The Resurrection has Implications

Click here to listen to the sermon audio from 4/1/2018

1 Corinthians 15:1-34 Questions

  1. In what way did God comfort, challenge, or correct you through his Word?
  2. What questions do you have about the resurrection of Jesus? To whom can you talk about these questions?
  3. Do you agree with this statement: truth is that which agrees with God? Why?
  4. If you believed the resurrection is a primary and fundamental truth concerning your life now and your future, how would your life change?
  5. Do you believe the resurrection of Jesus is verified truth? Why or why not?
  6. What do you think are the most important implications of the resurrection?
  7. How does the resurrection fuel gratitude in you now, and hope in you about the future?
  8. The desire for ease and comfort often distract us from the mission. How does remembering the resurrection of Christ keep us on track?
  9. Explain the ways you see 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 being worked out in this church? How can you encourage greater faithfulness in these things?

The Gospel

Text: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11                                       1/28/2018

Main Point: Believing the gospel changes us.

We are looking again at the core values of this church family. These are the things we cherish. But, what does that mean?

Well, why did my lawn mower sleep in the garage while my suburban slept outside? Because I cherished the mower more than the Suburban. This is a statement of worth. That mower was worth twice as much as the Suburban. I cherished it because of its surpassing worth.

Why do I cherish my wedding ring? It’s not worth much. After I lost my expensive wedding ring, somewhere between Autozone, Lowes, and the attic overhead, I was given a replacement of lesser financial value. Though the ring is of little monetary value, the ring is cherished because it reminds me of something of great worth. This ring reminds me of my wife and the gift of marriage. My wedding ring reminds me of powerful truths, so it is significant. Significance makes this ring valuable and we cherish valuable things.

And why do I cherish my coffee maker? It’s not worth much and there are no meaningful memories attached to it. I cherish the coffee maker because it is useful. Every morning, like a team player, that coffee maker produces a hot beverage that I find tasty and useful. I cherish it because it is useful. We cherish what is valuable, significant, and useful.

1 Corinthians 15:1-5 preaches the gospel and proves the worth of the gospel. The gospel is valuable, the gospel is significant, and the gospel is useful. Let me show you why we cherish the gospel

Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-5

  1. To begin, We must define the gospel biblically (3-5)
    1. Jesus died for our sins and was buried

There was absolutely no doubt in the first century about the death of Jesus. Everyone in Jerusalem knew Jesus died. No Roman soldier, no Jewish leader, believed Jesus was merely hurt on the cross and then walked it off. The death of Jesus was an assumed fact. What was debated was the purpose of that death and if he actually rose again. Let’s talk purpose.

Why did Jesus die? Look at verse 3. This is of greatest importance. Jesus died for what reason? Jesus died for our sins. Jesus died because of our rebellion. Jesus died because we love and cherish the wrong things. Jesus died. Jesus died for our sins. If we take a step back, Jesus died as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Jesus paid our debt, but who did Jesus pay? Jesus paid the penalty we owe to God because we turn away from God. God built into the universe the principle that the wages of sin is death. When Jesus died, he paid the debt we owe to God.

Have you ever owed someone money? Have you ever gotten behind on the payment? It’s awkward being around that person when you owe but have not paid. One of the reasons worship, bible study, and prayer can be awkward is because we try to draw near to God without drawing near through Jesus. Without Jesus we should feel out of place. Our sin debt is paid only in and through him. We worship God through Jesus Christ. Jesus died as the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Let’s take another step back. Jesus died as the atoning sacrifice for our sins, so we can enjoy reconciliation with God. Jesus died as the atoning sacrifice for our sins, so that right now and for all eternity, we can enjoy God. Jesus’ death reconciles us to God by taking away all our sin. But Jesus didn’t stay dead. The gospel declares Jesus died for our sins and was buried then

  1. Jesus rose again and appeared to hundreds

Look back at 1 Corinthians 15:3. Jesus died for our sins according to God’s plan, according to the Scriptures. Jesus was then buried, but on the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures. God the Father was not watching the death of Jesus freaking out wondering, “What are we going to do now?”. The Father and Spirit were loving the Son and telling all of creation, “Watch this.” On the third day, according to plan, Jesus rose from the grave. To prove the validity of his resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples, more than 500 brothers, the apostles, and he even appeared to Paul. Jesus has conquered sin and the grave for all those who will believe in him. Let’s think about what we’ve seen.

  1. The gospel is individual and inconceivably vast

Think about someone cooking you a personal meal precisely suited to your every need. It is the perfect meal with the exact nutritional content you need, and it is pleasurable to eat. That’s the gospel. Jesus is so good. The gospel is a perfect fit for you. But also think about Jesus feeding 5,000 men plus women and children. That one little meal, pleasant and sufficient for you, is pleasant and sufficient for all. We must be biblical and balanced cherishing the individual and the corporate aspects of Jesus’ redeeming work.

Individually, the gospel is the good news that you can be restored to God through faith in the righteous life, atoning death, victorious resurrection, and soon return of Jesus Christ. The gospel is the power of God that saves you.

Corporately, the gospel is the good news that God is forming his forever family, his church, through the person and work of His Son and Spirit. The gospel creates, unites, and empowers the church.

Holistically, the gospel is the good news that God will make all things new in heaven and on earth. This broken world with all its broken systems will one day be renewed and made perfect. We will be forever united as God’s glorious family. Our future is one of the unmediated presence of God, the fullness of joy, the fruitfulness of work, and the absence of sin and temptation. The gospel declares that you are being made new and the gospel declares all things will be made new. We believe an individual, corporate, and inconceivably vast gospel.

Now that we have a little more clarity on the content and scope of the gospel, let’s look at what God wants us to do with the gospel.

  1. We must use the gospel faithfully (1-2)

Now we’re looking at 1 Corinthians 15:1&2

  1. The gospel must be preached

The good news of Christ’s death for sins and resurrection from the grave must be proclaimed. Verse 1, Paul is reminding the church of the gospel he had previously preached to them. Verse 2, Paul is exhorting them to keep believing the gospel he preached to them. Verse 3, Paul delivered to them the message of Christ’s righteous life, atoning death, victorious resurrection, and soon return. Literally, Paul gospeled them with the gospel.

We are being faithful with the gospel when we are preaching it, sharing it, explaining it, and defending it. The gospel is a set message. The gospel message was promised by God, lived out through Jesus, delivered to the apostles, and preserved in the Scriptures. We don’t get to define the gospel. We preach the ancient and apostolic gospel of Jesus Christ. But that’s not enough

  1. The gospel must be received and believed

Verse 1, Paul preached the gospel and they received it. The end of verse 2 tells us the church believed the gospel. Remember the progress of salvation in Romans 10:14-15. God sends a preacher. The preacher preaches the gospel of Christ crucified for sins. A person hears the gospel, believes the gospel, and then cries out to Jesus for salvation. Receiving and believing the gospel are nothing less than understanding what Jesus has done and calling out for salvation from God’s wrath. Jesus save me!

Have you done that? Have you cried out to Jesus to save you from the wrath of God for your sins? Are you doing that? Are you depending constantly on Christ? Do it now. Trust Him.

A Christian is a person who feels the wrath of God for sin and calls out to Jesus for salvation from God’s wrath.

A Christian is a person who wants to be with God and trusts Jesus alone to get there.

A Christian is a person who trusts in the righteous life, atoning death, victorious resurrection, and soon return of Jesus Christ.

This belief defines saving faith, but it also defines what it looks like to stay in the faith. We keep believing. Hear this,

  1. The gospel must be held on to

Look with me at 1 Corinthians 15:1. The gospel is preached, received, and stood in. Stood in? Christians stand in the gospel; it’s a current everyday practice. Gospel standing. Paul asks them, “Hey watcha doing?” and the church replies, “You know, standing in the gospel.” What does that look like? Verse 2. Standing in the gospel goes with being saved by the gospel and being saved by the gospel goes with holding fast to the gospel and all this works together to make faith fruitful and not empty.

The gospel is to Christianity what oxygen is to the human body. If you stop breathing, if you decide you’ve found a better way to survive, if you stumble across something more glorious than breathing, well, you’ll stop breathing and die. Your previous breathing will be in vain if you stop breathing.

Standing in the gospel, believing the gospel, and holding onto the gospel is the only way of life for Christians. Just as a body cannot survive without constant breathing, so the Christian cannot survive without holding onto the gospel.

If you seek your identity in something other than the gospel, if you depend on something or someone other than Jesus for life, then you will die. If you let go of Jesus and grab onto something else to feel right or be right, then you will die.

Joy and life come through Christ alone. Salvation is nothing less than an enduring union with Christ. Hold fast to the one you believe in! He is infinitely glorious and sufficient! Praise God he is holding onto us!

Now, what does this look like? We must define the gospel biblically, we must use the gospel faithfully, and

  • We must constantly work out the implications of the gospel

Do you remember the time when the apostle Paul reproved the apostle Peter? The story is in Galatians 2. Peter was not walking in step with the gospel. Peter’s conduct was contradicting Peter’s doctrine. He believed one thing and did the opposite. What Peter believed about the Gentiles and the way Peter treated the Gentiles did not match. Specifically, the way Peter ate dinner contradicted the gospel and he needed to be corrected. God used the apostle Paul to correct Peter’s application of the gospel and the Spirit preserved the story so we can learn from Peter’s mistake. We must walk in step with the gospel.

What I want to do now is take each of those things we do with the gospel and try to show you how they work. I want to help you walk out these truths in your mind, your house, and in your work.

