1 Corinthians 15:1, 3-4
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. 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
I really like our passage for today. The Gospel! Yes, the Gospel … the Good News that has been preached since the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. And what is that Good News? Well, Paul shares that the most important aspects of that Good News are as follows:
1. Christ died for our sins – according to the Scriptures
2. Christ was buried – according to the Scriptures (emphasis mine)
3. Christ was resurrected – according to the Scriptures
I put according to the Scriptures for all three points because Isaiah 53 address all three issues of the message:
1. By arrest and judgment He was taken away. Yet who of His generation protested? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people He was punished.
2. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death, though He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth.
3. He will see His offspring and prolong His days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in His hand. After He has suffered, He will see the light of life and be satisfied;
But there are numerous Scriptures that address this succinct presentation of the Gospel. Indeed, Jesus Himself declared, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Cf. Matthew 5:17) And after He was resurrected, Jesus explained to His disciples: He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” (Luke 24:44) Everything must be fulfilled … and it was fulfilled … including His resurrection. It is the resurrection that distinguishes Jesus from any other prophet or religious figure in history. To reject or deny His resurrection is to reject His authority over sin and forgiveness … over life and death. Consider the following passages which expound upon the authority of Jesus:
Matthew 9:6a; Mark 2:10 (NIV)
But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.
Matthew 28:18 (NIV)
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Mark 1:22-27; Luke 4:32-36 (NIV)
22 The people were amazed at His teaching, because He taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” 25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. 27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey Him.”
Luke 12:5 (NIV)
But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him.
John 5:26-27 (NIV)
26 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son also to have life in Himself. 27 And He (the Father) has given Him (the Son) authority to judge because He is the Son of Man.
John 10:17-18 (NIV)
17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
John 17:1-2 (NIV)
“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted Him authority over all people that He might give eternal life to all those you have given Him.
I especially love the verse from John 10 where Jesus explains that He laid down His life of His own accord. And He declared, I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. Jesus had the authority to raise Himself from the dead! And I think it is imperative that we understand – He exercised that authority … that power!
Romans 1:1-4 (NIV)
1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart (sanctified) for the Gospel of God— 2 the Gospel He (God) promised beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding His Son, who according to the flesh was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of Holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by His resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.
You cannot find anyone else in history that has exercised the power to raise their own dead body from the grave. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the apex of the Gospel! His resurrection is the Great News because it confirms the promise of eternal life. It confirms that His death was sufficient to atone for our sins. Yes, we have been forgiven and redeemed! Our salvation is true because the resurrection affirms it! His resurrection is proof that Jesus is Lord and Savior … and that He is every I AM statement ever uttered from His lips. The resurrection proves the authority of Jesus Christ who declared: “I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” (Cf. Revelation 1:18) And this is what should fill the heart of every person with reverent fear. In short, Jesus is who He said He is….
With these convictions of Truth in mind, I want to reflect on the impact His resurrection has on our faith:
1 Corinthians 15:12-19 (NIV)
12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that He raised Christ from the dead. But God did not raise Him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is essential for our faith in Him to have any relevance or any hope at all. Without the resurrection, there is no assurance of anything. And assurance is what unbelievers long for the most … assurance of eternal life … which is the desire of every human heart. Oh, the resurrection is our assurance that God loves His Son … loves us … and wants us to be reconciled and restored to fellowship with Him. This brings to mind the lyrics of an old hymn written by Fanny Crosby: “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God. Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.” This is my story; this is my song…. Indeed, this is THE Story to be told all the day long! It is the Gospel! So, I will close with this thought:
Romans 8:10-11 (NIV)
10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you.
I pray the power of the resurrection will impact our faith and our hearts now more than ever. May it revive our prayer time and bring greater intimacy with our Lord Jesus. Indeed, I pray we will experience the power of His resurrection and the newness of life through His Spirit. For we are called to be alive in Christ! Since we have been raised with Christ, we should set our hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (Cf. Colossians 3:1) There, Jesus is interceding for us! (Cf. Romans 8:34) Because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore, He is able to save forever those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them. (Cf. Hebrews 7:24-25) Indeed, Jesus the Living One, is our blessed assurance!