Calvary Road Baptist Church

“PRACTICAL RESURRECTION”

First Corinthians 15.29-34

I have said from this pulpit many times in the past that Biblical Christianity is the most practical lifestyle that exists in the world today, or that has ever existed. After reading about most of the religions and philosophies that are found on this planet, I believe that more and more. You see, Biblical Christianity, that is, the Christianity which is found in the Word of God (not necessarily on Main Street, U.S.A.), is not some air-headed philosophy dreamed up by some Buddha (who was just another cross-legged fat man with a ruby in his navel who deserted his wife and child to “find himself”), or by some wild-eyed child molesting fanatic who claimed to be a prophet, but who was actually looking for a way to marry as many women as he could manage. The same God Who spoke the worlds into existence, Who devised the laws of nature, Who placed the galaxies and the solar systems in the pitch blackness of the universe, also gave us this Christian faith. As practical as are the laws of nature for mankind to use to achieve our technology goals, likewise the faith once delivered to the saints is also practical. Just be careful that you do not confuse practical with mechanical, because God is not mechanical. He is personal, and He deals with His children in a personal way.

If the entire body of truth, which we call Christianity, is practical, it stands to reason that the individual parts and portions of Christianity are also practical. That is, God has revealed to us certain truths for a reason . . . as tools to either enable us or to motivate us to live up to the purpose for which we have been redeemed. All of what I have just said brings me to a subject of great importance to every Christian . . . the Bible teaching concerning resurrection. Resurrection has to do with the raising up of a dead Christian at some time in the future, as Christ was raised up, with a glorified body especially outfitted and suited for existence in heaven. We claim that Jesus Christ was raised on the third day, literally and bodily. However, beyond the historical fact that He rose from the dead, there are practical ends that God wants to accomplish by Christ’s resurrection. There are things He motivates His children to do by the certainty of Christ’s past resurrection and the promise of a future resurrection for all Christians.

First Corinthians 15.29-34 bears out the fact that the resurrection influences the way a genuinely converted believer lives his life. Once you find that passage, please stand for the reading of this morning’s text:

29    Else 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?

30    And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?

31    I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.

32    If 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.

33    Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

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

Three statements made by the apostle Paul show how the resurrection influences a real Christian’s life.

First, PAUL’s ARGUMENT ABOUT THE RESURRECTION’S EFFECT ON BEHAVIOR

We find this in verses 29-32:

Look at verse 29, where we see how past behavior was affected by this doctrine of resurrection.

“Else 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?”

The argument was made by some in the Corinthian Church that Christ had not risen from the dead on the third day. Oh, they probably did not come right out and say that Christ did not rise up from the dead. They were probably more subtle than that. They might have phrased it this way: “The spirit of Jesus rose up. Therefore the spirit of love toward all mankind is still in the world today.” That may initially sound nice, but it is really just a religious way of saying that Christ did not rise from the dead on the third day, bodily, like the Word of God declares He did. Paul asks, in verse 29, why in the world should someone be baptized for the dead? Baptism is supposed to symbolize the death and resurrection from the dead of our Savior. The question is, if He did not really rise from the dead, why be dunked under the water and be lifted up again? Why not just get sprinkled instead? Or why not pass on baptism altogether, if those who died are still dead? Baptism, for the believer, is meaningless if Christ rose not. However, if He has risen from the dead, baptism is a most powerful symbol, and is an inspired behavior pattern for those who truly are believers. Resurrection, then, does affect behavior. No wonder we see no examples of converts in the New Testament who were not baptized after their conversion. The bodily resurrection of a living savior compels the believer to show himself qualified for baptism.

In verses 30-32, we see how the doctrine of the resurrection affects present and future behavior.

30    And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?

31    I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.

32    If 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.

Baptism, as a public profession of faith in Christ, is one kind of behavior, which is peculiar to Christians of the Biblical persuasion. However, there is another behavior typical of the Bible kind of Christian . . . witnessing. In verse 30, Paul asks why in the world he and other Christians would place themselves in harm ’s way if there were no resurrection. Would a man risk his neck at every turn if he thought the resurrection of Christ and the future resurrection of Christians was a hoax? Of course not. In verses 31 and 32, Paul goes so far as to remind the Corinthians that he had fought with beasts in Ephesus. That is to say, in all likelihood (since we have no Scriptural evidence of him fighting animals in Ephesus); the folks who opposed him in Ephesus were as vicious and as savage as wild beasts. What advantage, then, was there for Paul to stand against an entire mob, if there was not a real and genuine resurrection? If Paul were here this evening and there was no resurrection, he might be among the first to say, “Let’s all go down to the bar and get smashed.” But remember, this little Jewish fellow, who had once been Christ’s fiercest foe, had seen the resurrected Savior. This same little dynamo for the cause of Christ had been caught up into the third heaven, and may very well have seen both his own and our future resurrections. So, Paul’s argument boils down to this: If you really believe the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and if you believe that someday believers in the Lord Jesus Christ will be resurrected, it will affect the way you live. You will do what is necessary to get baptized, so you can publicly identify with Jesus Christ in the only meaningful way available to you as a hopeful convert, and then you will be a witness for Jesus Christ as one now identified by your believer’s baptism as a Christian.