  1. Preaching the gospel looks like explaining the biblical gospel

Jonah is a bad example of preaching the gospel. It looks like all Jonah said was “Yet forty days, and Nineveh will be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:4). Explaining the gospel looks like the book of Romans. Romans is a letter in which a missionary is explaining his gospel in order to secure the support of the gospel believing church. Are you explaining the gospel in your home? Are you explaining the gospel at work? We must do better than Jonah. We must make the gospel clear.

4 good resources- The Bible by God, The Gospel by Ray Ortlund, What is the Gospel by Greg Gilbert, and The Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent. Dig down deep into the gospel. It gets sweeter and stronger the further you go.

Make sure you are speaking the gospel and that your preaching is biblical and understandable. Next,

  1. Receiving the gospel looks like repentance and faith

Christians are sorry people. We see our sin, we see the atoning work of Christ, and we say, “I’m sorry.” We say, “I’m sorry” to God and we say, “I’m sorry” to one another. Receiving and believing the gospel looks like faith in Christ crucified and raised, which leads to repentance. If you can’t say, “I’m sorry,” you’re probably not a Christian. If you aren’t regularly saying, “I’m sorry,” you’re probably not a growing Christian. Repent and believe. Keep repenting and keep believing. Receiving the gospel looks like repentance and faith

  1. Standing in the gospel looks like constantly touching the gospel-base

When you play tag it is important to determine two things: first, who is it? And second, what is base? When you are a soldier it is important to know where base is because base is safety, family, and provisions.

Think about it from another angle. What do you constantly check on? What base do you constantly check to make sure you are ok? Do you constantly check your text messages, Facebook, or Instagram to make sure you are being liked and not missing out? I have to check. I have to touch base. Do you constantly check the news, your physical health, or your progress at work? I have to check. I have to know where I am. Or, do you constantly touch the gospel-base? This is who I am- a redeemed and loved child of God.

Stand in the gospel. Hold fast to the gospel. Keep believing the gospel.

  1. Being saved by the gospel looks like gradual transformation

Christianity is a glorious cycle of looking at a situation asking, “What do God and the gospel have to do with this?” and then living life based on God and the gospel. I wish initial faith led immediately to perfection but it’s not the case. Saving faith connects us to Christ who justifies us perfectly in that instance and immediately begins to sanctify us.

Our response is to look to God for direction and depend on God to empower change. In singleness, marriage, and parenting it looks like, “God I can’t do this, but you said do this, so I will depend on you to do this.” That every day every moment of the day gospel dependence fuels change. Knowing what to do and having the strength to do it are both glorious gospel miracles.

Will God take it away and make it better? Yes, in a flash, in a twinkling of an eye, the trumpet will sound, Jesus will return, and all things will be made new. Until that day, the saved will keep trusting the gospel for gradual transformation. Being saved by the gospel looks like gradual transformation and

  1. Being reminded of the gospel looks like push notifications

Push notifications are the bells, alarms, and alerts that come from smart phones. A more accurate name is pushy notifications. A pushy person is always telling you what to do. Push notifications are pushy- do this! read this! reply to this! Push notifications break into our routines and redirect us towards what is important. At least that should be the case. Instead of Instagram push notifications, we need gospel push notifications. We need to be reminded constantly that we are loved by God, we are justified by Christ, we are empowered by the Spirit, and we have a glorious future. The world is pulling us away. We have to push back.

We need every day push notifications from the Word and from our brothers and sisters (Heb 3:13). Every week we need a push notification from the church (Heb 10:24-25). We gather to remind one another- this is the triune God, this is the gospel, this is who we are. You are forgiven and loved. Keep going. Keep believing. Keep holding fast to the gospel.

Look around this room. These brothers and sisters are having a hard time loving their families and their neighbors. You need to stir them up. These brothers and sisters are ready to quit. You need to stir them up to keep doing good works. Christians connect every day and every week. Why? Jesus is coming soon. The day of his return is drawing near.

Maybe you should set a reminder on your phone, a reminder that goes off every now and again, that simply says, “Jesus is coming.” Start texting your friends and family, “Jesus is coming.” Remind the sufferer, Jesus is coming. Remind those who rejoice, Jesus is coming. Text your pastors, “Jesus is coming.”

Because of all this, repent and believe the gospel. The good news is that Jesus is ready to take you in or take you back. Right now, by faith, with all your junk. Jesus will restore you. Let’s believe the gospel, let’s cherish the gospel, together.

The Reasonable Resurrection- 1 Corinthians 15:35-49

Listen to the sermon audio here

Main Point: The resurrection makes sense and makes everything better.

There is a lot of crazy stuff out there; a lot of foolishness. For many of our neighbors and coworkers the idea of the resurrection of the dead is foolishness. When you talk of the resurrection most people these days will think of zombies before they think of Jesus. For them, the idea of decaying corpses being brought back to life is laughable. And what about those whose ashes have been spread on the sea or even those unfortunate people who have been eaten by wild animals? Seriously, is God going to put all the pieces back together?

Our passage today, 1 Corinthians 15:35-49, is a defense of the resurrection. It is also word of encouragement for us who feel our bodies wearing out, who bear on our bodies the effects of sin, and who hate the weakness within which leads us to do that which we do not want to do. The resurrection makes sense and the resurrection makes everything better.

Read 1 Corinthians 15:35-50

I. The resurrection is reasonable

The issue at hand is this: Is belief in the resurrection foolishness or is it foolishness, judging by what we already know, to deny the resurrection? Here we have a helpful example of Christian apologetics; engaging questions about the faith with solid biblical answers.

  • Look at the way God created plants (36-38)

Verse 36, “what you sow does not come to life unless it dies.” There is a common understanding among all people on the face of the earth that crops are produced by planting or sowing seed. A seed is put into the earth and at that point becomes useless for food. Once a seed is planted and the decay of its outward shell begins it is done for- it is dead. The death of a seed in order to produce a greater life is understood.

Verse 37, “And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare seed.” If you want a huge oak tree you don’t dig a huge hole and bury a huge oak tree. You plant an acorn. From the bare small seed comes the large fruitful plant.

Then in verse 38 he writes, “But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.”

God, in his infinite wisdom and power has determined how plants will grow and produce a crop. From one grain of wheat grows a plant that produces hundreds of grains of wheat. The seed itself is wheat. The plant is wheat. The harvest is wheat. There is continuity- if you plant wheat you get wheat not tuna fish. But there is also transformation. From the bare seed comes a great plant. Look at the way God created plants. It helps us understand the resurrection.

  • Look at all the kinds of bodies God created (38-39)

God has designed creation so that there is change in a particular species but not change between the species. Genesis 1 repeats the phrase, “according to its kind” (1:21, 24, 25) to emphasize that birds produce birds, fish produce fish, animals produce animals, and humans produce humans. This diversity of flesh helps us understand the resurrection.

God is quite good at fitting each being with an appropriate body. Birds were made for the air. Study the feathers, muscles, and bone structure of a bird, it points to the wisdom of God. Study the scales, gills, and eyes of a fish in the deepest ocean depths, it points to the resourcefulness of God. Look at all the bodies God has created. This diversity proves God is more than capable of creating a body fit for any environment.

Science is not opposed to God. Science, done correctly sings the praises of God. Look around this immense earth and you will see that God is not in a bind when it comes to creating various bodies for various environments.

  • Look at the God-given variety of glory in creation (40-41)

Now, let’s lift our eyes up to the skies. Verse 40, “There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.”

God’s wisdom and power displayed in the size, location, and function of the sun for our solar system is simply breathtaking. The phases of the moon and how the moon effects our oceans is amazing. Take a moment and look at the night sky twinkling with glorious star after star after star. There are earthly bodies; there are planets. There are heavenly bodies; there are starts. This body has its purpose and its own glory. That other body has another purpose and its own glory. Who did that? Who made it that way? God did.

  • God is an infinitely wise and resourceful Creator

These verses remind us that God is the sovereign Creator. He determines what type of body each part of creation will have. He fits each body perfectly according to its environment and purpose. He also is intimately involved in creation overseeing the diversity and ensuring unity. Anthony Thiselton puts it well, “God will not be caught by some design problem relating to the resurrection” (281).

If God can create all the intricate details of creation as we see them surely it is not too difficult to think God can create resurrected bodies. Look at the resurrection of a grain of wheat, look into the ocean depths, look at the flying birds, look up at the stars above, and see how everything fits perfectly. Surely God is capable of the resurrection.

We are meant to see the connection between God’s work in creation and his work in the resurrection. Verse 42, “So it is with the resurrection of the dead.” What you see around you now is like what will happen in the resurrection. The resurrection is reasonable and

II. The resurrection is improvement

Here in verse 42 Paul shifts his apologetic for the resurrection from the physical realm to the spiritual realm. If we consent that God is capable of creating a resurrection body what will it be like? Will we be partially or mostly decayed zombies? Will we be raised and then rewind to the point of greatest physical health?

Bear this biblical truth in mind as we continue through the text: God is not taking you back to something you were God will transform you into something greater. God is not going backward He is taking us forward.

  • We will be made fit for the age to come (42-44)

Think of the body you currently have as a seed that has been sown into the ground. Like that bare kernel of wheat you too will undergo a massive transformation.

1. The perishable will be raised imperishable

These bodies are decaying. From a very early age we begin the process of dying. Skin is sloughed off. Osteoporosis attacks our bones. Eyes become cloudy and organs fail. No human is invincible. Through medicine and surgeries and diet and exercise we battle against the decay of our bodies but that decay is inevitable. It is part of our nature.

