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The Risen Christ, Faith's Reality

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LIBERTY UNIVERSITY

“THE RISEN CHRIST, FAITH'S REALITY”[1]

A SERMON SUBMITTED TO REV.  ANDREW MATTHEWS

FOR THE DEGREE REQUIREMENTS OF A

MASTERS

HOMI 501:  PREPARATION OF THE SERMON - EXPOSITORY PREACHINIG

BY

WADE J. WOOD

JUNE 24, 2008


!!! Scripture Text:

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.

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, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then  by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8  Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.

9 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy 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 was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11 Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.[2]

Introduction:

1 Corinthians was written by Paul during his third missionary journey.  It is believed that it was written around 55AD in the city of Ephesus.  This was the church that Paul had founded during his second missionary journey.  The majority of the epistle was written for correction of the behavior of the people of Corinth.  Doctrinal statements are found in the epistle.  Today we are looking at one of these instances. 

Paul knew this church he had planted it.  Corinth was a seedbed of immorality.  From the prostitution, to the worship of idols, the city had become corrupt.  Paul sends this epistle to help strengthen the new believers.  Chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians deals with doctrine, the doctrine of salvation through the risen Lord.  Corinth was worldly, much like we are today.  They had turned away from their original teachings and have focused on the world and its wicked ways.  Paul has to admonish some of the actions of the people and thus he writes the epistle

In today’s world we have become much like the Corinthians.  We have turned away from God and his teachings.  The world today is filled with sex, immorality, and depravity.  People have forgotten what Christ came to do for us.  1 Corinthians 15 is calling us back to the crucifixion of Christ.  It is calling us back to the truth, the only truth.  With this mind we will take a look at this portion of scripture in detail and see what God has to say to us.

 

 

Propositional statement:

Christ’s resurrection:  the key to living.

First Compliment:

          Verses 1-2:  The gospel is preached:

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. [3]

This gospel which Paul preaches and refers to, where did it come from?  We will look at the gospel more closely but we need to look at Paul’s life to find the origin of the Gospel.

Paul was not there when the Lord appeared to the Apostles; he was not there when he appeared to the 500.  When he meets the Lord on the Damascus road he does not know him.  So where did he receive the Gospel. Soon after leaving Damascus he went out into the desert.  It is here that Paul was instructed by the Lord and given the gospel.  It is this gospel that he preached to the Corinthian church.  It was this gospel that would ultimately cause him his life.

a.     It was preached – verse one

It is clear from this verse that Paul preached the Gospel of Christ.  But what is this gospel.  It is the gospel of Jesus Christ.  That God was born of a virgin that he became man.  That he came so others might live.  That he died a horrific death on the cross for the salvation of many. That Jesus is the truth, He is the way, and He is the life.  The only way to salvation is through our belief in Him.  The most important part though is the resurrection.  It is the key to life, to everything.  If Christ did not rise from the dead then there is no belief.  There is no salvation.  So as we look at the Bible and see all the stories it contains leading up to and after the crucifixion, it would mean nothing without the resurrection.

b.     The Gospel was received.

This is a major point.  Paul had planted the church in Corinth during his second missionary journey.  Being a church that he founded he knew what they had been taught and learned.  The people did not reject the gospel but received it.  He preached the gospel of the risen Lord.  Not the Lord on the cross.  He preached a living Lord that presented Himself to him and others after the crucifixion.  Many of us stop at the foot of the cross.  Paul is urging us not to do this.  He is telling us to go beyond the cross, beyond the tomb, to the living breathing Lord that was resurrected.  The resurrection again is the Key to life.  If he did not rise our faith would be in vain.

c.      They stood for the Gospel.

They had heard of the resurrection and believed in it.  It was through their belief that they were saved.  Do you stand for the gospel?  Do you stand for a living savior that rose from the dead?  The gospel is more than a story, more than a fable.  It is truth.  Why is it truth?  It is truth because God ordained it.  He had it written into His scriptures. 

d.     They were saved.

There is no doubt that some were saved and believed unto the Lord.  Paul here tells them to hold fast to their faith and the teachings that they have been given.    Paul finishes these verses with a qualifying statement: “Unless you believed in vain.”  By stating this in this fashion he points to the ones who may have heard the gospel but had a shallow faith, an unbelieving faith.   These were the people that were convinced that the gospel was true, but had no faith in God.  Their love for God was missing.  A true believer would hold fast, stand firm, to the gospel.  They would cling to it like a child to its blanket. 

 

 

Transition:

We have heard a lot so far about the gospel.  What is the gospel?  Where does it come from?  Paul answers these questions in the following verses.

Second Compliment: 

Christ Resurrected:  Verses 3 – 8

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, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.



a.      The Gospel delivered.

Paul received the gospel directly from Christ.  He preached it directly to the Corinthians.  To Paul this was of the most importance.  Christ gave him life and it was his goal that others share in this life.

b.     Explanation of the gospel: Scripture, Scripture, Scripture

a.     Christ died

b.     Christ was buried

c.      Christ rose from the grave

These truths are supported by Paul through scripture.  He refers here to the Old Testament prophecy that told of the Messiah.  These scriptures explained that the messiah would come to this earth and be despised by man, crucified and would rise again.  Jesus is the only one in history that fulfilled the prophecy of the Old Testament.  His life, death, and resurrection were orchestrated by God.  He came to fulfill the perfect will of God.  It is through His resurrection that we are saved.  Yes, he did a great deed for us on the cross.  Yes, he died for our sins.  But, if it were not for the resurrection all those things would have been useless.  Jesus had to be resurrected in fulfillment of the scriptures.

c. The Witnesses

     a. First to Peter.

     b. Then to the twelve

     c. Then to more than 500.

     d. James and the twelve

     e. Paul

Paul lines up quite a list to support the gospel.  Christ said that he would rise again on the third day.  The Corinthians had begun to doubt this truth.  Paul needed to remind them that Christ had been seen by many after his death.  We are far removed from these first person accounts of the seen Lord.  We have no access to Paul as a person or Peter or any of the 500.  But we do have the Holy Scripture, God’s words to us.  Truth is found in the Bible and we can count on its accuracy. 

