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What Happens in Corinth

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  1. What Happens in Corinth...
  2. The Core Calling of Every Christian
  3. The Problem with Beauty Pageants
  4. How Name-Dropping Works
  5. A Word to Preachers and the People Who Listen to Them
  6. The Real Meaning of Maturity
  7. Why I'm Not a Disciple-Maker and You Aren't Either
  8. The Power of a Well-Placed Comma
  9. The Problem of Worldly Christians and the Remedy
  10. On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand?
  11. Why Your Local Church Matters and Why It Might Not
  12. When the Church Should Divide and When It Shouldn't
  13. Working at the Bottom of the Org Chart while Reporting to the Top
  14. Why I Think I'm Better Than You, and Why It Must Become Just the Opposite
  15. The Respectability of Conventional Religion
  16. The Two Words That Signify Mature, Adult Christianity
  17. The Problem with Saying, "Lord Willing and the Creek Don't Rise"
  18. Why Sexual Immorality Is Not the Problem
  19. The Church at Corinth as a Bad Jerry Springer Rerun
  20. Why We Need Track Shoes When It Comes to Sexual Immorality
  21. What a True Sexual Revolution Might Look Like
  22. Why We Need Sound, Orthodox Biblical Scholars
  23. Why Be a Coach When You Are Called to Be a Player?
  24. The Most Important Question for Married Couples and Couples Considering Marriage
  25. Until My Rights Are More About You Than Me They Are Wrongs
  26. The Difference between Being a Door Mat and a Door Way
  27. Dealing with the Other Golden Rule
  28. Baby You Were Born To Run—Just Not Like You Thought
  29. Why Those Who Cannot Remember Their Past Are Destined to Repeat It
  30. Is Jesus Like You?
  31. Why Facebook Now Offers Unlimited Customized Gender Identity Options (For Americans)
  32. What If We Tailgated before Church?
  33. Some Reflections on the Original Happy Meal
  34. "Jesus Is Lord": From Conviction-less Claim to Core Truth
  35. What Our Bodies Can Teach Us about God
  36. Do People Actually "Have" Spiritual Gifts?
  37. Why the Only Thing That Counts Is the Thing We Probably Aren't Counting
  38. Do You Eagerly Desire the Gifts of the Holy Spirit?
  39. Why Worship Is Not about Preaching and Singing
  40. Why Greeting Your Seat Mates in Church Won't Cut It Anymore
  41. The Big Reason God Writes Us Letters
  42. Why New Testament Worship Is More like a Potluck than a Production
  43. The Definitive Guide to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
  44. Where Does the Gospel Begin? It Matters What You Think.
  45. What If They Found the Bones of Jesus?
  46. How the Christian Faith Becomes Something Other Than the Christian Faith
  47. The Difference Between the Story and the Plot
Lesson 45 of 47
In Progress

What If They Found the Bones of Jesus?


1 Corinthians 12:12-28 (NIV)

12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.


To those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people (i.e., us):

It was my first class in my first year of seminary: “The Philosophy of Christian Religion.” Dr. Jerry Walls was the professor and one of my favorites. I will forever remember the jarring question he posed to the class on that first day. It went like this:

If today you received news of incontrovertible evidence that the bones of Jesus had been discovered, would you still retain your Christian faith?

He asked for a show of hands of those who would still believe, and practically every hand in the class shot up. People had obviously not accepted the hypothesis. He emphasized that we had to accept the hypothetical fact that the bones of Jesus had been discovered in order to respond to the question. Provided the verifiable truth of the claim that the bones of Jesus had been found, would you still have faith in Jesus Christ? Still all hands rose with certainty into the air. He asked a third time and to strengthen the hypothetical, he added that the likes of Billy Graham had verified the news. This time only one person lowered their hand. Dr. Walls championed this lone dissenter, looked at the rest of the class and exclaimed, “With the exception of this one student, all of you are liberals.” (By this he meant that matters of faith are governed primarily by human experience rather than historical verities)

As one of the students whose hand was raised high I was stunned and yet quickly realized he was exactly right.

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.

If our faith is not anchored in the historical bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth then we, as Paul put it, “are of all people most to be pitied.”

It brings the old hymn to mind, “You ask me how I know he lives. He lives within my heart.” No. We might more properly say, “You ask me how I know he lives. On the third day he arose from the dead!” Our faith, while decidedly experiential, is not built on our experience but on the bedrock, foundational fact of the historical bodily resurrection of Jesus, as they say, period.

In today’s text, Paul comes at it from the other side. The Corinthians weren’t exactly denying the bodily resurrection of Jesus. They were denying their own bodily resurrection. Paul told them that to deny the resurrection of the body was also to deny the resurrection of Jesus. In other words, the bodily resurrection of Jesus was the beginning of the end of death; “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Because Christ is raised from the dead, all those who are in Christ will also be raised from the dead. There is no such thing as one without the other.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is not a spiritual metaphor. Nor is it a mythical reality. While there is a substantial body of evidence that may be marshaled in support of the resurrection, it cannot ultimately be proven. It is a matter of faith. One either believes in the efficacious, historical, bodily resurrection of Jesus . . . or one does not. The former is a Christian. The latter is something else entirely.

I’ll leave it at that today.


Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come. Your will be done; on Earth as it is in Heaven. On the third day He arose from the dead! Thank you for the resurrection of your son, Jesus Christ, who has won the victory. Come Holy Spirit and brand this truth into my heart and emblazon it in my mind until it forms the totality of who I am. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


  1. Do you believe in the historical, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ? On what do you base this belief?
  2. Why would you say we are of all people “most to be pitied,” if the resurrection of Jesus Christ is not ultimately true?
  3. So what if they found the bones of Jesus today? Would you still be a Christian? Why or why not?