24 Jul 2022
Knowing Christ died on the cross for us should change the way we live. But knowing Jesus rose again (and that we will follow Him) should also change the way we live. Paul says that preaching is vain if Jesus didn't rise. Our faith is vain if Jesus didn't rise. Our lives are most pitiful if Jesus didn't rise. But in fact, Christ did rise! And so gospel preaching is not vain, but most important. Faith in Jesus is not futile. And we are a most blessed people. Let this message help you understand the absolute certainty of your resurrection if you are in Christ. And may this message encourage you to take steps of faith to attempt great things for God.
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Once again, a very good morning to all of you, and we continue our series through the book of 1st Corinthians.
A story is told of a lady who had some problems with her husband, they thought that maybe if they had a change of environment, their marriage would be better. So, they traveled to Israel, to the Holy Land hoping for some kind of a miracle to take place for their marriage. But when they got there, unfortunately the husband got heart attack and passed away.
The undertakers said to her, "Ma'am, you have two choices. One, is for you to have him buried here in Israel, that will cost about $1,000. Two, is for you to fly his body back to Singapore, and that will cost you $5,000."
Without batting an eyelid, she said, "Fly him back to Singapore?" "Wah, you must really love your husband, don't you?" "No, I don't!" "Then why would you want to spend so much? Why don't you just bury him here?" "Well, I heard that some 2,000 years ago, a man died and was buried and rose again the third day, I cannot take that chance."
Well, there are some people in the church at ancient Corinth who did not believe in the resurrection. They were questioning this, they were having skepticism ... skepticism about this. So Paul, last week we learned elevated the issue to what it should be regarded as an issue of utmost importance.
Because Paul explained that if there is no resurrection from the dead, then Jesus did not rise from the dead, and if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then there is no message that could save us. There is no Gospel, and we will be lost in sin!
Paul then went on to explain that, "Well, not only is this a matter of utmost importance, actually this matter should have been resolved, because Jesus did rise from the dead. It's not a figment of our imagination." He mentioned at least six groups of people who witnessed the resurrected Christ.
He says, "I saw Christ, Peter saw Christ, Andrew saw Christ, the apostles saw Christ, and at one point of time at least 500 people saw Christ. And many are still alive today, you can check with them. Jesus indeed is risen from the dead." So, we saw in verses one to 11 of chapter 15 that Paul emphasized the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
So we come to verse 12 today, he says, "Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, then how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?" His logic is clear to those who are questioning the resurrection of the dead. His logic goes - Jesus is risen, we all saw Him risen from the dead, so will you.
So that's the emphasis for us in verses 12 through 34. There are some 23 verses there, quite long and I propose to look at it in three separate sections. It's ... I think not hard to follow.
 A Grim Hypothesis
First of all, just as Paul launches into the defense of the resurrection from the dead, he pushes this thinking of death to an extreme. He says, "All right, let's just concede maybe there is no resurrection from the dead. So think along with me, what will happen?" So in verses 13, or 13-19, Paul proposes a grim hypothesis.
He says, "Alright, I ... I like to just kind of humor you. Follow me, just think about what will happen if Jesus indeed did not rise, if indeed there is no resurrection from the dead." His logic goes like this — if there is no resurrection at all, it is disaster for us all. This is the grim hypothesis!
So he says in verse 13, "But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised." So if there is no such thing at all, that there is resurrection from the dead, then Christ is not resurrected.
"And if Christ had not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain." [1 Cor 15:14] Then whatever we are saying to you is empty, is powerless, because everything we say to you, predicates on the fact that Jesus died and was buried, and was risen, and appeared to others. Everything centers around this message, and so if Jesus did not rise, then our preaching is in vain, and whatever you listened and whatever you obeyed or believe is empty.
In fact, "We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised." [1 Cor 15:15] So he says, "If there is no such thing as resurrection, then our preaching is empty, your faith is empty. And actually, you can call us liars, because we say that God raised Jesus from the dead, and that would not be true if there's no such thing as resurrection from the dead."
