Aug. 23, 2017

The Fact of Christ’s Resurrection

1 Corinthians 15:1-28 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

The Fact of Christ’s Resurrection

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

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.

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. 25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death. 27 For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. 28 When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.

The heading of today’s text is:  The fact of Christ’s resurrection. Many today will say the resurrection and indeed most of scripture is fable not fact. We need to remember that when Paul wrote these letters, they were written to the church, to those who had believed and received Christ.  In 1 Corinthians 1:18 Paul says:  The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.    So we should not be surprised that unbelievers view the Bible as folly or fable. We then should not bother trying to debate or prove the truth of the word to those who do not believe. Instead we are simply to: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15)  Jesus says: “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” (Mark 16:16)  The convincing though, the proving the gospel is not our responsibility. Jesus says: “I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you.And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:  of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more;of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (John 16:7-11) In Acts 1:8 Jesus says:  “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Through the power of the Holy Spirit we are to testify of and for Christ, to share the good news. It is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit to convince, to convict the world. John 16:13 says:  “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth.” Only the Holy Spirit can convince someone of the fact of the resurrection of Christ.

If the word of God is foolishness to those who are perishing, if they will not believe the truth of the word, how will they believe? Romans 2:4 says:  Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?  It is the goodness and the kindness of God that will lead others to repentance, to changing the way they think. It is the love of God that will draw them to the cross. Romans 5:8 says: God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.    Drawn by love they will see the demonstration of God’s love, the Holy Spirit can convict and convince them regarding sin, righteousness and the truth, the fact of the resurrection of Christ.

Love is a foundational characteristic of God and Christ. If we are to be witnesses for Christ we must do it in and with love. Jesus says:   “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)  He says: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44) Jesus says:  “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)   So love, love for God, love for others, even our enemies and love for our fellow believers is commanded and critical to our testimony of Christ. True love, as we see in 1 Corinthians 13:  …does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,  does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth…    In Romans 12:9 it says:   Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.   So while we are to love, we should never compromise truth. We should never rejoice in unrighteousness. If we love we must abhor what is evil and cling to what is good.

Jesus says:  “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;  nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16) God is love. He is also light. Jesus says:  “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.” (John 3:16-19) We cannot control who will believe and who will view the cross and the resurrection as foolishness. We are to love and to be light. We are to speak and rejoice in truth and righteousness.

Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit. I don’t know why You love me and revealed the truth, the fact of the resurrection of Christ to me, but I am thankful that You did. I pray that You would empower me to be Your witness, to love, to live as light, that I might be a revelation of Christ, Your love and Your truth. As Paul says, may I not preach with persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that they might see the demonstration of Your love, the cross of Christ and know the fact of His resurrection.   Amen.