The essence of our life in the world is mostly tragic. The Empty Tomb answers this reality. Paul wrote to some Corinthian believers who disbelieved the Resurrection. We must hold fast to the truth of the Risen Lord. Otherwise, we see things in an empty and miserable way. 1 Corinthians 15:12-19; 15:43
Speaker(s): Thomas Schaller
11:00 AM on 4/17/2022
P. Schaller –
Okay. Just before the offering, let’s do an introductory word on – let’s see. We’re going to do Daniel 2:2. Did the
Jews in the Old Testament believe in the resurrection of the dead? Can you think of a Bible
verse where you have the resurrection from the dead or eternal life? Did the Jews believe that
we would have eternal life? Do you know a verse? Do you know a verse on that subject? That’s
a question. I’m asking a big crowd of people for the answer. Can you turn to your neighbor and
give an answer? Try it. Do you have a verse where you know in the Bible in the Old Testament
that the Jews had eternal life or were taught that there is such a thing? Psalm 23, “I will dwell in
the house of the Lord forever.” 2 Samuel 7, the seed of David would be on a throne forever. This
one, Daniel 12:2. How about Job. 19? “I know that in my flesh I will see him.”
When we look at the cross and we see the worst of man, the biggest problem we have in life is
death. When we see people mocking him, cursing him, making fun of him, lying to him. How
about this one: “Come down from the cross and we will believe.” Come down from the cross
and we will believe. How would you answer that if you are on the cross? I’m on the cross. Come
down and we will believe. I answer, no you won’t. You won’t believe. You won’t believe.
This world of the cross is important for us. We think about it. We meditate on it. We see the
darkest part of life here. Life is tragic. That’s what this means. Life is tragic. What do you mean?
The world has trouble. There’s trouble here. And God came into this world and he faced it. He
faced it. Everything about it. The darkest part of it. The evil that is in it. The shame, the fear, the
death. The darkest thing he faced it and he overcame it. That will be our message this morning.
And he overcame it. This is powerful. So, I’m looking forward to sharing that with you. Okay.
Alright. I’m going to ask you; I’m going to lead you in a thought and then I’m going to have you
stand and talk a little bit with your neighbor. You might say my neighbor doesn’t go to this
church, but your neighbor is sitting next to you and even five people away from you. This will be
fun. Then, you’ll sit down and listen a little more and we’ll finish our service but we haven’t
heard the message yet. So that’s what’s going to happen.
I’d like you to turn to 1 Corinthians 15. We’re going to be in this chapter. It’s a resurrection chapter. It
has a lot of very good arguments in it about the resurrection. There are people who do not
believe in the resurrection. First century pagan people did not believe in the resurrection of the
dead. They believe the spirits would leave the body but there was no resurrection of the dead.
Today, people do not believe in the resurrection. Maybe even you, a Christian. How could it be
that you as a Christian would not believe in the resurrection?
Surprisingly, there were people in the Corinthian church that did not believe in the
resurrection. We’re going to read that in a few minutes. Paul is arguing for the resurrection and
he uses history. That’s the first part of the chapter, vs. 1-11. The historical account of Christ’s resurrection. That’s why we have our New Testament, the gospels. What happened? The
Pharisees went to Pilate and said make the tomb as sure as you can for his disciples could come
and steal the body and then the problem would be worse if we had an empty tomb. So, Pilate
made the tomb as sure as he could for three days. It didn’t stop the resurrection because in our
world and in our church we teach this quite often. It’s a fundamental lesson of the universe
being like a house. And in the first floor of the house is where we live.
We live in the world of nature, history, the natural life, what you see and feel, what you
naturally experience. What you taste and see and smell and feel. This is real I say. This is a real
table, the pulpit. This is the natural life. This is the natural life, the cross, the death, the torture,
the pain, the hatred of people, demons, the angels. This world is a world of known and
unknown things. There’s a lot that is unknown. But we also know in the Bible that we are told
to look at the things that are not seen. That’s 2 Corinthians 4:18.
By the way, I’m so glad that you are here this morning. Church life is fantastic. If you’re not
used to it, just keep coming. It’s fantastic. Church life is fantastic. Really. We have a good time.
We are learning things. Now, look up at the diagram. The universe is also a world where there is
God who is unseen and eternal, infinite. Heaven is here. It’s in our world. Jesus said no one has
gone to heaven but the Son of man. When he said it he said the Son of man who is in heaven.
He was in a spiritual reality that is unseen, but it’s still real.
