1 Corinthians 15:1-5
Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.
Here we have the “Story of Easter” (the Gospel message) in a very succinct format. I love how Paul phrases his emphasis: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance.” So what is the primary message of the Gospel? Jesus died for our sins according to the Scriptures. Jesus was buried. That means He had a physical body that was placed in a tomb. And Jesus was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. Paul repeats that these events happened according to the prophetic Scriptures. This is of “first importance” for anyone to understand. Jesus was sent by the Father. His life and salvific ministry to us was not happenstance. Jesus had told His disciples, “I must preach the Kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.” (Cf. Luke 4:43) And on the night He was betrayed, Jesus prayed, “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.” (Cf. John 12:27)
So why is sharing the Gospel so important? Well, for believers Paul states, “I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.” Sharing the Gospel is important to faith building. When believers were under trial and persecution, the truth of the Gospel was an important reminder of standing firm in the message of salvation through the death and resurrection of Christ. The other reason is that we are called to share “what we have received as of first importance.” The eternal life we have received in Christ Jesus is worth talking about with others who do not know Him or placed their faith in Him…. There is a sense of urgency inherent in the Gospel message. Why the urgency? Because life is short. As the Apostle James observed, “What is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (Cf. James 4:14) We do not know what will happen tomorrow … or before our next breath for that matter. “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him, He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” (Cf. Hebrews 9:27-28) Yes, our sin must be judged. God is just! And since a person cannot call upon the name of the Lord and be saved after their death, that is why the Gospel is so important … so urgent. Jesus came to bear the penalty of our sin through His death on the cross! And as we noted last time:
Romans 5:8-10 (NKJV)
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life….
Yes, the resurrection of Jesus that we celebrate at Easter is how we KNOW reconciliation with God the Father has occurred; and it is how we KNOW that salvation and eternal life is found in Jesus Christ alone. For there is no other name under heaven given among me by which we must be saved. (Cf. Acts 4:12) So I pray that each of us will take this reminder today of what is important and pass it along to others while there is still time to do so. There is a wonderful and powerful story to tell! Let’s get the Word out so people can have an authentic encounter with Jesus … so lives can be changed by Him … so lives can be saved by Him! Amen.