Resurrection VictoryJuly 9, 2023 | Meritt Raup
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Well, good morning. It’s great to be with you all today. Please turn to First Corinthians 15. As we begin this series, we’re gonna spend the next three weeks digging into this incredible chapter. And the aim of this series is simple. It comes from the the first line of verse one says now brothers and sisters, I want to remind you have the gospel. These next three weeks, I want to remind you of the gospel, the good news about Jesus Christ that He has come to save sinners. As we’ll see, an essential aspect of the gospel is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Well, we celebrate every year at Easter. And here’s the truth. Easter is not the only day of the year that we can say Christ is risen. Jesus is alive every day. In first Corinthians 15, Paul gives the longest and most comprehensive explanation of the resurrection, and all that it means for us today. He mentioned it 23 times in this chapter. So if it’s repeated, it’s important. So as we go, we’ll see that the resurrection has immense implications for our lives. You know, there are some specific days that have had a monumental impact on the course of history. If I were to say, December 7 1941. Some of you know what happened that day. President Roosevelt famously called it a day that will live in infamy. December 7 1941 was the day that Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. This event was monumental because it led to the US joining World War Two. before Pearl Harbor, the US was not directly involved in the war. We’re sort of watching from afar as the war grew in Europe, there was no threat to the US soil. But because of Pearl Harbor, everything changed. That day radically altered the course of our country’s history. So I can confidently say in a even more significant way, that the resurrection of Jesus changes everything. It’s the title of this series, this changes everything. The resurrection was a monumental event that declared Jesus’s victory in the past, that transforms our lives in the present, and gives us an unshakable hope for the future. So that’s where we’re headed these next three weeks. But today, we’re going to look at the first few verses and focus on the victory that Jesus has won through His resurrection. So the first part of our passage we see that victory, declared. Would you read along with me first Corinthians 15, verses one and two. Now brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel, I preached to you In which you received, and on which you have taken your stand by this gospel, you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you, otherwise, you have believed in vain. You know, people can be forgetful sometimes. Have you ever been in a situation where you’re meeting someone for the first time? And one of the questions you ask when you meet someone for the first time is, what is your name? And that person tells you their name. And then, as you go throughout the conversation, you realize, I have no clue what this person’s name is. Isn’t it’s not that you, you didn’t know you just didn’t remember. And so in that situation, you know that they already told you so you don’t need any new information. Rather, you just need to be reminded of what you’ve already heard. So this is similar to what Paul is facing with the Corinthians. We know Paul spent 18 months in the city of Corinth, during his second missionary journey. And Acts chapter 18 describes how Paul taught every week. Many people believed in Jesus and were saved and baptize. But it wasn’t long after Paul left the church in Corinth, that they had some serious problems. Now, Paul wrote this letter only a few years after his visit, and the first 14 chapters are full of serious issues in this church. There was division over celebrity preachers, there’s significant marital issues and sexual immorality. There’s a lack of love among believers. There was chaos during worship services, there was abuses during communion. So imagine, Paul hearing about all these things happening. And he’s wondering what happened? Did you forget what it taught you just a few years ago, it must have been both maddening and saddening, at the same time. So for Paul, the solution was not a revolutionary new teaching. The solution was to return to the basics. So he reminds them of the gospel in the victory of Jesus. So the word gospel literally means good news. It’s the proclamation of announcement. In ancient times, it was a political word, announcing military victory over the enemy, or even the birth of a new king, who would come and bring peace to the kingdom. So it makes sense that this word gospel will be the word to describe Jesus and what He has done for us. He’s the King, who has come and defeated the enemy of sin and death. He secured peace for His kingdom. And the climax of his work was his resurrection. And this is important because there are many opinions about the gospel out there. If you were to ask 10 people on the street, what is the gospel, you’ll probably get 10 different answers. Maybe you might hear the Gospel is the four different versions of Jesus’s life. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, are the gospel is the teaching of Jesus. The Gospel is God’s word that he wants us to follow. Or the gospel is a life decision that you make. Or the gospel is that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Well, all of these contain some level of truth. It’s not the way the Bible describes the gospel. So we must remember the true gospel. It’s the declaration of Jesus’s victory over sin and death, through His resurrection. Because it changes everything. So if this is the gospel that we preach, there are five important realities in this passage, that must be true of us. First, we preach. The resurrection is our message. We don’t preach our opinions. We don’t preach politics. We don’t preach self help strategies or philosophical ideas. We preach Christ raised from the dead. It’s our message. We not only preach it, but we also receive it. The message of the resurrection has been passed down through generations. That’s what Paul is doing here with the Corinthians and the Corinthians passed along to the next generation. By receive it, we mean that it’s something that we hold dear. We treasure Christ. paste, we cherish the resurrection, as a gift of great value to us. It’s like a treasure hidden in a field, that a man went and sold everything that he had, just so he could buy that field because it had that treasure in it. Then just as we receive it, we pass it along to the next generation as well. But we not only receive it, we also take our stand on it, we dig our heels into the dirt, so that no one can push us off. It’s the shore footing that will keep us from slipping. When danger comes on Christ, the solid rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand. We not only take our stand on it, but we are also saved by it. The gospel is the good news that because Jesus has been raised from the dead we can be saved. We were headed to destruction, rebelling against God and His rule. But because of Jesus death and resurrection, you and I can have new life. We’re no longer enemies of God, but he so graciously makes us His children. Were not only saved by it, but we also hold firmly to it. We don’t let anyone change it.
