Life’s Questions – Week 40 Notes

By October 20, 2019Sermon Notes

Fortnite is a free video game that has earned over 4 billion dollars for its parent company…lot of money for a “free” game.

If you are a fan…don’t worry…this is not going to be an anti Fornite screed.

Do you know what a screed is? A long boring negative speech.

But to the facts of Fortnite.

Fortnite (and video games like it) are designed by people with PhD’s in human psychology…not just people who can write code.

These Games (like Candy Crush) use state-of-the-art behavioral psychology to intentionally keep you hooked and increasingly… to spend more money.

The gaming industry describes this as making a game “engaging” and “immersive”, but what this really means is they are addictive by design.

What makes them addictive…I propose…is not just brain science but also theology.

The designers don’t know it…but they are also dealing with the way God has made human souls to work.

“We don’t just have habits, we are habits.”

 “We are not just bodies and brains, we are souls”

Our hearts, minds, affections, bodies, souls…all the ways you can describe us…are designed to make things habitual…automatic.

We are designed to be shaped by God into godliness.

Affection for him, worship for him…is transformational…we can become more joyful and more free…more like Christ.

Everything is shaping us…one way or the other.

But we are prone to be misshapen by any number of things.

When we habitualize addictions…doesn’t matter what they are…we are setting our lives in the direction of discontent.

Game makers know how this works (on the brain level…bursts of dopamine bringing us back for more.)

But they don’t know, that we are not just brains…we are souls…I suspect if they saw how much this matters…they would be careful…and so we would we.

A little-known book written in 1945 “The world, the Flesh, and Father Smith”

Tells the story of a faithful Priest walking out of the door of his home and encountering a beautiful, seductive young woman whose goal is to challenge the priest’s view of reality versus hers.

She asks mockingly… “Do you get much response to the old, old story these days?”

-Meaning of course the gospel.

She says that all that stuff is nonsense…but she has questions she always wanted to ask a priest but there never seems to be one at the parties she goes to.

Her invites to walk to his next appointment and she asks questions built on her assumption that his faith is silly…she says “religion is really a substitute for sex.” (physical pleasure)

Father Smith replies that the life she prescribes to is a boring substitute for “walking with God in His house as a friend…”

Then he says “The young man who rings the bell at the brothel is unconsciously looking for God.”

-We are spiritual/physical hybrids…our hearts long for God…whether we realize it or not.

We are made by God for God…made to delight in him and his gifts.

But our brokenness makes us prone to delight in what cannot satisfy…but can only enslave.

If you have your Bible turn to 1 Cor. 15…if you do not, I’ll have the verses up on the screen.

Today we continue to look at what it means to be human…who are we, why are we…so we can know what we are to spend our lives on.

1 Cor. 15 Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel I preached to you, which you received, on which you have taken your stand and by which you are being saved, if you hold to the message I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

The gospel is “good news” up to this point in his letter to the church in Corinth (Greece) Paul had largely oriented the gospel message around Christ’s death…he shifts his focus in this chapter to Christ’s resurrection.

He is addressing a situation in the church where believers were being more heavily influenced by Greek philosophy (the culture around them) than biblical reality.

They had become thermometers of culture not thermostats of truth.

In particular they were drawn into the view that there is no physical resurrection of the body.

The Body was something to be discarded, it of less importance than the spirit.

The impact of this was that since the body was not important…you could do whatever you wanted with it….and they did…very sensual, immoral culture.

And unfortunately, often the Corinthian church followed culture in this…you can see some of the results if you read Paul’s letters to them.

So the practical impact was all kinds of destructive and bondage inducing habits and behaviors…they were not increasingly free as they did whatever they wanted…they were losing freedom.

Paul is reminding them of the truth of the gospel…we are bodies and we are souls…God has made us a hybrid.

We are made by God for God…to honor God…body and soul.

He says “you are being saved if you hold to this truth”

Here and elsewhere in Scripture the idea is not that “you will be saved if you endure”…but rather “the saved will endure”…because God will keep them.

Saving faith proves itself over a lifetime.

For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. Then he appeared to over five hundred brothers and sisters at one time; most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one born at the wrong time(untimely born),,q he also appeared to me. For I am the least of the apostles, not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, so we proclaim and so you have believed.

Lot packed in that paragraph…here is the essence of it.

Christ died (a historically verifiable fact)

Christ rose from the dead (also, a historically verifiable fact)

Scripture predicted both.

