The Resurrection and the Gospel

Posted: April 16, 2017 in 1 Corinthians, Uncategorized
Tags: ,

1 Corinthians 15:1-11, “The Resurrection and the Gospel”

He is risen – He is alive!  Whether you call it Easter, Pascha, or Resurrection Sunday, today all Christians everywhere celebrate the cornerstone event of our faith: the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  This is the event that proves that Jesus is the Son of God, the long-awaited King of Israel – the One who reverses the curse placed upon Adam in the Garden of Eden.  This is the event that changed a minor Jewish sect in Galilee and Judea into the true faith of Christianity, and it is the event upon which all of our hopes rest.

Is that just a bunch of hype?  Is it a bunch of preacher-talk?  Not in the slightest.  The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the foundational truth of Christianity.  Without it, we have no Christianity at all.  Without it, there is no gospel, no hope, no promise of life.  But with it, we have everything!

Christians must believe the gospel in order to saved, and in order for the gospel to be the gospel, we need the resurrection.  This is the point that Paul drives home to the Corinthians, in a letter he wrote to them just barely more than 20 years after Jesus rose from the dead.  The church at Corinth had a marvelous founding, being established by Paul and Silas on Paul’s 2nd missionary journey, and was later strengthened by the teaching ministry of Apollos.  Yet this church quickly fell into all kinds of error.  They were divisive, proud, permissive of sin, abusive of the spiritual gifts, and more.  Paul found himself needing to bring correction to the church, and he did so through his letters (though he wouldn’t hesitate to do it in person, if needed!).

In this particular letter, Paul just wrapped up an extended teaching on the proper use of spiritual gifts, with the emphasis of all spiritual things being that of sacrificial love for one another.  If love was practiced among the Corinthians, everything else would fall into place.  Worship would be done decently & in order, and they would glorify God.

At this point, Paul makes a solid break as he distinctly changes topics.  Although in previous chapters he wrote about issues that the Corinthians had asked him about, this is one that he introduced.  He had heard of doubts among some of the church about the validity of the resurrection, and he knew this needed to be addressed ASAP.  Issues like spiritual gifts are important, but they are non-essentials in regards to salvation…but the resurrection is vital.  Without the resurrection, we have no gospel.  Without the gospel, we have no salvation.  It is that important.

1 Corinthians 15:1–11

  • The resurrection is foundational (1-2)

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

  • As Paul is going to make plain, the resurrection is a core tenet of the gospel message that he received, and this gospel was the most important teaching in Paul’s ministry.  This is what he preached everywhere he went.  He had preached it once in Corinth, and declared it again to them in his letter.  This is what the people had received at the time, and it was what they stood in (or were supposed to stand in) until the present day.  The gospel was the message through which they were saved, meaning that without the gospel, they would not be saved.  As Paul wrote to the Romans, the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, first to the Jew and then to the Greek. (Rom 1:16)  It is the power unto all aspects of our salvation: past, present, and future (justification, sanctification, glorification).  The gospel is the reason that our past sins have been forgiven – it is the method by which we are currently being transformed into the image of Christ – it is the means by which we will be able to forever stand in the presence of God in heaven.  It is that important.
  • So what is it?  If the gospel is that crucial to our life in Christ, then we ought to know what it is.  The word itself simply means “good news,” and is taken from the same Greek word from which we get “evangelism.”  When we “evangelize,” we are simply telling other people the “good news” about Jesus.  “OK – we know it’s good news, but what’s the news?”  What is it that we’re supposed to tell others – what is it that we are supposed to believe?  That’s what Paul writes next…
  • The resurrection is historical (3-8)

