But Now Christ Is Risen!

by Reagan McClenny


Scripture: 1 Cor 15 Dec 24, 2023

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul emphasizes that the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is of first importance; those who are baptized into Christ's death are buried with him so they can be raised to walk in newness of life; the resurrection means our death becomes life, our bodies become glorious, our environment becomes righteous, and our perspective becomes spiritual.


If you'd like to take out your Bible, would you open it up with me, please, to 1 Corinthians chapter 15. 1 Corinthians chapter 15, and we'll begin reading in verse 1 here in just a moment. 1 Corinthians 15 and verse 1. Thank you for being here this morning. What a joy it is to be together. I've been looking forward to being with all of you this morning to join together in worship and praise.

To, to look into God's word for some things that are exciting or should be exciting to all of us who know him and seek to follow him. Thank you to our visitors for being here this morning. You're our honored guest. We have a number who are visiting. We're glad that you've come our way. It is a joy.

It is a joy to be with those that you love and with those who love Christ. And I think about proclaiming the gospel. And I ask you this morning, if you had one opportunity to proclaim the gospel, the good news of God's grace and mercy toward mankind, what would you emphasize, what would be What would be of first importance in communicating that gospel message?

I've thought about that a lot over the last several weeks in preparation for this particular Sunday morning. As we have gathered together and all of these things have gone together so well, from our Bible readings leading up to Bible class, to the songs that were led by Barrett and now the sermon this morning.

Of first importance, if I have one opportunity, What I would like to get across to someone is that Jesus, the promised Messiah, or Christ, died, was buried, and rose again, according to the Scripture. And that means that you, spiritually, must die, be buried, and rise again. And rise again, according to the scriptures.

In 1 Corinthians chapter 15, the Apostle Paul uses this terminology of the part of the gospel that is of first importance as he communicates his message. Would you read with me beginning in verse 1? The Apostle Paul says this, Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel. Which I preached to you, which you also received, and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you, first of all, English Standard Version says, of first importance, that which I also received. That Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day, according to There are lots of important things contained in the Gospel, which is also called the Word, in these verses.

But the death, burial, and resurrection is of first importance. And the linchpin of those events is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And if we don't believe that, if we don't truly believe that Jesus rose again, there are ramifications to that belief. You know, as a preacher, I'm always just a little bit hesitant, I guess, to approach things from, from the negative perspective.

I, I'm not afraid of doing that, but I'm always hesitant. I always think to myself, is there, is there a more positive way that we could put these things and certainly I'm hesitant to, to talk about error a ton. What's wrong with something instead of emphasizing the truth? If we know the truth, then we're prepared to combat error.

But I'm often reminded, as I read my Bible, and especially as I read the Apostle Paul, that Paul had no such qualms about addressing error, about approaching things from the negative. False doctrine and false teaching has ramifications, and it needs to be called out, and that's exactly what the Apostle Paul does here in 1 Corinthians 15.

In fact, he says in verse 33 of this chapter, Do not be deceived. You've heard this. Do not be deceived. Evil company corrupts good habits. And a lot of times we make applications to young people with that, and it's a good application, you know. You don't need to be hanging out with those kinds of people who are doing ungodly things.

If you hang out with them too much, you're gonna be tempted. to do the same things yourself. But, but that is not what specifically the Apostle Paul is talking about in this verse. The evil company to which he refers is those, are those who are preaching and teaching and believing the false doctrine that that there is no resurrection.

And that false doctrine has to be called out. And so Paul talks about all of the ramifications of what our lives look like, as those who believe in Jesus, what our lives look like if there is no resurrection from the dead. Begin reading in verse 12, if you would, with me. 1 Corinthians 15 and verse 12.

Paul says, Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you Say that there is no resurrection of the dead. But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty, and your faith also is empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He has raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up, if in fact the dead do not rise.

For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile. You are still in your sins. Then also, those who have fallen asleep, those who have died in Christ, have perished. If in this life only, we have hope in Christ. We are of all men most pitiable. Take pity on us Christians because we are deceived, because we are living a life that is a lie, because we are going through trials and persecutions and suffering for no good reason.

If in this life only. We have hope in Jesus Christ. Now that's, that's a bold statement. But notice what he says in verse 20. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. But now Christ is risen. And there are some implications to that, too. It means that Despair has been changed to hope.

That defeat has been changed to victory. It changes Jesus and who he was from a failure. You know, he says these three things here. He died, he was buried, and he rose again. There are lots of people throughout history who have died. In fact, all, with just a few notable exceptions. Most people are buried.

Maybe a few are, are, their bodies are dealt with in a different way, but to be, to die and to be buried, that's not extraordinary, that's not special in any way. But to be raised from the dead, along with those things, that's, that's what has a ramification. And thank God. Thank God verses 12 through 19 are not the end of the matter.

Christ is risen. And that means that our defeat and His defeat is changed to victory. Jesus was not a failure. He was the greatest shining success in all of human history. Ultimately, it comes down to this, that Christ is risen. But now Christ is risen, that means some things for us. And there are four things that I would like to think about this morning.

What does it mean that now Christ is risen? What does that mean for the world? But even more, what does that mean for you and what does that mean for me as we strive to live our lives? Well, number one of first importance, I'm gonna have four things, but this first one is the biggest one. Our death is raised If Jesus is raised, then our death, our spiritual death can mean our spiritual life.

That's true in two ways. It's true eternally, someday, that just as Jesus was raised and ascended to the Father, we too can be raised and ascend to the Father. we Know this. What are the two certainties in life? We got some CPAs in the audience. Death and taxes, right? Death and taxes are the two certainties in life.

And yet we know Just read the newspaper from time to time. Look online from time to time. We know people cheat on their taxes all the time. Shakira was a big artist. Pop artist when I was growing up. Did you know Shakira might go to prison for tax evasion? People cheat on their taxes all the time.

Sometimes they get caught, sometimes they don't. But nobody, nobody cheats death. That is the true certainty of life that we are going to die. But the resurrection changes a reality. A certain outcome, an enemy we will all face, the certainty of death into the certainty of everlasting eternal life. Christ's resurrection is the guarantee of the general resurrection of all men.

And if you're still there in 1 Corinthians, look down to verse 50. Now this whole chapter is about the resurrection and Paul addressing this false doctrine and encouraging those who still believe the truth. You should have great joy and hope because of Jesus resurrection. So beginning in verse 50, this is what the Apostle Paul says, Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.

Nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall 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 incorruptible. And we shall be changed, for this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying which is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.

But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Why do we have victory? Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And Paul uses these Old Testament texts from Isaiah and Hosea. He quotes these texts and he uses them. As a taunt to death, to mock death, to mock this thing that is certain for every single one of us and say you do not have the victory.

Trash talk, taunting an adversary. You either have to be certain you're going to win, or pretty foolish to taunt someone, right? I was never a big trash talker. I loved sports. I loved winning. But I was never a big trash talker. I think about the most I ever did in terms of trash talking was point to the scoreboard when somebody else was talking trash to me.

I remember one instance in particular. We're playing basketball. I think we're ahead by like 30. And this guy comes down, and he scores, and he's fouled, and so he's gonna go to the free throw line. And so he's beating his chest, and he's saying, Y'all can't stop me, y'all can't stop me, and yelling and all this stuff.

And so he goes to the free throw line, and I just, I just walk up to him and whisper. I say, look at the score.

You're taunting us when you're down 30? What's going on?

Well, maybe we're tempted to look at the score. Look around and say, I mean, death seems pretty undefeated. Who in here has lost someone they love to death? Seems like we're losing.

And yet the Apostle Paul has the gall to say, O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?

Because Paul was certain, and I am certain,

that death is not the end of the matter. Not for those who die in Jesus Christ. Amen?

And so our death is raised into life, and we'll be raised into life on that final day. If we're on Christ's side, we can We can know that we have the victory. And it's true that death isn't destroyed yet, if we look there in verses 24 through 27. Then comes the end when He, that is Christ, delivers the kingdom of God to the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.

For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed. But if we are on Christ's side, we can be assured that He will destroy, that He will have the victory over death. And Jesus has proved that He will be victorious by His resurrection. And the ramification of that is that your resurrection is possible too.

Not just eternally, someday, but also spiritually. Now, Jesus has proven that He has the power to conquer spiritual death and separation from God. And those two resurrections go hand in hand. Marking your spot there in 1 Corinthians 15. Turn back to the Gospel of John, if you would, to John chapter 5. I've enjoyed reading through the Gospel of John over the course of the end of the year.

A number of you are joining with me in reading through the entire Gospel of John in just a couple of weeks. And I've enjoyed some of the conversations I've had with people about those readings. And I got a call here a week or so ago about the verses that we find here in John chapter 5. In John chapter 5, Jesus has healed a man at the pool of Bethesda who had an infirmity, was unable to walk for 38 years.

He healed him. And the Jewish rulers are upset about this for a couple of reasons. They're upset because it's on the Sabbath, and they're upset because of some of the things that Jesus says, where Jesus is making himself equal with God. And so Jesus response to this, in verse 20, among other things, he says this, For the Father loves the Son, And shows him all things that he himself does.

And he will show him greater works than these that you may marvel. There are greater works, greater miracles that are coming than just healing somebody who couldn't walk for 38 years. Pretty great miracle, but not compared to what is coming next. Verse 21, for as the father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so, the son gives life to whom he will drop down to verse 24.

Most assuredly I say to you, he who hears my word and believes in him, who sent me has everlasting life and shall not come into judgment, but is passed from death into life. Our death is raised into life. Verse 25. Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear Now that's not talking about the future resurrection on the Judgment Day.

That's talking about something available now. And now is the hour when we can hear the voice of Jesus and live. Our spiritual resurrection that is now available in Jesus Christ. And what is the proof that Jesus has the power to raise us from the dead spiritually? Well, keep reading. For as the Father has life in Himself, verse 26, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself.

and has given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of Man. Jesus has the authority to raise us from the dead spiritually, and also to be the one who ultimately will judge. Verse 28, do not marvel at this, that this reality, that Jesus has this power, for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear his voice, and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

Jesus claimed for himself this power, that in the final resurrection to come, Jesus says, I'm not just gonna raise one, I'm gonna raise all by the power of my voice. And I will be the judge of whether it is going to be a resurrection of life or a resurrection of condemnation. I have this power, and I have this right.

And so I, of first importance, the good news, the gospel, hear his voice this morning. In hearing and obeying the gospel, Your death can become your life. When does that happen? When do we die and are buried like Christ so that we can be raised? Well, back there in 1 Corinthians 15, the reality in verse 36.

Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. There must be a death and a burial so that we can be raised. So what does that look like spiritually? There are a number of passages to which we could turn, but I want you to turn to the book of Romans, if you would. Romans chapter 6.

Romans chapter 6, beginning in verse 3.

For do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.

Knowing this, that our old man, who we used to be, the things that were reported to us before, what we said we were going to be by our own will and our own strength and our own might, our old man was crucified with Him. But the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.

For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe we shall also live with. Knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over him. He has this victory that he can pass on to us. For the death that he died, he died to sin once for all, but the life that he lives, he lives to God.

Likewise, you also. Are you listening? That's us. Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God. In Christ Jesus, our Lord. When does that happen? When do we get into Christ? When are we buried into His death at baptism? So that we might rise to walk in newness of life. Even as we've beautifully seen a couple of times this week already.

And so because Christ is risen, our death, our death to sin, our death of the old man, And our burial in a watery grave can lead to our life. Praise God. That's of first importance. But I want us to think for just a moment as we consider Jesus resurrection about the further ramifications, or at least some of the further ramifications, of what a resurrection of the dead means for all of us.

I know we all know the resurrection is important. Maybe we even think about the resurrection, but, but if you're like me, sometimes it's kind of hazy. You know, what's it going to be like? What is that going to be? I think maybe we should clarify that, just a little bit in our, in our minds from the scriptures, so that we might have greater hope for what it will be for all of us.

Our death is raised into life, yes, but also our bodies are raised into glory. We are remade into something glorious and powerful, from something perishable to something eternal. Go back to 1 Corinthians 15 if you would. 1 Corinthians 15, starting this time in verse 35. 1 Corinthians 15 and verse 35. Our bodies are raised into glory.

I've got questions about that. Don't you? Well, so did they. But someone will say, how are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come? How does this work? You know, we go into the grave and we decompose and all these sorts of things. How is that going to work? But Paul says, foolish one. You're asking the wrong questions.

What you sow is not made alive unless it dies. And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain, perhaps swede or some other grain. But God gives it a body, as He pleases, and to each seed its own body. All flesh is not the same kind of flesh. There is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, another of birds.

There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies. But the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars. For one star differs from another star in glory. Verse 42. So also is the resurrection of the dead.

The body is sown in corruption. It is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor. It is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness. It is raised in power. It is sown a natural body. It is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body. And there's a spiritual body. This, this right here is my natural body.

It is sown a natural body and it's, it's not honorable all the time. It's, it's weak often. It is corruptible and it is being corrupted all the time. But this physical body, when it goes into the grave is just a planted seed. Because we will have two bodies made by God, and the second is very different than the first.

Maybe we should just emphasize this point, that we will have a body upon the resurrection. We are not going to be just disembodied spirits floating around somewhere in some spiritual realm. We are not going to be unclosed, we are going to be further and better closed in that glorious body that cannot die anymore.

And the Apostle Paul expanded on this idea in 2 Corinthians chapter 5. Just maybe 3 or 4 pages over to the right in your Bible. Read with me in 2 Corinthians chapter 5 in verse 1.

For we know, this is certain, that if our earthly house, this tent, this body, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our, our habitation, our body, which is from heaven. For if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked.

For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but, but further clothed, that morality, that mortality may be swallowed up. Now He who has prepared for us this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. That was one of the points that Jesus was making in Luke chapter 20 in verse 36.

You hear that? A body that cannot die anymore. Imperishable. It can't grow old or weaker or ill. It will not die. Are you tired? Are you ill? Are you aged? Maybe, maybe not. Are you dying? The answer for every single one of us to that last question is, is yes. Yes, this body is dying. This body is passing away.

And I know some of you who are older don't want to hear it from me, you know, a relatively younger person. I'll be honest, I can still do most of the things that I want to do in this body, but there are little signs, there are little signs like, you know these Facebook memories that come up, and you see a picture of yourself from 12 years ago, and you're holding a baby, and you say, who is that person?

Or, you go to the barber shop, and you get your hair cut, and you look down and say, who got their hair cut here? There's all this white hair in here. Well, it's dark here, right? There are these little signs, and I think, I think what happens if we're blessed with life is, is that those signs just increase and increase and increase as we are reminded of our mortality.

But our mortality can be swallowed up by life. And when we think about the greatest bodies, the athletes in the NBA or the NFL or the Olympics, that's not the summit of the glory of man's bodies. And neither are the actors on TV or the models in the fashion magazines. That isn't the max. That isn't the best body possible.

God is preparing a glorious body for us that is far beyond any physical body. in beauty and power and strength. Our bodies are raised into glory, but also our environment is raised into righteousness. Turn to 2 Peter chapter 3. Now this is implied in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, but I think it's a little more clearly seen in 2 Peter chapter 3.

2 Peter chapter 3, verses 10 through 13.

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat. Both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Maybe you've read that lots of times. It just kind of washes over you. If you've never read that before, if you're reading it with fresh eyes, that's, that's incredible.

All of this. Therefore, since all of these things, these physical things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness? Looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat.

Nevertheless, we, Those who are looking for that coming and hastening that day of God, we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. In which righteousness dwells. A new heaven and a new earth where, where all things are righteous. What a thought that is.

What ruins this place from being perfect? I mean, when it was created, it was, it was very good, God said. It's, it's sin. It's unrighteousness. I Know this is the holiday season, and so we're thinking of others, and giving of gifts, and all those sorts of things. Who in here did all of their their gift shopping online?

Do we have anybody that was all online? Oh, got a couple of hands. Y'all are the smart ones, right? Who in here had to fight traffic in order to get gifts? The girls and I, we went up to Tyler a couple of days ago, Friday I guess it was in order to do our final round of Christmas shopping. What a, what a madhouse it was, right?

And cars are backed up like three lights deep on Broadway. And some of you are here from Tyler, you know how it is. I mean, it's pretty ugly out there. And driving wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for all those other people, right? All those other drivers who aren't any good at it, maybe. I have confidence in myself, you know.

I'm going to be able to do what I need to do, but it's those other people. And the reality is, maybe we're not as perfect as we think we are. But what makes things, what makes things truly bad is that those people who aren't trying, aren't trying to do what's right, aren't trying to be righteous. Imagine a place where everyone, everyone is righteous.