The risen Christ appeared in person to Peter, then the other disciples, then a group of over 500 (most still alive at the writing of this letter… though some are dead (fallen asleep)

Paul uses the euphemism “fallen asleep” for death…not because we sleep after death…but to indicate it is a temporary not a permanent state…resurrection is coming for those who died “In Christ”

Then James and all the apostles, finally…to Paul

Talk to them, or to me…we are all saying the same thing…Christ died, Christ rose from the dead, Christ will return.

So Paul declares the facts of the gospel, he describes the actual witnesses to the resurrection (and an indirect invitation…go talk to them…there are lots of them)

From this factual, historical foundation…he gives the logical arguments for the reality of resurrection.

1. Resurrection is essential to the gospel faith

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say, “There is no resurrection of the dead”? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is in vain, and so is your faith. 15 Moreover, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified wrongly about God that he raised up Christ—whom he did not raise up, if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Those, then, who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. 19 If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone.

Some wanted to hold to a bit of the Christian faith but not look uncool to the culture that surrounded them.

Jesus died and rose (“That’s cool…you’re a spiritual person…I can dig that”)

“But you don’t believe that stuff about people rising from the dead…really do you?”

“Jesus, sort of resurrected in a spiritual kind of way…but you don’t really believe you will have a new body someday…that’s weird.”

“Nah…I’m an enlightened Christian…I believe what sounds good to the people around me.”

“Jesus is just alright with me”. The doobie brothers famously sang…but its doubtful they followed him body and soul.

At issue here is not whether there is some kind of life after death…but is there resurrection of the body after death…full resurrection.

The Greeks had no problem with a post-death “spiritual existence”…but the idea of body and spirit resurrection…the core of biblical post-death truth was very “unhip”

So Paul asks…”If Christ has risen (I just told you of all the people who hung out with him, ate meals with him, touched him)…how can you say there is no resurrection?”

If resurrection for us isn’t real…then it wasn’t real for Christ either.

It all or nothing…it happens or it doesn’t.

If Jesus didn’t raise from the dead then here’s what that means:

  1. What we are staking our lives on is a lie

-You are wasting your time here this morning by the way.

-We are not nice people getting nicer…we are staking our lives on the resurrection…Christ’s and

ours.

  1. Those who died trusting Christ are gone…they do not live on…Paul made no allowance for some kind of “spiritual” afterlife…if Christ lied about this or was confused…then its all wrong.

-When you die…you perish.

-The funerals I’ve lead…I’ve lied, or was just wrong.

  1. We are wasting our lives, enduring pain for nothing…we should be living for the moment because it is all there is.

*Keep in mind…there was often a cost for believing the gospel at Paul’s time.

Around the world today…Believers are laying down their lives for the gospel…What a waste if the gospel is not real.

First point: Resurrection is essential to the gospel faith

2. Christ’s resurrection guarantees ours

20 But as it is, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. 22 For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ, the first fruits; afterward, at his coming, those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when he abolishes all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he puts all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be abolished is death. 27 For God has put everything under his feet.,am Now when it says “everything” is put under him, it is obvious that he who puts everything under him is the exception. 28 When everything is subject to Christ, then the Son himself will also be subject to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.

Paul has established that Christ has in fact risen from the dead…and here he gives the implications for us.

Christ’s resurrection was not just one man’s victory over death but at the heart of Christ’s triumph is the idea that he is the “first fruits” of those who would follow him.

First fruits were an offering given to God at the beginning of the harvest.

It was a reminder to give thanks because God is the provider…and it was a sign of hope because it was a promise, or a guarantee that the full harvest would follow.

*Like a Christian tithe…we give 1/10 up front as gratitude…and an expression of confidence that God faithfully provide all we need…we trust him.

So Christ’s resurrection was the first fruits of the full harvest of resurrection that would follow.

In Adam we all die (to be “in Adam” is simple to be human)

In Christ we live (to be “in Christ” is to believe the gospel)

Then Paul gives a preview of coming events:

  1. Christ returns
  2. Those who belong to him will have resurrection bodies
  3. Then God will conquer all the powers arrayed against him (humans and demons)
  4. Then death will be killed

3. Paul’s third line of argument for the resurrection is from experience…theirs and his.

Verse 29 is odd…so don’t get distracted.

29 Otherwise what will they do who are being baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, then why are people baptized for them? 30 Why are we in danger every hour? 31 I face death every day, as surely as I may boast about you, brothers and sisters, in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus as a mere man, what good did that do me? If the dead are not raised, Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.,as

In Salt Lake City the Mormon church has a large family history library and a Temple were together you can research deceased ancestors and see that someone gets baptized for them to ensure their well-being in the afterlife.

