The Great Good News (The Gospel)
Now I should remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain.
For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to someone untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace towards me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.
The Resurrection of the Dead
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For ‘God has put all things in subjection under his feet.’ But when it says, ‘All things are put in subjection’, it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all.
Otherwise, what will those people do who receive baptism on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?
And why are we putting ourselves in danger every hour? I die every day! That is as certain, brothers and sisters, as my boasting of you—a boast that I make in Christ Jesus our Lord. If with merely human hopes I fought with wild animals at Ephesus, what would I have gained by it? If the dead are not raised,
The Resurrection Body
But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?’ Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. Not all flesh is alike, but there is one flesh for human beings, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are both heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one thing, and that of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; indeed, star differs from star in glory.
So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.
What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:
Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15)
From Ray Stedman
Of First Importance || They Saw Him Alive || What if...? || Then Comes the End
The New Body: What is it Like? || The Victory of the Mystery
"Resurrection power is like no other power on earth. It is unique, and has no possible rival. It is a power that operates in the midst of death and despair. It operates when the entire world seems, bleak, dead, and barren. It explodes into life and light in the midst of an empty, dark cemetery--for that is where it was first demonstrated. When Jesus Christ was resurrected, He came out from among the dead. So if you learn to live by resurrection power, you can experience life, hope, and vitality when everything and everyone around you is dead, hopeless, and lifeless.
Resurrection power is a 'stealth' power--silent and invisible. It makes no sound, it operates below the radar scope of this world. Other forms of power are noisy and obvious--they pound, pulsate, throb, hum, roar, buzz, or explode. But resurrection power is silent. It accomplishes its purpose without ostentation, flash, pizzazz, or neon lights. Christians who live by resurrection power don't use it to dazzle others or advertise its affects. That's why the distinguishing marks of Christian character are humility and servanthood rather than showiness. Genuine Christians demonstrate the reality of resurrection power through the quiet evidence of their lives: love, joy, peace, endurance under hardships, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
God has a marvelous way of illustrating spiritual truth through nature. He demonstrates His resurrection power every year through every returning springtime. Out of the cold, barren, death of winter, God brings new life, color, warmth, and glory by means of a quiet, invisible force which gradually transforms the whole landscape into a fairyland of beauty.
Resurrection power is irresistible. It cannot be thwarted or turned aside. It takes absolutely no account of any obstacles thrown in its path, except to use them for further opportunities to advance its cause. When Jesus came bursting from the grave, He didn't give the slightest attention to the obstacles man had placed in His way. There was a large stone in front of His tomb; He passed right through it. He was wrapped in yard after yard of linen cloth; He left the grave-clothes undisturbed behind Him. There were Roman guards in front of His tomb; He ignored them. He took not the slightest notice of the decrees of Caesar or the orders of Pilate or the fulminations of the Jewish priests." ---Ray Stedman, According to the Power.
Many times in the last half-century I have been stirred by the Glad Tidings in Chapter 15 of First Corinthians. Ray Stedman gave us five messages on this passage back in 1979. The links above are well worth reading. A whole generation ago Ray saw many signs pointing to the soon return of Jesus Christ. We are way closer now! Take heed!
Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. (Matthew 16:24-27)
The returning of Jesus will take place in two phases, according to the New Testament. These events are described by two different Greek words--parousia and epiphaneia. A wealth of related information is tucked away in the New Testament: "It is the glory of God to conceal things. The glory of kings is to search them out." (Proverbs 25:2)
Some fascinating time warps will be apparent in all this with a little thought. For instance Jesus is the first man raised from the dead. That happened two thousand years ago. This is clearly stated in 1 Corinthians 15. Jesus spent 40 days with his disciples after His resurrection. He then stepped in a higher dimension of time and space where He and the Father have been managing the affairs of earth ever since from Supreme Headquarters. Please see: It's About Time. See also, The Left Hand of God.
Fifty generations have elapsed while God the Holy Spirit has been calling out a Bride for Jesus, a Glorious Church. That great company of men women, boys and girls may number as many as ten billion persons! See: The Church in New Jerusalem.
Consider what happens when a believer dies. Stephen, the First Martyr is a good example. The first martyr of the Christian church, Stephen, was stoned to death after giving an impassioned message on the history of Israel before the leaders of the nation. He saw “Jesus standing at the right hand of God” which would seem to contradict earlier evidence in the Book of Acts that Jesus was then “seated at the right hand of God.” Stephen’s last words suggested he would “time travel” to the Rapture upon taking his last breath. When He receives His Bride, we would expect Jesus to rise from His throne to welcome her.
Stephen said in part...
“However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says:
‘Heaven is My throne,
And earth is My footstool.
What house will you build for Me? says the Lord,
Or what is the place of My rest?
Has My hand not made all these things?’
“You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.”
When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:48-60)
We accommodate our present entrapment in linear, historical time by saying a person “falls asleep” at death. "Asleep in Jesus” is engraved on many tombstones. The actual dying Christian undergoes an immediate transformation of his or her body and arrives at the Rapture “in a twinkling of an eye.” The Rapture is overdue now but could happen today.
Ray Stedman notes: “A vivid picture, is it not? It is noteworthy to see how God stands by his faithful martyr here. Stephen's eyes are opened, even in the presence of the council, and he sees the Lord Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father. It is my conviction that every believer who dies sees this event, that when a believer steps out of time into eternity the next event waiting for him is the coming of the Lord Jesus for his own. Here Stephen sees him waiting to step out and receive him in a few moments, when he will be taken out of the city and stoned to death. This is the sight that greets the eyes of those who fall asleep in Jesus, and Stephen sees it. He prays to him in words that echo those of Jesus himself on the cross. Jesus had prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do," (Luke 23:34). Stephen says, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit, and do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”
Not everyone will pass through the doors of death. Some (probably many millions of us) will be alive when Jesus returns at the Rapture. See If Christ Returned Today. One way or another we are living stones fitted end to the last construction of the true church in heaven. See The Living Stones.
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself,
with a cry of command,
with the archangel’s call
and with the sound of God’s trumpet,
will descend from heaven,
and the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord for ever. Therefore encourage one another with these words." (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
Jesus Plain and Simple
New Bodies for Old?
Christ in You
The Left Behind
The Flesh,The World, and The Devil
Soon and Very Soon
Up From the Grave He Arose
Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned
Man of Sorrows
Come Thou Almighty King
Notes by Lambert Dolphin
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