In a sense, Jesus was living in the whole house. He was living in the flesh but he was also God
and he was living in the whole picture. He saw his Father, John 5:19. When he prayed, he turned
white cause the reality of him came through his humanity and we could see that he was more
than flesh. He was the Son of God. He came here for you and me. Now, here’s a short lesson.
Many times, we don’t see the whole picture. We don’t see all of life. We don’t see it all. We
only see this. We can’t see the empty tomb. We can’t see the resurrection. We hardly believe.
We have hope but we have questions. Many times, we don’t have words that come to us from
But words, these words are written that God would speak to us. It’s as if the words would come
off the page into my spirit. These words would minister to my heart. These words would be
how I would live. Listen to that. These words would be how I live. Where’s that written? Matthew
4:4, “man does not live by bread alone.” That’s here. First floor. My sandwich. He does not live
by his car alone, his job, his house, his friends, his son, his daughter. He does not live by the
events of life alone. He doesn’t live on the first floor alone but he lives by every word that
proceeds from the mouth of God.
Jesus is telling us that man must live by words. My words they are spirit, they are life. John. 6:63.
Words. That’s why this book is the very basis of our life. Watch. It’s almost as if you live in the
first floor and then your head pops through the ceiling. It’s like this. I got to go to work on Monday. You know, I have a problem with my son or daughter. My finances are a disaster. I’m
so hungry. I’m so restless. And then, oh, he is raised from the dead. Oh, wow! See. I’m in the
first floor and then Jesus is here. God is here. God is here. Oh, I see God. I see God.
Do you remember Moses when he was talking with God? And then it says Moses said a prayer.
It’s one of the most important prayers in the Bible. What did Moses pray? Moses said Lord,
show me your glory. Show me your glory.
It’s almost like this. I’m with all these people. We came out of Egypt. We’ve got real serious problems. We’ve got food issues. We’ve got fresh water issues. They are complaining day and night. Lord, I believe. I see. God is here. God
brought us out of Egypt. He brought us out to bring us in. He didn’t bring us out here to destroy
us. He brought us out of Egypt to bring us into the Promised Land, Deuteronomy 6:22.
You see, Jesus came that he would come out of the tomb and he would say to us, do you know
how much my Father loves you, how much I am for you? Do you know what it means that I
have been raised from the dead? Not like in a religion like he was raised from the dead. Very
good, but I have to go to work on Monday. Very good but my son is in prison. Very good but my
heart is broken. My heart is broken. I’m afraid. I’m afraid of life. I can’t handle it. I don’t know
how to live this.
This is what I want to ask you. What does it mean to you that he’s been raised from the dead?
Does it have anything to do with your life on a Monday morning or a Friday night? What does it
mean to you? I’ll give you a few things. I’ll do that later. Would you stand with me please? I’m
going to ask you the question again. What does it mean to you that Jesus was raised from the
dead? I mean talk to your neighbor about it. Give them two or three things. This is what it
means. I believe he’s been raised and this is what it means to me in my life. And you can reach
out behind you, in front of you, five people away from you.
Okay. You may be seated. I can see some of you enjoyed that. Turn to 1 Corinthians 15. There’s a
couple points I want to show you in the chapter and then answer that question from the
apostle Paul. First I want to say, there are many things in nature that point to the resurrection.
There are many expressions in nature and Paul says here in chapter 15:37. Meaning have you
ever seed a tomato seed? Tomato seed. It’s a flat little disk. That disk, if you had a pile of
tomato seeds in the palm of my hand, you can not tell that the DNA in that seed will produce a
green bush with red bulbs of fruit off of it called tomatoes. So, it says here that which you sow
not that body that shall be. In other words, the little disk isn’t the body. The body is a different
We have vs. 37-38, meaning the green bush or the acorn. You take an acorn and you cannot
believe that it is an oak tree. Inside that acorn is actually a different body. A huge oak tree in
time becomes this body. The physical structure is a body. This is an evidence of the
resurrection. Paul called these unbelievers in the resurrection foolish or fools. Vs. 36. So, he didn’t have a lot of respect for people that didn’t believe in the resurrection of Christ. He’s
making arguments here. If you have weakness in your faith regarding this subject, then you can
read this chapter and see his arguments. There are many of them.