Been there, seen some of this.

This in Paul’s letter is not that.

Paul is most likely referring to a local practice (that he did not condone but was using as an example) of people being baptized for those who had died without the ritual.

So…”If you guys don’t believe in the resurrection…why are you doing this?”

He wasn’t condoning it but using it as example of their inconsistency.

His language changes “as for us”…or “And here’s what I’m doing.”…I’m laying my life down for this.

So “Why are they baptizing for the dead if they don’t believe in resurrection”

And as for us…

“Why are we living such difficult lives for the gospel if it doesn’t ultimately matter?”

The wild beasts in Ephesus…were people who wanted to destroy him…figure of speech…very, very brutal people…wanted Paul dead…and made him suffer for the gospel.

He asks “Why am I and others suffering for the gospel if it’s not fully true?”

Why not live like the people around you are living…”Eat, drink…tomorrow we die.”

This was a Greek bumper sticker/chariot sticker…or maybe a first century pop song by predecessor to the group Fun…”Tonight, we are young, let’s set the world on fire, we can brighter than the sun.”

There is no resurrection…do what you want with your body…it doesn’t matter.

Earlier in this letter Paul addressed many of the problems the church was experiencing because they were not fully biblical in their view of what it means to be human.

They were mixing some of the biblical truth with some cultural lies.

For instance they were saying…”Hey Christ has set me free…I am not a slave to the law.”

True enough…but then they went on to say essentially…”So, if it feels good do it.”

Here is the exact wording.

12 “Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything.

Paul is quoting a Greek proverb…that was a distortion of truth.

“Everything is permissible for me”…says the culture and the Christians who bought into it thought.

“Yea, but it’s not all helpful” says Paul. “Why do what will hurt you?”

“Everything is permissible for me…I am free in Christ” says the Christians in Corinth.

“Yea, but I don’t want to be mastered by anything except Christ” says Paul “That stuff takes your freedom…slavery to Christ sets you free.”

13 “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food”—but God will destroy them both.

“Food for the stomach and the stomach for food” Was the confused ideas of some Christians in Corinth…quoting not the Bible but a Greek saying.

The saying meant…

“You hunger…you have a stomach…so eat.”

“You lust…you have sex organs…partake”

“You have a body…do what the body wants.”

It is saying…do what comes naturally…obey your body.

“Yes” replies Paul…”but God will destroy them both”

Meaning…judgment follows obeying impulses verses God.

He goes on…

The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!

Tying the resurrection of Christ and us to choices we make with our bodies now.

So we are bodies and we are souls…what we do now with our bodies matters…we belong to Lord…soul and body.

Some of the church in Greece became slaves to their own bodies…along with the culture that surrounded them…they traded freedom in Christ for slavery to sin.

Do whatever you (your body) wants…and you will increasingly lose freedom, contentment, joy…do whatever Christ wants…and your joy, freedom, contentment grows.

Back to chapter 15

33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” 34 Come to your senses,at and stop sinning; for some people are ignorant about God. I say this to your shame.

What is really interesting is Paul is again using culture against itself….here he is quoting a well-known Greek Poet, to make his point. “Bad company corrupts good morals”

Quit being influenced by the wrong ideas of people around you…quit following away, from God…those you should be leading to God

4. His final point addresses the question of “How”? How is this even possible?

35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? What kind of body will they have when they come?” 36 You fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And as for what you sow—you are not sowing the body that will be, but only a seed, perhaps of wheat or another grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he wants, and to each of the seeds its own body. 39 Not all flesh is the same flesh; there is one flesh for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is different from that of the earthly ones. 41 There is a splendor of the sun, another of the moon, and another of the stars; in fact, one star differs from another star in splendor. 42 So it is with the resurrection of the dead: Sown in corruption, raised in incorruption; 43 sown in dishonor, raised in glory; sown in weakness, raised in power; 44 sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written, The first man Adam became a living being;,i the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 Like the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; like the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.

When Paul writes “Someone will ask”…it likely indicates…”Okay, I’ve heard this before.”

Probably from his evangelism discussions with Greek thinkers and with Sadducees (Jewish leaders who didn’t believe in the resurrection”

“How are the dead raised and what kind of body will they have?”

Same question asked in different ways…”I can’t conceive of this so how can it be true?”

