Faithlife Sermons

The Requirement of the Resurrection

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Becoming resurrection people requires following a resurrected Lord.

Notes
Transcript
1 Corinthians 15:12–18 NIV
But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that 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, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.
1 Corinthians 15:50–58 NIV
I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Intro

The first sentence of our scripture today from the end of Paul’s letter to the church of Corinth begins with, “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel.”
It was Paul’s heart and mission through his letter to remind the people of the church of Corinth of the gospel they had already heard, and in that same spirit; I, Fred, speaking to the brothers and sisters of the church of Bellingham, hope to remind us of the gospel that we have already heard.

Let us pray.

Lord Jesus, we thank you today for your word and for your spirit, that united in both we may all gather in worship of you. Open our eyes, ears, hearts, and minds, to both your word and your spirit this morning. May we become less, and may you become greater. We love you, and we thank you for all these things in Jesus’ name.
Amen.

“First Importance” to the Gospel

As Paul sets out to remind the church of the gospel, he uses very direct language. He says that of “first importance: Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, he was buried, he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, and he appeared to his followers.”
This is of “first importance:” that he died, was buried, was raised, and appeared.
Naming that this is what is of “first importance” means that Paul and the church of Corinth know that there may be many important parts of the gospel, but that this is the most important.
Paul has examined the options and is naming the most important thing. I appreciate this...
Enneagram
As a strong 5, I investigate all the options to make fully-informed decisions
An un-informed decision is bad, but almost as bad is not having the best option
If I don’t order the best item on the menu, why even have dinner?
Anniversary -- Perfect Example
Friday in Kirkland
Dinner: 16-ounce prime dry-aged ribeye with truffle butter and duck fat potatoes
I read every single word of every item on the menu, but...
No way I was going to order the halibut
If the Bottle & Bull put on their menu “the halibut is amazing, the chicken is delicious, the pasta will change your life, but this is of first importance: we have a 16-ounce prime dry-aged bone-in ribeye with truffle butter and duck fat potatoes”
We would all want the steak!
So let’s not miss what Paul is saying: what is of first importance is that Christ died, was buried, was raised, and appeared. This is the best and most important part of the gospel.

If Not, Your Faith is Futile (Useless)

Some in the church of Corinth were having a hard time believing this, believing in the resurrection.
“Yes, we want to be people of the way of Jesus, we want to be saved, but we either aren’t sure about the whole raised from the dead thing or don’t believe it.”
Who could blame them?
Like us, people in that church were wildly different and came from a variety of understandings of what is possible, and so some--while they wanted to follow Jesus, didn’t or couldn’t live like the thing of first importance is that Jesus died, was buried, was raised, and appeared.
Paul--like anyone else--could understand why this would be difficult to believe, but because it’s of first importance to the gospel, he makes it clear for them with some strong language in verses 16-17: “For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile.”
Paul is warning the church in Corinth that if they can’t make of first importance that Jesus died and was raised, then their faith is futile.
This likely snapped some people to attention at the church in Corinth and should snap some of us in to attention as well. It seems that some in the church wanted to receive salvation from Jesus--which is critical to the gospel--but didn’t view the resurrection of first importance.

Salvation and Atonement

I wonder if, in our own 2019 Bellingham way, that we do this too.
That we view salvation as the destination, and maybe resurrection is the Uber that gets us there, but we still let amazing and great elements of the gospel like salvation, or atonement, become the thing of “first importance” that we think about the most, talk about the most, and therefore reflect back out to the world the most, because they’re easier to believe in, or understand, or we feel the need for them more often.
The thing about salvation and atonement on their own is that we could have them before Jesus, and neither one requires Jesus to be raised from the dead for us to have them:
Atonement only requires a pleasing sacrifice.
Salvation only requires a merciful rescue.
We want atonement because we recognize that on our own, we are displeasing to God
We want salvation because we recognize that we are powerless to save ourselves
So what does it look like when we let these (good) things take first importance?

