Oft times many of the seats in the committee room were empty, but not this day. Between the congressmen and reporters it was truly standing room only. The two sides of the political aisle were firmly ensconced in their respective trenches as the star cabinet member (with far reaching political aspirations) took center stage. She was testifying as part of an investigation into Benghazi and the events that occurred there on September 11th, 2012. Those of her ideological persuasion stood ready to defend. Those on the other end of the spectrum came loaded for bear. The questions and answers flew furiously as the combatants began to spar back and forth. The highlight reel, the soundbite extraordinaire, the verbal blow that caught the opposition flatfooted, at least for the moment, came when the witness answered a question with the cliché ridden phrase, “what difference does it make?”… Rewind nearly 2,000 years. The Apostle Paul had preached the true gospel to the Corinthian Church and, as frequently happened, was soon followed by false teachers who adulterated the pure Word of God. These wolves crept into the fellowship and began propagating the belief that there was no resurrection from the dead and that not even Christ had been raised! As preposterous as that notion seems to conservative Christians today, it was not automatically discarded by the Corinthians of yesteryear or by many in our contemporary age. Some spiritualize the Bible to such a degree that a physical resurrection is explained away. Others see no need for a real resurrection because the end goal of Christianity is merely getting people to lead more moral lives. When confronted about their false teaching, many in these resurrection-denying heretical camps will ask, “what difference does it make?” The Apostle Paul gives us several answers to this query in the great resurrection chapter of 1 Corinthians 15.
The Resurrection Makes Scripture Sure and Preaching Purposeful (1 Cor. 15:3-4; 12-14)…A couple of years ago my wife and I went car shopping. Our Chevy Blazer had served us well but, after many repairs and the use of much duct tape, it was finally giving up the ghost! We were on a limited budget but had our heart set on trying to get an SUV if we could. We did some research online and discovered that the most economical vehicle of this style was the Jeep Patriot. My wonderful penny pinching, coupon clipping, BOGO buying wife (and I’m thankful that she is all of that and more, a true Proverbs 31 woman of God!) spotted an ad in the News-Press from a car dealership that will remain nameless (but let’s just say “it’s far enough away from Ft. Myers to give you a better deal!”). They were promoting a great price on the SUV we were looking for. We were ecstatic and skeptical all at the same time. Our doubts quickly outpaced our hopes when, after we had made the 30 minute trek to the country town, the first words we heard from the mouth of the salesman were “you know you can’t get all those discounts that are in the newspaper!” Now, I don’t know how much the ad in the paper had cost the dealership. It took up much of the page and was in full color so I assume it wasn’t cheap. Yet for all the size, color, and grandeur of the ad, when you went to check out what it was promoting, what it was pointing to, you found it to be a deceptive lie and a terrible waste…All of Scripture, from the Old Testament law, prophets, and festivals to the New Testament teachings of Jesus, point to and promote the coming of a Messiah, a Deliverer, a Conquering King and a Suffering Servant, who would live a holy life, die a horrendous death, and then triumphantly rise with eternal glory! Paul instructs the Corinthians that Christ died and was raised “according to the Scriptures.” The main event that had been advertised by God’s Word for centuries came true, so all that it purports about any and every subject is true and those who proclaim its truth can do so with ultimate confidence and powerful purpose.
The Resurrection Fortifies Faith and Solves Sin (1 Cor. 15:17)…I remember my first years teaching in a private school. There were certain rules and decorum that students were to follow in the curriculum that was used. I studied the protocols and procedures and, after much editing and practice, put together what I thought to be a flawless presentation that would teach the students how they were to behave and perform in class. I delivered my prepared remarks at a preschool event and thought the school year would go off without a hitch because of the clear and concise presentation that I had made. Then came the first day, week, and month of school! Needless to say I was surprised, shocked, and taken fully aback by the fact that my wonderful delivery at the preschool program did not keep Little Johnny from turning around in his seat and shooting spitballs at Little Sally who had earlier told me with a sheepish grin that the dog had eaten her homework..again! At first I blamed myself. I might not have been as clear in explaining the rules as I thought I had been. Surely, if they knew better, then they would do better. As time went on I blamed the students. I didn’t know how much clearer (or louder) I could say “THOU SHALT NOT THROW SPITBALLS OR LIE ABOUT HOMEWORK!” The problem that led to me being disillusioned with the results I was experiencing was that my faith was misplaced. I had faith in my ability to present clearly. I had faith in the students’ ability (and desire) to perform appropriately. Trouble was, neither myself nor the students were adequate to meet the quantity of faith I had in either at the first…You see, faith is only as good as its object, it’s only as valid as what you put it in. Some seem to think that faith for faith’s sake or having faith in their faith (I’ve even heard that very phrase used before) has power in and of itself. They falsely teach that faith can be made even stronger than it already is by speaking certain phrases or increasing sincerity. Truth is, saying it’s so doesn’t make it so, even if you increase repetition and volume. Believing it’s so doesn’t make it so, for there are many people who are sincerely deceived on a daily basis about all sorts of things. You can call a chair a table, even believe that it’s a table, even sit on the floor and use it as a table, but at the end of the day it’s still a chair and doesn’t have the power to become a table…The truth of the resurrection means that our faith in it is well placed. Our faith is powerful because its object is powerful! And the power of that resurrection is enough to wash away the stains of sin and to regenerate the heart of a sinner who genuinely repents and believes!