There’s historical arguments in the beginning, the first eleven verses and then logical reasoning
that we are going to look at in a minute. There’s theological and experiential, and here we have
nature. Chapter 15:39, isn’t that interesting. The amino acids that make up those proteins, that
make up that flesh are different amino acids. So, the structure of the flesh is different. And he’s
saying this is like the resurrection. The resurrection there are different degrees of glory. There
are different expressions because if God made the universe with so much variety, wouldn’t also
the resurrection have variety? We will be individually unique, every one of us just like in this
room nobody has your DNA. Nobody has it. Nobody has your fingerprint. Nobody has it. We’re
all unique. So is the resurrection. Isn’t that amazing?
Go to the next verse please. There are also celestial bodies. What does that mean? The planets
in the sky, the cosmos, the order, the moons around Saturn and Jupiter, the various galaxies,
the sun, the stars. Many celestial manifestations of bodies that you can recognize. Vs. 40.
Terrestrial bodies on the earth. There’s the sequoia tree. There’s a little thorn bush. There’s
algae. There’s fungi. There’s many expressions on the earth. Vs. 40. A blade of grass. A blade of
grass. That’s maybe all that I will be in the resurrection. I’ll be a saint. We’re all the saints of
God but we will have different degrees of glory.
Vs. 41. I’ll add. There’s the glory of the palm tree. There’s the glory of a sunset. There’s the
glory of waves crashing on the beach. There’s the glory of an animal or a gorilla or an elephant.
Wow. That’s amazing. The bombardier beetle. The things of the world are amazing. These are
expressions of God given to us. That we believe in the resurrection. This historical event is very
important to us. And there were people that didn’t believe it, so Paul is going to argue that in
I think I made the point. We could finish the text here. Vs. 42. These verse are for me memory
verses that I have in my heart because I go to the hospital and I see people dying. I see
somebody when they were young they were vigorous, strong. Their faces were shining. It’s as if
the brightness of the youthfulness was shining. Now, they are old. Their body is sown in
corruption. Actually, humiliation. It’s not fun if you can’t use the bathroom anymore. You
cannot walk anymore. You cannot see anymore. Part of your body is paralyzed. You’re on
medication or some other thing. What about that? That’s the first floor of the house. That’s
how it is.
I love that God can be honest with us and tell us. Yeah, you’re going to die in time. It’s his way
but in principle you get weak. You lose your skills. This happens to us. Get used to it. It’s part of
the way it is. Do you know what the message of this is? Tragedy. This is the meaning. Do you know what the essence of life is? It’s tragic. Okay. It’s tragic. I don’t mind saying it. This is good
for us. Because I want to encourage you in the deeper things.
Listen, it can be hard. It can be hard. Listen to this. Here’s the ceiling and this is what you and I
have. My head pops through and I see something. That’s how you live. That’s how you live. This
is what it means that Jesus rose from the dead. This is what it means. We are a church because
he rose form the dead. We are in the fellowship of the life of Christ. We have been raised with
What else does it mean? Our sins are gone. Our sins are forgiven. What else does it mean? That
we are not liars. We are testifiers of God. We are saying that it is true we have the gospel
message, the risen Christ. The tomb is empty. What does it mean? It means on a Monday
morning I got to go get in the car and drive to work and I don’t have a spring in my step. I don’t
have a lot of joy in my heart. But I can, I can sit there and abide in God and say I know who you
are. I know who you are. You’ve given me your Holy Spirit. You are for me and not against me.
Is that true, Lord? The Lord says yeah. Do you see it? I go, yes, Lord. I see it. I believe you. I
praise you. I thank you that this day Monday is meaningful because you made this day cause
you are in this day. You are for me and not against me. You showed me that you overcame
death and you overcame this world as it is tragic. You overcame the tragedy of the life with
eternal purpose and the resurrection of the dead.
Go to the next verse here. It says it is sown in dishonor. Vs. 43-44. That’s that portion. Now I
want to go to this one. In 1 Corinthians 15 and we will finish. 1 Corinthians 15:12-19. There are five arguments
here. There are five points that Paul wants to make and he wants to take the position of no
resurrection. This is a teaching capacity, thinking capacity for you to logically take something
and think it through to the end. Please follow this with me, please. Paul is saying some of you
don’t believe in the resurrection. Then let’s follow that to the end. If there is no resurrection,
what kind of life do we have if there is no resurrection? His ability to do that is in you, too. In
Cause you have God. God is in your heart. You have his wisdom. You are able to
take things and think them through and find out we can investigate it. We can reason. We can
argue. If there is no resurrection from the dead, then what does it mean? This is starting in vs.
