They will have died spiritually.  “The sting of death is sin.”  I Cor. 15:56.  Death is a low quality of human existence in Satan’s kingdom (I Cor. 5:5).  “Sin reigns in death.”  Rom. 5:21.

God is presently “not wanting anyone to perish.”  II Pet. 3:9.  So Paul, with the help of Jesus via the Holy Spirit worked it all out for those of us who want to listen in I Cor. 15:20-23.  Please study this scripture and meditate about the content.  Those who do not accept the content in faith do not have an adequate support program for their safety needs.  The following are the details:

“The first man Adam became a living soul, the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.”  I Cor. 15:45.  Adam was the pattern of the incarnate Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth (Rom. 5:14).  The “last Adam,” the One who came, is Jesus Christ.

The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.  The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.  As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.  I Cor. 15:46-48  

The foregoing scripture is the theology of “In Adam/in Christ.”  This is the reality of human life after the fall of man (Rom. 8:18-21).  The truth is, “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”  I Cor. 15:22.   All mature people have died spiritually and all, including Christians, will die physically.  The grace is, “Yet to all who receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.”  John 1:12.  Christians who function in the body of Christ are heavenly things (Eph. 2:6; Heb. 9:23).  The church of God in Christ is also the “heavenly Jerusalem.”  Heb. 12:22, 23.

God has made use of only one prototype for mankind, Adam;   “From one man He made every nation of men.”  Acts 17:26.  God outfitted Jesus with an “in Adam” body when He became incarnate.  See His genealogy in Luke 3:23, 38.  Adam is the person from whom mankind inherited our great endowment of awareness (Rom. 5:14).  We became like God in this respect.  The problem is Deity can choose good in every encounter, but we cannot.   Jesus came to earth to teach and demonstrate what the truth is about good and evil in relation to the law of life in the new covenant.  The grace of the cross is also offered in this covenant (Heb. 10:16, 17; Matt. 26:28).  We have understood how Satan got the power of death and we also learned how Jesus freed Christians from the devil’s power.

Armed with the theology of “in Adam/in Christ,” we are prepared to think about, meditate on and accept the reality of our very own physical death.  Immature youth and Christians’ spirits are alive because of righteousness.  We are in fellowship with God, our Father, in Christ; however, we live in bodies sentenced to death because of sin (Gen. 2:17; Rom. 8:10).  “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes through a man.”  I Cor. 15:20, 21.  Both physical and spiritual death came through Adam.  Christians’ spiritual life and our resurrection from physical death will come through the incarnate Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth (I Pet. 1:3-5).  The only question left is what will our spiritual bodies be like?  The Apostle John gave the following answer:

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.  But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.  I John 3:2

 We know who Jesus Christ is and we can know the details about His character and personality by traveling with Him in the gospels.  Each of His encounters while on earth revealed both Him and our Father (John 14:8-11).  What we don’t know about is His body.  Paul described the theology of the resurrection of dead Christians’ body for the Corinthians and us:

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead.  The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.  If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.  I Cor. 15:42-44

We are surely impressed with the foregoing description of the resurrected body.  One question may still remain for some of us.  Will it be the same me, with some notable distractions eliminated, in this imperishable, glorious, powerful spiritual body?  For a divine answer, please carefully read II Cor. 5:1-10.  Paul presented a Christian’s transition of bodies in a personal manner.  It is me in this earthly tent and it will be me in my eternal house.  Please note two conditions presented in this scripture.  One, God “has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”  We have God’s guarantee of a new body but only if we are in fellowship with the Holy Spirit at the time of our death (Rom. 8:9-11).  Then there is the matter about our appearing “before the Judgment seat of Christ” to discuss the “things done while in the body.”  II Cor. 5:10.

With all of this in order, we will receive our spiritual eternal bodies just like the one Jesus now enjoys.  But this is just the beginning of our lives with God (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17; 3:5, 11, 12, 21).  We also receive our inheritance of eternal life and the kingdom of God (Matt. 19:29; 25:34).  Our faith in the inheritance of God’s kingdom and the life therein transcends all other theologies offered to Christians.  Our present goal is glory, honor and immortality.  Our inheritance will satisfy these innate needs with glory, honor and peace (Rom. 2:7, 10).  We are not just going to heaven, we inherit it.  Our inheritance was Paul’s last great sales pitch for being happy about Christians’ physical death.