3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,

  • Before he gets to the details of the gospel, Paul once more emphasizes its importance.  This was primary.  There was no more important task that Paul could do in a city than to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.  When he travelled in his various missionary journeys, he didn’t arrive in town preaching about spiritual gifts.  He didn’t meet new people and start talking about all the good works they ought to be doing, or tell them how they could enjoy their best life right now.  When Paul came to a new place, he preached the gospel.  Everything else was secondary.
    • And it is!  Whether or not your church home is Calvary Chapel Tyler, the most important thing about anywhere you worship is that the gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed.  If you don’t have that, you don’t have a church.  Why?  Without the gospel, no one is saved.  Without Jesus being proclaimed as Lord & the message of His death & resurrection as front & center to our faith, then we have absolutely nothing.  It doesn’t matter how professional the worship band may be – it doesn’t matter how fancy the church building looks – it doesn’t even matter how loving and compassionate the people seem to be…not if the gospel isn’t there.  Everything else is secondary.  The gospel must come first because that is the only way the Lord Jesus comes first.
  • Keep in mind that this was something Paul learned.  He only delivered what he received.  The gospel message didn’t originate with him, nor did it end with him.  He was simply a good steward & passed it along to others.  That’s what all churches ought to do.
    • FYI – the fact that Paul states in vs. 3 that he “received” this message is an incredible apologetic proof to the validity of the message itself.  How so?  Because Paul will write of the resurrection of Christ as something he not only witnessed, but was taught.  Remember that Paul is writing this barely 20 years after the events took place in Jerusalem.  This is no mere rumor – this certainly isn’t a legend.  There wasn’t any time for a legend to develop!  Everything Paul declared in his gospel is historical fact.
  • What is involved with this gospel?  Five basic elements had been passed along to Paul, which he now repeats to the Corinthians. Gospel element #1: Christ.  Without Jesus, we have no gospel.  But this can’t be any Jesus – it has to be the right one.  Without the right understanding of Jesus, we still have no gospel.  Thus the first thing we need to believe is that Jesus is the “Christ.”  Granted, Jesus’ proper name does not appear in this immediate section – in fact, Paul hasn’t used it since 12:3.  But throughout the letter, Paul makes it clear that Jesus is the Christ, affirming it from his opening words in 1:1, all the way through.  To someone who had read his letter from beginning to end, there would be no doubt that when Paul used the title “Christ,” he was referring to Jesus. — But that all begs the question: what does it mean to believe Jesus is Christ?  Keep in mind that Christ is a title; not a name.  Many people assume that Jesus’ last name is “Christ,” but that’s a misunderstanding.  “Christ” is a title, the Greek translation of the Hebrew word referring to “Messiah,” or “Anointed One.”  This was the title the Jews used to refer to the future Son of David, the King of Israel – and also the title used to refer to the person who would be the fulfillment of all the promises that God made to Abraham, Moses, and the Hebrew people as a whole.  Thus the Christ is a Man, but He’s more than a Man; He’s the Son of God.  When we proclaim Jesus to be the Christ, we are proclaiming Him to be God in the flesh.
    • Talk about crucial!  If we get this wrong, we get the whole thing wrong!  Again, without a proper understanding of Christ, we have no gospel.  People have all kinds of ideas about Jesus that have nothing to do with Him being the Son of God, but that is the first thing we need to believe about Him.
  • Gospel element #2: Christ Jesus “died for our sins.”  This is what we remember on Good Friday.  The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God had to die for the sin of all of humanity.  The only perfect Man who ever lived had to be made a sin sacrifice for our sake in order that the price for our sin could be paid.  The wages of sin is death (Rom 3:23), and the only one who could truly pay it is Jesus.  After all, if we die in our sins, we remain dead forever.  People who die in their sins without the forgiveness of Jesus will actually face a second death when God judges them for all eternity.  That eternal debt must be paid, and that’s what Jesus did at the cross.  That was the meaning when Jesus said the word τετελεσται which we translate as “It is finished!”  The work was done, and the price was paid.  As Paul wrote here, “Christ died for our sins.
    • This was foretold in the Scripture.  As we saw on Good Friday, passages like Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 go into extreme detail about the death of the Messiah.  Nearly every aspect of Jesus’ betrayal, suffering, and crucifixion was prophesied centuries before it ever took place.  There is no excuse for someone to look at the Hebrew Scriptures and not recognize Jesus as the fulfillment.  Other than by spiritual blindness, Jesus simply cannot be missed.

