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akabarley – Firstfruits?

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

Depending on the translation you use, the word ‘but’ shows up 15 times in 1 Corinthians 15, and 8 of them are the first word of a sentence. (based on the NASB)

The one in verse 20 is my favorite though.

Time to Celebrate

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:20

That’s a place to shout! HALLELUJAH!

Firstfruits

Now Paul mentions this idea of firstfruits. I heard a well know Christian speaker say the other day that firstfruits means the tithe. Hey, I believe the tithe should come off the top of your income, or increase. But in the Old Testament, the Firstfruits offering was actually an offering given during Passover week.

Since sin was covered by the killing of the Passover lamb, this was not a sin offering. Rather it was an offering of faith and thanksgiving. During Passover week they would bring a sheaf of barley, the first grain up, and offer it. It had to be the first gathering of their year’s planting.

Obviously there was an element of thanksgiving. Thank you Lord that the land you have given, again has produced sustenance for me!

Primarily it was a faith offering. It required trust and faith, because to give the very first that come up, is to say, I am not going to hoard this for fear that no more will come. Rather I am going to freely give it to God with open hands, trusting that He will provide a full harvest. Trusting that He will supply rain and sun and feed the soil as I till it, work it, and gather it.

My wife and I many years ago got in the habit of offering first fruits offering any time we stepped into a new venture. It was a way of saying, Lord, I trust you to take what little I have  now, and press it down, shake it together, and cause it to run over in my life.

But as God is want to do, there is a deeper meaning behind this beautiful offering of grain.

Let’s start with Jesus, a few short days before He would face the cross.

The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. ~ John 12:23-24

It is easy to see in retrospect that He was talking about His own burial.

Then comes the end of the week. On the Preparation day, the day the precedes the Passover, Jesus has this meal with the 12, He washes their feet, and gives them the wonderful gift of the Lord’s Supper.

He is crucified, and there is a point made of getting Him off the cross and into the tomb before the Passover.

I want to you to think for a moment about what the Jews did with the blood of the Passover lamb. They took it and put it in a basin, and then took a bunch of hyssop and brushed it across the top of the door, and on the doorposts.

I love the picture below because it makes the point by connecting the dots. The Passover is a picture of Jesus, The Door, on the Cross, or should I say the Cross on the Door.

cross-blood-on-doorAs I have said before the narrow way to the Father is one man wide – just as wide as the cross.

But that is not the end of Passover week, only the beginning. The part that most Christians may not know is the offering of the firstfruits came on the first day after the Sabbath during Passover week, in other words, on Sunday morning. (See Leviticus 23:11)

And what happened Sunday Morning? Jesus rose from the dead – the firstfruit of many brethren.

Jesus resurrection is a demonstration that you will rise from the dead if you are in Christ.

Does that make you happy? When I saw that the resurrection was yet another fulfillment of the Old Testament sacrificial system, I was overwhelmed by my great God’s plan. And Paul’s many references to firstfruits take on a completely new meaning.

But wait, there’s more.

Ben NelsonSo come back tomorrow for another helping.

See you then

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

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