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1 Corinthians 15:35-15:58
Key Verse: 15:49

In the last lesson we studied about the power of the resurrection. As in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. Christ will destroy all dominion, authority and power, and Christ’s kingdom will be established where God will be all in all. Paul warns us not to be misled but keep our faith in Christ’s resurrection and live accordingly with the assurance of Christ’s ultimate victory and the coming of his kingdom. Today in this last lesson of 1 Corinthians 15, let’s think about the glory of resurrection.

First, resurrection principle (35-38). Look at verse 35. “But someone may ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” The question can be rephrased, “Let’s say there is such thing as the resurrection of the dead. Then how are the dead raised? Will the resurrected body be the same as the body we have now or totally different?” They could not imagine how the dead person could be raised from the grave. They could not conceive with kind of body the dead would appear. Paul responded, “How foolish!” (“You fool” in NASB; “What a foolish question!” in LNT) They must have heard of Christ’ being raised from the dead and appearing to his disciples. Yet, they asked such a question. Paul did not give direct answer to their question right away. He taught them resurrection principle first. Look at verse 36b. “What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.” This is a plain truth found in a natural world. When what is sown dies, it comes to life. Through dying process, life springs up. Paul explains this truth further in verses 37 and 38: “When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body just as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.” A seed itself is not beautiful at all. But after it is planted, the body that comes up is fascinatingly beautiful. Of course, a seed itself cannot produce its body. God gives its body to each seed according his determination and plan.

Knowing resurrection principle is very important: “What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.” It is easy to just fantasize resurrection without thinking about the death process. It is obvious that resurrection comes after death. We need to learn resurrection principle while we live in this world. We know the cliché, “No pain, no gain”, “No cross, no crown”, and “No suffering, no glory.” Yet, these are to be renewed in our minds and we should grasp them better and better. Jesus entered glory through suffering (Lk 24:26). He died and rose again. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me” (Mt 16:24). As for Jesus’ disciples, denying oneself and taking up the cross is a part of dying process. As for students, “No hard study, no good grade.” “No perspiration, no inspiration.” As for workers, “No work, no pay.” As for athletes, “no training, no winning.” As for soldiers, “no fighting, no victory.” As for presenters, “no practice, no performance.” And as after dark night it is dawned, after despair hope comes. Although it is not easy, God wants us to learn resurrection principle.

Second, glory through Christ (39-49). Look at verse 39. “All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.” Paul now talks about flesh. Men, animals, birds and fish all have different flesh. Men’s flesh is not strong like that of leviathan (possibly crocodile), whose chest is hard as rock, so the sword or spear has no effect (Job 41:24,26). Human flesh cannot be fast like a goat crossing the whole earth without touching the ground Daniel saw in his vision (Da 8:5). And humans cannot swim like fish or fly like birds. Yet men have two hands with which they have developed human life amazingly, beginning from carrying bricks and reaching to driving cars, operating computers and doing many other intricate things. The point is that they are all different. Then Paul says, “There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendour of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendour of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendour, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendour.” (40-41). Here Paul talks about the splendour or glory of each body (NKJV, NASB, NRSV). Each creation has its own beauty and glory. The sun’s glory is shining. What is the glory of human flesh? When we see Olympic Games, it seems that we see human glory through those who get gold medals. Also, when we see those who have reached the top of each, human glory seems to be displayed. Men who have flesh are desperate to obtain human glory. The glory of flesh can be directed to love, honour and wealth. They want to be forever young and beautiful, popular and rich. But at the top of human success and glory, despair comes. Some die too soon to enjoy their earned glory. Still others are so limited in keeping the glory of the flesh. Peter describes it this way, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall” (1 Pe 1:24). In truth human flesh longs for true glory and splendour..

Then how does real glory come? Look at verses 42-44. “So will be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” Here we see that our natural, physical body is a seed for our spiritual body. The natural body is imperishable, dishonourable (when fleetin beauty is gone), and weak. But the spiritual body or resurrection body is, imperishable, glorious (attractive beyond anything imaginable) and powerful. We will not be raised with wrinkles, white hair, rotten teeth, pain and illness. We will be raised fresh and young, truly beautiful and healthy, and there will be no aging. You will be forever teenagers or in your early twenties. All people, including physically and mentally disabled people, will be raised with a perfect body and certainly with perfect intelligence. It will be a total dramatic change, yet not indistinguishable. There is continuity from a natural body to a spiritual body: Remarkable change, yet acknowledgeable.

