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Embracing the Truth of the Resurrection - I Corinthians 15

Posted on April 21, 2019

Embracing the Truth of the Resurrection

I Corinthians 15:1-4; 12-22

Scripture Reading

I Corinthians 15:1 – 8

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.  3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.

Introduction / Illustration

  • Let’s face it, the resurrection is hard to believe. You have to allow for the miraculous in order for it to be true
  • But just because it is hard to believe doesn’t mean it’s false

Early medical practitioners had trouble believing that creatures, invisible to the human eye could be responsible for infection and disease. In 1872, Pierre Pachet, a professor of physiology at Toulouse said, “Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.” Today, we call those germs bacteria and viruses

Some things stretch the imagination too much. Tom Watson, chairman of IBM at the time in 1943 said “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”

Naysayers abound, and the stories of their failed predictions are legendary. The Beatles were told that guitar music was on the way the out in the music industry at the time of their growing success. Fred Smith was informed by his Yale University professor that his concept of overnight delivery was not feasible, but Federal Express was founded anyway. Alexander Graham Bell was told the telephone was impractical.

These are doubts about technology, society and business, all of which pale in comparison with what people are asked to believe about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Still the facts are there, and the Resurrection is beyond doubt to those who take the time to look at the evidence.

Yet, every few years someone publishes new “proof” that the Resurrection never occurred. Most of these have the same creditability level as urban myths.

The Resurrection is the Greatest Day of all History and is attacked because if it is true that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, who He points to as God and that would be Jehovah, Yahweh. What He says in His Word would be absolutely true. Then people have to make their mind up if they are willing to accept the absolute truth of the teachings of Christianity.

Purpose: Everyone in the entire world should understand the ramifications of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Transition: We believe that Jesus Christ physically rose from the dead early Sunday morning. We believe He was dead when He was placed in the tomb on Friday afternoon. The beatings, the crucifixion and the confirmation He was dead by the centurion spearing His side all point to the fact He was dead. But for a moment, let’s look at what Paul says to us in the great resurrection chapter of the Bible in I Corinthians 15.

What if the Resurrection is False? – I Corinthians 15:1-4; 12 – 18

  • Here are eight reasons that Christianity would be a waste of time and we would be fools to believe it if the bodily resurrection of Christ were not true.
  • The Gospel would not be preached – 15:1 – 4

I Corinthians 15:1-4

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.  3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.

  • There would be no message of reconciliation to be passed on
  • We would have no way to have access directly to a holy God.
  • There would be no message of hope in this life.
  • Christ would still be in the grave – 15:12 -13

I Corinthians 15:12-13

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised

  • Many liberal theologians believe Jesus resurrection is figurative. Some believe He only rose again in spirit but not physically. They believe He is still buried somewhere
  • There are many problems
    • Seen by disciples
    • Seen by up to 500 people
    • No one could refute the tomb was empty
    • The Roman leaders started the rumor that the disciples stole Jesus body based on what the Jewish religious leaders paid them off to say
    • Our preaching would be in vain – 15:14

I Corinthians 15:14

14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain

  • No need for church
  • No need for the Bible
  • No need to pray or have faith in God
  • We would be wasting our time
  • It would be better to follow the ways of this world system and the philosophies of our culture
    • Opioid crisis –
    • Drug Use
    • Dangers of sports betting – gambling addictions
    • It would make God and the apostles liars – 15:15

I Corinthians 15:15

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.

  • All that God and Jesus had done would be proven false
  • Who would believe the Jesus teachings after His death if He wasn’t resurrected like He promised?
  • Why would the apostles be willing to die for a lie?
  • There would be no hope after death – 15:16

I Corinthians 15:16

16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.

  • No hope of heaven
  • No hope of seeing our loved ones and friends who have gone on before us
  • Life would end like an animal at death
  • We would still be lost in our sin – 15:17

I Corinthians 15:17

17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.

  • All you have to do is look around at those who are not Christ followers to see the burden and weight of sin
  • You can see the hopelessness and despair in some people’s eyes
  • Those who are Christ followers would be just like them if the resurrection wasn’t a proven fact that it is true. In a few moments, we will talk about the evidence that is outside the Bible in history and other places to show the truth of this world changing event
  • All dead believers in Christ would be in hell - 15:18

I Corinthians 15:18

18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.

  • This would be the absolute worst reality of all time. We would either not exist or be in hell for eternity
  • We would be miserable and considered fools – 15:19

I Corinthians 15:19

19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

  • There would be no purpose in life
  • We could just live by our feelings and whatever we wanted to do.
  • We would have no moral compass or conscience
  • We would not have the Holy Spirit or the Bible to give us direction in life
  • We would not have a community of fellow believers to share life with
  • We would be lonely and left to our own means to figure out the riddle of life
  • We would lose all we have of what we consider the Christian life.
  • There would be absolutely no reason to be a Christian

Application: Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die could be the motto of our lives.

Transition: Than God, we have the assurance that the resurrection is true. As one person said that Christianity is like a house of cards. It is completely and utterly supported by the fact of the historical proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Illustration: Better Not Drop That Egg

“The Easter story is nothing but a myth.” Jimmy’s high school science teacher announced.to his class a few days before Easter break. “Jesus not only didn’t rise from the grave,” he continued, “But there’s no God in heaven who would allow His Son to be crucified in the first place.”

