Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 1 * BOOK 29
ORDER OF THE RESURRECTION
Let’s begin where we left off in our last lesson in I Corinthians 15:20-23. In verse 20 Paul has been rehearsing the whole scheme of resurrection in this chapter in the first 18 or 19 verses, that if Christ was not raised from the dead, then we have no hope. Because at the very core, the very crux of our Gospel is the fact that Christ was raised from the dead.He was resurrected. I like to define the term “resurrected” because I think often our ministers use the word “resurrection” totally out of it’s true meaning. In other words, anyone who has been raised from the dead miraculously, back in Scripture, such as the widow’s son, under Elijah. And then there was Lazarus, who was raised from the dead. These were not resurrected, they were merely brought back to life and then they died again. Resurrection speaks of that which only Christ began, and that is that He arose from the dead into the eternal, never to die again. And so when we speak of resurrection scripturally, don’t think of someone who has merely died and has been called back to life, because they’re going to die again. But once Christ rose from the dead, never to die again, that was resurrection. When we experience resurrection it’s going to be final. We will not again have to die and be brought back to life. So resurrection is something that only began when Christ arose from the dead. He was the first to be resurrected. Just keep that straight in your mind. Just the other day I heard someone speaking of Lazarus being resurrected. No he wasn’t! He was brought back to life but he was not resurrected because he died again at some later date.
Now, we’ve been talking about the resurrection from the dead all the way through Chapter 15 on up to verse 19. In verse 20, Paul again, as I’ve used the expression off and on throughout the book of Corinthians, shifts gears. Now all of a sudden, instead of just talking about the resurrection of Christ at the time of His death, burial and resurrection, goes clear to the end of the age, you might say, and brings up resurrection as a part of the whole picture of God’s plan of the Ages. Now again, when we teach the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, that’s the way I like to depict it. This is God’s plan for the Ages. Now, when I say it’s God’s plan, I want to take you back to Acts. And let’s go to Chapter 2, but keep your hand on I Corinthians 15. When I speak of God’s plan for the Ages, what I’m trying to imply is that God, before anything was ever created, the Triune God put everything in motion. He already had it blueprinted.
You know one of the most amazing things, and one of the things that we find hard to comprehend is, that God from the beginning, gave men and nations their own free will. And they have been operating under that free will as nations make decisions to invade other nations supposedly under a free will, but yet from the beginning of time until the end of God’s plan for the Ages, everything falls in place exactly as God has predetermined it. Isn’t that amazing? How He can leave men and nations with a free will, they do pretty much what they want to do, and the end results in bringing everybody and everything to the end of God’s purpose. All right, how did it all begin? Well I like to use this verse in Acts Chapter 2, and verse 23 where Peter is preaching here on the day of Pentecost, and he’s preaching not to you and I, but rather to the Nation of Israel. Peter is rehearsing the fact that they had crucified their Messiah, but that’s not the point so much that I want to get out of this verse, but rather what I just said, and that is that God has had a plan for the Ages from eternity past.
“Him (speaking of Jesus of Nazareth Whom they had crucified), being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:”
What’s he saying? Sometime back in eternity past, the Triune God in counsel (and they didn’t have to sit there for a whole afternoon and bandy this thing back and forth), determined a plan for the Ages. And in God’s foreknowledge He could see every detail of it coming on down through history. Now in that determinate plan that God laid out before anything was created the highlight of it all was the “Cross.” Was God caught by surprise? No. It was all in that eternal plan of the ages that Christ must suffer. And all the way through Scripture we know this was in God’s blueprint for the ages. Let’s return to I Corinthians for a moment. I want folks to understand that, according to this predetermined plan of the ages, Christ would suffer and die but He would also rise from the dead.
I Corinthians 15:20
“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits (plural) of them that slept.” (died)
Now the only way you can understand this kind of language is to go back to the Old Testament and if you don’t understand the Old Testament then for sure you can’t understand the New Testament. So let’s go back to the Book of Leviticus, Chapter 23. Here we find the seven feasts of Jehovah, as we refer to them. They were feast days for the Nation of Israel in their Temple worship as they progressed through the year. First is Passover, then Unleavened Bread. But at barley harvest time which was the first crop that Israel harvested in Palestine, shortly after Passover, this feast was called Firstfruits. It is the third of these seven feasts. Then verse 9 and 10:
“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, `Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf (bundle) of the first fruits of your harvest unto the priest:'”
They were to go into that field of barley, maybe 15 acres square, and as the field was still green, and all headed out as we say, all of a sudden scattered throughout that field will be yellow heads of grain. And those yellow heads just sprinkle throughout the field. They have ripened before all the other masses of heads in that field. Now the Jews were to go into that green field and pluck those early ripened stems with the heads, enough to have a bundle, and then they were to take it to the priest and it was then a wave-offering. Now verse 10 is speaking of a harvest, and while you’re in Leviticus let’s look at another part of the harvest. After they had gone in and harvested the main part of the field then you see they had these instructions.
