1 Corinthians 15
vs. 16 “For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.”
vs. 17 “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”
vs. 18 “Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”
The Corinthian Problem
The Corinthians came from a background of heathenism, Greek mythology, and idolatry. Their religion did not believe in a resurrection body, only that the present body was evil, the soul was beautiful, and it was waiting for death to be released from the body so it could float across the River Styx into the Elysian Fields and remain there forever.
Once born again, many Corinthians rebelled at Paul’s teaching of a resurrection body. Many even regretted being saved because of their belief that the body was evil and death would finally separate them from their body. It was up to Paul to teach them of the scriptural view of a new body one day and that we also stand in line with Jesus who has a resurrection body.
In these verses, Paul states that if we do not rise from the dead and receive a resurrection body, then Jesus did not rise up or receive a new body either. What happens with Jesus happens with us and vice versa. He says, if there is no resurrection and no afterlife, then we are still dead in our trespasses and sins. In other words, without the resurrection of Jesus and of us, we were never born again. If there was a resurrection of Jesus, but no afterlife for us, then we only hope in this life. There is nothing after. If that is the case we are the most miserable people on earth.
Hope Springs Eternal
God gives hope to sinners of the possibility of eternal life and forgiveness of sins. He also gives daily hope to Christians of the meeting of spiritual and physical needs and joy in a world filled with sorrow. But God also gives eternal hope to the Christian that as good as life is, there is an eternity yet to look forward to where all will be perfect.
The Holy Spirit Is the Down Payment of a Greater Hope
After you believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the earnest (down payment) of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:13, 14). When a person hears the gospel, God’s plan of salvation, he has a hope he has never had before. This hope comes from the Holy Spirit. Any hope we have for daily living, healing, and joy, also comes from the Holy Spirit. In our life on earth, the Holy Spirit indwells us, fills us, gives us power, guidance and allows us to hear the voice of God. Yet, as good as all of that is, it is only the earnest, the down payment on eternity.
When you put a down payment on a home, car, or other large possession, you usually put down ten or twenty percent. This is done to guarantee the possession is yours and the guarantee to the seller the remaining amount is on the way. Imagine this: the indwelling, infilling, power and guidance of the Holy Spirit is only ten to twenty percent of what is yet to come in eternity! No wonder heaven is indescribable and beyond any imagination any of us can have. No wonder when some Christians have come back from a death experience, they were disappointed because they wanted to remain in heaven. If all you have is hope in this life, you are the most miserable person on earth.
The best is yet to come for the believer. Life is a win-win situation. None of us look forward to dying, but through the new birth Jesus has taken the sting out of death and we can shout, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. To live is Christ and to die is gain. Life was great, but heaven will be greater!”