People say there is no afterlife. This is not a new idea. In Jesus’ day, the same argument existed. There were two main camps in Judaism. The Sadducees claimed there was no resurrection and the Pharisees said there was. The Sadducees tried to trick or trap Jesus by telling him the story of a woman married to seven brothers (all of whom passed away one at a time) during her life. They asked Jesus whose wife she would be in heaven. That story begins with this line, “That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question,” Matthew 22:23.

No resurrection eh?

Jesus’ response was, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God,” Matthew 22:27. Jesus taught there would be a resurrection and he was himself resurrected.

This is Paul’s point in 1 Cor 15:12, “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” Paul was still dealing with this teaching so many years later. He was too familiar with it. Sometime before writing to the Corinthians, he used the argument to deflect accusations away and onto this hotly debated issue. He was on trial in front of the Sanhedrin, which was the Jewish court in Jerusalem.

Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.” When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things.)” There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who were Pharisees stood up and argued vigorously. “We find nothing wrong with this man,” they said. “What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. Acts 23:6-10

People might get violent because you believe in and proclaim in Jesus’ resurrection and the resurrection all believers will follow Jesus into. Don’t be afraid. Some people might not believe in angels, spirits, or an afterlife, but believers know and rely on the Scriptures and the power of God that raised Jesus from the dead!

Pastor John Riley

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