Kittredge Community Bible Church
Palm Sunday
      • Zechariah 9:9–12CSB

  • Thine Is the Glory
  • I Exalt Thee
  • Doxology
  • (1 Corinthians 15:29-34)
    Motivation is defined as the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.
    I remember when I was in high school, my dad told me he would buy be a Minolta 35mm camera if I got straight A’s for a semester. Boy was I motivated and you know what? I got straight A’s and the camera.
    You could argue that I should’ve gotten the good grades even without the incentive, and I suppose you’re right, but I don’t think it’s wrong to have tangible reasons for doing good things.
    And I don’t think it’s wrong, spiritually either.
    In this section, Paul is looking at the resurrection as a motivation for good behavior. The resurrection, itself, can be main reason we think and do good things.
    It’s not that Christians are the only ones who have any motivation to do good things. Non Christian moms and dads make sacrifices for their children. Agnostic soldiers and police officers will give their lives to save others.
    But belief in the resurrection is one of the most powerful motivations.
    Now, this isn’t a new idea. In fact, the whole Bible, which is all about who Jesus is, wasn’t just written so we would know things, it was written so we would be motivated to do things.
    Take, for example, the book of Romans. The first 11 chapters of Romans contain some of the most theologically rich parts of the whole Bible. It’s about God’s sovereignty in salvation man’s inability to save themselves which is so critical to know. But then in the twelfth chapter it says this:
    Romans 12:1 NASB95
    Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
    Therefore…on the basis of the previous eleven chapters of theology about God…present your bodies as living and holy sacrifices. Just knowing things isn’t the final goal of scripture. Knowledge about God is meant to motivate us to do things. So for 5 more chapters in Romans, Paul explains what those things are that we should be doing.
    Now, today we aren’t looking at the book of Romans, but Paul is making a similar point in 1 Corinthians chapter 15. He’s saying the theology of the resurrection is worth knowing and believing but it is more than that. The resurrection can also motivate us to think and act in three ways.
    The resurrection can motivate us to become saved, to serve, and to live moral lives.

    1. A motivation to become saved

    1 Corinthians 15:29 NASB95
    Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?
    Now of all the points this morning, this first one is the hardest to explain: the motivation to become saved.
    That’s because theologians have come up with about 30-40 explanations for verse 29 and I would be a fool to be overly dogmatic about what this verse means. But I’m going to do my best to let you know what I think and why.
    First let me tell you about some of the more popular opinions and why I don’t think the meaning is any of those.

    Many Interpretations

    Some see "baptism for the dead” as baptism by proxy. In other words, they believe Christians were getting themselves baptized on behalf of friends or relatives who had died unbaptized. It’s what Mormons believe.
    Let’s say you have a friend at work who never trusted in Jesus and then died. You don’t want him to go to hell so you get baptised for him and then he’s saved. This interpretation fits the Greek in verse 29 but not the rest of scripture.
    Hebrews 9:27 says “it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgement,” not baptism. Once we die, that’s it. There’s no second chance.
    Not only that but Baptism doesn’t even save those who get baptised for themselves. We are saved by faith in Christ alone, not by baptism. So I don’t think Paul is taking about baptism by proxy.
    Others take a modified approach to this and say that while Paul obviously didn’t believe in baptising by proxy, himself, others did and so he was just using their belief as an example without condoning it.
    Well, that seems like a bit of a stretch to me because Paul’s tone in regards to “baptism for the dead” seems to be positive. There isn’t even a hint that Paul disagrees with what they were doing which seems odd since Paul is so adamant about rejecting false gospels and having a false hope. So, the view that Paul is just using a false understanding of baptism that he doesn’t agree with as an example, just doesn’t seem to make sense to me.
    Now, I don’t want to be too dogmatic here because the bottom line is that we will probably never know exactly what Paul meant until we get a chance to ask him face to face.
    But here’s what I think makes the most sense.