Holding therapy story

8th grade, in counseling with my dad
I had been adopted at 18 months (ultimate stocking stuffer)
Mom had died a few years before, dad wanted to have more of a bond with me
Therapists recommended holding therapy/attachment therapy
In this version:
They get to know my personality, fears, insecurities
On the day of treatment, they physically hold me down and verbally exploit my personality, fears, and insecurities
They fight me until I can’t fight back and I emotionally break
Dad has been watching, comes in, physically takes me, and holds me
To form an attachment
When we let our feelings of being powerless and displeasing make salvation and atonement of first importance in the gospel, we put ourselves in the position of that child in holding therapy, and God in the position of the rescuing parent.
And while he will do that, Paul says what is of first importance is not just that Jesus will mercifully rescue us with great sacrifice in his death, but that he has been raised to life.
So where is our picture of the resurrected Jesus being of “first importance?”

Lazarus, Mary and Martha, the church in Bethany

We don’t have to look farther than John 11
Jesus is called to visit two sisters whose brother has died
It’s been 4 days, so it is impossible--beyond hope that he could be alive
His soul has left his body
The sisters believe Jesus is too late--he can’t raise their brother
Jesus says, “You brother will rise again. I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, though they die, and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”
They worship him, but they insist
Jesus, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
After he prays, then, “Lazarus, come out!”
Lazarus comes out
Lazarus understands what it means that dying and being raised are of first importance
Every time he meets someone “Hi, I’m Lazarus… yes, that Lazarus”
Every morning he wakes up, he is fully aware of death and lives differently than he did before
I bet you could not get Lazarus to shut up about the resurrection
And the same goes for Jesus’ first followers, who knew him alive and saw him raised
They know that what makes the gospel of Jesus the gospel of Jesus is that he died and was raised
Yes, he accomplished atonement and salvation for all in the process
And now it was open beyond the Jews but to any who believe

Living the resurrection

What was true for Jesus’ first followers was true for the church in Corinth and is true for us today.
The gospel of Jesus is about a resurrected Lord who calls us to be resurrected people.
Near the end of his letter, Paul recognizes that becoming a resurrected people raised to life with Jesus is a mystery.
He doesn’t have a lot of answers for what it exactly will look like or how to do it, but he does offer us this starting in verse 53:
“For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true, ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, o death, is your victory, where, o death is your sting?”
Let the things that will die when you die, die
Concerns and worries about the small, petty things of every day life
Let them die
Resentment and bitterness for missing the earthly things we lost or never had
Let them die
Self-focused, self-pleasing, self-preserving, self-ish thoughts, desires, actions
Let them die
Anxiousness in or feelings of being powerless or displeasing to God
Let it die
Fear of all things--loss, sickness, disability, up to death
Let it die
Let the things that will live on long past your death be raised to life
Beautification of this world
Let it be raised to life
Testimony of Jesus bringing light and life into darkness and death
Let it be raised to life
Self-emptying, self-forgetting, self-losing sacrifice for others
Let it be raised to life
Releasing the fear of death for the cherishing and sharing of abundant life
Let it be raised to life
Remembering the words of Jesus to the sisters of Lazarus, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
I am here to remind you of the gospel that you’ve already heard: that of first importance is that Jesus died, was buried, and was raised to life.
So let us believe first and foremost in the resurrection of Jesus, and live as people who are being raised to life with Jesus, working daily to clothe ourselves with the imperishable and immortal, remembering Paul’s final words in 1 Corinthians 15 as we go:
“Therefore my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
Let us pray.

Charge:

The great Polish-Italian artist Liberace once said, “You can have either the Resurrection or you can have Liberace. But you can't have both.”
Church of Bellingham, you can have either the gospel of the resurrection of Jesus or you can have the gospel of someone else, but you can’t have both.
May we go from here reminded of the gospel of the resurrection of Jesus, invited in to the mystery of being raised with him, and ready to live as not only saved people, but people being raised to life with Christ. May we believe and see the glory of God in how he brings life to unexpected or impossible places.
Now may you go with this prayer and this blessing that we share at the end of the INN:
May the Lord make you an instrument of his peace.
Where there is hatred, may you bring love.
Where there is offense, may you bring pardon.
Where there is discord, may you bring union.
Where there is error, may you bring truth.
Where there is doubt, may you bring faith.
Where there is despair, may you bring hope.
Where there is darkness, may you bring light.
Where there is sadness, may you bring joy.
In the name of the Lord, may you not seek as much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
for it is in giving that you receive,
it is in self-forgetting that you find,
it is in pardoning that you are pardoned,
And it is in dying that you are raised to eternal life.
Church of Bellingham, thank you. Go in peace to be raised with Christ.
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