The next step in our journey to the empty tomb moves us beyond the fact of Christ’s resurrection (attested to by things like the eyewitnesses mentioned in 1 Cor. 15:1-11) to the implications of the resurrection. Much of the passage you read today made a point through a negative statement. For example, verse 17 says, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” Let’s list them off here in positive terms.
Because Christ has been raised . . .
- There is a resurrection for others (v. 12)
- Preaching is useful (vv. 14, 17)
- Faith is valuable (v. 14)
- Preachers of the resurrection have integrity (v. 15)
- Sins can be forgiven (v. 17)
- Those in Christ have hope (vv. 18, 19)
In many ways, the first and last bullet points in our list become Paul’s main emphasis in the final half of the chapter. Because of Christ’s resurrection, we have hope for future resurrection after our death. At death, your spirit will depart from your body (Js. 2:26). If you are a follower of Jesus, your spirit will instantly be with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8). But God even values your body enough that He will one day transform and resurrect it (1 Cor. 15:42-44; 1 Thess. 4:13-18). At the rapture of Christ, He will powerfully raise each of us as a spiritual body that is glorious and imperishable.
In the end, death’s sting is not victorious for those who know Jesus through a personal relationship. Even that is more than a future hope. Right now, we dare not allow ourselves to budge from this hope. Right now, you and I must be serving the Lord as described in verse 58: “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (v. 58).