I Corinthians 15:35-58

Dr. Steve Viars September 5, 1992 1 Corinthians 15:35-58

- "There is a preacher of the old school but he speaks as
boldly as ever.
- He is not popular, though the world is his parish and he
travels every part of the globe and speaks in every
- He visits the poor, calls upon the rich, preaches to people
of every religion and no religion, and the subject of his
sermon is always the same.
- He is a very eloquent preacher, often stirring feelings
which no other preacher could, and bringing tears to eyes
that never weep.
- His arguments none are able to refute, nor is there any
heart that has remained unmoved by the force of his
- He shatters life with his message. Most people hate him,
everyone fears him.
- His name?.. Death... Every tombstone is his pulpit, every
newspaper prints his text, and someday every one of you
will be his sermon.

- that’s the subject we've been studying the past few Sunday
- What's the Christian's view of death?
- What's the Christian's view of the resurrection?

- Tonight we're going to look at the third part of Paul's
discussion on this subject in I Corinthians 15 - I'd
invite you to turn there in your Bibles.

- in these messages, we're talking about developing our
understanding of the resurrection and living accordingly.
- I'm sure that practically everybody here tonight
believes in the resurrection of our Lord, and you
believe in the resurrection of Christians.
- but the question is - Are we seeking to develop that
- This is the longest chapter in the book of I
Corinthians and it's the most detailed discussion
of this subject anywhere in God's Word.
- we have to be asking ourselves:
- are we going to be satisfied with our current
level of knowledge on this subject
- or we going to try to develop our
understanding by studying these verses
- and then work hard at making the life changes
that a fuller understanding would require?

- Paul gave us two major new ideas in the verses we looked at
last week.

- He said - Understand the order of the resurrection
beginning in verse 20. (I don't think we think about that
as often as we should)
- Christ is the first fruits.
- therefore, His resurrection guarantees ours
- when we think about the resurrection of our Lord, we
ought to automatically think of our own resurrection

- We are living between two Easters, and we're not
benefiting in the all the ways the Lord intended from
this critical doctrine unless we've connected those
two critical ideas in our minds.
- he also said - Understand the climax of the resurrection
beginning in verse 24.
- Our resurrected Savior will redeem this earth.
- He will establish a kingdom here on this earth.
- that kingdom, after all its enemies are conquered and
righteousness and truth have prevailed in the name of
- that kingdom will be presented to the Father.

- the resurrection has a climax--and you and I are personally
related to the One Who shall be victorious.

- now in tonight's verses, Paul is going is going to respond
to some questions the Corinthians had about this doctrine.
- READ 35-43

- Paul is saying in this first part of the passage that:

I. Your Faith In The Resurrection Reveals Your View of God

- Apparently, the Corinthians had:

A. The Corinthian's questions (in a minute we'll show how
they were really objections)

1. How are the dead raised? (How could that be

2. What kind of body will they have?

- IF these questions would have been asked
innocently, they would have been good questions.

- all of us would wonder what the resurrected body
will be like.
- remember, we're not talking about the spirit--our
spirits go to their eternal destinies immediately
at death. (we gave some passages last week that
teach that)
- but there's still nothing wrong with innocently
wondering what our resurrected bodies will be

- that's especially true because there were a
couple of "ditches" that people of that day
tended to fall into on this subject.

1) That the resurrected body is the same body
that was laid in the grave, just
reconstituted in some way.

- one of the Jewish apocraphal books said -
"the earth shall at the resurrection assuredly restore the
dead, it shall make no change in form, but as it has
received so shall it restore."

- the other ditch would be:

2) The resurrected body will be totally unrelated to
the original one.

- so you wouldn't be able to tell one person from
another or their identity on earth would be totally unrelated
to their identity in heaven.

- the point I'm making is - There are some questions that
naturally come up about this subject
- Now the Lord may not decide to answer any of those
questions but the questions are not wrong in of
- questions are good and no one in Scripture is ever
reprimanded because they asked an innocent question.

- but that’s obviously not what's happening here.
- INPUT - how do we know that? (because of Paul's response)

- "You Fool!"

- not because they didn't know the answer.

- we're not talking about innocent questions from people
who sincerely wanted to know.
- we're talking about mocking taunts from people who
thought they already knew.

- see, sometimes our questions reveal something about our
hearts...about our attitudes...about our views.

- see, Paul's talking to people who were saying about the
resurrection of people: (sarcastically)
- "How could God do that?" "That’s impossible" --
- "That’s more than I can understand or explain therefore
it couldn't possible be true."

