1 Corinthians 15
SOLID GROUND: First Corinthians has been a wild ride, dealing with seriously deviant sexual sins (ch 5), eating meat butchered in pagan temples (ch 8), and how to properly display one's head in Corinthian culture (ch 11). Paul writes about these issues in direct response to real life problems they were having in this early church, but as he wraps this letter up, he does so by reminding them (and us) of the core aspects of what Christianity is all about:
Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, and that he then appeared to hundreds at the same time... (v4-6)
WELCOME TO HEAVEN, HERE'S YOUR HARP: Oftentimes our idea of what the afterlife is like is more conditioned by culture than by the Bible. The old cartoons used to show a character who had just been killed floating on a little cloud strumming a harp, because apparently that's what people do in heaven. Heaven is real, and the Bible gives some indication that harps are played there (Revelation 15:2-3), but we must remember that heaven is a temporary stop. Today's chapter is all about Christians coming back to life physically, not just spiritually. Even that passage in Revelation isn't about Christians going to heaven, rather it's about heaven coming down to earth.
UM, WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, PAUL? If you don't know what Paul's referring to when Paul writes "what will happen to those who are baptized for/on behalf of the dead? v29), then you're in good company. The message Bible is able to be understood by all sorts of people, no matter what their level of education, but every so often a passage like this comes along that just stumps everyone. A good study Bible will offer a few possible explanations, but most agree Paul was just referring to this practice as logical proof the dead will be raised, not as an endorsement of the practice.
RED FLAG WORD: We've talked a little in our Sunday evening sermons about 'red flag words' that ought to jump off the page and attract our attention, words like 'but now,' or 'so that' or 'so then.' Do you see the red flag word in v58? Paul wraps up this awesome chapter with one of the reddest red flag words: THEREFORE. Because of these amazing truths, here is what you are able to do:
Stand firm. Don't let anything shake you. Always give everything you have to doing the work of the Lord, because that's the only thing you do that will not go to waste.
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: God the Father who raised Jesus Christ from the dead (v15)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Come back to your senses and stop sinning. Don't be ignorant of God (v34)
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: