1 Corinthians Study: making much of Christ in a messy church

Do you struggle getting along with others in church? You are not alone.

Paul’s first letter to Corinth is about dealing with relational differences, setting disputes, reinforcing God’s view of marriage and divorce, the essentials of public worship, the importance of Jesus’ resurrection, money issues, and so much more.

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echoes from the tomb

Leaning forward, you strain to hear. The fresh, cool breeze of the garden morning brushes your cheek. Bending, you look into that open, black-dark mouth of the tomb, its only light the sun’s thin finger reaching past your shoulder to touch the corner of a bone box. But the bones for which it waits have changed, gotten up and walked away. No smell of death; only the sweet scent of burial spices hanging in the air.

Bouncing off the walls of this vacated tomb, you may hear echoes from another garden where the lie, “Has God really said?” prevailed, and death was ushered in. But now, in this garden the lie has been silenced with a resounding, “Yes!! His Word lives!” and death has been driven out, the curse of Eden swallowed up in this empty space.

And do you hear the echo of righteous Noah, who built a deliverance to carry God’s creations through the judgment, or Father Abraham, through whom all the peoples of the earth would be blessed? Do you hear the echoes of Egypt’s oppressive slavery turned inside-out in powerful salvation, and at its peak an innocent lamb slain so that death would pass over? Do you hear the echo of new life found through parting waters, or of bread, water, and the Shekinah tent given in a wilderness? Do you hear the death-dealing law, unable to give life, at once fulfilled and filled full by the Life? Do you hear these echoes?

As you now kneel on this rough-hewn path leading into where Hope was dead for a moment, do you hear Joshua’s name, bouncing ’round these walls, the same name as “Yeshua,” “Jesus,” whose very name shouts “Salvation!”? Walls have crumbled. Evil has been judged, banished from the land. Joshua led God’s people to a promised place, a place flowing with all good things, as does now his namesake, who takes us to a promised rest harder bought. And the chaos of Judges too rings through this darkened grave, its “every man did what was right in his own eyes” now crushed under a staggering obedience, one Man having done what was right to give us new hearts, making us right with God.

King David’s words, “You will not allow your Holy One to see decay,” hang in this sweet air, and His Son, the ultimate Man, the ultimate King, receives the coronation song and, finally, dominion of the world and of a different kind of Kingdom. And this Easter tomb, having become a temple of sorts, housing God, echoes with the words of blessing over Solomon’s temple, its walls now torn down but built up in flesh and bone, stone by stone, to go walking through the world, taking the Light of the Gospel, the Presence, to all the black corners of the earth. The temple decisively cleansed by one Offering, the Great High Priest intercedes, never to offer another sacrifice, the way into the holiest place forever opened by His trail-blazing life.

Here too, in this now-hollow crypt ring full the words of Isaiah, “On this mountain … He will destroy death forever,” and Jeremiah’s “they will all know Me,” and do you hear Ezekiel’s bones rattle with hope? Exile having been exiled, this now is the true return, the Kingdom come, God’s people ruled by one ever-living King.

A baby’s cry, warbling out from a dusty trough, warbles here too, for the birth of Salvation always was leading to death, thus to this place. Vulnerability led to and ended here. The Jordan with open sky and loving Voice, the temptation to bow down, gain dominion, and avoid the terrible fate, and the transfiguration, shining and telling of his Exodus — events that all anticipate this shaking of the earth, this shattering of our assumptions. Echoed in every inch of this tomb are Love’s words, “no greater love,” and Love’s power that shushed a storm and raised a child. You hear them here in this cavernous glory.

And now you turn looking from this garden to the outpouring, the Spirit come, and to the church spreading down the ages, and to those who die in Hope, and you see us. For all these echoes from the Easter tomb, you realize, are our Story, and we, at the mouth of this conquered grave, stand at the center of His Story.


your faiths firm foundation

What do these names have in common? Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Babe Ruth, J.R.R. Tolkien, Beethoven, Mozart, Elizabeth Taylor, and Michael Jackson. The only thing in common among all the names is that they are all dead. Now if I were to add the name “Jesus” to this list would it change your answer? Jesus died, but He didn’t just die—He conquered death. He conquered death through His resurrection.

There are many modern attacks on the truthfulness of Christ’s resurrection. Have you watch documentaries on the Discovery Channel or History Channel that dispute the facts of the resurrection? There are also many books like The God Delusion [Richard Dawkins], God is Not Great [Christopher Hitchens], or the popular book The Da Vinci Code [Dan Brown] that do not buy the idea of the resurrection of Jesus. Some people think Jesus disappeared to Hawaii where Elvis, Hitler and JFK are all hiding out in a bunker playing poker. Others seem to think that Jesus was swooned or asleep; He couldn’t have been dead and then resurrected.

