If the dead are not raised, let's eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. What is the point of serving the Lord?
What is the point of sacrifice? If there's no resurrection, there's no motive for service, for sacrificial, enduring, suffering, service. Welcome to a new week of Grace to You with John MacArthur. Today John is going to show you what the resurrection of Christ means for the Christian and for the unbeliever.
It's a message taken from a compelling study that John calls, The End is Not the End. You know, when a loved one is facing death, and one day when you face death, there really is only one thing that matters, and that is having hope for what comes after death. John's lesson today can help you lay claim to that hope and to face eternity with ultimate confidence. If you have your Bible, turn to the book of 1 Corinthians, and here's the lesson.
We are returning to the 15th chapter of 1 Corinthians, and I want to read you verses 29 to 34 as the setting for the Word of God. Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?
Why are we also in danger every hour? I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. Do not be deceived, bad company corrupts good morals. Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning, for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame." That is a fascinating, fascinating little section, a number of questions, and a very serious warning and indictment.
Just exactly what is going on here? We find that he sees this as an incentive on three levels, an incentive, a compelling incentive on three levels. Very fascinating portion of Scripture.
Let me help you to see what those levels are. First of all, I think Paul is saying here that the fact that we will be who we are in glorified forms, we will be eternally ourselves, but in perfected reality in heaven, both soul and body, is a motivation to salvation. So, you see, if we deny resurrection, we lose this great salvation incentive. There's a second incentive here that I think the apostle Paul lays out for us, about which there is really no doubt.
It's in verses 30 to 32. Why are we also in danger every hour? I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me?
If the dead are not raised, let's eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. What is the point of serving the Lord? What is the point of sacrifice? Why am I doing this? Why am I living my entire life in danger every hour? What is the purpose of dying every day?
Why don't I just eat and drink and die? If there's no resurrection, there's no motive for service, for sacrificial, enduring, suffering service. And Paul served in the boldest way.
He even identified himself as a soldier, as a warrior, as a boxer, as a wrestler, as a runner. Paul and the other apostles basically lived in peril their entire life. At any hour, a blow of persecution could strike them down, and did eventually. Why am I living like this? Why am I risking my life? Why am I in danger every moment from the very moment of my conversion when I was immediately viewed by the Jews as a traitor? Why did I have to be let down over the wall to escape the plotting of the Jews way back in Damascus at the very beginning of my Christian life? Why have I endured all the things that are listed in the letter to the Corinthians, the second letter to the Corinthians? Why do I have to be afflicted in every way? Why do I have to be persecuted, struck down? Why am I always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus?
Why is this necessary? Why is death working in me all the time? Why do I need to be in prison? Why am I being falsely accused? Why am I being shipwrecked, spending night and day in the ocean?
Why have I been beaten with rods so many times and whipped by the Jews, and why? Verse 31, "'I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.'" That's not some mystical, spiritual thing. Literally he says, "'I expect every day to die, to actually die.'" When he says, "'I affirm,'" this is a Greek particle that introduces an oath.
He is literally giving an oath. "'I'm giving you an oath, and I have a right to declare this, I die every day. Why am I doing this so that I can boast in your faith if we don't rise?'"
It isn't that he's proud of himself, it is that he is grateful for the work the Lord has done. The phrase, "'I die daily,'" or the statement, "'I die daily,'" is very, very strong. He is really saying, "'I swear that every day, for your sakes, I stand at death's door.'" Why in the world am I doing this if there's no resurrection?
What's the point of putting my life on the line? It makes no sense. And he even refers to one particular incident in verse 32, "'If from human motives I fought,'" or literally humanly speaking, "'I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me?'"
Now what's he talking about here? We don't really have anything in the book of Acts or in the record of Paul's life that indicates that he was thrown into an arena with wild beasts at Ephesus. But in the 19th chapter of the book of Acts, we do read this in verse 23, "'When he was in Ephesus, there was no small disturbance. A man named Demetrius, a silversmith who made silver shrines of Artemis, the god or goddess of the Ephesians, was bringing no little business to the craftsmen.
