Todays readings.. 2 Kings 6, Lamentations 2, 1 Corinthians 15.
Paul expresses himself from his heart in the above words. After his astonishing encounter with Christ on the Damascus Rd he was overwhelmed by a sense of utter appreciation – followed by total commitment in the service of Christ for the rest of his life. Our oft quoted chapter 15 in Corinthians today – must be read slowly, meaningfully, letting the emotion of Paul’s message sink deeply into our minds. If there is no hope of resurrection then it cannot be true that Christ was raised “and if Christ be not raised your faith is futile.” [v.17]
All around them in Corinth, in this vibrant worldly Greek city, people were sure they had ‘immortal souls’ and that the body was of no value, many found it impossible to accept the teaching of the resurrection of the body (v.12), – the same had happened in Athens (Acts 17 v.32). Today, all around us most humanly ‘inspired’ intellectuals scoff at belief in a Creator! This human message is now being expressed in an ever greater spirit of conviction! Is it affecting us? Is it undermining our convictions?
We need to apply our minds, both to the clear facts of the Bible and also the lessons of secular history, seeing the great upheaval in belief and conviction 1950 years ago as testified in secular sources as well as in the Bible – and declare with Paul with all our hearts, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by man came death, by man has come also the resurrection of the dead.” [v.20,21] and true faithful believers like Paul will one day “bear the image of the man from heaven.” [v.49].
Indeed, in the final days “we shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed … at the last trumpet. For the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” [v.51,52] Because Paul is totally concentrating on the reality of the resurrection he does not mention there is also a judgement, but he does elsewhere.( e.g. Romans 2 v.16; 14 v.10) Our chapter concludes with a challenging message beginning with the significant word THEREFORE!
“Therefore, my beloved brothers (and sisters), be steadfast, immovable, always abounding the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.” Paul proved that “his grace toward me was not in vain.” [v.10] Let us do the same.