“If the dead do not rise, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’ Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’ Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.” (1 Cor. 15:13, 32-33).
Should the resurrection of Jesus Christ affect how we live our lives? Yes: The resurrection should prompt us to live righteously. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, we may follow the philosophy of living for the present: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” If we believe in the resurrection, but live for the present, what lessons have we missed regarding the resurrection?
1. We will appear at the judgment. We will face the Judge of the living and the dead. He will examine our works and judge us accordingly (1 Cor. 3:11-15). If we have been faithful, we will receive much. If unfaithful, we will suffer loss. My Book 1 covers many of these passages in Matthew and Luke.
The resurrection causes us to evaluate our lives and relationship with the Lord. Are we living for ourselves and producing works of the flesh, or living for Jesus out of love, and producing works of faith?
2. We will appear before the Judge with joy or shame. When we enter the door of death and pass to the other side (or are raptured), our character will not change. What we have done and made of ourselves will accompany us to the other side. If we have been faithful, we will step through the door as faithful servants with joyful stories to share of our labors (Matt. 25:19-30).
We have a conditional promise that we shall be like Him, and in that image we wish to appear. “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3).
3. Ahead of us is the kingdom. Jesus will come and establish a thousand-year reign. We have different views of the kingdom. Some believe all Christians will rise at the first resurrection and be rewarded for their works at that time. Then we live with Christ forever. Others believe that only Christians who are ready will rise in the first resurrection, which is the resurrection of the just. The just live and reign with Christ in the Millennial Kingdom. Those who are not ready will miss out on the thousand-year reign, then will rise in the second resurrection.
Whatever scenario we believe, we must not underestimate the loss of the kingdom. In this epistle (1 Cor. 6:9-10), after Paul tells us what sins we may commit, he warns us strenuously that the flesh shall not inherit the kingdom. The loss will be incalculable—especially for the Christian.
4. We will influence others and be influenced ourselves. “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’ ” The resurrection promises a time of untold pleasure and delight to those who live righteously. The righteous will be greatly rewarded for being good examples that helped others live for the kingdom. We think drug-addicted rock stars and gangs are bad influences on our children. Yet the epistles to the Corinthians show us the bad influences of fellow Christians within the church. When a man had his father’s wife, did not the others applaud him? When some honored one servant above anther, did this not encourage members with opposing views to set up their own candidate? When some boasted in their gift, were not others emboldened to claim their’s was better?
What examples will we be? “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:19).
I am deaf. I look forward to the resurrection when I will receive new ears and enjoy the company of like-minded believers in a way I cannot enjoy now. I will also be glad to receive a new body that does not prompt me to sin. But the resurrection is more than new bodies. Because I have hope that I may be transformed into His image here on earth, I cannot live for just my bodily wants. So as much as I can, I participate with the Holy Spirit in His work of sanctification. I look forward to the unsurpassable honor given to the righteous and rewards for the faithful. I want to be in that number when the saints go marching in.
Living with the end in view is to see the resurrection as more than a new body: It’s a place of rewards and delight with the Son.