Day Five: Patterns of eternity in our “to-do list”

1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)
58 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 [NB: meaningless].

“If it is true that God is going to transform this present world, and renew our whole selves, bodies included, then what we do in the present time with our bodies, and with our world, matters.” [N.T. Wright, Paul for Everyone: 1 Corinthians]

“Now that he has confidently declared the victory over death through Christ, Paul can affirm with equal confidence that ‘in the Lord your labor is not in vain [NB: meaningless].’ The resurrection of the dead serves as a warrant validating not only Christian preaching but also ‘the work of the Lord’ more generally; everything that we do stands under the sign of Christ’s resurrection, and all our actions are thereby given worth and meaning.” [Richard Hays, First Corinthians: Interpretation]

The pattern of salvation in the Bible is based on Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and post-resurrection appearances, as we saw in Paul’s gospel from 15:1-11. This is also the pattern of our lives in our present everyday life. Therefore, any of our labors and toils in the Lord occur within these gospel patterns, and therefore, our present endeavors of God – to our families, to our missional groups, to our church, to our campuses, to our workplaces, to the world – are of eternal significance.

Today, let’s close in praying accordingly, dedicating all the items on today’s agenda – from the smallest task to the most challenging problem. All our toils and all our labors are worship to the Lord, part of his redemptive work in and through our lives.



Day Four: Continuity and discontinuity

1 Corinthians 15:54-57 (NIV)
54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
   Where, O death, is your sting?” 

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:11 (NIV)
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

“The Christian message is that he has already done the new thing in the Messiah, Jesus, and that he will do it for all Jesus’ people through the power of the Spirit. And in that new thing death and decay will be gone, swallowed up forever.” [N.T. Wright, Paul for Everyone: 1 Corinthians]

“Paul’s point in this theological aside is that death is not simply the result of decay through normal human processes. Rather, it is the result of the deadly poison, sin itself, which became all the more energized in our lives through acquaintance with the law. Hence, in exulting Christs’ victory over death, Paul is reminded that that victory is the final triumph over the sin that brought death into the world, and over the law that has so frequently emboldened sin. But since both sin and the law have already been overcome in the cross, this compendium prefaces a final doxology that thanks God for present ‘victory’ as well.” [Gordon Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, NICNT]

Through the cross, Jesus has conquered the power of sin and death in our lives, but we still live bodily in the “already-not-yet” world. Our experience of the Spirit’s work and power in our lives is evidence, “down payment” and guarantee of the future victory and life we will experience in resurrection. Therefore, as Romans 8:11 explains, the indwelling Spirit who lives in us now will be involved in the resurrection of our bodies and our mode of living eternally. Through the Spirit, we have a taste of eternity now!

Today, let’s declare in prayer Christ’s victory over sin and death in our present life, and celebrating his eternal victory over sin and death, “Where, O death, is your victory?    Where, O death, is your sting?” Then, let’s close in worship with the song “Jesus Only You” (click here).



Day Three: Fighting Wild Beasts

1 Corinthians 15:30-34 (NIV)
30And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? 31 I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised,

“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”

33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.

“We’re all scared. You hid in that ditch because you think there’s still hope. But Blithe, the only hope you have is to accept the fact that you’re already dead. And the sooner you accept that, the sooner you’ll be able to function as a soldier’s supposed to function.” – Capt. Ronald Speirs [HBO’s Band of Brothers]

“To be without hope in the resurrection makes life in the present a constant round of nothing.” [Gordon Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, NICNT]

“Paul suggests that their skepticism has led them to act like the frenzied inhabitants of Jerusalem who faced siege and annihilation at the hands of the Assyrians (Isaiah 22:12-24): instead of facing their fate with repentance and weeping, they decided to ‘party like there was no tomorrow,’ as the colloquial English expression has it.” [Richard Hays, First Corinthians: Interpretation]

The heat of competition, the intensity of battle, the “moment” – all of these reveal the mental fortitude and preparedness of the athlete, soldier and performer. In the Christian life, we face death every day in imitation of Christ in discipleship. In these life and death moments, our attitude about eternal bodily resurrection with Jesus reveals our hearts. Without an eternal hope of the redemption of our bodies, life is simple an absurd venture with no real hope, a time to “party like there’s no tomorrow!” But if we understand the truth that God eternally loves our whole person, including our physical bodies that he has created for us, we live with the courage to fight even “wild beasts” (NRSV) as we die every day.

With this attitude and heart, let’s close in praying for clearer hope and deeper knowledge of the Lord as we face our battles today, and in singing, “Yours (Glory & Praise)” (click here).



Day Two: Christ Is Risen

1 Corinthians 15:23-26, 28 (NIV)
23 But each [will be made alive] in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, 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 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

“His resurrection is not merely a wondrous event that confirms his special status before God; rather, it is the beginning of a much greater harvest. This is the crucial point that some of the Corinthians had failed to understand: they did not see that there was a direct connection between Christ’s resurrection and their future fate. It may seem remarkable to us that anyone could have become an adherent of the early Christian movement with understanding this point, but as both 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 demonstrate, Paul had to explain it repeatedly to his Gentile congregations.” [Richard Hays, First Corinthians: Interpretation]

Jesus’ bodily resurrection was a first fruit of the future resurrection of all believers. His resurrection necessitated our own future resurrection. Humanity’s greatest enemy is death, and thus, God must destroy death in all of those who are to live eternally with Christ. This should cause us to shout aloud “Hallelujah!” again and again. Jesus calls us his own, and he will rid our bodies of sin and death once and for all.

Today, let’s pray and worship to “Christ Is Risen” (click here), singing again and again “Hallelujah” today!



Day One: Shape of Faith

1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (NIV)
1 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

“This was the message that Paul announced wherever he went, and it was this message that carried God’s power and brought people, but the Spirit, into a living knowledge and love of him, into the rule of the Messiah, into the kingdom of God. The only point in being a Christian at all is if this message continues to be the solid ground on which you stand.” [NT Wright, 1 Corinthians for Everyone]

We have the Corinthians to thank for provoking Paul into repeating his gospel, and telling us the story of our resurrection. This is the gospel that transformed the Corinthians, and that has also changed our lives. Notice that the shape of Paul’s gospel message – Christ’s death on the cross for our sins, his burial in the tomb, his resurrection after the third day, and his repeated appearances to the disciples and others. This same gospel that we heard is the same gospel that continues to shape our life and faith now. Let’s be refreshed in the gospel once again today. Let’s pray and worship in closing with the song “Resurrection Power” (click here)