“And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly (completely) reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest …thou shalt leave them (the corners) for the poor and stranger:”
Now you have three aspects then of the Jewish harvest. First they would go in and take that sampling of the early ripening heads of grain. Then they would go and take the main harvest, but they had to leave the corners, and their gleanings for the poor. Keep that process in mind as we come back to I Corinthians Chapter 15 again. So when Paul gives us the clue, and that’s what I call this, he says:
I Corinthians 15:20
“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” (died)
In other words I think the Apostle Paul is telling us, “Now go back and use the Israeli system of harvest as an illustration of the resurrections (plural) that are coming.” Now we have to always qualify this. Martin Luther once made a classic statement as he and his entourage were riding on horseback to meet the Church officials wherever they were to meet with him after he had nailed his 95 thesis on the Church door. He made this classic statement which I love because I find myself there constantly. He said, “Gentlemen, if only I could tell these men everything that I want to tell them in the first 30 minutes.” Now what did he mean? If he could unload it all on them before they would have time to reject it. Well this is how I feel so often as there is so much in these next few verses, so you’ll have to bear with me as it’s going to take some time. Now verse 21:
I Corinthians 15:21
“For since by man came death, (that was Adam when he rejected God’s discipline, and ate the fruit, and Adam died spiritually immediately. But he also died physically some 900 years later.) by man came also the resurrection of the dead.” Boy that throws a curve at you doesn’t it? Well I can understand how Adam plunged the human race into sin and death because he ate of the forbidden tree. But how in the world did man bring back life to the human race? Well you’ve got to be careful and compare Scripture with Scripture. So look at verse 45 and 46. Now this will explain what Paul is saying in verse 21.
I Corinthians 15:45-47
“And so it is written, `The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last (or second) Adam was made a quickening (or life-giving) spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.'” Now here we have these two Federal heads if you want to call them that. Adam as the head of the natural progeny of the human race, plunged us into sin, and sin precipitated death. Let’s look at that also in Romans Chapter 5 verse 12. It’s not what I say, but rather what The Book says.
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death (entered) by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Now that’s what Paul is referring to by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Return to I Corinthians and look at verses 46 and 47 again.
I Corinthians 15:46
“Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.”
Now I’ve made the point on this program ever since we left Genesis, and that is – the format of all of God’s dealing was first the natural, and then the spiritual. Now just stop for a moment and think about that. First we have Cain the natural, and Abel the spiritual. You can go a little further and you find Ishmael the natural and Isaac the spiritual. Then you have Esau the natural, and Jacob the spiritual. King Saul the natural, and King David the spiritual. And you can go all the way up through Scripture, and then bring yourselves into the picture. Here we are the sons of Adam, we are born natural, we are of the flesh, but after we have experienced salvation, and have been born from above, then we’re spiritual. During the Tribulation you’ll have the man Anti-christ, the natural, and then at the end of the Tribulation, and second coming of Christ you have the spiritual. And this is the law of Scripture, and this is what Paul is referring to. First the natural (Adam) and then the spiritual (Christ). Now verse 47 again.
I Corinthians 15:47,48
“The first man is of the earth, earthy; (he was created from the dust of the earth, but) the second man is the Lord from heaven.” Here’s where we have to have a solid understanding that Christ wasn’t just another created being. He was the Creator Himself. Here’s where I get adamant against some of the false teachings that are coming in on us like a flood. Jesus Christ is God, was God, He’s the Creator, He’s the sustainer of the whole universe, and we must never lose sight of that. Otherwise our Gospel (I Corinthians 15:1-4) is a farce. But He is Who He says He is, and that is The Lord from Heaven. Verse 48.
“As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.”
As I taught Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth.” Everything in Scripture is going to be connected to those two entities. It’s either that of the earth, and it’s earthly, or it’s going to be that of Heaven, and it’s heavenly. Israel, then, as you come up through Genesis, becomes the earthly, and then when we come to Paul we find the Church becomes the heavenly. And never can the two meet because there’s that great gulf fixed that you cannot mix the dealings of God with the earthly people of Israel, and the heavenly people which is the Body of Christ, the Church. They are so totally different. Israel is earthly. The Church is heavenly!
I Corinthians 15:49
“And as we have borne the image of the earthy, (that is being born into the human race by way of Adam, by our human parents we are earthly, but we’re not going to stay earthly) we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.”
That’s our prospect. We are not for eternity going to be bound as earthly beings. We are going to one day be transformed into that which is heavenly. And we’re going to have bodies like Christ. I had that question come up, “What kind of bodies will we have in the next life?” Well, I turned her back to Philippines 3:20, which says:
“For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body,…”
Well, what are you going to use for an example? I tell everybody if you want to get just a glimpse of how we are going to function in eternity, then you go back into the Four Gospel accounts, and just study Christ’s 40 days after resurrection. And there you have the perfect picture. When Mary saw Him in that semi-darkness of that early dawn she thought He was the gardener. So did our Lord look weird? No. He looked very common and ordinary, but she defined His features enough to know Who He was. The disciples saw Him cooking fish on the shore, and he told them to put their net on the other side of the boat. So he looked very normal in all of His appearances, and when the net came full then Peter said what? “It’s The Lord.” Well, now if Jesus looked weird and different I think the disciples would not have understood, but they knew Him. And then in the Luke account when they sat down for breakfast what did Jesus also do? He ate with them, and so He had all the outward appearances of another human being, but He was now immortal. He didn’t have to go through the door, He could go through the wall or the ceiling. He could be transported from one place to a zillion miles away in a split second of time. I think even the speed of light is going to become nothing to us when we get into the immortal and eternal.
And so we have this glorious prospect that we’re no longer going to be tied to this old earth and be simple monuments of clay. We’re going to have new, resurrected, immortal, heavenly, eternal bodies. And we’re not going to look weird or something out of some Hollywood concoction. We are going to look just as normal, from all human outward appearances, as The Lord Jesus did in those forty days from His resurrection until His ascension. Now even at His ascension did He go up in some puff of a spirit or a cloud? No! What did the angels say? “This same Jesus as you have seen go, will come back and He’s going to stand on this same mountain.” You know how I’ve always put it – how did He leave? Head first! He went up from the Mount of Olives head first. How is He going to return? Feet first! Zechariah tells us as plain as day that when He returns His feet will stand at that day on the Mount of Olives.
And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives which is before Jerusalem on the east,…”
And the Mount of Olives is there yet today and it’s waiting for Him and one day soon He’s coming to it.