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The Corinthian Columns of
Cohesion, Beauty and Power
In I Corinthians 15
THE GLORIOUS GOSPEL OF GOD
The Governing Grace of God
The Manifest Power of God and the
METHOD of God in dealing with MAN
FIRST A NEW YEAR’S MESSAGE
It is over two thousand years since Christ came to do His Father’s bidding, quitting heaven for earth, and earth for death, to break it and make it a paved, paid way to heaven, where He led, quitting earth for heaven,
The way and the truth, yes and the Life.
When I was a child, my father would go to our Ocean Grove Camp to set it up,
And later we children would follow. SO Christ has gone to prepare a place for His people, and we follow, and this may be soon, for His return is NEAR (Luke 21).
Meanwhile, still the
date seeks to tell of His birth, still Christmas is honoured
as reflecting the advent of the most important human being who ever was or will
be, God as man
(I Timothy 3:16, Isaiah 9, John 8:58).
Without Him, refusing Him, you are mere mess, self made rubbish from the realities of life (Mark 9). With Him, yours is life eternal, in the love, peace and power of the only One who can give what God made you for: Himself (John 10:9,27-28 – and learn those verses for your soul’s sake!).
START your New Year with these facts, and by faith relate to the Redeemer as you very own:
GOD IS GOD, and clearly shown
is GOD MANIFEST,
and the way is open for Him to be known
The BIBLE is His verified, Christ confirmed WORD,
FAITH is the way to His
acceptance and life,
its subject YOU, its object CHRIST,
so live by and with it, and so know it. so know it continually.
So also seek to
ATTEND BIBLE STUDY,
and study it privately, intensively;
GROW in grace and knowledge:
EXERCISE in these things,
PRAY without ceasing, and seek to attend
PRAYER MEETING (cf. Acts 4).
LIFE is not yours, but
Christ’s if you are His (II Corinthians -11), so
SEEK IN ALL THINGS to please HIM (Colossians 3:9-10).
The CHURCH is part of the BODY OF CHRIST (Ephesians 4:16, I Cor. 12:27), so seek its welfare (Romans 12:4-8), to forward and promote what it does, to support and to help it in its work, to contribute in time and funds as you are able.
Look on it as part of your body, and your body as part of the body of Christ.
Like part of any body, help all the rest to do its work better.
The WORLD is lost (James 4:4) so seek to find what is lost ACTIVELY, and ponder the ways to do it (Matthew ). If you have parents or children, make their SALVATION what matters, not their money or fame or name. If they end with no name, nameless rejects, what is the good of anything else for them ?
Review YOUR LIFE, DO GOD’S WILL. Do you TRY to do your work in this world, or do it ? It is imperfect, but substantially DONE. So DO the will of God, for He is a Father to His people, and knows how to help, and Christ is available always to them (Hebrews -16). He is a SYMPATHETIC HIGH PRIEST, an AVAILABLE HIGH PRIEST and a PITIFUL and GRACIOUS one.
Now for today we look at I CORINTHIANS 15, and what a teeming place of meaning this is!
TEAMING WITH MEANING
The PLAN of the PRESENTATION on I Corinthians 15
a) the Dynamic Difference I Corinthians 15:35-38
b) the Difference in Form I Corinthians -41
the Divine Difference I Corinthians 15:42-49
When you are healed, you are strong.
When you are strong and grateful,
Then you are energetic for your Saviour,
Knowing the value of His life,
Of your own work for and in Him therefore,
And that it is valued by Him.
Now let us consider it in detail.
TEAMING WITH MEANING
and it is also teeming with meaning
1. The Gospel I Corinthians 15:1-11
“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.
“Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by
one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles,
who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the
Here is that deliciously simple, simply objective and objectively adequate listing of fact. It concerns Christ, the Messiah from heaven with the status of God (Psalm 2, 45, 73, Isaiah 48:16, Zechariah 12:10, 2:9, Micah 5:1-3) who DIED for our SINS according to the specified PLAN written for a millennium and foreshadowed for much more, in the SCRIPTURE (cf. Barbs. Arrows and Balms 17, TMR Chs. 2 - 3).
It relates the mathematical aspect, since God made mathematics to fit into the contrived creation in which HIS OWN work of this kind is magnified to the last degree, astonishing men: Christ rose on the THIRD day according to the scripture (both His own repeated predictions as in Matthew 17, and those of the Bible as in SMR Ch. 6).
with the scientific method so decisive in the Bible, enormous stress is here in
I Cor. 15’s opening verses, placed on the verification of the resurrection
by many, in various places, times and aggregations, under varied conditions (I Cor. l 15:5-7, cf. SMR Ch. 6,
Blessings Ch. 15, Extended Endnote 2, Acme,
Alpha and Omega: Jesus Christ Ch. 11, With Heart and Soul, Mind and Strength
Paul does not omit his own experience, testimony and ascertainment (15:8-9), and then proceeds to note the entire conformity to fact, to these facts, because they are facts, that is to be found in the apostles speaking as one, acting as one, as constrained, as led, as observers.
There is nothing about self-fulfilment in this; but it does fulfil what the life is designed for; there is no word of personal happiness, though there is no joy like that to be found in Christ (I Peter 1:8); there is nothing about ‘trips’ here, or tongues, or varied crutches, as some would make them; though there is no end to the power of God in the Gospel (Romans 1:16). It is about Christ. He came. He is God. He gave. He still gives; it is ordered, was organised, predicted, occurred. It had purpose in redemption. It is offered, available, since in coming, He has presented Himself. From this there is no room to turn; unless in its rejection; and if so, in the rejection of God.
Recently, in some talk on art, a young artist reportedly said this: “It is all about me.”
Christianity, nothing could be further from the truth: It is all about Christ.
He rescues. You figure as one to be rescued, but in the rescue, your name does
not occur except as its recipient (cf. Romans , , Titus -13, 3:4-8, Galatians 3:1-13). To be
sure you as such, illustrate the grandeur of His grace, the wonder of His
practicality; but what is called forth is HIS!
2. Verbalising the Victory – Proposition out, Power in … I Corinthians 15:12-20
“Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise.
“For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
“But now Christ is risen
from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of
those who have fallen asleep.”
Paul deals with manifest confusion, unbelief or prevarication (and in various
parties, each according to type, may have figured). In effect, his
expostulation is like this:
v HOW on earth do you have people in your midst talking about the general proposition, There is no resurrection! asks Paul, when CHRIST is the heart of the Gospel, and HE ROSE. Is there no realisation at all ?
If there is categorically NONE, then all are included, and so is Christ, and so those who have come to Him are without hope, and we are the most miserable, not the most joyous and ravished of man, the most insidiously fraudulent, not ambassadors of observable truth, the crux of the universe, the core of history, the coming of the Creator to man, to bring man to Himself!
But this is not so. None of these appalling horrors has any truth. On the contrary, Christ indeed, is not merely ONE exception to the idea that there is no resurrection from the dead; for He is the firstfruits, the initial donation of the crop, the first to arise to the above ground level from the dead, the crop commencement for stirring, as seed does when buried and germinating, from below to above, to wave dappled and rippling in the sunshine.
He is not only exceptional in this; He is the General of the army of the Lord, to be raised from the dead in body, as already in spirit.
3. The Overview – I Corinthians 15:21-28
“For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.
“Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For ‘He has put all things under His feet.’ But when He says ‘all things are put under Him,’ it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.”
Instead of the dead in Christ being hopeless, they have Him as the ALREADY CONSUMMATE de-activator of death itself. MAN was the author of death, in this, that his sin was already proclaimed by God, before he first fell, to have this result; and it duly had it. Now God, who in justice and with wisdom enacted this first RESULT, has by MAN also enacted the SECOND result, which is LIFE FROM THE DEAD! Christ arises first, and then when He returns for the NEXT ACTION ACCORDING TO THE GOSPEL, His second coming to this world, then the dead are raised (as in Isaiah 26:19, I Thess. 4) to meet Him. The Captain then joins His team to Himself, and “My dead body shall they arise,” as it is written, word for word, in Isaiah 26:19.
This all done, Christ as man, the Messiah, lays down His role, for it is finished, and resumes His place in the Trinity, still the Shepherd, but the Shepherd returned, His mission and commission realised to the full, so that the Throne in Heaven, that one throne, is both His and that of His Father (Revelation 22:3), His leads His own (Rev. 22:3-4, 7:16-17), and it is He and His Father who comprise the Temple (Rev. 21:22). The Spirit of God is figured in that splendid stream, by which the trees grow, pure and clear as crystal; and as in Ezekiel 47’s vision, it comes from God. There it came from the altar, here from the throne of God and the Lamb, from the Sender and the Sent, from the One loving to send His Son a sacrifice, and the sacrificial Saviour, sent from both (as in John 15:26).
Indeed, in this section, Paul dwells on the consistency, order and scope of the work of Christ, wrought in and for the Gospel, that application of wonder of these Messianic attainments. Now we see that the ENEMY Death, become so because of sin and justice, is itself overcome, not by mere drafting, but by the immense cost of the incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection, so that its fangs pulled, its ground removed, its impact is rendered irrelevant because made once for all on ONE (Isaiah 53:6), and on ONE for all who come, all being invited and welcome.
Thus man at last has the Genesis situation restored in this.
In what ? in the putting of all things under his feet, in that Christ, become man, has them there! And we in Him, have them there, as part of mankind, in Him (Hebrews 2:5-9, Psalm 8).
4. The Verification in Life I Corinthians -34
“Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized
for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for
the dead? And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour? I affirm, by the boasting
in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die
daily. If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at
“Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’ Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.”
Corinthians 15:29ff., we find Paul attesting once more
the uniformity and total cohesion of all things in the Christian Gospel and its
due fruits. WHY, he asks, should people be receiving baptism, with a view to
replacing places in the ranks, rendered empty to all visibility, by the death of
earlier Christians. Making up for the losses, people
happily receive baptism, aware of their place in the continuing team, never
deficient in ranks, through such replacements (). Paul indeed is (as in I Cor. 4: 9-13, II Cor. 4:7-15) in
the state of DYING DAILY. Not only so, he himself is in peril beyond ready
imagination, continually. Why all this, then ?
In II Cor. 4:8-15, he puts it like this:
v “We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are
perplexed, but not in despair;
persecuted, but not forsaken;
struck down, but not destroyed—
always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
v “For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you.
v “And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you.
v “For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.”
Hence all worldliness which focusses on pleasure and self-fulfilment is ludicrous. If there is no resurrection, then do it all, be merry with the means of life, deny its purpose; but it is, for all that, purposeful in construction of body, in that of mind, in that of spirit, and in the provision of the Spirit who is God, of the whole meaning and matrix to life, in DECLARING who God is, and DOING what God can, in order to show man where he is, what his meaning is, and thus how to live.
Thus there is no conflict, except with sin, no peril except that which can be overcome, not in dabbling with destiny, but in clear direction. Evil talk, like swear words in the conversation of some, foolish and dissipated speech, philosophically or in any errant domain, this is merely a laxity leading to bad living, because the tongue echoes in the hearts of the slack, and makes its presence felt, dereliction in conversation, readily yielding to sin in spirit, and hence the manner of living itself.
It is all connected. Remove the engine, and the car does not go; the tires and its scrapes; the driver and it is pointless.
Let us therefore not give birth to deformed speech, to litter the earth, but believing the truth, speak in its terms, not merely terminologically exact, but filled with light.
So do we return to the details and data of the resurrection.
5. The Clarification – what this advent of life is and what it is not
a) the Dynamic Difference - I Corinthians 15:35-38
“But someone will say, ‘How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?’
Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.”
First now Paul considers the power which is inherent in such a change of form as is found in a seed, when it germinates, strikes its root, extends upwards its shoot, and in dying as a SEED, lives as a PRODUCT from the seed. Seeds make cropts.
