That well known and oft quoted chapter 1 Corinthians 15 illustrates a principle that is made time and again in God’s word – that there is no ‘middle’ way: our ultimate future is black or white. Paul goes to great pains to emphasize this. Some in Corinth were doubting that Christ’s resurrection happened physically (this would be a continuing influence of their earlier pagan convictions which were proving hard to change– retaining pagan friends would not help!) “How can you say there is no resurrection of the dead”, Paul challenges them, “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (verses 12,14).

Paul contrasts “the first man Adam” with “the last Adam (who) became a life-giving spirit” (verse 45). Those who do not become related to “the last Adam” (i.e. to Christ) will remain related to the first Adam. We are related to one or the other. Paul then contrasts heaven and earth (i.e. dust). He says, “as was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven” (verses 48,49).

Are we of heaven? We must be of heaven or of earth. These verses are not saying we go to heaven (verses 35-45 make that plain). The “natural body” becomes a “spiritual body” when it is raised to life again. But, just as the world around us shows that it is of the dust, we must respond by making it more evident that we are among “those who are of heaven”.

The final is challenging. We should show this in a particular attitude to life. “Therefore”, writes Paul, “my beloved brothers, (and sisters) be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain”.