1 Corinthians 15:17-19 (NLT)
And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins.  In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost!  And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.
1 Corinthians 15:20 (NLT)
But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.
1 Corinthians 15:26 (NLT)
And the last enemy to be destroyed is death.
- I was raised in a good Baptist belief that salvation is a kind of exclusive club, reserved for the few select folks who say the "sinner's prayer," and "accept Christ" according to a narrow, formulaic method.
Now that I've studied the bible for myself, I've come to see salvation as a huge thing! This passage is just one place where I find my evidence. Paul is saying that there is a specific order to the resurrection of the dead, but that ultimately death itself will be defeated. And though he highlights here the resurrection of believers at Christ's return, his message does not stop there.
In verse 20 he claims Christ is the first of "a great harvest of all who have died." And he goes on to say that the last enemy to be destroyed is death itself (verse 26). How can Paul claim that death is destroyed if death still holds onto the souls of millions of "lost" people, (as claimed by traditional Christian understandings)?
If this doesn't mean Ultimate Life for all, then I don't understand why Paul would say that. This is the only interpretation that justifies the claim, Good News! regarding Jesus' life and mission. Surely this is the understanding that is embodied in Paul's triumphant cry:
1 Corinthians 15:55 (NLT)
O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?"
Call me a heretic... But now I see a tremendous message of hope for all the world for all time.