Is it then hard to consider the simple fact that God who gives even to a seed, this dynamic resurgence when its first form is gone, thus preserves that of which it IS a seed, namely the wheat, oats or whatever the crop may be!
This point has the double advantage (cf. Christ’s words on this topic in John 12) of showing that change of form, the earlier phase becoming lost in the interests of the next, in a categorically planned circuit, is readily understood and exemplified in the rest of creation; and at the same time, as an overtone, reminding one that there IS indeed a cost in the loss of the first form, namely the seeming autonomy of one’s life, its rank self-seeking preservability; but that there is no less a gain, the actual continuance of what has been planned in far greater glory than was to be found in the original (cf. I Cor. 15:31, Matthew 16:24-27).
b) the Difference in Form - I Corinthians 15:39-41
“All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory.”
Now Paul comes to the next and intimately related point that there is a huge variety of form in the extent of the universe, and in living creations, of the ‘flesh’ to be found. It is true in astronomical specificities, in botanical, in physiological, throughout the universe. The RESURRECTION of the body is one of these many changes of form. Not only, then, is there a sovereign dynamic which MAKES it happen, in an organised, ordered and planned way indeed, but there is a specific FORM and FORMAT for each phase: that in the testing station on this earth, and that in the tested station in celestial quarters, when Christ returns and His people are all to be raised, even in body, just as He was.
c) the Divine Difference - I Corinthians 15:42-49
“So also is the resurrection of the dead. The
body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 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. There is a natural
body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, “The first man Adam
became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the
spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first
man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As
was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the
heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the
image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly
Now we come to the more specific aspects of the presentation, relative to bodies.
Thus the body of man, because of his sin, is “sown in corruption” but of because of subjective faith – not subjectivistic*1 in the objective gospel “raised in incorruption.”
That is, the body is subject to pains, pangs, sometimes drastic limitations, and ageing, indeed to death. When it is raised by the dynamic planned and purposed by God, then its form is changed: no more is ageing, no more is vulnerability and liability parading like so many surf life-savers, but rather their opposite, as if they were surf drowners!
This phase is gone. We look to His return, and His donation of this last gift in the sequence, the resurrection to follow His own, as in Him, now in us who believe in Him. What then is the position at this time ? how does the body then fare ?
It is incorruptible now. It cannot rot any more. Christ’s failure to have His body rot, is the exemplification of the power of the Creator which could make bodies in the first place, with all the forms and procedures for any given phase intact; and His rising is the exhibition of what is to come. As Paul declares in Philippians 3:20-21:
“For our citizenship is
in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour,
the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which he is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
Thus our bodies are sown in DISHONOUR, but raised in honour. They are, on this earth, the repositories for the spirits of sinners, and as such they have sinful proclivities, and as a person does in fact sin, whether through lack of spiritedness, lack of spirituality, lack of godliness, lack of active, programmed trust in God according to the New Covenant in the blood of Christ, or morally, ethically, socially and so on, then is his/her body the actual recipient of the impact of such sin, such failure, such falling short. In this, it is a subject of dishonour; but when phase 2 comes, in the resurrection, it is an honourable thing, for it neither indulges, nor engages nor is smitten, sited or corrupted by sin. It is a matter of honour granted to those who behold the very face of the Lord (Rev. 22).
Moreover (), it is “sown”, that is first unloaded onto earth by the processes and procedures which God invented in the format of families, a NATURAL body. Here, it must be noted, the coming contrast is NOT between flesh and something fairy. It is, indeed, between the NATURAL order and the SPIRITUAL order.
The natural order, being now cursed (cf. Romans , Biblical Blessings Ch. 7), is in an inferior modality. While to be natural is not bad in itself, to be a part of a cursed creation, this is not the best! Hence the problems of Romans 7-8; and NOT hence the solution of Romans 8.
THAT had to come by divine initiative, decision, response and responsibility, through the love and practical zeal to conquer our deficiencies and provide for our corruption that was in the heart of the Creator, that in justice wisdom might find a way to satisfy also mercy (as in Romans 3:23ff.). So did the Creator become our Redeemer (Isaiah 48:16ff., Colossians 1:15ff., John 1:1-14), when that One wholly and infinitely incomparable God – Ps. 89:6, came and did it Himself (Hosea , Ezekiel 34, John 10, ). What He did, He gave.
