Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 4 * BOOK 28
RESURRECTION OF THE BODY – PART 2
We enjoy when people write and say that for the first time in their life they’re enjoying and understanding their Bible. We trust in that light the Lord is using us. Now, in I Corinthians 15:10 we start the verse with “But.” Paul is going to use the flip side, and we showed you in Ephesians 2:1-3 where he listed all the things that were part of the past of every one of us,and then in verse 4 he begins: “But God” – the flip side. We’re no longer what we were, but rather we are what we are, not because we have done so much, but because God has done it all. Now it’s the same way here. The Apostle Paul does not claim that he received his apostleship because he was so educated, which of course he had been. He doesn’t claim to be the apostle of the Gentiles because of some merit on his part:
I Corinthians 15:10a
“But by the grace of God I am what I am:…”
I remember the question came up in one our classes, “What’s the difference between Grace and mercy?” Well Dr. Bellamy got a computer program with all the Greek, and ramifications of the Hebrew, so I asked him to look up the difference between the two on his program. Then the other night he shared with us, and I haven’t gotten it out of my craw ever since. “Grace is that attribute of God, that unmerited favor which makes the pouring out of His mercy possible.” Have you got that? If it weren’t for the Grace of God, He could have never poured out His mercy on mankind, because we don’t deserve it. But since Grace is that unmerited favor, then God was able to pour out His mercy. Now don’t you love that? I’m going to be teaching that every chance I get, that it’s the Grace of God that makes it possible for Him to show mercy rather than wrath and judgment. So here this persecutor, this raging religious zealot who hated the Name of Jesus with a passion, in verse 10 says:
I Corinthians 15:10a
“But by the grace of God I am what I am:…”
This Grace of God permitted God to save him, and pour out His mercy. You remember several programs ago I showed you, I think in Romans 12, how Israel had the branches broken off, and the Gentiles are now placed on the root, and the fatness of Abraham. And then I made the analogy that how many times coming up through human history, if God would have acted without Grace and mercy, if He had acted fair, He would have wiped the human race out, and wiped Israel out. A good example for Israel was when they demanded that Aaron make them a golden calf while Moses was up on Mt. Sinai getting the Ten Commandments. When Moses came down they were dancing in all their lewdness, and practicing all their immorality. What could and should God have done with them? In one thought they would have been gone. But he told Moses in the Book of Exodus Chapter 33:
“And he said, `I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.'”
Why? Because God is Sovereign. He can do whatever He wants to do. So when Israel or mankind reaches the point where He should have just zapped them, and had them off the scene, He retreated into His Sovereignty, and by Grace He poured out mercy. He did the same thing with the Apostle Paul. He could have zapped him on that road to Damascus, and been done with him, but instead God retreats into Sovereignty, and says, “I’ll have compassion on that man because I am God. I don’t have to ask anybody.” So He spared that man and saved him by His Grace. Now completing verse 10:
I Corinthians 15:10a
“But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain;…” Saul succumbed immediately to the Grace of God, and what was his response?
“And he said, `Who art thou, Lord?…'” A humble seeking sinner saved by Grace, and now he’s ready to do what God wants him to do, and in the mean time what had God told Ananias there in Damascus? Hey this fellow Saul is coming into town.
“Then Ananias answered, `Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name,’ But the Lord said unto him, (Ananias) `Go thy way for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.'”
You know how the Apostle Paul suffered. If you don’t think Paul had to suffer then read II Corinthians Chapter 11. Oh, how that man suffered, but he never slowed down in his fervor for getting the Gospel out to pagan Gentiles. Now reading on in verse 10:
I Corinthians 15:10b,11
“…but I laboured more abundantly than they all: (That is all the other apostles before him.) yet not I, (Paul says, `It wasn’t in the flesh that I did all this) but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.”
And that brought them out of their paganism, and again I have to just constantly bring people back to the fact that you don’t become a Christian by going through a certain set of rituals or rules, or procedures. How many denominations, my own included, expect people to go through a set of procedures, and then all of a sudden the Church declares them a Christian. You don’t have anything to worry about now, you’re on your way to glory. No, that’s not the case, because the Scriptures say, “We have to believe the Gospel” Ref. I Corinthians 15:1-4. And then these other things have their rightful place. Absolutely I’m in favor of the local Church, I’m in favor of Sunday School and all of these things, but you do not use those as a substitute for salvation. It has to be by personal faith in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Now verse 12, and here we get into the whole theme of the chapter,“resurrection.” Life after death.
I Corinthians 15:12
“Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?”
In that question I have to think Paul must have run up against the Sadducees in Corinth. Because you remember in Christ’s earthly ministry the Pharisees were religious fanatics. They thought they were the only ones (with their self-righteous robes around them) that were ever going to merit anything with God. But you also had the Sadducees. Now the Sadducees never did believe in resurrection from the dead as they always rejected that. So in verse 12 I have to think there were some Sadducees in Corinth, because Paul is saying, “How say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?” Now verse 13: If that be true, if there is no such thing as resurrection from the dead, and I’m probably talking to many people in the audience who are of that mindset, you may think that this is all there is. You think that when you die you’re like a dog and you’re done, but Paul says:
I Corinthians 15:13,14
“But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.”
In other words, everyone who ascribes to some form of Christianity, and if they’re faithful in their Church going, and faithful in their Christian activity, if there is no resurrection from the dead they of all people are the most foolish. They’re wasting their time. Why in the world sit in the pew, and sing the hymns of the faith, and all these things if there’s no resurrection from the dead? And so this is what Paul is using as an argument. There is resurrection from the dead, because Christ arose from the dead. One of the best paper back books I’ve read about the proof of the resurrection of Christ was written by Josh McDowell, and I hope I’ve gotten his name right. Anyway, he had started out as a complete infidel on a college campus, and after he graduated from college he had been having so much fun destroying the faith of college students that he decided that to take it one step further he’d go to Israel and he would dig up all the proof that the resurrection was just a fallacy. But the more he dug the more he proved himself wrong, and he came away from it a born again believer. And then the direction of his life completely changed, if I remember the biography correctly. He has literally spent years now going from college campus to college campus, proving to college kids that Christ literally and physically arose from the grave.
Well, this is what Paul is doing here to the Corinthians. He’s proving to them without a shadow of a doubt that Christ died but He arose from the dead, the very hope of every believer. If He didn’t, we might as well pack up, throw our Bibles away and forget it. But don’t you do it because He did rise from the dead and come out of the grave! We recently got a letter from a lady in one of our television areas, one that we had met when we were traveling. As I read that letter I couldn’t keep back the tears as she said, “Les, next Easter Sunday when I stand with the congregation and sing, `He Lives, I know that He lives,’ that will be the first time in my life that I really mean what I’m singing.” And I’m sure she has been a good church member for years. This is where so many people are. They talk about the resurrection, they sing about it, they have a mental ascent to it, but they have never experienced resurrection power in their own life. And this is what Paul is trying to teach here at the very heart of our Gospel. It isn’t that Christ just died some martyr’s death. He wasn’t just put to death by some angry mob, but in the annals of all eternity God had already set in motion that He would die and would shed His blood. He would pay the sin debt for the whole human race, not just for the believer. I don’t believe in limited atonement, I believe that He paid the sin debt for every human being that has ever lived. But it goes for nothing until the person believes it personally, and then they cash in on it.
I Corinthians 15:15,16
“Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:”
You can’t separate them. You can’t separate the resurrection of Christ from the resurrection of the believer, because they’re tied together. Now for a moment let’s turn to II Timothy, and on the way stop at Ephesians Chapter 1, and let’s start with verse 10. Now here’s one of the little letters that we alluded to previously, that Paul wrote from prison in Rome. In Ephesians he takes us to a higher level of Christian doctrine, or into higher water, however you want to put it. But here in this letter of Ephesians, where there is no more reference to the Old Testament or the Jew, but rather this is higher ground, it’s the Body of Christ territory, and look what he says beginning in verse 10.
“That in the dispensation (administration) of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we (Gentile believers especially) have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:”
Now another verse just came to mind. I had not planned on doing this but let’s come back to Acts Chapter 2, because we’ve got to tie all this together. Now remember what we just read in Ephesians that all those things are going to come together in Christ to fulfill the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel (or the agreement of ideas of His own will). Let’s start with verse 22.
“Ye men of Israel, (Peter screams at the crowd at Pentecost) hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, (this same Jesus) being delivered (at the crucifixion) by the determinate counsel (same word) and foreknowledge of God…”
When did that take place? Way back in eternity past. We don’t know how far back it may have been. Maybe billions of years ago, but this counsel of the Godhead determined that someday earth would be created, they would put man on it, man would be given that free will (choice) to respond to God’s love or reject it, and in order to bring it to a consummation Jesus went to that Cross. It was all in fulfillment of that predetermined counsel of the Godhead. Now go to II Timothy, Chapter 1, still tying all these together. Beginning with verse 9.
II Timothy 1:9
“Who (speaking of God in verse 8) hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, (See how that word keeps coming up? It wasn’t according to our works, but according to His own purpose which was what we read about in Acts Chapter 2, and Ephesians Chapter 1) which was given us in Christ Jesus (when?) before the world began,”
That’s mind boggling isn’t it? But this was the eternal purpose of the Creator God that He created everything for His own purpose. And what was His own purpose? That everything would be for His glory, and yet we work into that purpose by being recipients of His Grace, and mercy, and we’re made partakers of it by simple faith in the Gospel. (Ref. I Corinthians 15:1-4). It is past finding out, it is past human understanding, but the Bible teaches it, and we’d better believe it. Now come back to I Corinthians Chapter 15 verse 17. Remember there is a lot of repetition in this chapter and the purpose of repetition is to drive home something that God wants us to know. And so all through this chapter we’re going to see repeated, repeated, and repeated, this whole concept of resurrection from the dead.
I Corinthians 15:17,18
“And if Christ be not raised, (if He stayed in the tomb then) your faith is vain; (it’s all for nothing) ye are yet in your sins. (You’re doomed) Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.”
These believers who had embraced Christianity, had embraced Paul’s Gospel. If Christ hadn’t been raised from the dead then they too are just as doomed as anyone else, because without resurrection power there is no eternal life. It all has to come back to that three-fold of the Gospel that the eternal Creator God Himself took on human flesh and died. He shed His blood, He was buried three days and nights in the grave as proof positive that He was really dead. There are a lot of liberals and modernistic-type preachers that say,” If He was raised from the grave then He really wasn’t dead. He was jut unconscious, and was brought back to life.” There are those that teach that. But our Lord was literally physically dead, and then God raised Him from the dead on the third day according to the Scriptures. Now verse 19:
I Corinthians 15:19
“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”
Now do you know what he’s saying? The same thing that the world throws at us today. “Why do you give up the good times? Why get out of the fast lane for the sake of being a Christian? Why don’t you live it up? Why don’t you enjoy the flesh? Because after you’re dead, then it’s all over.” And Paul says, “If that’s true then there’s probably merit in what they’re saying.” But that’s not the way it is, because we of all people are not miserable. We have that hope. Let’s turn to Titus Chapter 2. I remember years ago there was a fellow who came out to our little country church up in Iowa, and for the entire week, when the temperature never got above 30 degrees below zero even in the daytime, he taught us from the Book of Titus Chapter 2 and verses 11 through 15. I found out that a while back he went to be with the Lord, and his name was Dr. Norland. He didn’t speak fast but every word was just like a truck load coming out. And much of what I teach, he shared with us that cold, cold, winter week. Now verse 11:
“For the Grace of God (Here it is again, you can’t run away from it. Everywhere you go in Paul’s epistles, here comes the grace of God) that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,”
Now that means what it says, and I know a lot of people wonder that without the benefit of radio, television, and the printed page, how did the Gospel cover the then-known world, and that covered primarily the Roman Empire in Paul’s lifetime. Now remember, Paul was out there only about 30 years. And yet he was able to write by inspiration that the then-known world had heard the Gospel. How in the world could that have happened? But you have to take everything in the big picture. Remember, he was under house arrest in Rome with Roman soldiers guarding him 24 hours a day. Well, the Roman army would rotate their soldiers in places of duty. So in those two or three years that he was under house arrest in Rome who knows how many Roman soldiers had duty guarding him. But as these soldiers rotated, they would go throughout the Roman Empire and even into Caesar’s palace. Well, I know one thing, anybody who spent any time at all in Paul’s house became a believer. I’m almost confident of that, so as a result of Paul ministering to his guards, who, in turn, went to serve throughout the Roman Empire, the then-known world had heard the plan of salvation, this Grace of God in verse 11. Now verse 12:
“Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lust, (of course we do, because do not believe in just satisfying the flesh because supposedly tomorrow we die.) we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; (And verse 13 is the best part of all as we are) Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;”
Now that’s our blessed hope. I once asked someone what our blessed hope is, and he said, “When I die to go to heaven.” Now that’s not the blessed hope. That’s a glorious hope, but the blessed hope is “the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ;” Why? Because He arose from the dead!