In the movie Unbroken, Olympian and World War II bombardier Louis Zampenni found himself afloat at sea for 47 days in inflatable rafts after his B-24 Liberator bomber crashed. During this time Louis fought off a shark attack, survived a storm, was strafed by a Japanese plane, and saw one of his two friends who survived the plane crash die. During this challenging time, Louie’s resolve was challenged as he was desperate for some water. Louie’s desperation cannot be underestimated. Thirst for water can drive one crazy and going without it for a prolonged time may cost one their life.
Louie wasn’t a religious person, but when push came to shove, he told God that if He quenched his thirst that he would dedicate his life to Him. Why? Because if this problem were not resolved soon the stature he had established would become meaningless. In short, apart from answered prayer, Louie was a dead man. He needed divine intervention. His life and hopes needed to be rescued, raised from the dead.
In 1 Corinthians 15:16-19 the apostle Paul says, “For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” Paul rightly notes the relevance of Christ’s resurrection. In doing so, it becomes evident that the entirety of the Christian faith rests on one thing, and one things alone–the resurrection of Christ.
As a result, those of us who have truly trusted in Christ as our Lord and Savior, those who have suffered loss, ridicule, physical abuse, imprisonment and even death on account of this trust, those who have served as pastors, missionaries and teachers on account of this trust, those who have spent or have given money to further such endeavors on account of this trust, and those who have supported a Bible believing church on account of this trust, you are to be pitied above all if “Christ is not risen!”
Why are you to be pitied? You have not only wasted your time and your money, but you have embraced the lie or lies, the scam of scams, the prince of fools! The hope of you have embraced is hopeless. The resurrection you look to is a farce. The heaven you long for does not exist, if “Christ is not risen!”
What evidence do we have to validate the resurrection of Christ?
In verses 3 through 8 the apostle Paul clearly establishes the basis of the validity of Christ’s resurrection when he says, “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.”
The Lord did not leave this most important historical fact open to question. Over five hundred people witnessed the risen Christ.
In the Old Testament God established a standard regarding the number of witnesses needed to convict a person of wrongdoing. In Deuteronomy 19:15 it says, “One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.”
Of course this standard dealt with convicting a person for a wrong they committed, nonetheless, it’s a good standard. Since the days of Christ, there have been many who have sought to undermine His credibility and the validity of His resurrection from the dead, yet they must contend with over five hundred people who witnessed the truth.
Who were these people? Were they people so desperate to believe that Christ rose from the dead that they would believe at the drop of a hat? No. Actually, when Christ underwent the mock trial, crucifixion, and death, they ran, they hid and some openly denied their association with Him. They were broken had thrown in the towel. They accepted the apparent fact that they were wrong and sought to distance themselves from the one they called Christ. The only thing that could change these peoples disposition was to witness the literal, physical resurrected Christ. They did, and it changed their lives for ever.
In Acts 17:6 the followers of Christ are described as those “who have turned the world upside down.” Those who were broken. Those who ran and hid. Those who distanced themselves from Christ, were turning the “world upside down!” How is this possible? Witnessing the literal, physical resurrected Christ.
Two thousand years later the foundation they helped build continues on. Why? Paul tells us why in 1 Corinthians 15:50-57. There Paul says, “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 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 incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The blessed hope in Christ and the hope that one day we too shall be raised incorruptible and claim the victory Christ has provided for us. Thus, even as we work through the final challenges of pain and suffering in this world, the faithful can say along with Paul, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”
Scripture tells us that there is a great day coming. A day in which all of us who have embraced Christ as Lord and Savior will rejoice in because we will take on our resurrection bodies.
As wonderful a though this is, why do we need these new bodies?
Present Condition Necessitates A Drastic Change
Simply put, our present condition necessitates a drastic change. I don’t know about you, but I do not want to live forever in my earthly body. It has been over used, injured and in decline. And even if it were in perfect condition, it is not meant to last forever. Our current condition is perishable. God will give us an imperishable body.
The apostle makes this perfectly clear when he says in 1 Corinthians 15:50, “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.”
As we are, we cannot enter heaven. We must first be transformed from this earthly capsule to a spiritually suitable one. Just as oil and water do not mix, likewise, our earthly body does not mix with the spiritual realm God has planned for us.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:51, “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.”
The term “sleep” is figurative for physical death. The term “changed” denotes a transformation of the physical earthly body into a new resurrection body.
Verse 52 tells us that the change will be “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” In other words, instantaneous. All Christ’s followers will be transformed in an instant.
Characteristics of The Change
What about the characteristics of the change Paul speaks of? In 1 Corinthians 15:52 he says, “and the dead will be raised incorruptible.” Those who are dead will be raised first and as noted earlier, in an instant, changed.
Our current bodies are part of the old system God established. Thus they are perishable or as verse 53 says, “corruptible.” We die and eventually our bodies decompose and return to the dust. We must be made “incorruptible.” Likewise, as verse 53 points out, we are “mortal.” We have a limited shelf life. We shall be made “immortal” when the change takes place.
Why must this happen? Because that which is perishable, mortal and impure cannot exist before a holy God for all eternity. In order to have eternal communion with God, one must first be transformed into that which is imperishable and immortal as God Himself is.
Effects of The Change
Not only will all believers become immortal and imperishable, but as verse 54 says, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” The threat of physical death will cease. We will never have to fret over it again. The doom surrounding it will be “swallowed up” and gone forever more.
Victory will be ours, not because of what we have done, but because of what Christ did for us. Verse 57 underscores this by saying, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Lord earned this victory for us both on the cross when He paid the price for our sins and when He rose from the dead, thus overcoming death.
The apostle Paul notes this in 1 Corinthians 15 verses 3 – 4 saying, ” For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”
No amount of good deeds on our part can merit eternal life.
In Titus 3 verses 3 through 7 Paul said regarding this, “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
The Lord Jesus Christ won the victory for us and we are invited, by faith, trust and obedience to Him, to embrace it.
A great and wonderful day is coming. A day of true change, a transformation that only God can promise and deliver. This will be a great day of rejoicing for those who have embraced Christ as Lord and Savior. If you have never done so, I encourage you to speak to God right now and recognize your sin dept to Him, your faith and trust in what Christ did on the cross on your behalf, and that through His resurrection from the dead, sealed the victory you seek to embrace.
May the Lord bless and keep you until the arrival of that glorious day!