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Complete Healing

Date: Apr. 5, 2015

Author: Bob Henkins

1 Corinthians 15:12-58

Key Verse: 1 Corinthians 15:52

“in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

Last weekend our whole fellowship we went on a retreat to celebrate Easter. The title of the retreat was “Wounded.” As those of us attended know, we heard how all of us have been wounded, and wounded others, at one time or another. These wounds were basically caused by sin, either by our own or someone else’s sin. Sometimes they were intentional and other times unintentional. Since we live in a fallen world this becomes the destiny of all mankind, to go on wounding and being wounded over and over and over again. Unfortunately these wounds, if they are left untreated, will lead to death. But according to God’s grace and mercy, he sent his precious one any only Son Jesus to stop this brutal cycle. Jesus knowing what was going to happen, willingly took our place and was pierced for our transgressions. And through a miracle of God, by Jesus’ wounds we can be healed. Today’s passage is from 1 Corinthians 15 and it tells us what happens after Jesus took our punishment. It looks toward heaven and helps us to live our life hope that one day we will go to heaven and all our wounds will be completely healed.

Let’s take a look at verse 12. “But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” Apparently there were some people in Corinth who didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead. It wasn’t that they denied Jesus’ resurrection, but just that of the believers. They said that Jesus was special and only he would be the one that was resurrected. I can see how people would believe this way of thinking. If you talk to people today, I bet most of them would say that death is the end. And judging by the comments I’ve seen online, most people would ridicule you and think you’re foolish to believe in the resurrection. They would say, “Why do you believe in such fairy tales?” And in some ways it’s hard to argue with them because death seems so final. Recently my grandfather passed away. And right before he died, my parents told me that the hospice room they moved him to was going to be the last room he ever saw. Those words struck me hard. It was the grim reality of the situation. He was going to die and shortly after he did. The fact is he’s not with us anymore. I’ll never be able to laugh with him again, or complain about how lousy the Bears are playing, and he won’t be giving our kids $2 dollar bills every time he sees them anymore. While we are young, we run around thinking there is always tomorrow. But when death comes, it seems so final.

But as a Christian, one who believes in the resurrection of Christ, if we don’t believe in our own resurrection, we become powerless. So to help the Corinthian Christians Paul explains how Christ’s resurrection connects to the resurrection of all believers. In order to make his point (v12-19) Paul plays the devil’s advocate and for the sake of the argument, for a moment, he thinks about what it would be like if there is no resurrection of the dead. Paul says, “Ok, let’s say what if there is no resurrection, then what?” Take a look at verses 13 & 14. “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” If our bodies can’t be raised then Jesus couldn’t have been raised because after all he had a body too. And if we can’t be raised, then why in the heck are we preaching, because faith is useless. What would be the point, right? What’s worse, is that by preaching that Jesus rose from the dead would be giving false testimony about God (v15) and it would punishable by death. And Paul continues further, if Christ has not been raised, all of us would still be in our sins (17), and all the guilt, shame, and regret would eat at our souls. Not only that, everyone that came before us and died are lost forever (18). This is it. As Eminem put it, “You got one shot” you only have one life to live. And if this is true Paul says that Christians should be pitied more than everyone else (v19) because they’ve wasted their life away believing in fairy tales. For already by time Paul was writing this letter, many believers had sacrificed everything to order to follow Christ, some had even became martyrs. And if there is no resurrection, then all of them are lost and believers are the most foolish people on earth, having been deceived by a false hope. And we would have completely wasted all our time at last week’s retreat. If there is no resurrection, then there isn’t much hope in the world.

But thank God that is not true. Take a look at verse 20. “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” All of us living today have an advantage because of the evidence left for us by eye witnesses to testify that Christ’s resurrection is true, an event that happened in history. It is connected to the resurrection of believers. To explain this, Paul calls Christ the “firstfruits.” For a harvest, firstfruits are a sign of many fruits to come. Likewise Christ’s resurrection is a sign of the resurrection of all believers. It gives us great hope that we, too, will be raised like Christ. Naturally some people may wonder how they can be sure of their resurrection since it’s based on a very small sample size of one. And if you know anything about statistics, we like to have as many samples as we can get. And if there is only one, maybe it was an accident. I don’t know how being raised from the dead can be considered accidental, but you can understand their concern. They needed more than one, or two counting Lazarus, or three with Enoch, or four including Elijah. But you get my point, they wanted more assurance. So Paul answered in verse 21. “For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.” Sin came into the world through one man Adam. As a result, death came into the world because the wages of sin is death. When we are in Adam, we are ruled by the power of sin. We did not commit Adam’s sin, yet we are ruled by Adam’s sin because as they say, “it’s in our blood, or the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” However if death can come through one man, then life can also come through one man, look at verse 22. “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” The Risen Christ has the power to make us alive forever. Christ rules with life-giving power and he will resurrect us in glory when he comes again (23). Jesus showed his disciples an example of his power when he raised Lazarus from the dead. In fact Jesus waited until Lazarus had died before he went there just so he could give them a glimpse of his power of resurrection. It was not an accident. The power of Christ’s resurrection is not limited to giving life to believers. It also brings an amazing change to the whole universe. Jesus’ resurrection destroys all the power of darkness and restores God’s righteous reign in life and peace to the whole creation (24). After Jesus has subjected everything, he will submit to God and God will be all in all (28). Then believers will rule together with Christ and the new heaven and new earth will come. Perfect paradise is restored through the resurrection of Christ.

