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04122020 The Resurrection Gospel - Resurrection Sunday

Resurrection Sunday  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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1 Corinthians 15:1–28 NASB95PARA
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. 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. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. 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? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. 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. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, 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. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. 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. 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.

Introduction

The Way of the Flesh

In the first eleven chapters, the Apostle Paul has been dealing with what we might call “the ways of the flesh” – “the carnalities,” the things concerning the flesh, the hurtful, false and divisive things that were occurring in the church at Corinth. These same things are also present in the churches today – of Pueblo – Colorado Springs – the world.
But then, beginning with Chapter 12, Paul introduces what he himself calls “the spiritualities,” the things concerning the spirit, what the Spirit of God has come to do in our lives.
Paul points out that there is:
FIRST an indwelling of the Spirit, whose object is to exalt and magnify the person of Jesus, our Lord.
THEN there are the “gifts of the Spirit,” which are given to all believers so the body might be built up and God might be glorified.
Then in Chapter 13, with the “fruit of the Spirit,” the exercise of gifts to one another is to intended to help us produce in our lives that amazing fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Finally we come in this section to the ultimate truth, the heart of it all – the good news of the resurrection of the body after death – the resurrection gospel.
Here Paul brings us fact to face with the great reality of life, one that is even more certain that taxes – that is death. You may evade paying your taxes, but you are not going to avoid growing old and ultimately dying. We may try to avoid it. Many people work hard at trying to cover up all the evidence of age and decay, but we have to face the fact that there is an invisible, irresistible, and inevitable process going on in every one of us right now – that starts even at birth.
No matter how old, or how young we may be, this process is slowly stealing our youth from us – dulling or senses so we do not see quite as well as we used to nor hear quite as well as we ought.
Now, in one of the most magnificent passages in all of literature, The Apostle Paul is facing this ultimate enemy of mankind with the ultimate declaration of the good news that Jesus has conquered even this area of our lives. Paul first shows us, in the opening verses, how the resurrection of the body is part of the foundation of the Christian faith; it is an essential part of the good news of the gospel.
1 Corinthians 15:1–4 ESV
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word 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 in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

Here Paul sets out in very simple language the heart of the RESURRECTION GOSPEL.

This is the foundation of faith, the good news about Jesus Christ.
As in most of Paul’s 13 letters, there are two simple and obvious divisions.
There is the INDICATIVE and the IMPERATIVE
Paul explains what the gospel is and then he tells us what this gospel does in us and through us.
He explains what the gospel IS.
So, the first thing he explains: “What is the Gospel”?
Ask someone this question: “What is the gospel?”
And you will get all sorts of answers. Paul says in order to understand what it is that the gospel does, you have to fully understand what the gospel is. And he lays the theological foundation for what we do firmly on the foundation of what Christ has done.

According to Paul there are three elements of the gospel.

He says, “I delivered to you as of first importance . . .” (v. 3) he brought to these people in the church something that is foundational, that which is fundamental to our understanding . . . what I also received.”
And from whom did he receive it? He tells us in other places that it was from the Lord himself. Jesus appeared to him and taught him what the gospel was. He did not learn it from the other apostles.
If you read the opening words of Paul in the letter to the Galatians, he says, “I did not learn it from men, nor was I taught it by man” (). The Lord himself delivered this message to him, and what was delivered to Paul, by the words and lips of Jesus, he passed on to these Corinthians church.
They received it, they believed it by God’s grace, they accepted the One of whom it spoke. Paul now says, here is what that word is and he reminds them of what he has preached to them:

The First element of the Resurrection Gospel

“Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures.”

This is the first element. Isn’t it amazing that he does not mention a word about the entire life of Jesus Christ? He passes over the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. He doesn’t mention the silent years at Nazareth. He skips the journeys up and down on the hillsides of Judea and Galilee. He doesn’t mention Jesus’ teaching and his miracles. He immediately goes right to his death.
There, Paul says, that is the gospel. Isn’t this amazing? This is where the gospel begins. And even here he does not simply say, “Christ died.”
Ask people today what the gospel is and this is often what you will hear them say, “Jesus lived and died.” But, that is not the gospel. Everyone believes that Jesus died. Go to any of the modern presentations of the life of Jesus, and what happens at the end. He dies. Every humanistic philosophy today accepts the fact the Jesus died. But there is no good news in that.

The good news is Christdied for our sins according to the Scriptures.

That is the good news, that his death accomplished something on our behalf. It changes us. It delivers us. It sets us free from the bondage of the law, sin & death. That death has great significance in the mind and heart and eyes of God, and that is the good news.
As Peter puts it in his words,
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree,” ().
To use the words of Isaiah, “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (, ESV)

This is the good news, that God did something for us in that event upon the cross.

As we consider the cross, and the Jesus dying in our place, we see that the good news of it is that God takes it seriously, and he is prepared to treat us in an entirely different way than we deserve to be treated on the basis of the death of Jesus on our behalf.
That’s the gospel. This is the good news. There on the cross, we are told, he dealt with our failures. He dealt with our rebellion. He dealt with our sinful, guilty lives. He did something about it so our dark and sin stained past does not any longer need to trouble us. He has given his life as an atonement for sin, and with that fact we enter into hope and freedom.

Of course, without that fact, life is literally hopeless.