But one day we will be changed. One day the mortal will put on immortality and death will no longer have dominion over us. Instead of being continually depleted we will be continually replenished. The spiritual body, remade and ruled by the Spirit will be imperishable.

2. The shameful will be raised in glory

These bodies are marked by dishonor. Every one of us, from scars to aches to bad tattoos to disease, we all bear guilt and shame in these bodies. Our sin in these bodies shows up on these bodies. We reap what we sow and our bodies put it on display. We are sown in dishonor but we will be raised in glory.

The darkness and shame we know carry will one day be replaced with the radiance of the likeness of Christ. Like creation in Romans 8 we yearn for the resurrection when all our sin and shame with all its effects will be sloughed off and we will be clothed in the righteousness of Christ. The spiritual body, remade and ruled by the Spirit will be glorious; no longer stained by sin.

3. The weak will be raised in power

In Romans 7 Paul recounts the struggle we all face. Why do I keep doing what I don’t want to do and why can I not do those things that I want to do? Why am I so wretched and weak? This struggle is bound up in these bodies. We are weak. Let us not forget that about ourselves and let us not forget that about one another. You and your spouse and your child and your church family, we are all sown in weakness. We do not use that as an excuse for sin. Instead, we feel each other’s weaknesses and we cry out for grace. We feel our own weakness and we cry out for the resurrection when what is sown in weakness will be raised in power.

On that day, Christian, inability will be replaced with ability. The spiritual body, remade and ruled by the Spirit will be characterized by power.

4. The natural will be raised spiritual

Let us be careful here lest we fall off into some weird Platonic understanding that the body, the material, is always bad and only the spirit is good. Our goal is not to shuck these bodies and be forever only spirit our soul. Our goal is a resurrected body.

The resurrected body, though quite different from these current bodies, will still be a body. Though physically better and higher than what we are now we will still possess an element of the physical. The resurrected Jesus was touched and he ate and he spoke. He was not raised as a disembodied spirit. He was raised with an imperishable, glorious, powerful, spiritual body. The same is true for us Christians.

  • Made in the likeness of Adam we will be raised in the likeness of Christ (45-49)

A few weeks ago we looked at verses 21&22. They say, “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” To be in Adam means death while being in Christ means life. This idea of being in Adam or being in Christ is expanded in verses 45-49. But now, instead of emphasizing our shared future, either death or life, now the emphasis is on sharing the image of Adam or the image of Christ.

Look at verse 49 with me, “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust (who is Adam), we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven (who is Christ). There is an order here. Adam lived, died, and stayed dead. Then came Jesus who lived, died, and rose again.

We follow that same order. We look like Adam then we look like Jesus. We are born looking like that man Adam who was formed from the earth; he was a man of dust and to dust he returned. He was a man of this age with a body fit this earth. Like Adam, unless you and I are alive when Jesus returns our bodies will be committed to the grave to become dust yet again. This is the natural progression. Live, die, stay dead.

The transformation comes because of the power of the last Adam. The first Adam was indeed a living being, a soul, and a real person. He was the one who brought death to us all. The last Adam however is quite different. Though a real man and a living being he became a life-giving spirit. Through his death and resurrection Jesus became the very source of eternal life for all who belong to him.

What was true of Adam became true for all who followed him and what is true of Christ becomes true for all who belong to him. Verse 48, “As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.” We shall bear his image; his coat of arms. We shall be made fit for the coming age just like him.

Though Jesus possessed a physical body which could be touched he also possessed a physical body which was “of heaven.” He was given an imperishable, glorious, powerful, spiritual body. If you belong to him you also will one day be given an imperishable, glorious, powerful, spiritual body. The Spirit has been given to you as a guarantee. We will put you in the grave and you will put me in the grave knowing that the day is coming when decay, dishonor, weakness, and the trappings of this age will be left behind for a fuller existence in the age to come. Made in the likeness of Adam we will be raised in the likeness of Christ.

Here is the point

III. The resurrection is coming

The resurrection has begun already. What has been promised has started in Jesus. He is the firstfruits of a great harvest. At his coming those who belong to him shall be made alive.

  • Death is a doorway to greater life

Christian, let us remember in our easy chairs and on our death beds that death is a doorway to a greater life. Death is not the end. Death is a transition to better things. No more wearing out, no more guilt and shame, no more inability, and no more natural limitations. We will continue forever in the fullest possible life reflecting the glory of God’s righteous Son in ever-replenished power.

Church it is going to be good; better than we can imagine. Relationships and worship and joy and life with ever increasing delight. We don’t know all the details but we know it’s going to be good. But remember, how do we get there? We get there through death, burial, and resurrection at Jesus’ return.

Hebrews 9:28 tells us, “so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”

In our decay, dishonor, and weakness we yearn for his return. We have borne the first Adam’s image long enough. Come quickly Lord Jesus that we can bear your image for eternity. Death is the doorway to greater life for those who belong to Christ. While we celebrate that glorious truth don’t forget

  • Death is also a doorway to greater suffering

For many, maybe for many of us here this morning, death will not be a doorway to greater life but a doorway to greater suffering. For all those who do not belong to Christ the age to come will not be filled with good things but with terrible things. Hell is not a place where the party never ends. Hell is a place where the fire that burns never goes out and the worm that eats never stops. Many people in this life view death as a release when it is actually a greater bondage.

It is our calling to go to them and tell them the truth regarding the age to come. It is our calling to point to the plants and the stars and the animals and give a credible defense of the resurrection. Be prepared to give a reason for the hope you have. Defend the resurrection. Tell them

  • The victory is found in Christ

Jesus has conquered sin and the grave by taking our sins upon himself, going into the grave, and rising victorious over them both. Do you want proof for the credibility of the resurrection? Look at a grain of wheat; it has a lesson to teach. Do you want proof for the credibility of Christianity? Look to the bloody cross and the empty tomb.

Victory is found in Christ and we will taste it here and there in this age. We have been given the Spirit as a guarantee. But the fullness of the victory is yet to come.

Though we see great loss today we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Lift up your eyes Christian and set your gaze on eternal things. Christ is coming again and when he does we will be transformed to be like him and then we’ll really start living.

The Resurrection Has Consequences- 1 Corinthians 15:29-34

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Main Point: We sacrifice ourselves because Jesus rose from the grave.

Read 1 Corinthians 15:20-34

Let’s begin with that interesting verse, verse 29, and do our best to discern it’s meaning and how it should shape our lives.

“Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?”

Here is the big picture, the point of the verse

I. The resurrection gives baptism meaning (29)

Since there is a resurrection then baptism has meaning. If there were no resurrection then baptism would be pointless. Those who are baptized do so because of the hope of being united with Christ in his resurrection. It is clear in this passage and the rest of scripture that the one being baptized does so because of the resurrection. If the resurrection gives baptism its meaning then

  • Baptism is worthless without the resurrection

Be gone with empty tradition. May we all hate and graciously work to eradicate that empty desire to simply go through the motions of Christianity. If there is no resurrection then there is no baptism. Since there is a resurrection let us baptized and be baptized. Join him in his death and in his resurrection. That much is clear.

But what does it mean for people to be baptized for the dead? I like what John MacArthur says and I agree wholeheartedly with this statement, “I don’t know what it means. We can’t be dogmatic.”[1]

The best options are vicarious baptism and baptism on account of or as a result of the faith of the dead. Vicarious baptism understands the text to mean people we’re being baptized on behalf of those who had died before receiving baptism. A living Christian was being baptized in the place of a Christian who had been unable to receive baptism before death. Unfortunately this is a weak view of baptism and though an option I don’t think it is a good one. It is hard to believe the apostle who was so concerned about the Lord’s Supper and right worship would not correct this misguided approach to baptism.

The best view sees this baptism as baptism on account of the dead. Those who had died had lived out a powerful personal faith in Christ in the face of death. The gospel had been proclaimed, people saw faith lived out in suffering, and God had used the testimony of these now dead saints to draw people to faith in Christ. So, on account of or because of these dead saints people were also trusting in Christ and also looking forward to the resurrection. Though there are a host of other options for this passage, I believe the understanding of God using the preached gospel and the faith of the saints to bring people to salvation is our best option. God had used the faith of those saints as they trusted Christ and looked forward to the resurrection even through death as a means of bringing people to salvation and ultimately baptism. But we will not be dogmatic.

The details are fuzzy but the big picture is clear. Paul is urging the church to think about what they are doing. Some are claiming there is no resurrection of the dead but their very practices prove they believe in a resurrection. The resurrection gives baptism meaning and

II. The resurrection makes personal sacrifice worth it (30-32)

Look at the next question in verse 30, “Why are we in danger every hour?” Why suffer if death has the final word and the dead are not raised? Here is a truth we need to hear again and again

  • The gospel of the resurrected Christ produces danger (30)

1 John 3:13, “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.”

Titus 3:12, “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

Jesus said, ““Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.  ‎35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.  ‎36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.”

We love to quote Psalm 23 for the comfort it brings but we quickly forget the comfort of the Shepherd is meant to be felt in the face of death while being surrounded by those who want to kill us.

Look at verse 30. How often are those who preach the gospel in danger? We are in danger every hour. Why in the world would anyone endure such unrelenting pressure if the dead are not raised? It is precisely because the dead are raised that we are in danger every hour.