These he gathered together with the workmen of similar trades and said, "'Men, you know that our prosperity depends on this business. You see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all. Not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be regarded as worthless, and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned from her magnificence.' When they heard this, they were filled with rage. They began crying out, saying, "'Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!' The city was filled with confusion. They rushed with one accord into the theater where Paul was, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul's traveling companions from Macedonia.
And when Paul wanted to go into the assembly, the disciples would not let him.'" You know the story of his escape. Is that what he's referring to? Is it that, sort of metaphoric, wild beasts? Or was there some other time when he actually was thrown into an arena with wild beasts?
Could be either. There's no reason to necessarily assign this to the incident I read in Acts 19. It may well be that he was actually thrown into an arena with wild animals, much like Daniel. There are legends about that. There is a legend that, and maybe it's borrowed from Daniel, that Paul was put in an arena with wild beasts, and the wild beasts treated him the same way the lions treated Daniel.
They just sat there and never attacked. The word used here is the kind of description that we see connected to the gladiators who fought the lions in the arena. We don't know. Whatever it is, Paul says, why am I doing this?
Why am I living every day on the edge? Humanly speaking, this doesn't profit me. What's the point of this? Why am I bearing in my body the marks of Christ, Galatians 6, 17? If the dead are not raised, come on, let's just eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.
Let's just be hedonists. That language, by the way, is directly quoted from Isaiah 22, 13, where it is an expression of the hedonism of apostate Israel, apostate Israel, was so hedonistic in Isaiah's day that they basically lived out this, eat, drink, tomorrow we die, a kind of hedonistic godlessness. Hey, if there's no resurrection, if I don't exist in the future, then why am I doing this? Why, why am I hoping for a reunion with the noblest and best of all humanity, those that have come to know the true God and live for Him? Why am I giving my life? Why am I sacrificing anything?
It's foolish. If there is no resurrection, then let's live like animals. This is what was, I think, haunting Solomon in the writing of Ecclesiastes. Listen to the words of Ecclesiastes, chapter 2. This is human wisdom, humanly speaking. "'There is nothing better for a man,' Ecclesiastes 2.24, "'than to eat and drink and tell himself his labor is good.'"
That's it, eat and drink, that's all there is. Chapter 3, verse 12, "'I know there's nothing better than to rejoice and do good in one's lifetime, and that every man should eat and drink and see the good in his labor.'" And chapter 5, verse 18, "'Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting, to eat and drink and enjoy oneself in all one's labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him, for this is his reward.'"
That is absolute hedonistic cynicism. In the eighth chapter and the fourteenth verse we read, "'There is futility which is done on the earth. That is, there are righteous men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked. On the other hand, there are evil men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous.
I say that this too is futility, so I commended pleasure. For there is nothing good for a man under the sun except to eat and to drink and to be merry, and this will stand by him in his toils throughout the days of his life which God has given him under the sun.'" Everything is under the sun, and if all there is is what's under the sun and you're just protoplasm waiting to become manure, what's the point of serving God, sacrificing? Go then, chapter 9 of Ecclesiastes, verse 7, "'Eat your bread in happiness, drink your wine with a cheerful heart. For God has already approved your work. Let your clothes be white all the time, and let not oil be lacking on your head.
Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life, for this is your reward under the sun.'" Jesus told us about a rich fool in Luke 12 who said, "'Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.'" The literature is full of this, this infected the Greek world, the Roman world.
Herodotus, the Greek historian, tells of a custom among the Egyptians. In social meetings among the rich, when the banquet is ended, a servant carries around to several guests a coffin in which there is a wooden image of a corpse carved and painted to resemble a dead person as nearly as possible. The wooden corpse is shown to each guest, and each guest is told, "'Gaze here, drink, and be merry, for when you die, such shall you be.' But if there is a resurrection, then there's every reason to serve and to receive a full reward.
