Reading Time: 7 Minutes
Every follower of Jesus has to overcome the culture of their age. That was certainly true of the Corinthian Christians.
The Roman Emperor was worshiped as a god in the Roman Empire. He brought peace to the Empire through the military might of Rome. In addition, health, wealth, and other benefits were believed to come from the Emperor.
As we have seen throughout the letter, some of the leading members of the church had compromised their faith. They attempted to blend following Jesus with participation in what took place in the pagan temples.
Here’s a question for us. In what subtle ways do we attempt to blend our walk with Jesus and American culture?
Let’s look at Paul’s argument and try to make meaningful connections to the age in which we live.
God’s Plan and Order
Paul outlined God’s plan and order for the ages in the next verses of chapter 15.
— Verse 20 – But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the assurance that people who follow him will also be raised.
— Verses 21-22 – For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ.
The truth of Paul’s message, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6.23), is the result of the behavior of the first man, Adam.
The well-known John 3.16 verse describes what Jesus has done for us. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”
—Verse 23 – But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
In tomorrow’s article we will cover what it means to be raised at Jesus’ coming.
— Verses 24-26 – Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power.
For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
This is a direct reference to the worship of the Emperor. The rulers of the earth, along with the pagan gods of culture, will be destroyed.
Pagan gods and earthly rulers take their stand against God and seek to live free from his control (Psalm 2). The end will reveal how powerless they are before the One True God.
— Verses 27-29 – (Summary) The Father and Son work together to show God’s victory over every power, “so that God may be all in all.”
— Verse 30 – Otherwise, what will those people do who receive baptism on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?
The Romans had elaborate rituals surrounding death, including being baptized in bull’s blood for their loved ones.
Apparently, some in the church were being baptized for dead family members, who had not previously been baptized.
Paul did not support baptism for other people, but he used the practice to point out how inconsistent it was to be baptized for the dead while believing that there is no resurrection.
— Verse 32 – If the dead are not raised,
“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”
The natural result of not believing in the resurrection is that people live solely for the hear-and-now.
— Verse 33 – Do not be deceived:
“Bad company ruins good morals.”
This was exactly what was happening in the Corinthian church. Some of the leading members blended their faith in Jesus when they participated in what took place at the pagan temples.
Their morals were being ruined and they were leading weaker members of the church to turn away from fully following Jesus.
— Verse 34 – Come to a sober and right mind, and sin no more; for some people have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.
Paul’s goal was for the troublemakers to repent. In effect, he was saying, “Your behavior demonstrates that you have no knowledge of God.”
Application to Today
Beyond seeing this as a history lesson, let’s find ways to connect this passage to current day living.
Here are a couple of applications.
(1) If our focus is primarily on the here-and-now and an “eat and drink” attitude, our moral life will certainly suffer.
The Orthodox church teaches its members to meditate on their own death. That may sound morbid, but think about it.
Think about the day when you will stand before God to receive his evaluation about how you have lived your life. Think about how long eternity is versus the brevity of a normal life span.
Jesus taught us to, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” and that “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6.20-21).
Think about what you have counted valuable on earth versus what you have stored in heaven.
(2) Some aspects of American culture are worshiped as if they were a god.
Money, sex, power, political influence, knowledge, comfort, technology, sports, and many more can become a “god” in our lives.
These gods of American life are all destined to be put in their place at the coming of Jesus Christ. God alone will be exalted.
The question for us is what compromises are we making in order to serve the “gods” of this age? How does Paul’s message to see the world with “sober” eyes resonate with us?
(3) Finally, this is a message of hope.
At death we do not become “worm food” as Doug pointed out in the comments section of yesterday’s article.
Tomorrow, we will describe what N. T. Wright, a highly respected British scholar, calls “life after life after death.”
That is not so much double talk, but is a truth that should give hope to us all.
May We Pray For You?
The Maywood Baptist Church prayer team is honored to pray for you. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. We will pray for you.