Faithlife Sermons

Redemption Delivered

Easter  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction

Good morning and thank you so much for joining us for this Easter service. He is Risen! I can almost hear your joyful responses. This is certainly a remarkable and strange way to celebrate Easter and it is one we will never forget. If you’re joining us for the first time please take a moment to fill out the contact card that is linked at the top of our feed so we can know you were here with us. If you have your Bibles please turn in them with me to , .
In the history of the world there have been several cataclysmic events that have changed our way of life. In 1610 BC Mount Thera erupted in the Aegean Sea reputedly with the force of hundreds of atomic bombs. In 1815 Mr. Tambora on Sumbawa Island in Indonesia erupted killing at least 70,000 people and emitting a sound wave heard over 1,200 miles away. In 1883 another volcanic eruption, this one on the Indonesian island of Krakatoa killed over 36,000 people with a blast 10,000 times that of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The blast also sent out massive tsunamis including one wave that was 120 feet high.
All of these cataclysmic events share one thing in common - death and devastation on a massive scale. But there is one singular cataclysmic event that has had a greater. more lasting impact on human history that didn’t take a single life. In fact it is the only cataclysmic event that actually gave life - by now I’m sure you know what I’m referring to. It is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Tim Keller describes the resurrection as “the hinge upon which the story of the world pivots.” The effects of the resurrection were so cataclysmic that they are still being felt today. And it is to this great event that we will turn this morning as we complete our study of redemption that we began on Friday night with redemption’s purchase through the shed blood of Christ on the cross.
This morning we’ll look at the truth of redemption delivered. And we’ll look at it from this beautiful defense of the truth of the resurrection that Paul the Apostle writes in his letter to the church at Corinth. Please look with me at the fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians and we’ll be reading verses 12-22.
1 Corinthians 15:12–22 CSB
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say, “There is no resurrection of the dead”? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is in vain, and so is your faith. Moreover, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified wrongly about God that he raised up Christ—whom he did not raise up, 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. Those, then, who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone. But as it is, Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.
“It is Finished” with these words Jesus completed the purchase of our redemption and then He died. But the plan of salvation also requires that a resurrection happen. And a resurrection that is unique, singular, unlike anything else that has ever happened in history. Redemption had to be delivered. It had been paid for, purchased on Friday at the cross but now this morning it is being delivered from the open door of the tomb. Paul is going to walk us through why this truth is so important to the Christian life. We’ll start by looking at the ultimate fake news in verses 12-14, then oh pity me in verses 15-19 and finally news you can believe in in verses 20-22. If you’re a note taker at home that is our outline for this morning - the ultimate fake news, oh pity me and news you can believe in. Lets look at the Word of God together and dig into this vital truth of the Christian life.

