“Live Thanks! Victory, Not Vanity” | 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 Sermon

Text, bibliography and more forthcoming. For more from this service, please visit the Alpha Baptist Church  11.27.22 Sunday Service webpage. First shared on 11.29.22.

Introduction

“Live Thanks! Victory, Not Vanity!”

Thanksgiving: About More Than Food

I hope you all had a Happy and Holy Thanksgiving. And I hope you were all able to enjoy some good food and fellowship – some fellowship and food.

Now, I’ve asked this question before but, speaking of food, what is the best Thanksgiving side dish?

For me, it’s a toss-up between macaroni and cheese and sweet potato soufflé. They are the unsung heroes of the holiday.

But no matter what your favorite side dish is, on Thanksgiving, we all know that turkeys get most of the attention.

From what I understand, it can take days to thaw out, marinate, and then finally cook a turkey – Thanksgiving’s main meat.

Well, in life, our Master, Christ, ought to be the main course. And, of course, we followers must follow the course of Christ. Christ deserves most of our attention – not just an honorable mention.

It’s all about His will, it’s not about my wish

So no matter your favorite, don’t’ treat’em like a side dish

That said, on Thanksgiving, I’ve never really cooked any dish. And, if I had to make a Thanksgiving dinner, the menu would be quite limited. You see, I don’t have many dishes in my repertoire.

So, it would be like the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special. Anybody recall what Charlie Brown and Snoopy served for Thanksgiving? They had some buttered toast, popcorn, pretzels, and jelly beans.

"Live Thanks! Victory, Not Vanity" | 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 Sermon

"Live Thanks! Victory, Not Vanity" | 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 Sermon

And Peppermint Patty wasn’t too happy.

You know, like ten years ago, when my wife and I were dating, I made her some pasta for dinner. And I was trying to be romantic and maybe recreate a scene from The Lady and the Tramp.

I was dreaming of us sharing a plate of pasta, and, you know, somehow eating the same strand (spaghetto) of spaghetti, until our lips met in the middle.

I had it all planned out – in my dreams.

Now, I thought the pasta was OK. And after dinner, I felt fine. But for some reason, she got a tummy ache. And the night didn’t go as planned. Many dreams really don’t come true.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I can cook a few things. But, apparently, if you have a sensitive stomach, my cuisine might not sit too well with you. But I served buttered toast, popcorn, pretzels, and jelly beans: I think that should be pretty safe.

That said, before they eat, Linus explains that Thanksgiving isn’t merely about the food. For he reminds them that on the first Thanksgiving, when the Pilgrims and Native Americans came together and had a feast with abundant food in 1621,1 a minister said a prayer thanking God (for their homes, food, and safety).[1]

Special Thanksgiving… To God!

And, in fact, the governor of the Plymouth colony, William Bradford, issued a proclamation directing all Pilgrims to give thanks to God for His protection during the harsh winter, and for His favor during their first harvest.2

And they celebrated not by eating toast, popcorn and pretzels, but by eating wild turkey.3 And we still eat turkey on Thanksgiving to this day.

Later, on October 3, 1789, George Washington proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving Day.4The first president said it was to be a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer”.[2]5

And in 1863, Abraham Lincoln established Thanksgiving Day as an annual holiday.6 President Lincoln said it was to be a day where Americans give “praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens”.7

But like many holidays – and recall that holiday means “holy day”8 – like many holidays, the Thanksgiving Holy Day has become less and less holy.

Nowadays, at Thanksgiving, many of us often focus more on what we’re serving, than Who we serve. And many talk about what they’re thankful for, yet not Who we are to be thankful to.

It’s now more about abundant food than abundant faith.

Leftovers For The Lord?

Speaking of abundant food, anybody else still eating Thanksgiving leftovers? I don’t know about you, but I’ve been eating leftovers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I love leftovers.

All the time and money and effort has already been spent preparing the main meal. It only takes a few minutes in the microwave to prepare the food that was to spare.

But how often do we only give God the time and money and effort that we have to spare?

You know, if we don’t care that much for something, we’ll give it to Goodwill. But let’s take care not do that – when it comes to God’s will.

Brothers and sisters, for us, Jesus gave up His life; let’s not just give Him our leftovers.