He repeats again in verse 16, what he said in verse 13, "For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised." He's ... I think he repeats this, because he's now helping you see the implications not just for the preacher but for the believer.
He goes on to say, "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, and you are still in your sins." [1 Cor 15:17] So, if Jesus did not rise from the dead, whatever you believe is powerless to save. You are still in your sins, there is no salvation for you, there is no forgiveness for you, because Jesus could not save you from your sins. He's a victim, not a victor. He died, he's defeated!
In fact, verse 18, "Then those [who also and then those also] who have fallen asleep in Christ ...] [1 Cor 15:18] in other words, those who have died already, "... then they have perished." They are now facing the fierce wrath and judgment of God, because there is no salvation for their sins.
So he concludes, "If in Christ, we have hope in this life only ..." [1 Cor 15:19] "If He's the only One we are clinging on, oh, we are following a dead savior, a dead man, a lifeless corpse, "... then we are of all people, most to be pitied." We are a sad case! Preachers are a sad case, and Christians are a sad case. Why? Because if there is no resurrection from the dead, Jesus did not rise, there is no power to save you from your sins.
So Paul, therefore gives a grim hypothesis, brings their logic to an extreme and so that they can see, "Oh, this is quite a serious matter!"
 A Glorious Hope
But everything turns on its head in verse 20, because in verse 20 onwards, Paul gives us an understanding of this glorious hope.
And it really is glorious because it turns on that word, "but" Hah, oh, if Christ did not rise, then everything is futile, "But ..." look at this word, 'but' "... in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead ..." [1 Cor 15:20] "This is not like I said, something that we imagined or we kind of a cooked up. It's ... it's a fact, we saw Jesus resurrected, many people saw Jesus resurrected, and therefore it is a fact."
"But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead," therefore, our preaching is not in vain, everything is turned around from a doomsday scenario to one of a great joy and hope. Our preaching is not in vain, your faith is not in vain, you really have the forgiveness of sins, and the reconciliation with God. Because Jesus paid it all, He successfully paid it all, He rose from the dead, and therefore we are now a most blessed people!
Oh, I know that some of you are going through great hardships and difficulties today, but don't ever lose sight of the fact that we are a forgiven people, we are a reconciled people, we are the sons and daughters of God. We are a most blessed people. Everything turns here!
So it's quite easy, I think so far, but the next few lines might be a bit technical, will be a bit tricky. So I urge some more of your attention, if I may. Because Paul now goes on to add in imageries, or references that may not be so familiar to all of us, but it's not that hard, just follow along.
He says, "Christ has been raised from the dead as the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep." [1 Cor 15:20] I've already kind of explained that last week, "firstfruits", a concept that is not familiar to Singaporeans, but one that is very familiar to the Jewish people.
When they have a harvest, the initial crops are given to God as worship, it's a sign of gratitude that God is the One who gave us everything and really all should belong and return to God for His purposes. But the offering of the firstfruits is a kind of belief in a promise that there is more to come. That's the idea! More to come.
So when Paul says, "Jesus is the firstfruits, He's like the initial batch that is offered to God, and there is the promise of more to come. So just as Jesus is risen, more is to come. We will also be resurrected, that's a kind of guarantee, that's a kind of pledge."
"Jesus is the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep." So those who die, will follow Jesus, because He will lead us to the resurrection life, as He is the firstfruits, more is to come.
That logic carries through in verse 21, "For as by a man came death, by a Man has come also the resurrection of the dead." So there is a comparison of two men, who are they? Don't have to guess, because verse 22 says, "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive."
So there are two significant men in all of history, not Donald Trump, or Stalin or Hitler or anything like that. There are two significant men in human history. One, the first man named Adam, the second, the Bible calls Him the second Adam - Jesus Christ.
So the difference between Adam and Christ is that Adam was the one who sinned against God, disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, and because of Adam, the Bible says we all inherit his sin. That's the way God sees it! All of us are sinners, because Adam sinned.