    What I Think

    I think Paul is talking about a motivation to become saved, specifically, the hope we will see our loved ones again.
    This is what many notable theologians believe so if I’m wrong at least I’m in good company.
    But before I get into the details, let me explain the idea in general.
    The basic idea is that some people come to Christ because they want to see their loved ones again. This isn’t a motivation for everyone, of course, but many people do.
    For example, how many times has an unbelieving husband attended the funeral of his believing wife, heard the message of salvation, and became convinced he would see her again in heaven. So he started coming to church and became a Christian, himself.
    Or how many Christians are motivated to become Christians after the death of a child? I think this is how the Norm and Marsha Covey came to know Christ who lived up the hill behind us (see also Genesis 37:35; 2 Samuel 12:23 ).
    So, it’s a given that the hope of the resurrection is a powerful motivation for those who are still living to want to be saved. Now let’s see how this fits with the text.
    The word translated “for” in verse 29 is the Greek word hyper but it can be legitimately translated about twelve different ways in English.
    Hyper is a preposition and when connected with the word dead can mean: over the dead, above the dead, across the dead, beyond the dead, on behalf of the dead, in the name of the dead, because of the dead, in reference to the dead, instead of the dead, and with regard to the dead.
    So, you see the problem. Translators have to pick one and without knowing exactly what Paul was talking about. We can just as legitimately translate it “for” as we can one of the other ways.
    And, in this case it seems to make more sense to translate it “because of the dead” or “for the sake of the dead.”
    Translated this way, “Baptism for the sake of the dead is not in order to remedy some deficiency on the part of the dead, but in order to be reunited with them at the resurrection” (J. K. Howard, “Baptism for the Dead: A Study of 1 Cor 15:29,” 140–41; cf. 137–41.).
    Now, in order for this to make even more sense we need to remember that baptism is often used as synonym for salvation.
    For example in Acts 22:16 Saul was told to “Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.” It’s not that getting wet is what made Saul spiritually clean but it’s a symbol of the salvation God gives.
    In Gal 3:27, after he’s been saved, Paul says to others “for all of you who were baptized in Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Paul could have just as easily said “for all of you who were saved in Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”
    So baptism pictures the removal of sin. It pictures what God does to us which is why we don’t baptise ourselves. Baptism pictures a public profession of trust in what Christ does. Baptism pictures salvation
    It could be that this is the way Paul is using “baptism” in this verse.
    If it is, then we could translate verse 29, “Otherwise, what will those do who are coming to Christ, being saved, in hopes of seeing their dead loved ones again? If the dead are not raised at all, then what’s the point of being saved in order to see them again?”
    So, I think his point is, if there is no resurrection one of the greatest motivations to become saved is removed. That’s what I think Paul is saying. I could be wrong, but it seems to make the most sense to me.
    Now, there is another motivation in verse 30 which isn’t nearly so controversial.

