1 Corinthians 15:1-4 reads, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”
At the time that the apostle Paul wrote these things unto believers at Corinth, there were false teachers out and about. Some of those false teachers were falsely teaching that there was no such thing as a resurrection from the dead. Therefore, the apostle wrote 1 Corinthians 15 in order to defeat this false teaching. In sod doing, the apostle began by communicating the elements of the gospel message and the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ's resurrection out of the dead.
In verses 1-2 the apostle declared unto the believers at Corinth, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.” Now, the word “gospel” means “good news.” Herein the apostle Paul was speaking of the gospel, the good news; and in verses 3-4 he revealed the three elements of this good news, saying, “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”
The Good News of Our Lord Jesus Christ’s Resurrection
The three elements of the good news are the death, the burial, and the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The truth is that we all are sinners before God. We all “have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) “All we like sheep have gone astray.” (Isaiah 53:6) Every one of us “have turned to his own way,” instead of following God’s way. We all have sinned, and we all are sinners. Because of this we all stand “guilty before God.” (Romans 3:19) In the sight of the Lord our God, “we are all as an unclean thing.” (Isaiah 64:6) Because we all have sinned against the Lord our God, we all stand under the condemnation of the Lord our God. Even so, being under our Lord God’s condemnation, we are all destined to suffer under the eternal wrath of God in hell. This is the truth of our spiritual condition before the Lord God of heaven and earth. Yet this truth is not good news. Rather, this truth is troublesome and burdensome news. Nevertheless it is the truth, and it is truth that we all must face.
What then is the good news? The abundantly good news is that God the Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, “died for our sins.” “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6) “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8b) He Himself “bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” (1 Peter 2:24) “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5) “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” (Galatians 3:13) He laid down His life for us in order that through Him we might be saved from our sins. This is the first element of the good news.
Yet there is more to this good news. Not only did our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ die for our sins, but also He was buried and rose again on the third day. The death of our Lord for our sins is important for our salvation. Yet His death alone is not enough. We need more than a Savior who is dead and in the grave. We need a Savior who is alive for evermore. Yes, our Lord Jesus Christ died to grant us the forgiveness and cleansing of our sin. Yet He also rose again out of the dead in order to grant us justification unto newness of life. Yea, brethren, our Lord Jesus Christ is able to save us “to the uttermost” because He “ever liveth” to make intercession for us. (Hebrews 7:25) Thus the gospel message is not only the good news of our Lord’s death for our sins. It is also the good news of our Lord’s resurrection for our eternal life.
The Evidence for Our Lord Jesus Christ’s Resurrection
In 1 Corinthians 15:4-11 the apostle Paul continued his message and revealed the evidence for our Lord’s resurrection, saying, “And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one bom out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.” The evidence of our Lord's resurrection is that He was seen alive by various and sundry individuals over a forty day period of time. Peter alone saw Him alive after His death. Then the twelve saw Him alive after His death. On another occasion, over five hundred saw Him alive; and many of those individuals were still alive at the time that the apostle Paul originally wrote these things. Yet on another occasion, James, the brother of Jesus, saw Him alive. Then on the Mount of Olives, all of the apostles saw the Lord Jesus Christ alive, even as He spoke to them and then ascended up into heaven before their eyes. Finally, the apostle Paul himself saw the Lord Jesus Christ alive as the Lord directly revealed Himself unto the apostle.
Such witnesses are the evidence for our Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection out of the dead. Even so, in Acts 10:39-41 the apostle Peter declared, “And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.” Also in Acts 13:26-31 the apostle Paul declared, "Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning Him. And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. But God raised him from the dead: and he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people.” Brethren, the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is no hoax. It is the truth of God's mighty power for our eternal salvation, and it bears the evidence of many faithful witnesses.
The Importance of Our Lord Jesus Christ’s Resurrection
In 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 the apostle Paul revealed the great importance of our Lord’s resurrection in relation to our faith, saying, “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” Brethren, the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is a foundational element of our faith. Just as the death of our Lord and Savior upon the cross is of primary importance to the Christian faith, so also is His resurrection out of the dead.