The Ultimate Fake News

Paul starts off with a comment that the Corinthians knew well - that in fact Christ had been proclaimed among them as having been raised from the dead. He is actually shocked and astonished that they would start to question this because he had been so diligent in proclaiming this truth to them. Look up a few verses to 15:3-4
1 Corinthians 15:3–4 CSB
For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
Paul had passed on to them that the Scriptures required and taught that Christ would be raised from the dead on the third day. Peter, in his address to the crowds on Pentecost, demonstrates one instance in the Old Testament that demonstrates that the Christ would be resurrected
Psalm 16:8–11 CSB
I always let the Lord guide me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my whole being rejoices; my body also rests securely. For you will not abandon me to Sheol; you will not allow your faithful one to see decay. You reveal the path of life to me; in your presence is abundant joy; at your right hand are eternal pleasures.
Psalm 16:8-11And yet some of the Corinthians had fallen into the habit of doubting whether there in fact was a resurrection from the dead. It is possible that the Corinthians had fallen into the prevalent teaching among Greco-Roman society that said that the physical was evil and the spiritual was good. One of the dominant philosophical thoughts that dominated the landscape of Greco-Roman society was that of the Epicureans who maintained that the soul can no longer exist after the dissolution of the body. One scholar has said that “The belief of the ancients, both Greek and Roman, in immortality, was not widespread, nor clear, nor strong.”
Job teaches that there will be a physical resurrection, not only of the Messiah but of all men
Job 19:26 CSB
Even after my skin has been destroyed, yet I will see God in my flesh.
Job And yet some of the Corinthians had fallen into the habit of doubting whether there in fact was a resurrection from the dead. It is possible that the Corinthians had fallen into the prevalent teaching among Greco-Roman society that said that the physical was evil and the spiritual was good. One of the dominant philosophical thoughts that dominated the landscape of Greco-Roman society was that of the Epicureans who maintained that the soul can no longer exist after the dissolution of the body. One scholar has said that “The belief of the ancients, both Greek and Roman, in immortality, was not widespread, nor clear, nor strong.”
At the end of , David prays these words
Psalm 17:15 CSB
But I will see your face in righteousness; when I awake, I will be satisfied with your presence.
And yet some of the Corinthians had fallen into the habit of doubting whether there in fact was a resurrection from the dead. It is possible that the Corinthians had fallen into the prevalent teaching among Greco-Roman society that said that the physical was evil and the spiritual was good. One of the dominant philosophical thoughts that dominated the landscape of Greco-Roman society was that of the Epicureans who maintained that the soul can no longer exist after the dissolution of the body. One scholar has said that “The belief of the ancients, both Greek and Roman, in immortality, was not widespread, nor clear, nor strong.”
Coupled to that thought was the thought of the Jewish Sadducees who maintained that there was no resurrection. This led to a very lassiez faire attitude in ancient times that Paul will refer to later in , and that Solomon refers to frequently throughout the book of Ecclesiastes, to live life to the fullest now - “Eat, drink, and be merry” or as one Greek was quoted as saying “Well, well, if we know we must die, why should we not live?”
We live in a day an age where there is much teaching about death that also leads Christians away from the truths of Scripture. Reincarnation, soul sleep, annihilationism are all taught amongst other world religions and their influence has been felt in the church. Even during the times of Paul people yearned for salvation but it was more along the lines of many current yearnings for salvation - the desire for comfort in this present life, health, wealth, protection and sustenance. Now more than ever we are particularly concerned about those issues - but is that really what salvation is about. If it is then the resurrection of the dead is not necessary. And yet Paul had proclaimed to these Corinthians, and to us, that resurrection of the dead is indeed necessary for salvation. In fact he includes it as an integral part of the Gospel that he proclaimed. Look again earlier in the chapter at verse 1
1 Corinthians 15:1 CSB
Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel I preached to you, which you received, on which you have taken your stand
The Gospel that Paul preached to them is what we looked at in verses 3 and 4. Included in there is the statement that He was raised, meaning He was raised from the dead, on the third day.
The Gospel is built on the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This truth was being threatened by the Corinthians and it is one that is challenged in our day and age as well. You would think that after 2000 years of preaching that this matter would be settled. But the 2018 State of Theology study by Ligonier Ministries paints a different picture. 20% of those asked whether “Biblical accounts of the physical (bodily) resurrection of Jesus are completely accurate. This event actually occured.” responded that they disagreed with the statement on some level. This is deeply troubling that there are still some who dispute the truth of this event.
Paul goes on in our passage this morning to say that if the Corinthians are right, if there is no resurrection from the dead then not even Christ has been raised. And therein lies the problem with their whole system of thought. But we cannot pass by this lightly. This is significant to our faith in that Christ was both truly God and truly man. He was not dualist in His nature - in that He only appeared to be human but instead was wearing a puppet skin so to speak. Christ was truly human and if there were no resurrection from the dead His human nature would have remained in the grave. Yet throughout the Gospel accounts following His resurrection He has people touch Him, He eats, He demonstrates physical characteristics that would only be possible if He were truly raised from the dead in a human body. So to say that there is no resurrection from the dead assaults the entirety of Christian doctrine and threatens the very foundations of the truths that Paul had taught them. Paul is going to expose the absurdity and futility of these thoughts for us over the next few verses.
But before we get to that there was a time before I joined the Navy when I was in college. Part of my freshman year involved taking a seminar and I took one on King Arthur. One day we were in class and we were discussing the possible locations for King Arthur’s final resting place in the modern day. I must have been day dreaming because the professor switched the conversation from modern times to the times of King Arthur right about the time I piped up with the question as to why don’t we just get a backhoe and dig him up. The same question could be asked about Jesus.
Have you ever wondered why the Pharisees didn’t just produce a body? I know their whole scheme of bribing the Roman guards to say that His disciples had come during the night and had stolen His body but wouldn’t it just have been easier to produce a body at some point? This may sound a bit graphic but before Pentecost the body of Jesus would have been decomposed enough (if He had still been dead) that a proper identification would have been difficult.
The truth of that is that they couldn’t then anymore than a person could produce a tomb that Jesus was in today - because He left it empty. Christ Himself promised it would be so. B.B. Warfield once said
300 Quotations for Preachers from the Modern Church The Resurrection Christ’s Sufficient Credential

Our Lord Himself deliberately staked His whole claim to the credit of men upon His resurrection. When asked for a sign He pointed to this sign as His single and sufficient credential.

