Day 1: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Day 2: 1 Corinthians 15:12-28
Day 3: 1 Corinthians 15:29-34
Day 4: 1 Corinthians 15:35-58
Day 5: 1 Corinthians 16
It’s the final week of our series halfway to heaven, where we’ve been talking about how God can be encountered through His people, the church.
In these last 2 chapters of Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthian church, Paul is trying to lay out, logically, for the Corinthian church why they need to believe in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Pay attention to Paul’s arguments as you read through these chapters (I found it easier to follow his arguments by reading the NLT or the Message versions). At the heart of what Paul shares, is the truth that the Good News isn’t complete without resurrection. The Good News isn’t just that Christ died for the forgiveness of sin – it’s also that He defeated sin completely – He defeated death – when He rose from the grave. I don’t know about you, but Paul’s visual picture in verses 21-28 of Christ being raised, defeating all evil and death, and then “God, who gave his Son authority over all things, [being] utterly supreme over everything everywhere” makes me want to run down the street in my pajamas throwing sparkles everywhere all day (translation: it makes me super pumped… translation: it makes me full of joy and triumph).
This chapter is the picture of triumph that the Church longs for. It’s why Jesus came; it’s why the Church exist; it’s why we share the Good News with others (and for Paul, why he risked his life to do it!); it’s why we have compassion on one another and seek resolution in conflict even when it’s hard; it’s why we allow God to speak His truth over the backwards ways of doing family/community that we learned growing up; it’s why we give of ourselves even when it hurts - all because we know that our ultimate enemies are Satan and death, and that every little victory we win against Satan and evil and death here on earth is a foretaste of the ultimate victory that will one day occur when Christ comes again and we get to join Him in His resurrection victory.
What’s crazy about this picture is that we can’t even comprehend the glory that’s in store. Paul says it’s like looking at the seed of plant and trying to guess what the full grown plant will look like. The seed is nothing compared to the plant. ANd the joy and little bits of heaven that we get to experience now, on earth, as part of God’s family the church – none of it even comes close to what actual heaven will be like.
Paul finishes chapter 15 with this (I’m going to use The Message because it says it like we would say it), “With all this going for us, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of God, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.”
Mic. Drop. (I know it’s not cool to say that anymore, but I don’t care).
Friends, I hope that this Halfway to Heaven series has encouraged you. I hope it has inspired you. I hope it has challenged you! I hope it has reminded you of all that we are fighting for, and the great glory that awaits us in heaven. And my prayer for you today and everyday is that you will, in ever-increasing measure, carry with you the hope of our resurrected King, Jesus, around whom the entire Church revolves. And I pray that His love will drive you to root yourself down deeply in the community of God, with all of it’s imperfections, and be able to see that every little death that you have to die for the sake of God and His church – it won’t be wasted. And each one is bringing you one step closer to heaven.
Some things to reflect on as you read this week:
- Why does Paul place such great importance on the resurrection of Jesus?
- What hope does Jesus’ resurrection bring to me in my everyday life?
- Has your passion for God’s Kingdom grown dim lately? Ask God to give you joy and excitement about what’s in store for those who believe in and follow Jesus. Ask Him to let you taste a piece of heaven here on earth through the Church. Ask Him to give you a passion to share the truth of His love, life, death, and resurrection with your friends, family, neighbours, coworkers, teammates, classmates, etc.
- Chapter 16 feels a bit like a cordial ending to the letter that doesn’t necessarily fit with the rest of the book. But take a closer look – what is Paul communicating about the community of God in this chapter? How is the Church in Corinth operating like a family? In light of this, how can we better care for one another as brothers and sisters in Christ?