Live in step with the gospel and graciously preach the gospel and you will face danger. You must hold fast to the Good Shepherd who will be with you in danger. He will not abandon you in the face of death. He will be with you and give you rest even as your enemies close in on you. The danger is real but the resurrection has the final say. The gospel of the resurrected Christ produces danger and

  • The advance of the gospel requires daily dying (31)

Look at verse 31 with me, “I protest brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day!”

Christ has risen from the grave conquering over death by death. Christ has risen from the dead having put all our sin away. The apostle took that good news to the Corinthians and they had been born again. It was the gospel that produces regenerated saints in Corinth. Their very existence as members of the New Covenant in Christ was a testimony for the resurrection of the dead. Paul was pointing to their changed lives as evidence of the resurrection. Their salvation, through Christ, was the reason for Paul’s boasting. Their redemption proved the resurrection.

But the conversion of the Corinthians and the continuing advance of the gospel was not a product of a low cost commitment on Paul’s part. People were not being saved because Paul was half-heartedly inviting them to church. Paul was not engaged in a once a month evangelism program or an annual revival service.

Verse 31, what was Paul doing every day? Paul was engaged in daily dying. To follow Christ is to be engaged in his mission. His mission is to seek and save the lost (Lk 19:10). Jesus said that if we are going to follow him we must pick up our crosses daily (Lk 9:23-24).

The salvation of our family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and nations will come through daily dying. Christ is not telling you to rail against sin; that is easy. Christ is calling you to follow him. Deny yourself and follow him. Lose your life. Put yourself in harm’s way, court disaster, loss, and suffering.

But since there is a resurrection you are losing nothing. The sign for Lakeside Baptist has that great quote from the martyr Jim Elliot. Remember, Jim Elliot was killed by the very people he was sacrificing to share the gospel with. Jim said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Resurrection faith radically transformed the way Jim Elliot lived every day and ultimately died for the salvation of souls.

It was Paul’s faith in the resurrected Christ which led him to gladly lay down his life, endure danger, and die daily. Paul was giving up his life to gain the eternal life of Christ. Paul was giving up this short life so that others could hear and enter into the eternal life of Christ.

The advance of the gospel requires daily dying. Because Jesus rose we sacrifice but understand this

  • Personal sacrifice is a waste without the resurrection (32)

Look at verse 32, “What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’”

If there is no resurrection of the dead then why suffer and sacrifice and deny yourself and give yourself over to death? If there is no resurrection then don’t suffer and don’t deny yourself and don’t sacrifice and don’t give yourself over to death. Paul is speaking here of the battle he faced everywhere he turned. Paul never fought lions or leopards like a gladiator in the arena. His battle was not against flesh and blood in that sense. But he was well accustomed to the biting and devouring that people can do as they hate use and hate the gospel that defines us. Fighting beasts at Ephesus is a way of referring to the constant danger and real threat of death at the hands of those who stalked him like prey.

Turn over to 2 Corinthians 11:24 (read 24-33).

Why was Paul in this danger? Paul faced this danger because he was obedient to Christ. He took the resurrection of Christ and the Great Commission of Christ seriously. Because Paul obeyed the call to follow Christ he faced deep personal sacrifice and hardship. And all of these would be a terrible waste if there is no resurrection.

Paul is brutally honest in verse 32, “if the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” If there is no resurrection of the dead the only proper thing to do is to seek personal ease and pleasure above all else. If there is no resurrection of the dead then we must avoid sacrifice, suffering, and danger at all costs. If there is no resurrection of the dead you should do what makes you feel good and avoid what makes you feel bad.

The pursuit of selfish pleasure is the defining characteristic of a people who do not believe in the resurrection. The pursuit of the salvation of souls at the cost of our individual lives is the defining characteristic of a people who believe in the resurrection. I fear that we as a church say we believe in the resurrection but a quick glance at our lives proves we do not.

III. The resurrection has consequences (33-34)

Up to this point the argument has been made that there is actual evidence in lives for the belief in the resurrection. People are baptized because of the resurrection. The apostles willingly suffer and face daily death because there is a resurrection to come. Then the call to selfishly seek pleasure, “let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die,” forces each of us to consider how the resurrection should shape our daily lives.

Look again with me at verse 33, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’” King Solomon put it this way

  • A companion of fools suffers harm (33)

Proverbs 13:20 says, “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” People who do not believe in the resurrection will have a corrupting influence on you if you are not careful. The beliefs, priorities, and even the worldview of the people around us effect us. This does not mean we should withdraw from the world. Withdrawing from the sinful world and isolating our Christian selves would be a sinful mistake even denying the mission Christ has given us. Don’t withdraw from the world- be intentional to influence the people around you. Be salt and light not a spineless blob that goes along with the group.

Stay in the world but don’t be like the world. Keep your guard up and be careful about what influences you. Teach your children to do the same. Don’t retreat and don’t set up fences which even the most sincere seeker could not get through. Be discerning and be a person who influences others. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:1). Some need encouragement others need a wakeup call.

  • Wake up drunken Christian (34)

Read verse 34, “Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.”

There will be times in each of our lives when someone needs to loving tell us to sober up and stop sinning. Who in your life loves you and Jesus enough to speak this truth to you in your time of need? “Wake up and stop sinning.” Do you know the sinfulness and deceitfulness of your own heart well enough to listen when people bring these words of correction? Wake up! You’re drunk on your own sinfulness. You’re drunk on the things of this world. You’ve been lulled to sleep by the world. Christ sent you to advance the gospel for the salvation of souls but you’re just laying there doing nothing. We need a church full of loving gracious brothers and sisters who will get in our faces in Jesus’ name.

And why should we stop sinning? Verse 34, “For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.”

Our enemy does not have to destroy us. All he really needs to do is keep us quiet. The devil knows there is a fine balance between too much sin so we tremble before God and seek Christ and just enough sin so that we remain quiet when we should speak out. It’s the Satanic sweet spot. It’s a drunken stupor. It’s pointless, fruitless, and sickening to Christ.

Wake up and advance the gospel. I say this to my shame- I have family members and neighbors who have no knowledge of God. They have not been graciously challenged, sacrificially served, and then decided to turn away. No, while I’m in my drunken stupor of church, family, paying the bills, and defending the truth they languish.

Do you not feel the shame of being in contact with some person for years and they have no knowledge of God?

Here’s the solution. Here’s my goal and I hope it becomes yours as well.

  • Deny yourself, die daily, and experience true joy

Who around you has no knowledge of God?

Wake up from your selfish stupor. The gospel is not going to advance because you get a promotion, a bigger house, or a new car. We are called to pour ourselves out for the good of others. This will mean we don’t get to do some things we want to do or even feel entitled to do. The salvation of souls will cause you to give up your rights. You’re going to have to turn off your TV, put down your phone, and go make disciples. As Johnny Huffman says, “You can’t follow Christ sitting on the couch.”

Deny yourself and die daily. You will face danger. You might be laughed at, lose your position, or even lose your job. You might be misunderstood, taken advantage of, beaten, hauled before judges, or even beheaded. These dangerous responses are the world’s norm. Ready yourself now to die daily.

The way you get ready to die is by meditating on the faithfulness of God in Christ’s death and resurrection. Why did Christ endure the cross? Hebrews 12:2 tells us that Jesus endured  the cross for the joy set before him. What was he looking at? Isaiah 53:11 says, “Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge, shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous.” The joy set before Jesus was the salvation of souls.

You too will be able to deny yourself, die daily and experience true joy as you see souls saved through faith in Jesus Christ.

If there is no resurrection then by all means eat it up drink it up and avoid sacrifice at all costs. But since there is a resurrection there is the hope of life and joy. Since the dead will rise we have every reason to pursue holy lives, sacrifice everything, and even die a martyr’s death. The dead will rise.

On that day when you stand before God who will be your boasting? Who will be your prize and your crown? As you labor with the gospel who has Christ saved? May God lay on our hearts the reality of eternity and the promise of the resurrection. May we go and at all costs make disciples of our friends, family, and the nations.


[1] From his sermon on this text preached in 2010 I believe.

Trust the Resurrection Plan; 1 Corinthians 15:20-28

Listen to sermon audio here

Main Point: God’s unstoppable plan of restoration through Christ has begun.

What is the most important event in human history? If you asked a person in Syria, a person in Australia, and a person in Ireland to pick the most significant event in human history you’d probably get some variance in the answers. But what would you say? Some might say the election of President Obama in 2008 or the destruction of the twin towers in 2001. Others might say the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. How about the restoration of Israel as a nation in 1948? But we’re being fairly egotistical about the last 100 years. There are some 6,000 years of history to choose from. Humans have mapped the earth and landed on the moon, harnessed horses to plow and harnessed electricity for lights. We have created the chia pet, the internet, and performed heart transplant surgeries. There are some crazy significant events in history both terrible and terrific.  But which one stands out as the most important event? The answer is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

The most significant event in human history is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The resurrection brought God’s plan of redemption through Christ to its climax and the resurrection initiated the final phase of history. From our text this morning in 1 Corinthians 15 I want to show you why the resurrection of Jesus is the most important event in human history and I want to show you how God’s resurrection plan is meant to shape your every day life.

Read 1 Corinthians 15:19-28

I. The resurrection of Christ transforms humanity (vs20-22)

When Jesus rose from the dead a massive course correction occurred. All of humanity was headed away from God and toward an irreversible death. Death had gained the victory through sin. But Christ introduced a change. The perfect Son of God became sin for us, died for us, then rose again. He paid for our sin and defeated our death. He rose with a body no longer subject to death. His rose with an imperishable body no longer to be tempted by sin and no longer able to die. The outcome of Christ’s resurrection was the creation of a new type of human; a man with an imperishable body; impervious to death. The resurrection is a game changer.

