1 Corinthians 15:20
“But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
When I was sixteen years old, driving to my first part-time job, a wild thought entered my mind. I thought, “I wonder what happens after we die?” I realized later I was grappling with one of the deepest philosophical questions man has ever attempted to answer, but at that time I had never considered anything like it before. As quickly as the question entered my mind, I came up with an answer, “When we die we go to heaven.” This was followed by the question, “What is heaven?” To which I answered, “Heaven is getting to do whatever you want for all of time.” I then asked a third question, “Who goes to heaven?” To which I replied,”Those who are good.” This of course brought me to a final question, “Who is good?” My final answer was a little more difficult to develop, but there on the way to work, I determined that I was good and anyone who lived up to my standard was also good and would be allowed into my heaven. In the few minutes that it took, I had asked and answered the most important questions that a person will ever be asked. I had also completely satisfied myself with my answers. Had anyone asked me what happens after we die, I would have spoken with authority, explaining the way to heaven and the purpose of life. As you can see, there was one obvious problem; it was all a product of my own imagination! My way of living, my heaven, even my god, were the product of my own imagination.
Philosophers have been grappling with these same questions since the beginning of time. Some have come up with very elaborate systems to explain what they think happens after death. The problem with all of these systems is the same, they are the product of the imagination of man. No one has died, gone to heaven, and come back to explain who God is, what heaven is like, and how to live in preparation for that time. No one, that is, except Jesus Christ. When speaking to a man named Nicodemus, Jesus explained that “no one has ascended to heaven except He who came down from heaven.” In other words, the only way to answer these questions is to listen to the One who came from heaven to prepare man for life after death.
According to the Word of God, the person who believes they are a sinner and Christ is the Savior, is prepared for life after death. That person will take a final breath in their earthly body and awake in the presence of the Lord, in a body prepared for eternity. Scripture refers to this as “the Resurrection”. The basis for our confidence in our future resurrection is the fact that Christ rose from the dead. How can we be certain that Christ rose from the dead? There are many avenues we could venture down to answer this question, not the least of which is to look at the lives of those who have trusted Christ and see how they have been transformed by Him.
Rather than imagining what we think life is about, or what happens after death, perhaps it would be better to listen to the One who knows. Take a few minutes to read through 1 Corinthians 15 in your Bible, paying special attention to the first few verse where Paul explains how we prepare for life after death.
If you have any questions contact me, I would love to help any way I can.
Questions for 1 Corinthians 15
- After all the discussion of gifts, Paul comes back to the foundation: the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the message that was declared to the Corinthians, and it is the message that they believed in. Two main parts to the gospel message: 1) Jesus died for our sin. 2) Jesus rose again. Read Isa 53:11. What does Jesus’ death on the cross for your sin mean for your life? Read Romans 6:4 and 6:13. What does his resurrection mean for your life?
- In verse 3 and 4 we are told that the things that happened to Jesus happened according to the Scriptures. That is to say that they were prophesied long before Jesus was born in the Old Testament. How does knowing that Jesus death and resurrection were accurately foretold hundreds of years before he was born help to validate the truth and reliability of the gospel message? The Bible is prophetically accurate.
- Paul also states in verses 5-8 the many witnesses that confirmed the resurrection of Christ. How does the historical confirmation of many eyewitnesses increase your confidence in the message? The Bible is historically accurate.
- In verse 8-10 we get a glimpse of Paul’s sense of unworthiness of being used by God. However he did not let this stop him from being used. What was Paul’s qualification for ministry?
- Some in the church were saying that there was no resurrection, despite being taught that there was. The resurrection is, not an afterthought or a side issue. It is one of the central points of the Gospel of Jesus. Look at verses 12-19. Especially consider verse 19. What if there is no such thing as resurrection?
- Read verses 20-28, we are reminded that there is a future after this life, and that it is much bigger than us. Is this future a regular part of your day to day thinking?
- How do verses 31-34 speak to you?
- In verses 35-53 we learn some truths about the new or glorified bodies that we will have when we are resurrected and go to heaven. Just as we took on the nature of Adam (sin, corruption and death), so we will take on the nature of Jesus (holiness, incorruptible, immortal). Take time to thank God for this; imagine what it will be like to live that way!
- In verses 54-58, Paul sums up the reality of the resurrection for us. Look at verse 58. In light of the resurrection, how should we live? Is God speaking to you about any particular way He wants to change how you live?