Fourth Sunday after Easter
Awake to righteousness! – 1 Corinthians 15:34.
St. Paul wrote: “Else what shall they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they, then, baptized for the dead?” (v. 29). These questions are asked by the apostle because of a serious problem in the congregation at Corinth. The apostle spoke of that problem when he, earlier in this chapter, had said to the members of this congregation: “Now if Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen. And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ; whom He raised not up if so be that the dead rise not” (vv. 12-15). This rejection by some of the Scriptural doctrine of the resurrection of the dead had serious consequences. One such consequence concerned baptism. What shall those do who are baptized with a view of the sure hope that they have when they die if there is no resurrection from the dead at all? If the dead in their graves will not be raised from the dead at all, why then should they be baptized with that view of those who have died and will die?
Concerning himself and his companions the Apostle Paul wrote: “And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus, our Lord; I die daily. If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me if the dead rise not?” (vv. 30-32a). Then one might confess and say as the unbelieving people of this world confess and say: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (v. 32b). See how firmly the first Christians and the apostles held to the certain, sure hope of the resurrection of the dead! Let us not be misled from the positive doctrine of Holy Writ by the foolish preachers, unbelieving writers, and those who support their unbelief, who have fallen from the saving faith, who say that there is no resurrection of the dead. Let us “be not deceived” (v. 33a); let us continue to turn our ears from such lies. “Evil communications [associations] corrupt good manners” (v. 33b) says the proverb. Such evil, wicked associations can do great damage to our Christian faith and to our Christian life.
“Awake to righteousness and sin not” (v. 34a)! The apostle calls out to the Christians to wake up to what is right from the Word of God, which not only teaches God’s “victory” (v. 57) over sin, over the fear of death and the grave through the perfect obedience and sacrifice of Christ for the world of sinners, but also teaches the resurrection of the dead and the sure hope which this resurrection gives to all believers in Christ. Hallelujah!
PRAYER – Lord God, dear heavenly Father, help me to continue to believe Thy sure Word of truth and grace which gives me the certain hope of the resurrection of the dead in this uncertain life, and also gives me the wonderful hope of “an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven” (I Peter 1:4) for me and all other saints in Christ Jesus. Amen.