- Paul says - You fools!
- Now, I don't think we get the full impact of that because
we see it as words on a page.
- But imagine what it was like the day the church got this
letter from Paul and it was read before the entire
congregation publicly.

- The assigned reader reads these two questions:
- How are the dead raised?
- What kind of body will they have?

- You can almost picture some proud individual, or in this
splintered church - some proud group of individuals
lifting up their heads as if to say - "Those were my
questions - I bet that really stumped him"
- then the next words out of the readers mouth - "You fools"

- see, why such a stern rebuke?
- Because your faith in the resurrection reveals your view
of God.
- let's think about this question for a minute tonight:
INPUT - What are some of the things about the
instantaneous resurrection of all believers in Christ who
have been saved from Pentecost to the Rapture that would
make that procedure difficult to accomplish, and
therefore difficult to believe?
- see, the point is this:
- we can't fault the Corinthians for their view of the
magnitude of the PROBLEM.
- any human organizational effort would pale by

- think of what it would take to organize the Olympics.
- or the relief effort for the hurricane victims
- or what it would take to count all the votes in
the upcoming elections.

- its almost foolish to compare that to the instantaneous
resurrection of all believers in Christ from Pentecost to
the Rapture.
- So there's nothing wrong with the Corinthian's view of the
magnitude of the problem.


- see, there's no problem that's too big for the Lord to
- there's no project that would be overwhelming to the
army of heaven.
- our God is great, all-knowing, all-powerful
- theologians speak of the "immensity" of God
- and the doctrine of the resurrection of believers proves
how great and powerful our lord really is.

- one of the questions the Corinthians had to wrestle with
was - "Is your God great enough to resurrect the dead - or
do your questions and your doubts reveal a wrong view of

- Can I ask you tonight - How great is the God you serve?

- Think of the biggest problem you're facing tonight and
then compare it to the problems involved in the
resurrection of believers.
- All (I'm purposely using a 100% word) of our problems
pale in comparison.
- I didn't say the problems were small.
- there are people in this auditorium going through
deep waters.
- some have faced great difficulties in the past.
- still others will face them in the future.

- the question is - what does your response to those problems
reveal about your view of God?

- our God is a God of answers. He is a God of solutions.
- Do you believe that tonight?
- Does your response to trouble reveal that view of God?

- I think we need to add this.
- Not only does our Lord have answers - He has given us
those answers in His Word.

- Praise the Lord that our Bibles are sufficient.
- they have all we need for life and godliness.

- Can I ask you tonight - Is that where you're going for
your answers?
- the Corinthians were called fools because they
believed there were problems God couldn't solve.
- What would you and I be called after our view of God
was revealed by our response to problems?

- see, who do you turn to for answers and direction?
- where do you turn for solutions and guidance?

- there was a heresy in the early church that has existed in
different forms all through church history called
- among other things - the gnostics taught that there was
a special sphere of knowledge available only to the
enlightened few.
- the gnostics tried to intimidate everyone else in the
church with their special sphere of knowledge.

- there are many today who, by their actions, are
every bit as bad as the Corinthians.
- the Bible doesn't haven't it all.
- God can't help that one.

- we're not talking about things that can be proven in a
laboratory -- but many Christians look at many of the
problems of life--then look at their resources in Christ,
and conclude - "I can't handle that one, I can't handle
that one."

- My child has ADD - we can't handle this
- My husband's a kleptomaniac
- My wife's got anxiety attacks (SOME FAMILY, HUH?)

- but some believers are living paralyzed lives because
they've convinced themselves: "I can't handle that
- all I've got is the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God
- what in the word do you want me to accomplish with

- others are handling those problems with methods other than
the Word of God.

- see, all of us have to ask tonight - How Much UNLIKE The
Corinthians really are we?
- Does the way we respond to problems reveal that we
believe our God is great--and He can solve any
- and therefore we run to HIM and to His Word for
guidance and answers?

- see, your faith in the resurrection reveals your view of

- now I hope no one here tonight would say - "My view of God
is perfect."
- I never struggle with worry, fear, anxiety
- My view of God and His resources are always right where
they need to be.
- wait a minute - there's no super saints around here
- we're all just growing
- that's why I like this next point that Paul makes:

II. Your Understanding Of The Resurrection Can Help Change
Your View Of God

- it's amazing, but after this strong rebuke, Paul turns
around and answers the questions.
- which is a demonstration of the grace of our Lord Who
is willing to give truth to people even when the
search is less than perfect.
- so Paul says: "Let me answer those questions:
1) how are the dead raised
2) what kind of body will they have?