We’re committed to it. No matter how the culture changes around us, no matter how the public opinion of it changes. It goes everywhere with us, and affects everything that we do. So the gospel, the resurrection of Jesus is what we preach what we receive, but we take our stand on what we are saved by what we hold firmly, too. So in other words, you could say that we ought to be gospel centered people. So that everything that we do is connected to the gospel. This is something we ought to be as a church, you know, one of our core values here at Cityview, as being gospel centered. This is what we hope to be in, oh, by God’s grace, we will continue to be, but it’s also something we’d all be individually as well. If you examine your own life, how gospel centered Are you? Do you personally proclaim it? Do you receive it as a treasure? Do you take your stand on it? Or are you sort of standing off to the side so that when the trouble comes, you can just jump back on and be safe? Have you been saved by Jesus? Do you hold it loosely? It’s in your hand, but it’s just loosely there. So if someone would come up and try and snatch it away, they could easily do it. We must be people who are gospel centered. And the gospel is something that out affect everything in our lives. It’s not just something that we believe as Christians initially. And then we graduate onto the real stuff, changes everything, as we will see through the rest. First Corinthians 15. Someone has said that the gospel is not the ABCs of the Christian life, the gospel is the A to Z’s of the Christian life. Victory has been declared. So the reason we’re gospel centered is because Jesus rose from the dead. Have you ever thought how extraordinary and kind of crazy it is that we believe that someone was dead for three days? And then he actually came back to life? Have you thought about that for a second? Maybe you’ve asked yourself the question, how do we know Jesus rose from the dead? Did it actually happen? Because people don’t come back from the dead. Case You Didn’t Know. It doesn’t happen? Well, that’s the question we answer, verses three through eight. See, victory proved, victory proved. Follow along with me, verses three through eight. For what I received, I passed on to you as a first importance that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that He was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, that he appeared to surface, then to the 12 and after that, he appeared to more than 500 of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all, he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born here we see victory proved, you know, there’s a popular show on Animal Planet, called Finding Bigfoot. that’s been around for 12 seasons now. And the show follows so called Bigfoot experts as they travel across the country investigating Sasquatch sightings. So what they do is they go to these small towns and they visit with the locals, and they hear their stories of encountering Bigfoot in the wild. And then they go on night excursions where they try and find Bigfoot for themselves. Almost every episode, they’re doing their thing, they’re out in the woods, the middle of the night, everything’s quiet, it’s dark, they’re by themselves. And all of a sudden, the stick breaks, or hear an animal noise in the distance. All of a sudden, they get the tingly feelings on their arms, and, but nothing else happens. And that’s it. And then they go back, and the next morning, they’re debriefing the encounter, everything that happened in the previous night. And they always end the each episode by basically saying, we heard something. It’s probably a Bigfoot. So tune in next time to see what happens next. And the fact that it’s been around for 12 seasons, and they’re still searching for Bigfoot probably tells us something about the merits of the show, doesn’t it? All it takes is one clear, undisputed video. I’m not saying that Bigfoot isn’t real. He may be? I don’t know. But we have to be honest. The best we can say is that the evidence is questionable. There’s no certainty. There’s no unbiased consensus here. There’s no consistent testimony, or else the case will be closed. I think some people treat Jesus like Bigfoot, sort of relegate him to the realm of mythical creatures that some unreliable maybe some questionable people have claimed to encountered. But to the intelligence in the enlightened, we all know it’s a hoax. And nothing could be further from the truth. The resurrection of Jesus is nowhere near the same level of historicity as Bigfoot. It unequivocally surpasses Bigfoot in every single way. And Paul goes to great lengths to prove that right here. Paul quotes what most scholars agree is an early Christian creed, sir, like how we said the new city catechism earlier in the service, is a summary of what the early Christians believed about Jesus. This creed was very clear from the beginning of the church. This is what the apostles preached from the very beginning, just a few days after Jesus had left the earth, Peter, are the apostles, he preached this, and the very first Christian sermon after