4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,

  • Gospel element #3: Christ “was buried.”  His body was placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.  Question: Is this really a big deal?  After all, if He died, surely He was buried.  True – but that is exactly why this is a big deal.  Some might theorize (and still do) that Jesus didn’t really die upon the cross, but merely appeared to be dead.  They say that Jesus “swooned” upon the cross, fainting or perhaps falling into a coma.  Or else, Jesus’ body had an appearance of death, but that because of His claim to be God, He didn’t really die.  Not so.  Jesus truly died upon the cross.  His physical body expired, and all the signs of His death were seen by those who witnessed it.  His death was even certified by one of the best experts in all of Jerusalem at the time: a Roman centurion, who would have faced harsh penalties (even death) for lying to the governor Pontius Pilate that a man under his supervision had died, but instead lived.  There’s no doubt that Jesus died, and the proof was that His body was laid in a tomb.  Remember that Jesus’ friends were those who buried Him: the formerly-secret disciples of Joseph and Nicodemus.  It’s inconceivable that they would have buried Jesus if they had even the slightest hope that He was alive.  The only way they would have had comfort in sealing His tomb with a stone would be if He was dead.  So yes, Jesus’ burial is a crucial part of the gospel message.  It certifies His death.
  • Gospel element #4: Christ “rose again the third day.”  Jesus was really buried, and He really rose.  He who was dead came back to life.  This is the specific event we celebrate today!  Again, this is what makes the gospel, the gospel.  How so?  Because even if Jesus claimed to be God, even if He performed incredible miracles, if He still died upon the cross & was buried in the tomb – if there was no resurrection, we’d have zero proof that Jesus actually is the Christ.  If Jesus died & stayed dead, then He’d be no different than other prophets who came & performed miracles.  Actually, He’d be worse than other prophets because even if He performed miracles, He would have proven Himself a liar.  Jesus repeatedly said that He would rise from the grave, even saying that the resurrection would be the sign proving His authority as the Son of Man. (I.e. the sign of Jonah)  Thus if Jesus didn’t rise, He’d be a liar.  If He was a liar, then He couldn’t do anything else He promised, nor would we be able to trust anything He said or did.  It was vital that Jesus rise from the grave as proof that He is God the Son…and that is exactly what He did!  After His betrayal, His torture, and His crucifixion, Jesus died upon the cross.  His body was taken down & buried.  And in three days, He rose!  He conquered death, declared His victory over sin & Satan, and rose to glorious new life!  And because He did, we can know everything else He said & did was true!  As Paul went on to write: 1 Corinthians 15:55–57, "(55) “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” (56) The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. (57) But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."  Our salvation is wrapped up in Jesus’ resurrection – our eternal life hinges upon His resurrected one.  We have hope of a resurrection of our own because Jesus is the first one risen from the dead.  Thanks be to God that Jesus rose!  In Him, there is total victory!
  • What Scriptures speak of Jesus’ resurrection on the third day?  Although the specific combination of a third-day resurrection is not nearly as clear-cut in the Old Testament as are the many prophecies of the suffering and death of the Messiah, there are still several passages which point to it.
    • Psalm 16:10, "For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption."
    • Hosea 6:2, "After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, That we may live in His sight."
    • Jonah 1:17, "Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights."
    • And that’s not all.  Scripture has other references to a third-day deliverance, such as Abraham’s offering of Isaac (which is specifically tied to the hope of resurrection –Gen 22), the appearance of God on Mt. Sinai to the Hebrews on the third day (Exo 19:11), and more. 
  • The bottom line is that the Scriptures said Jesus would rise – Jesus said that He would rise – and He rose!  Our God died upon the cross, but He did not remain dead.  Our God was laid in a tomb, but He did not stay there.  He is risen – He is alive – and because He is, we have the certified promise of eternal life!
  • At this point, the question might be: but how can we know?  We can take it as an article of faith that Jesus rose from the grave, but how can we know for sure?  That’s the next part of the gospel that was passed along to Paul…

5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.

