Daily Results of the Resurrection
Tim Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. Those of you who have been here regularly will remember that we are looking at the theme of this book, “The Lordship of Christ in the Local Church.” For many months now we have been working on this subject, and we have seen that if Christ is going to be the Lord of our church, He is going to have to be the Lord of our lives individually. The church, like a chain, is only as strong as it's weakest link; and so I hope this series of studies has been important to you because the Lordship of Christ in our church has to do with the Lordship of Christ in your lives. We have seen some very practical things, but we have seen some things that we would not expect in terms of the Lordship of Christ, the importance of Christ in our lives. Perhaps one of those things is what we find here in chapter 15–the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

We're going to read together verses 29-34, and then we're going to go back and discuss those verses:

I Corinthians 15

29Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?
30And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?
31I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our LORD, I die daily.
32If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.
33Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
34Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

The subject of I Corinthians 15, as I said, is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ; and as we have looked at this chapter, verse by verse, we have seen that Paul has covered it from the historical standpoint in verses 1-11, pointing out the physical proofs of the Resurrection, the historical documentation of that. Then in verses 12-19, he has covered it from the logical standpoint, the logic involved in the Resurrection and where that logic breaks down if there is no Resurrection. Then the theological standpoint in verses 20-28. We thought about those verses the last time we discussed this subject.

Application to Daily Living

In verses 29-34, he covers it from the practical standpoint–how it applies to our daily lives and practice. The basic approach in this paragraph is to talk about the Resurrection from the standpoint of our daily activities, because whether we realize it or not, to deny the Resurrection denies some of the common activities we as Christians carry on.

The difference between creed and conduct is a continuing problem in the Christian life. For example, we say that we believe that faith in Jesus Christ is the only basis for salvation, and yet how often do we tell other people that? We believe that spiritual things are of supreme value and yet many of us seem to be committed to material things. We believe that love between believers is what it is all about, that it is the essence of the Christian life, and yet we very often show little real concern for one another. The difference between what we say we believe and what we practice is sometimes very great.

Paul takes that kind of concept, and he runs it through the grid of the Resurrection to talk about the importance of the Resurrection. So today our subject is “The Daily Results of the Resurrection” and what those daily results should be in our lives.

The Practice of Vicarious Baptism

First, Paul points out some contradictions that come in denying the Resurrection. If we are going to deny the Resurrection, as some of the folks there in Corinth were doing, and if we are even going to deny it in our minds, if we are going to deny it in the sense of not really letting it be a part of our thinking everyday, then we're going to contradict several practices. First, in verse 29, he says that the Resurrection contradicts the practice of vicarious baptism of believers. Notice in verse 29:

I Corinthians 15

29Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?

As we read that verse, if you're thinking with me, you may think, “Well, I'm not sure that is a daily activity, and I'm not sure that really relates directly to me.” Let's think about this because this is a very problematic verse.

The Mormons have built an entire false doctrine on this verse, taking this verse and not bothering to put it in context of other Scriptures. The Mormons have said that Christians can be baptized on behalf of unsaved loved ones who have died in the past, and if you or I are baptized on behalf of some unbelieving loved one who has already died, that person can go to Heaven because we were baptized for them. At first reading, that seems to be what the verse would imply, but that explanation defies the clear teaching of many other Scriptures. We're not going to take the time to go into all of those, because that is not our present subject, but the Scripture is very clear that salvation is a personal matter between you and Jesus Christ. You cannot get saved on behalf of someone else, and you cannot be saved just because your parents are saved. Someone has said that God has no grandchildren. Salvation is a personal matter between you and Jesus Christ. So this verse cannot be saying that it is possible for you to be baptized on behalf of someone else. The Scripture also says that baptism is not what saves us in the first place. So that explanation, although it is a popular one in the Mormon cult, is not a scriptural explanation. That is not what this verse is saying.

In mainstream Christianity, there are several explanations of this verse and each one has it's own variation, but the first explanation is that Paul was using something that the Corinthians were doing as an example. The Corinthians were baptizing people on behalf of the dead much like the Mormons do, this theory says, and Paul was using that as an example, even though it was wrong to be doing it. He was drawing a spiritual application from it. But there is no historical evidence of anything like that being done until the second century, and this letter was written in the first century. Also, that is inconsistent with Paul's normal practice. Paul never uses incorrect activity as an illustration of any spiritual principle, any spiritual truth. So that explanation is not the correct one, in my opinion.

Another suggested explanation is that Christians were going out and having their baptismal services in the cemetery and that in some way they were honoring dead believers with their identification with those believers who had gone on before them by being baptized at or near the grave of some believer. But there is no historical evidence of any of this ever being done. That's just a neat idea that somebody came up with. Historians and archaeologists have never found any evidence that that was ever being done.