12. Are you with me? Okay.
Let’s go for it. vs. 12. Let’s stop there for a second. We are Christians. There’s some Christians in
this assembly that would say there is no resurrection of the dead. We could venture to say,
yeah. Probably. Why? Cause that’s how it is. We live in degrees of unbelief. That might be
across our country people are saying there isn’t any resurrection of the dead, but I believe in
Jesus. But I don’t really know what it means. I believe in Jesus but I don’t really have any depth
of understanding. That’s why I need the church. That’s why I need to open the Bible. That’s why
I need sisters and brothers.
The greatest thing that God has done for me in my life, one of them, is given me great friends.
Great friends. You should have great friends in your life. And how do you get them? Going to
church. A good church. A church that is teaching the Bible wherever that might be where the
Holy Spirit is ministering to us the Bible and we are believing what God is saying about himself
and the meaning of life. So, this is important.
There are some that say there is no resurrection. Paul said okay. Let’s take that. Let’s go with it.
By the way, that should be happening in our country with every issue. How about the issue
about homosexuality and sexual identity and identity politics and all of these things we are
confronted with. Okay. Let’s take it to the end.
Where does it go? Let’s think. Let’s have a discussion. Let’s find out where it goes. Let’s have a
Bible under our arm. Let’s have the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Let’s have a church fellowship
where we can reason together and make arguments for those things that people don’t agree
with us. Let’s consider it. And so, he is doing that here. Okay. There is no resurrection of the
dead. Let’s go with that. Vs. 13.
So, let’s put down there #1 our preaching is vain. The word is empty. We have no message. We
have no message. But in history, Paul in the first century is preaching to pagans. Pagans did not
believe in the resurrection. Paul is preaching and the church is born. Guess what happens? The
church overcomes paganism. The church becomes a Holy Roman empire. A Christian culture.
How did it become Christian? Because he is raised from the dead. The preaching is not in vain.
But if there is no resurrection, we have no message. That’s what he’s saying. We don’t have a
message if it’s not true.
Next one, vs. 14. My faith is vain or the word is useless. #3. Vs. 15. We are found false witnesses
of God. Let’s look at that. Vs. 15. We are found charlatans, deceivers, empty people, empty
words. We are dishonest. We are liars, deceivers. We are misleading people. I remember in
Finland as a missionary, I saw God drawing people, Finnish people to Christ and everything and I
wondered. I thought about it. I have a big responsibility by telling the truth. Is this true? Am I
telling the truth to these people? I have a big responsibility. Is it true or not? I had to always
and we do this as a way of life. I don’t want to be a false witness, but if he’s not raised from the
dead I am. I’m a false witness. And if I’m a false witness, that’s a very bad thing cause I’m
Then you look at the lives of people that believe in Christ as you do, and their life is changed as
yours is. You’re not hurting anybody. You’re just telling people that God loves you. You’re
telling people that he’s risen. You’re telling people that there is hope, that there is meaning,
that there is more to life than tragedy. There’s an answer for the tragedy. See? I see. There’s an
answer for it. The tomb is empty. But if he’s not risen, this is what it mean that we are
charlatans and deceivers.
Then he goes to another one. He says just to read the text. Vs. 15-16. Here’s another argument.
Vs. 17. Let’s say charlatans here. The fourth one is you are in your sins if he’s not raised. If he’s
not raised from the dead, we are in our sins. Are you in your sins? Are you going to die in sin or
die in Christ? We die in Christ. We die with him. That’s what it means. That he’s been raised
from the dead. If he’s not raised, it’s no different from Islam. Mohammed is in the grave.
Confucianism, he’s in the grave. Buddhism. He’s in the grave. On and on it goes. They’re all in
the grave. All the leaders, they’re all in the graves. Their bones are in the ground but not him.
But if he did not rise from the dead, then we are yet in our sins.
What’s the next one. #5. This is a good one. My relatives who have died and we just had two
this past week. Jackie Turmel passed and Joann Ostrowski passed. Where did they go? They
have perished. Why did they perish? They’re gone. You’ll never see them again, because he’s
not risen. If he’s not risen, then it’s over. We will never see them again. They have fallen asleep
in Jesus. They are not in heaven. They have perished. They are gone. That’s what it means.
Back in the Soviet Union when people died, sometimes they would go to the Lenin Mausoleum
in Leningrad. They put flowers at the mausoleum. Mausoleum was the tomb of Lenin and he
was buried inside. They would go there. It’s kind of like – what do you put flowers at the tomb
of Lenin for? He’s inside. There’s a wax corpse or whatever he was. Embalmed. I don’t know but
he was in there. That’s all that they have. It’s first floor. That’s all. There’s no resurrection.