How would you address theses attacks? What difference does it make if Christ had a bodily resurrection? Without a bodily resurrection all of Jesus’ claims would be false and followers of Christ would have no hope of eternal salvation. His resurrection is the foundation of the gospel and your faith. Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Christianity and its core truth claims would not hold any weight nor would your faith. Paul faced a similar situation with the church that he planted at Corinth.

You can have complete confidence in the reality of Jesus & His message [1 Corinthians 15:1]

Gospel. What comes to mind when you see that word? Gospel literally means “good news” or “breaking new.” Before discussing the good news, let’s discuss the bad: You deserve death; there’s nothing that you can do to earn salvation because sin condemns you to eternal death and separation from God. But the Good News is the gospel!

What is the gospel? The good news is that God loves His creation so much that He came down from heaven for you [Philippians 2:5–11], lived for you [John 14:19], died for you, and rose from the dead for you [Romans 4:25]. And if you respond through repentance of sin and have faith in Christ, He blesses you with eternal life [John 3:16]. Paul says that you must “take your stand” on the gospel. What does he mean? You must base your life on its truth [cf. 15:58]. By taking a stand for the gospel you are demonstrating confidence in both the Messenger and His message.

You can know the reality of the gospel because you can experience it now [15:2]

When Paul said, “by this gospel you are being saved,” he wasn’t speaking about something just in the past but something present too. The idea that one is “being saved”—while salvation is instantaneous—means you can still experience the power of the gospel on a daily basis. How is your life different since you became a Christian? Today you can experience the gospel in your decisions, your relationships, your school activities, your work, and your life—right now. The gospel not only changes your future destiny, but your present realities.

What do you think Paul meant when he said, “Otherwise, you have believed in vain”? He was emphasizing that true faith endures over time. In Hebrews 3:14 it says, “For we share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” An enduring commitment to the gospel shows genuine faith in Christ. Real followers of Christ do not give up when life gets hard, or doubts come like a flood, or you just don’t feel like following today.

Your faith has significant evidence for the case of the resurrection [15:3–8]

The detective shows on TV [i.e. NCIS, Monk, Psyche, etc.] solve cases by following evidence and eyewitnesses, and that’s what Paul did too—he followed evidence of the dead and of the living. When Paul referred to the witness of the dead; he read the prophets from long ago who foretold what Jesus would accomplish. Can anyone say with confidence who will be the president of the United States in 20 years? Who will be the hit band or movie star in the year 2145? Prophets foretold in detail Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection hundreds of years beforehand.

Fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies: Genesis 3:15 (the seed of the woman will crush the serpent), Genesis 12:3 (the seed of Abraham will bless all nations), Psalm 2 (the supremacy of God’s Son), Psalm 22 (the description of His death), Isaiah 7:14 (the virgin birth), Isaiah 9:6 (the deity of the Messiah), Isaiah 52:13–53:12 (the specifics of His death, including taking on our sins), Isaiah 53:11 (His resurrection), Micah 5:2 (the place of His birth), and Zechariah 9:9 (His entering Jerusalem on a donkey). These prophecies show us that Jesus is God and Savior.

Paul adds another line of evidence—the evidence of the living. What effect do eyewitness testimonies have on a court case? It usually serves to prove or disprove an event. In 1 Corinthians 15:5–8, we see other eyewitnesses to Jesus resurrection: Peter, the Twelve, more than 500 others, James, the apostles, Paul himself. Why do you think that Paul emphasized the testimony of these eyewitnesses? Eyewitness testimony is always more powerful than secondhand information, and some of these were still alive and could tell their stories [one eyewitness could be duped, but over 500?]. Both the living and the dead come together to build a case for the resurrection of Christ.

You can have the hope of being raised from the dead, just as Jesus was [15:20–24]

Let’s say I had a mystery bag full of food. Without knowing what it was would you be willing to try it? No body wants to be the first one to try it. This is like what Christ did. He tasted death, so you would have to be afraid. His death and resurrection give you hope.

Paul calls Christ the firstfruits. This phrase has its roots in the Old Testament, usually refers to the Jewish practice of offering the first of a crop to the Lord in recognition that the entire harvest belongs to Him [cf. Leviticus 23:9–14; 1 Thessalonians 4:14–17].  During the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the priest waved the firstfruits of the harvest before the Lord, and a perfect lamb was sacrificed [Mark 14:12]. Jesus’ death and resurrection occurred during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Jesus Christ was the perfect Lamb of God who was sacrificed to pay the price for your sins. His resurrection was a sign of the future resurrection of all believers.

Christ’s resurrection marked the beginning of a heavenly harvest of the kingdom of God. When Christ comes again, all who belong to God’s kingdom will be resurrected. How does that truth offer hope? Christ was raised, so you will be too. Death is not final for believers. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” [John 11:25-26]

“Without the belief in the resurrection the Christian faith could not have come into being. The disciples would have remained crushed and defeated men. Even had they continued to remember Jesus as their beloved teacher, His crucifixion would have forever silenced any hope of His being the Messiah. The cross would have remained the sad and shameful end of His career.” William Lane Craig

Jesus’ bodily resurrection is the heart of the gospel. Because God raised Jesus from the dead, the hope that you have in Him is certain. The evidence for Christ’s resurrection is clear. You can be confident in your faith. Make know the reality of His resurrection as you live out the gospel.