Now this gathering this morning is a foretaste of that, but even here, we know our own shortcomings all too well, don't we? And sin in all of its forms is, is still here in this environment, unrighteousness, from getting cut off in traffic to getting cut off from relationships. Sinful people doing sinful things, me, Reagan, doing sinful things.

And the resurrection raises us into a different place where righteousness dwells, where no one does or says or thinks anything that might ruin your day, that might. It might cause corruption where only righteousness dwells. And probably we think of the book of Revelation, and, and well we should, if you turn to Revelation 22, in describing the new Jerusalem, the heavenly Jerusalem,

notice what it says in verse 26. Oh, 21 26, excuse me, not 22, 21 26. And they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it, but there shall by no means enter it anything. that defiles or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life. Only those written in the Lamb's Book of Life.

Nothing else can enter in. Where are those to be found? Well, now you can go to chapter 22. Look in chapter 22, in verse 14. Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the Tree of Life, and may enter through the gates into that city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexual immoral and murderers and idolaters and whoever loves and practices a lie.

No one will ruin this resurrected environment

because everyone, everyone who would ruin it is outside and only those who love the Lord are inside. But now Christ is risen, which means, finally, our perspective is raised into spirituality. Go back to 1 Corinthians one more time. 1 Corinthians chapter 15. How does he end this chapter in verse 58?

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. What are your goals in life? What's the point of your labor, really? Where are things headed? Graduate high school, some of you. Or maybe college, to get married, to have a nice career, to have kids, to retire.

Is that it? The resurrection says that there is much more to that, and that our perspective should be changed. Turn to Colossians chapter 3, Colossians chapter 3. So much hinges on this idea of our understanding and appreciation of the resurrection. In Colossians chapter 3, the Apostle Paul puts it this way, If then You were raised with Christ.

That's that spiritual resurrection that's available now. Seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

You have been raised spiritually. Your focus is on spiritual things. And you will be raised from the dead when Christ comes again. So let me ask you, will, will your high school grades matter in heaven? Maybe parents don't want to hear that. They matter now a little bit, right? But will they matter in heaven?

Will your advanced college degree matter in heaven? Will your kids extracurricular successes, or lack thereof, matter in heaven? Will my car or my house, will that matter in heaven? Will my popularity or prestige or exclusion from the group, will that matter in heaven? Will my 401k or retirement matter in heaven?

My achievements, my accomplishments, my pleasures, my power. Will any of my hard work for physical success matter in heaven? It will only matter if it's a barrier keeping us from heaven. And while all of these things, there's nothing wrong with them in and of themselves, the reality of the resurrection should change my perspective about what is really real and lasting and permanent.

The greatest of physical things are nothing compared to the smallest of spiritual things. So I ask you, what brings meaning to your life? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? I mean, if there is no resurrection, you better get the most out of every moment of every day, because this is it. Chapter 15 of verse 32 of 1 Corinthians says, If the dead do not rise, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.

And that's it. But surely there is more to it than that. And yet we, I, so often distracted, so focused on what I can see and touch and grasp, so often too consumed with the day to day.

Maybe because heaven is hard to make real. And we ask those questions. What will we look like? What is this body going to be like? How can God really send so many people to, to hell? How far does God's grace extend? What will we be doing to, in heaven? And there are answers to some of those questions. And there are some where we don't have the answer in this life.

And maybe we don't understand all of this resurrection stuff. We don't know fully. But do we know enough to believe? Because we will understand if we stand in heaven resurrected and look back with relief and joy that will fill our heart knowing that by God's grace I believed in the resurrection, I was resurrected spiritually, and now I find myself in that new environment with a new perspective and a new body, having life eternally.

A permanent and eternal change because we will see clearly our eternal life and our true environment. But that hope is only for those who, as Jesus said, are counted worthy to attain that age and the resurrection of the dead. We aren't worthy, but we can be made worthy because of another. And it isn't a problem in bookkeeping, it isn't an illusion, but it is a change, a transformation and resurrection because of the power of our Savior.

And we don't do it on our own. We do it by submitting to the King who conquered death. And it is on the basis of His resurrection that I am made worthy. That's the good news. That's the gospel. That's of first importance. So won't you obey it? We have to die with Him in repentance, be buried with Him in baptism, in order to live with Him and for Him in newness of life.

And if you need to do that even this morning, won't you come now, where together we stand and while we sing.