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Why would a follower of Jesus Christ teach other people that there is no resurrection from the dead? I obviously don’t have all of the answers to that question, but here are a few thoughts that stem from Paul’s problem in Corinth.
(1) People whose thinking is more controlled by prevailing philosophy than by Biblical logic may teach that there is no resurrection of the dead.
(2) People who live their lives in such an evil way that they don’t want to have an accounting before God don’t want to stand before God in judgment.
(3) People who put all of their emphasis on the here-and-now may think of the message of resurrection as something that is not important.
I am sure there are more answers, but the three I have mentioned reflect what was happening in A.D. 50 Corinth.
What was Paul’s response to such thinking?
Arguments for the Resurrection
Paul delivered arguments for the resurrection with the one-two punch of a boxer intent on conquering his opponents. Each statement by itself would win the argument. Taken as a whole they are overwhelming.
— Verse 12 – Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead?
The response to this question might be, “Duh?” How can followers of Jesus claim there to be no resurrection, since the crowing achievement of Jesus’ ministry was his resurrection.
— Verses 13-14 – If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain.
If there is no resurrection, the good news message of 1 Corinthians 15.1-11 is false and faith in Jesus is completely void of meaning.
— Verse 15 – We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ — whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.
If there is no resurrection, then every preacher has lied. God authenticated Jesus’ life and teaching through the resurrection. Without the resurrection, our message is false.
— Verses 16-17 – For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
A “no resurrection” teaching negates Jesus’ resurrection and cancels Jesus’ work on our behalf. If that is true, our faith is worthless.
— Verses 18-19 – Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
Can you imagine devoting your life to a God who is false? If there is no resurrection, that is the situation of Jesus’ followers.
Each of Paul’s statements are designed to shake up resurrection doubters and bring them to their senses.
Praise God, Jesus was raised from the dead. He walked the earth in a resurrected body. We, too, will one day experience resurrection life.
What’s the Problem Here?
Most people who read my articles have seldom heard anyone teach that there is no resurrection and they may wonder what is the problem.
If we return to the three examples at the beginning of the article, each of them was prevalent in Corinth. To some degree they are present today, too.
(1) Leading members of the church in Corinth attempted to blend their faith in Jesus with the views of pagan worshipers.
Pagan people worshiped at temples to obtain health, wealth, and status. Their gods (idols) were served to get what they wanted and needed during their earthly existence.
Some of the church’s leaders accepted the “get it all now” views of the pagans. Apparently, they were willing to accept the totally illogical point of view of “no resurrection,” because they thought the wisdom of pagans was something to value.
What is the lesson for us?
In our world where there is a glut of information available to us, we need to make sure it squares with God’s word before we admit it into our lives.
The logic of the world often runs contrary to God’s truth.
(2) Corinthian society accepted many practices that the Old Testament prophets clearly condemned.
Jesus preached a message of salvation, but also one of judgment. Jesus frequently reminded his followers that God will judge people based on their attitudes and actions.
Evil people believe that they will not be held accountable by the Just Judge of the Universe. Jesus made this clear.
He said, “Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out — those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-30).
The lesson for today is to live with the realization that Jesus taught as much about judgment as he did salvation.
(3) In Corinth, just as in 2021 America, the emphasis was on the here-and-now. The popular opinion in that city could have been summed up in a beer commercial, “You only go around once in life and you must grab all the gusto you can.”
The over emphasis on the here-and-now caused people to forget about the hereafter.
On my father’s gravestone are two dates: 1920-2004. One was his date of birth and the other was the year he died. In between, is a short dash. The dash represents a lifetime of work, play, love and loss.
As all old people will tell you, time moves so rapidly that it seems events years ago were as yesterday.
Eternity will have a beginning date. 2004 was that date for my father. However, there is ending date for eternity. It is endless.
Let’s plan and live for today, but also for a joyful life in eternity.
May We Pray for You?
Maywood Baptist Church has a prayer team who is honored to pray for you. Please email me at email@example.com or private message me on Facebook with your prayer request. We will pray for you.