Thus it is not merely RAISED a spiritual body: but we find that it is raised in terms of One who is as total a progenitor for man, yes and far more, than was Adam. If in Adam, by virtue – hardly virtue – reason of his sin, all became, were constituted as sinners (Romans ), then the next step is the other MAJOR axis, Jesus Christ. Not satisfied with Creation, He now incarnate insists on redemption.
“The first man was of the earth, with earth involved; the second Man is the Lord from heaven” – I Corinthians .
It is only then, with “the Lord from heaven” now specifically in view, that we are at all able to contemplate the next step. “As was the earthy, so are those who that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are those who are heavenly; and as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.”
v These things are not abstract, but practical; not phraseological in substance, but physical; not developmental but intrusive; not terrestrial in organisation, but here merely as a site for the all-sufficient Saviour, who on earth did His heavenly will.
Thus there is the first contrast, the natural and the celestial, paralleled by the dishonourable (because of sin) and the honourable (because of redemption of the body as in Romans ). Flesh was in dishonour; but the celestial counterpart will have nothing such. Just as seed and corn waving are intimately related, so here; but unlike that contrast, this has more: for the coming “corn waving” will wave without impediment, worm or rust.
6. The Corruptible Inherits the Incorruptible,
because of the divine operation –
I Corinthians 15:50-57
“Now this I say,
brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the
“O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”
The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
A. There is
a Change through the Sheer Mastery of Him
who Can and Will Subdue All things to Himself
We come now to a more minute examination of the transition from the dishonourable, to the honourable, from the merely natural, to the celestial counterpart.
First we are met by a categorical exclusion notice. Flesh and blood are excluded, have no visas accepted in heaven (I Cor. ). You can’t get there from here. Does this appear a deep sorrow ?
It would be if it were not for the plan of God, the celestial program, the provision, the plan of salvation indeed. In this, it is seen sadly true that the present coat of flesh which we wear is as previously found, already dishonourable: and that not from construction but from sin and its inheritance. Therefore entry of that into heaven would be an enormity.
What then ? “BEHOLD,” says Paul, “I SHOW YOU A MYSTERY.”
What does this mean ?
It means that it relates to a divine divulgement of something which would not be demonstrable from the love of God alone, nor even from the mode of His divine actions. It is a specialised specific, something God has determined to do, just as one’s earthly father might decide on a new holiday destination for his children, in one year.
In this case, Paul divulges the manner of the resurrection, of the change of format, of the elevation from the dishonourable to the honourable, of the passage of the formula from Adam’s day to the splendour of the image available from Christ’s day.
There is, we find then, to be a day on which SOME people not having died in the flesh at all, will find that they have an intersection of loci: their ways and His will coincide in a manner that reminds one of the departure of people on ocean liners for new lands. He will come, they will go, as in a ship setting forth.
Those still living when Christ returns, thus not dying on this earth in form and format at all, will be suddenly transformed (you see the sort of thing when you watch a young dragon-fly in the light, allowing the moisture on its adolescent wings to dry, and the wrinkles to depart, before flying away). A new thing has come. What once COULD NOT FLY, now will fly by nature.
In our case, that is, the Christian case, those who are still living when Christ comes, in this world (a group seen in the fact that “we shall not all sleep” or depart as the dead do from their no more active bodies), THESE will BE CHANGED. Indeed, “we shall all be changed” (I Corinthians ). How then does this happen ? Swiftly, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye”.
What however of those who are already without their earthly bodies, having died before this great day of the general resurrection ? We learn from I Thessalonians 4 that these are to arise first.