Pentecost. This is what he said, he said, This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge. And you with the help of wicked men put Him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised Him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him access to. So this is the message that the apostles were preaching from the very beginning. This is what Paul summarizes here in this passage, and he gives evidence to why it’s true. The message is straightforward. Jesus died for our sins. Jesus was buried. Jesus was raised on the third day, Jesus appeared to many witnesses. That’s the message. And the first reason Paul gives as evidence to the truthfulness of this message is that all of this happened, according to the Scriptures. We see as twice this phrase, according to the scriptures. The resurrection of Jesus was God’s plan all along. It was prophesied all throughout the Old Testament. So what I want to do is, I want to go through some of the passages in the Old Testament that point forward to Jesus’s resurrection. There’s a lot so we’re gonna go through these quickly. So fasten your seat belt, get your pen ready. Here just 10 passages that show the resurrection of Jesus was according to scripture. Job 1925 and 26. Job says that he knows his Redeemer lives, and he has hoped that he too will live even though he dies. Psalm 16 David rejoices and knowing that God will not abandon abandon his anointed one to the dead. God will not let His Holy One see corruption and as a 25 Isaiah prophesied that God will swallow up death forever. Passes As quoted later in First Corinthians 15. And Isaiah 26. Isaiah prophesized that God’s people will live, they will rise from the dead. And Ezekiel 37 is equal prophesize. In the dry bones in the valley, that famous passage come alive by the power of the Holy Spirit. And Hosea six, Hosea prophesize says that after two days, God will revive his people. And on the third day He will restore them. And Hosea 13, God says that He will deliver his people from the power of the grave. And he says, where oh death or your plagues, where oh, death is your destruction, also quoted later in First Corinthians 15. Daniel 12 speaks about the resurrection, some to eternal life, and some to eternal punishment. Isaiah 53 speaks about how the Messiah after he has suffered, He will see the light of life again. And Jesus himself references Jonah in the belly of the whale for three days, as an image of his own death and resurrection. Do you get the point, we could keep going, we can have confidence that Jesus rose from the dead because the Old Testament anticipated it all along.
But Paul doesn’t stop with the Old Testament. The second reason Paul gives us why we can trust that Jesus rose from the dead is that there are credible eyewitnesses to His resurrection. He lists all the people that saw Jesus and could testify about it. He mentioned Peter received this, he mentioned the 12. He mentioned a crowd of 500 people at once that saw Jesus in His resurrection body, you can’t fake crowd that large. He mentions James. James was Jesus’s brother who was skeptical at first, but then eventually believed. And then then he mentioned himself, a former persecutor of the church, who encountered Jesus and became a Christian himself. Most of these people were still alive at the time. So Paul was up for the challenge. He said, thing, hey, they’re still alive. All these people have seen Jesus raised from the dead, go talk to them, and they’ll tell you what happened. But not hallucinating. It wasn’t just a dream that they were envisioning. But even more than all these witnesses, the fact that the disciples immediately began preaching boldly after Jesus left is astonishing. See, crucifixion was a horrible way to die. And no one in their right mind what would identify themselves with the guy who was just crucified, because they knew they would be next? Unless they knew he was alive. The fact that women were recorded in all four Gospels, as the first witnesses to the resurrection is significant. Women back then did not have the same legal standing as men, their testimony wasn’t allowed in court. So if the disciples wanted to fabricate a story about Jesus, it makes no sense that they would have women as the first people to witness it. No one would have believed them. Unless it was actually true. The fact that Jesus’s tomb was empty, is significant. All the authorities had to do to stop Christians was to produce Jesus’s body. They just had to go to the go to the tomb, pull out the body say, look, he’s still dead. But they couldn’t, they didn’t. Instead, they came up with excuses as to why the tomb was empty. None of which make any sense. And finally, the New Testament accounts of Jesus’s life are incredibly reliable. There are no other ancient documents, like the Bible, have so many manuscripts have so many internal consistencies that have been preserved so well throughout history. We could keep going with even more reasons, if we had time. But the eyewitness evidence is clear. The scriptural evidence is clear. And all of it points to Jesus actually rising from the