Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 3 * BOOK 28
RESURRECTION OF THE BODY
As we come into I Corinthians Chapter 15, Paul sort of shifts gears on us, as he does that every once in a while. He’s just come out of the various problems in the local Church and how he had to correct them. But here he shifts gears, and here comes the chapter that is the greatest chapter in all of Scripture dealing with the resurrection. Now we know the Old Testament was very vague, they knew about resurrection, they knew there was a life hereafter. Job spoke of it.
“For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:” Yes, Job knew about resurrection, but for the most part you just don’t find much about in the Old Testament. Jesus spoke of the resurrection in John Chapter 5, and He said:
“Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice.:”
Everyone that has ever lived is going to be resurrected, but in all those various portions of Scripture there is not that detailed description of what resurrection is going to entail like Paul describes here in I Corinthians Chapter 15. And so always remember it as the resurrection chapter; this whole chapter deals with this doctrine of resurrection from the dead. Now starting with verse 1:
I Corinthians 15:1
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, (And these Corinthians came out of their paganism because of Paul’s Gospel.) which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;” Now what was Paul’s Gospel? Well in a nutshell we find it in these next 3 verses, and then we’re going to go back and look at some of the other ramifications of it. But in these next 3 verses he says:
I Corinthians 15:2a
“By which also ye are saved,…”
Now I know that a lot of people don’t like that word, but nevertheless it’s a Scriptural term that refers to that act of God that takes us out of darkness and eternal doom in our future, and instead He covers us with His righteousness. He puts our feet upon the Rock, He gives us the Lamp unto our pathway. He puts our name in the Lamb’s Book of Life. He places us in the Body of Christ, and we are constantly now a people with a heavenly citizenship, and we are headed for a glorious eternity. I was sharing with our Tulsa class the other night how few believers, I think, have any concept of the glory that the Body of Christ is going to enjoy in eternity. Now remember, in eternity it’s going to be a whole new ball game. I think the whole universe is going to be brought back to it’s origin. I think everything, heaven, earth, and everything that has ever been created is going to be brought back to a nothingness and recreated more glorious than ever before. Because everything in the universe has been tainted by the old devil himself, and so God is going to create it all new.
Now when we go into that eternal state as members of the Body of Christ (not part of Israel which will enjoy their earthly domain on the new earth), we’re a heavenly people. What does that mean? I think we’re going to rule and reign in this whole new universe that God is going to bring about. I think we’re going to have places of responsibility, and you also want to remember, in that eternal state, there is no time, and distance means nothing. We’ll be able to go from one end of the universe to the other in a split second of time, so don’t let that bother you. We just can’t imagine the glory that is waiting the believer, and the world down here thinks we’re a bunch of kooks. They think that we try to shun some of the pleasures of this world for a few years, but they have no concept of the ratio. What is seventy years to unlimited billions of years, well you can’t even put it into mathematical ratio. So Paul is speaking of that (the Gospel) which prepares us for that kind of eternity when he says:
I Corinthians 15:2
“By which also ye are saved, (but you’ve got to know what you believe, so the next part of the verse says) if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.”
Then here comes the Gospel that saves you, and we’ve stressed it over and over on this program and in our classes. This is the Gospel! Now I don’t have any fault with John 3:16, and I’m not going to tell people not to use that verse. Don’t get me wrong. But listen, John 3:16 doesn’t have this part of the Gospel. You have to use this in conjunction with John 3:16 to make sense, and what is it?
I Corinthians 15:3
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;”
It wasn’t an accident that Christ died for our sins, because God had already planned it back in the eons of pre-eternal existence. He would create mankind, and man would sin, and He would bring about a plan of redemption. It was all in the foreknowledge and council of God according to Peter in Acts Chapter 2, and now verse 4:
I Corinthians 15:4
“And that he was buried, (now we can’t leave that out, because we have to understand that Christ was truly dead. The purpose of the three days was to prove that there was no life left in Him.) and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” Now that is what Paul calls my Gospel, and the Gospel you must believe for your salvation. Now let’s just look at few scriptures all in connection of what he calls the Gospel in I Corinthians Chapter 15. The first one we will look at is in Galatians Chapter 1.
“Who (speaking of Christ in verse 3) gave himself for our sins (How that He died voluntarily of His own volition.) that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:”
At verse 6, this is exactly where so much of Christendom is finding itself again tonight. I don’t claim to be the only one with the truth far from it, but I’ll tell you what, we’re in a pretty small percentage anymore. And here Paul is dealing with a problem even within the Galatian Churches. Corinth was not the only Church with problems.
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed (removed away from) from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another, (it’s not something completely different, then we’d recognize it, and know it was a false gospel) but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert (twist it out of shape) the gospel of Christ.”
So Paul says, “You are being moved from the pure Gospel that I proclaimed to you, and you’re listening to people who are twisting it. Oh, they are basically using the same things I preach, but they’re adding to it or taking from it, they’re twisting it, and then it becomes another Gospel.” Now look what Paul puts on those kind of people.
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached (speaking of himself and I’m sure he’s including Barnabas, and I’m sure later on, Silas) unto you, let him be accursed.” That’s strong language even for Scripture, but that’s what it says. And to be accursed, hey, that’s beyond human comprehension. That’s to be separated from God forever. Verse 9:
“As we said before, so say I now again, `If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, (from this apostle) let him be accursed.'” Now let’s take another look at what he talking about in Galatians Chapter 2, and look at verse 2.
“And I went up (to Jerusalem to the Jewish believers ahead of him) by revelation, and communicated unto them (so there was no `ands, ifs, or buts’ about it) that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles,…”
Now that Gospel was unique. Peter and the eleven hadn’t preached Paul’s Gospel, and they certainly hadn’t preached it to Gentiles. I tell people, “You show me in Scripture where Peter ever had a ministry among Gentiles, except Cornelius, and that was a one-time thing, for a one-time purpose.” But Paul here makes it so plain that the Gospel that he preached among the Gentiles was the Gospel that we have adhered to even today. Now coming back to I Corinthians Chapter 15: Paul calls it this Gospel, my Gospel, the Gospel of the Grace of God, the Gospel of God, the Gospel of Grace, the Gospel of Christ, and those are all titles of this three pronged fact. That Christ died for our sins, that He was buried, and that He arose again from the dead the third day. There is no other plan of salvation, there is no other Gospel, there is no other way.
I love to read the letters to the editor in Biblical Archaeology, because you get it from the whole spectrum of intellectual society, at least. And I almost get a kick out of some of them where they are complaining that some of these people preach only an exclusivist Gospel. And I say `Amen, that’s me.’ I’m teaching and proclaiming an exclusivist Gospel because that’s what this Book declares. There is no other Name given among men whereby we must be saved than the name of Jesus, and that’s where it’s at or there is no salvation. Now people are going to an eternal Devil’s hell by the millions. I know that, because they will not come into this exclusivist, narrow way that God has prescribed. And then they say, “Well, God isn’t fair.” Oh no? That’s the problem, He’s too fair! He has made it available, although the way may be narrow, but it’s available to anybody if they will just simply believe it. Now you see if God would put on a whole train-load of requirements, stipulations, rules and requirements then I would agree. Yeah, God isn’t fair, He’s made the way narrow, and He’s made it so hard, no wonder few people find it. But that’s not it, the way is narrow, but the way in is so easy that anybody can find it.
Go into John’s Gospel Chapter 10 where He uses the analogy of the sheepfold and the door. Anyone who enters the sheepfold has to come in by the door, and if he tries to come in any other way then he’s a thief and a robber, and he’s not going to get away with it. I’m always making the analogy, where is the door to the sheep fold? Up on some sheer cliff where you have to have ropes and climbing gear to make it? No. Is it across some roaring river where you have to have some kind of boat or raft to make it? Is it across the ocean where you have to be a millionaire and buy a ticket? No. The plan of salvation, the door, is on ground level, and it’s in front of every human being, and all they have to do is believe it and enter in. Oh, it’s narrow, but the way in is so simple, and here’s where the world is missing it, they cannot believe that you can have eternal salvation, the hope of all that glory by doing nothing, but that’s what God demands. And that’s what we learned in the Book of Romans. Abraham did nothing, and yet he was justified, and it’s the same way with us. Paul goes on to say in verse 5, and remember this is the resurrection chapter, and he’s speaking of the fact that He rose from the dead, and as proof of it:
I Corinthians 15:5-8
“And that he was seen of Cephas, (Peter) then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren (The Jewish believers in the area of Jerusalem) at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, (as near as we can determine he wrote this letter about 59 A.D. That would make it about 31 years later, so most were still alive that had seen the resurrected Christ) but some are fallen asleep. (or had died) After that, (event) he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. (Now verse 8, and here we have a choice bit of Scripture) And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of (before the) due time.”