And I think in two ways, we are seen as sinners because we are the offspring of the sinner. And number two, we are also sinners by nature, we inherit the sin nature. So if you've got what I said, we are sinners by imputation and impartation. So what in the world is that?
Imputation is that Adam sin is also counted to us. That's the way it is, we are in his line, even if we had not uttered a single word in life, sheer fact that we are born in Adam's line, we are seen as sinners — imputed to us, counted to us. But Adam's sin nature is also imparted to us, we are sinners by nature. So in Adam, we are seen as a disobedient people, and we do disobey God.
But Christ is the opposite, Christ never disobeyed God, He never sinned against God, He was tempted in all points like as we are, but He was without sin. So, Adam led a life of disobedience or he committed disobedience against God, and Jesus Christ lived a life of perfect obedience.
So those who are in Adam will suffer death, because the wages of sin is death, and those who are in Christ are made alive, because Christ is the firstfruits of those who belong to Him.
He goes on, "But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits, then at His coming those who belong to Christ." [1 Cor 15:23] Now, this sounds like a sequential thing, like Christ is the firstfruits, and then others follow along, but don't lose the idea that Paul, I think is emphasizing here.
It's not just about timing, I think more likely, he's thinking about a kind of ranking. Because the word, 'order' there is a military word, it's not first in terms of time, but it's first in terms of rank.
So here, Paul is introducing a concept of kingship that Jesus Christ is the firstfruits, that's true, but he is firstfruits in terms of His rank, in terms of His importance, in terms of His Kingship. He is the first to rise in that He will lead others, His people who belong to Him to resurrection at His coming, at His Second Coming in the future.
Now, this idea of kingship is further developed in verse 24. "Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, after destroying every rule and every authority and power." [1 Cor 15:24]
Now, I said this is going to be a technical thing so we are entering into it already. Now, it's a bit strange, you say, "Hmm, How is this firstfruits resurrection linked to the kingship?" Hang in with me, with me just another three or four verses, it will make sense at the end.
But looking at verse 24, we see that Jesus will one day deliver the kingdom to God, the Father, after He has destroyed every rule and every authority and power. So this is the end goal, I'm not sure if I should use this, this is an end game. Maybe end game is more familiar to you than end goal. The end game is that Jesus will conquer everything, and He will take everything and deliver the kingdom to God, the Father. This is the end game.
So let's see, "For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet." [1 Cor 15:25] Now, this verse emphasizes that He will rule. Okay, this verse emphasizes that He will reign over everything, this is a prophecy from Psalm 110:1, "The LORD says to my Lord ..." Without going through a lot of explanation, I think it's clear, it is about the Father, God, the Father said to my Lord, that is Jesus Christ. "... Sit at My right hand until I make your enemies Your footstool."
So Jesus will rule over all His enemies, but there is something that says, "He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet." So when He has successfully defeated everything, He will stop reigning, correct? That's the idea! He must reign until He reigns over everything.
So there's this interesting part where He is King, but when He's King over everything, that He will stop being King. Scratch your ... scratch your head, wonder why, move on a little and you'll see.
"The last enemy to be destroyed is death." [1 Cor 15:26] So there's something that is yet to be destroyed. And that is death because everybody still dies.
"For God has put all things in subjection under His feet, feet." [1 Cor 15:27] Just to emphasize His authority and kingship, Paul quotes from Psalm 8. But there's something more in verse 27 and we got to read this, and it says, "But when it says, "All things are put in subjection," it is plain that He is excepted, who put all things in subjection unto Him."
Let me say it in simpler form, if I can, "But when it says, when God says, "all things are put in subjection," it is clear that God Himself is not part of the all things that are under Jesus.
Can? So Jesus will rule over everything, of course, that does not include God the Father. So we have this idea, He will be ruling as King until all His enemies are defeated, then He will be no more King. And we see that God, Himself is excepted from this subjection to Christ.
