The Risen Christ - 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (Part 2)

In part 1 of this mini-series on the resurrection I reflected on the need to hold on to the Easter faith, the gospel that Paul preached, in the light of false teaching from 1 Corinthians 15:1-2. In vv.3-5 Paul goes on to summarise that gospel.

Know the Gospel (vv.3-5)

We are to know Paul's  gospel so we can hold firmly to it. The brief summary is in vv.3-5

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. (1 Corinthians 15:3-5 ESV)
It's important to note that these are the things of first importance, i.e. the things you can't reject and still say you are a Christian believer.

1. Christ died for our sins. Christ's death does have many facets and applications in Scripture. For example, it's described as a victory and as an example for us to follow. However, at heart it's a substitution. Jesus Christ died instead of us for our sins. He was punished instead of us for what we have done wrong. And note, we have to believe in sin to believe this, i.e. God gets to set the rules (not us) and that every one of us has broken those rules and deserves a punishment.

2. Christ was buried. The evidence, if you like, that Christ really died is that he was buried. It was a real, physical death. A death that lead him to a garden tomb belong to Joseph of Arimethea (Matthew 27:59-60).

3. Christ was raised on the third day. Jesus was killed on the Friday afternoon - the first day. In the tomb Friday evening to Saturday evening - the second day as a Jew would count it. And the tomb was empty on the Sunday morning - the third day. Jesus did not stay dead, rather he defeated death by rising again. This defeat of death is going to be central to Paul's argument, so that later in the chapter he will quote Isaiah 25 and Hosea 13:
When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)
4. Christ appeared. Rather like the burial was evidence for the death of Jesus, his appearances are evidence for his resurrection. This really happened.

It's worth noting that Christ's death for our sins and his resurrection are described as being "in accordance with the Scriptures." Part of the believing the gospel is to believe the Scriptures - the Bible - which testifies to Jesus. We don't make up what we believe. We believe what has been written. Jesus fulfilled OT prophecies such as Isaiah 53 about his death for our sins:
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5 ESV)
And prophecies referring to reviving in 3 days in Hosea 6:2 (in this case of Israel).
After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.(Hosea 6:2 ESV)
or Jesus use of Jonah:
For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:40 ESV)
We could also look to Psalm 16:10, which talks of a descendant of King David not being abandoned to death and implies a resurrection.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.
(Psalm 16:10 ESV)
This is the gospel we must know so that we can hold firmly to it.

I was reading the Bible with my son and his Bible study notes (the Good Book Company's Tabletalk) started with a question: "When you were a little baby and were taught to walk did you go back to crawling?" Good question! Of course not. That would be daft wouldn't it. When we can walk we don't go back to crawling.

It's the same with the gospel. When you know it, you don't want to go back as if you didn't. When you know Jesus died for your sins and when you know there is hope of eternal life because of the resurrection, why would you go back to not believing those things? Why would you go back to something worse? Yet it seems like the Corinthians were doing just that in denying the resurrection.

So what about you? Is this the gospel you know and believe? Did you once believe it and now you're not so sure? Are you going backwards, going back to crawling. Why would you do that?

Why would you do that especially when there is compelling evidence that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead. But more of that in the next of this series.


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