Pitied or Blessed?

1 Corinthians 15:12-28 (ESV)

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

Pastor Rob spoke on this passage yesterday, as it related to his sermon series going through the book of Ephesians. I thought he did an excellent job. So why are we looking at it again today? Because Easter, the hope of Resurrection, is the central message of Christianity.

I remember one of the frequently used prayers in the Mass from when I grew up Catholic was,”Dying You destroyed our death. Rising, You restored our life. Lord Jesus come in glory!”

Christmas is nice, but without Good Friday and Easter it would be meaningless. It is the satisfaction of God’s Justice by the sacrifice of Jesus’ blood that forgives sin. It is the Grace extended by His resurrection that brings us hope.

I used to wonder about the above passage – when it says that if Christ is not risen, then we are to be pitied. I did not understand why. Then one day it kind of hit me. If we voluntarily give up many of the “pleasures of this life” in quotes because I am not certain the pleasures of this life are really that great, and we are hoping for greater pleasures in the next life, but there is no next life, then yes, we really should be pitied.

Fortunately this is not the case. The hedonistic pleasures of this world do not last regardless of whether the next life is real or not. But the evidence is in, and this world does not even compare to the next one. Jesus promised that He was going to prepare a place for His followers and then He would return and take them to be with Him.

So rejoice for the resurrection is real. It is guaranteed by the seal of the Holy Spirit in those who believe. No one has changed the world more than that carpenter from Galilee. No one can change hearts from being self-centered to being selfless except the Holy Spirit. May God bless us all, and bring all the world unto Himself, by the power of the Cross.

by Virgil Stripes

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