When pressed by the Pharisees and Sadducees for a sign of His authority Christ pointed forward to His resurrection
Matthew 12:38–40 CSB
Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” He answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.
Matthew
But if the Corinthians, and the rest of the ancient world, were correct in their assumptions that there is no resurrection then even Christ was not raised from the dead. And this would have dire consequences for the Christian faith. If Christ had not been raised then Paul’s whole existence and preaching would be in vain. It wouldn’t matter whether it were powerfully delivered or delivered in simple language. It wouldn’t matter what he referenced or quoted - if Christ had not been raised from the dead the first thing to fall would be the content of the Gospel and with it the preaching of that Gospel.
Not only would the proclamation of the Gospel be worthless but for those who put their faith in the truths that Paul and the other Apostles taught there would be no hope. Their faith would be kenos meaning empty, groundless and of no value to them at all. Paul has just told them that the core of the Gospel is three faceted - that Jesus lived (implied by the notion that only a living person can experience death), that He died and that He was raised from the dead. Commenting on these verses Dr. MacArthur said “Apart from the resurrection of Jesus could not have conquered sin or death or hell, and those three great evils would forever be man’s conquerors.” Removing any part of that truth and the preaching of the Gospel would have no more value than the snake oil salesman who offers an elixir to heal all maladies but in fact can heal none. If there were no resurrection not only would the faith of those chronicled in , that great testament to the faithfulness of Biblical characters, be a sad record of the duped and duplicitous but so would the treasured stories of men like Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, John Knox, Charles Spurgeon, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards…the list could go on and on. If there were no resurrection, not only should anyone who falls victim to this preaching be pitied but the practitioners of such a practice should be pitied as well.

Oh, Pity Me

C.S. Lewis is famous for having said of Christ “Jesus was either a liar, lunatic or lord”. Paul goes on here in this passage to say that anyone who proclaims the resurrection of Christ, if in fact the dead are not raised, is a liar of the first magnitude because they are mischaracterizing God. There is no way to explain this away as a simple mistake. No way to justify the conspiracy. And this calls into question not only the New Testament preachers and writers of the Gospels and Epistles but in fact calls into question the entire corpus of the Scriptures. So much of the New Testament relies on the truths found in the Old Testament that to disprove one would be to disprove the other.
And the men would have well known the Scriptural warnings against false witness and false prophecy. They would have known they were taking their own fates in their hands if they were lying. says
Job 13:7 CSB
Would you testify unjustly on God’s behalf or speak deceitfully for him?
The Law carries warnings for those who would mischaracterize God or preach a false message for Him
Deuteronomy carries warnings for those who would make false proclamations on God’s behalf
Deuteronomy 13:1–5 CSB
“If a prophet or someone who has dreams arises among you and proclaims a sign or wonder to you, and that sign or wonder he has promised you comes about, but he says, ‘Let us follow other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us worship them,’ do not listen to that prophet’s words or to that dreamer. For the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul. You must follow the Lord your God and fear him. You must keep his commands and listen to him; you must worship him and remain faithful to him. That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he has urged rebellion against the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the place of slavery, to turn you from the way the Lord your God has commanded you to walk. You must purge the evil from you.
Deuteronomy 13:1
Later in Proverbs Solomon would say
Proverbs 19:5 CSB
A false witness will not go unpunished, and one who utters lies will not escape.
If these men, Paul included, proclaimed a Gospel that included a resurrection that didn’t happen they would have been preaching a false god to the people and just as guilty of leading them astray as the prophets talked about in Deuteronomy. For two thousand years men have been burned, hacked to death, shot, watched their families murdered, and themselves killed for their testimony of the Gospel - if this were all for a false belief, if the resurrection were not true what a complete waste of life. And more than the men that preached the Gospel, if the resurrection were not true then Christ Himself would have been a liar as well and not worthy of being respected, followed or worshipped as the Son of God. And if He wasn’t the Son of God then the sacrificial, substitutionary atonement that He claimed to have made on the cross would have been worthless.
This is even an indictment on the good nature of God. Verses 15 and 16 say three times the dead are not raised, again the dead are not raised and then not even Christ has been raised. These verbs are in the passive sense and are renderings of what is known as the divine passive meaning that if they were in the active tense it would be God who would be effecting the raising of the dead. But instead if these are not raised then it is characterizing a God who makes creatures for His own pleasure and then when He is finished with them simply lets them expire. And not only to expire but to go on to an eternity of torment.
Paul says if Christ has not been raised then you are still in your sins and your faith is worthless. What an awful thought to have placed your faith in something, to have followed it your whole life only to die and find out that what you’ve believed is a lie. Even just contemplating the possibility with respect to Christianity breaks my heart that there are people out there who are following false systems that only lead them to ruin and destruction. This is the deepest and most personal consequence for all of this.
We all fall for fake news now and then. About a week ago my kids came to me in a fit because they’d seen a picture posted of Donald Trump with the CNN headline reading something like “All students will have to repeat their current grades starting in the fall.” They were very upset but it proved to be fake news. But for us to place our trust, our eternity on a lie and only find out at the end when we stand before God that what we have been trusting in is a lie would be awful. But there are deeper theological concerns for this - if we are still in our sins then Christ’s payment failed, He was powerless to conquer sin and the judgement that hung over our heads before we placed our faith in Him is still there not only for us but for all those who have gone before us.
If Christ is not raised then all of those who have fallen asleep - a New Testament euphemism for death - have also perished forever. The promise that we give at funerals saying that it is okay to grieve but that we should not grieve as those who have no hope because we know that Christ will bring all those who have died with Him when He returns is a lie. The comforting thought that all of our loved ones who have been so faithful and many who have faithfully shown us the way of Christianity are all just dead.
Oh how pitiful we would be if Christ is not raised from the dead today. Paul even says it here that if we put our faith in Christ for this life only - meaning if our faith is only valuable while we yet live - then we would have put our faith in nothing and we would be the most pitiful creatures ever.
Regarding the resurrection Charles Spurgeon said

