1 Corinthians 15:29 (NIV)
29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?
On verse 29: Welcome to one of the more controversial verses in the Bible. When Paul writes about people being "baptized for the dead", what does he mean? Paul seems to be describing a practice where a Christian would get baptized for an unbaptized dead person (perhaps a relative, an ancestor, or a friend). This is the only place in Scripture that refers to this practice. Now it is highly questionable whether getting baptized on behalf of an unbaptized dead person has any effect at all. Baptism of course is a personal decision. We can't save someone from their sins or secure their place in heaven by getting baptized on their behalf. Some scholars even see Paul being sarcastic and rhetorical in verse 29, as if to say, "What good is it to get baptized for the dead?" For all these reasons, baptizing for the dead is not something you see practiced widely in churches today, if at all.
Still, verse 29 shows us how important baptism was to the early church and how seriously the early church took Jesus' command to get baptized. Baptism is not an option for believers, but a command from Jesus himself (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16). In fact, if you're not willing to get baptized even though you have the opportunity to do so, you need to question whether you really believe in Jesus. If I say, "Jesus I want to follow You", and Jesus says, "Okay. Go and get baptized", and I say, "Well, let me think about it, or let me wait until my circumstances are more perfect", then you need to question whether your heart is really set on following Jesus, or if you're actually following something else more closely.
So if you have received Christ as your Saviour and have not yet been baptized, your next step is to get baptized! I encourage you to do so as soon as possible before it's too late.
1 Corinthians 15:30-32 (NIV)
30 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour?
31 I die every day--I mean that, brothers--just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord.
32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die."
On verses 30 to 32: If there is no resurrection, then there is no point to risking our lives for Jesus Christ. We might as well live the way the rest of the world does, living for pleasure and without hope. But because there is resurrection hope, we see our lives in a different light and our greatest joy comes from living in, with and for Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:33-34 (NIV)
33 Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character."
34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God--I say this to your shame.
On verses 33-34: When we don't live with resurrection hope, we'll allow anyone -- even people of bad character -- to influence us (v33), we stop thinking straight (v34) and we settle for far less than God's best for our lives. That's why Paul keeps emphasizing the importance of Christ's resurrection and our own future resurrection. It's because resurrection hope changes not just how we see life but how we live it as well.
May you follow Christ's command to get baptized and live every day with the hope of resurrection.