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Alternative Non-Resurrection Lifestyles: 1 Corinthians 15:29-34

Alternative Non-Resurrection Lifestyles: 1 Corinthians 15:29-34

By Ted Schroder,
May 7, 2017

St. Paul has been arguing that the main thing about the Gospel is that Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead. He cites as evidence that Christ appeared to hundreds of his followers after his resurrection. He notes that some people do not believe in a resurrection from the dead for anyone let alone Christ. If this were so then it would nullify the Christian faith and would leave no hope for those who had died in Christ. But, and it is an emphatic 'but' that contradicts those who would deny the resurrection, he goes on to say, Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, and there are consequences to that fact of history. Christ is fulfilling God's future purpose of salvation. His resurrection inaugurates a sequences of events in history. He gives us a new view of the future when the enemies of our souls will be destroyed.

"Now if there is no resurrection....." He circles back to look at the alternatives to belief in the resurrection for there are millions of people who do not believe in it. If there is no resurrection then there are logical consequences which affect our worldview and daily lifestyle. He cites three implications.

First, if there is no resurrection then death if final and there is no point in preparing for it. That in fact is the attitude of most people. They put off making wills, making arrangements for their funerals, or preparing to meet their Maker. They don't see this life as a preparation for the next life. While they may have a vague believe in the resurrection or heaven their default drive in life is to ignore the future. In previous centuries people took seriously getting ready for death. Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667) wrote Holy Dying as a manual for self-examination and meditation in preparation for death.

St. Paul refers to those who were baptized for the dead. There are many interpretations for this reference and Mormons have taken it as reason to seek out dead ancestors and baptize them. But there is no evidence for that in Scripture. Instead it is likely to refer to those who were dying and not likely to live much longer who were believing Christians but had not yet been baptized. Baptism was taken seriously in the early church. Many delayed baptism until just before death for fear that they might sin after baptism. They were urged to be baptized but deferred it until the last moment, when on the death bed they were purged from the sins and could meet the judgment of God with a clear conscience.

Baptism is a form of death and resurrection. "Don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life" (Romans 6:3,4). As Calvin explains it, "if a catechumen [a convert under instruction], who already in his heart embraced the Christian faith, saw that death was impending over him, he asked baptism, partly for his own consolation, and partly with a view to the edification of his brethren." Death for the Christian is looking forward to the future life in Christ and leaving a witness for those he was leaving behind on his journey. There would be no point in doing this if death was final and there was no resurrection. If there is no resurrection then the last days are spent looking back at life with nostalgia and coming to terms with the end of life.

Much modern literature deals with trying to make sense of life and handling grief in the face of death. Few novelists and screen writers today have a belief in the resurrection. Their alternative lifestyle is morbid, depressing and offers no hope. But it is different for those who prepare for their death and the death of their loved ones with a view to the future life in Christ. We look forward to a new life full of joy and peace.

Secondly, if there is no resurrection this life should be lived as pleasantly as possible. We should avoid anything that would cause us pain or suffering. We should go along to get along with people. We should not put ourselves in danger. Instead we should protect ourselves from any possible conflict. If that means avoiding relationships that are difficult, so be it. We keep people at arm's length so that they cannot hurt us. We do not allow ourselves to get emotionally involved where we might be disappointed or rejected. We do not make many commitments that might cause us have to fulfill responsibilities that are onerous. We cushion ourselves from losses by avoiding risks. We make sure that we have insured ourselves against any disasters. We do not invest in principles or convictions that might be contradicted by popular opinion and force us to take a stand. Our basic belief is in self-preservation for we trust no one but ourselves to take care of us.

This is in contrast to St. Paul who endangered himself every hour for the Gospel. He died every day to his comfort and was threatened with death many times. What is his gain in this taking a stand for Christ and the Gospel if there is no resurrection? Down through the ages and especially today Christians have been willing to be martyred for their faith. So many by their courage and sacrifice won for us the freedoms and liberties we enjoy. So many witnessed at the cost of pain, of persecution and death. So many endured conflict and took risks in relationships, and were willing to sacrifice themselves in marriages and in raising their families. We remember them every All Saints' Day for we believe, because of the resurrection, that we shall meet again, never to be separated from them. So in this life we never forget those who have gone before us because we believe that in the life to come we share in their blessedness.

Lastly, if there is no resurrection "let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die" (Isaiah 22:13). Jesus told the parable of the rich fool who planned for future success in his business and said to himself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." He was the epitome of the self-indulgent who spent all his money on himself, living in luxury, enjoying his affluence and planning to complete his bucket list on his own schedule, without regard for anyone else. "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself.' This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God." (Luke 12:18-21) If there is no resurrection, if there is no eternity, this life loses all its virtues and values. Take away the idea that this life is a preparation for the life to come and there is no accountability for self-centeredness. "It is useless to argue that this should not be so and that men should not be good and honorable simply for the sake of some reward. The fact remains that the man who believes that this is the only world tends to live as if the things of this world are all that matter." (William Barclay)

If you mix with people who have alternative non-resurrection lifestyles -- who do not believe in the resurrection, you will be influenced by them and they will corrupt you. If people live as they please without any regard for the resurrection they are ignorant of God. Do not be misled by your peer group. Bad company corrupts good character. Come to your senses and live as those who believe in the resurrection and the new life that is in Christ.


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