dead. Maybe you’ve heard these before. Maybe this is the first time you’re hearing these reasons. My point in sharing this so that you will have confidence, confidence. If you’re a believer in Jesus, know that your faith is not built on wishful thinking. We’re not just spiritualizing here. We have historical grounding to believe what we believe. We have good solid reasons for it. This should give you confidence to face doubt. Especially when you face a It kind of spiritual vertigo when you have vertigo. I know from personal experience, I’m sure many of you know from personal experience, your head is spinning, you can’t stay balanced, you feel like you’re falling over, your vision can’t be trusted. The only thing you can trust when you have vertigo is the ground. You know that the problem is in your own balance, the ground isn’t going to move, you might need to lay there for a little while before you can get back up again. In a similar way, you might face a time in your life feels like a spiritual vertigo. Your emotions are spinning, your doubt is disorienting questions are circling. So in that moment, lay on the ground. Go back to what you can trust. Go back to the truth that Jesus rose from the dead. You might need to stay there for a little while before trying to get back up on your feet again, that’s okay. But holding fast to the truth of the resurrection, is what will help you worked through those questions and doubts. So if you’re here today, and you’re not a Christian, maybe you’re investigating the claims of Jesus, know this. You don’t have to give up rational thinking to become a Christian. Jesus can handle your questions. The evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is overwhelming. So what is it that’s holding you back from following him? It’s much better to be honest about the reasons why we’re not following Jesus. And go back to the truth of the resurrection. And then give Jesus your questions and trust that he can handle them. If you can rise from the dead, he can handle your questions and your doubts. So we might be tempted at this point to think that the resurrection of Jesus is just an abstract thing. Leave it to the philosophers and the apologists. It’s too much thinking. But Paul makes it clear in the final section of our passage, that the resurrection of Jesus is something that we must experience personally. Not only a victory declared, in a victory proved but it’s also a victory, shared, victory shared. Look with me, verses nine through 11 says this For I am the least of the apostles, and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God, I am what I am. And his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them. Yet, not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether then it is i are they? This is what we preach. And this is what you believed to being a Christian is not about merely acknowledging the truth. We must also experience this truth in a personal way. So this is the main idea for today. By God’s grace, we share in the victory of Jesus’s resurrection. By God’s grace, we share in the victory of Jesus resurrection. There’s only one explanation of how Paul got to where he was in life. It was God’s grace. Grace. So what is grace? Grace is undeserved favor. Paul Tripp presentday, author, he has a very helpful way in describing God’s grace, He says, You need it. You can’t live without it. But you can’t purchase it or earn it. It only ever comes by means of a gift. And when you receive it, you immediately realize how much you needed it all along. And you wonder how you could have ever lived so long without it. This was the Apostle Paul’s experience as well. Everything in his life he owed to God’s grace. Paul wasn’t always a Christian. In fact, he was so hostile to Jesus that he persecuted the church. He was responsible for the death of Stephen the first Christian martyr. So he’s the least of the apostles. In his own mind, he’s even deserved to be called an apostle. But after Paul had an a personal encounter with the risen Christ, everything in his life changed. He did a complete 180 Instead of persecuting Christians, he became an apostle himself. And Paul admits that everything was due to God’s grace. Paul didn’t do anything to earn it, or purchase it. It was God’s gift. And this is because we serve a gracious God, don’t we? A two he is his character. When Moses went up the mountain, to receive the 10 commandments for the second time, God said this, said, The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to the 1000s, and forgiving of wickedness, rebellion, and sin. God is a gracious God, we owe everything in our lives to Him. That’s why Paul has such a deep humility here. He’s the least of the apostles using deserve to be called an apostle because of this. But it’s all by God’s grace. Here’s the truth. You and I, we get to experience this grace to Ephesians two says it’s by grace you have been saved through faith. This is not from yourselves, it’s the gift of God. To Jesus has declared victory over sin and death. Jesus is victory has been proven to be true. We get to share in it by God’s grace.
