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The Story, Chapter 27: “The Resurrection”

July 30, 2017

The Story, Chapter 27: “The Resurrection”

1 Corinthians 15:1-8, 12-20

 

Children’s Sermon:

 

Intro: The Story has given us a chapter on the Son of God and we’ve looked at why that’s important.  It gave us a chapter on the suffering death of Christ and we talked about why that is important.  And today we are looking at the chapter which tells of the Resurrection of Christ and guess what!  We’re going to talk about why the Resurrection is important!

 

The scripture passage we will use is not one found in the gospels, or in chapter 27 of The Story, but it is Paul’s take on why the resurrection is important.  Let’s read it together and then see what it means.  PPT

 

15 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, 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.

 

What we need to believe

This may seem unnecessary to say, but it is important that those who call themselves Christians actually believe what scripture tells us about following Christ.  So here Paul is reminding them that they have heard the truth and have been saved by the truth, but if they are not holding to it, believing it, living like it’s all true, then they are living in vain.

This is one of the problems of the American Church.  We say we believe but don’t live what Christ taught in it’s entirety.  So the world has a skewed picture of what God looks like and the church does not thrive. If we say we believe, we have to live like it!

 

Paul continues in verse 3: PPT

 

 

For what I received I passed on to you as of 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, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred 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.

 

The Summary

So Paul sums up what he preached about Christ’s death and resurrection and his appearing to the disciples.  And then he begins teaching about why all of this is important.  His focus is on a dispute that has arisen in the church at Corinth. 

 

The Corinthians were denying not the resurrection of Christ but the resurrection of the body, our body, after death. Their thinking, taught by the Sadducees, was that once you were dead, you were dead. No eternal hope.  So Paul is saying that if you don’t believe that we are going to be resurrected from the dead, then it discounts the resurrection of Jesus himself.  PPT

 

12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

 

In an Easter sermon preached by John Piper, he sees in this passage gifts of the resurrection in verses 12-20.  Let’s look at his perspective. 

 

Through the resurrection, Jesus satisfied five of our deepest human needs and longings.  By the resurrection God is glorified.  By the resurrection God’s work for our salvation and justification is complete.  When we wrap our arms around what God has done for us, receive it, and live into all of the blessings God has prepared for us, God is honored and glorified.  It pleased God to save us because when our needs are met in him, he is glorified and honored.  And - newsflash - it’s not about us, but the glory and honor of the God who created us.  We exist for God’s glory.  In the beginning, God placed these needs and longings in the human soul.  They are part of our DNA. They are there so that we would have a terminal attraction towards God and His love. PPT

 

In verse 14 Paul makes the proposition:  “If Christ has not been raised . . .” and follows with all of the things that would be missing if Christ had not risen from the dead.  John Piper suggests looking at them in the positive and finds that the pattern of our Christian experience arises from this.  We are going to look at these verses out of the order they were written to better see the pattern of how Jesus, through the resurrection, meets our deepest needs. Stay on your toes!  PPT

 

1. We Are Forgiven for Our Sins

First, from verse 17, instead of saying negatively that we are not still in our sins, we can say positively that because of the resurrection we are forgiven for our sins.

This is the first and basic need and longing of our hearts because if God holds our sins against us—and we all have sinned!—then there is no hope of anything else from God. The foundation for every other blessing from God is that God won't hold our sins against us. Everything hangs on forgiveness.

 

How is the resurrection connected to our forgiveness? Isn't it the death of Jesus that takes away our sin, because he bore our sins and took our judgment (1 Corinthians 15:3)? Yes. But the connection with the resurrection is very important. Romans 4:25 puts it like this. "He was handed over [to death] on account of our transgressions, and he was raised on account of our justification.”

 

This means that by his death he paid the penalty for our sins and purchased our acquittal, our justification, our forgiveness. And since the achievement of the cross was so complete and the work of our justification so decisive, God raised Jesus from the dead to validate our forgiveness and to vindicate his Son's righteousness and to celebrate the work of justification.

 

Everybody in this room this morning needs forgiveness, and deep inside, even when we don't think about it, we long for it. We long to be accepted by God. We fear the alienation of our guilt. But Paul says, because Christ rose from the dead, we are no longer in our sins. This is the first and most basic longing of our hearts.  Our relationship with Christ begins when we accept God’s forgiveness for our sins.  Have you done that?  If so, you have brought God glory! PPT

 

2. Our Faith Is Well-Founded

 

Second, from verse 14, . . . we can say positively that because of the resurrection our faith is well-founded. Or, to put it more personally, because of the resurrection of Jesus there is someone we can trust absolutely. That is a great definition of what living in faith means - to trust God absolutely.