I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  Listen, I tell you a mystery: we will not all sleep, but we will be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump.  I Cor. 15:50, 51

 Now that we understand about our resurrection we are prepared to talk about “suffering as a Christian while dying.”  Christians will all die, unless Jesus comes first.  So we need to prepare ourselves to die bravely; otherwise, there may be no value in the suffering we may be called upon to endure.  The question is not will I die, but will the manner in which I die have meaning?  The Apostle Paul asked for the prayers of the Philippians to help him die bravely.  He believed that if he died bravely it would give glory to God by encouraging others to preach the word of God.  See Philippians 1:12, 20.  He learned this from Jesus (John 17:1-3).  Suffering bravely in death may be the last sermon we have the opportunity to preach.  We will not be free of fear about our physical death until we have faith that it is the first step God has arranged through Jesus for our eternal security.

The nations that make up the world realm are now using an unprecedented amount of wealth under the banner of “security.”  Fear of death robs people and nations of the courage to live effective and productive lives.  Fear makes it difficult to love (I John 4:18).  People who have not learned to love their enemies feel they must subdue or kill them because of their own fear of death.  God’s love is able to help people who are not able to give something in return.  God is love and His forgiveness should stimulate this same love in every believer (Matt. 5:43-48).

How does the church of God relate to the kingdom Jesus will turn back to God?  This is the third eschatological doctrine we need to understand.  We cannot have faith in what we do not understand.  Because of the needs God created in us, our faith will be in what we believe will satisfy these innate needs. If we don’t have faith in what we have learned in this lesson we will look elsewhere for security that gives peace, glory and honor.  We will not find it; therefore, we will live the remainder of our lives in the fear of death.  Please read I Cor. 15:24-28 and review Part IV, Lesson Seven.  Note the following points:

  1. Jesus Christ has been given all power in heaven and earth but God did not put Himself under the authority of Jesus (Matt. 28:16).  Jesus has been given the authority within the sphere of God’s eternal kingdom to harvest for God the fruit from the universe mankind inhabits.  Jesus’ kingdom exists for developing children for God’s eternal kingdom.  When scriptures speak of the kingdom of Christ, we need to think about the purpose of His rule in relation to God’s heavenly kingdom.  There is only one kingdom (Eph. 5:5).
  2. Jesus built His church for the purpose of bringing to God the sole purpose of His creation of mankind (Matt. 16:18; II Cor. 6:18; Rom. 8:28-30).  This program was fully inaugurated by God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in Acts chapter two.
  3. Paul went about preaching the sphere of God’s kingdom over which Jesus has been given authority (Acts 20:25).  He preached it in the city of Corinth in Achaia (I Cor. 15:1; II Cor. 1:1).  The people who accepted and obeyed the call of the gospel became the “called out” of Satan’s kingdom in the world realm and they were transferred into God’s kingdom (Acts 26:18; Col. 1:13).  These Christians were the church of God in Corinth who received these letters.
  4. These Christians knew they were all going to die; however, somebody was preaching the old atheistic Sadducees’ doctrine of no resurrection from the dead (Luke 20:27; Acts 4:2; I Cor. 15:12).  This was the task of the theology Paul wrote about in the text of this lesson.  When we do historical analysis and understand the intended task of the letter, we can better understand the theology presented for Christians in the document we are studying.
  5. Once Christians leave our bodies the concept of the church is a subject that belongs only to history in time.  Now we stand together in a close knit communion but once we die this concept will be finished.   Paul did not say the church would be turned back to God.
  6. The kingdom will be turned back to God (I Cor. 15:24).  Who are these people in the kingdom?  They are the church members who Jesus will have judged to be worthy of our inheritance and new body.  Those who are faithful sons and daughters of God for the remainder of our physical lives will inherit our new non-gender body.  Jesus will turn back to God faithful members of the church of God in a new body.  There will be no reason for marriage in heaven (Luke 20:34-36).  The concept of both church and male and female people will have passed away.
  7. “When He has done this, then the Son Himself will be made subject to Him who put everything under Him, so that God may be all in all.”  I Cor. 15:28.  This should settle the trinity concept for those like to talk about Deity.

Questions for Discussion

  1. How does our “world view” impact our behavior, if indeed it does?
  2. If the Corinthian church members had given up their faith in their resurrection and new body, which of their inherent needs would they not have had an adequate program to satisfy?
  3. Name the culprit that makes people cowards.
  4. Write a short paragraph about how Satan got the power of death.
  5. Who is the “last Adam,” the “One who is to come?”
  6. What is the truth all mature people need to know about his or her life and death?
  7. After a person knows the truth about life and death, why do they need grace?
  8. When is a mature person prepared to seriously and deeply think about their physical death?
  9. What is a simple answer to the question; what kind of body will faithful Christians receive?
  10. II Cor. 5:1-10 helps Christians view our transition from our present body to our resurrected body.  We understand there are two conditions for receiving our new body.  Name them.
  11. How does the church of God relate to the kingdom Jesus will turn back to God?
  12. Do you feel more secure after a study of I Corinthians chapter fifteen?

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