That said, my mother-in-law made my wife and I some plates. And my wife made macaroni and cheese, and sweet potato soufflé. So, I’ve been eatin’ good.

And, yes, they did all the cooking this year. I sat this one out.

And thanks be to God, even after giving her a mild case of food poisoning, my wife and I are still eating at the same table.

But more importantly, thanks be to God for healing not only what makes us sick to our stomachs, but sick to our souls – sin and death.

Thanks Be To God For Victory Over Death

Now, if I can get a little serious for a second: how many of us this year had some seats at the table that were empty? We know that, for many, holidays can be a bit bittersweet.

All your tests and trials, they may seem to get you down. And some of our friends and loved ones, are nowhere to be found.

Many of our loved ones have passed away. But, Death don’t have the final say.

This ain’t a Thanksgiving special, but we can always give God special thanksgiving.  For, thanks be to God, through Christ, our Savior and Deliverer, we’ve been given the victory over sin and death. Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:54-57).

For when the Resurrected Christ comes back to consummate the eternal, imperishable Kingdom, all His faithful followers who have died will be resurrected with eternal, imperishable bodies. And, also, all who are still living – in Christ – will be transformed – like Christ (1 Cor 15:50-53).

Therefore, let’s not just give thanks – let’s live thanks. And at this time of Thanksgiving, let’s dedicate ourselves to thanksliving. Let’s express our great gratitude to our God with loyal labor to our Savior (1 Cor 15:58).

Let our ministry for the Most High abound; For He’ll place our feet on higher ground.

Our labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Cor 15:58). For in Christ the Lord, we can walk in victory. Victory, not vanity.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VoP6Ga-VV8

[2] “Thanksgiving Proclamation,” in The Writings of George Washington (Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1939), 30:427 as quoted by Schmidt, 381.

Context

Now, in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul is likely addressing the claims of those who were doubting the bodily resurrection of the dead (cf. 1 Cor 15:12)9 perhaps people from Athens (cf. Ac 17:32).10

In 1 Corinthians 15:12-14, Paul writes:

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. (1 Cor 15:12-14, ESV)11

And in this chapter, Paul explains why steadfast faith is not in vain12 but leads to victory.

Victory, not vanity!

So before today’s passage (1 Cor 15:50-58), Paul explains the reality of the resurrection of Christ (1 Cor 15:1-11),13 the final resurrection of the dead in Christ (1 Cor 15:12-34), as well as the nature of our glorified, resurrected bodies (1 Cor 15:35-49).

And metaphorically speaking, he says that when a seed is buried, it has a certain kind of body (1 Cor 15:36-37).14 But when the seed that has been buried is raised to life (that is, when the plant grows out of the ground), it has a different kind of body15 (cf. Jn 12:24).16

Typically, a plant’s seed looks a lot different than the plant itself. For instance, an apple seed looks a lot different than an apple tree.

And Paul likens our dead bodies to seeds. For when our dead bodies are buried like seeds, and then are raised to life, we will have a different kind of body.17

In 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, he writes:

42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. (1 Cor 15:42-44, NIV)18

You see, metaphorically, after an apple seed is buried, it is raised as a glorious tree. And after a faithful follower of Christ is buried, they, too, will be raised gloriously – with a glorified, spiritual, resurrected body.

Just as a seed that is buried in the ground is transformed when it is raised, so will our bodies that are buried in the ground be transformed when we are raised.19

And Paul continues by saying that, to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, we must share the characteristics of the Christ who came from Heaven.20 (cf. 1 Cor 15:45-49).21 And those who partake in the Kingdom of Christ will have a resurrected body like the Resurrected Lord.22

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Conclusion

Brothers and sisters, in conclusion, we know that walking the righteous road of the Redeemer is rough. It’s hard to persevere on the paths of the Prince of Peace. It’s easy to get turned off from following firmly and faithfully.23

All your test and trials, may seem to get you down. And some of your friends and loved ones, may be nowhere to be found.24

But the word encourages us to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for our labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Cor 15:58). Victory, not vanity.

This Thanksgiving, many of us may have had some seats at the table that were empty. And when people pass, many toss around empty platitudes that can do more harm than good.25

But Paul doesn’t offer the Corinthians religious clichés; he wants to instill in them righteous confidence.

Many of our loved ones have fallen asleep – they have passed away. But, my beloved brothers and sisters, we know that Death does not have the final say.