- Paul wants us take these additional ideas about our
resurrected bodies and CONSIDER what this says about our
- He didn't want the Corinthians to remain in their FOOLISH
state, and he wants OUR VIEW of our God to be developing
as well.

- Paul first answers these questions by giving:

A. An illustration from farming -- READ second half of 36

1. seed has to die - READ 37

2. plant that grows is significantly different than
the seed that was planted

- in other words - you don't see farmers in the
spring planting full corn stalks in the ground.
- after the seed is planted and dies, what grows
is significantly different.
- READ 38 (especially second half - "to every seed
it's own body"

3. there are still similarities

- that's the balancing point - what grows is
significantly different--but there's still
- when you plant corn seeds, you get corn plants
- when you plant bean seeds, you get beans

- Paul says - that's exactly like our resurrected bodies
- he's not telling us about farming because he thinks we
might want to go into agriculture some day
- he's saying - the process of a plant growing is a good
illustration of what our resurrected bodies will be

- and see, that helps us to avoid the two ditches we
mentioned earlier
- our resurrected body will not just be a reconstituted
physical body -- it's significantly different
- we'll study some of those differences in a minute.

- but there are still similarities
- you and I will still be you and I

- so the overall point is - the Lord has this all planned
- he has a specially designed resurrected body that is
substantially different than our current bodies
- yet will still retain some of our personal

- (now I realize some of you might say - Boy PV, we were
hoping you wouldn't be so ugly in heaven)

- See, God has all of this planned

- now before we move further in the passage, let's stop and
ask ourselves this question:
- What do these truths about the resurrection tell us
about our God?

- one of the answers is--name the person, name the year,
name the issue, name the circumstance, YOU NAME IT--

- this letter to the Corinthians was written approximately
1935 years ago--yet the Lord already had the plan for our
resurrected bodies in place.
- we can all mark it down--if He's got the future of our dead
physical bodies planned--He's got every other facet of
our lives marked down as well.

- And I think we need to say tonight - We don't always act
like we believe that.
- I wonder if part of the reason for that is that we don't
always plan very well.
- sometimes things kind of sneak up on us.

- have you realized that your anniversary was that day,
and you didn't have anything planned?
- have you ever had someone come to your office for an
appointment and you realized you forgot to write it in
your appointment book?
- have you ever been taken by surprise in the marketplace
because you didn't plan very well?

- All of us "drop the ball" from the time.

- But listen - That gives us no right to assume this is
also true of God.
- you say - "I would never think that"
- Oh, sometimes we act as if we think that

- in fact, sometimes our response to situations reveals that
we think the Lord has completely forgotten about us.
- or that He'd be completely shocked if he knew what was
happening to us today.

- As if our Lord is sitting on His heavenly throne and an
angel comes running in, saying "Lord, so and so just lost
their job--or so and so is facing a tough trial"
- and the Lord says "Noooo!"

- you say, that picture's almost blasphemous, and it is
- but some of us expose that view of God by the way we
respond to difficulties.

- See, if the Lord has a plan for your physical body after
you're dead, you can bet He has a plan for your physical
body, and every other facet of your life, while you're

- the Lord's not going to reveal the future plan for our
individual lives.

- But the fact that that plan exists ought to do some
things to us:

1) It ought to help us focus on our responsibilities
"Be not anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow
will be anxious for the things of itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own."

- sometimes we get so busy worrying about the
future that we fail to accomplish what God
wants us to accomplish today.

- it would be like you and your family driving home.
- the kids are in the back seat and you ask them to pick
up the mess they've made before you get home.
- but your eight year old, instead of working on his job,
keeps poking his head up to the front seat.

- He's saying things like
"We're going the wrong way, daddy"
"We're going too slow, daddy"
"We're getting low on gas, daddy"

- and all the time he's ignoring what he's
supposed to be doing in the back seat.

- all of a sudden, he lunges forward, grabs the wheel, and
says, "Daddy, just let me drive"

- now, hopefully all of us would have done something long
before the situation got to that point
- but the message to the child would be:
- "You take care of what you're supposed to be doing,
and I'll take care of the wheel."

