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Thanks to my friend Pastor J. at Lilly Put for this great Church photo!
http://http://josephelonlillie.com/

Part two of a study of 1 Corinthians 15:12-34

We are looking at how Paul answers the heresy that had cropped up in the Church of Corinth.

Today we look at 5 problems he poses that would militate against a Christianity without the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, and by extension the bodily resurrection of His followers.

Difficulty # 1

If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:13

It seems that this heresy simply stated was that Christ had been raised from the dead, but we will not be. That our future was in spirit only, so physical appetites would never be experienced once we pass into eternity.

It seems to me that Paul is saying, if Christ can be raised, clearly God could manage to raise us as well. It is not as if God does not have the power to raise us, and clearly He has demonstrated this by raising Christ.

The verse that jumps to mind is Romans 8:11

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.

 Difficulty #2

…and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:14

I talked about this a bit last Friday, so I am going to let you peak back there for a discussion of vain faith.

Difficulty #3

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. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:15

Speaking to a mostly Jewish community of believers, the next part of his argument is that if all this is a lie, then he, Paul, and all who preach the Gospel, Peter, Apollos, they are all liars, which in a culture where you are preaching about a man called Truth – could not be worse. There is just about nothing worse in Hebrew culture than a liar.

That culture of Truth is even stronger (or should be) in a Christian culture. After all we call our selves by the name of Christ, and He called himself The Truth. He is the Word made flesh, and David said “Thy Word is truth.” The Word of God is the ultimate source of Truth, and Jesus is the express image of that very Word from the mouth of God.

Difficulty #4

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. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:16-17

There was a real eye opener for me.

These Christians who had come out of the Jewish religion, knew all about the Messianic prophecies. Hundreds of them. I am told there are over 300 prophecies that Jesus fulfilled during His life among us.

Can you see how clearly fulfilling 300 specific detailed prophecies would identify a person.

For example, to prove I am who I am to a bank web site, I need to specify my SS#, and answer a few specific questions that only I would know the answer to.

Perhaps a better example would be that if I want to get a piece of mail to my daughter across the country, I only need a few specific details to get it directly into her hands, and there will be no doubt if she is the right recipient either.

With a name and address made up of a few details like street, city, state, country, zip, etc, I can ID almost anyone in the world.

Ok – so these Corinthian Christians know that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, and was the sacrifice that God supplied for their sins.

If He did not rise from the dead, not only are they still in their sins, because they have abandoned their Jewish ways (perhaps) but even the Jews, who are looking for a Messiah are out of luck.

You see if Christ did not rise, then the hopes of every Jew were done. There was no other Messiah forthcoming. Jesus was it, and if it did not work, every lamb sacrificed for thousands of years was for naught.

Difficulty #5

Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:18

Clearly there is no hope for those who have died with their trust in a dead Christ.

Paul sums it up pretty well here with this final statement.

If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:19

But don’t despair! Come back tomorrow for some really (I mean REALLY) good news.

Ben NelsonSee you then

Ben

Thanks to my friend Pastor J. at Lilly Put for this great Church photo!
http://http://josephelonlillie.com/

Part one of a study of 1 Corinthians 15:12-34

As we look at 1 Corinthians 15, it will come as no surprise that Paul is about to deal with an issue. Can you imagine a church with issues? But Corinth was rife with them.

There were divisions and factions. I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, I am of Tim Keller, I am of Bill Johnson. Perhaps your church has factions too.

There were issues of order, of sin, of dress, of how to take communion, how to express gifts, and how to love one another.

But today we come to a serious issue – one of heresy.

Apparently, as you can see in verse 1, those in the Church of Corinth had received the gospel and believed that Christ had risen from the dead.

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, ~ 1 Corinthians 15:1

Yet there were some preaching or teaching that believers would see no such resurrection. Rather Christians would experience some ethereal future of harp playing and haunting.

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? ~ 1 Corinthians 15:12

It may be that some of the Sadducees or their followers had come to Christ, and since they had a strong knowledge of scriptures, and had been steeped in traditions without resurrection theology that it was beginning to take hold with the flock.

The Antidote to Heresy

The good news is that there is an antidote to heresy, an educated Church. Perhaps a better way of putting it would be a church made up of disciples.

Christianity was never meant to be a religion at all, and much less one with clergy and laity. We may have paid folks who work in our midst, who are in fact worthy of double honor, but we – the common folk – are not supposed to be blind sheep being led about by the ruling class.

We, the people, are responsible to

 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth. ~ 2 Timothy 2:15

We are to be like the Bereans who left Church, went home, and – well here is what is said about them.

Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so. ~ Acts 17:11

They studied it out on our own to see if what we were being told lined up with scripture. I am not suggesting we live in a vacuum and make our own doctrines, but we need to test all things and hold to what is true.

We follow a Man who is called the Word of God, let’s get to know His Word, and see how He reveals Himself to us here!

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by today.

Come back soon!

Ben

We looked at what it was not.

Yesterday, I brought out Paul’s definition of the gospel.

Today I want to look at what it is.

When Paul delivers the gospel to us, he basically states three facts.

Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
He was buried,
He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures ~ 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (slightly altered)

These are not even principles – they are simply facts.

So, we saw last week that salvation (and great salvation at that) comes through believing, receiving the gospel.

Are you telling me Paul, that believing these three facts makes me a Child of God? That is all I need to do to get into heaven?

Here is my question for you – is believing facts what makes you a Christian. Can your faith be boiled down to a list of things you agree with, or are willing to attest to? Can your “faith” be demonstrated by the recitation of a creed?

It’s more than that beloved. No, I don’t mean more as in you have stuff you have to do, but more as in – more than facts.

These three facts are what set Jesus apart from any other man – and really it is only one of these facts that creates this new abundant life we walk in.

Many people have died (ok – no one else died for my sins, but hold that thought)

Many people have been buried

These facts don’t move me.

Only Jesus was raised up once and for all – and lives on today.

The truth of the resurrection is the lynch pin of all truth. Paul is going to spend the rest of this chapter making his case for the resurrection, and it’s importance and prominence.

Today however, I want to give this one more turn and say we are not saved because we can believe these facts. Facts do not save, doctrine does not save, theology does not save, ideas do not save.

Jesus saves!

It is not believing facts about Jesus that takes us from darkness to light. It is putting our trust and faith in Jesus Himself that saves us.

Let me say it again.

Jesus saves!

The gospel is not facts, it is a man, The Man Christ Jesus.

The Perfect Man Christ Jesus, who lived a perfect life and was therefore a worthy sacrifice for sin.

He died on the cross for our sins, not for His own, but for our sins, yours and mine.

He was buried.

He was raised up on the third day.

He lives to make intercession for you.

I have more to say, but you don't have to wait - You can give your life to Jesus right now.

Give Him your sin scarred life, and let Him resurrect you into a brand new, clean, whole life, with Jesus on the inside.

Ask Him. He will!

Ben NelsonI love Jesus.

See you tomorrow.

Ben

Let’s start with what the gospel is not.

  • The gospel is not the Beatitudes.
  • The gospel is not Great Commission.
  • The gospel is not the Golden Rule.
  • The gospel is not the story of the Prodigal Son.
  • It’s not even a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Don’t get me wrong, these are all good news, and they are important, life changing elements of our faith.

They are not, however, the gospel.

Last week we looked at how the gospel is delivered and the impact it has on those who receive it.

Today we are simply going to break it down.

Paul says this:

For I delivered to you as of first importance … ~ 1 Corinthians 15:3-5

Notice first that the gospel Paul is getting ready to share is of first importance. This letter to the Church in Corinth has addressed many issues from divisions to how to run a meeting.

But now, Paul comes to the most important thing.

It’s not just the most important thing in this letter. It is the most important thing, period.

So here goes – get ready – the most important thing –

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. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:3-5

Three facts. Three simple statements. Three non-negotiable.

Christ died for our sins
He was buried
He was raised on the third day

There it is. That’s the gospel.

I have heard folks tell me, that they can't memorize scripture so they don’t feel they could ever preach the gospel. But look at this.

I would be hard pressed to believe that anyone reading these words could not remember those 3 facts.

Hey – if it’s still too much boil it down to 4 words

Christ (I like the name Jesus, but Christ has it’s own implications about being anointed and the sent, chosen one)  -- let me start over

Christ died buried raised

These 4 words change everything – EVERYTHING!

I promise I will dig a little deeper tomorrow, but really – how much deeper does it get than this:

Christ died for our sins, was buried, and was raised from the dead.

GOOD NEWS!

Oh - But there is more to this - so please come back tomorrow!

Ben NelsonSee you then

Ben

Yesterday we looked at the fact that Paul preached the gospel to the folks at Corinth. The gospel is not simply transferred by good deeds and pure motives, it must be preached.

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. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:1-2

The Gospel Received

The second thing we notice is that the gospel must be received.

He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right (power KJV) to become children (sons KJV) of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. ~ John 1:11-13

Verse 11 always makes me sad. Jesus came to God’s own people, the ones He had chosen, and lavished His love and attention on for centuries. He came to His own, and they did not receive Him.

But hallelujah, the offer has been opened up to us all.

And the statement made by John here is clear. To as many as receive Him. How many? As many are receive Him.

And the promise here, that accompanies this gospel, this good news, is that we have the right to be called the sons of God. He is willing and able to adopt every single person on earth who receives Him.

Those who receive, stand

The next piece to this “how” puzzle is that those who received the gospel preached to them now stand.

It is interesting to me that Paul does not talk about standing ON but IN.

We love to sing about standing on the solid rock (well, at least I do!) But this is not Paul’s first time to use the idea of standing IN.

Two places come to mind. The first is Romans 5

Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. ~ Romans 5:1-2

I see this as walking through a door of faith into a room of grace, where I now stand.

Another place we stand is in prayer – check this out from Ephesians

Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. ~ Ephesians 6:13

Lest we think all this standing is our doing – don’t forget just three verses up the page Paul reminds us:

Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. ~ Ephesians 6:10

Today, if you have never received  - today can be your day. Open your heart up to the Lord Jesus. Acknowledge to Him that there is nothing in you worthy of His attention, but that you give yourself to Him heart, soul, mind and strength. He will come in, and make His home with you. He loves you with an everlasting love, and when you receive Him, that love begins pouring out on you in ways you would never have anticipated.

Next if you do know the Lord – Stand firm, in grace, in prayer, in faith, in love.

Ben NelsonMore tomorrow

See you then

Ben

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