We will rise," 2 Corinthians 5. We know that if the earthly tent, which is our house, is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, another eternal body, a resurrection body. But if there's no resurrection, there's no incentive for a reunion. So if you're just going to go out of existence, it's pointless. There's no incentive for service.
If this is all there is, you might as well suck up all the pleasure you can. There's a third incentive that Paul mentions, not only as an incentive in the resurrection to salvation and service, but to sanctification. This is very important, verses 33 and 34, "'Do not be deceived,' and that is a very common warning." Galatians 6, 7, "'Don't be deceived, what you sow you'll reap.'" First Corinthians 6, 9, "'Don't be deceived,' James 1, "'Don't be deceived.'"
It's a present tense. It could be read, "'Stop, stop being deceived. Bad company corrupts good morals.'" Incredibly important statement, bad company corrupts good morals. Now you see the word company in English, I don't know what your version might say. But that is not really the best translation.
The company is too benign a word. This is a much more profound word. It is the Greek word homilia, homilia. Its basic meaning is association, communion. In fact, it is used only here in the entire New Testament. But when it is used in the Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint, in Exodus 21, 10, it has reference to marital intercourse.
It's a very significant kind of association. But more than that, it is used again in the Old Testament, and only those two places, in Proverbs 7 21, and there it is translated, seductive speech. So what it is, it has overtones of seduction and even sexual behavior. This you must know, bad associations, bad exposure to seductive speech.
And in other Greek writers, it refers to a lecture, or a lesson, or even a sermon. We could sum it up and say this, bad teaching corrupts good morals. Bad theology corrupts good morals. Bad associations corrupts good morals.
What kind of associations are we talking about? The answer comes in Psalm 1. "'How blessed is the man who doesn't walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers.'" You don't walk in the counsel of the wicked.
You don't listen to their instruction. You don't stop and stand and connect with sinners, and you don't sit and be instructed by scoffers. Bad doctrine, bad perceptions, bad information corrupts good morals. And here's some bad information, there is no resurrection.
That corrupts good morals. If you have the hope of Christ welcoming you into His presence, then you'll understand 1 John 3, 3. Verse 2, we are the children of God now, but it hasn't yet appeared what we will be. But we know that when He will appear, we will be like Him, a person, recognizable.
And we'll see Him as He is, and everyone who has this hope on Him purifies himself just as He is pure. The hope of resurrection, reunion with Christ is a purifying hope. Bad theology, bad instruction, bad teaching, bad belief corrupts good morals. People live their theology, they live their convictions, they live what they believe. Evil companions, evil associations expose you to bad theology, bad doctrine, and that corrupts good morals. So in verse 34, he says, become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning, for some have no knowledge of God, and I speak this to your shame.
If you're following these people who are completely ignorant of God, and you're following their bad theology, you should be ashamed of yourself, stop sinning. Wrong doctrine produces evil behavior. Thucydides tells how when the deadly fatal plague came to Athens, people committed every unimaginable, shameful crime. He says they snatched every lustful pleasure because they believed life was short and there was no resurrection.
They would have to pay no price for their vice. The Roman poet Horace wrote this, "'Tell them to bring wines and perfumes and the two short-lived blossoms of the lovely rose, while circumstances and age and the black threads of the fates still allow us to do so.'" The fates indulge. One of the most famous poets, Latin poets, is Catilus.
You can Google him and you'll find some interesting things. Catilus wrote this, "'Let us live, my Lesbia.'" Lesbia was his pseudonym for his lover, to whom he wrote a lot of poems that are still around. "'Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love, and let us value the tales of austere old men at a single half-penny,' in other words, cheap and useless, "'sons can set and then return again. But for us, when once our brief light sets, there is but one perpetual night through which we must forever sleep.'" Let's live, let's love before we go out of existence. Take away the thought of life to come, take away the thought of resurrection, take away the thought of accountability, take away the thought of punishment, take away the thought of reward, and life becomes a hedonistic disaster. A metaphor for that is simple and visible to all of us. Watch the news when riots happen in an inner city and the people know that the police can't stop them.