  • Gospel element #4: Jesus’ resurrection was witnessed.  He was “seen” by multiple people from a wide variety of backgrounds and locations.  Jewish culture taught that 2-3 witnesses were required to establish fact, particularly legal judgments.  In vss. 5-8, there are far more than that…more than enough to establish the resurrection!  All totaled, Paul gives six witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection.  We shouldn’t think of this as a comprehensive listing of all of Jesus’ resurrection appearances, but it certainly includes some instances that aren’t recorded elsewhere.  Keep in mind that even the gospel accounts are clear that not everything Jesus said or did was written down – there aren’t enough libraries in the world to hold the books if it was! (Jn 21:25)
  • Witness #1: Peter – or as he was known by his Aramaic name, “Cephas.”  Why is Peter listed first?  Because even if he was never the pope of Rome (which he wasn’t!), he still had a place of preeminence among the apostles.  He was the first with the grand confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and Jesus blessed him on account of it. (Mt 16:16-17)  But Peter was also the one with one of the worst betrayals of Jesus, having denied three times even knowing the Lord.  He had been graciously forgiven and restored by Jesus, and the fact that Peter received a special appearance from the Lord underscores that restoration.  Peter/Cephas (the Rock) would not be known as the one who denied the Lord Jesus, but as the one who received the grace of the Lord Jesus.  That was his permanent identity – and a grand one it is!
    • When you came to faith in Christ, believing upon Him as your Lord & Savior, you became a new creation.  He gave you a new identity and a new future.  No longer are you the person you once were; the resurrected Jesus changed all of that.  Now you are known by His grace – God sees you as His child because of the love of Jesus.  That is your new identity…remember it & praise God for it!
    • If you haven’t yet surrendered your life to Christ, you are still known for your sin…but you don’t have to be.  You can know the forgiveness of God too.  Believe upon the risen Christ, and receive your new eternal identity!
  • Witness #2: “the twelve.”  If Paul were being a bit more precise, he probably would have written “the eleven,” as Judas had departed the apostles when he betrayed Jesus to the Jews.  But the group of Jesus’ appointed apostles was well-known as “the twelve,” and Judas’ spot was soon replaced, so Paul is still correct when he refers to them as “the twelve.”  When did this take place?  This is probably a reference to Jesus’ first two appearances to the apostles on Resurrection Sunday & the following week.  His first appearance was technically to 10 apostles, as Thomas wasn’t with them, and he famously & firmly doubted the news of Jesus’ rise from the grave.  Thomas waited a whole additional week in grief until Jesus appeared to the full group again the following Sunday, and that’s when he finally joined the rest of his brothers in faith.
    • Objection: “But those were all apostles.  We’d expect the 12 disciples of Jesus to affirm His resurrection.  What if they were all conspiring together in a lie?”  First of all, that is highly illogical, given the circumstances.  (1) Their Messiah had died, thus taking away any supposed legitimate reason to proclaim Him as the Messiah…the Jews would have laughed them off as foolish if Jesus was still dead.  (2) Every time the apostles proclaimed Jesus, they endangered themselves with the Jewish authorities.  They had absolutely no reason to continue a conspiracy, because they had nothing to benefit.  (3) Eventually it wasn’t only the Jews that opposed them, but the Romans.  If the disciples had been conspiring together in a lie, that would have quickly unraveled when the hand of Rome came down upon them!  People don’t die for their own lies…eventually the truth comes out.
    • Secondly, this objection is anticipated with the third witness, or group of witnesses…

6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.

  • Witness #3: 500 other “brethren.”  If 12 men were expected to keep a conspiracy, how about 500?  Eventually, someone is going to crack…and no one did.  Besides, out of these 500, there were likely very few who followed Jesus as steadfastly as did the 12 apostles did during Jesus’ earthly ministry.  In other words, this was a disinterested party.  They had nothing to gain from a lie about a resurrected Jesus, yet they believed in Him anyway.  They could testify to His resurrection.
  • In fact, Paul counts on the fact that they could do exactly that.  Although a few had died in the past 20 years, the majority of them were still alive.  If the Corinthians doubted Paul & his testimony, then they could go ask any number of the original 500 still living at the time.  They could check out the proof for themselves.
    • Obviously we do not have that same privilege.  The only time we will speak to the apostles or anyone else who saw the physical resurrected Jesus is when we get to heaven, and then we’ll be seeing the resurrected Lord Jesus for ourselves!  Even so, we can still speak to men & women whose lives have been transformed by the Living God.  Every single person in this building who has been born again has had a real experience with the real Jesus, and you can tell anyone else that Jesus is alive.  How do you know?  Because you met Him!  It was in faith, but you met Him, you knew He was real, and you knew you needed to surrender your life to Him.
    • If you don’t have that kind of assurance about a living Jesus with whom you’ve interacted, you need to ask yourself why not.  You need to ask yourself some tough questions.  A born-again Christian is someone who has received new life from a living Savior.  If you haven’t, you haven’t been born-again.  Today, make sure your faith is in the living Jesus!
  • BTW – when did this particular meeting take place?  We don’t know for certain, as the Bible never says anything more about it than this one verse.  Possibly, it was the prearranged meeting in Galilee of which Jesus told the disciples.  It seems like that would be a logical place for a gathering of this size (which would not have gone unnoticed in Jerusalem), and a perfect place for Jesus to give the Great Commission to the church. (Mt 28:19-20)

7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.