1 Cor. 2:9-10 No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”— but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.

There are realities that the mind cannot conceive, and the eye cannot see and the ear cannot hear…but God has revealed…the resurrection is one of those realities.

When Jesus was confronted by some Sadducees in Matt 22, they tried to trip him up by asking him a question.

They told the hypothetical (and highly improbable scenario) where a widow marries her dead husband’s six brothers in succession (in line with the law regarding this kind of thing).

Then think they have Jesus trapped…ready to make him look like a fool…he can deny the law, or the resurrection…either way…”We got him”

“Okay, Jesus…whose wife will she be at the resurrection?”

I think I might have said…”You guys know…brother number 3 or at most number 4 ought to be running for his life fromthis woman…something suspicious is going on with husbands dropping like flies.”

“You really think 7 brothers are going to marry this women?”

But Jesus had a better reply…I’ll read just part of it…”You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.”

Inability to believe the resurrection is trusting the human mind more than the power of God…it’s really not a big deal for the God who made us…to resurrect us.

Paul uses the natural world to challenge their imaginations or lack of imagination.

He writes…When you plant a seed it doesn’t come to life unless it dies…the seed goes into the ground, the husk rots way to a seedling, new life.

In addition, the seed doesn’t look like what it will become…it is different.

You don’t plant an oak tree, but an acorn.

God is displaying his ability to recreate each time he grows a seed into a plant…resurrection is all around us.

Lots of fescue being over seeded this time of year…the seed goes into the dirt…husk falls way to new life…bright green baby grass.

Next he says that God is super creative in how he makes different “bodies”…look around some more.

Humans have one kind of body, animals, birds, fish…different types…even in the sky…look up there…sun, moon, star…different types of bodies.

Even stars differ between stars in their splendor.

Come on…don’t be foolish…we are talking about God here!

Use a little imagination.

This is all similar to how it will be with the resurrection of the body.

Seed dies…the plant will live forever (talking about us)

The seed carries sin…the plant carries God’s glory.

The seed is sown in weakness…the plant will be raised in resurrection power.

The seed is natural…the plant is supernatural.

Paul does NOT mean “immaterial” by using the phrase “spiritual body”…but rather a body renewed by the Holy Spirit.

Our bodies will not be powered by the mere physical…brains, chemicals, physical habits…but they will be powered by the Holy Spirit…vehicles for freedom and power not bondage to sin.

We have borne the image of the man of dust (Adam)…we will bear the image of the man of heaven(Jesus)

Conclusion: Then he wraps up this discussion with a compelling vision…

For this section…let me first tell you what is coming…then we will read it together.

*Unless we experience resurrection we will not see the fullness of our inheritance…life in God’s full Kingdom

The mystery has been revealed…God has told us what is coming.

Not everyone is going to die…some will be alive when Christ returns…but whether we are alive on earth, or have already died…all those who are in Christ will be clothed in immortality…a resurrection body.

Then death will be taunted even as it tries to taunt us now…let’s read this.

50 What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor can corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Listen, I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. 53 For this corruptible body must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body must be clothed with immortality. 54 When this corruptible body is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: Death has been swallowed up in victory.,u 55 Where, death, is your victory? Where, death, is your sting?,v 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

There is Paul’s conclusion and we don’t have to look far for his application…the next verse.

APPLICATION:

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Therefore…in light of your future reality…my dear brothers and sisters.

He has not been attacking them…but rather their false ideas…destructive thoughts that take liberty and Christ from people.

Be steadfast/immovable…stand firm in the truth.

Always abounding in the Work of God…because that kind of life…is never a wasted life.

What is the work of God?

It is follow Jesus is day to day relationship…believe and live the gospel.

John 6:28-29 Some antagonists asked Jesus “What must we do to the works God requires?”

Jesus answered…”The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

-Meaning him

To believe in Jesus is not mere intellectual assent…I believe in Jesus and in Abraham Lincoln and gravity.

To believe in Jesus is to orient your entire life around him.

We don’t merely have habits we are habits…everything is shaping you…what shape do you want to take

Be shaped by the truth into the image of Christ…all that your heart and your habits point towards…are indicators that God has designed you for himself.

Turn your habits and hearts to Christ.

You swim in culture…but you are made to breath the air of eternity.

How can we survive then? How do we keep from drowning?

We must continually get our life from above…like a deepsea diver.

Live in culture…shape culture…get your life from Christ…be shaped by him.

Continually die to self…it is how we live free lives.

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