Victory Through Our Lord

MEMORY SELECTION: “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” —I Corinthians 15:57

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: I Corinthians 15:12-28

IN THIS week’s lesson our attention is drawn to the great doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus. In the selected scriptural reading the apostle discusses that important subject.

It was difficult for many to grasp the fact that our Lord had been resurrected. We note this in Paul’s statement, “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?” (I Cor. 15:12) In explaining the purpose and importance of the Master’s ministry, Paul continued to expound the reality of the resurrection. He said, “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.”—vss. 13,14

If it were not true that Jesus had indeed been resurrected, then there is no hope for anyone beyond the present life and experience with sin and death. All the preaching activity of our Lord, as well as that of the apostles, was in 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. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”—vss. 15-19

If such were the case and our Lord had not been resurrected, then we would all still be under the curse of death, with no hope of a future life. Furthermore, it would mean also that the Heavenly Father had failed to keep his part of the contract in sending his only begotten Son in to the world to provide an atonement for sin.

But there are proofs that Jesus did rise from the dead. “To whom [the apostles] also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”—Acts 1:3

The Apostle Paul elaborates upon this infallible evidence by stating that “he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.” (I Cor. 15:5-7) Then Paul’s final declaration completes the whole argument: “And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.”—vs. 8

Jesus was the first to receive life from the dead—in the full sense of the word. “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” (vs. 20) In connection with this we recall the power of God working through Jesus during the time of his earthly ministry. Some, such as Lazarus, had been awakened from the sleep of death, to illustrate that great power and to portray the general day of resurrection for the world. Lazarus, and the others who had also been raised, went into the death condition again, to await the appointed time in the kingdom.

Jesus did not experience a resurrection to the state of human perfection, but to the highest plane of life, the divine nature. He was, therefore, the firstfruits of them that slept in death.

Death resulted because of disobedience to God’s commandments by our first parents. “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.” (vs. 21) Our Lord, as the only perfect man who has ever lived since Adam, could, because of his perfection, take Adam’s place in death and thus become Adam’s and the world’s Redeemer. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”—vs. 22

By God’s arrangements, those who endeavor to walk in the footsteps of Jesus during the Gospel Age will receive a spiritual reward and will also have part in the first resurrection. (Rev. 20:6) The second resurrection will be for the world. Everyone who has drawn the breath of life will be brought back from the sleep of death and, under favorable conditions, be given a first real opportunity for life.—John 5:28,29, RSV

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