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. (1 Corinthians 15:21-28 NIV)
This seems like a good passage to use to introduce some questions that are very helpful when studying the Bible. I first heard these questions at Living Roots in Santa Rosa. Their gospel community leader, Art Cena, continually uses these questions to keep the focus of Bible study on the gospel.
1. Who is God?
God is above everything and everyone. He is the ultimate Father. He is the source of life and has the power to destroy all His enemies. He is also the Son who came as a man to earth. The Son is the King who will reign over everything and everyone.
2. What has He done?
Since all people had died because of the sin of Adam God sent His Son to die and rise again so that we might be made alive again. Jesus will defeat all of God’s enemies, including death, and then will give His kingdom to God His Father.
3. Who are we?
If we are in Christ, then we are subjects of Christ’s kingdom and have been made alive in Him.
4. How are we to live considering the answers to the first three questions?
We should be people who are alive and filled with hope. We have been made alive in Christ and should desire to do whatever we can to honor our King. Our King Jesus is both our ruler and our example. He loves His Father and always does what God His Father wants Him to do. Our desire should be to follow His example.
The concept of loving obedience which Jesus modeled is easy to understand, but exceedingly difficult for most of us to do. I think one of the reasons that theologians struggle with verse 28 is our difficulty with submitting to someone we regard as equal to us. My understanding is that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are one God and equal in every way. Any concept of hierarchy within the Trinity is difficult for us to accept because the love and humility necessary to make that work are incomprehensible to us.
This submission to God and others is what we are called to when we are made alive in Christ. As people who are alive in Christ, we should be actively seeking for opportunities to serve our communities. At this moment in human history the church, the kingdom on God on earth, has a great opportunity to seek out these opportunities and make a difference. May Christ’s victory over death empower us to explore options that we would never consider if we feared for our lives.
I encourage you to read through all of 1 Corinthians 15 and develop your own answers to the four questions.