Next, A STATEMENT FROM PAUL ABOUT ATTITUDE

Verse 33: “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.”

Paul’s statement is really in two parts. First, there is a warning, and then there is a tidbit of wisdom.

First, the warning. He writes, “Be not deceived.” Paul’s warning here is much more than just a little “watch out, fellas.” The word “deceived” comes from the Greek word planaw, from which our English word planet is derived. The idea in those days was of a wandering star, or a planet that has fallen out of its orbit and is headed for catastrophe. Though Paul is not here talking about losing your salvation, Jude does use the same word to describe the trouble the unsaved are headed for in Jude 13. In the verse before us, Paul uses the word to show that deceivers communicated their deception.[1] Therefore, this bit of wisdom Paul is about to share with us is very important for us to listen to. If you want to stay on track, you will pay attention. Otherwise, you will be deceived.

Now, read the wisdom: “Evil communications corrupt good manners.” This means that hanging around the wrong person, or the wrong kind of people, will eventually ruin your conduct as a Christian. The word “manners” comes from the Greek word for ethics. You will no longer behave properly if you hang around the wrong people. This passage should cause parents to pay a great deal of attention to who their children play with and hang around. In addition, this verse should influence who unconverted people who say they are concerned about their souls hang around with. Consider someone who imagines himself to be broad-minded and discerning, so he thinks he can safely spend time with people who are off track, such as those so-called “evangelical Christians” he claims are his friends? That guy is much braver and smarter than I am, or more foolish. You will not catch me spending time with anyone like that. I am not telling anyone to be unfriendly or discourteous with anyone. I am only showing you what the apostle of Jesus Christ says about the wrong kind of companions. The guy who thinks he is immune from the bad influences of those pretenders who think they are too good for the local church, and too big for pastoral leadership, is very naive. A true example of how one man, by hanging around the wrong person, became unethical in his behavior. I will not give any names, but the example I am giving you really did occur.

Bill and George used to spend a great deal of time together. George was kind of a leader and Bill usually followed. Both were fairly spiritual young men in the church, but George had learned a great deal and he was somewhat puffed up with his knowledge, and became rather critical of his pastor along with his already negative kind of personality. Well, any conversation usually drops down to the lowest common denominator and, sure enough, after a while George just about took away all of Bill’s joy with his negative remarks and critical questioning of everything their pastor did and said. I mean, it was as if he kept the pastor under a magnifying glass. Not only did George’s relationship with the pastor deteriorate, but Bill’s did as well. Thank God for Bill that George moved away and began attending another church. Without the evil influence of George, Bill regained his joy and once again began to get along wonderfully with his pastor.

A pastor shared that true story with me more than thirty years ago, and I never forgot it. In Corinth, something similar happened to Christians who believed right, but who consorted with folks who did not believe right. If affected them just as such a thing affects you and me. Do you have an action problem, or perhaps an attitude problem? You are hanging around the wrong kind of person. Get away from him. If you have a bad attitude when you are alone, then likely you are the problem. The Corinthians were affected with a bad attitude because someone was tearing down their beliefs concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ, possibly causing them to doubt and wonder about one of the most well documented events in human history. Paul’s job as the spiritual leader was to get them away from those evil influences. In like manner, I am urging you to avoid allowing any evangelical or lost person influence you or lead you in any way. Either lead that lost person or evangelical into this church, or cut loose. Otherwise, they are bad news, and will have a negative influence on your life.

PAUL’S LAST STATEMENT IS AN ACCUSATION

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

Before we consider this verse, notice that Paul’s declaration does not hurt those people, but helps them. Accusations typically come from anger or from a heart that seeks revenge. Paul does not accuse in this manner at all. Neither should we. His comments here were written to benefit the Corinthians.

First, notice that there is confrontation: “Awake to righteousness and sin not.” Obviously, not everyone in that church taught or believed false doctrine, yet Paul is led of the Holy Spirit to rebuke the entire congregation. Why? Toleration. They tolerated sin in their church that was causing great harm to other believers. Remember, you are your brother in Christ’s keeper. You must not allow that to happen here. When supposedly mature believers observed negative influences in the lives of newer Christians, they should have approached them and said something. The problem, of course, is that too many people tolerate sin in their church. This type of passive neglect is actually forsaking the law, and, as Proverbs 28.4 says, is praising the wicked. To anyone who might not want to get involved with the sins other members are committing, Paul says, “Get involved.” To those who have been influenced by this false teaching, Paul says, “Ignore those false teachers.”

