1 Corinthians 15:3–34

"But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep" (v. 20).

As we continue our look at the hope of life after death in relation to suffering, it is important to note that we can have hope in our suffering only if there is an afterlife—a place where all that is wrong with this world will be set right. Much of the suffering that we endure is unjust. People slander us, besmirching our good names without just cause. Others are jealous of us and thus act with hatred toward us. In this world, the righteous do not always win. Often, the wicked prosper (Ps. 73:3). If our suffering is to have any meaning and purpose, this cannot last forever. Without a Judge to perfectly dispense rewards for righteousness and punishments for evil, suffering for righteousness' sake is in vain. There is no transcendent good or evil. Everything is permissible because no one will ever be held finally to account.

In our postmodern context, many people might say that there is no such thing as absolute good or absolute evil, but precious few really believe that. People still cry out for justice to be done. Almost no one lives life without any restraint at all. Individuals from all kinds of backgrounds say that "everything happens for a reason." Belief in right and wrong endures in practice if not in principle.

Yet, the persistence of such a belief is not evidence in itself that an afterlife exists and that God will judge wickedness and reward holiness. Moreover, belief merely that there is a deity does not answer the question as to which god is the true one. Thankfully, the Apostle Paul gives us evidence for both the afterlife and that God will judge the world in righteousness. First Corinthians 15:3–34 lays out an argument that shows how the resurrection of Jesus confirms that there will be a final resurrection of the dead and that the Lord will judge the world in perfect righteousness. Everything hangs on Jesus' being raised from the dead. It is not that there might be another viable contender for the one true God if Jesus has not been raised. No, if Jesus has not been resurrected, there is no divine Judge and no divine judgment. So, we might as well do whatever we please (v. 32). Yet, it is certain that Christ has been raised from the dead. The Old Testament points to Him and the witnesses to His rising from the dead testify to the veracity of His resurrection (vv. 3–8). Our faith that there is a God who gives meaning to all our suffering because He will sit in judgment is no mere fancy. It is supported by solid evidences.

Coram Deo

There are many books that present the historical evidence for the resurrection of Christ, and it can be helpful to be aware of the convincing case that Jesus rose from the dead. If we are confident of the resurrection, we will be assured that there is a day of judgment to come when our suffering will be vindicated. As we are able, let us study so as to grow in our conviction of the resurrection and to bear witness to the truth of Christ.

For Further Study