Verse 20, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen sleep.” That means

  • Christ’s resurrection is the promise of more to come

Christ’s resurrection is the first of many; he has temporal priority having been raised first. His resurrection is also the promise of more to come. Jesus is not the only human who will die then rise again with an imperishable body. There will be a harvest, a great number, of humans who, like Jesus, will rise with imperishable bodies. We look at that Resurrection Sunday three days after the crucifixion and we understand there is more of that to come. We will rise again because he rose again.

We’re going to see some amazing promises concerning our resurrection with Christ but first let’s look at where death came from in the first place.

  • Death came through a man

Look at verse 21 with me, “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” Death came through a man and his name was Adam.

Think about Adam and Jesus like representatives of their particular groups. What happens to Adam happens to his group and what happens to Jesus happens to his group. It’s similar to what happens on the football field. If one player scores a touchdown his entire team is credited with the points and if another player commits a penalty his entire team suffers the consequences. When you are born into a family you receive all the rights, privileges, and even shortfalls of being in that family.  This is the idea of solidarity; being together with someone so that what is true of them is true of you.

Think about what Adam did. Adam introduced death not just for himself but for all who come after him. All of humanity is with him and receives everything according to him. Adam is our head and he also was our representative. Everyone who came after him was born exactly like him. Like Adam we are all born separated from God and headed toward an irreversible death.

Look over to verses 47&48, “As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.  ‎49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”

We have inherited physical and spiritual death from Adam but it is also true that we inherit physical and spiritual life  from Christ. Death came through a man and

  • The resurrection of the dead came through a man

Jesus came to reverse the curse. Since a man introduced death it is fitting that a man will bring life. It is necessary that our redeemer be like us. Redemption cannot come through morally good deeds, an angel or a demon or a lamb or the blood of a bull. Death came through a man and in order for death to be overthrown a man must do it. Jesus, who was fully God, wasn’t just pretending to be human. He was fully human yet without sin.

Notice how Jesus will bring life. Jesus brings life through the resurrection of the dead. Death has not yet been defeated or taken away. We still experience the curse of a sudden death or an early death or prolonged painful death or a quiet death in old age. Jesus didn’t take death away. Jesus overpowers death and robs it of its spoils. Since all die in Adam all will be made alive in Christ; the dead in Adam can be made alive in Christ Jesus.

We will see the orderly progression of sin leading to death until Christ returns. Babies, children, young adults, parents, and grandparents will continue dying. Because of sin this is the order. But there is a day coming when something supernatural will occur. The resurrection of the dead will occur. The dead will rise. The strongman will be bound and his house will be plundered. Death will be destroyed and Jesus will take back all that belongs to him.

  • Humanity can be divided into two groups: in Adam or in Christ

To be in Adam is to be separated from God and bound for an irreversible death. To be in Christ is to be reconciled to God and bound for the resurrection of the dead. The question is how do we go from being in Adam to being in Christ?

Every person is born in Adam and in order to be in Christ a person must be born again. Every human is born in Adam but only God’s redeemed people are in Christ. Being born in Adam is natural while being born in Christ is supernatural. John 1:12 tells us that to all who receive Jesus, to all who believe in his name, he gives the right to become children of God- he will raise them from the dead. But how are these children born? John 1:13, “they are born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” It is not your natural birth or your natural mind or your natural parents who cause you to be in Christ. It is the Father who elects and draws (Jn 6:44), it is the Son who redeems and calls (Jn 5:25; 10:16), it is the Spirit who brings life (Jn 3:6; 6:63), and it is the individual who repents and believes the gospel.

To be in Christ you must give ownership of your life to Christ. To be in Christ you must trust Christ to remove your sins and raise you up on the last day. To be in Christ is to be completely dependent upon Christ. The resurrection of the dead belongs to those who belong to Christ. Like branches depending on the vine for all of life, Christians depends on Christ for all of life. He calls the shots. He provides what you need. He is your every thing.

Today, right now, are you in Christ or are you in Adam? Is your life and your mind bound up in selfish independence like Adam or are your desires and plans bound up with trust in Christ? Are you following Adam marching headlong into death or are you following Christ waiting for the resurrection of the dead? In remembrance of Paul Harvey let’s get the rest of the story and then you can be better suited to make the decision.

Let’s hear from God what’s going to happen.

II. The resurrection of Christ initiates the final phase of history (vs23-24)

Look back at verses 22 and 23, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order.”

  • God has an orderly plan

The Father is not shooting from the hip or making decisions on the fly. God has a plan and God is working that plan. The events up to this moment have been worked according to the council of God’s sovereign will. Every moment from here will be worked according to the council of God’s sovereign will. In the face of unexpected pain and sudden death Ephesians 1:11 gives strength to the soul, “In Christ we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the council of his will.” God has a plan and he is working that plan.

Here is the 3 phase plan: Christ rose first, then when Christ returns those who belong to him will rise, and then comes the end.

  • Christ rose first

In Christ all shall be made alive but each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits. Christ’s resurrection precedes ours in time. But his resurrection is not superior just because it happened first. Christ’s resurrection is superior to our own because his resurrection causes our resurrection. His resurrection promises there will be more of the same. So,

  • When Christ returns those who belong to him will rise

Verse 23, phase 2, “then at his coming those who belong to Christ [shall be made alive].” I believe Paul is not referring to the resurrection of all the sinful dead for final judgment before the great white throne of God. That is described in Revelation 20:11-15.. Instead I believe Paul is referring to the resurrection of the dead after the 7 year long great tribulation and before Jesus reigns on this earth for 1000 years. But I also will say the text before us does not say that exactly. 1 Corinthians 15 keeps it simple and straight forward. Jesus rises then when he returns those who belong to him, who have be redeemed by him, will be raised, and verse 24

  • Then comes the end

Then comes the end of what? Then comes the end of rebellious human history; the end of all rebellion from God. Then, after those who belong to Jesus are raised, comes the end of opposition to God, the end of sin, and the end of death. Then comes the end of humanity following the path of Adam. That is saying a mouthful and verses 24-28 unpack the details of the end.

As we think about the end we need to understand

III. The end of history is for the exaltation of God (vs24-28)

We often view what the bible has to say about the end times like a library to be assaulted for its information. And certainly the bible and particularly the book of Revelation have a lot to say about what is going to happen. However, we misuse these details  if we do not understand them as being events ordained by God for the exaltation of God. The reason for the end times is not to give us something to talk about concerning the middle East. God’s plan will unfold so that God may be all in all. Let’s look at it, verse 24, “then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.”

  • The resurrected Christ will reign until the end of the end

Through the resurrection, Christ has won the defining victory in the battle against sin and death. Sin and the grave have been defeated. After rising from the grave Christ ascended, he returned to sit at his Father’s right hand, and from that position he is reigning. He is in control of every rule, authority, and power. He is upholding the universe by the word of his power (Heb 1:3). Jesus is in control and Jesus is advancing his control.

And Hebrews 2:8 is right, “now we do not see everything in subjection to him.” Now we see death and sin and evil and wicked men and women going free and even appearing to flourish. Now it does not look like Jesus is reigning. But its like putting yeast in a lump of bread. It doesn’t appear to be doing anything right now; maybe even someone left it out. Maybe the whole yeast thing is a lie. Then suddenly that loaf of bread swells up. It’s the same with the reign of Christ (Mt 13:33).

Suffering Christian, the Kingdom of Christ is on the rise. God is working his plan. Christ is reigning.

  • In the end the resurrected Christ will destroy everything in opposition to God

Look at verse 25 with me, “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” Verse 24 tells us that Jesus will destroy ever rule and every authority and power. We do not have a weak Savior who wants to do something but cannot because he’s just too nice. We have a Savior who according to the plan of God is prepared for the day when he will set every wrong right and bring justice where there has been only injustice. Every person, institution, and thing in opposition to God will be subdued. Every spiritual power fighting against the good rule of God will be destroyed. Indeed we do not now see everything in subjection to him but the day is coming when we will.

Here is the climax of Christ’s return

  • In the end the resurrected Christ will destroy death

Verse 26 says, “The last enemy to be defeated is death.” Death itself will be plundered by the returning King. Death will not be able to hold onto those who belong to Christ. The kingdom is advancing and the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Mt 16:18).  But Jesus will not just plunder death through the resurrection of his own. Jesus will destroy death. Death itself will be cast into hell (Rev 20:14) and those who belong to Christ will no longer be subject to lifelong slavery through the fear of death (Heb 2:14). Every enemy of God will be defeated by Christ. Christ subdues every enemy then hands the kingdom over to the Father.

  • In the end the resurrected Christ will deliver the kingdom to the Father

Look back at 24, “Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.”

Every enemy will be destroyed and every person belonging to Christ will be raised. When every physical and spiritual person, institution, and thing has been brought under the immediate and definite rule of Christ then the Son will deliver that redeemed kingdom to the Father.

When you read Daniel 7 tomorrow in our daily bible reading understand you are reading about this final and all encompassing rule by the resurrected Jesus. He has been given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

Jesus came to reverse the curse introduced through Adam. Jesus came to redeem a people who had been lost to sin and death. James came to reinstate the righteous rule of God over a redeemed and perfect creation. Jesus will deliver that redeemed kingdom to the Father. Jesus will subdue all his enemies in an eternal hell. And remember, why is this happening? Why do we have these details?

