1 Corinthians 15:1-8, 20 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.
No earthly event compares with Jesus' resurrection!
--"Christ is risen from the dead." So that we may.
--Crucified, three days in a tomb. He arose alive!
--The good news a world can use - to live for God!
Jesus - the "Word of God" became flesh, like us.
--The "Son of God" became Man, so we be sons of God.
--The "Lord of all" became the Servant of all.
--The "Risen Lord" now lives in all believers in Him.
--To give us an abundant life here, and hereafter.
--The message of the hour is, Live World, for God!
A Risen Savior is unique among world religions.
--No other than Jesus is "born of a virgin."
--No other than Jesus is "without sin." Sinless!
--No other than Jesus "laid down His life" for ours.
--No other prayed, "Father forgive them ..." Us.
-—No other arose on their own, from a sealed tomb!
The Gospel truth. "I declare to you the gospel."
--It is all "according to the Scriptures" (v 3,4).
--That Jesus "was buried .. rose again .. was seen."
--The Risen Lord was "seen by many .. hundreds."
--Even by Thomas, the doubter, that Jesus arose.
--Thomas saw, said, "My Lord, and my God" (Jn.20:28).
I have not seen my Risen Lord; but I often feel Him.
--I have been inside His empty tomb, several times.
--As a youth, I've never doubted that Jesus lives!
--I saw Him, alive, in my parents; grandparents.
--In many others. Maybe in some of you dear ones.
We all can see how living for God improves the world.
--Can see the problems caused when people do not.
--How much better our world would be, if all obeyed.
--If more would be "born again" and live for God.
We can know Jesus lives. In our heart. Daily life.
--We see how Jesus changes lives; for the better.
--We see, amid worldly opposition, His church lives.
--His incomparable messages, still true .. and work.
--No other religion, or one, can compare to Christ!
Pastor Leslie Flynn tells of a man who saw a boy looking longingly in a restaurant window.
--He watched. Then asked, "Son, are you hungry?"
--"I sure am," the boy replied. So they went in.
--He ordered a hearty meal - but the boy didn't eat.
Soon he said, "If you are hungry, why don't you eat?"
--"My brother is outside, looking in. How can I eat, if he is outside hungry, too?"
--So the man went out and brought the brother in.
That's Christian love the world needs more of.
--That's the way I feel about folks outside of Christ.
--I long to bring them in; feed their hungry souls.
--Feed them on Jesus, "The Living Bread of life."
I Corinthians 15 is important for it answers questions.
--Questions about life .. and death and after life.
--Also, it defeats the first heresy the church faced of a sect that denied Jesus' bodily resurrection.
--Doubters and disbelievers arise, but lose to facts!
--The simple truth and facts are overwhelming.
Back in I Corinthians 13, the "love chapter" of the Bible, is literature like no other anywhere.
--Listen! "Though I have the gift of prophecy, understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains but have not love, I am nothing" (I Cor. 13:2).
--Without love, for God and others, "I am nothing."
--Let's study and practice this great Book and chapter.
We can't be in comfort and peace with others cold, and hungry, and naked, and outside of Christ!
--Or can we? Not and be Christ-like, my friend.
--Let's share the love of God .. Word of God .. Son of God .. in the Spirit of Christ .. to all we can.
In Chapters 11 and 12 Paul tells of "spiritual gifts."
--All believers have some "spiritual gifts" to use.
--Special abilities. Talents. Ministries. Gifts.
--Each has at least one. Some have. several.
--These "spiritual gifts" are to glorify God, not us.
--Show a winsome life-style, of faith and joy.
--Seek it. Develop it. Use it.
Now, in I Corinthians 15, Paul gives the greatest spirituality or gift of all - Jesus' resurrection.
--Something all should be interested in.
--Long ago, Job asked, "If a man dies, shall be live again?" (14:14). The Bible, thank God, say , "Yes!"
--We all have that inner longing to live forever.
--In heaven .. where there's "No more sin, sorrow, separation, or sickness." Read Revelation 21.
--It took the death and rising again of Jesus to show a dying world, there is a better world to come!
--A better life! Better place! Forever, with God!
Egyptians built vast pyramids to care for their dead.
--Elaborate plans for burials. Great monuments.
--But all of them combined can't compare with the empty tomb of Jesus!
--Nor can any other religious leader ..ever!
That's why I want to follow Christ in godly living.
--Jesus placed the emphasis on being "born again."
-—To "follow Him," and He removes the fear of dying.
--He brings a blessed assurance. A wonderful peace.
--Not only of the present, but for the future.
Look how Paul ends I Corinthians 15, "we shall. all be changed .. death is swallowed up in victory. Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, imuoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing th't your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
--What is he saying? Live world, for God!
--"Always abounding in the work of the Lord." You ask, "What can I, one person, do?" A lot!
--You can let your light shine among men." His light.
--Jesus was but One, in the flesh. Faced many foes.
--Yet He did so much. How? In the will of God!
My dear friend, we in America cannot put God on a back burner of our life, and expect to prosper in blessing"
--All too many of us have been doing that, and we pay.
Think of God's minorities, living for Him, as winners.
--Noah, building an ark, was very much a minority.
--Joseph, sold into Egypt, a minority with his brothers.
--David, faced Goliath, single-handedly, but he won!
Anyone an easily go along with the crowd. Many do.
--Aurelius Augustinus (354-430) was such a one, lived a worldly life. But he had a praying Mother.
--While teaching in Milan, he became a Christian.
--Wrote two great works in defense of Christianity we know as his CONFESSIONS, and CITY OF GOD, still being read and studied today - changing lives!
--We know him as St. Augustine. He lived for God!
It is hard to stand for the Lord in a secular crowd or against some evil or error.
--But God blesses those who do - like Martin Luther.
--John Calvin of Geneva, John Hus of Prague, or a John Knox of Scotland, or a Billy Graham in early years.
--They oldly stood for the Lord! Truth of His word.
--The whole world is so much better for them all!
A few years ago we were in Gloucester, England, worshipped in George Whitefield's church.
--Little known today, but George Whitefield was great.
--He, with John and Charles Wesley, saved England from a national disaster like the uprisings in France.
--They ushered in a wholesome evangelical faith.
--Not only in England, but in America, and the world.
--It only takes one, Spirit-filled, to work wonders.
In that Gloucester church I sat and prayed, "Lord, may You do it again. Use me. Use us all, to win the world,, to You." This is my cry, until I die!
--We visited the classroom where he taught the Bible.
--Sought the fervent, holy fire and power of faith!
Lay people can make a difference for our God.
--Like George Washington - what a man of faith, prayer.
--Or Abraham Lincoln - laboring to free the slaves.
--William Wilberforce, abolishing slavery in England.
--And did it almost single-handedly, when unpopular.
--Or Patrick Henry. Add your name to the list!
We admire people of all ages who take a stand for God.
--Who 1ike Paul, are "not ashamed of .. Christ."
--Whose life demonstrates their faith by their works.
--My friend, let's be such a one, following Jesus.
--Our future depends on it!
Wilbert D. Gough, ThD., DD. 87