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1 Corinthians 15:20-28 An Eternal Guarantee for More Than a Lifetime

1 Corinthians 15:20-28 An Eternal Guarantee for More Than a Lifetime April 20, 2017

1 Corinthians 15:20-28 An Eternal Guarantee for More Than a Lifetime

1 Corinthians 15:20-28 An Eternal Guarantee for More Than a Lifetime

Have you ever been offered a guarantee on something which you have committed – either with money or talents? You commit to something on the promise that the guarantee is true. For example:

Buy this car, then you will receive free oil changes for two years.

Take this pill and you will be guaranteed to lose weight.

Do what we ask and we can guarantee your safety.

There are all kinds of offers which people will pitch to you. But if you notice what works the most in the guarantee is personal testimonies. People will claim that these offers have worked for them, so it will work for you.

That is what we have here. Paul is pitching to the church at Corinth the guarantee of eternal life. Jesus Christ is the One who gives the first testimony to support the proof of this eternal guarantee (1 Corinthians 15:20).

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20, HCSB)

The word “first fruits” comes from the Old Testament. It means that this is the first evidence of the crop. In this case, Christ is the first evidence of the eternal guarantee. He rose from the dead. Therefore, anyone who comes after Him who belong to Him will also see this eternal guarantee (1 Corinthians 15:23).

But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; afterward, at His coming, those who belong to Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:23, HCSB)

WHY I CAN TRUST THE ETERNAL LIFETIME GUARANTEE OF JESUS CHRIST

1. Christ rose from the dead.

First, Christ is resurrected from death (1 Corinthians 15:21-23).

For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; afterward, at His coming, those who belong to Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:21–23, HCSB)

I can trust the eternal lifetime guarantee of Jesus because He proved it. Jesus is the only One to raise from the dead. You know that you trust the mechanic who has repaired and replaced many parts before. You trust the doctor who has successfully completed many surgeries. You can trust Jesus who has the eternal experience that is necessary for overcoming death.

You know death is a frightening prospect. Like a surgery, or some other traumatic broken experience that you and I may go through, we don’t look forward to the prospect of dying. It’s frightening in a way to think that when your heart stops beating, that you will stop existing. I can’t make myself come back to life. I can’t see what is beyond death.

Even Jesus needed God’s help in being resurrected. But now that Jesus is resurrected, He can help me. “In Christ, all will be made alive.” That is not a spiritual, allegorical interpretation. I will be made alive. But that can only happen because Jesus was made alive. He was given the keys to death. He knows how to unlock it.

Like a locksmith who comes when the doors are locked and you can’t get your keys, God made Christ exclusive keys over death. When you come to death and you wonder how the afterlife will be unlocked for you, you just need to trust Christ. He will unlock the keys of death for you.

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6, HCSB)

God has the doors to Heaven locked. Jesus holds the key. Jesus knows about death. He’s been there. Jesus knows about the afterlife. He’s been there. He is the expert locksmith with the key to Heaven. But you have to belong to Him to let Him open the door to Heaven. This brings us to the conditional promise of the eternal lifetime guarantee.

2. Christ promised that I will rise from the dead.

Then, I will be resurrected from death (1 Corinthians 15:23).

But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; afterward, at His coming, those who belong to Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:23, HCSB)

I will be resurrected from death, but only if I belong to Christ. When Jesus returns (which is what “at His coming” means), then only those who belong to Jesus will be “made alive.” Resurrection is not just being raised to life to live and die again. Instead, we will be raised to live forever. So, to use our analogy, Jesus promises to repair my life situation with a better eternal life situation. He makes this promise exclusively to people who belong to Him.

3. Christ promises an eternal warranty.

Christ will establish His eternal kingdom (1 Corinthians 15:24-25).

Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when He abolishes all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He puts all His enemies under His feet.” (1 Corinthians 15:24–25, HCSB)

This means that like a warranty on a product that I may buy, Jesus says that He will repair everything at the end to the way it needs to be. We don’t get details here about how that warranty works. Like a manufacturer’s warranty, I don’t get to go to the factory and see how they replace everything.