The reason is then found in verse 28, "When all things are subjected to Him, [including death, alright, when all things including death,] are now subjected to Christ Jesus, then Jesus Himself, the Son Himself, will now also be subjected to Him, that is God, the Father, who put all things in subjection under Him, that is Christ, that God may be all in all."
So the end game is for Jesus to come, to die, to rise again, that He may now sit at the right hand of God, the Father. He is now King overall, He's ascended on high, but there will come a time when death will also be defeated. And when we are resurrected, when death is defeated, Jesus in the end game will deliver all this kingdom, all the spoils and give to the Father that God may be all in all.
The idea here is that - Jesus restores the kingdom to bring glory to the Father. You see, going along the lines of Adam and Christ, Adam was given stewardship of this world, he is supposed to be like the vice regent for God. He's supposed to steward this world in such a way that brings glory to God, but Adam lost it in the Garden of Eden. He listened to the devil, he listened to his wife who listened to the devil, and they fell into sin and in a sense the kingdom was lost.
So Satan now becomes the god of this world, the prince of the power of the air, the ruler of this world, but the work of Jesus Christ is to destroy the works of the devil. He's here to restore all kingdoms and to bring it back to God, the Father that God will be glorified all in all.
This is the language that reminds us so much of Romans 11, "For of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things forever. Amen." To God be the glory! So, this is the grand plan of God. You say, "What's this got to do with the resurrection? It seems like a diversion. It seems to be Paul going off tangent."
I suggest to you, he's not going off tangent, but he's arguing something very important. He is saying that, "The resurrection from the dead of God's people is not anchored because we are good people, because we deserve it or because we earned it, but it's anchored in God's unyielding commitment to glorify Himself through Jesus Christ. And Jesus must reign over everything, including death, therefore there must be the defeat of death, there must be the resurrection of His people, because that is God's end game, that is how God will be glorified."
And so, our hope is anchored in something really rock solid! it's not us, not our worthiness, is anchored in God's commitment for His own glory. That's really, really Good News! God is acting for Himself, and we are the joyous beneficiaries of His glorious works.
So, we began with a grim hypothesis. Wow, if there is no resurrection from the dead, we are in deep trouble! Hey, but everything changes in verse 20, "But in fact, Christ is risen from the dead." Jesus, our King rises as the firstfruits, and He will defeat all death.
And so His people who belong to Him would be resurrected at His coming, and in the end as He rules over all things, He will then subject Himself with all the conquests to Him, who has first subjected all these things to the Son, that God may be all in all. We can rest assured that it will be done, you will be resurrected from the dead if you are in Christ, because in Adam all will die, in Christ, all will be made alive. He will defeat death.
 A Gutsy Heroism
Knowing such an assurance, having such confidence in God's work throughout human history, then let us see together with Paul a kind of bravery, courage, heroism in the verses that are before us.
"Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? Why are we risking our lives? Why are we in danger every hour? I protest brothers by my pride in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day. What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus." [1 Cor 15:29-32]
So, it's a rhetorical kind of a questioning, the obvious point is that — because Jesus is risen from the dead, we are willing to live such a kind of life. That one, that does not cower in fear, but lays it out on a daily basis facing danger, persecution, but it is all worth it because we know Jesus is risen.
Now, that's I think the overall drift and thrust of these verses, but looking at them in detail is pretty difficult. So I do not want to shirk from it in a sense, but let's look at this, for example, in verse 29. It's a very difficult verse because on the first read, we would not be able to quite understand this. And I must say, even up to now, I don't think people really understand verse 29 what Paul really meant.
You see, Paul says, "What do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? What do you mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead?" Well, there's a religious group called, Mormons and they believe in something called vicarious baptism. Which is someone has died, but you can be baptized, and credit that kind of spiritual benefit or merit or points to the dead. You can be baptized on behalf of the dead, So that's an attempt to kind of bring some hope to the dead.
