Kittredge Community Bible Church
10 AM - March 21
  • He Is Lord
  • He Is Exalted
  • Doxology
  • (1 Corinthians 15:20-28)
    Last week we looked at seven serious spiritual consequences for denying the bodily resurrection of Christ.
    Paul was arguing that if there is no bodily resurrection then...
    Christ is not risen.
    Preaching is vain.
    Faith is vain.
    The Apostles are false witnesses.
    You are still in your sins.
    The dead in Christ have perished.
    We are the most pitiful people.
    So, the idea that a bodily resurrection is just a side issue is completely rejected by Scripture.
    Those that believe the physical body is just a temporary shell for the eternal spirit don’t get that idea from Christianity but from the Greeks and Gnostics of the past and from eastern religion, new age philosophy in the present.
    The goal of salvation isn’t to transcend beyond the body into a completely spiritual state. Christ's mission on the earth was not to rescue our spirits trapped inside "evil bodies" but to bring resurrection life to what God created in the garden and called "very good."
    For the Christian, then, the body is not a thing to transcend, but to resurrect. And to deny this is to deny the very heart of what it means to trust in Christ because Christ came to earth to redeem and restore not just our souls, but our bodies, too.
    So, if we aren’t trusting in what Christ accomplished through his death and resurrection then we are, as Paul says, of all people most pitiful.
    Now, in the next section Paul shows us even more clearly how all of this is relevant to us. And he does so by explaining the order of resurrection and where we fit in God’s plan. So first is...

    1. Christ the First Fruits (15:20)

    1 Corinthians 15:20 NASB95
    But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.
    The phrase “But now” moves us from the negative to the positive. Instead, of focusing on all those negative consequences, Paul now wants to spend focus on the truth that "Christ has [indeed] been raised from the dead."
    This is a statement of fact that doesn't need any more proof than what Paul has already given in the first eleven verses and has been encouraging us to keep believing.
    Paul doesn't say if Christ has been raised anymore, now he says dogmatically that Christ has been raised from the dead.
    In Acts 3:15 Luke agrees with Paul and calls the resurrection of Jesus “a fact to which we are witnesses.” So, the reality is there’s no denying the resurrection of the dead.
    Now, in regards to the order, Christ is "The first fruits of those who have fallen asleep" meaning Christ is first in order of sequence and in order of importance.
    Christ is the first fruits, meaning he is the first in order of sequence. There have been others who were resurrected, like Lazarus, but they died again. Jesus is the very first to be resurrected with a completely glorified body that would never die. Everyone else has to wait for the bodily resurrection at the time God has appointed.
    There are two people the Bible says were taken up in heaven without dying: Enoch and Elijah, but their bodies weren’t glorified. What exactly happened to them I’m not sure but this I know: Jesus is the first in sequence.
    Now, the first fruits were the part of the harvest gathered first and then offered in faith to God while they waited for the rest of the harvest to come in.
    They had no guarantee of yielding anything more than the firstfruits so obediently giving the firstfruits was an act of faith. The giving of the firstfruits was a sign of greater things to come.
    Paul’s point is that the full harvest couldn’t happen until the first fruits were given. If they didn’t give the first fruits, then they shouldn’t expect a full harvest. The meaning is if there’s no resurrection of Jesus, then there’s no resurrection for us.
    So, Jesus isn’t just the first in order of sequence he’s also the first in order of importance. Jesus resurrection is the greatest resurrection and always will be even though it points to a much larger harvest.
    Normally, in Scripture, everything points to Jesus but this is one of those times when something Jesus does actually points to something something else.
    It’s not that our resurrection is greater than Christ’s but that the resurrection of the dead magnifies and makes Christ’s resurrection even more amazing in what it accomplished.
    When we die our spirit goes immediately into the presence of our Lord as it says in 2 Corinthians 5:8 (see also Phil 1:23) but our body goes to “sleep” which is Paul’s nice way of saying we’re going to die, but not really.
    Sleeping people wake up again. Sleep is only temporary. In a normal night’s sleep you lay down, close your eyes, and trust that God will wake you up again in the morning. That’s what death is like for the believer.
    So, Christ is the first fruits, he’s first in sequence and importance.
    Now we come to a greater explanation in the text of why the resurrection of Christ is needed. Why didn’t God just make us all live for ever in the first place?
    The answer to that is found in understanding how we are...

    ​2. In Adam and in Christ (15:21-22)

    1 Corinthians 15:21–22 NASB95
    For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.
    The words "for since" point to the reason death came into the world. It was the sin of Adam and Eve that led death. Because Adam didn’t listen to God, and ate the fruit of the forbidden tree, God sentenced him, and all of us, to a life of hard labor and eventual bodily death (see Genesis 3:17-19).
    So, when Adam sinned every one else was effected, too. When Adam sinned we all sinned. When Adam died we all died. The point is that the sin of one man effected everyone else as it says, "For since by a man [one man] came death...”
    You might say, well I have free will and I make my own choices. Adam doesn’t make them for me. OK, but name me one single person that hasn’t sinned and isn’t going to die (except for Enoch and Elisha which we’ve already mentioned, but even they sinned)?
    See, everyone dies because everyone sins.
    Augustine, the early church father, says helpfully, "Before the fall, Adam was able to sin or not to sin: after the fall, he was not able not to sin."
    What he means is that before the Fall Adam had had the ability not to sin but once he rebelled he lost that ability and passed this human nature on to us.
    So, through Adam's disobedience, the entire human race receives the penalty of death. We might have free will but we are not free to do other than what we do by nature which is, in Adam, to keep living in rebellion to our Creator.
    But the good news is that if we can all be negatively affected by one man, we can also be positively affected by one man.
    See, ​parallel to death being the result of one man’s sin, is eternal life being the result of one man’s righteousness. It says, “For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.”
    So, the good news is that by one man, Christ, who lived obediently without sin, his people are given eternal life (see Romans 5:12, 18).
    Now, you’ll notice I said all his people, and not all people. That’s because, as verse 22 says, only those who are “in” Christ are saved. The Bible definitely talks about hell and those that are lost will go there. So, not everyone is saved (See Matthew 7:13).
    Everyone will be resurrected but not everyone is saved, only those who are in Christ. Daniel 12:2 says, "Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.” And the reality of hell is all throughout scripture (see also John 5:29).
    So the phrase "in Adam” and "in Christ” indicates that, like Adam is head of the human race, Christ is the head of God's people. So, every human being is in Adam but not everyone is in Christ.
    And when the text says “all will be made alive” it doesn’t mean everyone will be saved. It means only those who are in Christ. Everyone in Adam will die. But only those in Christ will be made alive.
    Of course, there is physical life and spiritual life, but Paul’s emphasis here is on the physical. When Adam sinned, our bodies became subject to physical and spiritual death. But when Jesus was resurrected, he conquered physical death so that one day our bodies will live forever.
    OK, so in Adam we all die, but in Christ we are all made alive. Christ had to die and be resurrected because of sin.
    He’s the first fruits, but now what about...