There is to be a trumpet, one to sound throughout the earth, a giant communication of sound, an annunciation of the glory to come, and in this, the dead in Christ will be raised beyond the appeal of earth, the demands of sin, the aches of this world, to a station suitable for those in whom the love of God is the deposit from faith, found in their regeneration (Titus 3:5ff., Romans 5:5). Thus, “the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
In this way, we move from the statement in categorical form, “we shall all be changed” to the more intimate and individual formulation, “and we shall be changed”, so that there IS indeed to be a change, and incorruptibility is an essential component of the new form, a provision for the new formula, a characteristic of the new format.
B. The Corruptible Inherits the Incorruptible, through the transmutative dynamic of the divine operation and God’s people being made pure, become Incorruptible – I Corinthians -57
Corruption ? think of it no more as a liability and a decrease in that day. Why “ It is because it is to be refitted, as with an overcoat (as in II Cor. 5:2 – we yearn not to be naked of body, but overcoated with the new one), so that this transformative newness will both overlay and undercut the preceding, consuming in its brightness, the dullness that went before.
This is the fulfilment of the promise from Genesis, expanded throughout the Old Testament and concluded in the New. As Paul to Titus put in in Titus 1:2-3:
“in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, but He has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Saviour.”
Corruption will thus put on incorruption, says the apostle, and mortality will put on immortality. What new clothes are these! Already the Christian wears the impregnable suit of divine righteousness given through Christ (cf. Isaiah 61:1-3,10, Matthew 22:12, Romans 3:23ff.). Deathlessness is one of the many features of life eternal (cf. I John 1:1-4, -13, John 6:50ff.), and it now inheres in the new body as breath in the old. Death itself, like some luscious piece of steak, but here an utterly rotten one, is conveniently swallowed up, and this is by what means ? It is by the bounty of Christ who removed its relevance via His redemption in which, paying the price of sin, He ousted and rendered outré death itself. Thus “death is swallowed up in victory.”
What, after all, was the sting of death ?
It was sin.
Death is no more natural than is a car crash.
What made the sting so sharp ?
It was the law, not only as some law that men made, but as representative of the zeal and intractability of God against all sin, which has no place in heaven, and needs the payment of redemption before in justice it can be dismissed (Romans 3, Galatians 3 – and this is as in I Corinthians 15:56).
Thanks, comes the paean from the apostle,
“Thanks be to God who gives us the victory.”
7. Gratitude in Abundance –
the Results – I Corinthians 15:58
When you are healed, you are strong.
When you are strong and grateful,
Then you are energetic for your Saviour,
Knowing the value of His life,
Of your own work for and in Him therefore,
And that it is valued by Him.
THEREFORE, says Paul, be STEADFAST, IMMOVABLE, ALWAYS ABOUNDING in the work of the Lord.
What part has dishonour in those destined to honour, or what place has sin in those redeemed from it ? (cf. Romans 6:1ff.), or why would one slacken, when the prize is so near, or why disdain the prize when it is the infinite God Himself!
As God said to Abraham (and see Romans 4:24ff. for the precise parallel to ourselves), “I am your shield and your exceedingly abundant reward” – Genesis 15:1. It signifies an increasing, an abundant, and hence an ETERNAL reward, one that is ageless, and so you see the wonder of it. A prize may be gained, and the money spent; but when the prize is God Himself, though the universe is indeed to be spent (Matthew 24:35), yet God is unsearchable in riches and in Christ makes them available, for they are made manifest in Christ Jesus, the Lord (Ephesians 3:8). He is never exhausted, being limitless in power and eternal in wisdom; nor are they who wait upon Him (Isaiah 40:29-31), for those who “wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength: they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
In Him is everlasting strength (lit. ‘rock of ages’, Isaiah 26:4). Unconstituted, He is ageless; unlimited, He has no bounds; creator of the time that is temporal, He has no bond in time.
v In Him, says Paul, your labour is not in vain.
v How COULD it be if you are in Christ as Lord, and so are acting in the will of God, as His servant with His power for His purposes and in intimate communion with Him! And indeed, it is not, the labour of love for His service, it is not in vain! Therefore work abundantly, at rest in Him (Matthew 11:27ff., Isaiah ),, directed by Him, covered and clad in His sight.
Ø What then of the people of the Lord ?
