As sinful human beings, we are linked to Adam. We inherited Adam’s sin nature and the wages of sin that go with it called death. As in Adam all die. But in Christ, the second Adam, all are made alive. As Paul reminds us, “The first Adam became a living being; the last Adam [Jesus] became a life-giving spirit.” Are you following Paul’s logic so far?
Jesus defeated sin and the devil at the cross where He paid the penalty for our sins. And through His glorious resurrection, He defeated the last enemy called death. If we die before He returns, and if we belong to Him by faith, we have every reason to look forward to our own future resurrection, all because Jesus lives. Remember, His resurrection is the firstfruits of many more to come.
Now, why does all this resurrection stuff matter as you live your life today? Keep in mind that Paul was arguing nose-to-nose with the greatest philosophers of his day. These were people who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, let alone Jesus’s resurrection. As the philosophers wrestled with the big questions of life concerning origin, purpose, meaning, and destiny, the best they could conclude was to “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” In their mind, there was no resurrection of the dead. So, their advice was to live your life to the fullest without any regard to eternity because the here and now is as good as it gets. Paul counters that philosophy by saying,
Why are we in danger every hour? I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1 Corinthians 15:30-32).
Paul’s point is that the dead are raised, and that is why he put his life on the line for the gospel. That is also why he died to his own selfish desires every day. There is much to gain in the next life, and Paul didn’t want to lose everything by frivolous living, and neither should we.
An impressive cemetery runs north-south between the Mount of Olives and the eastern wall of the Temple Mount, and the holy city of Jerusalem in a place known as the Kidron Valley. Many important events in biblical history have taken place there. King Asa, for example, burned the pagan idols and Asherah poles in the Kidron Valley. Jesus left the upper room with His disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane before His arrest and crucifixion. The Kidron Valley also plays a major role in Bible prophecies about the end of the age.
Today, the Kidron Valley is a huge cemetery filled with ancient tombs. People have buried the dead there since the time of King Josiah. A few years ago, while on a visit to Israel, our Jewish guide told me that many Jews plan their own burial in the valley outside the holy city because they believe the resurrection of the dead will begin in the Kidron Valley when Messiah comes. They expect to be among the first to rise from the dead.
On the future resurrection of the dead, the Jewish guide and I agreed. But, of course, Christians believe Messiah has already come in the person of Jesus Christ. When Jesus returns, Jews will welcome their Messiah; Christians will welcome Him back. That’s because Jesus will plant His feet on the Mount of Olives, cross the Kidron Valley, and enter Jerusalem as the King of kings. Are you prepared for that glorious day? The best and only way to prepare is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the firstfruits of all future resurrections.
Excerpted from Ron Jones’s book Mysteries of the Afterlife: Exploring Its Amazing Secrets (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2016).