Now, that may seem like what Paul is saying here, because what do people mean by being baptized, you being baptized on behalf of the dead to save the dead. But you see, this cannot be the meaning of the text because it is nowhere else taught in the Bible. And we are very clear in Scripture that salvation is by grace through faith, not by baptism.
So if I cannot even save myself by baptism, how am I to save another person by my baptism? So is this vicarious baptism? Oh, the word, 'vicarious' simply means on behalf of, suffer on behalf of or baptize on behalf of. So is this what Paul is saying that, "You get baptized and the other person who is dead gets raised from the dead?"
I don't think so. But then that makes this verse very difficult to understand, if you read commentaries, they will commonly tell you that there are some 40 interpretations. You should laugh at it, because the fact that you've 40 means nobody knows what's right, isn't it? That's why they all struggle to come up with a coherent answer to what this means.
I don't suggest that I know at all, because I don't find any one of them really convincing, that's why you have 40. But I don't think vicarious baptism is the point, some people say this is, is this hopeful baptism in the sense that they know that the dead, who are believers are resurrected to life. So wanting to see them in the next life, they also believe in Jesus and get baptized, hoping to see them. That's I ... they don't use the word, 'hopeful', I just added myself.
But the point is that you baptize, of course, you must believe in Jesus, but you get baptized hoping that one day and knowing one day you will join the departed, you ... you will see them. But hard to say that, that's exactly what Paul is saying. Possible, but not so clear!
Or maybe bold baptism, some other say that, "The act of being baptized is another way of saying that this person is willing to witness for Jesus." So, what do people mean by being baptized or being witnesses of Jesus? 'On behalf of the dead' means that as witness, they understand that they too may suffer persecution and die, and then take the place of those who have also witnessed and have died, as a result of persecution. You're willing to die as a witness.
Long and short of it, I have 3, I don't have 40, I think you'll all fall asleep by the time I hit number 10. So, just some possibilities but really I am in no wise able to tell which is the correct one. Very unsatisfactory in that sense, but I think like I said, the drift is that the resurrection is the point here, the belief in the resurrection is the point here. That somehow they are doing something called baptism on behalf of the dead because they believe in the resurrection that made the difference.
Well, verse 30 to verse 32, is a lot easier, it talks about the kind of life that Paul was willing to live, not one of self-preservation, or trying to keep it safe, but that he was willing to risk it, to face persecution. Who ... who face danger every hour, who dies every day, in a sense that he suffers every day.
And humanly speaking, "I fought with beasts at Ephesus." Now, I don't think he really fought with lions and tigers, it is nowhere else stated in Paul's writings, even in 2nd Corinthians 11, which kind of is his listing out of the various pains and sufferings he has to go through. There was no mention of bears or lions or tigers, but it's probably figurative, talking about how he fought with fierce persecutors at Ephesus.
So Paul says, "I ... I'm willing to do all this, because Jesus rose from the dead and so will I, why not!" "But if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." [1 Cor 15:32] "Huh, so if I do not believe in the resurrection, then I make it my aim to live it up in this world. I want to lead a luxurious, pleasure-filled life. I want to be epicurean, I want to live the good life, the high life." And I think that's Paul's words with regard to this subject.
Verses 1 through 11, he says, "Jesus is resurrected from the dead." Verses 12 to 34, he says, "Just as Jesus is resurrected from the dead, so will you." But I have still ... still two more verses to cover and you may ask, "Where in the world did the Corinthians get this idea that there is no resurrection from the dead?"
Maybe this is a clue in verse 33, "Do not be deceived. "Bad company ruins good morals."' Now, it might be that they have been mixing around with the wrong people, who have been teaching them the wrong things. Now, it's interesting that Paul quotes, "Bad company ruins good morals." It's not a verse in the Old Testament, it's not even in the Jewish writings. The commentators tell us that this is actually a quote from a secular comedy, a secular play by a secular man.
Nevertheless, Paul quotes it, because there is truth in it still. And the logic is simple — you associate with the wrong people, they will give you the wrong understanding of theology, and bad theology will affect the way you live, so in essence, bad company results in bad beliefs, results in bad behavior.