Paul explains how this can be done. Look at verse 45. “So it is written: ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.” This description is important. The first man was a living being, so is each of us. As descendants of Adam we are human beings, living beings. In short we inherited our natural body, human flesh, from Adam. Without a natural body there will be no spiritual body. Then Jesus, the last Adam, became a life-giving spirit. It is through his death and resurrection. It is interesting that Jesus is called the last Adam. It means there will be no more Adam in Christ, the firstfruits of the resurrection. Adam’s history was finished and a new era began. Christ became a life-giving spirit. Look at verse 46. “The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.” The order is clear. The spiritual body comes after the natural body.

Look at verses 47. “The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.” In ESV, verse 47 is “the first man was from the earth, a man of dust…” The fundamental difference between the first man and the second man is that the first man was from the earth and the second, from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth. Those who are of the earth cannot get out of the category of the earthly man. And as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Those who are of heaven can enter into the realm of the man who is from heaven. Then Paul says in verse 49, “And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.” When we study the history of men and think about people more and more, Jesus stands up among al people. No is like Jesus. No one is as loving as Jesus. His love covers all range of people. He made the blind see, the deaf hear, the mute shout for joy, the lame walk, and he raised the dead. He made immoral women pure and live a new life. He made the despaired find hope that is true and everlasting. He made the proud humble and the selfish sacrificial. The rich and intellectual also surrendered and gave their lives to him. All those who were touched by his love were changed so beautifully. And all his enemies were defeated and powerless before him. He is like the lily of the valley and the bright and morning star. His influence of love and truth reaches to people of all generations and will be endless to the end of the age. Can you imagine that we shall be like Jesus? It is God’s sure promise that we shall be like Jesus (1 Jn 3:2)

Not only shall we have the glorious resurrection body, but also shall we like Jesus. Wow! Inside and out we will be resurrected. We shall be as loving as Jesus. We shall be as sacrificial as Jesus. We shall be as pure as Jesus. We will be as gentle as Jesus. We will be as humble and obedient as Jesus. Can you envision to live in a community where everyone is loving, sacrificial, pure, humble and kind? This is our true longing and glory, and the glory is fulfilled through him. Praise God for his measureless grace.

Third, victory in Christ (50-58). Look at verse 50. “I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” The perishable with flesh and blood cannot enter the kingdom of God. Only the imperishable can. So the kingdom of God will not be marred by the perishable. It should be and we understand this. Look at verse 51. “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—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.” According to the gospel story the trumpet sounding signifies Jesus’ coming and gathering his people through the angels (Mt 24:31) At that time we will be changed. What a glorious moment it will be! It is truly the mystery of all the mysteries.

Look at verses 53-54. “For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’” Death seemed to swallow everything. But when Jesus rose from the dead, it lost its power. Now death itself would be swallowed up in victory, meaning it would completely gone with even no trace. The promise “Death has been swallowed up in victory” will come true. In this victory Paul shouts, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” This is the shout of all those who are in Christ. Those who have this shout are true victors.

How would they become true victors? Look at verse 56. “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.” Death has a sting that really hurts people. The sting of death is sin. But Jesus came to remove the sin. 1 John 3:5 says, “But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins.” Sin was taken away, so the sting of death is gone; death has become powerless. And the power of sin is the law. All mankind became law-breakers and so became the target of sin the sting of death. But Christ Jesus fulfilled the law. Romans 10:4 says, “Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” Sin has no claim for those who are in Christ. In Christ law, sin and death were all of no use. Christians are those who died to sin (Ro 6:2) and also died to the law (Ro 7:4), and on whom death has no mastery. God wants us to claim this grace in Christ Jesus. Law, sin and death were like three brothers. But they were overcome through the body of Christ, his death and resurrection. So Paul makes another shout in verse 57, “But thanks to be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Look at verse 58. “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.” In this world to stand firm and immovable is not easy. So many things can make people shaky and swayed and tossed here and there. But we can stand firm with faith in Christ who died for our sins and was raised on the third day and thus gives us true glory and victory. In this world nothing is worthy of our devotion but the Lord and his work. Those who have faith in Christ’s resurrection from death can give themselves fully to the work of the Lord. Only our labour in the Lord will not be in vain.

We thank and praise God for the glory and victory we have in Jesus. We will have a glorious resurrection body and we shall be like Jesus. In this glorious hope we may live with resurrection principle, giving ourselves fully to the work of the Lord. Amen.

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