"PRACTICAL RESURRECTION"

First Corinthians 15.29-34

INTRODUCTION:

1. 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. And after reading about most of the religions and philosophies that are found on this planet, I believe that more and more.

2. 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 cross-legged fat man with a ruby in his navel, or some wild-eyed fanatic looking for a way to marry as many women as he could manage.

3. 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. And as practical as are the laws of nature for mankind to use to achieve his goals, likewise the faith once delivered to the saints is also practical.

4. Now, 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 practical tools to either enable us or to motivate us to live up to the purpose for which we have been created.

5. All of what Iíve just said brings me to the subject we have been studying for the last couple of weeks . . . the Bible teaching concerning resurrection. Resurrection being 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.

6. Now, we know that Jesus Christ was raised on the third day, literally and bodily. But beyond the fact that He arose from the dead, there is a practical end that God wants to accomplish by that resurrection. There is something He wants to motivate the child of God to do by the promise of a future resurrection.

7. First Corinthians 15.29-34 bears out the fact that the resurrection influences the way a believer lives his or her life. Once you find that passage, please stand for the reading of this eveningís 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.

8. Three statements made by the apostle Paul show how the resurrection influences a Christianís life.

1A. In verses 29-32 Paul states his argument about the resurrectionís effect on behavior

1B. Verse 29

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?

1C. The argument was made by some in the Corinthian Church that Christ had not risen from the dead on the third day.

2C. Oh, they probably didnít come right out and say that Christ didnít 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."

3C. Now folks, that may sound nice, but itís just a religious way of saying that Christ did not rise from the third day, bodily, like the Word of God says He did.

4C. And as Paul points out in verse 29, why in the world should someone get baptized for the dead? Baptism is supposed to symbolize the death and resurrection from the dead of our Savior. Now, if He didnít really rise from the dead, why get dunked under the water and be lifted up again? Why not just get sprinkled instead?

5C. Baptism, for the believer, is meaningless if Christ rose not. But if He has risen from the dead, baptism is a powerful symbol and is a behavior pattern by believers. Resurrection, then, affects behavior.

2B. Verses 30-32

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.

1C. Baptism is one kind of behavior which is peculiar to Christians of the Biblical persuasion. But thereís another behavior typical of the Bible kind of Christian . . . witnessing.

2C. In verse 30, Paul asks why in the world would he and other Christians place themselves in harms way if there were no resurrection? Would that man risk his neck at every turn if he thought that the resurrection of Christ and the future resurrection of Christians was a hoax? Of course not.

3C. In verses 31 and 32 he 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 Paul fighting literal beasts in Ephesus), after the way the man in the streets talked, the folks who opposed him in Ephesus were as vicious and as savage as beasts.

4C. What advantage, then, was there for Paul to stand against an entire mob if there werenít a real and genuine resurrection? I mean, if Paul were here this evening and there was no resurrection, he would be the first to say, "Letís all go down to the bar and get smashed."

5C. But remember, this little Jewish fellow, who had once been Christís fiercest foe, had seen the resurrected Christ. This same little dynamo for the cause of Christ had been caught up into the third heaven, and probably also saw both his own and our future resurrections.

6C. So Paulís argument boils down to this: If you really believe in the resurrection from the dead of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, it will affect the way you live.

2A. Next, a statement about attitude (33)

33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

Paulís statement is really in two parts. First, there is a warning, and then thereís a tidbit of wisdom.

1B. First, the warning: "Be not deceived"

1C. Paulís warning here is much more than just a little "watch out, fellas." The word "deceived" comes from a Greek word referring to a wandering star, or a planet which has fallen out of its orbit and is headed for catastrophe.

2C. Though Paul is not talking about losing your salvation, Jude does use the same word to describe the trouble the unsaved are headed for in, Jude 13.

3C. So, 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 youíll pay attention.

2B. Now, letís read the wisdom: "Evil communications corrupt good manners."

1C. 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 in an ethical way if you hang around the wrong people.

2C. This is the passage that should cause parents to pay a great deal of attention to who their children play with and associate with. This is also the verse that should influence who unconverted people who say they are concerned about their souls hang around with.

3C. Let me give you a true example of how one man, by hanging around the wrong person, became unethical in his behavior. Iíll not give any names, but the example Iím giving you really did occur.

4C. Mike and George used to spend a great deal of time together. George was kind of a leader and Mike 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.

5C. Well, any conversation usually drops down to the lowest common denominator and, sure enough, after a while George just about took away all of Mikeís joy with his negative remarks and critical questioning of everything the pastor did and said. I mean, it was as if he kept the pastor under a magnifying glass.

