THE CHRISTIAN’S FAITH IN THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS
Have you ever stopped to think about what is the one thing the entire faith of the Church and everything written in the Bible concerning Jesus is dependent upon that makes it different than any other religious practice today?
The Resurrection of Christ.
Without the resurrection of Christ, our faith has no meaning. It would be worthless and without His resurrection, the faith of the church and what it believes would be just another false religion. Therefore, this would mean Jesus is buried having never risen and His claim to be the Son of God and holding the
the power to defeat and overcome death were lies. So what reason would we have to trust in Him for our own salvation from death?
If being raised from the dead is true and it happened as the gospels and the epistles of the New Testament testified, well that changes everything for us. Then it means that only Jesus has the power to conquer death and we can put our trust in Him to raise us from the dead as well. It would mean God’s word is trustworthy and we know Jesus is the Truth and the Life.
THE CORNERSTONE OF REDEMPTION
The physical resurrection of Christ is the cornerstone of redemption—both for mankind and for the earth. Indeed, without Christ’s being raised from the dead and what it means to all faithful Believers—which is an eternal future for fully restored human beings dwelling on a fully restored Earth—without, there is no Church. The biblical doctrine of the resurrection of the dead begins with the human body but extends far beyond it. R. A. Torrey writes, “We will not be disembodied spirits in the world to come, but redeemed spirits, in redeemed bodies, in a redeemed universe.”1 We will have new bodies in the Kingdom of God.
If we don’t get it right on the resurrection of the body, we’ll get nothing else right. It’s therefore critical that we not merely affirm that Jesus was raised from the dead, but also the resurrection of the dead as a point of doctrine so that we understand the meaning which we affirm.
1 Corinthians 15:1-2 (NKJV)
The Risen Christ, Faith’s REALITY
15 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.
What is the gospel
Paul is saying to the Corinthian Church he is needful to remind them of the gospel that he previously preached to them and which they had received when he first taught them. The gospel they believed concerning Jesus Christ and the message of salvation. Now we are wondering why is Paul needing to remind them (preach) the gospel again to the believers in the Corinthian Church? Because it is the same as it is today for believers. We need to be reminded daily of the gospel. It is a message for those who do believe to be reminded constantly of what the gospel is and what it teaches.
What is the gospel? It is interesting to see what are people’s idea of what they think the gospel means. Some believe it simply means the New Testament. Others think the gospel means treating other people nicely or fairly. Some say it represents equality and opportunity. Or it is about achieving happiness, wealth and social equality. While some would describe the gospel as mysterious and ambiguous. These different views are why there is confusion and why we need and should return to the Bible repeatedly and to have the gospel preached on a regular basis to believers and the unbelievers alike. We should not be confused about how we are saved.
At the end of verse one Paul says …which you received and on which you have taken your stand. He means to withstand the judgment of God. All men are going to stand before a righteous and holy God for judgment. And when we enter that moment, we are either prepared and ready to stand or we enter with no prospect to survive the wrath of God. That is why in verse 2 Paul says the message he delivered is the one that saves them; its saves them from the penalty of sin. The world is filled with men preaching false gospels, false message of salvation. There are religions that claim you can earn your way out of hell or that there is no eternal punishment in the first place. There are no works we can do to earn salvation. And there are even distorted versions of Christianity that have changed the gospel to suit their deceived hearts. But there is only one gospel that has the power to save men on the day of their judgment. If you look at the end of verse 2, Paul adds a provocative statement by saying, you are saved if you are holding firmly to the message he preached to them, unless they believed in vain. The resurrection of Christ.
So instead of holding on to the truth that Paul preached, some of the people in Corinth were now claiming to be saved by a different message. A message the enemy had introduced into the church through false teachers. So Paul is concerned that these people might not have become believers in the first place. They heard Paul preach the true gospel and they professed an acceptance. But when a more appealing alternative showed up, these people ran after the new message with equal gusto. And by not being able to hold onto to the truth, they displayed evidence that they had never really accepted the truth in the first place. They had “believed in vain” which means to say, they never believed at all. The word vain in Greek means to fail or to be empty. There had been a false or empty acceptance. This is precisely the danger with any group of Christians setting the gospel aside assuming that once is enough. The gospel is never a message that gets old. It never loses it’s importance or relevance. Repeating the true gospel is just as important for the person who has been saved as it is for the one who has believed in vain. Therefore, we all need to be rock solid on the message that brings God’s forgiveness. Don’t think of Salvation as being like a game of horseshoes. You don’t get points for getting close to the gospel. You don’t get into heaven because you went to church. Or because you were married to a Believer or because your parents were Believers. You don’t get a pass because you were mostly a good person. There is too much at stake for anyone, whether Christian or not, to misunderstand the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
So what is the true Gospel? Do you want to be sure you’ve believed in the right thing? Paul presents the church the one and only message that saves men from Hell and assures us entrance into Heaven. resurrection
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NKJV)
3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,
The true gospel. This isn’t the only place you can find it in the Bible. In fact, it’s written in one form or another on virtually every page of the Bible. But in these two verses, Paul succinctly captures the one and only message that saves our souls. In verse 3 Paul says this is the message he delivered in the past as well. And this is the message of first importance. There is no other topic or discussion that matters unless and until the gospel is settled in a person’s heart. If someone wants to entertain themselves with religious conversation, there are an infinite number of things you can talk with them about. You can talk about myths, controversies, denominational differences, traditions and mysteries all day long. But the gospel is the topic of first importance Paul says. He doesn’t say it is of highest importance. He says it is the first importance. What he is saying is that there is nothing else to talk about until we are in agreement on the Gospel. Unbelievers with an interest in religion love to engage a Christian on many useless topics…except on the gospel itself. They want to talk about Evolution, the accuracy of the Bible, or the errors of Catholic popes or whatever church scandals are in the news, But ask them to consider the truth of Jesus’ claims, and the conversation ends. Take note of Paul’s example here. As soon as he becomes aware that some may not have understood the Gospel, he returns to the message of first importance. And so should we. Preach the Gospel and nothing more until it’s received. Paul said earlier in 1 Corinthians, when he first entered Corinth he was determined to know nothing except Christ and Him crucified.
1 Corinthians 2:2 (NKJV)
2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
So should we. And then Paul proceeds to explain the fundamental elements of the gospel
message. Christ died for our sins according the scriptures. The gospel story begins with our sin and all men have sinned, we are told in scripture. But if we don’t acknowledge our sin, then we have no reason to consider a message that promises to save us from the penalty of sin. The gospel begins with the sobering reminder that sin brings judgment.
Romans 3:9-12 (NKJV)
All Have Sinned
9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.
10 As it is written:
“There is none righteous, no, not one;
11 There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
12 They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”
Romans 3:23 (NKJV)
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Next week, in Part Two of this 10 part series on Resurrection, Paul is writing to the Corinthian Church and tells us of the benefit of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection and what it really means for us, the believer. And to be aware of false teachers trying to spread a false gospel.
“The author’s biblical interpretations and conclusions presented in this document rely on original teaching used by permission of Verse By Verse Ministry International (VBVMI). The author’s views may not represent the views of VBVMI, it’s Directors or staff. Original VBVMI teaching may be found at http://www.vbvmi.org.”
1. R. A. Torrey, Heaven or Hell (New Kensington, Pa.: Whitaker House, 1985), 68-69
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