St Patrick Day / 1 Cor 15

Last lines of the Lorica of Patrick (Lorica means body armor)

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left
Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I arise
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Thrones,
Through confession of the Oneness
Towards the Creator.

Saint Patrick was a man who served the Irish people until the time of his death on March 17th 460 (or 492).  Now this message is not about Patrick, but I wanted to take this as an opportunity for me to learn a little of him and pass it along.  Patrick was a slave in Ireland from age 16 to 22.  At which point he escaped back to his home in Banna Venta Berniae.  A few years after returning home he had a vision.

I saw a man coming, as it were from Ireland. His name was Victoricus, and he carried many letters, and he gave me one of them. I read the heading: “The Voice of the Irish”. As I began the letter, I imagined in that moment that I heard the voice of those very people who were near the wood of Foclut, which is beside the western sea—and they cried out, as with one voice: “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.”

It was not long after this that he returns to Ireland.  In a very real way, he returned to Ireland a slave again.  Formerly a slave to his master who owned his body and now to One who owned his soul.  One may have paid a small price for his labour but the other paid an unimaginable price for his redemption.  I find it very odd that a holiday celebrated under the name of this great servant named Patrick is known outside of the country he loved with drinking and no self-control.

It is ironic to be sure.  Almost as ironic as the false teaching Paul must address in 1 Cor 15.  We are not going to cover the entire chapter but focus first on verses 12-19 and then 20-22. The issue before the Corinthians was a simple one of not taking a thought to its conclusion.  Paul is simply taking their thought to its conclusion here.  If the dead do not raise, then neither did Christ.  If you accept that Christ raised from the dead, then you must accept that there is a resurrection.  There are a few staples of Christianity that you must believe in order to be a Christian and I believe the Apostles Creed sums them up nicely.

Modern Language Version
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. AMEN.

You see the belief in the resurrection of Jesus vital, but why?  Why is this one point so important?  What possible value or meaning do we take away from it?  Paul tells us in verse 17-19 “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.  Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all the most to be pitied.”

If Christ did not raise you are still dead in your sins.  There is no hope, no future, no possible escape for the pain, suffering, and hurt that you have.  Without the resurrection of Jesus, we are hopeless, and what’s more pathetic.  For this means we understand the gravity of the situation (sin) and know we have no possible way of avoiding the great judgment we have coming against us.  The Muslim thinks he can do enough good to balance the scales in his favor, the Buddhist that he can try again, the Atheist that there is nothing anyway, and so on.  But as believers of the one true God ones that know we have sinned against Him and that His holiness requires perfection to stand before Him we understand that if Christ did not rise from the dead there is truly no hope for the Muslim, or the Buddhist, or the Atheist, or you, or me.  We understand the problem.

So much hinges on the fact that Christ rose from the dead.  It means you will be raised.  In a very real and tangible way if you have accepted Christ then you have received a resurrection.  Colossians 2:13 says You were dead because of your sins and because of your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for He forgave all our sins.” How can we not rejoice, how can we not say as Patrick said, “If I have any worth, it is to live my life for God so as to teach these peoples.”  The resurrection means God loves you.  It means He has a plan for you, it means He has a purpose for you.  Paul says in verse 14 that if Christ is not raised our preaching is useless, and so is your faith.  That means the resurrection of Jesus Christ does not mean something, it means everything.

We have now gone through the verses 12-19 and seen the importance of the resurrection of Jesus but now I think it only fitting to look at verses 20-22.  If we are going to take a thought to its conclusion as I mentioned earlier then we need to take this thought to its conclusion.  We have seen that if the dead are not raised then Christ has not been raised, and if Christ has not been raised then we are still in our sins and pitiful.  But we do not have to worry because we can have confidence that Jesus has been raised from the dead (through History and Scripture), and if we have accepted Him we are as Colossians 3:3 says dead (to sin) and hidden with Christ in God.  Why?  Because as verse 22 says just as all who are in Adam die, but and this is a beautiful thing in Christ all will be made alive.  To know that one day I will stand before my Lord and Father in Heaven leaves me in awe.  To know that I will see my Grandparents, the loved ones lost to death, to stand with Patrick as together we all worship the Lord forever makes me ask why?  Why would someone give me this gift I so greatly do not deserve?  Why would one come for someone as pitiful as me?  For the sake of love.  To redeem what is rightfully His.  I am so thankful there is a resurrection of the dead.  If not, then I would not stand before you today the changed man I am.  But thanks be to God that Christ was raised.

Just a thought,
Mike

*This message has been updated slightly from its original form.

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