1213The resurrection of our divine Lord from the dead is the cornerstone of Christian doctrine. Perhaps I might more accurately call it the keystone of the arch of Christianity, for if that fact could be disproved, the whole fabric of the gospel would fall to the ground.

But there is a beautiful truth in all of this despair and doubt. It is the word that Paul has repeated seven times throughout this short section of Scripture. It is the preposition “if”. Six are significant - If there is no resurrection verse 13; If Christ has not been raised verse 14; If in fact the dead are not raised verse 15; If the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised verse 16; If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless verse 17 and IF we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone verse 19. If, if, if, if, if, if. It’s all that’s necessary in a courtroom to place a reasonable doubt in the mind of 12 men and women to allow someone to go free. But here Paul is using it to expose the absurdity of the Corinthians thought process. You see they knew that Christ had been raised from the dead and they knew the truths that Paul is about to explain - the important truths for us this morning - the news that we can believe in.
But there is a beautiful truth in all of this despair and doubt. It is the word that Paul has repeated seven times throughout this short section of Scripture. It is the preposition “if”. Six are significant - If there is no resurrection verse 13; If Christ has not been raised verse 14; If in fact the dead are not raised verse 15; If the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised verse 16; If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless verse 17 and IF we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone verse 19. If, if, if, if, if, if. It’s all that’s necessary in a courtroom to place a reasonable doubt in the mind of 12 men and women to allow someone to go free. But here Paul is using it to expose the absurdity of the Corinthians thought process. You see they knew that Christ had been raised from the dead and they knew the truths that Paul is about to explain - the important truths for us this morning - the news that we can believe in.