After confrontation comes communication: “For some have not the knowledge of God.” Paul is reminding them that there are some people in that city who have not been evangelized. They may have heard of Christ, but that is all. The people in Corinth who were not saved are probably much like the folks we deal with all the time. They thought you had to be a good person to go to heaven. They thought Christians felt themselves to be better than everyone else. They did not realize that salvation cannot be obtained by good people doing good things, since the Bible reveals that there are no good people, and no one can do good things. However, who would tell them the truth if the Corinthians did not work to bring them in? How would they be corrected by the truth of God’s Word if not even the Christians worked to bring them in? That is why some had not the knowledge of God.

Finally, the condemnation: “I speak this to your shame.” Why should those Corinthians have felt shame? Why should they feel like something is wrong that needs to be corrected? It is because the Corinthian Christians, kinda forgetting about the resurrection, had decided to focus on quality family time (as if serving God is not quality family time), and acting as casual as you please, almost as if everybody in town was on their way to heaven. But Paul, who had not allowed himself to be influenced by those guys who diluted and watered down the strong teaching of the Bible, endeavored to become friends with people, and to love people, that he might get them under gospel preaching. Again, Paul did not condemn the church’s negligent members to make them feel badly. He just wanted to correct their sinful behavior, for their benefit, for the benefit of the unsaved who would hopefully hear about Christ, and for the benefit of the cause of Jesus Christ.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ. Think of it! And the future resurrection of every believer in Jesus Christ. What an astounding proposition. Does it still invigorate you, or have you become numbed by your familiarity with that doctrine? Or do you secretly harbor doubts about the resurrection?

The practical benefit, the practical kind of behavior the resurrection produces in the life of a believer, is twofold: First, there is a real commitment to believer’s baptism. That is followed by a serious involvement in evangelism. You see, a Corinthian Christian would be baptized in order to become a part of the body of Christ. Oh, what a thrill it would be for him. As well, what an awesome privilege and platform from which to serve God. Of course, once he was baptized, that Corinthian Christian acquired the credibility in his community to tell his Greek neighbors that they did not have to dread death. This is because the resurrection meant a man did not have to hopelessly dread crossing the mythological river Styx and dwelling in Hades in the underworld for all time after he died. There is a better way. However, the Corinthian Christian knew that if his neighbor did not receive Christ and be resurrected himself he would have a far worse future to look forward to than the Greek Hades of their mythological underworld. Reality for that Corinthian Christian’s neighbor would be the eternal lake of fire. Thus, there is also a far worse way.

Our situation is somewhat different today. Our neighbors do not even believe in the fires of Hell. Either they believe that death and the grave ends everything, or they believe that God is too loving to allow anyone to suffer. Therefore, our motivation ought to be the resurrection, that as we ourselves will be raised up, so we can promise lost folks more than rot and decay in the grave. We have a Savior Who will save sinners from their sins, and deliver them from the consequences of their unfounded hope that God will not punish sin, and that He will let anyone and everyone into heaven. We have a message motivated by the reality of Jesus Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead on the third day, a victor over sin, death, Hell and the grave, and motivated by the certainty of our own future resurrection. Is that a message worth getting excited about? It is unless you think roasting in Hellfire is fun. And it is a message so simple to understand. Is it a message worth being baptized for? Is it a message worth getting folks to come to church to hear? You bet it is.

If you are here and you have never trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, I want to share with you a message of love. It is love because only one who truly loves you will tell you the truth. The truth about yourself. The truth about God. The truth about your eternal destiny. It is true that all men are sinners and are condemned by their sin to Hell. The Bible declares this truth from beginning to end, and in countless passages in between. I share this with you so that you will know the situation every man and woman is in. Further, it is true that though God is angry with you, He sent a Savior. Jesus Christ died a sinner’s death for sinners. He literally took the sinner’s place of punishment for sin against God and paid the penalty the sinner owed. Finally, it is true that if you will place your trust in this Jesus Christ, Who died and rose again for you, God will perform a miracle in your heart and life. He will forgive you of all your sins, so that you need not go to Hell. He will make you all over again, so that you might go to heaven.

The truth is, it is as simple as that. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” Would you like to know how to have you sins forgiven and go to heaven? Then you and I need to talk about this profoundly important subject.



[1] R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul’s First and Second Epistles to the Corinthians, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1963), page 698.



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org