  • Witness #4: “James.”  There are several men named “James” in the New Testament.  Which is this?  More than likely, this is the half-brother of Jesus who eventually became the leader of the church in Jerusalem.  Originally, none of the brothers of Jesus believed Him, but something happened that transformed them from skeptics to believers.  And not just believers, but into leaders of the church – even penning letters of the New Testament.  (James & Jude)  What could have happened to convince these men that their brother was the Son of God?  It would take nothing less than His resurrection from the dead!  Jesus was raised, and that was all the proof that they needed.  All of a sudden, the miracles made sense – the stories of their mother & father made sense – they could see their older brother through new eyes.  No longer did they look at Him as just another sibling around the table – they saw Him as the Living God.  (That’s the power of the resurrection!)
  • Witness #5: “all the apostles.”  Objection: the apostles were already mentioned!  Yes & no.  Technically, “the twelve” were mentioned – but the word “apostles” can refer to more than the twelve. Plainly Paul was an apostle, but not of the Twelve.  Andronicus & Junius are mentioned among the apostles, though they are nowhere in the gospels. (Rom 16:7)  Barnabas is named as an apostle (Acts 14:14) and a case could possibly be made for Apollos based on Paul’s comparison with him to the Corinthians (1 Cor 3-4).  But even if only the specific Twelve were in mind, this can still count again because Jesus appeared to them more than once.  Not only were there the two occasions on the Sundays following His crucifixion – not only was there the prearranged meeting in Galilee – at the very least there was also the final day that Jesus had His physical feet upon the earth: His ascension.  It was then that Jesus told the disciples to go back to Jerusalem and wait for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, in order that they would have power to be witnesses of Him to all the world. (Acts 1:8)  They were obedient, and this list of testimonies is proof that they were faithful to their divine calling.

8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.

  • Witness #6: Paul.  Paul doesn’t leave himself out of the list of witnesses, for he too saw the resurrected Christ.  Yes, Jesus had already ascended to heaven, but Paul received a special vision of the resurrected Jesus.  This wasn’t a vision only in Paul’s mind, but one that was witnessed by the men travelling with him (even though they didn’t see the distinct things he saw).  Thus this was a real appearance, even if it was different than those experienced by the other apostles.  Yet this is what qualified Paul as an apostle (1 Cor 9:1), even if it was a little out of sync, like a prematurely born baby.  Paul could personally testify to the risen Jesus, for he had seen Him.  (And that’s exactly what Paul did in his ministry, as he shared his testimony time & time again.)
  • The bottom line in all of this: Jesus’ resurrection is established, historic fact.  This wasn’t a myth that developed over time – this wasn’t a grand lie invented by a handful of people – this wasn’t a massive hallucination or delusion experienced by grieving friends.  This is a fact, fully vetted by all available historical and legal methods available at the time. 
    • It is a fact that stands the test of time even to this very day.  There is no event in antiquity that has more evidence in its favor than that of the resurrection of Jesus.  The eyewitness accounts were numerous.  Neither the Jews nor the Romans could disprove it.  The easiest thing in the world would have been for the Jews to produce a body.  After all, they knew the exact grave in which He had been laid.  It was a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin who had requested the body.  A 15 minute walk to the tomb could have destroyed Christianity before it was ever born…and it never happened.  Instead, thousands of Jerusalem Jews gave their lives to Christ within weeks of His resurrection – the Jewish leadership railed against the apostles, but never contested them – the gospel message spread by the early church turned the world upside-down.  The only way any of this happens is through a factual resurrection.  And that is exactly what it is.
  • So what does all of this mean?  If Jesus is truly risen from the dead, it means He truly is God.  If Jesus is truly risen from the dead, it means that everything He said is true.  If Jesus is truly risen from the dead, it means He has the power to change lives.  Paul offers himself as living proof…
  • The resurrection is transformational (9-11)

9 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

  • This isn’t false humility on the part of Paul.  When he needed to assert his apostolic authority, he didn’t hesitate to do so.  Yet he never forgot his past.  He knew he was forgiven of his past, but he never forgot it.  Paul wasn’t merely a skeptic towards Christianity, he was steadfastly dedicated to its destruction.  As a young Pharisee, Paul (then known as Saul) “persecuted the church of God.”  He hunted Christians in & around Jerusalem, and was so successful in his task that he received permission from the Sanhedrin to travel all the way to the city of Damascus in Syria to do the same thing.  He had a fervent desire to purify the people of God, and to the pre-Christian Saul, that meant purging out the Christians whom he viewed as heretics.
  • That’s when the resurrected Jesus stopped him in his tracks, and changed his life.  In Paul’s own words: Acts 22:6–8, "(6) “Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me. (7) And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ (8) So I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’"  Can you imagine the shock?  Can you imagine the horror that fell upon Paul’s heart as he came to grips with the fact that the Lord he thought he was serving, he was actually persecuting?  He wasn’t purifying the people of God; he was murdering those beloved by God.  How awful!  How gut-wrenching!  Surely he deserved death, and worse (if it were possible).  How could God ever use a person like this, much less even love him?  And yet he did…