Another suggestion is that the dead referred to in this verse is the Lord Jesus Christ and that believers are baptized as an identification with the dead Lord Jesus Christ. Now there is a sense in which that is true; that is consistent with Christian practice, but the word “dead”, in both of it's appearances in this verse, is in the plural. Obviously Christ is singular. So linguistically that explanation doesn't fit because it's talking about the dead in the plural. Also, the preposition that's translated “for” here–those who are baptized for the dead–is a word that means “in place of”, not “on behalf of”. So it is not a reference to being baptized in behalf of someone else; it's a reference to being baptized in place of someone else.

The explanation of this verse that fits the Scripture and that fits practice and that fits the context is this: Believers in Jesus Christ are baptized to fill up the places of those believers who have already died. In other words, a new generation of believers comes along, an old generation of believers dies, but the new generation of believers is baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, just like the old generation was. Generation after generation of Christians have come along, and we have all been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, recognizing the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

If that's what Paul means here, then of course his point is this: If there is no Resurrection, our practice of continuing to baptize believers is pointless. Verse 29 says that all these years we have been baptizing people in place of the dead. In other words, as I said, one generation of believers dies and a new generation of believers comes along, and we baptize the new generation, just like we did the old generation. Year after year, we have been following this practice. If there is no Resurrection, then it is pointless to baptize people. It would seem to us that Paul could have found a simpler way to say that, but by analyzing the linguistics and the history and the context, that's the conclusion that we come to.

The Life-changing Effect of the Resurrection

In verses 30 through the first part of verse 32, Paul points out that to deny the Resurrection involves another contradiction. It contradicts the valiant life of the Apostles. Notice in verse 30:

I Corinthians 15

30And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?
31I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our LORD, I die daily.
32If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.

One of the strongest proofs of the Resurrection, one of the strongest proofs of the fact that Jesus Christ literally rose from the dead and that it's not just some kind of a spirit of Jesus that continues in our hearts, is the lives of the apostles after the Resurrection. On the day of the Resurrection, the apostles began to claim that Jesus Christ had literally come out of the grave, that He rose from the dead. Of course, immediately the skeptics began to say, and skeptics have continued to say down to this very day, that the disciples were just making that up, that they stole the body or that in some way they made it look like He rose from the dead, but that He didn't really rise from the dead. There are people in our own city, and there are people all over this country and all over the world who still buy that theory. The disciples just made it up. Paul says, “Listen, if there is no Resurrection, why do I stand in jeopardy? Why do I fight with beasts?”

The lives of the apostles after the Resurrection were totally different than they were before the Resurrection. They had seen their Master rise from the dead. The grave couldn't contain Him, and that had a life-changing effect on them. It ought to have a life-changing effect on us. They claimed that He rose from the dead, and that they had seen Him after He rose from the dead.

Verses 1-11 talked about that, and they underwent tremendous persecution for that claim. Most of them died for that claim, and Paul suffered tremendously–physical abuse and emotional abuse, scorn and ridicule–because he claimed that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. The disciples were not the type of men who would make that claim in the first place if it wasn't true. The eleven (Judas by that time had committed suicide) were too uneducated to make that kind of claim. They were not scholars; they were not thinkers. They were what we might today call “blue collar workers”. They were not unintelligent, but they just weren't educated along the lines of thinking up complicated explanations like this. They wouldn't have come up with a theory like that.

The Persecution of Paul

Paul, on the other hand, was too educated to come up with something like that. He would know that it would fall apart under close scrutiny. So none of the apostles were the kind of people who would have thought up that kind of theory. Paul said in Romans, chapter 8, that to be a Christian is to be considered a lamb for the slaughter. In other words, Christians face persecution. Now that is probably less true in our civilization and our generation than it has ever been in the world before, but we live in a very unique niche in history in not suffering for Jesus Christ. Some of us do suffer. It's usually in the sense of rejection of others. It's an emotional kind of suffering. Very, very few of us actually suffer physically, but none of us suffer the way other generations of Christians have suffered. And Paul says, “What is the point of all of this suffering if there is no Resurrection?”. He says, “I have fought beasts,” in the first part of verse 32. There is no record of Paul ever really wrestling a bear or any of those kinds of things, but he said he did this in Ephesus.

There are two places in the New Testament that tell us that in Ephesus on two different occasions Paul was attacked by unbelievers. One time he was attacked verbally and literally run out of town. The other time he was attacked physically, left for dead, and so Paul probably is referring to these wicked men with whom he literally had to fight, rather than wild beasts specifically. In Acts, chapter 19, and in II Corinthians, chapter 1, he speaks of being attacked by unbelievers. He says, “What's the point? Why would I go through all that, if there is no Resurrection? If my defense was just from the human standpoint,” he says, “then it was worthless.” So that's another contradiction. The valiant lives of the apostles–there's nothing to all that if there is no Resurrection.