News You Can Believe In

Paul says But as it is. Stop there for a second. There really is no more hopeful word in all of scripture than that three letter word but. I know many of you have heard me say it before. That word, in an instant, takes all that came before it and wipes it all away. In it wipes away our spiritually dead state when it introduces the words that God being rich in mercy has made us alive in Christ Jesus. That phrase would be meaningless if it were not for this phrase that we’re looking at here - But as it is, Christ has been raised from the dead. There’s no doubt here. There’s no equivocation - maybe, no if. Paul is reaffirming what his readers already knew. But Christ’s resurrection had deep significance for them beyond just the simple fact of His being resurrected.
Paul says that Jesus was the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. The firstfruits were a significant part of the Israelite’s harvest cycle. They were prescribed by the Law to offer the first of their crops, a representative sample of the best of their crops to the Lord. They could not harvest the rest of the crops until the firstfruits had been offered. Christ is the first fruit of those who would believe on the Lord and He Himself is the offering to His Father.
He is also a firstfruit in the sense that His resurrection was different than any other that would take place in Scripture. There are several instances in Scripture where people are raised from the dead. Just a few weeks ago Kyle took us through the passage in Mark that told the story of Jairus’ daughter being raised from the dead by Jesus. tells the story of Jesus calling Lazarus from the grave. Peter raises Dorcas. Paul raises Eutychus (a cautionary tale against sleeping in church and against long winded sermons). But every single one of them died again. Only Christ has been raised from the dead to never experience death again - because He can’t. Through His death and resurrection He removed the threat and power of death - as Paul will say later in this chapter
1 Corinthians 15:55 CSB
Where, death, is your victory? Where, death, is your sting?
1 Corinthians 15:
Christ is the firstfruits of the great harvest of believers that is to follow at the end of the age. As Dr. MacArthur writes “His resurrection requires our resurrection, because His resurrection was part of the larger resurrection of God’s redeemed.”
Paul continues on to say that since death entered the world through one man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. As Adam stands as our forefather in death, so Christ now becomes our forefather in resurrection and the promise of life. This is also an affirmation on Paul’s part that Christ was truly human - for just as through a human death came to all humans so only through a human can resurrection and the promise of life come to all humans. This sacrifice, this atonement, could not have only been accomplished by a divine sacrifice on our behalf but it had to include the human nature as well. Only then could a true atonement, a true cleansing take place for us.
Paul sums this up for us in the next verse - For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. This is a hard truth for us to accept sometimes - at least part of it is. It is the idea of headship that says that we are all condemned because of Adam’s sin. Which is only partly true - we are condemned because of his sin in that we receive from him a sinful nature that then causes us to sin. We’re not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are born sinners. And so in this sense, that we have Adam’s nature, we are considered to be in Adam. But the glorious part and the part that we are very happy to accept is that if we are in Christ we will all be made alive. We like the part about being made alive but sometimes we rebel a little at what all of that entails. We want Christ to be our Savior but we don’t always want to submit to Him as Lord - yet that is what this verse demands. To be in Christ means to receive Him as both Savior and Lord.
This is the news you can believe in this morning - this glorious Easter morning - that Christ has in fact risen from the dead and that because He has risen the hope of resurrection is offered to each of us as well.

Conclusion

The question for us this morning is are you in Adam or are you in Christ. You see there’s also a tension in this passage that we have to deal with as we come to a close. We are all born in Adam - every one of us is born with a sin nature that leads us to sin against God. Therefore we all, in Adam, stand justly condemned for our sins and are deserving of His wrath and separation from Him forever. And our debt is such that we cannot pay it on our own terms - we are incapable of paying it through good deeds. says
Isaiah 64:6 CSB
All of us have become like something unclean, and all our righteous acts are like a polluted garment; all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities carry us away like the wind.
Even our most righteous acts would never be enough because they don’t measure up to God’s standards of holiness and perfection. But there is hope - because there is One. says
Galatians 4:4–5 CSB
When the time came to completion, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
But there is One who made a sacrifice on our behalf - He purchased redemption for us on the cross fulfilling the righteous requirements of the Law on our behalf - and has now this morning delivered redemption to us by rising from the dead. He has conquered sin, He has conquered death and He is living victorious right now in Heaven waiting for the day when He returns to harvest His people. Those who will be found to be in Christ on that day - and that is the tension because while all are in Adam, all will not be in Christ. Today is the day - He purchased your redemption, your salvation on the cross, He delivered your redemption by rising from the dead what more does Christ have to do to reach you? Surrender your life to Him. Surrender your will to Him. Call out to Him right now from wherever you are - whatever words you use will be fine.
If you are in Christ - what hope we have this morning. But maybe you’ve wavered a bit. Maybe this morning the promise of the resurrection has lost some of its wonder for you and you’re instead looking at the here and now, at the temporal benefits of salvation thinking that it is about health here, about wealth here, about this temporal life. Recognize that the promise of resurrection Sunday for you is about a greater homeland than anything we can imagine here. Where we will unashamedly gather around the throne of Heaven and worship the risen King together without fear of viruses or death or sin because all of that will be put far away from us. Turn your eyes upon the One who is worthy, who is resurrected. Paul wrote these words to believers to call them back, to remind them of the truths that he had first delivered to them - let them remind you today.
Today is a glorious day. It is a hopeful day. It is the day that we celebrate a risen, resurrected Savior who has delivered redemption to us.
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