Week of April 2

Let the Resurrection Song Guide Your Steps

Read Judges 8; Psalm 42; 1 Corinthians 15
“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain”
1 Corinthians 15:1–2, ESV


C. S. Lewis once wrote, “Some people probably think of the Resurrection as a desperate last moment expedient to save the Hero from a situation which had got out of the Author’s control.” Not so! Jesus took careful time between the resurrection and His ascension to clearly show that the resurrection was not a last-minute event; instead, it was about how the scriptures had been fulfilled (Luke 24:25-27, 44-49; Acts 1:1-4). This propositional truth formed the basis for the early church witness, and it was critical to their spiritual growth and success. Therefore, the gospel rests upon the central fact of the resurrection, which forms the essential core for our faith and practice.

The Meaning of the Text

A brief overview of the chapter
The nature and meaning of the resurrection provide readers with the clear theme in 1 Corinthians 15. Paul takes careful care to build the resurrection platform in verses 1-11, then he dives into the application in verses 12-58. He constructs this foundation with a statement of proper Christian belief (vv. 3-5) and the resurrection appearances (vv. 6-7). He does this to counter false teaching at Corinth.
He follows with statements of his own personal witness to having seen the risen Christ (v. 8), then he shares a testimony about his own status and work—possibly to refute the claims of false teachers that he lacked authority (vv. 9-10; cf. 9:1-2; see also 2 Corinthians 10:13; Handbook). Bible scholars see evidence of a very clear and deep summary of Christian beliefs in verses 3-5, and possibly verses 6-7.
The early church, of course, did not have the Bible in print, or on mobile devices, so believers often learned their doctrine through their worship (Philippians 2:5-11; 1 Peter 1:3-5). I want to approach the chapter with a joyful song in our hearts, so let’s invite Charles Wesley to provide us with a hymn to follow throughout.
Christ the Lord is risen today
The fact of the resurrection. Paul begins with a powerful, “Let me set the record straight” statement that Christ is raised. He says the gospel, which I “gospelized” to you, is the one upon which your Christian life is founded (15:1). These were the real-world facts. He then takes a step further when he writes, “if you hold fast to the word I preached to you” (15:2). He does not doubt their salvation because he uses a form of expression that can be translated “since” you are truly committed to the gospel. However, he wants to settle their concern once and for all—Jesus is alive, so maintain that belief. Henry Drummond once said, “On what does the Christian argument for Immortality really rest? It stands upon the pedestal on which the theologian rests the whole of historical Christianity—the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say
The truth is in the clear details. One may precisely wonder the content of this “good news” and its current significance. The bottom line is the claim, and the proof, that Jesus Christ was raised bodily from the grave (15:4-11). The Corinthians may have been sketchy on a few of the details about the resurrection, so Paul makes it clear that the resurrected Lord appeared to Peter, to the apostles, to 500 of the “brethren” at His ascension and, at last, to Paul at his conversion. The overwhelming truth was (and still is) that Jesus was alive and well as our Pioneer in the faith. The resurrection was not a scam, and they had not been duped, so they could live confidently in its truth. Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high
The victory over death. Paul also argues that Christ’s resurrection provided believers with the framework for the future resurrection of believers (15:20-28). Verse 29 has confounded Bible scholars for centuries. Some of the brightest minds have been forced to throw up their hands and admit, “I don’t know what he means by baptizing the dead.”
I believe that one can safely say that Paul was exhorting them to cease their doubting, and to give a consistent witness to their faith in the risen Lord (15:29-34). In other words, clothe yourselves with joy, and do not cloak yourselves in a funeral shroud. You cannot live your life if you are always lingering around death. So, be careful not to become stuck. As John Calvin once said, “Let us consider this settled, that no one has made progress in the school of Christ who does not joyfully await the day of death and final resurrection.” Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply
The glory of eternal life. The resurrection life to come will be no measly existence, but a victory over death where believers live in the presence of the Lord (15:35-58). There will be a totally different body (15:42), death will never be able to conquer this existence (15:43), we will receive this resurrection body at the return of Christ (15:51), and suffering and death will be no more (15:55ff.)! Paul says you will not want to miss the final act because it will be triumphant. So, he says sing it from the rooftops, then stand steadfastly on this truth. Alleluia!

The Message for Our Lives

Each subheading throughout this devotional contains a phrase from Charles Wesley’s hymn, “Risen Today” (see our hymn, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”). He composed this “Hymn for Easter Day” in eleven stanzas. It was sung first at the famous Foundry Meeting House, and the text was published in Hymns and Sacred Poems (1739). The “alleluia” responses, reflecting ancient Jewish and Christian practice, were added by later editors to fit the tune. Notice, he wrote in the present tense, “Christ the Lord is risen today” because he, too, like Paul, knew that the Savior lives! This begs an important question: How have the facts about the resurrection transformed our daily faith?
Facts about Jesus are critical for understanding how God has worked out His salvation for us. Never give up the facts. Nevertheless, the gospel is not only about facts, but about faith—yours and mine. The propositional truth about Jesus must become the personal truth applied to your life and mine. He does that through the work of the Holy Spirit.
What’s the point? Well, the chapter concludes with the point! “Keep on becoming steadfast, unshaken” (15:58). My friends, let the skeptics hoot and howl. The simple truth that Jesus was raised from the grave is NOT an Easter tale, but an eternal truth. Live in this truth every day until He returns. Dave Hunt says, “The key to our lives as Christians today is how clearly we ‘see’ [and I will add, walk] by faith the resurrected Christ.”

For Thought and Action

1. How sketchy have you become on the resurrection story? On the entire gospel story? On the redemptive purpose of the Scriptures? Commit yourself, anew, to the serious study of the Word of God. This devotional series is one way to deepen your Christian walk across the entirety of the Scriptures, but I also suggest joining a church Bible Study class (Life Group) or an outside ministry like Bible Study Fellowship.
2. How much impact does the resurrection make upon your daily life? In other words, are you living daily in the joy of eternal life? Eagerly seek the joy that the Savior’s resurrection has guaranteed (Galatians 5:22; Christ ascended and kept His word. The Spirit came and brought gifts!). 
3. For Families: One thing Christian families can do to spread the Good News of the resurrected Christ, is to display an empty cross in your yard at Easter. Instead of decorating with bunnies and colored eggs, ask your family to help you to erect an empty cross this year. Then make a yard sign that says, “Jesus is alive!”

Let the kids help with the project and share, even rehearse, what answer they will give when someone asks them about the cross in your yard. Click this link for a Resurrection Story to watch with your kids: Jesus is Alive! It will help them to be able to share this precious Good News with your neighbors and their school friends!

May your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock