Good News! Jesus Is Raised—(1 Corinthians 15:1-10)
1…As the first day of the week was dawning… 2 … an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 … 4 For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for he has been raised, then he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Matthew 28:1-6
The Good News Of Jesus Resurrection:
¨ Is [CRUCIAL] For Our Faith!
16 Avoid such godless chatter, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will eat its way like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth by holding that the resurrection is past already. They are upsetting the faith of some. 2 Timothy 2:16-18
1 Now I would remind you, brethren, in what terms I preached to you the Good News, which you received, in which you stand, 2 by which you are saved, if you hold it fast—unless you believed in vain. Verses 1-2
¨ Is [CRITICAL] For Our Understanding Of The Bible.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures. Verses 3-4
45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. Luke 24:45-47
¨ Is [CREDIBLE] For Our Intellect.
5 Jesus appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. Verses 5-8
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 2 Peter 1:16
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life. 1 John 1:1
¨ Is [CAPABLE] Of Transforming Your Life.
9 For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me. Verses 9-10
4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. Romans 6:4-5
Welcome! We are delighted that you come to be with us this morning. All of you are a treasure.
While preparing for this lesson I did a search on the internet for a historical date for the Resurrection of Jesus. What I wanted to know was could we pen it down to an actual year, month, and day. And from what I saw the answer is no. One of the dates one scholar came up with was March 25th AD 31. Another date that some arrived at was April 23rd AD. 30. Some time between April of AD 29 and March of Ad 33 during the Passover Jesus dies and rises again. Western Europe and the Americas celebrate the Resurrection based on a church decree developed by the council of Nicaea in 325 AD. The Eastern Orthodox and Coptic traditions of Christianity have a different set of rules of when to celebrate His Resurrection.
To me all this is interesting because I like history. And even if I could pin point and actual date for His resurrection it would not be very important to my faith. But the fact that I can’t, illustrates a major point which is the resurrection of Jesus in not about a date set up by ancient 1700 years ago. His resurrection is also not about an annual celebration of spring, or Easter Eggs, or cotton tail rabbits named Peter. I don’t have a problem with any of those things. They are wonderful cultural myths and If God wills, when I get to be a grand pa someday, I want to hide an egg or two. Maybe help boil em, and color them. See my grand children get all dressed up for church. Read Peter Cotton Tail, and be grateful that God’s world is wakening up from its long sleep of winter.
So if it is not about a date. If it’s not about spring festivals or any of those things then what is his resurrection about. It is about Good News. Thrilling wonderful awesome news about God’s love and power in the world. You may not recognize it yet, but the best news you ever got in your whole life is that Jesus is raised. He is alive and present with us today. He lives not in our historical imaginations, but in the present exercising his power, showing his glory, and living in his church.
The Gospel of Matthew gives my favorite account of His resurrection. Matthew records, “As the first day of the week was dawning… 2 … an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 … 4 For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for he has been raised, then he said. Come, see the place where he lay.” These few verses give us the essence of Jesus’ resurrection. It was at dawn. An angel rolled the stone back, and the guards were stunned with fear. The angel invites the women to investigate the fact without fear that Jesus was not in the tomb because he was raised. The essence of the story is the fact he was not in the tomb. He rose. He lives. He was dead and now he is alive. And just like the women we are invited to see this good news.
Paul writing 15 or 20 years latter in 1 Corinthians will give us a chronology of his appearances after his resurrection. He didn’t give a complete one, but mentions the highlights. He even tells us of two appearances after the resurrections that are not recorded in any of the gospels. They are the time that He showed himself to 500 brothers, and another time to his own physical brother James. What is very important for us 2000 years latter is that the passage in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 is probably the earliest written Gospel ever written. Paul is reminding them in what terms he preached the good news to them.
Good News and the word gospel mean the same thing. Paul based his gospel on four things in these verses. He based it on #1 that the resurrection was the key to their faith. #2 it was found to be consistent with the Old Testament Scriptures. #3 it was verified by eyewitnesses. And #4 it changed his life. Not only did the women believe that Jesus wasn’t in the tomb, but a skilled rabbi believed it too because he saw Jesus alive. This fact of his resurrection became the foundation of the church Jesus showed himself over and over again. You might not believe a few women who claimed this fantastic news, but there were hundreds who saw Jesus alive.
Jesus resurrection is not a conspiracy of the gullible. It is a historical fact attested to by men who gained everything in this life if they denied it. They did not. Every Apostle save John ended his life violently because of their testimony. The eye witnesses were persecuted and killed, and yet none them recanted their experience. They all bled, hurt, and died because they saw the empty tomb, the living Christ, and the eternal blessing of his resurrection. This morning I want to take you through Paul’s gospel or good news in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11. The resurrection of Jesus according to Paul’s mini gospel is such good news that it is worth your life, your time, and your sacrifice. And it is worth your consideration as to why you should become a member of the Vaughn Hill family.
Paul begins by teaching us the resurrection of Jesus is crucial for our faith. There is a first century historical controversy that Paul is addressing in 1 Corinthians 15. Apparently some Christians probably Greeks were denying the general resurrection of the dead. They were taking the traditional Geek philosophical view that when a person died his spirit went to the afterlife, and that there could be no resurrection from Hades. What this view did was to destroy the very premise of the gospel. Paul speaking to Timothy says, “16 Avoid such godless chatter, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will eat its way like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth by holding that the resurrection is past already. They are upsetting the faith of some.”
Hymenaeus and Philetus did not deny that Jesus had been raised. Their godless chatter taught that the Christian was not raised from the dead. The resurrection was for Jesus, but not for anyone else. It was in the past, it was over and done with, and therefore, not applicable to every day Christians. Hymenaeus and Philetus would sneer, and say, ok what kind of body does a dead person have, and how can the dead be raised if the body is destroyed.
What this does is to destroy the power of Jesus resurrection for believers, because if the dead are not raised from Hades then its power remains unbroken. And the power of Hades is to separate believers from God. These two teachers veered from the truth and were destroying the faith of other Christians. Paul is responding to this teaching in verse 12 when he says if the dead are not raised then Christ has not been raised. Our resurrection is dependant upon Christ’s resurrection. He was raised for the purpose of raising all who follow him into his death of the cross.
In the first two verses of chapter 15 Paul writes, “1 Now I would remind you, brethren, in what terms I preached to you the Good News, which you received, in which you stand, 2 by which you are saved, if you hold it fast—unless you believed in vain.” He speaks of the central place the good news has for us unless what we have believed is empty air. There are four things that indicate how crucial this good news is to our faith. We receive the good news from the apostles as historical fact, and if they are lying then our faith is vain. This is the first crucial point. The good news of his resurrection is also the source of our strength to stand amid life’s struggles, and if Jesus did not rise then the struggle is in vain. This is crucial point number two! The good news of his resurrection is the means by which God saves us, and if Jesus didn’t come from the tomb then we are not safe. And this is crucial point number three. Finally crucial point number four is that we are to hold on to it to be faithful to God, and if Jesus is not alive then we are not faithful to God.
The resurrection of Jesus is the most crucial element of your faith. Without it Christianity has no good news, and it becomes another ancient religion based on ignorance and darkness. What does your faith really rest on? It should be founded in the solid truth and historical reality of Jesus’ resurrection. And not just as an ancient dry dusty historical fact, but in a dynamic interacting experience with the Son of God who is risen from the dead.
I want to encourage you to know that Christianity works because Christ lives. I want to encourage you to have a relationship with God because Jesus lives to redeem you. I want to encourage you that no matter what life brings your way, because Jesus lives, you are able to remain standing at the end of the day. Finally I want to encourage you to commit your self to Jesus by being a part of his body the church, because the body of Christ has a living head that never dies. Don’t let your faith rest on your parents or your culture, but base it on the living presence of Jesus who is raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Next Paul tells us the good news of Jesus resurrection is critical for our understanding of the Bible. The Bible is a library of sixty six volumes. It covers a span of history from the creation of the world to the first century AD. It is basically the story of God plan for redeeming human kind. Its purpose is not to be a history book; though it is credible history. Its purpose is not to be a science book; though you’d be surprise you at the accuracy of the science in its pages. Its purpose is to show us how God brought His grace into the world through his Son. It took a long time, and down through the centuries as God worked he led up to the resurrection of Jesus.
In verses 3 and 4 Paul declares the resurrection of Jesus is in accordance with the Scriptures. He says, “3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.”. Paul’s first priority is to deliver to us what he receives from the Scripture. He is speaking of the O.T. Those writings predict that the messiah is to die and rise again. They validate Jesus’ resurrection as inspired Scripture, because Jesus is the one pointed to by the 39 books of the O.T. His resurrection is the critical tie that binds the O.T. to the N.T.
When Jesus lived the Jews divided the O.T. like this. First there was the Law of Moses which included the first 5 books of the O.T. known as the Torah. The second section was called the prophets, and it included the 17 Historical Books, the 5 Major Prophets, and the 12 Minor Prophets. The last division was referred to as the Psalms and it included the books of Job, Proverbs, Psalms, Eccel., and Song Of Solomon.
Jesus in one of the appearances after his resurrection says that everything written about him in the law, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled. He is declaring the whole O.T. concerns him and his saving work. He goes on and says, “45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. Jesus ties the promises of the O.T. to the preaching of the N.T. It is His death and resurrection that God uses as the means through which the O.T. fulfills its promises to all the nations.
How critical is the resurrection to understanding the Bible. Imagine trying to read the adventures of Huckleberry Finn without the Mississippi River being mentioned. The whole plot of Mark Twains’ classic is that Huckleberry (a runaway boy) and Jim (a runaway slave) travel down the Mississippi River together on a home made raft escaping to Cairo, Illinois. Take the Mississippi River out of the book and you don’t have much do you? The whole plot of the book falls apart. Take the resurrection out of the Bible, and it becomes incomprehensible. And like the Mississippi River runs through Twains classic so does the resurrection flow through the pages of the Bible bringing understanding to God’s plan. The next time you open your Bible to read it; remember the big picture. Whatever part of God’s adventure you are reading fits into a larger picture of Salvation by God, and what ties it all together is the resurrection of Jesus.
Next the good news of Jesus resurrection is credible for your intellect. For the past 300 years our thinking has been molded by what is called the Age of Enlightenment. The age began in the 17th century and ran through the 18th century. This Age is the foundation for most of the scientific advancement we enjoy today. Perhaps it greatest achievement was the development of the scientific method. Which simply stated is #1 Observe and describe natural phenomena, #2 Develop an idea of how it works, #3 Use the idea to see if it predicts other phenomena, and #4 test the idea by several independent experimenters. The scientific method works very well to help us understand and use God’s natural laws. Folks this is a very simplified explanation.
Any system of reasoning like the scientific method which can only address a recurring phenomenon in the material world will have its limitations. For example prove the signing of the Declaration of Independence actually occurred in July of 1776 using the Scientific Method. This method cannot prove it because it doesn’t recur in the natural world. To prove that a document was signed proclaiming the 13 colonies free of Britain you would have to consider the historic evidence. And this is what Paul does in his good news of the resurrection of Jesus.
Historical evidence involves both documentation and eyewitness testimony. Jesus was raised once from the dead, and He really documented it well. From the very morning it occurred there were real people saying he was alive. Within 50 days of its occurrence there were masses of Jews being baptized because of it, and within 20 years it was being proclaimed in the entire world. Every one of the authors of the historical documents the N.T. saw him alive except Luke. And Luke talked to as many of the eyewitness as he could.
Paul says, “5 he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.”
Peter says, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”
And John says, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life.”
Time will not allow me to go through all the testimony. But these are enough to illustrate that none of these witnesses thought that Jesus resurrection was a mystical experience. What they claimed was the real and tangible presence of Jesus who was raised from the dead. There are too many of them for a conspiracy not to fall apart. President Nixon’s Watergate conspiracy fell apart in two weeks, and he was the most powerful human in the world. All of the apostles except John, and all of the writers of the N.T. documents suffered violent deaths for their testimony. They believed it was wrong to lie, and it was wrong to bear false witness. They were incredibly honest men in their lives, in their teaching, and in their treatment of others. And an honest man will not die for a lie. From a historical perspective it is credible to believe the testimony of these men.
You can believe the resurrection of Jesus because the documents of the N.T. are credible for your intellect. You have a key in the resurrection of Jesus that is critical for your understanding of the Bible. And the resurrection of Jesus is crucial for your faith as a N.T. Christian. Finally the good news of Jesus resurrection is capable of transforming your life. The power of the Scripture is the resurrection life of Jesus it delivers into our hearts. The Scriptures are God’s medium of communication for transforming our lives. When the Word of God connects to your believing heart then Jesus indestructible life begins the process of raising you from the dead to the living.
Listen to Paul’s personal testimony in his good news of the resurrection. He writes, “9 For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me.” In my opinion, when Paul in speaks of grace in these verse he refers to the living presence and guidance of Jesus. I looked at the Greek and every translation I could lay my eyes on this week. None of them say that the grace in him made him work harder than any of the other apostles. But it was the grace with him that was capable of changing his life.
The prepositions are important because they show the relationship of grace to Paul in these verses. God’s grace was certainly in him after he became a Christian, but it was with him before he put Christ on in Baptism. It was with him when he encounters Jesus. For Paul God’s grace was capable of changing him beginning on the road to Damascus. There God extended grace to Paul through the appearing of Jesus. His role in life up to that point had been to slaughter Christians, which according to his own testimony; he did with the relish in a clear conscience. When Jesus appears to him the grace of Jesus’ presence turns him around, and starts a revolution in Paul’s life.
Grace is God’s unmerited favor to us. Grace can be in us through the forgiveness of our sins and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which we and Paul receive at baptism. But Jesus was with him before he was in him. And after he enters Paul’s heart he stays with him as his lord, friend, and brother. It was the relationship with the resurrected Jesus that is capable of such a transformation. If Paul would have refused to have the grace of forgiveness and the Holy Spirit then Jesus would not have stayed with him. Paul needed to move from the kingdom darkness to the kingdom of light. He had to join himself to the King for the Kings grace to change his life.
Paul’s baptism is the place where he joined Jesus. He says to the Romans, “4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” Note the personal pronoun we. Paul did what they did to separate themselves from the kingdom of darkness and join the King of light. He was buried in baptism with Jesus into his death to sin. The purpose of baptism is to die or separate from the old life to have a new one. And the only one capable of making that possible is Jesus raised from the dead.
The promise of baptism is that in sharing the death of Christ to sin we share his life in his resurrection. Biblical baptism is the place where God works to come into you with grace of forgiveness and the Holy Spirit. But it is also the place that his grace extends his presence to you for all eternity. Like Paul you may be meeting Jesus this morning. Your road to Damascus has been interrupted by the living Presence of Christ. Like Paul He is asking you pointed questions. Why are you persecuting me? Why are you living your life without me? Why are you filling your heart with sin? Why do you ignore your friend’s needs? Why do you hate others? Why are you cheating or lying. He is asking you the question that you need to resolve to join him. He is extending grace in meeting you here this moment and in this place.
He is calling you to a new life. He is meeting with you for now to call you to a new life, but you must separate from the old life for the new one. You need to come and be united with Jesus in his death to sin by being baptized, so that you will be united with him in a resurrection like his. You will experience Jesus in you, but you also will experience Jesus presence with you because his is alive for evermore.
Please pray with me! Dear God, thank you for sending Jesus to me. He is your grace and I know that I’ve wronged you by sin and a callous heart. I don’t want this grace of you call to be in vain. I will submit to Jesus as my lord. I will join him in baptism, so that like Paul, you will be with me for ever. Father your goodness and mercy I never want to take for granted. I cannot continue in sin and be pleasing to you. Grant me the changes in my life through the power of Jesus resurrection to be the man or woman you desire. I humble myself this morning because Jesus humbled himself for me on a cross. As you raised him by the power of your Holy Spirit raise me too. In Jesus name amen.