6D. Not only did Georgeís relationship with the pastor deteriorate, but Mikeís did as well. Thank God for Mike that George moved away and began attending another Church. Without the evil influence of George, Mike has real joy again and gets along wonderfully with his pastor.

7C. A pastor shared that true story with me 18 years ago and I never forgot it. In Corinth it happened to Christians who believed right, but who consorted with folks who didnít believe right. If affected them as it affects you and me.

8C. Do you have an attitude problem? Youíre hanging around the wrong kind of person. Get away from them. If you have a bad attitude when youíre alone, then itís you.

9C. These 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, the resurrection of Christ.

3A. Paulís last statement is an accusation (34)

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

Before we delve into this verse, notice that Paulís accusation does not try to hurt those people, but to help them. Oftentimes accusations come from anger or from a heart that seeks revenge. Paul didnít do that. Neither should we. His comments were written for the benefit of the Corinthians.

1B. First, notice that there is confrontation: "Awake to righteousness and sin not."

1C. Obviously, not everyone in that Church taught or believed false doctrine, yet Paul is led of the Holy Spirit to confront the entire congregation. Why?

2C. Toleration. They tolerated sin in their Church which was causing great harm to other believers.

3C. When supposedly mature believers heard these false teachers influencing the newer Christians they should have approached them and said, "You shouldnít teach those things to him. What you are saying is contrary to the Bible."

4C. Too many of us tolerate sin in the Church. This is forsaking the law, and as Proverbs 28.4 says, is praising the wicked.

5C. To those who donít want to get involved, Paul says, "Get involved." "To those whoíve been influenced by this false teaching, Paul says, "Ignore them."

2B. After confrontation comes communication: "For some have not the knowledge of God."

1C. Paul is telling them that there are some people in that city who have not been told how to be saved. They may have heard of Christ, but thatís all.

2C. The people in Corinth who were not saved are probably much like our folks. They thought you had to be a good person to go to heaven. They thought Christians thought they were better than everyone else.

3C. They didnít realize that salvation cannot be obtained by good people doing good things, for the Bible declares that there are no good people and no one can do good things.

4C. But who would tell them the truth if the Corinthians didnít work to bring them in? How would they be corrected by the truth of Godís Word if not even the Christians worked to bring them in? Thatís why some had not the knowledge of God.

3B. Finally, the condemnation: "I speak this to your shame."

1C. Why should they feel shame? Why should they feel like somethingís wrong that needs to be corrected?

2C. Itís because the Corinthian Christians, kinda forgetting about the resurrection, had decided to focus on quality family time (as if serving God isnít quality family time), and acting as casual as you please, almost as if everybody in town was on their way to heaven.

3C. 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.

4C. And again, Paul didnít condemn the Church negligent members to make them feel badly. He just wanted to correct 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.

CONCLUSION:

1. The practical benefit, the practical kind of behavior the resurrection produces in the life of a believer, is a commitment to and an involvement in evangelism.

2. You see, a Corinthian Christian would be thrilled about the opportunity he had to tell his Greek neighbor that he didnít have to dread death. The resurrection meant a man didnít have to hopelessly anticipate crossing the river Styx and dwelling in Hades in the underworld for all time. There was a better way.

3. On the other hand, the Corinthian Christian knew that if his neighbor didnít receive Christ and someday become a participant in the resurrection, he would have a far worse future to look forward to than the Greek Hades in the underworld. Reality for his neighbor would be the eternal lake of fire. Thus, there was also a far worse way.

4. Our situation is somewhat different today. Our neighbors donít even believe in the fires of Hell. They either believe that death and the grave ends everything or they believe that God is too loving to allow anyone to suffer.

5. So, our motivation ought to be that we can promise lost folks more than rot and decay in the grave. And we have a Savior Who will save them from the consequences of their unfounded hope that God will not punish sin and that He will let everyone into heaven.

6. We have a message motivated by the reality of Jesus Christís bodily resurrection from the dead on the third day, a victor over sin, death, Hell and the grave.

7. Is it a message worth getting excited about? It is unless you think roasting in Hellfire is fun. And itís a message so simple to understand. Is it a message worth getting folks to come to Church to hear?

8. If you are here and you have never trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, I want to share with you a message of love. Itís 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.

9. 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 in countless passages between. I share this with you so that you will know situation every man and woman is in.

10. Further, it is true that though God is angry with you He doesnít want you or anyone else to go to Hell. For that reason Jesus Christ died a sinnerís death for you. He literally took your place of punishment for sin against God and paid the penalty for you.

11. 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.

12. The truth is, itís 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? Call me sometime and weíll talk about it.

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