We have been poking about the edges of 1 Corinthians 15, gleaning some wonderful gospel truth.
Today I want to do a quick rescan of the passage and notice the “proof” Paul offers for the gospel, and specifically for the resurrection, since that is where he is planning on spending the rest of what we call Chapter 15.
Proof #1 ~ The transformation in the lives of the Corinthian believers:
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, ~ 1 Corinthians 15:1-2
We have looked in-depth at these effects of the gospel already, but they also act as proof, a validation of the veracity of the Word. The gospel was received, and now the Corinthian believers stand, they are saved, and they hold fast.
They have been transformed, and this is the first proof, the power to change man’s life. I am not the man I was, and by this I know that Jesus lives.
There is a schmultzy old hymn we used to sing when I was a kid called “He Lives.” Though I never much like the music, I love the words. Here is the chorus.
He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and He talks with me
Along life's narrow way.
He lives, He live, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives:
He lives within my heart. ~ Alfred H. Ackley
I know Christ is alive because – well – He lives!
Proof #2 ~ Hundreds of fulfilled prophecies:
...according to the Scriptures ~ 1 Corinthians 15:3 & 4
We looked at a few yesterday, but I would refer you to a couple of my Christmas posts if you want to dig a little deeper.
My post “One more Christmas Gift” list more than 25 Old Testament prophecies that are fulfilled in the Life of Jesus.
My post “GF Handel’s Messiah – Lyrics” has the entire libretto for Handel’s “Messiah” the text of which is 100% scriptures, and I have tagged it with references for easy access.
Proof #3 ~ Eye witnesses:
and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as it were to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:5-8
1) Cephas (a.k.a. Peter) ~ I love that Peter is listed first. He says, "first Peter," and clearly this is talking about after Christ met Mary in the garden and went to the Father to present His blood, but the fact that Peter is touched, since Peter was left hurting after the last week’s events.
I suppose it may be that Paul was not counting women at all, since in courts of the day, women were likely not considered. (sad)
2) The 12 ~ Well – I would assume the name “The 12” was more of a moniker than an actual count, since Peter we already know about, and Judas was dead.
3) Greater than 500 at one time. Hard to deny this testimony. And Paul points out that many of these are still alive at the writing of this letter.
4) James ~ This was referring to His half-brother, not the son of Zebedee. This James always interested me. We know that Jesus’ half brothers didn't follow Him during His ministry, but now, risen from the dead, these are guys who could not be moved. James and Jude were both New Testament contributors, and we learn in the book of Acts that James became the main leader of the early Church.
5) Apostles ~ It interests me that Paul gives us Apostles in addition to “the 12.” Pretty clearly (to me anyway) demonstrates that Apostleship was not dependent on being a disciple.
6) Paul ~ Finally talks about His own meeting with Jesus. The story of His meeting on the road to Damascus is told and retold (3 times total) in the book of Acts, but I believe those 1,000 days in the wilderness of Arabia, Paul was receiving from the Lord the gospel that he never did stop preaching.
Proof #4 ~ The Graces or gifts given to Paul:
For I am the least of the apostles, who am not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. 1 Corinthians 15:9-10
In particular we see Paul’s transformation from Christian killer to in his own assessment (which was sponsored by the Holy Spirit) the hardest working apostle to walk the earth.
Pretty compelling proof! Any lawyer would love to defend a case like this.
Christians, I hope this stirs up your confidence. The gospel stands incontestable.
Do not fear
Go and preach it today.
See you again soon.