- that's exactly what the Lord would say to us.
- the material we're reading about here concerning the
resurrection of our bodies proves that He's got
everything planned
- the question is - "Are we going to get busy doing what
He's given us to do today ACCORDING TO HIS WORD, and
trust Him with the wheel?"

- Many of you cringed when I was describing this hypothetical
eight year old and rightly so.
- some of you even were thinking things like: "Why I'd
take that little nipper and give him the..."

- Wait a minute - sometimes you and I act a lot like that
little nipper.
- because we're not trusting the Lord with the plan.

- now, the objection Paul is assuming the Corinthians would
have to all of this is:
- How will the Lord come up with a different kind of body
or flesh?
- that’s what these next verses are addressing: READ 39-
beginning of 42.

- point is:

B. The resurrected body will just be another example of the
long and varied list of things God has already created.

- so in other words - for anyone who would wonder - How's
the Lord going to be able to come up with a new kind of
body -- a resurrected body
- Paul's answer is - "It's no big deal...not for our
Creator God."

- look at the variety He's already made

- different kinds of earthly bodies-vs. 39
- different kinds of heavenly bodies - vs. 40
- each having different glory in verse 41

- scientists tell us that there are 600 octodecillion
different combinations of amino acids
- each kind of plant, and animal, has its own unique
- each combination can be identified with its own
species or kind
- 600 octodecillion different combinations

- an octodecillion is 10 to the 108th power (10
with 108 zeros behind it)

- the point is - for anyone who would doubt God's ability to
design this wonderful resurrected body
- Paul would say--where have you been

- look at all the variety in creation already

- see, some folks have such a small view of the Lord
- it's almost as if they have this picture in their minds
- the Lord goes to the angel who's in charge of "Body
design" and He says -- It's time to design the
resurrected body

- the angel gets a ghastly look on his face (if that's
possible for an angel)
- he says - Lord-the stock is really low

- so they go rummaging through the warehouse looking for a
new design.
- how about this bird design?--no, we've already used
- rhinoceros?--no, we've used this one.

- it's almost as if some folks have the view that the Lord
just couldn't come up with a new resurrected body for
- the whole idea of a bodily resurrection is just
incomprehensible -- therefore its not possible

- Paul says - If you believe in a Creator God--the
resurrected body...though it will be fantastic, and
wonderful, and marvelous - it will still be just another
in the long list of awe-inspiring works of our God.

- see, the problem with many folks, even believers, is that
they tend to only believe things--or act on things that
they can totally explain, or totally understand.

- when you take that position to its logical conclusion, life
would be miserable if our existence was limited to what we
can explain.
- think about that -- if I could flip a switch--and
immediately your entire existence would be limited to
things you can explain.
- think for a minute in your mind about what that would
be like

- do you what would happen?
- First, it would be dark
- because no one in this building can fully explain
- some would probably do a better job of it than
others -- but no one can fully explain how it
works --SO ITS DARK

- Second--you're outside
- because no one here can fully explain all the laws
that keep this building up.
- you might know some engineering and construction
principles--but can you explain what holds the wood
in these beams together?
- Can you explain gravity and why we're not
floating around right now?

- now that pretty glum, but it gets worse
- we're also dead
- because there's a lot about our physical bodies that
can't be explained.
- Can you explain how your body took your Sunday lunch and
changed it into energy to get you here to church
- please don't say - well, the food went into my
stomach and then into my intestines...
- that answers "what"
- I'm asking how does that happen
- and how, as you grow and develop, do your
intestines know to grow to be bigger intestines?
- how come they don't turn into feet or hands?

- I'm simply saying--if you keep asking the question
"how does that happen"--it's not going to be long, for even
the most educated person here to say "I don't know"

- the problem with some of the Corinthians was--if it didn't
make sense to them--then it couldn't possible be so.
- now I'm not arguing for a mindless Christianity where we
don't think, and use the minds God gave us.

- but the thoughts of the Lord are not our thoughts, and His
ways not His ways.

- Just as silly and gloomy as a person's realty being
limited to what he/she can explain
- is the life of a Christian who will only believe or
act on ideas that make sense to Him.
- there are many things about living for God that I can't
fully understand.
- I don't fully understand how God's Word is alive, and
powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword
- but I know I need to read it and study it and apply it

- I don't fully understand how the Holy Spirit ministers
in my heart and life
- but I know I need to study what God's Word says
about that ministry - and I need to submit myself to
and be in cooperation with that supernatural work.

