If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule 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 he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. – 1 Corinthians 15:19-28 (ESV)
Christ’s resurrection isn’t just good news for Jesus. Because Jesus died for our sins His resurrection is a demonstration that Christ has overcome sin and death on our behalf. N.T. Wright comments:
Paul’s careful argument in this section is designed to show the Corinthians, starkly, what would follow if you were to declare that there is no resurrection. Since this is what virtually all ancient pagans believed, the best explanation for why some in Corinth were denying the resurrection is that it made no sense within their surrounding world-view. There was no room for it in the culture they had grown up in. But Paul wants them to see that the Christian world-view is different, and that it has the power at the personal level and the rigor at the intellectual level to take on the old pagan world-views and win. The resurrection is the foundation of the Christian counterculture. And the immediate results go beyond culture into the world of royal claims: Jesus is Lord, so Caesar isn’t.
This takes us, too, into the deeper world of moral and spiritual reality, and by that route into the very structure of the cosmos itself. Paul’s strongest argument in this passage is to point up the link between sin and death (verse 17). If Jesus has been raised, the power of death has been broken, and final victory over it is assured (verse 26). Death as always in biblical thought, is the result of sin, as humans turn away from the life-giving God and vainly attempt to find life elsewhere (see Romans 5:12-14). So if death has been defeated it must mean that sin has been defeated as well.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 82
Q. 82. Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?
A. No mere man since the fall is able in this life perfectly to keep the commandments of God, but doth daily break them in thought, word and deed.