First Corinthians 15 is one of the most foundational chapters in all of the New Testament; it could be called a “Christianity 101” passage.
(For now, please grab a Bible and read verses 12-19. However, I would encourage you to find a Bible commentary and spend ample time unpacking this chapter later.)
Paul’s argument in the passage is simple and clear: without eternity, Christianity makes no sense.
If all that sin has broken won’t be fixed forever, then there is no hope now and no hope in the hereafter. Without a guaranteed eternity, our faith in Christ is robbed of its meaning and power: “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (v.19)
As Christians, we have staked our entire life on the promise of a radical and complete renewal, accomplished by the resurrection of Jesus. That eternal renewal is coming, and in the meantime, there are some specific ways that the resurrection of Christ and the hope of heaven makes a difference in how we live today.
1. The resurrection of Christ and the hope of heaven clarify what is truly important in this life.
Yes, all of our relational, situational, and physical struggles are important in some way, but they must not be viewed as the essence of what life is about. God has not promised to deliver “the good life” of predictable health, an easy marriage, compliant children, and a satisfying job.
The most important thing in life is that we have help with and victory over our biggest and most abiding problem: sin. God promises to work on us; he is with you, in you, and for you. The resurrection guarantees the progressive defeat of sin in the here and now and the final deliverance from it in eternity.
2. The resurrection of Christ and the hope of heaven will radically change the way you approach the responsibilities, difficulties, and opportunities of your daily life.
Eternity takes the vanity out of your living in the here and now. Instead of getting disappointed and discouraged because our efforts aren’t bringing us momentary pleasure or because others are not affirming us, eternity gives us big-picture motivation.
We have the motivation to stay focused on doing what is good, right, and true because our living in the here and now fits with the big plan of what God is doing and where he is taking us. In the face of hassles, we tell ourselves that this is not our final destination.
3. The resurrection of Christ and the hope of heaven teach you delayed gratification.
Western culture is an instant culture, but the hope of heaven calls us to a different worldview. In God’s plan, waiting is not an interruption or obstruction of the plan; waiting is part of the plan. As we are waiting for the eternity that is the promise of God’s grace, we are not just passing the time: waiting is about becoming. Every moment of waiting is a divine tool for personal restoration and preparation.
Isaiah 61:3 beautifully captures this process, “that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” Oak trees don’t sprout up and mature overnight. It takes scores of years to bring a mighty oak to maturity, but when it is mature, it lives with a strength and splendor that few plants in God’s creation have.
Through his resurrection, Jesus has purchased for us not only the guarantee of life after death but also the reality of life before death.
By grace, may you and I be as strong and as durable through the seasons and storms of life as the mighty oak tree is!
Paul David Tripp
1. What is the most encouraging part of First Corinthians 15 for you today? Why specifically does it bring comfort?
2. What is the most challenging part of First Corinthians 15 for you today? What specifically does it confront?
3. What situations, locations, or relationships have risen to a level of importance way beyond their actual importance? How has this exercised more control over you than it should?
4. What is threatening to sidetrack or distract you from God’s big-picture vision? Where do you need to focus on the eternal Kingdom of heaven in your daily schedule? Be specific.
5. Is God calling you to wait for something in your life that you want instantly? Why is this frustrating, discouraging, or frightening?