And it is likely that they are living in a sinful way, in a loose way, as a result of not believing that there's resurrection from the dead. They say, "Well, if there is no resurrection from the dead, then why bother! Live it up now! Sin all I want!"
And that is probably the case, because Paul says, verse 34, "Wake up from your drunken stupor ..." "You are ... you are drunk, you are confused. "... As is right and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame."
So if you do not believe in the resurrection, I'm not saying you ... you do not know or you have not heard, but if you do not really believe in the resurrection, it will affect the way you live your life, as Paul has warned right here.
So, I want to end with some concluding applicatory thoughts for you. To those who are here with us for the first time, we always like to tell you about the most important message of the whole Bible and that is - Jesus and Him crucified.
The Bible tells us, "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive." [1 Cor 15:22] You ... you may not know a lot about the Bible, but this one verse helps you, I hope understand that you can be in either of these two positions. It doesn't matter whether you're a Filipino, Chinese, Indian, Malay, whatever.
The world can be divided into two categories, the first category are those who are in Adam, and you heard just now, in Adam it is not a pretty picture, because God sees us in Adam and Adam is a sinner, he sinned against God. And because of Adam's sin, we all are seen as sinners and we all receive that sin nature, and we can save ourselves, therefore in Adam, we all die. No matter how hard you try to be a good man, no matter how hard you try to be a religious person, in Adam we all die because we cannot live that life that is right before God, and our state before God is that of a sinner.
But the Good News of the Bible is that God gave His Son, Jesus Christ to die for us, so that those who repent of their sins, those who turn from trying to earn their own way, and those who believe in Jesus Christ, are now united with Christ, we are now found in Christ. And Christ paid for the sins of those who are united with Him, those who would believe upon Him.
And in Christ, yes, we will all die, perhaps before Jesus comes, but we will be made alive. Because He's the firstfruits, because He's our King, because He's committed to defeating death on behalf of His people, and bring all that to the glory of God.
So if you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you will be made alive, not because of how good you are, but because God is committed to His own glory, and He will show grace to those who believe upon His Son.
I hope today you would find salvation in Jesus Christ alone, there is no other way man can be saved. He said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no man comes to the Father but by Me."
I speak today also to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul said, "If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain." [1 Cor 15:20]
People often ask me, "Why did you give up medicine?" I think this is an often repeated question I face and often repeated proposition I said to you, I let you think about. Because behind that question is always this insinuation right - Why you so stupid, hah? I mean, that's ... that's essentially what they're asking, right? Wah, why did you give up medicine? Actually, I understand, you must think that this is really stupid. If I could see your heart, you will be, "Wah, this siow [crazy in Hokkien] one! So stupid! Throw away his life."
Why? Because to a lot of people, preaching is vain, to a lot of people, the message we herald is useless! Now, I'm not saying that they do not believe in the resurrection, but they do not believe in spiritual things, they do not believe in salvation through Jesus Christ. So to them, I can understand my friends asking me, "Why did you quit medicine?" because it's irrelevant to them.
But, when you look at verse 20, you know that preaching is not in vain. "But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead," therefore, preaching and sharing and witnessing the Gospel of Jesus Christ is all important. There is nothing, if you think about it, there's nothing more important than that God's people have the privilege to tell others about Jesus and Him crucified.
I know when my friends look at me, I just had class reunions, they look at me like an idiot. Err ... but actually deep in my heart, I'm very ... I think of the other way, leh! Not that they are exactly idiots, because a lot of them are super smart people, but I say, "How I wish your eyes will be opened to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that your eyes will see spiritual reality, that you will really sit down and consider — what will happen after you die, and what is life all about?"
Because if they were to see it, if the lights get turned on by God's mercy and grace, oh, then they will realize preaching is not vain. We are all blessed people actually, if you repent and believe in Jesus Christ, you are because the ability to see does not come from you.
