I Corinthians 15:1-19

Steve Viars August 22, 1992 1 Corinthians 15:1-19

- tonight we're going to be beginning the last major section
  in the book of I Corinthians--I Cor. 15
- this is Paul's famous discussion of the resurrection and
   it's by far the most comprehensive treatment of this
   subject anywhere in God's Word.

- I think it's very appropriate that we be studying the
  resurrection now for at least two reasons.
    1) it's appropriate because of where we are in our
        calendar.

       - you may remember that about 5 months ago, at Easter
         time, I was saying that I'd hoped we would be at
         chapter 15 by Easter because it would be so natural
         to study these ideas at Easter.
       - of course that date came and went, and even though
         we peaked ahead for one message at chapter 15:58,
         we've had a lot of other important material in the
         book to cover before we could get here.

       - but the more I think about that, the more I think--
         that's good.
           - it's good that we're going to do a thorough
              study of the resurrection of our Savior at the
              opposite end of the calendar from the regular
              Easter Season.

    - and all of us know why--believers in Christ celebrate
      Easter every day.
    - our faith is centered on the fact that our Savior
        conquered death and is alive.
    - that's why we gather to worship and study and
      fellowship every Sunday
         - because that's the same day Jesus rose

    - our music has a heavy emphasis on the resurrection
    - every time a person is baptized, they're picturing the
       death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and
       declaring publicly that that's their only hope of
       heaven.

    - every time we gather for the Lord's table--we're
       celebrating -- not just his death and burial
        - but His resurrection
           - the fact that the price He paid by dying was
              acceptable to the Father--and therefore He was
               raised from the dead.

- so for a believer in Christ, in some real senses--
    it's Easter everyday.

- but that view of life doesn't come naturally
   - in fact, it often happens in stages

   - after a person is saved, often their minds have to be
      de-junked of all the secular ideas about Easter.
        - where we go from the bunnies and the eggs to a
          focus on the significance of that holiday.
- that’s a significant step for some folks.

- but surely the next step is having a growing appreciation
   for the resurrection of Christ each and everyday
    - it's critical that we be growing in this area.

    - young people who have a growing appreciation for the
        resurrection of Christ are better prepared to handle
        the pressures of a new school year.
    - spouses who have a growing focus on this critical
        doctrine are going to be better husbands and wives.
    - parents will be better parents
    - workers will be workers
    - witnesses will be better witnesses

- see, show me a person who has a growing understanding of
   appreciation for our Savior's resurrection and I'll show
   you a person who's in the best possible position to grow
   in other critical areas of their walk with Christ.

- so really what I'm saying is--instead of blaming poor old
   Pastor Viars for the length of this series and the fact
   that we're studying the traditionally spring topic in the
   middle of August
      --we ought to be thankful for the added spiritual
        benefit we'll all derive from the way this study fell
        on all calendar.

2) It’s also appropriate that we study this topic, not just
    because of where we are in the calendar, but where we are
    in this study on I Corinthians.
    - let me ask you to think about that for a minute:
    - INPUT - why is it good and why does it give you hope
        that after everything else we've studying, Paul
        concludes this book with a study of the resurrection?

      1. Only those who have been served by the resurrection
         power of Christ can "pull off" what Paul has
         commanded in this book.

      2. The simplicity of the gospel and the unity it brings
         is so different from the confusion and division that
         was taking place because of wrong doctrine and wrong
         behavior in the Corinthian church.

- in fact, I'm just going to say it before someone else does.
    - driving into chapter 15 is like driving from Gary into
       Lowell
         - it's a breath of fresh air.

- Paul has rightly been dealing with some knotty problems in
   these preceding chapters, but now he's going to refresh
   us with a treatment of one of the most important doctrines
   in the Bible, the doctrine of the resurrection.

