Read 1 Corinthians 15
Focus on verse 19-20
Just the other day I came across yet another headline claiming that a surgeon who had a near death experience was giving testimony to some kind of life after death. There are many theories about what happens after we die, the problem is most often when a person dies there is no way for those of us to remain to confirm with them what they are experiencing. From what we can determine on this side of the veil it seems very much like death is the end. We die, our body decomposes and the only way we live on is in the memories of those who remain alive.
There are some faith systems that believe we return in another form after we die in some sort of endless cycle of life and death. Still others believe we remain as disembodied spirits that drift about the earth unseen by those who are alive. There are also those who prefer to believe that when we are dead it is truly all over for us, that the span of life we live upon the earth is all there is to it.
In today’s reading the Apostle Paul addresses this question of whether there is life after death, and his conclusion is clearly that he believes death is the beginning of eternal life.
If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (v. 19-29)
Paul builds a rather convincing case that if Christ did not truly rise from the dead then those who believe there is life after death are the most pitiful folks on the planet. The question Paul asked is “Why would it make sense to deprive oneself of present pleasure if there were nothing to be gained by it in the future?”
He then boldly proclaims that Christ did, in fact, rise from the dead, and as a result there is hope for those who believe there is something more to life than just the brief span of time we spend in a human body on the earth. He bases this claim on the fact that when Jesus came back from the grave He communicated this truth to those who witnessed His presence after His death and resurrection.
The resurrection of Jesus is historically credible. We are told that if the evidence for the resurrection of Christ was presented in a present day court of law, there would be more convincing evidence for Jesus resurrection than there is for the existence of some of the founding fathers of our nation. Interestingly few people question the historical existence of George Washington, yet the resurrection of Jesus is consistently attacked as unprovable.
I suspect there are two factors at work here. Both have to do with the spiritual battle that rages for the minds and hearts of humanity. The one is driven primarily by the spiritual forces of darkness that seek to destroy anything that God has created. The second is closely related since is motivated by those same dark forces that understand well that if they can undermine the idea of the resurrection in the human mind, they can ultimately control the behavior of the human that is controlled by that mind. Since God gives humans the freedom to choose, all the enemy has to do is deceive the mind of the human in order to control him or her, however, in order to deceive them, they must not be allowed to understand the truth, and if possible – not even to hear it, because truth gives birth to hope, and hope opens the window of the soul to light – and light dispels darkness. Therefore, the truth of the resurrection of Jesus must at all costs be kept hidden from those the enemy seeks to destroy.