Over the course of this weekend, we have looked at why Friday is so good. We have looked at why Saturday is so confusing. Now it is time to think about why Sunday is so glorious. Why is the resurrection of Jesus so overwhelmingly glorious? A little over a month ago, I preached a sermon on 1 Corinthians 15:12-20, which focused on the resurrection of Christ and how his resurrection from the dead directly impacts our lives today. I challenged those gathered on that March Sunday to not waste their lives, but willingly risk their lives for the sake of the gospel, because Christ has been raised. Over the course of Easter Sunday 2014, I plan to post a series of five posts (including this one) throughout the day. These posts are based on that sermon and will examine five realities that we should live in because Christ is alive. This post will offer an introduction and provide some necessary context that will construct a foundation that each subsequent post will build upon. I pray this series of posts that serve as meditations on the resurrected Christ would deepen your joy in the God who saves sinners by the blood of his Son who died and rose for you.
I know four things about every single one of you. The first is that you will live your life. The second is that you will die. I know! Very profound! The third is that you desire satisfaction or joy in your life and death. The fourth is that you want your life to count. You want your life to matter. Because of these four things, the way you live your life and the way you view your death are absolutely crucial! So much so, that I tremble as I approach this topic. It is no small thing to talk about the way you live your life and the way you view your death. Both of these topics are offensive to think about and offensive to talk about. It is offensive to presume to tell someone how to live his or her life and it is offensive to tell someone how to view his or her death. In fact, if there are two topics that are most uncomfortable for us to discuss with our families and friends, they are life and death. This is why we excel at small talk. This is why we make excuses for those we care about when they live recklessly. This is why we avoid visiting cemeteries and gloss over the reality of death by reminiscing good memories of the deceased. But the truth is, the most important realities in your life and my life are the way we live and the way we view death.
And the pressing questions that come from this consideration are these: Can you find lasting joy and satisfaction in life and death? And, will you waste your life? I believe there is no other worldview, no other religion, and no other philosophy that probes these issues, which can provide an adequate answer to these questions. But, in the Christian faith we find answers to these questions that surpass all of our desires and fulfill all of our deepest longings.
The way we live and the way we view death are directly impacted by whether or not Jesus was raised from the dead. The resurrection of Jesus informs us on what a wasted and unwasted life looks like. It also shows us where lasting joy can be found.
The way we live and the way we view death must center on Christ. A Christ-centered perspective of life and death is the perspective that brings joy to the heart and purpose to life in the midst of tragedy and turmoil. This is because the point that Paul is screaming at the top of his lungs in this passage is this: The resurrection of Jesus is central to the gospel! If there is no resurrection, there is no gospel. If there is no gospel, then there is no hope of lasting joy for anyone.
Lasting joy and satisfaction in life and death are only found in an empty tomb and in a risen Savior. The resurrection of Jesus directly impacts the way we live our lives and the way we view our deaths. God glorifies himself and brings his people joy in the death and resurrection of his Son. I see in the text before us today five powerful implications of the resurrection of Jesus that should change the way we live and the way we view death in such a way that it brings us lasting joy and brings God supreme glory. In other words, I believe Paul has given us five joy invoking realities that result directly from the resurrection of Jesus and inform us on what it looks like to not waste your life.
In chapter 15 of his letter to the Corinthians, Paul confronts the erroneous thought in the minds of the Corinthian believers that there was no resurrection of the dead. This kind of thinking could have resulted from multiple junctures. Firstly, ancient Greek philosophy taught that the soul was immortal and while on earth, it is trapped or imprisoned in the body. At death, the soul would return to the heavens to no longer be tainted by the flesh. Resurrection was unthinkable for ancient Greeks and some of this dualistic philosophy could have crept into the church at Corinth. Secondly, there was the Jewish sect known as the Sadducees who also denied the resurrection of the dead. Death was also viewed as an escape of the soul from the body.
Paul interrupts this line of thought with alarming logic. He says that if that is true, if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then there is no Christian faith. The gospel is void without the resurrection. Paul is addressing an issue that had the potential to poison the church at Corinth. Denying the resurrection of the body after death is detrimental. This is because if the resurrection of the dead is a myth, then so is the Christian faith. Why? Because if there is no resurrection of the dead, then there is no risen Christ. And it is at this point that Paul begins to show us the absolute necessity of the resurrection of Jesus to our lives and deaths by using logic to eliminate the error of denying the resurrection. He highlights five implications of Christ not being raised. In light of verse 20, over the next five posts I want us to look at these negative points made by Paul in the reverse to identify five implications of the resurrection of Jesus.