- let's read the first 11 verses, and then we'll talk about
   how we're going to study this passage tonight
- READ 1-11

- in these verses, and we're going to be including verses 12-
   19 a little later, Paul is giving us reasons why we ought
   to believe in the resurrection.
- the reason that we've just been reading about is:

I. Believe In the Resurrection Because of the Overwhelming
   Testimony.  - vv. 1-11

    - this doctrine isn't based on a few obscure verses or
      the testimony of one or two people.
    - Paul says - let me show you all the evidence.

    - you know that in a court of law, the case rises or
      falls, at least in principle, on the evidence.
    - the prosecutor lays out all his evidence, and exhibits,
        and witnesses.
          - then the defending attorney lays out all his
            evidence, exhibits, and witnesses.

- the case, rises or falls, on the evidence.

- Paul says, let me show you the evidence of the truth of the
   resurrection.
- the first one is more implied than directly stated, but
    it's important:

    A. the testimony of the church - vv. 1-2

        - Paul calls them brethren in verse 1
        - he affirms that they received the gospel in verse
            1, and that they have been saved in verse 2

        - now he does say that there may be people in the
          church who are not genuinely saved.
        - that possibility existed in their church just like
          in any other.
            - if a person denied the resurrection, it proves
              their faith was never genuine.

- but Paul clearly believes, even though the church had a lot
   of problems and had a lot of changing to do
     - there were many folks in this church who were genuine
       believers.

     - you remember some of those great words in chapter 6,
       where he gave a whole of people who would not inherit
       the kingdom of God
          - fornicators, idolators, adulterers, effeminate,
            homosexuals...etc.
          - and then he looked right at the Corinthians and
            do you remember what he said?

       - such were some of you! - but you're washed,
         sanctified, and you're justified in the name of the
         Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.

- point is this - the only way you can explain the church of
   Jesus Christ that has existed now for nearly twenty
   centuries is that our Savior is alive!

    - who else could transform idolators, drunkards, thieves,
      adulterers and every other kind of wicked person into a
      community of redeemed, changing people?
        - the answer is -- our risen Savior.

    - who else could have transformed a small group of
      frightened, discouraged disciples into an army of
      witnesses that turned the world upside down with the
      truth of the gospel?
        - our living Savior!

- one church historian said it this way:
   "It was the conviction of the resurrection of Jesus which
lifted his followers out of despair into which his death had
cast them and which led to the perpetuation of a movement
begun by him. But for their profound belief that the
crucified had risen from the dead and they had seen him and
talked with him, the death of Jesus and even Jesus Himself,
would probably have been all but forgotten.

- another line of evidence is:

    B. The Testimony of the Scriptures - vv. 3-4

        -  Paul gives us in these verses one of the most
           succinct statements of the gospel as any passage
           in Scripture.
        -  some folks refer to these verses as the "gospel
           in a nutshell"

        - the good news is that Christ died, was buried, and
          was raised from the dead
            - what makes it good news is that this was done
              "for our sins"

        - but what Paul emphasizes in both verses is - "this
          was according to the Scriptures"
            - in this case--the Old Testament Scriptures

        - we could spend the rest of our time tonight looking
          at verses that go along with this point.
        - instead, I'd like us to look at two, and then we'll
          suggest additional ones for your personal study:

        - Luke 24:25-27 - READ

        - Acts 26:22-23 - READ

    - point is - we ought to believe in the resurrection
       because this idea is woven throughout all of
       Scripture.

     - in your notes we've given you a number of other
        passages, many from the OT itself, that go along with
        this idea.

        - Job 19:26, cf. Ps. 17:15
        - Dan. 12:2
        - Psalm 16:8-11, cf. Acts 2:25-28
        - Psalm 22:22 ff, cf. Heb. 2:12
        - Psalm 2:7, cf. Acts 13:32-33
        - Genesis 22:8, 14
        - Isaiah 53
        - Hosea 6:2
        - Ez. 37:1-14


- point is - we ought to believe in the resurrection because
    of the testimony of the church, and the overwhelming
    testimony of the Scripture.

- INPUT - what is the next line of evidence given in verse
    5-7?