And, in fact, we can say: “Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55). And we should say, “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Cor 15:57).

This ain’t a Thanksgiving special, but we can always give God special thanksgiving.  For, thanks be to God, through Christ, our Savior and Deliverer, we’ve been given the victory over sin and death.

For when the Resurrected Christ comes back to consummate the eternal, imperishable Kingdom, all His faithful followers who have died will be resurrected with eternal, imperishable bodies. And, also, all who are still living – in Christ – will be transformed – like Christ.

Therefore, let’s not just give thanks – let’s live thanks. At this time of Thanksgiving, let’s dedicate ourselves to thanksliving. Let’s express our great gratitude to our God with loyal labor to our Savior.

We can savor a side dish, but let’s not treat our Savior like a side dish. And, the faithful who are grateful should have their plates full – with hard work for the Holy One.

Jesus gave up His life; let’s not just give Him our leftovers. He gives us the abundant life; let’s give Him our abundant labor.

Our Lord is excellent; may our labor in the Lord always excel.

Let our ministry for the Most High abound; For He’ll place our feet on higher ground.

Let’s live thanks! Victory, not vanity! May the Lord bless you and keep you.

Bibliography

  • Arndt, William, Frederick W. Danker, Walter Bauer, and F. Wilbur Gingrich. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000. [BDAG]
  • Balz, Horst Robert, and Gerhard Schneider. Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990–. [EDNT]
  • Davis, James A. “1-2 Corinthians”. In The Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary. Edited by Gary M. Burge, and Andrew E. Hill. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2012.
  • Ellingworth, Paul, Howard Hatton, and Paul Ellingworth. A Handbook on Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians. UBS Handbook Series. New York: United Bible Societies, 1995. [UBS]
  • Gill, David W. J. “1 Corinthians”. In Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Romans to Philemon. Vol. 3. Edited by Clinton E. Arnold. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002.
  • Johnson, Alan F. 1 Corinthians. Vol. 7. The IVP New Testament Commentary Series. Westmont, IL: IVP Academic, 2004.
  • Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Second Edition. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2014.
  • Louw, Johannes P., and Eugene Albert Nida. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains. New York: United Bible Societies, 1996. [LN]
  • McDonald, Lee Martin. “1 Corinthians.” In The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary: Acts–Philemon, edited by Craig A. Evans and Craig A. Bubeck, First Edition., 255–366. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook, 2004.
  • Merriam-Webster, Inc. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003. [MW]
  • Porter, Stanley E. Idioms of the Greek New Testament. Sheffield: JSOT, 1999.
  • Prior, David. The Message of 1 Corinthians: Life in the Local Church. The Bible Speaks Today. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1985.
  • Robertson, A. T. A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research. Logos Bible Software, 2006.
  • Schmidt, Alvin J. How Christianity Changed the World. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004.
  • Silva, MoisÈs, ed. New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis. Vol. 1–5. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014. [NIDNTTE]
  • Wallace, Daniel B. Greek Grammar beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996.
  • Winter, Bruce. “1 Corinthians.” In New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, edited by D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, and G. J. Wenham, 4th ed., 1161–87. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994.

Sources

  1. cf. Schmidt, 381
  2. Schmidt, 381
  3. Schmidt, 381
  4. Schmidt, 381
  5. Schmidt, 381
  6. Schmidt, 381
  7. Schmidt, 381
  8. MW
  9. Davis, 1304
  10. Davis, 1304
  11. Prior, 278
  12. Prior, 278
  13. Davis, 1304
  14. Gill, 180
  15. Gill, 180
  16. Davis, 1306
  17. Davis, 1306
  18. Gill, 179; Davis, 1306
  19. Gill, 180
  20. Gill, 181
  21. Keener, 495; Winter, 1185; Johnson, 306
  22. Prior, 273-274
  23. cf. Prior, 277
  24. altered lyrics from Kirk Franklin’s “My Life Is In Your Hands”, which the Alpha Praise Team sang earlier in the service.
  25. Johnson, 309
About @DannyScottonJr 454 Articles
Imperfect Servant ✝?⛪ | Husband | Princeton U. Alum | M. Div. | Assistant (to the) Pastor | Sound Doctrine & Apologetics @catchforchrist