This philosophy that many people have that God is a judge who weighs the good and the evil of life – and if the good outweighs the evil you get in and if it does not you have to get out – is not only unbiblical but it is illogical, for how could a God of holiness and justice and purity every accept any kind of evil at all? His demands are for perfection and never anything less. He himself is perfect, and he says to us over and over again, “Be perfect, even as your father in heaven is perfect.” What are we going to do with a guilty past in the light of that? The answer of course, is found in the good news. In the cross of Jesus, God has already dealt with our sinful selves - past, present & future. And he presents us with the good news - the gospel of Christ Jesus.

The Second Element of the Resurrection Gospel

According to Paul, Jesus not only “died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures” - foretold, anticipated and fulfilled in the cross – he was also “buried.” Why does Paul include the burial of Jesus? Isn’t it enough that Jesus died and rose again? Would that not be good news enough?

The WCF SC Qu. #27 asks, “Wherein did Christ humiliation consist?”

“Christ’s humiliation consisted in his being born, and that in a low condition, made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God and the cursed death of the cross, in being buried and continuing under the power of death for a time.”

The last words that Christ uttered from the cross were, “It is finished.”

His active suffering – the suffering in which He himself bore our sins in His body upon the tree – was done. But his humiliation did not stop there. He lifeless body was taken down from the cross and prepared for burial in a tomb that had never been used. His Spirit at death immediately went into the presence of God, but his body remained under the power of death for a time.
Man’s returning to the dust from which he is taken, is represented in Scripture as part of the punishment of sin – “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”” (, ESV).
Christ had to experience even the separation of body and soul and the place of corruption so that we might in Him experience the hope that the death of our bodies is not the ultimate end.
The Apostle Paul in Romans says,
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (, ESV)
The burial of Jesus is a part of His humiliation on behalf of those he came to save. His burial did not simply serve to prove that Jesus was really dead, but removes the terrors of the grave for the redeemed and sanctifies the grave for us who are by faith resting in Him who has gone before us.
Here is the RESURRECTION GOSPEL...
Christ died for our sins according to the Scripture
He was buried . . .

The THIRD element

“That he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.”
It was anticipated the he would die. It was equally anticipated that he would rise again from the death. The Old Testament said so. Christ himself referred to this resurrection “Destroy this temple and I will raise it up in three days.”
On the third day, to the amazement of the disciples, he fulfilled all those prophesies. He was not merely resuscitated (brought back to life), he was resurrected. That means he came back to life that was somehow more than the life he had before his death – a real life – a glorified life – the same life, yet a different life.
And the amazing mystery of the resurrection is that the same Jesus that was taken off the cross the previous Friday with the wounds in his body that could be touched and felt and seen was the same Jesus who met with His disciples afterwards.. He is not here, he is risen. This is the gospel – the heart of the message of hope and salvation.

Christ died. Christ was buried. Christ is risen.

This is the resurrection gospel.

Here is the indicative, but what about the imperative? What does knowing this impel us to do with this?
All of these things are something that happened to Jesus as our substitute, but all through the Scriptures, everywhere in the word of God, we learn that this is something that is expected to happen to us.
““But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (, ESV)
This is part of the gospel message. There is a sense in which these facts about Jesus – his death, his burial and his resurrection – are a shadow of the things that are to come for us. This is the pattern – a picture of how God is working and is going to work in us.

In order for us to live, we must die.

Romans 6:5–6 ESV
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” (, ESV)
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” (, ESV)
Galatians 2:20 ESV
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (, ESV)
As we read the Scriptures we see how many passages tells us this:
As we read the Scriptures we see how many passages tells us this: We are to “put off the old man” () because it is “dead with Christ,” (), “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (, ESV)
We are to “put off the old man” () because it is “dead with Christ,” (),
1 Peter 2:24 ESV
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (, ESV)

What has to go?

It is this selfish self, this god which is me, this insistence on being able to run my own life and make my own decisions and be the master of my fate, the captain of my own soul – that is what has to go.
Jesus himself said, “If any man will come after me let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me,” (, , ).
So in order to live, we must die. In order to truly have live, we must lose it.
It hurts when it happens. We don’t like it. We may even fear it. Yet it keeps happening over and over again.
When something dies physically what do we do? We bury it.
We have to accept the fact that those things that die within us must be buried. That is part of the gospel, too. We must not try to revive it again. If that thing is the selfish self, the hunger for self-expression and self-fulfillment – of being glorified, or being the center of attention, then we have to let it die.
That is the point. We must not try to keep snatching it back from the grave way and bring it back to life again. We must bury it.
We must bury it.
That’s not easy is it? We like to have our own way. We like to feel in charge and in control of everything in our lives. We are uneasy to let somebody else make decision for us, or run our own affairs, and we keep trying to bring it back. But part of the gospel is this: our old selves have been crucified with Christ and buried with Him and brought back to a newness of live.
Romans 6:10–11 ESV
For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (, ESV)
For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (, ESV)
This is what Paul means when he says, “put off the old man which was crucified,” (; ). Put it away and let it go and do not try to hang on to it and cling to your own desires because a resurrection has occurred.
“I have been crucified with Christ”() – “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (, ESV)

Here is the resurrection gospel.

Christ was crucified.
Christ was buried.
Christ arose.
And those who by God’s grace are trusting in Him and Him alone are new creatures – the old has passed away, the new has come ().
We have been crucified with Christ.
We have been buried with Him.
In him we have been resurrected to a walk in newness of live.
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