    C. Testimony of the eyewitnesses - vv. 5-7

        - our Risen Lord appeared to Peter, to the twelve, to
           the over 500 brethren, and to James.
        - Many of those people were still alive, and their
           testimony was all the same.

        - Historian Thomas Arnold of Oxford said this about
           this evidence:
"The evidence for our Lord's life and death and resurrection
may be and often has been shown to be satisfactory.
Thousands and tens of thousands of persons have gone through
it piece by piece as carefully as every judge summing up an
important case. I know of no one fact in the history of
mankind which is better proved by fuller evidence than the
great sign that God has given us that Christ died and rose
again from the dead."

- Paul says - look at the church, look at the Scriptures,
   look at the eyewitnesses
      - there ought to be no doubt in our minds about the
          truth of the resurrection.

- what's the last line of evidence he gives in verses 8-10?

    D. Testimony of the special witness - vv. 8-10

        - Paul's last line of evidence is - "Look at me"
           - there's no way you can explain the apostle
             Paul's life short of a miraculous work by a
             Savior who's alive.

             - his view of his own SIN changed
                - he went from being self-righteous, to
                  recognizing the depth of his need
             - his character changed
                - he went from being a persecutor of the
                  church to being the church's greatest ally
             - the direction of his energy changed
                - he went from zealously opposing Christ's
                    church to zealously serving it.

- so we ought to believe in the resurrection because of the
   overwhelming evidence
      - the testimony of the church, testimony of the
         Scriptures, the testimony of the eyewitnesses,
         testimony of Paul himself

- now you might say, but PV, we DO believe in the
   resurrection!
- that's good and that's right
- but Paul didn't give this material because the Corinthians
   didn't believe in the resurrection of our Lord
    - he said in verse 1 - "you received the gospel", "You're
      standing in these truths."
- the reason he's giving it is found in verse 12 - READ

- some folks in the church, though they believed our Lord was
   raised from the dead, they were questioning whether
   believers would ever be raised from the dead.
- there were some philosophical reasons in their culture that
    would have led them to have trouble believing in a bodily
    resurrection of people, but I don't think we need to get
    into that tonight

- Instead, I think we need to see that what Paul is going to
   do in verses 13-19 is tell us the terrible consequences of
   not believing in the resurrection of people.

- a good question to ask at this point would be - PV, how
    does this apply to me and what should I be working
    on as a result of these verses?

- here's the direction I'd like us to go now:

- Paul's going to give these ideas in the negative - "here's
   the terrible consequences of not believing in the
   resurrection"
- but each of these truths has a positive side as well.
    - and that’s where the application to us becomes evident.

- in other words--if you don't believe in the future
    resurrection of people--here's the terrible negative
    consequences
       - BUT--if you do believe it--and are growing in that
          belief
            - here are some of the positive results that
              ought to be becoming more and more evident in
              your life.


- first, Paul gives us the theological consequences of not
   believing in the resurrection:

II. Believe In the Resurrection Because of the Theological
      Consequences of not Doing So - vv. 13-19

    - read 13

    - now the first theological consequence is obvious:
       - if a person doesn't believe in the resurrection of
          people, then our Lord couldn't have been raised
          because He was a man.

    A. (Our Lord couldn't have been raised) - vv. 13, 16

        - but let's turn that around
        - you and I do believe in the resurrection of people
           - we do believe that Christians are going to be
             raised to everlasting glory and that unbelievers
             are going to be raised to everlasting judgement

- therefore, there ought to be clear evidence in your life
    and mine that we are serving a Savior who's alive

- Can I ask you tonight - is that evidence there?

   - when you're tempted to "lash out" at the person who was
      mean to you--do you remember that your Savior is alive
      and therefore return good for evil?

   - young people--when you get to school and your faith is
       challenged---are you going to respond in a way that
       shows the genuineness of your faith in the
       resurrection?

   - when you face a trial and you feel like giving up, do
      you keep doing what's right because you know that our
      Lord is alive, and He's promised to bless you in the
      doing of the deed?