  • The goal of history is for creation to enjoy the glory of God

Look with me at verse 28, “When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.”

Right now we struggle with a fear of death. Right now we continue to do the sin that we hate. Right now our minds and desires drift away from Christ and too often tempt us into sin. But there is a glorious day coming when we will not fear death because death will be defeated. We will not struggle with guilt or temptation because sin will be defeated. These are days of only partial blessings. We have promises, we have the firstfruits. We have an inheritance but we don’t have the fullness.

But when Christ returns and every enemy is defeated we will see with our eyes the splendor of the Father. When Christ returns we will feel the goodness of God with our five senses. Our goal is the full experience of all the splendor and majesty of God. We will taste and see and know that God is infinitely and eternally better; He is all in all. He is our everything and all we will ever need. The goal is not domination the goal of history is enjoyment. God is good and he will satisfy us for all eternity with his goodness. So,

IV. The resurrection plan is meant to shape the way you live

  • Make God’s goal for creation your goal for every day

Work to bring injustice to justice in your home, on your street, and in your workplace. What do you see that is outside the expressed will of God? Graciously speak, sacrificially serve, and persevere in prayer against injustice. And seek the God who is good. Read your bible and pray looking for God to meet with you and satisfy you with his good presence. Come back tonight at 6 we’re beginning a new bible study all about the attributes of God. We want to help each other enjoy God more. Come back tonight and be encouraged to make the enjoyment of God the goal of every day life.

  • Don’t give up. You are on the team that wins

I understand that every Sunday we have some members who are experiencing the joys of God’s presence and other members are ready to give up. Wave after wave of sin, pain, death, injustice, wickedness, and temptation are crashing over you and threatening to pull you under. If that is you this morning, join with the saints throughout the ages as you pray for Jesus to return quickly. Pray, “come quickly Lord Jesus.” Wait eagerly for his return and the defeat of all sin, every enemy, and death itself. The full victory is promised but it is not yet. Look ahead to the end. Don’t give up. You’re on the team that wins. And finally

  • Don’t fear death. Jesus will destroy death and you will rise

God is trustworthy. At times when I think about my own death, the death of my wife, and the death of my children I am near to being overwhelmed with fear. I am learning not to push that fear away by thinking about other things or busying myself with work. I am learning to hold fast to the conquering King. Death will come but so will the resurrection. Because Jesus has conquered death I have nothing to fear. Because Jesus suffered an excruciating death and the Father was faithful to him I can trust, though I suffer pain, God will be faithful to me in Christ. I don’t need to fear death. Jesus will destroy death and all those who belong to him will rise.

So my priority is preaching the hope of the resurrection to myself, my family, and the nations. The end is coming. Whose team are you on? Are you with Adam or are you with Christ? Don’t leave today not knowing. I’ll stand down front as we sing so I can talk with you right now. Send me an email or give me a call and we’ll set up a time to talk. These matters are eternally important. Do not put them off another day.

 

What if He’s Still Dead? 1 Corinthians 15:15-19

Listen to the sermon audio here

Main Point: Christianity is worthless without the resurrection.

Does everyone know what a hot check is? When a person writes a good check that person promises the money is there. The check symbolizes the money sitting in a bank account somewhere. But a hot check is a bad check written from an account that does not have enough funds to cover the amount of the check. A hot check is a lie.

There is a great deal of public shame attached to writing hot checks. Maybe you’ve seen those signs in stores, “Do not accept checks from these people” and their first and last names are written in big shameful permanent ink. These people are liars. They say they have the money but they do not. Their checks are no good. Their checks lack any real power; there is no real money to back them up.

We live in a world filled with people who think the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is nothing more than a hot check. Yes, yes, you say Jesus rose from the dead and one day there will be a resurrection of all the dead but that claim is not true. That claim lacks any real power; it’s a façade, a lie, a pretty looking check with no reality behind it.

Some people look at the church and smile, “Look at those quaint little people believing fairy tales about God becoming man, dying, and rising again. Isn’t that sweet?”

Others look at the church and make fun of the resurrection, “Look at those fools. Science has proven the dead cannot rise again. Those backwards folk are caught in the dark ages. Isn’t that a shame.”

Still others look at the resurrection believing church and hate us, “Look at those deceivers. The dead cannot rise and those people are lying to the broken and needy giving them a false hope based on a lie. Isn’t that despicable?”

But then there are people in the church, people who claim to be Christians, who deny the resurrection. They sing the songs, teach the lessons, pray the prayers, and preach the sermons believing Jesus is still dead. Holding onto empty tradition they hold to a form of Christianity that lacks any real power.

The resurrection is a huge issue. The resurrection has always been a huge issue. In our text today we’ll see that Christianity is worthless without the resurrection. What if He’s still dead?

 

Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-5, 12-19

I. The claim- there is no resurrection

  • Some in the church will deny the resurrection

Remember what Paul wrote about divisions in the church. “There must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized” (1 Cor 11:19).

Here is the faction, the division, or disagreement from verse 12: Some in the church were claiming there is no resurrection of the dead. How can some of you say there is no resurrection? Paul is astounded at such a dangerous claim.

Two weeks ago, from verses 3-5, we learned the resurrection is a matter of first importance. Christianity is built on the resurrection of Christ. If Jesus didn’t rise then all our faith, hope, prayers, ministry, worship, sacrifice, and joy are nothing but a big pathetic lie. Since Jesus rose from the dead Christianity is true. So the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is something we defend to the death. To deny the resurrection is to deny Christianity. To deny the literal physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is to reject salvation in Christ. A still-dead savior is no savior at all.

So, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is a nonnegotiable. You cannot reject the resurrection and be a Christian. You cannot reject the resurrection and be a member of this church. The resurrection is that important.

Now, it is okay to have questions. Stick around and ask your questions. We’ll try our best to answer them accurately from God’s word. Questions are one thing but informed rejection is quite another. Let’s look at the ramifications of no resurrection and we’ll better understand why the resurrection is essential.

II. The ramifications of no resurrection

If there is no resurrection from the dead then

  • Christ has not been raised (13b, 16)

Look back at verse 13 then 16, “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised…For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.”

If the resurrection of the dead cannot happen then Jesus’ resurrection from the dead did not happen. If God is unable or unwilling to raise the dead then God is unable or unwilling to raise Jesus from the dead. Either way, if there is no resurrection we have a big problem- Jesus is dead. Our rescuer needs to be rescued. Our redeemer needs to be redeemed. Our victor has been defeated.

Paul starts big and drills down- if there is no resurrection of anyone period then the Son of God is still dead.

Let’s follow the argument from 13 into verse 14. Verse 13, “if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” Here’s the next ramification of no resurrection

  • Our preaching is in vain (14b)

We preach the gospel so we preach the resurrection of the dead. In verse 1 Paul reminds the church he had preached the gospel to them and they had received that gospel. The gospel is the good news of Jesus’ death for our sins, his burial, resurrection on the third day, and his subsequent appearances to over 600 eye-witnesses. The gospel necessarily includes the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain. If something is in vain then it has no effect; basically it’s a lie. Think about all those emails you get about someone wanting to give you thousands of dollars. The details of those emails are in vain; the email is a lie and cannot deliver what is promised. We preach the good news of forgiveness and eternal life through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave. If Christ has not been raised then our preaching, missions, and evangelism are worthless.

If there is no resurrection of the dead then Christ has not been raised, our preaching is worthless, and 

  • Your faith is in vain (14c, 17)

Look back at verse 14 then down to verse 17, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain…And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”

If Christ is still in the tomb then your faith is worthless, it has no effect on anything. If Jesus is dead then your Christian faith is futile, useless, and empty. Bottom line, if Jesus is still in the grave then it doesn’t matter how passionately you believe you are going to heaven you are not. If there is no resurrection of the dead then you are going to hell no matter what you say, pray, or do on Sundays. Your salvation does not depend on you. Your sins are not forgiven because you do something. Our sins are forgiven because Jesus died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, he was buried, he was raised on the third day, and he appeared to numerous eye-witnesses. You are forgiven only because Jesus died and rose again. If he died and did not rise again then believing he rose again does nothing for you.  

The genuineness of your faith is not what matters most. What matters most is the genuineness of the object of your faith. Every other religion damns to an eternal hell even its most genuine adherents because they genuinely believe a lie. Generic faith does not save you. The object of your faith saves you. So if the object of our faith, namely Jesus, is still dead then he cannot save. Our faith is pointless.

If there is no resurrection of the dead then Jesus has not been raised, our preaching is in vain, our faith is in vain, and

  • We are liars (15)

Look at what Paul writes in verse 15, “We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.”

If a man is willing to lie to his family should he be trusted in the workplace? If a man tells a lie to a stranger can he be trusted to tell the truth to his friends? If a woman lies about this thing should she be trusted when she talks about that thing?

If the dead are not raised then the apostles are liars. They are misrepresenting God. They are false prophets saying, “Thus says the Lord” when God hasn’t spoken. The biblical witness is that God raised Christ from the dead. This is the Christian message. But if the dead are not raised then God did not raise Christ and all Christians are liars.

A lie is a lie no matter how convincingly it is told. A lie is a lie no matter how many people believe it. If Christ has not been raised then Christianity is false, Judaism holds true, and we are still under the Old Covenant. If that’s true

  • We go to hell (17c, 18)

Christian, let’s be intellectually honest. Track the argument through verse 17 into verse 18, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.” Remember, this is a highly trained Old Testament scholar writing these words. He clearly understands the ramifications of the resurrection.

