Easter 2011, 1 Cor. 15:1-24: “What is of First Importance, Jesus Died For Our Sins and was Raised”
1. Introductory story:
From the old TV show with Art LinkLetter named “Kids Say The Darnest Things”, Art asked a little boy, 'What story do you like the best from Sunday School Class?" The little boy said, " When Jesus stayed in the cave for three days and three nights, when he came outside, he didn't see his shadow so he went back inside.”
2. The importance of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is seen in what John MacArthur has written: “The truth of the resurrection gives life to every other area of gospel truth. The resurrection is the pivot on which all of Christianity turns and without which none of the other truths would much matter. Without the resurrection, Christianity would be so much wishful thinking, taking its place alongside all other human philosophy and religious speculation.”
Every doctrine of
the scriptures is dependent upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the
dead, as this quote from Charles Spurgeon reveals: "The divinity of
Christ finds its surest proof in his resurrection (
Sir Lionel Alfred
has written, “The bones of Muhammad are in
5. The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ: Matt. 27:33-28:10:
33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of a Skull, 34 they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall; and after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink. 35 And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they began to keep watch over Him there. 37 And above His head they put up the charge against Him which read, “THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” 38 At that time two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 And those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking Him and saying, 42 “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him. 43 “He trusts in God; let God rescue Him now, if He delights in Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” 44 The robbers who had been crucified with Him were also insulting Him with the same words. 45 Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. 46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” 47 And some of those who were standing there, when they heard it, began saying, “This man is calling for Elijah.” 48 Immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink. 49 But the rest of them said, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him.” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. 51 And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. 54 Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” 55 Many women were there looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from
6. Today, we are going to look at 1 Corinthians 15:1-24 and discuss particularly the primary importance of the death of Jesus Christ for our sins, and his resurrection from the dead. Hans Urs von Balthasar has written the following about how these two doctrinal truths are mutually dependent upon one another, “If one does away with the fact of the Resurrection, one also does away with the Cross, for both stand and fall together, and one would then have to find a new center for the whole message of the gospel”.
7. The text for today’s message is 1 Corinthians 15:1-24 (NASB95):
make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you
received, in which also you stand, 2
which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you,
unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as
of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according
to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried,
and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren
at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to
me also. 9 For I am the least of the
apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the
8. VS 15:1-2 - “1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.” – The apostle Paul writes that he is going to make known the gospel which he had preached to them and which they received and trusted, the gospel by which if you believe it you will be saved, if you hold fast the word that had been preached
8.1. Paul writes that he is going to make know to us the ‘gospel’, and the Enhanced Strong’s Greek Lexicon includes the following definition for this word:
2098 εὐαγγέλιον [euaggelion /yoo·ang·ghel·ee·on/] n n. From the same as 2097; TDNT 2:721; TDNTA 267;
GK 2295; 77 occurrences; AV translates as “gospel” 46 times, “gospel of Christ”
11 times, “gospel of God” seven times, “gospel of the Kingdom” three times, and
translated miscellaneously 10 times. 1 a reward for good tidings. 2 good tidings. 2a the glad
tidings of the
8.2. The gospel message is a “good news” message, and it is “good news” because of what it provides and promises to us through Jesus Christ.
8.3. Note here also that Paul writes that a person is ‘saved’ if they believe this gospel message that Paul is now described, and if they ‘hold fast the word’ that is contained in this gospel message.
8.4. Notice here that not to continue to hold fast to the message of the gospel that Paul writes here is to have ‘believed in vain’. It is not enough to believe this gospel message for a while and then to quite believing it.
8.5. Many today, both within the mainstream church as well as outside the church, are trying to say that it does not matter “what” it is that a person believes as long as they believe “something”. This passage we are studying today teaches us just the opposite. It teaches us that there is essential truth regarding God, Christ, and salvation, and that you must believe this truth and hold fast to this truth, if you want to be saved for eternity. For all mankind, believing these essential truths is an eternal life or death situation.
9. VS 15:3-4 - “3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” – The apostle Paul writes about that which is of ‘first importance’ in the gospel message, namely, that Christ died for our sins, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day
Paul writes here about how that he had ‘received’ the gospel
message, and in the first chapter of the book of Galatians, he writes in length
about how that he had received this gospel message directly from Jesus Christ
while in the deserts of Arabia: Galatians 1:11-18, “11 For I would have you
know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to
man. 12 For I neither received it
from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of
Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my
former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God
beyond measure and tried to destroy it; 14 and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my
contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my
ancestral traditions. 15 But when God, who had set
me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was
pleased 16 to reveal His Son in me
so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult
with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to
Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and
returned once more to Damascus. 18
Then three years later I went up to
9.2. Paul states here that he is delivering to the Corinthians that which is of ‘first importance’, meaning that which is the most essential truth in the Christian tradition and faith. Then, he proceeds to define those truths. I have been in much discussion lately concerning what is to be considered ‘false teaching’ or ‘heresy’, verses what may be just erroneous teaching (we as Christians can agree to disagree about many things in the scriptures). In the early history of the church, church councils met and discussed this very issue, and as a result they wrote a couple of ‘creeds’ or ‘common confessions’, namely “The Apostle’s Creed” (believed traditionally to have been written by the apostles themselves, it is first seen in published form in 710AD) and “The Nicene Creed” (adopted by the Nicaean Council in 325AD). The early heresies confronted by those councils involved mistaken notions concerning the Trinity (God in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and the divinity of Christ (the Eternal Son of God who became flesh in the incarnation). However, Paul in the first chapter of the book of Galatians states that if anyone preaches “another gospel” that he is to be accursed (condemned to hell). Those things where are heretical then involved teachings not only that contradict the very nature of God (the Trinity) but also the “gospel” message itself (or the essential truth that a person has to believe in order to be saved). Here is the first creed of the church:
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
He descended into hell.
The third day He arose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
the holy catholic church;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body;
and the life everlasting.
9.3. Notice here the Paul writes that Jesus ‘died’. He didn’t appear to die, and He didn’t just come close to dying. He died. And, it was His bodily resurrection from the dead that occurred three days later. In John 2:18-22, we are told how that Jesus promised that His rising from the dead after three days would be the sign that He was the Son of God and Messiah, “18 The Jews therefore answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, seeing that You do these things?”19 Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”20 The Jews therefore said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body.22 When therefore He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had spoken.”
9.4. There are two things which are part of that which is of ‘first importance’ for which Paul writes that they occurred ‘according to the Scriptures’, meaning that they occurred according to the prophetic passages in the Old Testament:
9.4.1. ‘Christ died for our sins’.
126.96.36.199. Christ death had a purpose, it was a substitutionary death Paul writes. He died not because the Devil won the battle, not because evil men had their way with Him, not because of a big coincidence. Rather, He died ‘for our sins’, or in our place, where we deserved to die, because we have a debt of sin for transgressions of God’s Laws.
9.4.2. ‘He was raised on the third day’.
188.8.131.52. The first prophecy in the scriptures that Jesus would be raised from the dead is found in Genesis 3:15, “15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”
184.108.40.206. Psalm 16:10, “10 For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.”
9.5. I don’t want to spend the time to prove this, but in order for Jesus to have spent three days and nights in the grave (as the scriptures tell us would happen) and then raise on Sunday, tradition has the dating wrong, and Jesus had to have been crucified on Thursday instead of Friday.
VS 15:5-11 - “5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred
brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen
asleep; 7 then He appeared to
James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to
be called an apostle, because I persecuted the
10.1. Paul describes the other appearances of the risen Christ:
10.1.1. Cephas (Peter)
10.1.2. the twelve
10.1.3. more than five hundred brethren
10.1.4. James (Jesus’ half-brother)
10.1.5. all the apostles
10.1.6. Paul (me)
11. VS 15:12-19 - “12 Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. 15 Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” – Paul explains that everything in Christianity stands or falls based upon the verity of Jesus Christ being raised from the dead
11.1. If Christ is not raised from the dead, Paul says that the following are true:
11.1.1. His preaching is in vain.
11.1.2. Our faith is in vain.
11.1.3. Paul and the apostles are false witnesses.
11.1.4. Our faith is worthless.
11.1.5. We are still in our sins.
11.1.6. All who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
11.1.7. Having faith in Christ only in this life we of all men are most to be pitied.
12. VS 15:20-24 - “20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, 24 then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.” – Because Christ was raised from the dead, all believers will enjoy resurrection life in Christ and also be raised from the dead