1 Corinthians 15:1-8, 20-22 New King James Version (NKJV)
The Risen Christ, Faith’s Reality
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand,
2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,
5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.
6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.
7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.
8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.
The Last Enemy Destroyed
20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
Over the world, why is Easter so joyous a season?
--The answer is here, "Now is Christ risen from the dead..by man (Adam) came death, by (Jesus)..came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive."
--Jesus said, "Because I live, you shall live also" (John 14:19).." "He is risen, as He said. Come, see and go, tell..that He is risen.."(Matt. 28:6f).
--Believers ever since join in, "He is risen indeed."
Some years ago, following an Easter service, a worshiper said to me, "I don't believe in the resurrection - of Jesus or anyone. It is impossible! When you die, you die. That's all. No man rises again - but God can and Jesus did. Millions as I believe it and rejoice."
Paul lists many who saw the Risen Lord, even he did we read in I Corinthians 15:8 - for Paul had doubts!
--Unsaved, Paul persecuted followers of Jesus until Paul met Jesus in a life-changing event (Acts 9).
--After, Paul went everywhere preaching the Savior.
--"Jesus and His resurrection" (Acts 17:18).
--His cross brings forgiveness, but His rising again was necessary to bring believers eternal life!
--Jesus! The world's most needful, wonderful news!
--The good news! That's why it is..the Gospel.
--What is it? Paul preaches it (v 1). Defines it.
--It is "Christ died for our sins" (I Cor. 15:3).
--Not of Jesus - He's sinless - but for "our sins."
--"He was buried, rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen" by many.
--"I delivered unto you..by which you are saved."
Long ago a godly man named Job (19:25) went through so much suffering - but declared his faith and hope, "I know my Redeemer lives..after my skin is destroyed, I know in my flesh, I shall see God." To live!
--Jesus' resurrection proves what millions believe!
--"Jesus is risen!" There is life after death!
--It is a pre-eminent, proclaimed, proven, priceless and powerful message of God - a Savior now risen!
Here in I Corinthians 15, let's find some proofs.
First, Jesus often promised He would rise again.
--From the greatest life ever lived, Jesus; the greatest Book ever written, the Bible; come the greatest new the world ever heard - "Jesus arose! He is not here, as He said, "Come see where He lay."
--Arose from a guarded sealed tomb of His own power.
--Many saw the tomb - "empty." Saw Jesus, "alive!"
Anyone can make such promises; Jesus fulfills them.
--"After I am risen..I'll go before you to Galilee" (Matthew 26:32). Jesus is God, He cannot lie.
--He arose, else He is an imposter, liar and phony.
--He arose, or hundreds who saw Him, all lied.
--These were willing to die for Jesus - than deny.
--My friend, no one willingly dies, for such lies!
Paul addresses this in I Corinthians 15, for if Jesus did not rise, "faith is futile, you are still in you sins" (v 17), "those who have (died) in Christ have perished..preaching is empty .. faith is vain and we are pitiable" (v 12-19) - if no resurrection.
But Jesus did rise again! Seen by hundreds, risen!
--And millions, as I, have received a changed life.
--Our Risen Lord "seen by over 500 brethren" (v 6).
--A number of women, early at the tomb. Apostles.
--People who forgot His promise He would rise again.
--He was seen of "James, and all the apostles" (v 7)
--Then seen by the Apostle Paul also (v 8)
--The four Gospels mention so many more - in the Upper Room for two Sunday nights, on the Emmaus Road and beside the Sea of Galilee breakfast (John 21).
--As well as Jesus' appearance to doubting Thomas!
When God makes a promise, God will surely keep it.
Second, we have the empty tomb of Jesus many saw.
--It was Jesus' body that arose - spirits don't rise.
--Only bodies are raised; as was Jesus, we will be.
--Perfected. Healed scars. Hands. Feet. Side.
--With an empty grave - many marvelous miracles, including the Temple high veil rend, open to all!
--"Torn in two from top to bottom" (Matthew 27:51).
Founders of religions, as we all, do die.
--Only Jesus Christ arose! Not Moses, not Mohammed, or any other religious leader, have an empty tomb.
--But Jesus does. Many have seen it, as I have.
"Up from the grave He arose,
With a might triumph o'er His foes.
He arose a victor from the dark domain, and
He lives forever with His saints to reign."
Third, doubting disciples became eager witnesses.
--They were human, as we. Slow to believe. Doubts.
--Had been with Jesus 3 1/2 years - and Jesus often had spoken of His cross and "rising again" - yet slow to believe He really had (Mark 16:11; Luke 24:11, 41).
--Jesus' resurrection was not a myth or lie, but the promise of God; yet His fellows slow to believe.
--God understands honest doubts. Proofs are needed.
--To some, it seemed "too good to be true" but was!
Jesus' own half-brothers - James and Jude - doubted, until Jesus' resurrection; then were strong in faith.
--These two of them wrote epistles in the Bible.
The Apostles died for this faith, as martyrs.
--I ask, Would you die for a lie? I say, not I.
--But I would gladly die for Jesus, and this faith!
--Years of study in seminaries, libraries, the Bible and ministering, winning and baptizing changed individuals, have only deepened my faith.
--It can also for you. May I share it with you?
Four, Jesus' resurrection gives hope to our griefs.
--Friends, sorrows can come - losing one we love.
--They can overwhelm us. We need comfort. Peace.
--We need assurance, and the presence of the Lord.
--Death awaits us all, some time. Be ready for it.
--No religion on earth blesses and assures as Jesus!
At the cross Good Friday, all sad, dark, uncertain.
--Tears filled many eyes. Fears, in many hearts.
--All was sorrowful and confusion, until the Son of God came out.. out of the rock-hewn tomb, alive!
--Jesus, as His custom, brings hope, joy, assurance.
Like the angel said, "He is not here. He is risen."
In the beautiful city of Edinburgh, Scotland, lieds a body of a teen-age daughter of Sir James Simpson.
--He was a medical doctor, inventor of chloroform, a practioner, and professor of medicine - and a fine Christian, and churchman - so was his daughter.
--But he was unable to save her - died in her youth.
--As witness to her Christian faith, over her grave, are carved the words, "Nevertheless, I live."
--It was this young lady's faith - and her family.
--We need more of that kind of faith over the world.
--It is a faith that comforts our sorrows.
Five, millions of believers have the Living Lord, in our hearts, by His Holy Spirit, to encourage, cheer!
--"He lives" in all who receive Him; to change us.
--The word "resurrection" means to "stand up," so we who love the Lord should stand up for Jesus daily.
--The reasons are many, more than a few we've seen.
What about the prominence of resurrection in the Gospels, and all the New Testament (I Corinthians 15:1-4).
--We have seen some proofs of resurrection (v 5-19).
--In this we have some of the persons who saw Jesus.
--Then we have something of the purpose of His rising, (v 29-50), and power of His resurrection (v 51-58).
--Paul puts the Gospel in perspective to explain and encourage us to appreciate what Jesus has done.
In fact, as Paul shows, the Gospel is not what we do but what all Jesus has done, that forgives and takes us into heaven, forever with Him and those we love.
--He concludes, "my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (I Cor. 15:58).
--Life is ours - life over death, good over evil, as well as joy over sorrow - life abundant can be ours.
--I want you to have it. I want more of it, for all.
Friend, many now living are dead - spiritually dead.
--Conversely, many now dead in Christ are spiritually very much alive with Jesus in heaven, with others.
--Which is it for you? Jesus asks, "Follow Me."
--Let's do it; He is risen! - Wilbert D. Gough, ThD., DD. 646