The Values and Standards of the Christian Life

A third contradiction in denying the Resurrection is in the last part of verse 32, and that is what I am calling, for purposes of alliteration, “The Values and Standards of the Christian Life.” Notice the last part of verse 32 again: “Let us eat, and drink for tomorrow we die.” Now those are not the standards of the Christian life. The Word of God tells us that the Christian life centers around living for tomorrow; the Christian life centers around the fact that some day we will stand in the presence of Jesus. Someday our work will be examined, and those things that have not been done motivated by love for Jesus Christ, those things that have not been done in honor of Jesus Christ, are just going to be wasted. So as Christians our standards are not just to eat and drink for tomorrow we die, but to live to the full for tomorrow we live, tomorrow we stand in the fullness of life. Paul says, “If there is no Resurrection, then the values and standards of the Christian life are a contradiction.” If there is no Resurrection, then there is no supernatural, and therefore there is no point in suffering through morality and religion just for the sake of being good. There is no point in that.

The beer commercial that used to be on television a lot, said, “You only go around once in life, so you'd better grab all the gusto you can get.” If there is no Resurrection, that's good advice, and that's what Paul is saying here.

Conduct Based On the Resurrection

There are many contradictions in the Christian life if there is no Resurrection, but Paul has already established in the first part of this chapter, and we have studied it carefully, that there is a Resurrection and that the Resurrection is a true fact. Therefore in verses 33 and 34, Paul suggests the conduct that ought to be based on the Resurrection. He talked about the contradictions, and in these verses, he is going to talk about our conduct. Look at verses 33 and 34:

I Corinthians 15

33Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
34Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

Notice again how the Resurrection is tied in with our practical Christian life. The Resurrection should have a bearing on the way we live. In other words, Christians' conduct should not be influenced by those who do not live for eternity. Look at verse 33 again:

I Corinthians 15

33Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

There is a general sense in which that is very obvious. Obviously we do not keep company with drug dealers and other kinds of overt criminals, and we never let our children deliberately keep company with those kinds of people. But really it goes deeper than that. If we think about it in the context of this verse, what Paul is saying in verse 33 is that you can be influenced by keeping company with those who do not have an eternal perspective. Evil extends, for the purpose of this illustration, even to those who may be fine, good people, as far as that goes, but they do not have your eternal perspective. It's very easy for a Christian, even though he may recognize the Resurrection, to be swayed by the thinking of those who don't recognize the Resurrection.

The Problem of Peer Pressure

In one of our recent Bible conferences, our speaker gave several illustrations of the way our society pressures us and pours us into its mold. We don't have time to go back over those illustrations, but they were very good illustrations of how we're so inundated by the media and by society, by the people around us. We're inundated with the world's standards. We're inundated with the standards and values of those who are living only for this life. Paul says, as we think about the Resurrection, “Don't be deceived. You can come to the point of devaluing the Resurrection, if you're influenced by the general standards of society around us.”

Parenthetically, there is an application of this verse for our children. Certainly it's true, not only on an eternal standpoint, but on a practical standpoint. As I said before, evil company corrupts good manners. All of the things you have tried hard to instill in your children can be undone by evil peer group pressure. All of us need to be careful about that matter, particularly those of us who have teenagers. Evil company corrupts good manners. The best efforts that you have instilled can be easily undone by that all pervasive peer group pressure.

Sharing Faith In Christ

Verse 34 makes a similar point. Christian conduct should give insight to eternity. Verse 34 is sort of the other side of the coin of verse 33. Verse 33 says that we can be led astray by those who do not have eternity's values. Verse 34 says that our conduct should seek to sway them.

I Corinthians 15

34Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

Let me take the last line of that verse first. We know and we talk about it a lot, that there are many people in our world today who do not share our faith in Jesus Christ. We know that some of those people have heard the claims of Christ and rejected them, but what we don't often admit even to ourselves is that there are many of those people around us who do not share our faith in Christ simply because they have never heard the real message of Jesus Christ. They don't really know what we are talking about, and in many cases we are are not talking about it. Paul says the fact that there are unrighteous all around us is a shame on us. “I speak this to your shame,” he says, “that there are many who do not have the knowledge of Jesus Christ.”

One of the results of the Resurrection in our lives ought to be that we are telling others about the hope of eternity that is ours because Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Jesus Christ paid for our sins. God was satisfied with that payment and signified His satisfaction by raising Christ from the dead. Christ was raised because salvation was complete, and Christ now sits at the right hand of the Father, representing us there in Heaven, insuring that we will be there in Heaven someday.