    2. A motivation to serve sacrificially.

    1 Corinthians 15:30–31 NASB95
    Why are we also in danger every hour? I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
    If there is no resurrection of the dead, then what’s the point of taking so many risks? Paul’s wanting to know, what’s the benefit of putting his life at risk every hour of every day?
    What’s the motivation if there is no resurrection of the dead?
    The wall street investor is willing to take risks because he hopes the pay off will be worth it. He’s motivated to work long hours, skip meals, invest all of his money in hopes it will make him rich.
    How much more should we be laying up treasures in heaven? (see Mat 6:19-21) It’s not that we can earn our way to heaven but there is a motivating reward for doing good works by those who are already saved.
    Hebrews 11:35 NASB95
    Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection;
    We can’t earn the right to be resurrected but we can “improve” upon it through sacrificial service. God isn’t going to ignore our good deeds, he’s going to reward us for them and that’s an awesome motivation.
    So Paul is affirming, literally swearing in verse 30, that every day, every hour, he is moments away from death. But it’s all going to be worth it.
    See, if you’ve already got salvation locked in and there’s no further reward in heaven then what’s the point of good works, humanly speaking?
    Of course, there are other motivations for serving sacrificially, but without the resurrection of dead we lose one of the most important reasons.
    1 Corinthians 15:32 NASB95
    If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.
    This is the same question Isaiah and the author of Ecclesiastes asks. Humanly speaking, if there is no resurrection of the dead there’s no motivation that to do anything other than try to live your best, selfish life now. It makes perfect sense to invest only in today if there isn’t a future reward.
    Now, some may question whether or not he literally fought with wild beasts. I think it’s possible but even if he’s speaking metaphorically his point is the same. No matter how great the cost in this life, it’s all worth it.
    Phil 3:8 says Paul counted all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus.
    2 Corinthians 4:11 says he lived life being constantly delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake.
    Who lives likes this? Those that are highly motivated by the future resurrection of the dead.
    Last week we learned more about police officer Eric Talley who was first to respond to the shooting at King Soopers. The Attorney General said, “He died charging into the line of fire trying to save people who were simply trying to live their lives and go food shopping.”
    Was it worth it? He left a wife and 7 kids behind. It was said of him “He loved his kids and his family more than anything, he didn’t want to put his family through something like this and he believed in Jesus Christ.”
    See, Officer Talley served his community sacrificially, but he also served his Savior and so his sacrifice won’t be in vain. Jesus saw what he did, his family will see him again and I believe they will all receive a better resurrection.
    So there’s a motivation to be saved, there’s a motivation to serve sacrificially, and...

    3. A motivation to live moral lives.

    1 Corinthians 15:33 NASB95
    Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”
    Don’t be deceived Paul says. But about what? About our mistaken beliefs regarding the resurrection. If we believe our theological views about the resurrection don’t make a difference then we’re deceived. And if we associate with those who have bad theology about the resurrection it’s going to rub off on us.
    Bad, or evil, company corrupts good morals. It’s more than just bad manners as the KJV says. Paul’s not saying we shouldn’t hang out with people who talk with food in their mouths or put their elbows on the table.
    He’s talking about our moral behavior. Bad theology leads to bad behavior.
    In other words, put positively, good teaching about the resurrection leads to good moral living.
    Teaching about how Christ died and was resurrected, how he ascended into heaven and he’s coming back leads to living moral lives.
    You want to grow in Christ? Spend time seriously thinking about the reality of your own resurrection and that you’ll have to face him someday.
    1 Corinthians 15:34 NASB95
    Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.
    Last week, we talked about how in Adam mankind doesn’t have the ability not to sin. That’s true, and in Adam we will all die.
    But now that we are in Christ we have been given the ability to sin or not to sin. Those that are in Christ don’t have to sin, although we still will, but we have the ability, in Christ, not to.
    When we go home to be with our Lord in glory we will lose the ability to sin, but that time isn’t yet. But for now, we must not fall into the trap of thinking there’s no hope and that we’re all just destined to keep living sinful lives.
    No, In Christ, not by our own strength, but in Christ’s we have been given the ability to not sin. So stop sinning. Let the truth of the resurrection motivate us to live morally righteous lives.
    I’m not saying we have the ability to be perfect in this life but neither are we helpless. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. So stop sinning.
    Bad theology leads to bad behavior. The resurrection of the dead isn’t just an abstract idea. It is a powerful motivation.
    It can motivate people to become saved.
    It can motivate people to serve sacrificially.
    And it can motivate us to sin less and less.
      • Romans 12:1KJV1900

      • 1 Corinthians 15:29KJV1900

      • 1 Corinthians 15:30–31KJV1900

      • Hebrews 11:35KJV1900

      • 1 Corinthians 15:32KJV1900

      • 1 Corinthians 15:33KJV1900

      • 1 Corinthians 15:34KJV1900

  • Rejoice, the Lord Is King!

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