Some people write words on their hands; some tie some string around their finger; while the more technically minded programme their phones to bleep! We all need reminders; and here the Apostle Paul reminds the Corinthian Christians about the most important thing of all, namely the GOSPEL.
This Gospel had been PREACHED (Jesus is the Christ – Acts 18 v 1 – 17); it has been RECEIVED (Crispus, his family, along with many others experiencing salvation); they had then taken their STAND upon it and grasped it firmly (Paul staying in Corinth for 18 months teaching the basics and discipling.)
Why the need for this Gospel reminder? Some of the Corinthian believers were starting to have doubts about the resurrection of Jesus, as well as about their own resurrection, because after all – “dead men don’t rise!”
But on this day when many Christians will puff out their chests and boldly proclaim in the words of the Apostles Creed – “I believe on the third day he rose again” many will have their doubts about the truth and reality of it all. And so in this great chapter Paul offers three proofs as to the reality of the resurrection of Jesus. So if you are already convinced, then allow them to strengthen your faith; if on the other hand you are struggling with doubts, then may such proofs bring certainty:-
1 – SALVATION (v 1 – 2 & 11.)
The first proof of the resurrection is that the Corinthian’s had been saved not by a dead hero, but by a living Lord – “by this Gospel you ARE saved.” You may well be thinking that this ought to read – “by this Gospel you WERE saved.” Yet the way in which it is written reminds us that there is a PAST (the exact moment in time when you were saved); a PRESENT (the fact that you are continually being saved as you yield more and more of your life to the Lordship of Christ); as well as a FUTURE aspect to salvation (when you will see him as he is and become like him.)
The reality of your personal salvation, as well as that of countless other believers down the years, proves the reality of the resurrection, for it is only a living Saviour that can radically transform human nature.
2 – SCRIPTURE (v 3 – 4.)
The second proof of the resurrection was the Gospel message which Paul had received directly from God himself (Galatians 1 v 12.) This revealed message of first importance had been preached to the Corinthians, was defined as – “Christ died for our sins, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day” all of which was – “according to the Scriptures.” The Gospel message is a God breathed Scriptural message with its roots in the Old Testament, which predicted the sufferings of Jesus (Isaiah 53); as well as the resurrection of Jesus (Psalm 16 v 10.) While Jesus himself compared Jonah’s three days and nights in the belly of a large fish to his own in the belly of a tomb (Matthew 12 v 40); and then went on to encourage the couple on the Emmaus road to believe what the Prophet’s had said about him (Luke 24 v 25 – 26.)
So the Gospel story is not some manmade invention, some myth or fairy tale; it all happened in accordance with the Scriptures and is rooted and grounded in the historical accuracy and authority of God’s Word, another proof of the reality of the resurrection.
3 – SIGHTINGS (v 5 – 10.)
The third proof of the resurrection is the fact that the risen Christ appeared to, and was seen by many different people at different times in a variety of contexts – Peter (Luke 24 v 34); the twelve disciples (John 20 v 19 – 22); the 500 (v 6); James and all the Apostles (John 20 v 24 – 29); and then to Paul himself on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), this being different to the other sightings, because it happened after the ascension.
So the sightings of the risen Christ to individuals and groups point to the reality of the resurrection; and although we need to check out very carefully all contemporary claims of having “seen the Lord” (John 20 v 18) there can be no doubt that God continues to reveal and make himself known to his people today, but such appearances do need to be distinguished from those in early New Testament times.
Pause 4 thought – This Easter why not reflect on these three proofs and allow them to confirm and strengthen your faith in a living God.
Theme: The Easter message
Reading: 1 Corinthians 15: 1-11
Preacher: Chris Hughes
Led by: Chris Hughes