The Resurrection is the Cornerstone (1 Corinthians 15:20-34)

2016-Week 11“Few people seem to realize that the resurrection of Jesus is the cornerstone to a worldview that provides the perspective to all of life.” – Josh McDowell

First Corinthians was written because the Corinth congregation was being torn apart by quarreling. Therefore, the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to try to bring unity to the people. One of the disagreements the Corinthians had concerned the resurrection. Some of the people did not believe in the resurrection. Since the resurrection is the cornerstone to Christianity, Paul gives four logical explanations in the beginning of chapter 15 to affirm the resurrection. Warren Wiersbe breaks them down into four proofs:

  1. The Historical Proof (eye witness accounts vs. 1-11)
  2. The Personal Proof (lives being transformed after having believed vs. 12-19)
  3. The Doctrinal Proof (the two Adams vs. 20-28)
  4. The Practical Proof (baptism vs. 29-34)

This devotion will focus on the third and fourth proofs, whereas the previous two devotionals focused on the Historical and Personal Proofs.

The Doctrinal Proof

Paul begins by going back to Genesis 3 where the fall took place (vs. 21, 22). It was through Adam’s sin and disobedience that sin entered the world. All who are born into the world are guilty and sinful. This is an overwhelming truth to know that from birth we are eternally separated from God. But there is hope! God sent His Son to this earth to die for the sins of those who put their faith in Him. Jesus was buried and rose from the grave on the third day, conquering death. Just as through one man (Adam) sin entered the world, through one man (Jesus) the penalty of sins was taken away, allowing all who put their faith and trust in Him to live with God for eternity. This is why Jesus is sometimes referred to as the second Adam. Paul uses this same argument in Romans 5. Without the resurrection we would have no hope in this world. We would be eternally separated from God and have no way of being with Him.

Now, what does firstfruits mean? Firstfruits is an Old Testament word found in Exodus 23:16 and Leviticus 23:10. Each person was to give an offering to the Lord, the firstfruits of their labor. This offering guaranteed the coming harvest (Lev. 23:9-11). In the same way, Christ’s resurrection guarantees the resurrection of believers (vs. 20, 23). An interesting thing to note is that the firstfruits were to be an offering the day after the Passover Sabbath. This is the same day as Christ’s resurrection. The resurrection also allows the completion of God’s purpose for the world (vs. 24-28).

The Practical Proof

Baptism is a symbol of our sins being washed away, an outward expression of our faith in Jesus Christ, His death, burial, and resurrection. If the Corinthians did not believe in the resurrection, why were they still baptizing? If there is no resurrection, baptism is meaningless (vs. 29-32). Paul summarizes this by stating, “If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!””  Paul concludes by warning the Corinthians to guard against false teachers and reprimands them for not having this knowledge of the resurrection, for this is the reason they were quarreling and in dissension (vs. 33-34).

So what does this mean? Denying the resurrection has significant consequences. If Christ’s body lies in some nameless grave, there is no hope for the believer, and the gospel is nothing but emptiness. Therefore, the resurrection is the cornerstone to our faith in Jesus Christ.

Reflection Questions:

  1. How do we know His sacrifice for sin was accepted?
  2. How can we hope for our own resurrection and immortality?[1]
  3. How does the knowledge of the resurrection affect your daily living?

[1] Keith Brooks, Summarized Bible: Complete Summary of the New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009), 52.

This week’s devotional was written by Ethan Thomas. Ethan is a graduate from Crossroads Bible College, where he received a B.S. in Biblical Counseling and a B.S. in Management & Ethics. He is happily married to his wife, Grace. He currently leads worship and is actively involved in other ministries at Tri-County Bible Church in Rensselaer, Indiana.

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