The Resurrection Means Believers Will Not Perish (1 Cor. 15:18)…Publix ran a BOGO on gallons of tea this past week. We went to the cooler by the deli and I reached to get one gallon of sweet and one gallon of unsweet (Benji drinks sweet tea and my love drinks unsweet—she’s sweet enough already!). The jugs all looked the same except for the expiration dates. Some were printed with early May dates and others with mid-May dates. Of course, I picked up the tea with the latest expiration. Truth be told, no tea bought now has any chance of making it through mid-April in our house much less into any part of May, but still I wanted to choose the jugs that would last the longest. We do the same with milk, bread, meat, Little Debbie Cakes, and Hostess Twinkies—don’t we?! Some foods last longer than others, but none of it is truly imperishable—even canned goods and expensive prepackaged “prepper” meals sold for thousands of dollars on certain “Christian” TV programs will one day pass away! And if humanity is somewhat obsessive about trying to get food that doesn’t perish, we are even more so about trying to get ourselves not to perish. From Ponce de Leon discovering Florida while looking for the fountain of youth to Larry King and notable others checking out cryonics (freezing one’s body when you die with hopes of being thawed out and revived at a later time—truly a chilling experience!), mankind will try anything to keep from perishing…The resurrection of Christ, the first fruits of them that sleep (that died), ensures the resurrection of all those who have genuinely repented of sin and put faith in Him! Jesus’ resurrection makes it possible for us to be changed and raised imperishable, incorruptible, and with a glorified body! Jesus’ resurrection brings the ring of truth to Job’s claim that though “worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God!”
The Resurrection Means Believers Are Not To Be Pitied (1 Cor. 15:19)…Those familiar with the field of Southern Gospel Music (and if you’re truly saved, that’s a given!) will know the names of Jeff and Sheri Easter. On one of the glorious Gaither DVD’s (is it any wonder that Gaither and Glory start with the same letter?!), Jeff tells the story of a song entitled “Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me!” that was written by his father. Jeff relays that at the time his dad wrote the song they were living in an old wooden shack with hardly two nickels to rub together. The first verse of the famed tune declares “while the world looks upon me, as I struggle along; they say I have nothing, but they are so wrong; in my heart I’m rejoicing, how I wish they could see; thank You Lord, for Your blessings on me!”. The world system will never see the blessings of being a believer and will always view Christians with some combination of indifference, pity, contempt, and scorn. There have been times when Christians have been fed to the lions, when they have been imprisoned for unjust causes, when they have been ridiculed for their lack of wealth, when even believers that have been blessed with financial substance are looked upon as being intellectually deficient for believing the antiquated-old school teachings of the Bible—and yet I tell you that whatever peril or persecution that befalls the true Christian pales in comparison to the eternal weight of glory that awaits them! The resurrection took place, the Bible is true, salvation is real, and Heaven is great to those who repent and place faith in Christ!
The Resurrection Means We Should Always Be Abounding In The Work Of The Lord (1 Cor. 15:58)…As most reading this article would know, I teach middle school math and my 2:30 class is particularly challenging. I’ve been cussed at, lied to, had to break up fights, had the door of my portable repeatedly kicked, and even had pens hurled at my head (and I do mean hurled, not just thrown). So, needless to say, I try my best to always keep my eyes on that class and to turn my back on them as few times as I can get away with. Then, one day I got caught off guard when the Lead Teacher of our Math Team requested that I bring that class up to the media center to practice on the computers. I lined up the students (threatening them within an inch of my life—and no that was not a typo) and walked them as best I could (at least we all lived through it) up to the second floor. However, I made one tragic mistake. I chose to lead the line which meant that for 10 seconds or so I was outside the door of my portable while a couple of students had the opportunity to go to my computer and steal my USB drive. I had all the math work from my last two years of teaching saved on that drive and, unfortunately, I had not been wise enough to make a backup copy. I didn’t realize it had been taken until after the end of that school day. I looked everywhere thinking that perhaps they had taken it and threw it somewhere nearby but couldn’t find it. I reported it to the Assistant Principal. We tried every measure we could to locate it but to no avail. So much work, so much time invested, and in a moment it was gone, all gone…Jesus warned us in the Sermon on the Mount not to build up treasures for ourselves on this earth, where thieves can steal it and moths and rust can destroy, but to rather store up our treasure in Heaven, where no criminals (or misbehaved students!) can abscond with it and where no elements can decay (Matt. 6:19-21). Because Jesus has been raised, because only what’s done for Christ will last, we should want to live for Him all of our days with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength!