Easter: The Great Merger

BIG IDEA:  Current Heaven is God’s home. Current Earth is our home. Jesus Christ, as the God-man, forever links God and mankind, and thereby forever links heaven and earth. This idea of heaven and earth becoming one new creation is explicitly biblical. Christ will make Earth into Heaven and Heaven into earth.

SERIES: Last Days: What did Jesus spend his last days doing? It tells us a lot about what he valued most. Last week we saw  Jesus “serving others” up to the very end. In fact, on his way to accomplish the most important task in the history of the universe, he stopped to serve a blind beggar named Bartimaeus. Jesus served by GIVING of himself to others. And on Good Friday, he sacrificed everything for us. The very last thing that Jesus did, was rise from the dead. This was his true purpose.

SCRIPTURE: 1 Cor. 15:1-55

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him.28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

29 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? 30 Why are we in danger every hour? 31 I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! 32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”

KEY CONSIDERATIONS

  • Life in this world is heavy: Who can roll away the heaviness? Politicians? Corporations? The heaviest of things can only be rolled away by God. He is the only one with the power and strength to roll away the heaviness of this world. We know this because on Easter morning, he rolled away the stone.
  • A Crisis of Purpose: We are in the midst of a crisis of purpose both within and outside of the church. We have forgotten why it is that we celebrate Easter. Why we worship and evangelize.
  • If the resurrection is true, the reason that we tell others and that we celebrate is that the resurrection proves to us that we have more hope than just the hope in a really good life here and now. We have the hope of a new heavenly home and a new heavenly body. If that’s true, why wouldn’t we celebrate? Why wouldn’t we tell others?
  • We need…
    • We need to recapture our hope.
    • We need to drink the juice because we are in a spiritually diabetic society.
    • We need to talk about Heaven. What is it? Is it just insurance?
    • We need to start talking about Heaven again.
  • In this passage, Paul is reminding the Corinthian Church… 
    • …of the reasons that they first believed. He is reminding them of the gospel that they first believed in, reminding them of why they first believed and the hope they hold in Christ.
    • …of his own origins. He reminds them that he is the worst of Christians because he used to murder them. He does this to remind the church, to remind us, that though we are all incredibly unworthy of the gospel, Jesus makes us worthy through his death and resurrection.
  • If the resurrection isn’t true, then how can we expect resurrection for ourselves if Christ was never raised from the dead? If it’s true that there was no resurrection, then Jesus’ death was worthless. Death would still have a hold on us. Even if Christ had taken sin upon us, but had not risen, death would still win. And if there’s no resurrection, then all those who have died will never rise again. And if there’s no resurrection, then there is nothing to life on earth.
  • But Christ was raised from the dead, therefore there is resurrection of the dead. The gospel that you’ve heard is true!
  • Jesus is the firstfruits of the resurrection: Because Jesus experienced resurrection of the dead, we know that there is more to come, there is more to experience. The full harvest is coming.
  • The Resurrected Body: The resurrected body that we will experience isn’t the same as the body we now experience, the body we now live in. We will be different. It’s not necessarily just some form of micro-evolution of the human species. Instead, the body that comes back to life will be a completely new kind of body. It’s more glorious. Similar, but not the same.
  • The First Adam and the Last Adam: God formed man from the dust, from the tangible stuff of God’s creation. Adam is of the earth. But the last Adam, who is Jesus, is different than the first Adam. Jesus became a life-giving spiritual body when he rose from the dead. When Jesus walked the earth, he was just like us. He had an earthly, physical, only natural body just like us. But when he died on the cross and was raised back to life, he became this new body, the heavenly body. He was the first to experience this. This new body is both fully natural and fully heavenly. The two were merged into a perfect creation. Because of Jesus, we have the hope of this heavenly body.
  • The Great Merger: When the perishable puts on the imperishable, when the mortal puts on the immortal. It’s the old putting on the new and becoming a third and totally unique creation, a merger of Heaven and Earth. The old creation was good, but it was corrupted by sin. God so loved the world that he created that he came into the world as Jesus, putting on full earthly form, lived, died, and rose back to life in heavenly form so that we – his earthly creation – might be able to rise again and be with him forever, so that his original creation might be redeemed.
  • Ship Canal: The lake and the ocean were separated; there was no way between them. But Jesus came, and he cut a canal between the two so that we would no longer be stuck, so that the ocean, the universe would be open to us.
  • We were made for more than trolling around a lake. We were made to explore, to be united with God. It is true, tangible, and possible. We can have a resurrection like Jesus. It’s not otherworldly: it’s all earth and all heaven all together.

OUR RESPONSE:

  • How do I experience a resurrection like this? How do I go from Earthly to Heaven-and-Earthly? Trust, by faith, in the person and the work of Jesus.
  • Heaven starts today if you trust in Jesus. You can start living in the reality of Heaven and Earth today.

Want to study this topic more?

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