- I've been doing some reading in the book of Ezekiel
    - at the beginning of the book God reveals himself to
       Ezekiel in the form of a vision.
    - part of that vision pictures the Lord with rotating
        rings covered with eyes.

   - Time magazine, by the way, said in a recent issue that
     Ezekiel's vision was doe to his schizophrenia, and the
     new drugs on the market today could have cured him.

   - but we believe that vision was picturing a very
     important truth about our Lord -- his omnipresence
   - our Lord is aware of everything that is happening
        to us, and everything that we are doing in response

   - our Savior is alive
       - that truth ought to be a great comfort to us, and a
          great challenge.

- a second negative consequence of not believing in the
   resurrection is found in verses 14-15.  (READ)

    B. All witnesses and preachers of the resurrection are
        liars.  - vv. 14, 15

        - that's a very strong point
        - if there's no resurrection, then you surely
            wouldn't want to perpetuate that lie.
          - you wouldn't tell your children
          - you wouldn't tell your friends and co-workers
            - Paul's right - if there's no resurrection
                - anybody who witnesses, anybody who preaches
                   about it--is a false witness

    - no tell me - what's the other side of that
        - people who have a firm and growing belief in the
           resurrection are going to what?
             (they'll be convinced of the truth of their
              message and they'll tell everybody they know)

    - see, why did our young people spend the better part of
       the other Saturday washing cars for free with the
       hopes that that might start a relationship with
       someone and lead to an opportunity to share Christ?

        - I hope the answer to that question, in part, is
          because they believe that Jesus is alive, and they
          want to tell others about Him.
- why will many couples go over to Purdue Married housing in
   a week or so and knock on the doors of strangers inviting
   them to church?
     - because we serve a risen Savior

- why are people trying to build bridges to their neighbors,
  and praying regularly for those around who don't know
  Christ?
- why do we want to give generously so that missionaries can
    be sent around the world to share the gospel?

- the answer to all of these questions is what we're studying
    tonight -- because of the resurrection?

- Can I ask you - what do your witnessing habits reveal about
    the depth, and the sincerity of your belief in this
    critical doctrine?

  - see, I've been stating this positively, and rightly so--
     there's a lot of positive things happening--
     - but you might be here tonight and would have to say
       - I've let some real opportunities go by this summer
           -I could have talked to a family member when we
             were home visiting, and I didn't
           - I could have reached out to a neighbor, and I
             didn't
           - I've been embarrassed about getting involved in
             in some of these outreach ministries

- some here tonight may need to say--though I believe in the
   resurrection -- that belief has not been nearly as evident
   on a day to day basis as it should have been.

- see, we ought to believe in the resurrection because of the
    theological consequences of not doing so.

- the last point Paul makes in these verses is that we ought
    to believe in this doctrine because of the personal
    consequences of not doing so.


III. Believe In the Resurrection Because of the Personal
      Consequences of Not Doing So

- INPUT - what's the first consequence found at the end of
    verse 17?

    A. We would still be "in our sins"

        - now let me ask you to think about that for a minute
          - what would it be like if we were still "in our
            sins?"

          - of course Paul's not setting up a contrast
            between being "in our sins" or having "sinless
            perfection"
          - the contrast is between "our current relationship
              to sin as believers" or "the relationship we
              had to sin as unbelievers"

- Can you imagine what your life would be like today if you
   were still "in your sins"
      - where your sin had not been forgiven
      - where you were still a slave to sin
- not using specifics, but let's "bat that around" for a
     minute.
- how would you complete this statement:
    If we were still in our sins, __________

- let me give a couple just to get us going:
    1) If we were still in our sins, our marriages would be
       in deep trouble, and some of them would be dissolved.

    2) If we were still in our sins, we wouldn't have the
         right and the privilege to pray.

INPUT - now how would you complete that statement?

 

- see, the point is - it would be a terrible thing if we were
   still "in our sins."
- let me ask you to turn over to Romans 4:24-25 (READ)

- Paul says – it’s essential that we believe in the
   resurrection, because if we don't--we're still in our sins

- now let's turn this around--because this one is very
   important

- the other side of this is:  People with a genuine and
    growing belief in the resurrection have a new mindset
    toward sin.