Transition:

We hear God’s gospel from many sources these days.  We must decipher the truth from what we hear.  How do we do this?  We go to the Word of God and see what he has to say about it.  The Bible is an instruction manual that we can’t live without.  Do you open your Bible more than just at services?  I pray you do.  It is with this in mind that we look at how the Corinthians learned in Paul’s day.

Third Compliment: 

God’s Saving Grace

10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.[4]

a.     First to Paul: verses 9-10

In these verses Paul explains the wonderful power of God’s Grace.  Of all the people on the earth that should have received grace from God it was not Paul.  He had hunted down Christians, persecuting the church in any way possible.  He had no love for the people of Christ.  He would stop at nothing to eradicate this vile group.  It was not until he met the Lord face to face that his heart changed.  His life changed.  By the power of the resurrected Christ, Paul became Christianity’s leading voice. 

b.     By the grace of God.  Verse 10

Paul points out that he is what he is, by the grace of God.  It is truly grace that sets one free.  This is a gift from God, not earned, not bought, and not deserved.  Paul finds it amazing that God would shed such grace on a wretch like him.  That is the great thing about the grace of God.  None of us bought, earned it, or deserved it.  But God gave it freely.  We serve and awesome God.

c.      Work in Vain: verse 10

God’s words and His works do not fall empty.  Paul shows that through his life that God’s words to him were not in vain.  He calls us to do the same.  He calls us to believe onto that Lord and to preach the gospel.  Paul labored.  Through blood, sweat and tears he promoted the gospel.  He was stoned once, whipped several times, ship wrecked, and bitten by a snake.  He did this all to advance the gospel.  What have you done lately?  Have you stepped out in faith and shared the gospel of Christ?  What’s holding you back?  We don’t face nearly any of the problems Paul faced so we have not excuse.

Third Compliment:

We preach, you believe. Verse 11

Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.[5]

Paul wraps up this portion of scripture with an authoritative sentence.  He points to the others that have preached the gospel.  He tells the Corinthians that whether it was I or them that preached to you, you believed.   This is important for us as well.  We hear so much about the gospel in today’s world.  It is up to us to decipher what is truth or not.  We have an advantage over the Corinthians.  We have the Holy Scriptures to guide us.  That is if we use them. 

Transition:

We are nearing the end of our journey.  We have seen the gospel.  That Christ has come so that we might live.  Christ resurrection is the key to everything we talked about.  If Christ did not rise than the cross was of no use.  It is through his cleansing blood that we are saved, but the key is the resurrection.

Review:

We have seen tonight that God was working in the Corinthians lives.  He had the gospel of the resurrected Lord brought to them by Paul.  Paul preached this gospel that was the key to everything.  All that Christ did, His miracles, parables; everything would be worthless if it was not for the resurrection.  So we have seen the gospel preached.  We have seen it received and the people standing for it.  We have seen the explanation of the gospel with the key being the resurrection.  We looked at the witnesses to the gospel and finally God’s saving grace.  We ended with the belief in the gospel of the Corinthians. 

     Application:

How do we apply this section of scripture to our lives?  This is a good question.  Our world today is much like that of the Corinthians.  We for the majority look at things in a worldly view.  This scripture calls us back to God.  It calls us back to the reason Christ went to the cross.  He went for you and me.  We need to believe this, we must believe this.  We do not worship a God who died on a cross.  We worship a resurrected king!  One who has defeated death, and all its attributes, a living King that calls to each one of us from the pages of His holy word.  Will you answer his call, will you open the word and meet the resurrected Christ that is found within.  I urge you to believe in the one that came so that you might live. 

Direction:

Where do we go from here?  I urge you to make a vow this day that you will come to the Lord.  He died for you!  He suffered for you! He rose from the grave, for you!  He asks so little in return, but to believe.  Do you believe?  Pick up your Bible today and get a personal relationship with God.  If you believe, really believe, than come to the father and live.  If you  are not sure, or do not believe, I urge you to get right with the Lord today.  Come to Him and surrender all.  The famous hymn goes:  Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.  We are all wretches in the eyes of God, but His grace is enough to save the worst of us.  Come to  Him, He is calling you, He has risen for you!


! BIBLIOGRAPHY

Willmington, Harold L. The Outline Bible. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999.

________. Willmington's Bible Handbook. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 1997.

McGee, J. Vernon. Thru The Bible Commentary Series. Nashville: T. Nelson, 1991.

MacArthur, John, author, and general, eds. The Macarthur Study Bible: New King James Version. Nashville: Word Bibles, 1997.

Logos Bible Software for research and development.


----

[1]John MacArthur, author, and general, eds., The Macarthur Study Bible: New King James Version (Nashville: Word Bibles, 1997), 1722.

[2] The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. 1 Co 15:1-11

[3] The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. 1 Co 15:1-2

[4] The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. 1 Co 15:10

[5] The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. 1 Co 15:11

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