They tear the place down because they know there will be no consequences. The ultimate consequence, of course, for the unbeliever is hell. The ultimate hope for the believer is heaven. Both of those lay a heavy, heavy claim on how we live our lives. So verse 34, become sober-minded, think clearly, live righteously, stop sinning, stop your shameful conduct. Does the resurrection matter?
Of course it matters. We're going to live forever. The resurrection of Christ is a reality, and because He lives we will live. Resurrection then can be sought in the hope of resurrection, reunion, and resurrection life. Service can be given with suffering and even martyrdom, because it will produce an eternal reward in the resurrection. Sanctification should be the goal of our lives here, purity, the goal of our lives here, because we will be rewarded eternally in the presence of the Lord.
Living less than this is a shameful deception. We thank You, Lord, for the promise of life that takes all the emptiness and uselessness of living under the sun away, and replaces it with hope. For how we live here, how we love here, how we serve here will show up again in our eternal blessing, whereby we will be able to enjoy and glorify You forever and ever. May our hearts be eager to embrace the life that is to come, and may we hold lightly to the things of this world. These things we ask in the name of Christ, amen. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur.
Thanks for being with us. John's current study is considering an important question. What exactly happens when a believer dies, and can knowing Christ free you from the fear of death? John calls his study, The End is Not the End. John, you made the point today that people live their theology.
They apply what they believe. Connecting that to this current topic of death and what comes after it, talk about how an accurate theology of heaven, a biblical understanding of what heaven is like, should change the way we as believers live. The more you know about heaven, the more attractive it becomes. The more you exhaust every single thing that you can find in the Bible about heaven, the more welcoming it is. And I'm not talking about foolish books that lie about people having trips to heaven.
That doesn't happen. People going to heaven, coming back, and telling all kinds of crazy stories about what supposedly happened. That kind of deception, that kind of falsehood has no place among Christian people, even though those books sell in the millions. But the Bible does say a lot about heaven, and there's only been one person who came from heaven to earth, and that was the Lord Jesus Christ. He's the only one who came from heaven to earth.
So what we know about heaven comes from him, the person of Christ who came from heaven, and from the book that God wrote, the Scriptures, the Bible, and instructed us concerning heaven. I've written a book called The Glory of Heaven. This is the truth about heaven. This isn't some kind of fantasy. This isn't some kind of deception, some lies and curious imaginations about what heaven is like.
This is the truth of what the Bible says. What is heaven really like? What will we do there? What is the role of the angels?
Will we know each other? And so forth and so on. How do we comfort one another in the midst of the suffering of the loss of a friend or family member in the light of the fact they're going to heaven? Tremendously important for us to know that that's why the Bible gives us so much information.
Look, this is where we're going to spend forever, and we need to know all we can about it. The book is titled The Glory of Heaven, Affordably Priced. We'd love to send one to you if you contact us and ask. Yes, thank you, John and friend. Starting today is a great time to buy this book.
Now through June 8, we have reduced the prices for nearly everything in our inventory by 25 percent. So take advantage of the sale and order a copy of The Glory of Heaven today. Call us here at 855-GRACE or go to our website, gty.org. The truth about heaven may be quite different from what you think. To see all that awaits you, get John's classic book, The Glory of Heaven.
It costs $8.60 until June 8. Just call us at 800-55-GRACE or go to gty.org. And The Glory of Heaven is just one of the many Bible study tools that are available for 25 percent off the regular price. Maybe you've been thinking of picking up John's landmark book, The Gospel According to God, or a copy of the MacArthur Study Bible.
Perhaps a gift for your dad for Father's Day. Again, this is a perfect time to stock up on resources from Grace to You. To take advantage of our sale prices now through June 8, go to gty.org or call us at 800-55-GRACE. And by the way, that number translates to 800-554-7223. Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace to You staff, I'm Phil Johnson. Be here tomorrow when John helps you consider this question, are you prepared for what comes after death? It's another half hour of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
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