This eternal lifetime warranty provides a full replacement, not just a repair. Jesus isn’t going to repair things to just get me by. When He fixes things, He replaces. He replaces my body with a new body. He replaces the Earth with a new Earth. He replaces the stars, the universe with a new universe.

4. Christ promises that nothing will be broken again.

Finally, death will end its rule (1 Corinthians 15:26).

The last enemy to be abolished is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:26, HCSB)

In a guarantee, there is a promise that when things are broken, they will be fixed. But with this eternal lifetime guarantee, nothing will ever be broken again. The reason is because Jesus will eliminate the very thing that breaks us from eternal life – death. When Jesus died on the cross and then rose from the dead, He broke death’s rule over our lives. His past work guarantee’s our future.

Why is this eternal guarantee possible? It is possible because Christ will have the authority to grant it (1 Corinthians 15:27-28).

For God has put everything under His feet. But when it says “everything” is put under Him, it is obvious that He who puts everything under Him is the exception. And when everything is subject to Christ, then the Son Himself will also be subject to the One who subjected everything to Him, so that God may be all in all.” (1 Corinthians 15:27–28, HCSB)

God will put everything (including death) under Christ’s authority. Christ will have power over death.

Just as the one pitching the idea has the power to enforce the guarantee, Christ has the power to enforce His eternal guarantee. He is the only One who can promise eternal life because He has experienced it and He has power over it. All it takes is trusting that Christ will do what He promised.

Will you get a lemon out of the deal? Not possible. It depends upon whether you have faith in the Person who making you the deal. Because the same Person who can destroy death and make you alive (1 Corinthians 15:22).

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22, HCSB)

He can guarantee your eternal life because He has destroyed the power of death. There will not be an eternal recall. The same God who created You for this life will also guarantee your resurrection to eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:28).1

And when everything is subject to Christ, then the Son Himself will also be subject to the One who subjected everything to Him, so that God may be all in all.” (1 Corinthians 15:28, HCSB)

In generations past, smallpox was a much feared disease. It killed hundreds of millions of people and scarred and blinded many more. It was highly infectious, contracted by breathing the exhaled breath of an infected person.

At one time there was no cure for smallpox. During the Middle Ages, smallpox epidemics often raged across Asia, Africa, and Europe. In some wars more soldiers died from smallpox than from combat.

In 1796 an English physician named Edward Jenner developed the first smallpox vaccine, says writer Donald Henderson in the World Book Encyclopedia, and the vaccination soon spread around the world. Many countries required by law that citizens be inoculated.

The health effort was a great success. In the 1940s smallpox was completely eradicated in Europe and North America. In 1967 only thirty countries still suffered the ravages of smallpox. The World Health Organization began an aggressive program in Africa, Asia, and South America to completely eradicate smallpox from the earth. Vaccination teams traveled from village to village searching for smallpox cases. In 1970 only seventeen countries still suffered from the disease. In 1978 the World Health Organization announced that the world’s last known case of naturally occurring smallpox was in Somalia in October 1977. In 1980 they formally announced that smallpox had been eliminated.

But stocks of the smallpox virus were stored in freezers at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. In September 1994 a committee of the World Health Organization unanimously voted to destroy the last stock of the smallpox virus on June 30, 1995. In public health’s greatest triumph, the smallpox virus would be completely eradicated from the earth, never again to torment humankind.

It’s hard to imagine that such a deadly disease could be completely annihilated. It’s also hard to imagine a world cleansed of the plagues of sin and death and evil. But God will one day judge the earth, and by the authority of Christ, sin and death and all that is evil will be thrown into the lake of fire. God will create a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwells only righteousness. There will be no more death or tears, for Christ will have won the final victory.2

Prayer: God, thank You for Jesus who gives the testimony of the eternal guarantee. I trust that He knows how to secure that guarantee for me.

1 Jim Erwin, “Eternal Guarantee,” 1 Corinthians 15:20-28, 20 November 2015, Lectionary Reflections Year B (2014-2015), Logos Bible Software Notes, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jimerwin/2015/11/20/eternal-guarantee/, accessed on 14 April 2017.

2 Craig Brian Larson, 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers & Writers (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2002), 509–511.

Photo by Andre Benz courtesy of Unsplash.com


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