            In verses 29 to 34, Paul teaches how we, as believers who have faith in the resurrection, should live our life. Paul states his example in verse 31 when he said, “I face death every day.” When a person makes a decision to live their life according to the gospel, opposition will arise. Satan is the ruler of the air and he has incredible influence in our world. He was active in Paul’s day as well our own. Because of this, it makes following Jesus difficult. In order for Paul to follow Jesus he faced death many times, once he was even stoned and left for dead. And it happens in our time as well. This past week, the Arkansas and Indiana governors were under heavy pressure to change new laws that protected religious freedom. I don’t want to get into if the laws were right or wrong, that’s not my point. My point is, when you make a decision to stand with Jesus, you will be attacked. That’s just how it is. It was true for Paul and it’s true for us. Paul lived courageously standing in the face of death almost on a daily basis because the opposition was so fierce. But why do it if there is no resurrection? What’s the point of living like this if there is no resurrection? If there isn’t any resurrection wouldn’t it be better to enjoy life and live for the moment with the motto “Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die?” (v33) If all we have is this one life on earth wouldn’t it be better not to be persecuted but to live for pleasure, or for glory, or to leave a legacy so that people can remember you after you’re gone. Isn’t that common sense? However Paul knew the resurrection was true, he personally met the Risen Jesus when he was on the road to Damascus. Because of this he could not deny the resurrection and he encouraged the Corinthian believers to not fall prey to Satan’s lie to plant doubt. Satan did it once before to Adam in the garden and he was doing again to the Corinthians so Paul warned them, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’ Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning...” (33-34). Those who are ignorant of God have no conscience about sin and will try to lead us astray. We must be aware of them and protect ourselves again the lies.

As Paul talked about the resurrection of the dead naturally some of the Corinthians had a questions, “How are the dead raised?”, “What kind of body are we going to have?” (35) What if I don’t really like my body, am I stuck with it forever? I hate being short, I want to be tall dark and handsome. Are we going to have to work out to stay fit? What if I got a bum knee? What about my high school buddy Tim who had his foot crushed by a train, is he going to be like that in heaven? Or what if someone was cremated after they died, are they going to come back as dust? The questions could be endless. So the people naturally were asking, “How are the dead raised?” So Paul gave the example of a seed and plant. In nature, a seed that is planted will die in order for a plant to come to life. Only when the seed dies can it produce a plant with many more seeds. Likewise, our body will die and we will receive a new resurrection body. When a farmer sows a seed, he doesn’t plant the body that will be, but just a seed. Then God gives it a new body. To each kind of seed he gives its own body. If we sow an apple seed, an apple tree will grow. There are many kinds of bodies: animals, men, birds and fish. Each reproduces according to its own kind. Physical bodies are for life on earth while spiritual bodies are for heaven. There are also heavenly bodies. Their splendor is different than earthly bodies, and each has its own unique splendor. Look at verses 42-44. “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” Everyone wants to live a long glorious life but over time our bodies become weak. Some people look strong but sickness can zap their strength. Sorry to say, one day our physical bodies will perish. My gray hair is evidence of this. As a young boy it was blond but now it’s turning gray, however I’m glad I still have most of it. Not only that, we also suffer from constant temptation from sinful desires. But thank God the spiritual body is different. It is imperishable, glorious, powerful, and spiritual. Our bodies will be changed to be suitable for our lives in the kingdom of God. We will be like Jesus when we are raised from the dead. Again Jesus gave us an example of this we heard it from Orlando’s message, when Jesus died, he was put in the tomb, it was like being put in the ground like a seed, then he came out with a new body. Likewise Mary went into the tomb and she came out with a new attitude, her sorrow was changed to joy.

As Paul talked about the resurrection he finally gets to the ultimate victory and final healing. Paul said (v51-52), “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” As I said in the start of the message, as we go through life, inevitably we are wounded. And those wounds sometimes leave scars. With our physical scars, we know exactly how we got those scars. But we also have emotional scars. One time I heard it explained like this, every time we’re wounded emotionally, it’s like putting a nail in wood, sure the nail can be removed, but the wood will never be the same. Scars, no matter how small will always be there. Even our words can be like nails that wound others. And as Dan pointed out in his message at the retreat, even as Christians we live with scars, some of which may never fully heal while we live. However from verse 52 we can see that at the resurrection in an instant we will be changed. And all our wounds will be completely healed. In heaven there will be no more wounding because death itself is dead. And Jesus’ scars, from the cross become marks of glory.

The trumpet sound signals the last day and the coming of Christ as King and Judge. The last day is a day of judgment for the enemies of God, but it is a day of salvation for all believers. At the sound of the trumpet all of us will be changed. We will be caught up to heaven and meet our Lord and Savior. Then the saying that is written will come true: Death has been swallowed up in victory. Throughout history all people have had to experience the sting of death. Many have suffered from meaninglessness and fear. But at the resurrection, death loses its power completely. Paul shouted, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (55-57).

Paul testified about the assurance of resurrection glory and hope for all believers. Look at verse 58. “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” When we hold on to this verse, we realize that whatever we do for God, it’s not in vain. This ties right back to the beginning, why believe in the resurrection, because it’s not in vain. The Apostle received a vision from God, “Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ’He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”” (Rev 21) Thank God for his grace and mercy upon us that he gives us this wonderful hope, if we hold on, whatever we do for God is not in vain. Thank God for his grace to all who believe. Thank God for Jesus’ and our resurrection.

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