CHRIST, THE FIRSTFRUITS OF THE RESURRECTION

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[1 Corinthians:15:1-58].

Lesson No.: 
327
Class: 
Junior
Memory Verse: 

“Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:57).

Notes: 

Paul’s Message to Corinth
The Books of First and Second Corinthians, called Epistles, are letters, which were written by Paul the Apostle to the church in the city of Corinth, Greece. Paul had spent more than a year and a half in this city preaching, first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles, at the time this church was founded. Corinth was the capital of the province and a branch of the seat of the Roman government. It was a very wicked city and its people indulged in many sins. As if death were the end of everything, they had adopted the Epicurean motto, “let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die” [1 Corinthians:15:32]).

It has been said that if men can but persuade themselves that they will die like beasts, they soon will live like beasts, too. The people in heathen Corinth needed to have it proved to them that death is not the end of everything, and Paul was the man chosen by God to bear this important message. However, not only to those people, but to millions today this message is still going out through God’s Word. A great many people today live in sin and do not fear the wrath of God that shall some day come upon evildoers. “For God shall bring every work into judgement, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” [Ecclesiastes:12:14]). Death is not the end of everything, for “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement” [Hebrews:9:27]).

“They That Are Christ’s”
Paul pointed out the fact that Christ was the first to rise from the dead with a glorified body; therefore He is called “the firstborn from the dead” [Colossians:1:18]). Some day the godly who died in Christ shall rise from the grave, and then those who are alive and who are full overcomers “shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air” [1 Thessalonians:4:16-17]). Christ’s own “flock” shall share His glory at His coming, but this is not to be confused with the “end” of the world, of final judgement. (See [Revelation:20:11-15].) All shall rise again, but let us not think that all shall be save, for some shall rise “to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” [Daniel:12:2]). There shall be a final resurrection of the unjust; however, in this chapter the final resurrection, or end of the world is not discussed. It is acknowledged, however, and referred to in the following words: “Then cometh the end” [1 Corinthians:15:24]).

No, not even those who went to their graves thinking they might “get by” the judgements of God without having been born again are mentioned here. Paul is speaking in this chapter of the glorious resurrection of them “that are Christ’s.” Christ died for our sins and was buried, and rose again the third day [1 Corinthians:15:3-4]); and there is no name given under Heaven whereby we must be saved, but the name of Jesus [Acts:4:12]). Let no one thing that good works alone will give him a share in that everlasting life; let no one hope to share in the glories of Heaven without having repented of his sins and having the Blood of Jesus atone for him.

“Sown in Weakness”
When God created Adam He made him from the dust of the earth -– the name Adam means red earth. God said to him, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” [Genesis:3:19]). In this fifteenth chapter, Paul is proving to saints and sinners that Christ rose from the dead and that some day there shall be a resurrection of all who have gone to the grave and whose bodies may have returned to dust.

Paul compares this great fact with seed that is sown in the ground. What a delightful word to use instead of buried! Just as a seed that is sown in the ground dies and then a brand new plant or blade springs from that seed, so it is when a saint of God is laid away in the grave. His body goes back to dust, but when that last trumpet sounds, a new, immortal, glorified body will come out of the grave. What a glorious hope the Christian has! The new body can never die or become sick or weak. “It is sown in corruption . . . in dishonour . . . in weakness . . . a natural body”; but “It is raised in incorruption . . . in glory . . . in power . . . a spiritual body” [1 Corinthians:15:42-44]).

The Firstfruits and the Harvest
Under the Law, the people were expected to bring unto the Lord the firstfruits of their substance: the oxen, sheep, corn, wine, oil, and the fleece of the sheep [Deuteronomy:18:3];[Deuteronomy:18:4]). The firstfruits are just a sample or small portion of the rest of the harvest that is to follow. So Christ, the bringer of life, is the Firstfruits of the resurrected dead. Just as Adam was the bringer of death, so Christ is the bringer of life. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” [1 Corinthians:15:22]).

Paul states that “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” [1 Corinthians:15:3-4]). Everything came to pass that had been written by prophets of old concerning Jesus. So sure is God’s Word that no truth concerning Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, or His second coming, or any other passage of Scripture, should ever be questioned. In addition to the account of the resurrection given by the writers of the Gospels, the names of many eyewitnesses are mentioned in the Bible, which include Paul himself, although he says, “I am the least of the apostles, . . . I persecuted the church of God” [1 Corinthians:15:9]). It seems that he could hardly forgive himself at the thought of his past sins.

Unbelief
“But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” [1 Corinthians:15:35]).

Paul answers this question by calling the people fools; and truly it is folly to deny a fact just because one does not know “how.” Some people measure God’s power by their own petty wisdom or ability and will not admit anything they cannot explain. Let us be among those who have not seen and yet have believed [John:20:29]).

The Prophet Ezekiel was once carried by the Spirit of the Lord into a valley, which was full of very dry bones. The Spirit asked him, “Can these bones live?” [Ezekiel:37:3]). Ezekiel answered and said, “O Lord GOD, thou knowest.” We may read the story and learn that God put sinew and flesh and skin upon the bones, and then the wind came and breathed upon them and they lived – “an exceeding great army.” This vision was given to prove to Ezekiel and to us, too, the power of God to do the thing, which seems absolutely impossible.

Our Hope
An exceedingly loud blast of the trumpet had been the voice, which preceded the voice of God when the Law was given to the people at Mount Sinai. “The voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder,” and great fear struck the hearts of those who heard that trumpet [Exodus:19:16-19]). A last trumpet shall some day sound, and at the voice of that trumpet the bodies of the righteous dead shall come out of the graves and the bodies of the living saints shall be changed into immortal, glorified bodies [1 Corinthians:15:52-53]).

The men, women, boys, and girls who have been truly saved, sanctified, and baptized with the Holy Ghost and fire, and who are living a life pleasing to God, are looking forward with joy to the time when Jesus shall come. No fear is to be found in the hearts of those who are ready to “meet the Lord in the air” and, together with the saints who have risen from the graves, shall “ever be with the Lord” [1 Thessalonians:4:17]). Should Jesus tarry and some who are alive today go to the grave, even that thought holds no dread for the overcomers, for death has lost its “sting.” They shall rise again on the resurrection day. So “whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him” [1 Thessalonians:5:10]). A glorious, inspiring hope!

Questions: 

1. By whom was Christ seen after He rose from the dead? 2. What other proof have we that He did rise from the dead? 3. What is the meaning of “firstfruits”? 4. How does death compare with seed that is planted? 5. What will happen to the redeemed ones at the sound of the trumpet? 6. What is it that is called “the sting of death”? Explain. 7. What awaits the Christian after death? What awaits the sinner? 8. What do you think would be our condition if Christ had not risen from the dead? 9. What is the all-important thing for us to do?