When you speak of the due time, what are you talking about? Now I’m a rancher, and we watch the due dates of our mama cows, and hopefully we can be aware of when they are about to deliver their baby calves, the due date. That’s one of the miracles of God’s creation as everything is on His time table, and if you know the day of conception then you can almost tell within 48 hours the day of delivery. Paul is using that as an illustration, that he experienced His resurrection power and seeing the Lord in resurrection, as Paul, a Jew who was born before the due date. Paul was speaking of the delivery of the offspring. For you to understand that you must understand there is coming a day when the Nation of Israel will be born all the same day. Israel could have experienced this new birth at the time of Christ’s first coming, as He presented Himself as the King of Israel. He performed all those signs to prove to the nation Who He was, so Israel could have experienced that national spiritual birth, but they rejected it.
So now God’s time table puts the spiritual birth of that Nation clear to the end of the Tribulation. We teach that it will be at the second coming of Christ. But here we find Paul, already saved 2000 years earlier, and so what does he say? “I’m like a preemie, I have been delivered prematurely.” Now it’s a stretch of the imagination when we go 2000 years, and I know that, but nevertheless the whole concept that he’s teaching here is, that as he was saved in a moment on that road to Damascus miraculously, so also the nation of Israel will yet be saved in a moment also. Oh, not the 100% but the remnant of Israel, so this is what Paul is referring to, “that he was one born before the due date of the salvation of the Nation of Israel.” And they, too, will some day experience that resurrection power, they will still see their resurrected Lord, and Messiah, and King coming in the clouds of glory, and at that time will believe in a moment. Now going on in verse 9:
I Corinthians 15:9
“For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet (not prepared) to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church (the assembly) of God.”
Now who is Paul referring to? Those Jewish believers back there in the the Book of Acts. Let me show you what he’s talking about, because it never got off the man’s mind, and of course I can see why. Let’s turn to Acts Chapter 26, and never forget that Saul of Tarsus who became Paul, was a religious zealot, a fanatic if there ever was one, when he was still Saul, and it was all for Judaism. Now here comes Jesus of Nazareth, and He’s making inroads into Judaism, and so for a religious fanatic what does that mean? He’s got to be stamped out, because He’s ruining our culture, and He’s ruining our religion, so Saul of Tarsus takes the lead in persecuting these Jewish believers who had recognized Christ as their Messiah. And he did everything that he could to stamp them out, but that’s nothing new, because we know the Communists tried to do it also for seventy years. They wanted to stamp out the opposition. We know that Hitler also did it, and every other totalitarian leader will do the same thing. Just get rid of the opposition by putting them to death, and hopefully what you have left are the pure followers. Now look what Paul says in Acts Chapter 26.
“I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. (That is during His earthly ministry of course.) Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints (Jewish believers who had followed Christ in His earthly ministry) did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.”
Some believe the Jews didn’t have the authority to put people to death in the Roman Empire, but I think they did, because it says so. They had that authority in the confines of their religion to put their own people to death, and they must have put a bunch of them out of the way. And Saul of Tarsus was at the head of it. No wonder he could never get it off his mind. Saul would always vote to put them to death when these believing Jews were brought before the religious leaders.
“And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; (That’s been the ploy of persecutors down through the ages. They force people to make a choice by blaspheming Jesus Christ, by reneging on Him, they had to recant their faith in Him, or be put to death. And when Saul found out that the One he was persecuting was the One Who really was his Old Testament Jehovah, it just beat him down, and he never could quite get over it. Well there are many more accounts of how he sorrowed for the day that he had so persecuted these Jewish believers.) and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.” (Now back to I Corinthians Chapter 15. So he says:)
I Corinthians 15:9,10a
“For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church (assembly) of God. (Now verse 10, and what’s the first word?) But (I love that little three letter word, and there’s nothing I like more than when people call, and tell me about the flip side. And that word “but” invariably means “The flip side.” Here he had been the chief persecutor against those who had followed Jesus,) “But by the grace of God I am what I am:”
There is another one that I think of when I see that word “But” in the Book of Ephesians Chapter 2, and this is another great “But.” Another great flip side, and oh, I at least want you to know where to find them. And let’s begin in verse 1. My, how this just speaks to hearts, and here Paul is writing to Gentile believers in the city of Ephesus. Believers who were quite a bit above and beyond the carnal believer in Corinth. He never finds real fault with the Ephesian believers. So he says:
“And you hath he quickened, (Or made alive) who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: (They were followers after the god of this world, Satan.) Among whom also we all had our conversation (or manner of living. Everyone of us, even the best of us) in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. BUT God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us.”