There’s no hope for us. There isn’t any. Paul says you fools. Don’t you know you put a little
brown disc, a couple in the ground and out comes a green bush called a tomato plant. Don’t
you know you put an acorn in the ground and out comes an oak tree? Don’t you know the sun
and the moon are speaking to us, that a blade of grass and a sequoia tree and a fish about that
big versus the size of this room have different degrees of glory and so is the resurrection. Don’t
you know that life is more than you can see?
That the mysteries of this world are speaking to us day and night, day and night about the resurrection. This life is not over. We are not made to perish. Listen. Abraham died. It says he put his feet in the bed and he went to be with his people. The Bible says Isaac put his feet at the end of his life, he put his feet in the bed and he went to be
with his people. Third one. Jacob died. He put his feet in the bed and he went to be with his
people. What does it mean? Jesus said to the Sadducees, he said is God the God of the dead or
the God of the living?
The answer he gave was, in the talk he said he is called the God of
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob because he’s not the God of the dead. He’s the God of the living. Is
Jesus smart or what? Does he got it? Does he know exactly – the resurrection of the dead is at
the very heart of our lives. The resurrection of the dead is about a Monday morning and a
Friday night and a disappointed summer. And a glorious winter and troubled year or decade.
The resurrection of the dead is about me being able to see that the tragedy of this world has
been overcome by Jesus Christ our living God. The living God. The living God. The living God. So,
my mom passed away a couple years ago, and I can just anticipate meeting her. And our
brothers and sisters. And by the way, you know it gets closer and closer, doesn’t it? Do you
know that? It says in Romans 13 that it’s nearer than when we first believed, right? We’re nearer
than when we first believed. I first believed yesterday. I’m one day closer to seeing him. Let’s
read it. chapter 15:18.
There’s some people they have hope in Christ this way, turn the other cheek. Jesus said turn
the other cheek. Okay. I obey that. I do that. That’s very good, but is that all that you have
when it comes to Christ? A moral teaching or a word of instruction? Is all you have the Sermon
on the Mount and every word is precious. I don’t mean that. I just want to put it in the right
The life of Christ means we are born again and we have a new life. We can see the upper floor.
It means we have hope and it doesn’t die. Do I get hurt? Yes, I get hurt. I understand. Listen. I
do not have any means to live this life outside this ability by God’s grace where God gives me
the ability to see the upper story of the house. If you can follow this with me. I don’t know but
because of that, my life is changed.
Somebody might say, oh, you are successful. You have no idea how messed up. I’m not able. I
don’t have any pride about those things. I have no sense but I have this. And when you got that,
actually, you got everything. I got it. by God’s grace, Jesus has been good to me. The humble
will hear and be glad. And he gives grace to the humble. What keeps us without saying anything
is pride. Pride blinds our eyes. Pride alienates us from God and his people. And be humble
enough to be submitted to God and be part of his people. And have fellowship with his people.
Learn this book from cover to cover by the grace of God. It will speak to you. He will help you.
He will lead you. He will guide you.
Somebody will look at you and say how did he succeed in life? I haven’t actually. I don’t know.
I’m not looking at that. I’ve found something very satisfying. I found Jesus. Jesus will fill you.
Jesus will speak to you. You learn to wait upon Jesus and trust in Jesus. Make your church life a
part of your life. You cannot live just shopping at Walmart, getting a paycheck and eating
sandwiches and playing baseball and watching TV. You cannot live like that. You cannot live like
that. That’s not what you are called for.
You’re called to see more and have love in your heart for people who hate you. And have hope
and orientation in life so that you can love your wife. You can care about your kids. You can
care about others. You can get beyond yourself. You can have something more going on in your heart that comes from God by the Holy Spirit into your heart. I believe you have it. You and I
have it because he is risen. That’s the end of the game right there. That’s the end of the story.
Okay. Amen. Alright. Would you pray with me, please.
Please enjoy these sermon notes from the messages preached at Greater Grace Church in Baltimore. These notes are provided to aid in your study and understanding of the Word. Note that these notes do not represent complete, word-for-word transcriptions. Also, they may contain omissions as well as some errors in spelling and structure, etc., as we attempt to provide them as soon as possible. Our hope is that these notes serve as a way to help you search and connect with messages on related subjects and passages. Thank you for your interest in the ministry of Greater Grace.