 

Do you recognize this need in your own life? The longing for someone that you can count on through thick and thin. Someone who is absolutely trustworthy. Someone who, if you put your faith in him, it won't be in vain. He won't let you down. He will always be there. We want it because we were made for it. Because of the resurrection, this is possible.  Have you put your faith in Jesus? Are you dependent on him?  When we do that, God is glorified. PPT

 

3. We know that what The Apostles Preach Is True

Third, from verse 15, .  .  we can say positively that because of the resurrection the apostles preach what is true. They are not false witnesses about God. They are true.

 

Our young people are being taught (and many of us were taught) that there is no absolute truth— (meaning) that something is true all the time and everywhere whether people know it or like it. It is a rare teenager today who has the guts and independence to say, for example, in a high school health class that premarital sex is wrong—wrong for everybody, not just those who think it's wrong. Or to stand up for anything Scripture teaches as true for all people. I believe there are many adults who share that fear too.

 

Without the conviction that there are absolutes that can be shared and made the basis for society, the only end will be anarchy where everyone does what is right in his own eyes. Therefore the need for truth is a deep need of the human soul and human society. And Jesus came into the world to say, "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). And then he rose from the dead to vindicate his claim. Jesus has a right to tell us what is absolutely true because in the resurrection God proved him to be absolutely true. Does that resonate as a deep need in your soul? The need to know what is true? Once we quit wrestling with this and accept that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life” and that no one comes to the Father except through him”, there is peace that transforms us and sets us free to live fully into that truth.  PPT

 

4. We Are to Be Envied

 

Fourth . . . , from verse 19, instead of saying negatively that we are not to be pitied, we can say positively that because of the resurrection we are to be envied. Our preaching is not in vain—it is full, meaningful, valid, valuable, significant.

 

If Christ is not raised, then living for him, doing what he says, following his will is a great delusion. We should be pitied like insane people who live by hallucinations. But since he has been raised and is alive and reigns as king forever, all our obedience, all our love, all our self-denial is not just not-to-be-pitied, but is positively enviable. And there is, in every one of us, the longing that our lives be well spent—that our lives count for something, that they have significance and usefulness, that we don't come to the end of our days and say, it was all in vain, empty, pointless, useless, insignificant—pitiable. Do you agree?

 

Paul knows this. That's why he ends this whole chapter on the resurrection (v. 58) with the words: "Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain."

Not in vain! That's the longing of our lives. O Lord let it not be misspent. Let me not come to my grave and say, "I've wasted it!" It does not have to be. Christ is risen and everything done in his name—by his strength and for his glory—is not in vain. It is enviable. Significant. Valuable. Eternal.  Do you believe that?  When we do, and then live it, God is glorified.  PPT

 

5. Those Who Have Fallen Asleep Are Alive

 

Finally, there is the longing that we shall live forever in joy. That we not come to an empty end after a full and valuable life. That we not become a zero, or worse, damned. And so Paul says in verse 18 that because Christ is raised those who have fallen asleep in him—those who have died in faith—have not perished. Or positively, they are alive. They will live forever. They live the way Christ lives. They will enter into the joy of their Master.

 

At funerals we speak as if this were true, because it is a statement of hope.  Do we live our daily lives like it’s true for us?  That glorifies God!

 

Concl. Now look at that list!  This is the pattern of our faith!  And God is pleased to accomplish it all for us through the death and resurrection of Jesus! And while God is meeting our deepest needs and longing, he is being glorified and honored!  Why?  Because when we experience the blessing of God in our lives it brings God honor. 

 

The greatest news in all the world is that God and his Son are most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in them. And to make that true God raised his Son Jesus from the dead to reign forevermore.

In raising him from the dead:

    ▪    he gave us forgiveness and glorified Jesus as the all-sufficient forgiver;

    ▪    he gave us a friend to count on and glorified Jesus as utterly reliable;

    ▪    he gave us guidance and unchanging truth and glorified Jesus as the absolute foundation for truth and righteousness;

    ▪    he gave us a life that is not pitiable but enviable, a ministry that is not in vain but fruitful, and glorified Jesus as the source and goal of all life and all ministry;

    ▪    and he gave us everlasting joy that will not be ended by death, and glorified Jesus as the author of life, the victor over death, and the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.*

 

So can we, with grateful hearts, glorify God the Father who sent Jesus the Son?  And

can we glorify Jesus, who sacrificed his life for our redemption?  And can we glorify the

Holy Spirit who lives in us and gives light so that we can know and understand God?

God alone is worthy.  Let us pray.

 

* All words in italics are taken from http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/six-gifts-of-the-resurrection

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Reading the Bible Supernaturally.