1 Corinthians 15-16, Psalm 148
My son recently had dinner with a Jewish friend who is now getting in to Kabbalah. He told my son that he is enjoying it and described it as Judaism without the law. As odd as this sounded to me, how many "Christians" follow their religion without the truth of Christ. Every generation likes to deem themselves unique, but in reality each generation who is not following the absolute truth of God's Word will slowly begin forming their own belief system with a little from column A and a little from column B. God is a God of absolutes, not moral relativism. Often when we read Scripture we don't know why the writer goes in a certain direction. Realize Corinth was the center of Epicurean philosophy, which states: no eternity, no resurrection, therefore, eat, drink, and be merry for what you have now is all you have and all you will ever get. This dangerous philosophy was seeping into the Corinthian church and Paul had to confront it.
Paul starts this section by stating what many consider the oldest creed in the Christian faith in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8. In it he clearly states the core of the gospel message, "that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures". He then goes on to give a list of verifiable witnesses to the resurrection including, "He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once,". He then moves from this to explain the validity of Jesus' resurrection and what that means to us who have placed our trust in Him. In fact he states in 1 Corinthians 15:19, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable." Any preaching that denies Jesus' resurrection is empty preaching. And a church without a risen Lord is pathetic and pitiable. He goes on in 15:22 to say, "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive." Jesus said in John 5:28-29, "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth-those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation." Since Jesus already stated that none of us are good in Luke 18:19, and Paul reiterates this in Romans 3:10, 12, "There is none righteous, no, not one;...There is none who does good, no, not one.", then our only way to heaven is through a true, abiding relationship with Jesus, the only One with the power to save. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21, "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God." Paul concludes this section in 1 Corinthians 15 with verse 58, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
There are so many wrong philosophies out there. We live in an apathetic, morally relative society who largely rejects Christ and eternity. Those following this Epicurean style philosophy now consider themselves, agnostics or atheists. But equally dangerous is that most "Christians" believe they all get into heaven because they did some ritual or rite, or said some prayer at one time in their lives without really giving Jesus any reality in their day to day lives. Every funeral a priest states that the one in the coffin is in a better place whether that person had any real belief in God or not. It is this sloppy theology which has lulled the masses into a stupor. When I share, many reject what I say, saying that a loving God would never send anyone into hell. I tell them that is correct, He doesn't send them, He lovingly gives us free choice, and most choose hell. The choice is made on earth, not in the afterlife. If we don't choose Jesus while we are breathing because we want to have "fun" and do our own thing, we don't get to choose Him afterwards because given the two alternatives then , heaven seems better than hell. In Hebrews 9:27, the author writes, "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment." A question which is a core portion of the Gospel message which we must all ask ourselves is: Is Jesus the Lord of our lives? Is Jesus the One whom we love more than any other? Is Jesus the One we lean on, depend on daily for this life and for eternity? Or do we barely even consider Him in our day to day life? The choice is now and always has been, ours. So many spend so much time on lesser choices, this one is the most important one in their lives, yet most barely even consider it.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: