The Foundation of the Gospel – 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 – Pastor Brian
A healthy church understands that the resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of the Gospel.
How do we know Jesus was resurrected?
Without the resurrection of Jesus, there is no Gospel. Without the resurrection of Jesus, there is no forgiveness. Without the resurrection of Jesus, there is no hope. The resurrection of Jesus is the power and foundation of the Gospel. Christianity is alive because of the resurrection of Jesus. Without the resurrection of Jesus, the Christian faith is worthless, in vain, empty, dead, useless, meaningless, pointless, senseless, illogical, and void. A healthy church understands that the resurrection of Jesus is the foundation and power of the Gospel.
1) We know Jesus was resurrected because of transformed lives. (vv.1-2, 10-11) Paul preached to the church in Corinth the message of the Gospel which was received and believed in. So much so, the believers in Corinth held fast to the word because of how their lives were changed by the love of Jesus, expressed on the cross.
The dominate Greek culture the Jews lived in, rejected and denied the possibility of life after death. Despite this very strong and oppressive opposition of the Hellenistic environment, those who placed their faith in the good news of Jesus, stood firm in their faith. This evidence of lives transformed points to the reality of the resurrection. Though many were not physically present to see the resurrected Jesus, their faith was so great they could not deny it because of lives transformed by the His Spirit, the Holy Spirit.
Paul was transformed drastically from a persecutor of Christ to a preacher of Christ. Paul changed from one who sought to destroy disciples of Jesus into a disciple of Jesus. Transformed lives are just one piece of strong evidence that Jesus was resurrected. Paul’s life was changed so much that he had expended more effort in travel and ministry and reaped more success in founding churches than any other apostle. This is what verse10 means when Paul said, “I worked harder than any of them (the other apostles), though it was not I, but by the grace of God that is with me.”
Lives have been transformed through faith in the resurrected Jesus. For some, a life of change is very dramatic. But for most, the change is a steady growth towards spiritual maturity. Proverbs 1:33 is an example of how we are transformed through listening to the wisdom of God. “But whoever listens to Me (Wisdom from God) will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread or disaster.”
There are many circumstances that can be a source of fear but the Bible tells us that if we listen to the wisdom of God, we will be at ease without dread of disaster. How can we tap into His wisdom? Prayer and His Word. We might be familiar with Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” When we listen to God and live out what we hear, our lives will have been changed.
2) We know Jesus was resurrected because of Scripture. (vv.3-4) In a healthy church, expository preaching is an essential practice of the church for spiritual growth. A preacher’s responsibility is to exposit or expose the truths of God’s Word. The Bible is how God chose to communicate to His people. Because He is the author, infallible and inerrant, this letter from God must be entirely true without the possibility of error. Therefore, we know that the resurrection of Jesus actually took place because the Bible tells us so.
Paul emphasized to the believers in Corinth how important it is to absorb, without question, that Jesus rose from the dead. The Greek culture and philosophy which denied the resurrection had infiltrated the church. Paul needed to remind the church that in fact (v.3), “Christ died for our sins according to Scripture, He was buried, was raised on the third day in accordance with Scripture.” Much of the sacrificial system in the Old Testament pointed to the sacrifice of Christ as our substitute and Savior. There are numerous instances in the Old Testament that point to Jesus’ resurrection. Metaphorically the resurrection of Jesus was the Light of Hope that would follow three days of darkness as illustrated in Scripture both in the Old Testament and New Testament.
The ninth plague of three days and nights of darkness before the Light of Passover – Exodus 10:23-24
Three days of darkness in the belly of a great fish – Jonah 1:17
Three days of darkness when Paul was blinded by a light from heaven – Acts 9:9
Three hours of darkness before Jesus gave up His life – Luke 23:44
These and other Scripture are prophetic illustrations that point to the three days and three nights of darkness for Jesus in the heart of the earth before He rose to be the Light of Hope and offer eternal life with God
3) We know Jesus was resurrected because of witnesses. (vv.5-9) Based upon the number of those who saw Jesus after He was crucified gives us confidence in the resurrection. The resurrection was proven by the number of credible people who saw Jesus three days after He died on the cross. We see recorded in the Bible that Cephas or Peter, the apostles, disciples, James, Paul and more than 500 individuals were eye witnesses of seeing Jesus alive after being killed on the cross. More than 500 people could attest to the miraculous event of Jesus’ resurrection. No one could make them change their minds. They knew what they saw.
The resurrection from death to life was not a new occurrence but what was most significant was that though people were raised from the dead like Lazarus, it was temporary, Jesus’ resurrection is eternal. Incredibly, when Jesus took His last breath, Matthew 27: 52-53 tells us, “The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.”
This event of saints walking around and appearing to many in Jerusalem may sound like a zombie movie. The devil pulls no punches trying to invalidate truth, even using forms of media, like zombie movies to ridicule, or cause fear to make something like the resurrection seem unbelievable. God’s Word records risen saints after the resurrection of Jesus, putting an exclamation point on the reality and truth of an eternal resurrection. Everyone who saw the risen saints could not be convinced otherwise.
Eventually everyone dies and life as we know it on earth ends. No one lives forever in this world but Jesus’ death and resurrection secures eternal life with God the Father. It’s a fact that no one on earth escapes death but in Jesus we live eternally with God in a place called Heaven but tragically without Jesus we live eternally without God in a place called Hell. Those who have faith in Jesus live eternally with God because of the resurrection. The Bible tells us so.
Conclusion - The Power of the Gospel: God allowed His only Son, Jesus, to die. God watched Jesus being ridiculed, slapped, spit upon, whipped, tortured and eventually killed in the most demeaning and shameful way. God the Father, let His Son suffer to demonstrate how much He loves us. God lifted Jesus from the grave to demonstrate His desire to have a relationship with His people both now and forever. Jesus’ death illustrates the destructive power of religion. While the resurrection illustrates redeeming power of a relationship with Jesus.
Connecting with God could not happen without Jesus’ resurrection. Religion and religious attitudes killed Jesus. The power of religion killed Jesus. God raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection reconciles our relationship with God. The power of the resurrection overcame sin’s destruction and cemented an eternal relationship with God through Jesus. A relationship with God the Father is only possible because Jesus arose from the grave. The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of the Gospel because it brings meaning to our faith and reveals the power of the God’s desire to have a relationship with Him.
Jesus, rising from the grave three days after His death, is foundational to our faith. Without the resurrection, the faith of Christians is empty. God’s love for you has been proven because of Jesus who lived, died and was raised on the third day so that we can be eternally connected with Him.
O Come to the Altar, The Church’s One Foundation, Man of Sorrows, Another in the Fire, Doxology