In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul draws five practical conclusions based upon Christ's resurrection. If Christ has been raised from the dead, then:
- That guarantees our resurrection. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:20, "But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep." The first fruits refers to the first sheaf of the harvest grain that the Jews would give to the Lord as a token of the fact that the whole harvest belonged to him. Christ has been raised as a first fruits offering given to the Father in token of the fact that all believers in Christ will also be given to the Father in bodily resurrection. Christ's resurrection guarantees that our resurrection will take place, if we trust in him.
- The results of Adam's fall have been undone. "For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive." Because of the sin of the first human beings, death came into the world. However, Jesus has taken our death upon himself, and thus in his light the darkness of death has been swallowed up. I love the way C. S. Lewis talks about this in his children's book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Aslan, the Christ figure in the story, says of his own death, “...though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward.” That is a wonderful description of what is happening because of Christ's death and resurrection.
- Christ's resurrected body is the model for our own. If we want to know what resurrection life will look like, then we must look to the resurrected Christ.
- Christ has robbed death of its fangs. Paul says, "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." Yes, Christians still have to face death until Christ returns. However, death no longer has a sting in it for the Christian. There is no need for the Christian to have the same kind of fear of death that a non-Christian often has. Yes, we may fear the process of dying. We do not look with glee at cancer, or heart disease, or any other physical thing that can kill us. But we do not fear death itself because we know where we are going. Christ's death and resurrection assures us of eternal life with God.
- The risen Christ lives to spur us on to action for him. "Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." (1 Corinthians 15:58) If Christ is risen from the dead, then our work matters to God. Nothing we do for him is ever lost. We can give ourselves fully to the Lord's work knowing that we will receive an eternal reward. We should not work merely for the rewards of this life. Rather, we should work so that one day we will hear the Lord say to us, "Well done good and faithful servants. You have been faithful in a little, now I will set you over much."