“...and the LORD God will wipe tears away from all faces”

By Jon W. Quinn
It was in ancient Athens that Paul stood on Mars’ Hill and proclaimed Christ to the philosophers. He made known to them "the unknown God" and pointed out that they should know Him because "in Him we live and breathe and have our very being." He said that we are "His offspring." The philosophers eagerly listened to these new ideas. This was their forte'. They lived to hear "something new."

Just like today, there were some things that were just not in vogue to believe. I suppose it was the first century equivalent to "political correctness." One thing that you just could not believe in and still be accepted by this group was resurrection.

It was when Paul began to expound upon the resurrection of Christ that every self-respecting philosopher began to sneer and mock (Acts 7:32). Some wanted to hear more, but most did not. It wasn't the "in" thing to believe. Instead, you were suppose to make fun of those who did believe in such things, thus improving your standing with the group.

Against this backdrop, we come to another Greek city; Corinth. The same philosophies prevailed, and so special care was needed when addressing the resurrection. The converts at Corinth needed help understanding and accepting the concept.

The Resurrection of Christ
"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures..." (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). "First things first;" and the "first" thing of the gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Paul emphasizes that the resurrection of Christ was not a new idea, but rather appeals to the ancient writings of the prophets as evidence of their validity. He follows that course by giving further evidence; that Jesus appeared to many eyewitnesses. Most of the people who had witnessed the resurrected Christ were still around at the time the first Corinthian letter is written. They could be talked with; asked questions and, perhaps most importantly, watched. If what they said was true, they would be willing to die for their faith. History confirms that they were.

Finally, Paul is able to add his own name. Paul, the one who had been the chief persecutor of the church, had seen the church's risen Savior (vss.8-10). Because of what he had done to Christians before his own conversion, he was compelled to spend his life telling others of the truth about Jesus he now knew. In effect he is saying, "Why do you think I am so driven in this work? It is because of what God has done for me despite what I had been." Friends, do not delude yourselves; in the final analysis; the Lord has given us as much as He gave Paul. We, too, are saved by grace. We, too, are in God's debt.

The Resurrection of Hope
"...and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, and your faith is also vain...But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep." (1 Corinthians 15:14; 20). Hope is necessary for inner peace. The promise of resurrection as seen through the resurrection of Christ gives believers undying hope. If this hope is untrue, then preaching and faith is vain. If this hope is true, then preaching and faith is worth more than anything this world can offer.

Hope provides life its anchor (Hebrews 6:19). Without it, life is unstable. It loses its firm perspective on right and wrong as it loses its motivation to choose right over wrong. If there is no hope, then why worry about moral decisions at all? Paul even confirmed that if there is no resurrection it would be better to "eat and drink for tomorrow we die." (vs. 32). Sadly, that fairly well describes the life perspective of the godless today.

The Resurrection of the Righteous
"But each in his own order: Christ, the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming..." (1 Corinthians 15:23). But our hope is valid because Christ has been raised thus giving assurance that one day our resurrection will follow. Of course, both the righteous and the wicked will be raised (John 5:28,29); the righteous to eternal life and the wicked to eternal judgment. But here, Paul does not discuss the future of the wicked. He is concerned here about the future of the righteous; that is, "those who are Christ's at His coming."

For the faithful, there will be a resurrection and then the end comes (vs. 24). This end is described as the removal of the physical universe and replacing it with a new realm (2 Peter 3:8-13; Revelation 21:1). Following "the end" will be a new beginning. Jesus will "deliver up the kingdom to the God and Father..." (vs. 24) and the last enemy, death, will have been conquered (vs. 26). All things will be subjected to the Father, "that God may be all in all." (vs. 28).

The Resurrection of the Body
“So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 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..." (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). It would do little good to live in a beautiful, eternal home if our bodies continued to grow old and deteriorate. "Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and bone cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable." (vs. 50).

The resurrection of the body includes a miraculous change in its nature. Even those who are still alive will undergo this change "in a twinkling of an eye." (vss. 51,52).

The Resurrection Song
"O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" (1 Corinthians 15:55). With the last enemy defeated, the songs of the righteous will express their joy. This statement is taken from a song of praise for God's favor that is recorded in Isaiah; "The LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; a banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, and refined aged wine. And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples, even the veil which is stretched over all nations. He will swallow up death for all time, and the LORD God will wipe tears away from all faces, and He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken." (Isaiah 25:6-8).

From The Bradley Banner 1/4/2015
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
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