In the first place, as the apostle Paul revealed at the beginning of verse 14, “If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain.” All of the preaching from God's Word down through the church age has all been in vain. All of the preaching of the gospel to draw lost souls unto eternal salvation through faith in Christ has been worthless. All of the preaching of righteousness to edify believers in their walk with Christ has been of no value. If our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is yet dead and in the grave, then all of Biblical Christianity is without foundation. Yea, then all of Biblical Christianity is only lies and deception. Even so, in verse 15 the apostle Paul declared, “Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.” Preachers of Biblical Christianity preach a risen Savior. The New Testament Scriptures reveal a risen Savior. Such preachers preach as the New Testament Scriptures reveal that God the Father by His almighty power raised God the Son out of the dead. Yet if Christ has not been raised out of the dead by the hand of the Father, then such preaching is not only vain; it is also falsehood. Then such preachers “are found false witnesses of God;” for they declare that God has done something that, in fact, God has not done. Brethren, if our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ “be not risen,” then all of New Testament Christianity and the New Testament Scriptures are to be rejected as false doctrine.
In addition, as the apostle Paul revealed at the end of verse 14, “If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” If our Lord Jesus Christ is yet dead and in the grave, then our faith in Him as eternal Savior is an empty faith without foundation. Then there is no salvation at all in Christ Jesus, for a dead Savior is no Savior at all. If He Himself is yet dead, then He could not give to us eternal life. How could He give to us what He Himself does not even possess? If He Himself is dead and without life, then He could not give to us newness of life. Even so, in verse 17 the apostle declared, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” If our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is yet dead and in the grave, then we who have placed our faith in Him for salvation are yet dead in our trespasses and sins. In addition, all those believers who have gone on before us have died in their sins and are even now perishing in hell. Even so, in verse 18 the apostle revealed, “Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.” Then we ourselves are yet in our sins, and shall die in our sins, and shall perish in hell. Thus in verse 19 the apostle added, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” There is no hope for the life to come without a risen Savior.
The Victory of Our Lord Jesus Christ’s Resurrection
Brethren, the truth of our Lord's resurrection out of the dead is an important and foundational element of our faith. Even so, in verse 20 the apostle Paul boldly declared, “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” Thus we are brought to consider the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection. Now, this victory has two parts.
In the first place, there is the part that relates to our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Even so, in 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 we read, “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” Here we take notice of the closing phrase in verse 23 – “At his coming.” As the risen Savior, our Lord Christ Jesus is coming again. If He were yet dead and in the grave, such could not be; but He is not yet dead and in the grave. He is not still there in the grace; “for he is risen, as he said.” (Matthew 28:6) Yea, He has ascended into heaven and is even now sitting at God the Father's own right hand. Even so, one day, just as He promised. He is coming again. The first time that He came, He came to die for us that He might save us from our sins. Then He rose again out of the dead and ascended up into heaven to sit down at the right hand of the Father. The second time that He comes, He is coming “with power and great glory” as “King of kings and Lord of lords” to reign over all the earth. (Matthew 24:30; Revelation 19:16) Thus in verses 24-28 the apostle Paul proclaimed, “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he [God the Father] hath put all things under his [God the Son’s] feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all."
In the second place, the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ's resurrection also has a part that relates unto all of us who believe on Him as Savior. Again in verses 20-23 we read, “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His coming.” Because our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is risen, He is coming again. Furthermore, because He is risen, we shall experience the resurrection of the dead at His second coming. Yea, at that time we all “shall be changed.” At that time we shall be given bodies that are incorruptible, undefiled, and immortal. Even so, in verses 51-57 the apostle Paul revealed the truth, saying, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written. Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the Law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Death no longer has a sting for us. The grave no longer has the victory over us. Rather, we have the victory through our risen Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. “Therefore,” the instruction is given to us believers in verse 58, "my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
Posted in Weekly Sermon, 1 Corinthians, Gospel of Christ, God the Son Jesus Christ, Sacrificial Death of Christ, Resurrection of Christ, Salvation & Eternal Life, Second Coming of Christ, Resurrection unto Life