If Christ is dead then your sins are still like crimson; red like scarlet and crying out for your condemnation. If Christ is still in the tomb then your record of wrongs still stands against you crying out for your punishment. And what about those people who died trusting in Christ; who died believing a lie if Jesus hasn’t been raised? Verse 18, they have perished. They have died believing a fairy tale with no power to deliver from God’s just condemnation for sins. They will be lost, destroyed, and cast forever into an unending terrible hell.

If the dead are not raised and you believe Jesus was raised, well to be frank, when you die you will go to hell. It doesn’t matter how many good moral things you have done. Eternity hinges on Jesus.

Here is the final ramification of no resurrection and it sounds deeply into each one of us if in fact Jesus has not been raised. If he’s still dead…

  • We are pathetic (19)

Look at verse 19, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” If Marx was right and religion is nothing more than the opiate of the masses then Christians are to be pitied. If Christianity is nothing more than a folk-tale to make people feel better when suffering then Christians are a sad lot and preachers are despicable selling a false bill of goods.

Think about it. If there is no heaven or new Earth or resurrection from the dead then Christians are a miserable lot. Some have claimed that if Christianity is not true then those who believe haven’t lost much. You still have good morals and good people. But Scripture stands against this mindset. If Christianity is false and our hope in Christ ends in the Granbury cemetery then atheists and agnostics should look at us and pity us. If He’s still dead don’t fight for joy, don’t sacrifice for the salvation of souls, don’t tithe, and don’t invest in other people. If Jesus is dead we’re pathetic.

But Christianity is true. The resurrection has begun and Christ has been raised.

III. The resurrection is an essential historical powerful fact

  • Christ has been raised

God was willing, he was able, and he did raise Jesus from the dead. Look at verse 20, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead.”

The resurrection of Christ is a historical event that occurred in a real place and was validated by numerous witnesses. The resurrection of Jesus has been recorded so that the claim can be tested. There is no call for blind faith. Jesus died for our sins, was buried, rose on the third day, and appeared to some 600 people.  

The good news has continued unchanged for almost 2000 years now. Jesus was born in a miraculous way. He lived a righteous life without any sin. He taught and healed and worked miracles affirming the fact that he was more than a teacher or miracle worker. Jesus is God- what he said and what he did affirmed his deity. Jesus then died an atoning death, charged by the Jewish leaders and condemned by the Romans. On the third day he rose again. The body wasn’t stolen or lost. The body of Jesus Christ was transformed and raised imperishable. Jesus has been raised. The resurrection proves the deity of Jesus Christ.

  • The resurrection has begun

The rest of verse 20 calls Jesus the “firstfruits of the resurrection.”

Jesus’ resurrection is the first of many, the first installment. The resurrection is not the only one of its kind but the first of its kind. Think of a farmer bringing in that first ripe vegetable knowing the abundant harvest that is to come. Jesus’ resurrection is like that. He is the first of a great harvest.

All those who have died will be raised. After the resurrection what is going to happen? The dead will be judged. The resurrection causes us to preach the gospel. Our family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors will one day die and then be raised. After the resurrection they will face God’s judgment for what they have done. Our only hope is cleansing through faith in Christ crucified. Our only hope is the righteousness of Christ given to us who believe. Preach the gospel because of the resurrection unto judgment.

The resurrection has begun and it will continue. The dead will rise. So, Jesus has been raised, the resurrection has begun, and

  • Our preaching has real power to save

If there is no resurrection then our preaching is a hot check, a lie, a terrible act of deception. But since Jesus really died for our sins and actually physically rose again, when we preach the cross and resurrection we preach a message with the power to save. Behind our preaching stands the historical events of the atonement and victorious resurrection; preach the gospel knowing you are preaching the truth for the salvation of souls.

We are not misrepresenting God. We are not self-deceived. We are preaching historical truth. That means

  • You can be saved by grace through faith

The reality of the resurrection doesn’t just prove the intellectual credibility of the gospel. The reality of the resurrection provides salvation for all who believe.

We must never get away from 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, “do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

There is real salvation for us who have done vile wicked things. You who loathe yourselves for your iniquities and abominations can have a clean conscience. God will cleanse you, give you a new heart and a new spirit. He will give you a heart of flesh causing you to walk in his statutes and be careful to obey all his rules. How? Through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. You can be saved. Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the grave and you will be saved (Romans 10:9). You can be saved and

  • The apostle’s message can be trusted

The apostles weren’t liars they are faithful eye-witnesses. You can trust what they have to say. Since they didn’t lie concerning the resurrection we can trust them regarding the church, marriage, finances and the rest. We can trust the bible.

  • We have a future

Oh church, we have a glorious future. Though today we may be mocked and persecuted, there is coming a day of vindication. We do not harbor bitterness towards those who stand as enemies of the cross and resurrection. We look forward to the resurrection of the dead and we labor for the salvation of those who mock and reject the truth of the resurrection. There is a glorious day coming when all will see and know the truth.

You who are struggling today lift up your eyes and set your gaze on the coming of the Lord Jesus. At the resurrection we will no longer battle sin and temptation. At the resurrection we will be given bodies no longer torn by disease and old age. At the resurrection these perishable weak sin-torn bodies will put on immortality in his glorious presence. We have a future. Let’s live and sing and serve and sacrifice knowing the glory that is to come.

 

The Gospel is for Now; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2

Listen to the sermon audio here

Main Point: We must live everyday in step with the gospel.

For a couple of years during college I worked for the school’s mill shop. I spent those hours pushing a broom, hauling lumber, and plugging in tools. Somewhere along the way we adopted the phrase, “you’ve got an air gap in the hose.” There are a host of problems that can cause a power tool to fail but we found the most common problem was not plugging it in. If you don’t plug in the saw there is an air gap in the hose and it won’t work. No matter how hard you try, if you don’t plug it in it will not work. Certain things are necessary; without them everything all falls apart.

When it comes to Christianity there are certain necessary things. If you try to take one of them out there is an air gap in the hose. If you deny one of these truths then Christianity simply doesn’t work. These truths are the deity of Jesus Christ, the humanity of Jesus Christ, the sinless life of Jesus Christ, the substitutionary atonement made by Jesus Christ, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the return of Jesus Christ. To deny one of these is to deny Christianity. To remove one of these is to desert the God who called you in the grace of Christ and turn to a different gospel. A different gospel cannot and will not save (Gal 1:1-9).

Today we arrive at 1 Corinthians 15; the crown jewel of this letter to Christians. You can summarize these 58 verses with this simple truth: the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ makes Christianity. Without the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ Christianity is worthless. If the resurrection did not happen then there is no gospel and there is no salvation. Because Jesus died for your sins AND rose again you can be saved. That’s good news. That’s the gospel.

The gospel is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus for our salvation.[1] The gospel includes facts but the gospel is more than facts. As we saw in chapter 1:18, for us who are being saved the gospel is the power of God. So what do we do with this gospel? What do we do with the gospel right now? Let’s learn together.

Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-5

We do four things with the gospel- remind one another of it, preach it, receive it, stand in it, and we are saved by it.

I. We remind one another of the gospel (v1)

This letter is all about how the good news of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ shapes our lives. We’ve seen the gospel reshape the way we think about conflict in the church, the philosophies of this world, sexual immorality, lawsuits among believers, singleness, marriage, personal rights, biblical womanhood, biblical manhood, the use of spiritual gifts, and the true nature of love. This letter is a gospel reminder. Each page shows us how the gospel empowers us to live a Christ-like life. We need reminders because of this truth

  • We are all easily distracted

Raccoons are easily distracted by shiny objects, dogs are easily distracted by squirrels, and Christians are easily distracted from the gospel. I don’t like this truth. I like to fancy myself as a Christian who is somewhat mature, having it together, and keeping it on track. But like we saw in chapter 10, “let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (v12). We are just like the Corinthians. We need to be reminded.

Look back at 15:1, “Now I would remind you, brothers of the gospel I preached to you.” Paul is making known what they already know. He preached the gospel. They received the gospel, were standing in the gospel, and were being saved by the gospel. So why did they need to be reminded?

Every page of this letter reveals another way some in the church had been distracted by power, money, sexual immorality, pride, or selfishness. I’m no different from them. You are no different from them. We are all easily distracted therefore we need to

  • Touch home base often

Like little children in a big world, we need to check in often. We need to test what we are doing against the demands of the gospel. We need to test what we want against the promises of the gospel. 1 Corinthians was a hard letter for the Apostle Paul to write to his brothers and sisters in Christ. If they had learned to come back repeatedly to test themselves against the gospel this letter would not have been necessary.

Here are some questions that may help you check in with the gospel or touch home base:

The gospel promises forgiveness. Am I walking in the forgiveness promised by the gospel or am I plagued by a guilty conscience?

The gospel is a message of glad self-sacrifice for the good of others. Do my relationships show an increase in selflessness as I gladly serve those in need?

The gospel is the power of God that saves us. Do I rest in the work of Christ which makes me acceptable to God or do I feel like I have to do good things in order to be accepted by God?

Come back daily to the gospel. Remind yourself so you can stay on track. Remind yourself before you get off track. Remind yourself and remind others. Preach the gospel.

