1 Corinthians 15:12-20 NKJV
12 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? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 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. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
As truth is proven by the existence of falsehood, so some of the inspired writings of God’s Holy Scripture is the reaction against heretical teachings that were going on at that time — namely, the denial of bodily resurrection (15:12). And, yes, this is a heretical teaching that remains to this very day. Apparently some had become so self-satisfied with their spiritual riches that they thought there was no longer anything more for which to wait. A reminder of living in the tension between the now but not yet; eagerly awaiting “the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” is what Paul is inspired to deliver in care of those believers and all believers to follow thereafter.
Commonly the belief in the Greek culture was that at death, only a person’s soul survives and is taken by the ferryman across the River Styx to the gloomy world of the shades. Can you imagine having that as your final focus? Yet that was the popular belief in most non-Christian cultures, even highly advanced cultures like those of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece. Thanks be to God only Christianity brought a brightening through the hope of the resurrection of the body.
This is a blessed revelation of Holy Scripture — in that it is making the important point that one cannot hang onto cultural teachings; believing that you allowed to mix and co-mingle God’s truth with false teachings. It does not and cannot work that way. God desires His believing/baptized children to be fully confident in the truth of His Word alone.
To lose the hope of the resurrection would be like removing the cornerstone of a foundation. The foundation will eventually cave in for it has lost its main support. But the beloved hope toward which the Church, and even all of creation, looks is the renewal of that creation — which includes the resurrection of the body. Rejoice! For if you have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly you also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection!
Let us pray: O Lord, continually assure us of Your promise of bodily resurrection for Your Son has already gained it for us. Amen.