Romans 689 That was, was read earlier in the service. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we also will live with him. We know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again. death no longer has mastery over him. It’s God’s grace that saves us. We have confidence that even though we will die one day, unless the Lord returns, we will surely live with him. Because Christ has been raised death no longer has mastery over him. And surely, because we will be raised, we know that death will have no mastery over us either. By God’s grace, we share in the victory of Jesus’s resurrection. And world full of bad news. This is the best use you will hear. So God’s grace is a gift. But like any good gift, it must be an effective gift. You know, if you were to receive and all expenses paid trip to travel the world for a whole year. That’d be pretty cool, wouldn’t it? But what if you never actually went on the trip? Because you were afraid that once you went on the trip, it would be over and you wouldn’t have it anymore? Then the trip wouldn’t really be that effective, would it? The gift you were given, was meant to be enjoyed. So we don’t want to treat God’s grace like that. God’s grace has massive effects on our lives. The rest of First Corinthians 15 talks about this. And we’re going to go through those in the coming weeks. How God’s grace and the resurrection of Jesus affects our lives today in the present, but also affects our hope for the future. So here we see, Paul describe just one effect of God’s grace in his own life. It’s that he worked hard. He worked hard. But he knew it was God’s grace working through him. Here’s a paradox in the Christian life. You know, a paradox is something that seems like a contradiction on the surface. But as you dig deeper into it actually makes sense. Like, why do our noses run but our feet smell doesn’t make any sense. And when you think about it, still doesn’t really make that much sense. But there’s paradoxes in our in the Christian life, and In Paul’s case, he’s, he’s working hard in ministry, he’s, he’s laboring, he’s traveling around the Mediterranean, he’s planting churches. He’s experiencing physical weakness and severe persecution as he’s doing this. But he knows it’s really God’s grace at work in him through all of it. When someone becomes a believer, it’s God’s grace. When two believers reconcile their differences, it’s God’s grace. When new pastures are trained, and new churches are planted. It’s all God’s grace. Paul doesn’t claim any credit because he knows that God’s grace is the reason he is what he is. So by God’s grace, we share in the victory of Jesus’s resurrection. So this is what propels our ministry. And you see this here. When you serve in kids city, let it be by God’s grace. Work hard at it. Sometimes the kids might make you work hard at it. But know that it’s ultimately God’s grace that transforms hearts. When you share Jesus with your neighbor, let it Be by God’s grace, work hard at it. It might push you out of your comfort zone. But know that it’s ultimately God’s grace that will transform their hearts. Can you say that it’s by God’s grace that you’re here today? Can you point to a time in your life when God intervened and changed everything for you? Praise God for that, worship him. Be thankful. Don’t ever forget that. And let that propel your ministry and how you serve others. Do it by God’s grace, the resurrection of Jesus changes everything. Jesus has declared victory over sin and death. Jesus’s victory has proven to be true. We’ve shared in this victory, with much more still to come for us. So we’re gonna come to the Lord’s table here in a few moments, and then we’re gonna sing in response. So when we sing, we’re going to sing a song, it’s based on this passage. I think a fitting way to end is with one of these lines, it goes like this. No fate I dread I know I am forgiven. The future shore, the price it has been paid. For Jesus bled and suffered for my pardon. He was raised to overthrow the grave. To this I hold. My sin has been defeated. Jesus now and ever is my plea. My chains are released, I can sing I am free. Yet not I but through Christ in me. What a great line to sing, isn’t it? Let’s pray together.
Gracious Heavenly Father, you are a wonderfully gracious God. You’ve declared victory over sin and death. We know that this is true. We trust that we have confidence in this. And we know that it’s by Your grace that we are what we are today. So we thank you and we praise You for this. I pray that as as we go forward, your grace would be present in our lives. Help us to recognize it more and more. And help us to let it propel our ministry, and how we serve one another. And pray that You would help us do this by your spirit because it’s by your grace, that we are what we are. So we love you. We thank you, we pray this in Jesus name, Amen.