    3. The Rest of the Harvest (15:23)

    1 Corinthians 15:23 NASB95
    But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming,
    Now, I think some go into too much detail here giving their version of endtime events, whether it be dispensation, or post millennial, or whatever. So I’m not going to do that because I think Paul’s meaning is much simpler than that.
    His point is simply: Christ receives a glorified body first then everyone else who belongs to him follows.
    So, there are really only two categories of order mentioned here: Christ, himself, is resurrected and then "those who are Christ's.”
    Now we get a couple subcategories in 1 Thess. 4:16-17 where we learn God's people are resurrected in two stages: first the dead in Christ are raised and then the rest of the believers who are still alive.
    1 Thessalonians 4:16–17 NASB95
    For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
    Now, when this happens there are different opinions, both premillennial or postmillennial, but these opinions go beyond what the text actually says. Paul’s point seems to be simply: Christ is resurrected first and then the rest of the harvest happens at his coming (see 1 Corinthians 15:52). There’s no mention of the millennium, here.
    OK, so, there’s Christ the first fruits, then the rest of his people, and then there’s what the Bible calls...

    4. The End (15:24-28)

    1 Corinthians 15:24 NASB95
    then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.
    After our resurrection, ​"Then comes the end." In other words, the conclusion of Christ's redemptive work comes after the resurrection of God's people. The culminating event is the resurrection of the dead, which means salvation is complete for God’s people and Christ’s work is done. The end, but not quite.
    Then “He hands over the kingdom to God the Father. Now, the word order in verse 24 is a little awkward since Christ will abolish all rule, all authority, all power before he hands over the kingdom to the God and Father. Switch it around and it makes more sense in English. In other words, after Christ has destroyed every ruler and authority and power, then He will turn the kingdom over to God the Father (see Matt. 28:18).
    And when Christ hands the kingdom over to the Father I think he’s primarily talking about the people he has redeemed, the church, those he has completely transformed in body and spirit. That’s us. In the garden of Eden we were his greatest creation. We became corrupted by the Fall but in the end we are completely restored and given back to the Father.
    But that’s not all. In the end, Christ’s complete authority over all spiritual forces is fully established...
    1 Corinthians 15:25 NASB95
    For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.
    In the end all enemies are defeated and especially death, itself...
    1 Corinthians 15:26 NASB95
    The last enemy that will be abolished is death.
    Death for thousands and thousands of years has been like a foreign power that invaded our world, and been ruling. Jesus conquered death through his resurrection, but it will be completely abolish it in the end, as God’s people are resurrected.
    Revelation 21:4 says “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
    So, know this: death doesn’t have a hold on you. You will die if Christ doesn’t return before then, but that’s not the end of you. Your body will live again, just like Jesus’ body did.
    It’s a promise because...
    1 Corinthians 15:27 NASB95
    For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him.
    The phrase "For he has put all things in subjection under His feet” comes from Psalm 8:6 which we usually interpret to refer to mankind and our authority over the animal kingdom.
    But like most of Scripture there is a greater fulfilment in Christ. Here, Paul uses it to refer to Christ’s authority over everything, even death.
    So, we don’t need to fear death. Everything is under Jesus' authority except, of course, God the Father which is what it means when Paul says, “He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him.”
    1 Corinthians 15:28 NASB95
    When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.
    As God, Jesus is fully equal with the Father and yet, in authority, Jesus willingly subjects himself to the will of the Father’s and will continue to do so for all eternity. Why? “So that God may be all in all.”
    It’s not that God hasn’t always been all in all, but in the end, everything and everyone will fully acknowledge who He is.
    And then things will start to get really interesting. These verses may describe the end of God’s redemptive plan for us but I’m fairly certain we aren’t going to sit around and get bored after it’s all finished. The end is really just the beginning.
    God loves to keep perfecting things and so I’m sure there will be even more exciting things to do, perhaps in other universes. I don’t know, but I do know the end of redemption will be just the beginning of all we will do for the glory of God when we aren’t limited by sin and death anymore.
      • 1 Corinthians 15:20KJV1900

      • 1 Corinthians 15:21–22KJV1900

      • 1 Corinthians 15:23KJV1900

      • 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17KJV1900

      • 1 Corinthians 15:24KJV1900

      • 1 Corinthians 15:25KJV1900

      • 1 Corinthians 15:26KJV1900

      • 1 Corinthians 15:27KJV1900

      • 1 Corinthians 15:28KJV1900

  • Crown Him with Many Crowns

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