Are you sharing that information? I think for every one of us the Holy Spirit could say, “I speak this to your shame.” Some have no knowledge of God. Every one of us ought to pray everyday that God will give us the opportunity to speak to people about Jesus Christ. Now listen carefully to what I'm saying. I'm not saying, “Lord, I will speak to someone about Jesus today.” That kind of thing can be done in the flesh, if you just set a goal. “I'm going to speak to someone about Jesus today, no matter who it is or what the circumstances.” You can be completely off base, and you can do more harm than good. There are people who have been influenced by that kind of witnessing, who are less ready to hear the Gospel because somebody has collared them and tried to cram the Gospel down their throats when it was the farthest thing from their mind. God knows those people around you who are in need. In fact, on the broader scale of things, God has put you in that office where you are, and God has put you in that neighborhood where you live, and God has put you in that profession that you have, and God has given you those children and those children's friends. God has orchestrated your life so that He can use you where you are, and you and I ought to pray several times every day, “Lord help me to be sensitive to those needs. Help me to at least plant the seed of the Gospel.” You may go many, many days without ever explaining the specific plan of salvation, but you ought to be speaking to people in such a way, and relating to people in such a way, that you can speak a word of comfort or encouragement to them; you can demonstrate to them that you know the Savior, and as the events of their lives work together, you will be able to give them the Gospel when that opportunity arises.

Paul says, “There are many who have not the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.” And he says, “Wake up! Awake to righteousness, and do not sin.” In fact, that phrase in verse 34, “do not sin”, is not the best translation. A literal translation from the Greek would be, “stop sinning.” We might read verse 34: “Do not sin.” For some of us, that is like saying, “Do not breathe, or do not look around, you know.” That is a broad commandment. But what God is saying is, “Pull yourself away from that sin. Don't go on in that sin that you're allowing in your life.” Certainly all of us are tempted regularly, and here and there we may succumb to temptation. We may commit sin from time to time, here and there–maybe everyday. But what Paul says, what the Holy Spirit is saying through this verse is: “When you sin, confess that sin, ask God for the strength not to sin next time, and get up and move on. Awake to righteousness. Stop living as the unsaved live.” And why? Because some have not the knowledge of God.

The Witness of Our Testimony

Let me ask you something, as we conclude our thinking. Does it really make any difference–now think about this honestly–to you that Christ rose from the dead? Oh, I know that almost every Sunday we sing something in our hymns that reminds us of the Resurrection. Particularly at Easter we talk about it a lot and we demonstrate it a lot, but really, right where you live, does it really matter that Christ rose from the dead? It should, because in these verses Paul says, “If He didn't rise from the dead, then we face all kinds of contradictions in the Christian life between what we say we believe and what is really true.” If He didn't rise from the dead, we're wasting our time trying to go on with the Christian life, being careful how we live. But because He did rise from the dead, and it's an established fact that He did, it does matter how we live. This is what Jesus was saying in Matthew, chapter 5, verse 16. He said:

Matthew 5

16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Notice that Jesus did not say, “Let your light so shine before men that as you tell them, that I died and rose for them, they will accept Me as Savior.” It's important that we do that, but the emphasis throughout the Scripture is that you only get those opportunities to legitimately tell somebody about Jesus Christ because of the way you live in front of them, because of the things that you do and do not do in honor of Jesus Christ. That's what brings the knowledge of God, or at least brings the opportunity for you to give them the knowledge of God. “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father”–not you, but your Father.

Incidentally, that little phrase will tell you something about whether you have the right kind of testimony. If what people notice about you is what a kind, sweet person you are, if what people notice about you is primarily your good works, then you have some reason to question if you are getting the right message across. What Jesus said is, “I want you to do those good works so that people will glorify your Father in Heaven.” Now you go around doing good things, and people are going to notice you, and the untaught, the unsaved are going to at least initially notice only you. But if you do these things for the honor and glory of Jesus Christ, if you do these things so those around you may have the knowledge of God, then sooner or later that message will begin to filter through. That always ought to be a guideline. Are people noticing me, or are they noticing the Lord? When people do call attention to me, do I take that attention or do I deflect it to the Lord? Many great opportunities for witness can come when somebody thanks you for something you have done for them, or compliments you on something you have done for someone else. A perfect opening to witness for Jesus Christ. That's what it is all about. That's why the Resurrection is important.

Conclusion

Let me ask you one last question: What effects do you suppose your lifestyle has on the people around you? Would your neighbors have any idea that you know Jesus Christ just from what they observe of you? Would the people who wait on you in the stores where you shop regularly have any idea that there is anything different about you? I'm not saying that they have figured out you are a Christian, but would they know there is anything different about you? You see the Resurrection is what gives us eternal life; it's what makes us different. This life is not all there is. Because Christ rose from the dead and because He lives, we shall live also. We shall behold Him face to face. That's what we are living for. This life is just a prelude to that life. Can people see that in you? “Awake to righteousness, and sin not. Stop sinning, for some have not the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.”


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