- let's put that in the form of a question--if a person
    believes in the resurrection of Christ--how should that
    affect his view of sin?

- let me suggest a few answers and then we'll open it up for
   your input:

    1) a growing love for God because of the forgiveness He's
       granted.

       - John said it this way--We love Him because He first
          loved us.
       - folks who really believe that our sin has been
          forgiven because of the death of our risen Lord are
          overwhelmed by the price that was paid.
       - we want to learn more and more how to love the Lord
         our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength
         because of the forgiveness He's granted.

       - Isn't this true--one of the signs of immaturity is
         failing to recognize how much things are worth, and
         how much they cost the person who gave it.

           - when I was growing up, I used to always complain
             unless the Ice Cream my mom bought was Breyers

           - you know when my taste changed?  When I got
              married and had to start buying it myself!
              I've been eating the bargain brand ever since.
- some believers don't seem to appreciate the great price
  that was paid so they would no longer be liable for their
  sin.
- another result is:

    2) a growing confidence that sinful habits can be handled

        - see, why is it that many folks here tonight could
          say - "the Lord has helped me whip this habit, or
          that habit--and now I'm working on this or that?"
        - the answer is because of a firm belief in the
           resurrection.

        - hopefully every married person here tonight would
          say
            - we're committed to this marriage
            - sure, we've got things that still have to be
                ironed out
            - we'll have other problems come up down the road
                that we'll have to solve when they happen
            - but we've got hope because we're no longer
                slaves to sin

- we're talking about spiritual optimism when it comes to sin
- people who have the right kind of spiritual optimism are
   evidencing the right view of the resurrection

   - Praise the Lord we're not still "in our sins"

- another result is:

    3) A growing standard for purity of the church in general
        and our church in particular.

        - see, isn't this true - in some churches, it's just
            assumed that the average person isn't going to be
            growing.
        - it's acceptable for husbands not to be leading
            their families spiritually
        - it's assumed that everybody gossips about everybody
            else
        - it's assumed that the young people are going to
            fall away from the Lord in their teenage years

        - churches like that, (and there are many), though
           they may say in their doctrinal statements that
           they believe in the resurrection--
             - when it comes right down to it - their
               practice makes it appear that they don't.
             - and as a result--people are still in their
               sins, and that doesn't seem to bother folks
               too much.

- this is one of the main ideas we're trying to get across
   tonight.
     - you know we're not talking about sinless perfection.
        - BUT THE RESURRECTION IS MORE THAN AN ANCIENT
          DOCTRINE TO BE BELIEVED IN SOME INTELLECTUAL WAY
            - the resurrection has contemporary applications
               for us individually and as a group.

- as we think about the future if the Lord tarries
    - the kind of church we want to be ought not just to
      include numbers and graphs
        - it ought to include lifestyle and holiness
    - because of the resurrection, we ought to be "aiming
      high" in terms of our standards for purity.

    - that means we're going to obey the Bible by
       "stimulating one another to love and good works."
         - our relationships with one another will include
           more than just "superficial chit-chat"
         - our ministry to one another will have a heavy
            emphasis on discipleship and growth

         - none of this "boys will be boys" mentality or "you
            can't teach an old dog new tricks"

- churches that believe in the resurrection believe that
    we're no longer "in our sins"
      - and we can be taking substantial steps of growth

- that affects our relationships to other churches as well

    - there's too much of a pessimistic attitude toward the
      church at large today.
    - "we need revival" and "the church is anemic" and all
        the rest

       - those statements may be true but the question is -
         what are we going to do about that as a church?

           - are we going to throw the concept of the church
             away and come up with a new organization?
           - are we going to become cynical and proud
           - are we going to hold on tight and wait for the
             rapture?

           - see, what impact should a firm belief in the
             resurrection have on our view of other churches?