II. We preach the gospel (v1)

Paul writes in verse 1, “Now I would remind you brothers, of the gospel I preached to you.” Paul was a preacher of the gospel. He proclaimed the good news of salvation. Here’s why

  • Salvation requires proclamation

In Romans 10:13 and 14 Paul writes, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”

The Apostle Paul knew people could be forgiven by God and reconciled to God only through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So he preached the gospel to the Corinthians and the Romans and the Jews and to everyone everywhere. A man, a woman, a boy, or a girl cannot be saved apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ. A person from America, Egypt, Africa, or Asia will not be saved unless he/she hears the good news of Jesus Christ delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. Since salvation requires proclamation

  • Preach the gospel

Preach the gospel for salvation. If your family and friends never hear the gospel they will most assuredly never be saved. If the nations never hear they will never be saved. You must make sure the gospel is proclaimed faithfully around your dinner table, at your place of work, on short term mission trips, and by long term missionaries. It is our joyful obligation to share the good news of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for your salvation. We must support faithful missionaries and indigenous Christians so that the gospel can rapidly advance for the salvation of souls. Getting the gospel out is your job.

Think about it this way. Do you have an accurate understanding of the gospel so that you feel comfortable sharing it? If some person walked up to you and said, “I’m going to die in 5 minutes please preach the gospel so that I can be saved,” could you do it? I’m not asking if you feel adequate for the task. I’m asking if you have an accurate biblical understanding of the gospel and can you share it clearly so that someone can be saved?

It is our responsibility to equip you to share the gospel. Talk to someone you know who is sharing the gospel and ask them to teach you. As we preach the gospel we need to take others along with us. Every Christian must preach the gospel for the salvation of souls. Salvation requires proclamation. We preach the gospel, we remind ourselves of the gospel, and the next thing we do with the gospel is receive it.

III. We receive the gospel (v1)

The word ‘receive’ basically means to take something to yourself. Like a two year old child, you grab it and yell, “Mine!”

  • Own the gospel for all of life

From this point in verse 1 we begin to look into the very personal things every Christian does with the gospel. People around you can be reminding you of the gospel and people can be preaching the gospel to you but you must receive it in order to be saved.

You have to cash the gospel check. Jesus has died in your place as the full and final payment for all your sin. You must stop trying to make yourself clean and you must stop trying to make it right with God. Receive forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ crucified. Be reconciled to God through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.

Jesus lived a righteous life fulfilling all righteousness for you. Jesus took all your sins upon himself and Jesus gives you all the righteousness God requires. Jesus is your atoning sacrifice for your sins and he is the righteousness God requires. Receive Christ as your atoning sacrifice and receive Christ as your righteousness.

In the gospel we hear that all our sins have been taken away through Christ’s cross and in the gospel we hear that everything God requires of us has been provided for us in Jesus. Receive the gospel. Receive salvation. Receive forgiveness of sin. Receive righteousness. If you repent of your sins and put your faith in Jesus Christ you will be saved. Own the gospel for all of life: take it to yourself. Preach it. Receive it. Now stand in it.

IV. We stand in the gospel (v1)

The last phrase of verse one tells us that the gospel is that in which we stand. What in the world does that mean?

  • The gospel stabilizes the Christian all day everyday

Jesus said, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand” (Mark 3:24). If a kingdom is in turmoil that kingdom will not stand strong. Think about the uncertainty of countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Egypt.  These countries are not firmly established countries. These countries have not been stabilized. They do not stand.

Your life, your mind, and your heart may be just as unstable as Iraq or Egypt. This sin from your past causes a riot in your soul. This desire for something tries like a tyrant to take control. You’re failures haunt you. Your insufficiency disables you. You are up one day and down the next. You lack stability. You have to take your stand in the gospel.

To take your stand in the gospel is something that happens in the past but continues to shape the present. Being saved by the gospel is like having a steel rod implanted in your backbone. You gain strength and the ability to stand. Being saved by the gospel is like putting on a suit of armor. You are protected by the gospel. Being saved by the gospel is like having the compass of your life stuck on true north. You are given a new direction that overrides every other request. Taking your stand in the gospel is like always voting straight ticket. You are with Jesus no matter what.

Here’s how I stand in the gospel. Satan throws my sinful past in my face, I agree with him plus some, and I take my stand in the gospel. Jesus paid for all those sins and Jesus has made me righteous. The gospel gives me a new identity. This is what is true of me: I was once enslaved to sin but now I am chosen, holy, and loved. The gospel did that.

When tempted to be depressed or discouraged about your current situation (maybe its relationships or finances or your clothes or your friends or your car) remind yourself that what you own doesn’t matter. What matters is that you were bought by the blood of Christ and owned by him. If Christ is for you who can stand against you. Stand in the gospel. The gospel can stabilize you all day every day.

You better make yourself familiar with the gospel and you better learn how to apply the truth of the gospel. The next thing we do with the gospel from verse 2 helps us here

V. We are being saved by the gospel (v2)

Look at verse 2, “The gospel is that by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.”

  • The gospel is the power of God unto salvation

The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus for your salvation is the surety of your salvation. You are not being saved by your good works. You are being saved by Christ. How do you know you will finally reach heaven and hear Jesus say, “Well done my good and faithful servant”? The Father raised Jesus from the grave he will certainly give life to your mortal body. You have received the gospel and taken your stand in the gospel and that gospel is keeping you safe. The gospel is propping you up and the gospel is pushing you forward.

If you are a Christian, right now you are being saved by the gospel. The good news of Jesus Christ is working in you to make you more like Jesus Christ. The gospel is the power to transform you.

The gospel wakens sin-dead sinners to repentance and faith. The gospel corrects believers when in error. The gospel strengthens the weak in difficulty. The gospel gives immorality to the mortal. What are we talking about? We’re talking about Jesus Christ being with us and for us to the extent that he loses none of his own. We are being saved, being kept, being propelled by the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel is more than a concept or a proposition. The gospel is the power of God by which you are being saved, provided you hold fast to it.

  • We must hold fast to the gospel

The gospel saves those who hold fast to it. Do you want to know if you are a Christian? Ask yourself if you are holding fast to the gospel. Is your son or daughter a Christian? Is he/she holding fast to the gospel? What about your neighbors or coworkers or fellow church members? Have they taken their stand in the gospel and are they holding fast to the gospel?

The Holy Spirit doesn’t tell us we are being saved by the gospel because we were baptized. Verse 2 raises serious questions about all those who prayed to receive Christ some time ago but now have nothing to do with the gospel. Look at 1 Corinthians 15:2 and read it for yourself. What is the qualification for salvation? What do those who are being saved by the gospel do? They hold fast to the word.

Those people who were remade by the gospel and stabilized by the gospel hold fast to the gospel. The gospel is to the Christian what an air regulator is to a scuba diver. The air regulator is the piece of equipment that delivers air. A diver can make it without his mask, his fins, his watch, and his wet suit but a diver cannot make it without air. The deadly environment in which a scuba diver swims demands that he holds fast to his regulator. The deadly environment in which a Christian lives demands that he holds fast to the gospel. The gospel is your life-line; your air supply.

The gospel is what is true. The gospel is what I need. The gospel will direct me. The gospel will correct me. The gospel will strengthen me. If they kill me, by the power of God I will be resurrected from the dead. Though I lose everything else I will not lose this one thing. I will not lose the gospel.

Like a scuba diver who is diligent to maintain an adequate air supply, the Christian will be diligent to maintain an adequate gospel supply. I need to hear the gospel preached and sung. I need to be taught how to more faithfully live in agreement with the demands and promises of the gospel. I desperately want to maintain my grip on the gospel. Those who are being saved by the gospel hold fast to the gospel in everyday life. Those who are headed for hell leave the gospel to the preacher for Sunday mornings. You are being saved by the gospel only if you are holding fast to the gospel. So,

  • Test yourself

Have you believed in vain? Connect the pieces of verse 2, “you are being saved by the gospel, if you hold fast to the gospel as preached by the apostles, unless after all you believed in vain.”

A vain belief is an empty belief that has no substance. Your faith in Christ is superficial; it’s only lip service. For this person their faith is all bark but no bite. It’s a beautiful orthodox birddog but that dog won’t hunt. Christianity is nothing more than empty words. It’s the guy who “prays to receive Christ” because he knows it’s what his grandma wants him to do.”

If you fail to see how the gospel redirects and empowers you for relationships, for family, for work, for ministry, for joy, or for heaven then you should tremble. It could be that you believe some stuff about Jesus but that belief is empty; it lacks the power to change you.

What will you do now?

Some of you have understood what these verses are saying and you’re a little scared. The temptation, now that you see just how far away you really are, is to try to get yourself where you need to be. You’re afraid for your soul so you’ll make promises like you’ll stop looking at porn, or you’ll stop yelling at the kids, or you’ll start tithing. You’ll come to church more often maybe even Sunday school. You might even get involved in some ministry. Yeah, that will make you feel better about yourself. That’ll show you are being saved. Now those things might make you feel better about yourself but they won’t save you. There is no power there.

What should you do now? Receive the gospel. Stop trying to make yourself better or good enough. Receive the forgiveness of sins. Receive the righteousness of Christ. With desperation look to Christ to strengthen you for what lies ahead. Grab onto the truth of Christ crucified, Christ raised from the dead, and Christ coming again.

The gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe. Right now, repent of your sins, place your faith in Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. The gospel is the power of God that is moving you toward that great day of salvation at Christ’s return. Trust Christ to keep you and listen to him. Hold fast to the gospel. There is stability and strength and power in the gospel. Know this, Christ is more than sufficient for whatever you are facing today.

Close the gaps. Cry out to Christ and as he leads you trust him to sustain you.


[1] Old Story New, Marty Machowski