“Wherefore, if from me or them, in this way I preached and in this way you believed.”
(1 Corinthians 15:11)
Paul has returned to his starting point. This fact of the resurrection of Christ, he says, is the heart of his preaching. Without the resurrection, there would be no good news for man. There would be no hope for anything beyond this life except eternal condemnation. The resurrection of Christ is the surety we have been given that points to our own resurrection. This is an essential of the faith. Paul is saying that there is no Christian preaching apart from this fact and no one can come to faith apart from this fact. If one denies the doctrine of the resurrection of Christ, one cannot be a Christian. It is that simple.
All too often, when we think of the afterlife, we only think in terms of the spiritual. Some of this is a result of the tremendous influence that Greek philosophy has had on our culture, which taught that the spiritual was good and the physical was bad. One of the things that Paul goes out of his way to show us in this chapter is not only the reality of the physical resurrection of Christ, but later on he will talk at length about the physical resurrection of us. The point is that the Greeks were wrong and the conception of floating around in spiritual bodies forever is also wrong. There is indeed an intermediate state, where we will be with God in spirit and our bodies will be kept in the grave, but that state is not final. There will come a time when Christ will return as he left, with a shout all of those who are dead in Christ will rise up from the grave and be reunited with their spirits and they, along with all believers who are still alive, will be caught up in the air with Christ in glorified bodies. Those who are unbelievers will also rise to life once again, but will be raised for the purpose of eternal condemnation. Eternal life will be physical—though without the negative effects of sin.
Friends, I hope that you look forward to that day. It will be a day where you will be restored to a body that will be free from sickness and disease, free from aches and pains, and free from weakness. It will be a day where we will work, but without frustration or toil. It will be a day when hope is transformed into the reality of Christ’s presence. What a glorious time that will be! Praise be to God!