Waking up to Righteousness: The Importance of the Resurrection

First Corinthians 15 points to the importance of a correct biblical view of the resurrection and the meaning of baptism.

Many believers cherish the 15th chapter of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.

It begins with a clear presentation of the gospel, and cruises into a detailed explanation of the concept of resurrection, Jesus’ victory of sin and death. It ends with the command to be steadfast, immovable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord, for labor done in the Lord is not empty and fruitless.

But our concern is with a few verses tucked between all of this excitement, verses that are sometimes misunderstood, and frequently under applied. In verses 29 to 34, Paul placed a large exclamation point next to the importance of the resurrection. Paul asked, if the resurrection were not true, why would believers be continually rising from the waters of baptism to take the place of their fallen brothers? Why would he, Paul, experience danger every hour and, metaphorically, die every day? After all, if the dead are not raised, let us all become gluttonous and immoral, filling ourselves with food and drink until we are buried in the dust.

Yet, Paul adds, do not be deceived. If you mix with bad company, your morals will be corrupted. It was necessary for the Corinthian Christians to understand that their fraternizing with people who practiced immoral things was shameful. This is what Paul wrote in verses 33 and 34.

The command to “wake up” and “come to your senses” from your “drunken stupor” is strong language. So is the command to “stop sinning.” If the Christians’ unbiblical behavior – based on a wrong understanding of the reality of the resurrection – should be stopped at all costs. It would have had an impact, not only on the church, but on the community around it. This would have made the impact of the gospel almost negligible by their lack of a clear testimony.

It is no mystery that the condition of our life influences the condition of our testimony. And this influences the effectiveness of our outreach.

I see verse 34 as a command to awaken from our stupor and cease sinning among ourselves, because we are surrounded by a world of people who have no knowledge of God! The world is in desperate need of our waking up.

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Jim Ruff

Jim Ruff, D.Min., is a retired missionary to Japan (20 years) and a trainer and associate director of training for ABWE for over 14 years.  With his wife, he served for a term in church planting in the Chicago area. He is the author of one of the ABWE Bible courses and serves as a proctor for missionaries taking the Methods of Bible Study course. He has been an adjunct professor at Baptist Bible Seminary, Clarks Summit University, for 7 years.  He and his wife, Jan, have 3 married children and 12 grandchildren. Hear more from Jim on his website.