           - the answer ought to be - there's great hope for
             the church.
              - churches can become more effective.
              - churches can grow in their appreciation for
                  the sufficiency of the Scriptures.
              - the future of the church is bright in the
                  sense that genuine believers are no longer
                  in their sins.

- and that's affected us so we're saying:
    - we're going to try to have an impact on other churches.
    - we're going to have a missionary conference-yes it
        takes a lot of work by everyone in the church
          - but we're going to do it--because we have hope
             for the church.

    - we're going to try to have a ministry to pastors and
       churches through our training programs.
    - we're not going to "whine" if someone like Doc Smith
       is gone for a while because we have a vision of
        helping and ministering to other churches.


- Why? - because we believe our Savior is alive.
       - we believe He is building His church.
       - and if we can have a positive impact on the church-
           building process, we're going to do it
           wholeheartedly, and with energy and enthusiasm--
           because we believe in the resurrection and all of
           it's implications.

- OTHER INPUT?


    - so one personal implications of not believing in the
      resurrection is that we'd still be in our sins
    - another personal implication is found in verse 18:
       (READ)

    B. The dead in Christ would be perished

        - if there's no resurrection, then our Lord wasn't
          raised
            - and every believer who has already died won't
              be raised either.

        - now we've been turning each of these around since
          we are people who believe in the resurrection
            - and we want to know how this belief ought to
              affect our lives today.

        - the answer from this part of the passage is that we
          have a great hope and anticipation of being
          reunited with those believers who have preceded us
          in death.

        - this isn't a "pipe dream" or a "vague possibility"

        - our Lord said, "I am the resurrection, and the
          life, he that believes in me, though he were dead,
          yet shall he live.  And whosoever liveth and
          believeth in me shall never die."

            - of course our Lord said that to Martha, the
              sister of Lazarus, the man who in John 11 had
              been physically dead for four days.

            - just to prove the spiritual point He was
              making, the Bible says
               - the Lord went to the tomb where Lazarus was
                 laid
               - prayed to the Father, and then said--
               - Lazarus--come forth

- the Bible says - "and he that was dead came forth, bound
   hand and foot with grave clothes ; and his face was bound
   with a cloth. Jesus said unto them, "Loose him, and let
   him go"

- because our Lord is raised - you and I have the great hope
   and anticipation of meeting those believers who have gone
   before us.

- I can't wait to talk to Paul, and Peter, and John
- I want to meet Stephen, and Timothy, and Barnabus
- think of all the great believers who have gone before us

- some of you who have a theological bent are going to want
   to talk to John Calvin, and Martin Luther

- some who have a special appreciation for music are going to
   want to meet Fanny Crosby, Horatio Spattford

- some who are into church history are going to want to talk
    to D.L. Moody, the Wesleys, Billy Sunday

- THATS GOING TO HAPPEN - and it may be today!

- I think in verse 18, Paul especially wanting to call to
   mind special loved ones and friends who have preceded us
   in death.
    - I realize that calls up different thoughts for
       different folks.
        - you might be thinking right now of a parent or
          grandparent.
        - it might be a spouse or a child.
        - a brother or sister.

        - it may be a person who had a special ministry to
           you or your family.
        - maybe it was a former pastor or Sunday School
           teacher.

- but the day is coming, and it may be soon - when we'll be
  able to join those folks and fellowship with them
    - we believe that, and we're encouraged by that--because
      we believe in the resurrection.

- the last personal implication is found in verse 19 (READ)

C. We would, of all men, be most miserable

    - literally the idea is - "to be pitied"

    - if there is no resurrection, our state is sad, pitiful,
        miserable

    - of course the other side of that one is - men and women
      who believe in the resurrection have great joy in Him.

    - there is joy in serving a Risen Savior
       - we can rejoice evermore
       - we can even rejoice in trials, knowing that the
       "sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be
          compared with the glory which shall be revealed in
          us."

- Because of the resurrection, there ought to be a:
     - bounce in your step,
     - song on your lips
     - joy in your heart

- as one preacher put it - "If this subject doesn't light
     your fire, your wood is wet”

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

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