Many times in His earthly ministry, Jesus brought hope to hopelessness. Every day, you see people who feel hopeless and need the gospel. Paul wrote a letter to the Corinthian church to remind them of the gospel. Write a letter to someone who needs to hear about the resurrection. Instead of writing what they need to do, tell them what you know about Jesus—and how the gospel has impacted you. Take ownership of what you know; write to encourage others in the gospel.

Why is Easter so significant?

So what? Why is Easter so significant? The simple answer is: God conquers sin and gives you a means to eternal life.

We tend to get lost in the bigness of life and we question what one person can do. We hear about the billions of people who roam this planet and it boggles our minds. There are nearly 7,000,000,000 people on this earth. That is a lot of zeros. How could anything significant or generationally impacting can from one man’s work? Oh, but without that One Man there would be no billions of people.

One man plunged mankind into sin.
One Man brought salvation to humanity.
By one man death come upon all.
Through One Man came grace to eternal life.

The resurrection of Jesus from the grave is eternally significant. It is the central theme and climax of the gospel [Matthew 28:1-10]. Without Jesus’ resurrection I have no hope of resurrection to life either. In order for Jesus to rise He had to die [1 Corinthians 15:1-4]. This is the message and truth of the gospel.

If there is no resurrection all that I am telling you is a lie [1 Cor. 15:14]
If there is no resurrection your faith is a farse [1 Cor.15:14]
If there is no resurrection your life is pointless [1 Cor.15:15]
If there is no resurrection you are not forgiven [1 Cor.15:17]
If there is no resurrection when you are dead you remain dead [1 Cor.15:18]
If there is no resurrection there is no hope of life [1 Cor.15:19]
If there is no resurrection future victory is uncertain [1 Cor.15:26]
If there is no resurrection you have no hope of lasting and permanent change [1 Cor.15:14]

I would therefore conclude that the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which we celebrate each Easter is eternally significant. Do you know Him?

real questions: death?

Ned Anzers: Is there life after death?

Death is a scary thing. Survey says it is #1 on a list of things that people fear. We all want to know whether there is more to life after death. In the face of death Jesus gives His followers some really comforting words, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26) Interestingly enough Jesus said these words at the funeral of a friend.

If I believe in Jesus I will be resurrected live with Him. There is power of a few words. For example not too long ago I asked a good friend this question: “Will you go out me?” Lucky me, her response was, “Yes I will.”  However, there are a few other 3-word responses that she could have had that would have determined the course our relationship like: “No I wont,” “I feel sick,” “get the bill,” “ha ha ha!” 3 words make all the difference. Now there are 3 words spoken that changed the course of mans eternal destiny and hope for an after life. “Christ is Risen!” (Mt.28:6)

3 days after Jesus died He rose from the grave and was alive! It was miraculous. No one in human history has ever done this feat before or since on their own.

What difference does the resurrection make?

Well to illustrate this question a few years ago my brother and I went to Great America in Chicago. My brother had never been on a large rollercoaster before and I wasn’t going to play around the small game area all day. I coaxed him to go on the Ragging Bull. He was so nervous. As we were in line he watched thousands ride and enjoy it and they all have lived. He did it and lived to tell the story.

Just the same Jesus is the first and only person to who has ever died and overcome it completely. He will never die again. He is deaths master. He conquered the grave. And if we follow Him we too can live and be resurrected from the dead [resurrection = brought back to life].

How do I know Jesus died and didn’t fake it?

Eyewitnesses tell us that He was dead (Jn.19:31-37). You see the Roman executioners were expert killers: Broken legs, pierced side, and a heavy mummy wrap in a sealed tomb all add up to proof that there is no way Jesus could have lived through the crucifixion or 3 days in the grave.

Could the disciples have stolen Jesus body?

Sure, but he Romans were prepared for that (Mt.27:62-66), there were guards and a big stone. This question was posed in Jesus’ day too (Mt.28:11-15). No one could produce Jesus’ corpse.

Jesus rise from the dead was a hoax, right?

Not. He was seen by over 500 some people (1 Cor.15:3-8, 6). His disciples even died for their belief in Jesus after the resurrection. Even Thomas, the most skeptical of the disciples believed.

What will life after death be like?

Harps and clouds! I hope not. There is not a lot spoken about it. I suppose He wants us to live here and not be so preoccupied with its details. Isn’t it okay for God to have some secrets? What He does say is that it will be perfect, like a feast, we will have rooms within the great city—a real place, we will have real bodies and recognize each other.

Is there life after death?

From what the Bible says, yes!