“Sir, I believe in God,” Jimmy protested. “And I believe in the Resurrection!”

“Jimmy, you can believe what you wish to, of course,” the teacher replied. “However, the real world excludes the possibility of miraculous events such as the Resurrection. The Resurrection is a scientific impossibility. No one who believes in miracles can also respect science.”

“God isn’t limited by science,” Jimmy responded. “He created science!”

Engaged by Jimmy’s outspoken faith, the teacher proposed a scientific experiment. Reaching into a refrigerator, he produced a raw egg and held it up. “I’m going to drop this egg on the floor,” he stated. “Gravity will pull it toward the floor with such force that the egg will most likely break. “Fixing Jimmy with a look of challenge, he concluded his proposal. “Now Jimmy, I want you to pray a prayer right now and ask your God to keep this egg from breaking when it hits the floor. If He can do that, then you’ll have proven your point, and I’ll have to admit that there’s a God.”

After pondering the challenge for a moment, Jimmy slowly stood to pray. “Dear Heavenly Father,” he began, “ I pray that when my teacher drops the egg…. It will break into a hundred pieces! And also, Lord, I pray that when the egg does break, my teacher will have a heart attack and die! Amen.”

After gasp in unison, the stunned class sat in silent expectation.

For a moment, the teacher did nothing. At last he looked at Jimmy and then at the egg. Without a word he carefully put the egg back in the refrigerator. “Class dismissed, “the teacher said and sat down to clear his desk.

Application: The teacher apparently believed in God more than he thought he did. Many people like the teacher, deny that God exists, yet they run from Him, question Him and attack Him whenever they get the chance. Jimmy knew God wouldn’t strike his teacher dead, but he also knew that his teacher wouldn’t bet his life on it.

What if the Resurrection is True? – I Corinthians 15:20 – 22;

  • We celebrate a risen Savior – 15:20 – 22

I Corinthians 15:20 -22

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

  • Sin entered the world when Adam and Eve ate of the tree of good and evil that God had forbidden them to eat
    • You can eat of any tree but not this one
    • They disobeyed God and immediately they were aware of their sin and their separation from God. Sin separates us from a perfect and holy God.
  • Buddha died at 80 years of age while living in India and you can go and visit his grave
  • Mohammed died on June 8, 862 in Medina, Turkey and he is still in his grave
  • Confucius died around 500 B.C. in China and they have a marker commemorating his gravesite
  • But Christ’s tomb is empty and if you read I Corinthians 15 we see the many evidences of His resurrection

I Corinthians 15:5-7

5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.

  • We have an abundant and purpose filled life – 15:58
    • Paul concludes His defense of the resurrection of Christ with this verse

I Corinthians 15:58

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

  • Because of the resurrection, salvation can begin today for anyone who places their faith and trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross.
  • We have forgiveness of sin and the removal of guilt and shame – I John 1:9
  • We can rest fully on the Word of God – 2 Timothy 3:16
  • We know who the true God is

John 14:9

Whoever has seen me has seen the Father

  • The fallacy of our times is that many people believe there are many ways to God
  • Or that other religions are just another road to God and that God has many names

Illustration: Life Preserver – only one way to be saved.

  • Jesus resurrection points us to the only way to the Father
  • We can enjoy all of the benefits of the power of the resurrection

 Colossians 2:12

22 He has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him

  • Purpose and meaning in this life
  • Abundant life filled with joy
  • Hope no matter what we may face
  • Knowing that God is with us at all times. He is described as a friend who sticks closer than any brother. We are never alone
  • Holy Spirit living in us.
  • Eternal Life
  • We have the evidenceto show that the resurrection is true
    • Many say, well just because the Bible says that Jesus rose from the dead, that isn’t enough to prove it is true. That is what people who were biased say about the resurrection. How about some external evidence beyond the Bible?
  • Historical Evidence
    • Ten Historical Facts about the Resurrection that all historians agree on
  • EmpiricalEvidence
    • Josephus statement in the late first century

Quote: “About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man.  For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease. He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him.  And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.” – Josephus / Jewish Antiquities, 18.3.3 §63

  • Experiential Evidence
    • Disciples died horrific deaths for the name of Christ
    • Over Two Billion people on the planet are claiming to follow Christ
    • People in this room – the testimony of their faith in Christ and the transformation that has occurred.
  • Biblical Evidence

Acts 2:22-24

Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it

Application: Receive and live in the reality of the Gospel now into eternity

Key Thought: What will you do with the reality of the resurrection of Christ?

  • You and I have some very important decisions to make at this Easter time.
    • To accept that the resurrection is true, you must accept God’s message of how to be saved, to be born again, to receive the free gift of eternal life
    • Or face eternity separated from God for all of eternity
    • To live life for Christ and how He meant for us to live in this life or live for ourselves independent of God.
    • The Gospel – Illustration of family movies and pictures.
      • Picture the cross – you were there
      • Like the two thieves, you have a decision to make. To reject the demonstration of love poured out on us or to ask Christ to forgive you of your sins and give the hope of eternal life / paradise.

Questions to Ponder this Week

  1. If the Gospel is true have you embraced it?
  2. As a Christ follower, are you being changed in new ways because of the resurrection?
  3. As a Christ follower, are you filled with gratitude because of the power of the resurrection you are experiencing in your life?