(For an explanation of the meaning of “Ordinary Time,” please see “Introducing Ordinary Time” under the tab “Ordinary Time, Year II: Acts & The Letters.”)
1 Corinthians 15:12-19
The Christian Faith Is Predicated upon the Resurrection of the Dead
One of the hardest things for people to believe, both then and now, is in the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. And please understand, when we say, “resurrection,” we mean the resurrection of the human body—not a ghost, not a spirit, not a soul—the body. Indeed, it was the resurrection of our Lord and Savior who came out of the tomb that was the foundation upon which the Christian faith was built: No resurrection of Christ—no faith, no gospel, no Church, no nothin’.
Well, apparently some Corinthians believed that though Christ was raised, believers would not be raised; that is, they did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. Paul immediately argues how absurd such a notion is. “If the dead are not raised,” he says “not even Christ has been raised.” I picture the Corinthians responding, “Why is that? Why can’t we believe that Christ has been raised while believing at the same time that we won’t be. Maybe just our souls go on to heaven. Isn’t that enough?” To hear many (most) Christians talk, you would think that this is what they believe.
No it’s not enough. Paul would have us know: 1) That there is no general resurrection apart from that specific resurrection (i.e., our Lord’s), and no specific resurrection (again, our Lord’s) apart from the general resurrection. Why? Because God has ordained it so. Our Lord’s resurrection guarantees ours, and apparently he refuses to be raised without us—He is the head and we are his body; 2) That we are embodied souls. I said recently that we are the hybrids of the universe—part material part immaterial, part body part soul, occupying the space between the angels and the beasts. Granted, our souls go to be with the Lord upon death (2 Corinthians 5:8), but our bodies rise on the last day and are rejoined to our souls (Philippians 3:21; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) because…well, that’s how God made us; and 3) Finally, God has made it such that our souls don’t rise without the resurrection. This is what Paul means when he says, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.” Our souls don’t just automatically go to heaven upon death, as most seem to think; our souls go to heaven because Christ has been raised, and seem to serve, if I may be so bold, as a down payment for our bodies upon the resurrection.
The resurrection began our faith; that is where it shall end. But then it shall also be our new beginning—without sin, without corruption, fully glorified!