2nd Corinthians 4 tells us that our hearts are darkened, and it is God who called out light, just as He did in the day of Genesis. He's the One who calls out the light in our hearts that we may see spiritual realities. But my friends, my point is this — if you do see spiritual realities today, why are you foolishly giving your life to things that are about here and now? Why would you say, "Let's eat and drink and tomorrow we die?" Why would you devote your whole life to your career?
I'm not saying don't work hard at your career, but I'm asking, "Why? Why would you devote your life to the career in such a way that they are the ultimate things, when they really are not?" They will pass away! I tell you what is vain — the title of a vice president or CEO. I tell you what is vain — $10 million in your bank account. I tell you what is vain — when everybody gathers around to worship you in this life.
"What profits a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul?" [Mark 8:36] But we know our preaching is not in vain. "I fought with beasts at Ephesus." [1 Cor 15:32] "I'm willing to risk my life." I actually am ashamed, in a sense to be called a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ because my life is far from this. I don't fight with beasts, I don't face danger, we have a super comfortable environment to serve in here in Singapore.
But I hope we, it will not be lost on us, that the ministry that God calls His people to sometimes, at times, many times involves life. I hope we are not a strawberry generation of Christians.
We know there's something called, strawberry generation in our world, but I hope that doesn't come, come to the Christian church that we will only serve when it's easy or when it's safe.
This has become the mantra of Singaporean Christians - let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die, I hope it does not become us here.
So, Paul tells us that there is a radical change as a result of believing in Jesus Christ and Him resurrected. A picture is shown here, his name is Martin Luther. I think you would have heard about this man, German priest, who subsequently having read the book of Romans, understood salvation is not by works, but by faith ... but by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
As a result of his discovery in the Bible, and because of how he has been teaching others and printing letters to tell people about what has been wrong, and the truth that is found in the Scriptures, he faced tremendous pressure, opposition and persecution. But this is the song he wrote, some of the words:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill; God's truth abideth still;
His Kingdom is forever.
I probably should end here, I think that will be where I end. I hope today as Gospeliters, we would think about our lives. We often talk about how the Gospel, God's love for us on the cross, some 2000 years ago should melt our hearts and motivate us to be living sacrifices.
But today in 1st Corinthians 15, I hope that we will also see that we are not only to look back, but to look forward. To look forward to the day Jesus, our King will return for us, and we will be resurrected at His coming. We will have glorious bodies at His coming! I hope that this message of the resurrection, your resurrection, will make a difference for you theologically, and in your life. May this inspire you, encourage you, to think of how we can live for the glory of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Let's bow for a word of prayer together.
Father, we thank You this morning that Jesus, Your Son rose from the dead some 2000 years ago as the firstfruits, as a guarantee, as a promise that more will come. That He is our great King, who will usher in a glorious eternity when all His enemies are made His footstool, including death.
We long for that day, where we will be resurrected together with Him where death will be dealt a death blow as it were, and all the kingdoms will be restored to You. That You might be all in all, we long for the day where You will be glorified according to what You have said, according to Your plans.
In the meanwhile, I pray that as Your people, we will be wise to hear Your words today and to resolve within ourselves, that if we do believe in the resurrection and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we will not live according to that mantra — if you eat and drink, and we die tomorrow.
But that we will endeavor today to be willing to give our lives for the sake of the Gospel, knowing that our preaching is not in vain, our witnessing is not in vain, our discipleship is not in vain, our fellowship is not in vain. Knowing confidently, we can be always abounding in the work of the Lord because our labor will never be in vain in the Lord.
So anchor us on the cross of Jesus Christ, in the display of His amazing grace. And also looking forward to the return of Jesus Christ, where we will gain it all in the glorious resurrection. Father, work this truths deep into our hearts, and I pray for a church that will radically live for Your Gospel. Would You today also be with our friends who are here who do not know Jesus, Oh, I pray that they will be wise to turn from Adam unto Christ that they might be saved. Thank You, we pray all this in Jesus' Name.
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