10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

  • Paul received grace!  The love of the resurrected Jesus changed Paul from a murderer to an apostle – from the chief of sinners to a humble servant of the Living God.  Grace transformed Paul from the inside-out, and this least of the apostles was able to make a bigger impact for the kingdom than the original 12 put together.  That’s not a boast; that’s a simple fact.  Most of the original 12 apostles are not named anywhere outside the gospel accounts, and some are barely even mentioned in the gospel accounts.  Out of those, Peter & John did much, but not even they travelled as far & wide as Paul.  Paul had a minimum of three missionary journeys, and possibly went on a fourth after the close of the book of Acts.  He personally planted dozens of churches, and underwent incredible suffering along the way, receiving stonings, robberies, shipwrecks, and other hardships.  That doesn’t even begin to mention the number of letters he wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, providing an incredible percentage of our New Testaments.  The labor he accomplished for Jesus by the grace of God was abundant indeed!
  • How was it possible?  Grace.  Three times in this single sentence Paul repeats the word “grace,” because that was at the root of everything he was.  He encountered the resurrected living Jesus, and received grace.  Just seeing Jesus was an act of grace – being forgiven of his sins was grace – being called into ministry was grace – being empowered to go where he did was grace – having the strength to endure what he did was grace – writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit was grace.  Paul was bathed in grace!  Everything he did was because of the grace of God.
    • So it is with you & me.  What we do as believers, we do because we have experienced grace from the Living Lord Jesus.  Were you forgiven of your sins?  Grace.  Were you filled with the Holy Spirit?  Grace.  Have you received blessings from God?  Grace.  Are you blessed in reading His word, and spending time in prayer?  Grace.  Are you a different person you once were, having an eternal future ahead of you?  Grace.  All you are & all you have as a Christian is due to the grace of Christ!  It is because the resurrected Lord Jesus has loved you, interacted with you, and showered you with His blessing.  It is grace!
    • Does this mean that every day is a bed of roses for the Christian?  Of course not.  It certainly wasn’t for Paul!  When he suffered, he truly suffered.  But he never suffered alone.  The Lord Jesus was always with him, just as the Lord Jesus is always with us.  When we receive Him as Lord, we receive Him forever.  He will never leave us nor forsake us.  His Spirit indwells us, and His promise is to keep us, complete His work within us, and receive us to Himself.  Again…all due to grace!

11 Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

  • It didn’t matter who preached the gospel to the Corinthians as long as it was preached.  It didn’t matter what other issues the Corinthians had as long as they believed.  Without this gospel of the resurrected Lord Jesus, nothing else mattered.  This was how they would live in the grace of God, and it was vital that they stand within it.

Conclusion:
Do you stand in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ?  You have heard it proclaimed – you have heard the testimony of Christians through the ages – do you believe?  The resurrection of Jesus isn’t a nice truth to file away in the back of our minds as a bit of Bible trivia.  It’s not something to mark off our mental check-list of “things we’re supposed to affirm in church.”  The resurrection of Jesus is absolutely key to His gospel, which means it is absolutely key to our salvation.  Without it, we have nothing.  Later in his letter, Paul goes on to write: 1 Corinthians 15:15–17, "(15) Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. (16) For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. (17) And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!"  It doesn’t get more critical than that!  Without the resurrection of Jesus, there’s no forgiveness of sin, and thus there is no Christianity at all.

Beloved, we must stand in the gospel!  We must stand firm in the truth that Jesus is indeed the Christ, crucified for our sin, buried in the tomb, risen on the third day, and witnessed by others.  This is the very core of our faith, the means through which we receive the grace of God, our very promise of forgiveness and eternal life.  Don’t be swayed from it – don’t allow the skepticism of the age to shake you – don’t let this world pressure you to push it aside.  This is our gospel…this is the power of God to change the world.

Let me ask you again: have you believed this good news?  Have you believed upon the resurrected Jesus Christ, receiving Him as your Lord & Savior?  There is no better time to do so than this Resurrection Sunday.  On this day that we celebrate Jesus’ resurrected life, receive that same life of your own.  Turn to God, ask forgiveness for your sin, and entrust yourself to Jesus – believing the gospel truth of Him.  Those who do receive life…that is His blessed guarantee.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s