by Mike Ratliff
“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” (Romans 13:8-14 ESV)
The Doctrine of the Resurrection is a target of our enemy. He does not want God’s people to understand it or to have hope in it. I have received some very strange comments on the posts on the Resurrection lately. I have not posted them because the challenge from them was couched in arguments that were either pure humanism or from a spiritual slant that was entirely pagan. Tragically, a few were from professing Christians whose concept of the Resurrection read more like a fairy tale or a horror story than what we find in the Bible. In this post we will look at the effects of denying the Resurrection.
“Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? Why are we in danger every hour? I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.” (1Corinthians 15:29-34 ESV)
The word “otherwise” refers back to Paul’s statement from vv20-28 which concludes with, “When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.” All is under God’s sovereignty. What does it mean that people are being baptized on behalf of the dead? The Bible no where teaches that baptism saves anyone.
“This difficult [passage] has numerous possible interpretations. Other Scripture passages, however, clarify certain things which it does not mean. It does not teach, for example, that a dead person can be saved by another person’s being baptized on his behalf, because baptism never has a part in person’s salvation (Ephesians 2:8; cf. Romans 3:28; Romans 4:3; Romans 6:3,4) A reasonable view seems to be that “they…who are baptized” refers to living believers who give outward testimony to their faith in baptism by water because they were first drawn to Christ by the exemplary lives, faithful influence, and witness of believers who had subsequently died. Paul, then, is saying that if there is no resurrection and no life after death, then why are people coming to Christ to follow the hope of those who have died?” – John MacArthur
Paul states that he risks his life every hour, he dies to self daily. Why? What motivates him? He has the hope of life after death. If he did not have this hope, would he risk his life this way?
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,” (1Peter 1:3-4 ESV)
Paul is stating in this passage that those who have the blessed hope of life after death are willing to serve God no matter the temporal risk. However, those who are backslidden or deny the resurrection do not have this hope and would rather hold the philosophy of life of, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Also, hope in the resurrection is sanctifying which leads to godly living instead of corruption. On the other hand, those who do not have the blessed hope are a corrupting influence on believers because their view is on the temporal alone.
The visible church is made up of both genuine believers and those who do not know God. Those who do know him have been regenerated and they do have the blessed hope of life after death. Those in the visible church who are nominal (unregenerate) cannot have this hope. Instead they view the resurrection as if it is something fictional and, therefore, fair game for their foolish speculations.
Those who are genuine believers are New Creations. They are the regenerate. They are indwelt by the Holy Spirit who has placed God’s truth in them. They have been justified by God and are now being sanctified. The pressures of this evil place to become temporally focused must be overcome and resisted. God must be our all in all. He must be first in all that we think and do. We must worship Him with our entire beings by becoming Spirit-filled in obedience by His grace. If we do then we will be willing to die every day for His sake.