CHRIST, THE FIRSTFRUITS OF THE RESURRECTION

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[1 Corinthians:15:1-58].

Lesson No.: 
327
Class: 
Senior
Memory Verse: 

“Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (I Corinthians 15:20).

Cross References: 

I The Fact of Christ’s Resurrection
1. It is according to the Scriptures, [1 Corinthians:15:1-4]; [Psalms:16:9-10].

2. It is verified by witnesses, [1 Corinthians:15:5-7]; [Acts:4:33]; [Acts:10:40-41].

3. Paul was himself a witness, [1 Corinthians:15:8-11]; [Acts:9:4], [Acts:9:17]; [Acts:22:14], [Acts:22:18].

II The Importance of Christ’s Resurrection
1. It is proof that the dead rise, [1 Corinthians:15:12-15]; [Acts:1:3].

2. It is the foundation of our faith, [1 Corinthians:15:16-17]; [Romans:4:25]; [Romans:10:9].

3. It is our hope of eternal life, [1 Corinthians:15:18-19]; [1 Thessalonians:4:14].

III The Order of the Resurrection
1. Christ is the firstfruits, [1 Corinthians:15:20-22]; [Exodus:22:29]; [Leviticus:23:10]; [Proverbs:3:9].

2. The ingathering of the saints follows at the time of the Rapture, [1 Corinthians:15:23]; [1 Thessalonians:4:16-17].

3. Christ will abolish death at the final resurrection, [1 Corinthians:15:24-28]; [Revelation:20:14].

4. Paul presents arguments to substantiate the fact of the resurrection, [1 Corinthians:15:29-34].

IV The Manner of the Resurrection
1. The physical and spiritual are compared, [1 Corinthians:15:35-50]; [2 Corinthians:5:1-4].

2. The physical bodies of living believers will be instantly changed at Christ’s coming, [1 Corinthians:15:51-53]; [Philippians:3:20-21].

3. Death is swallowed up in victory, [1 Corinthians:15:54-58]; [Revelation:21:4].

Notes: 

According to the Scriptures
“How say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?” Paul preached a Gospel of the resurrection of the dead, but some of the Corinthians failed to receive the message. For this reason Paul restated the Gospel he preached, saying that first of all -– that is, of most importance -– was the fact that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day. He was careful to point out that it was according to the Scriptures that Christ died for our sins. He no doubt had this passage of Scripture in mind, among others: “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed . . . he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death” [Isaiah:53:5-9]). Paul pointed out, too, that the resurrection of Jesus from the dead was also according to the Scriptures -– “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” [Psalms:16:10]).

Eyewitnesses
Further proof of Christ’s resurrection was in those living witnesses who knew Him before His death and saw Him afterward -– Cephas, the twelve, five hundred brethren at once, James, and all the Apostles. These all gave witness to His resurrection; and should all these witnesses be denied? Paul could say, I saw Him! While Paul believed the witness of the others who saw Christ, yet the greatest evidence he had of the resurrection was his own contact with the risen Saviour. Although our natural eyes have not beheld Him, the greatest evidence we have of a living Saviour is the consciousness that our sins have been taken away and that Christ rules within our life. Our faith is not vain because we know that Christ died for our sins, “and was raised again for our justification” [Romans:4:25]).

Our Hope
The hope of every saint of God from the beginning to the end of time is wrapped up in the resurrection of the dead. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” Job had the assurance of the resurrection of his body and wanted it emphatically known when he cried out: “Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! 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: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me” [Job:19:23-27]).

Firstfruits
Under the Law the Israelites were to bring of the first of their harvest as an offering unto the Lord. God promised that if they would do this their barns would be filled with plenty. “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine” [Proverbs:3:9-10]). These firstfruits that were offered were a token of the harvest that was to follow. Thus Christ, when He arose from the dead, became the “firstfruits of them that slept.” He was the first to come forth from the dead in a glorified body. He was the firstfruits -– the token or promise of the resurrected bodies that shall come forth from the grave at His coming. A Christian’s hope of the resurrection is a living hope, for the firstfruits have already been gathered and the harvest is sure to follow.

The Order of the Resurrection
Not all the dead shall come forth when Christ raptures the overcomers from this earth, just before the tribulation. “But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” It appears that there will also be a resurrection of the tribulation saints at the revelation of Christ [Revelation:20:4]). “Then cometh the end, . . .” After the thousand years’ reign of Christ on this earth the wicked dead are raised. “And the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; And death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them; and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire” [Revelation:20:12-14]). This is the end and final triumph of Christ over death, the last of His enemies. In the new Heaven and new earth “there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” [Revelation:21:4]).

Water Baptism
To further confirm his arguments for the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, Paul points to the Christian mode of water baptism by immersion. This symbolises being buried with Christ in death and raised in the likeness of His resurrection. “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” [Colossians:2:12]). “What shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” This question points out the folly of immersing people in water and then bringing them up in the likeness of a resurrection if there be no resurrection. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection” [Romans:6:3-5]).

Mortal and Immortal
The question arises, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” To answer this, Paul gives us the beautiful example of a grain of wheat planted in the ground. The grain decays, but out of its substance comes forth a shoot that produces a kernel like the one that was planted. “God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body”. “It is raised in incorruption.” What a thrilling hope: this natural body going down to death in weakness, corruption, and dishonour, and then being raised a spiritual body in glory, power, and incorruption, retaining the resemblance of the human body, but also bearing the image of the heavenly! No longer as mortal is it subject to pain, disease, and infirmities, but as immortal it knows no sorrows. Each blade of grass that shoots forth after a winter’s frost, and the tulips, lilies, daffodils, and myriads of blossoms that awaken after lying dormant under the frozen earth, are tokens that on the resurrection day every sleeping saint shall rise to life immortal.

The Living Changed
Another mystery unfolded by the Apostle is that all shall not go down to the grave in corruption, but that some Christians shall be alive at that glorious day when Jesus “shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds” [1 Thessalonians:4:16-17]). At that moment the living Christian overcomers will be instantly changed from the natural to the spiritual or glorified body. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

Questions: 
1. Why is it important to us that Christ rose from the dead? 2. What proof have we of the resurrection of Christ? 3. What is the significance of Christ’s being called the first-fruits of the resurrection? 4. What is the last enemy of Christ that will be destroyed? 5. How does water baptism typify the resurrection? 6. What lesson do we receive from grain concerning the resurrection? 7. Name some of the witnesses of the resurrection. 8. What will happen to the bodies of those who make the Rapture? 9. Who was “the last Adam”? 10. What is the sting of death?