Ø Unwilling to seek to create gods of convenience, they do not favour the flops and the foozles made with strokes of laxity, be they
§ political in ‘beasts’ of reckless abandon both of logic and restraint,
§ social in bureaucrats of unsubdued aspiration, regulating man like traffic, but not understanding his place before God, or knowing God where he alone fits; whether they be
§ psychological, seeking through bottomless pits of assumptions to bring some stability to fallen man, yes or
§ culturally religious, presenting
outrageous outworkings of the heart of man, as if his
founder, and hence foundering as they all do, in the excess of violence, or
absence of godly initiative, in the vacuity of incoherent thought or the
wildness of mere assertion. (Cf. SMR
Ø Thus, as to His people, their work for Him is not in vain.
Their inheritance is sure, their work is secure, their God is able to keep them from every evil work and preserve them for His heavenly kingdom (II Timothy 4:18); His work is already done in the creation of the universe, the sending forth of that prodigy and marvel of invention, the spirit of man (Christ Jesus: the Wisdom and the Power of God Ch. 7), as equally His provision for its redemption; and in this, it needs NO contribution, and comes ONLY to faith (Romans 10:1-9).
Here, additions are subtractions, like trying to add to the intricate delicacy of a flower, in concrete. CHRIST ONLY, His sacrifice your cover, His grace your assurance (Heb. 9:12ff.).
The resurrection of Christ needs NO contribution; it is HIS. Theft is not acceptable, in word, spirit or deed. It is His and He did it! What is the Gospel then ? What has Paul divulged in I Corinthians 15:1-11 ?
Is it that YOU are the Son of God, or that YOU
died for our sins, or that YOU were raised the third day, or that YOU have
provided prophetic, circumstantial and verificatory
evidence in abundance so that the sheer massiveness of it on all sides leaves
no excuse, only explanation of unbelief, and that without merit, only muddle!
Ø Or is it your church ?
Ø or your nation ?
Ø or your dreams ?
Ø or your wisdom ? or your strength ?
Ø or your ideas ?
There is NO OTHER FOUNDATION, NO OTHER NAME by which men MUST be saved (I Corinthians 3:11, Acts 4:11-12). It is His name in the depths, as in the heights, in effectuality as in consummation (Ephesians , Romans 10:1-9).
In this Chapter of I Corinthians, then, we do not see man, but God; we do not see man’s gospel or gods, but the God who made man ABLE but not wise, for he was under test, and would by faith live in God, or by rebellion opt out; and it is the latter which he chose.
§ And now, if he should choose either the surreptitious or the assertorial gods of flesh and philosophy, vision or projection: these all fail (I Corinthians -25), are constantly replaced or angrily seek their fodder from flesh, and none stands to reason. They dash the earth and its inhabitants; their words do not come to pass; their ways are vacuous or evil, and what good they project, is merely an insolence. And why is that ? It is because it misuses or denies the name of God, while using His power, His strength, the capacities given by Him, for anything but His purposes, even denying, caricaturing, contorting, distorting or distraining His name, as if theirs was the glory and His the obligation.
§ Let them then be resurrected, and let them start churches, nations, international bureaucracies, places of power; and let their name be glorious from the first, and let them write the scriptures of truth which endure for millennia unscathed, directive, sovereign over men, telling them their ways, their future and their past without flinching, without error and without possibility of being supplanted. When you start before time, no one can emulate you within it. As well the characters of a book engage in endless theories as to which of its pages, which of its letters, which of its chapters was its origin, or hallucinate about its composition from some dream which someone in the book was given to have. It is only when the Author speaks, that you can really know His purposes; and it is when He acts, that you see.
You may now wish to look and ponder on the resurrection of Christ and see what preliminary indications of this glory are thereby imparted, and to ponder verse on the Christian life.
For this, see, respectively,
Spiritual Refreshings Ch. 5,
Biblical Blessing Appendix IV, *2;
and in the second category,
Barbs, Arrows and Balms 21.
See also under 1. The Gospel, above.
*1 See on this, TMR Ch. 5.