- I don't fully understand how returning good will
overcome evil. That doesn't fully make sense to me.
- but i know I better get busy doing what God has

- I don't fully understand the working of God in the
heart of a person who doesn't know Christ
- but I know I better get busy witnessing.

- see, Paul wants us to benefit from this doctrine of the
resurrection by developing the way we think about it, and
the way we appreciate it, and the way we simply stand in
awe of our God
- Who can do things, and will do things, and is doing
things that we can't fully understand.

- Lord help us to be people who will say:
- I will believe what God has revealed in His Word.
- I will act on what God has revealed in Word
- regardless of whether I can fully explain it or not.

- now Paul goes on and adds some more truth in these next
verses: He says:

C. There are many contrasts between our present bodies and
our resurrection bodies.

- INPUT - what's the contrast is verse 42?

1. perishable/imperishable (KJV corruptible/incorruptible)

- Please don't overstate this one. Paul's not saying--
our bodies are evil.
- but he is being realistic.
- our bodies are weak--they're dying. (could develop)

- INPUT - What is the contrast in the first half of verse

2. sown in dishonor/raised in glory.

- as much as its right and good to show proper
respect for a dead person's body.
- it's still dishonorable in the sense that death
has rendered that body unable to accomplish the
purposes for which it was designed.
(could develope - John's statement - we shall be
like Him.)
- INPUT - what's the contrast at the end of verse 43?

3. sown in weakness/raised in power

- go to the funeral of the strongest man in the
world-=that body is still weak.

- the last contrast in verse 44

4. sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body

- we can rejoice tonight, that because of our
relationship with Christ, we will live in a
resurrected body

- these minds, that have often thought things that
were displeasing to God, will be freed from the
power of sin.

- these tongues, that have often said things that
were unkind, or untrue will be freed and able to
perfectly praise, perfectly worship, and
perfectly sing.

- these bodies will be freed from the curse of sin.

- You remember that Benjamin Franklin was a printer by trade.
He had these words engraved on his tombstone:
- "The body of Franklin, printer, like the cover of an
old book,
- Its contents torn out and stripped of its lettering
and gilding, lies here food for the worms.
- But the work will not be lost, for it will appear
once more in a new and more elegant edition,
revised and corrected by the Author."

- we've been talking about applications as we've moved down
through the verses, but let me mention a couple more
specific ones:

III. A Right View Of God (After Studying the Resurrection)
Will Include:

A. A growing understanding of ourselves

- here's what I mean
- this doctrine has a way of putting us in our place

- when we reflect on all the planning, power, purpose
involved in the resurrection of believers -- it
helps us put anything we've accomplished as humans
in perspective.

- some of us need that
- some of us can get pretty "full of ourselves"

- some of you work in professions where that could
easily be a temptation.

- I look at those big engines coming out of
Caterpillar -- and think about all that must go
into building something like that and say--that's

- some of you work in medical fields and its
absolutely amazing what God under common grace has
allowed man to achieve.
- it's amazing.

- others work with computers and you can enter a list
of figures in that machine and it calculates them

- point is - many here tonight work in fields where the human
advancements and developments are impressive.

- but that has a "down-side"
- because if we're not careful, that can result in pride

- It can also result in self-sufficiency
- there are many in our community who are so "full of
themselves" that they think they don't need need God
- You may be here tonight and you've lived that way your
whole life

The Lord wants the doctrine of the resurrection to
help you put your own abilities/achievements in the
right perspective
- and then turn to Christ as Lord and Savior

- We're studying the resurrection of believers who have died
- but the Bible also teaches about the resurrection of

- unbelievers don't just cease to exist
- the Bible doesn't teach annihilationism

- the resurrection of unbelievers will be the exact
opposite of everything we've studied tonight

- instead of everlasting life -- it will be everlasting
death -- complete and absolute separation from God
- instead of everlasting joy, it will be everlasting
- instead of enjoying an eternal relationship with God
because our sins have been paid for and forgiven,
unbelievers will face an eternity of judgement
because they must pay the price of sin themselves.

- see, this doctrine ought to shake people out of self-

- this doctrine can help believers in this area, too.
- some folks who call themselves believers are pretty full of
- and there's no time for God
- no time for His Word
- no time for His church
- no time for His people
- always dashing off to build this monument or that

- after studying this doctrine, the Lord would want us to
list our greatest of accomplishments and then write over
"You ain't seen nothing, yet."

- Studying the resurrection helps put us in our place.

- A right view of God after studying this subject will also
result in:

B. Magnifying Him

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and five grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video