The Credibility and Power of Christ’s Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:12-23, 58)
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The Resurrection of the Dead
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 to be pitied more than all men. 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.
58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Jesus is alive! again!
So, Jesus’ resurrection holds a unique place in Christianity. Christianity is the ONLY religion on earth that bases its foundation of faith on the resurrection of its founder.
Jesus’ resurrection is fundamental to our faith and to our salvation – provided for by his death.
In 1 Cor 15, this is the Resurrection chapter.
Paul wrote 13 books, 87 chapters – but THIS chapter is the longest chapter. EVERY line, every verse, every sentence is concentrated on the resurrection of Christ.
Everything in our faith stands or falls on the resurrection of Jesus.
Are you Christian? Who is a Christian? One who is united with Jesus in his death and resurrection. Believe his death is “my death” and his resurrection is “my resurrection.”
We can see one very short word repeated many times in almost every verse today: IF (repeated 7 times today). Through these IFs we can see 5-6 negative facts:
- (v. 14) IF Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless. (Our gospel is robbed of its joy – the joy would become a funeral dirge?) – What’s the point without the resurrection? There’s nothing to preach.
- (v. 14) IF there is no resurrection, our faith is in vain and worthless. All we have we received as a free gift of God – divine childship, justification, sanctification, glorification, salvation, a home in heaven – it’s all worthless.
- (v. 15) IF no resurrection, then all witnesses are false – liars and deceivers (essential for apostleship = a witness of the resurrection) – the KEY message of all missionaries, evangelists, preachers, etc is Jesus substituationary death and resurrection
- (v. 17) IF no resurrection, your faith is futile, you are still in your sins.
Acts 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” Only Jesus is our Savior from sin and death – the wages of sin = death. Only Jesus paid completely and totally the punishment, power, presence, of sin. Only Jesus defeated the LAST enemy, death.
But IF he didn’t rise from the dead, then he has no more saving power than any other man throughout history.
- (v.18-19) IF no resurrection, all who died in Christ are LOST = in hell, and WE are the most miserable – above ALL people in the world – we ought to be the most pitied.
Up to today, throughout the world, many Christians have been martyred with only ONE hope – the hope of the resurrection. So, how miserable they are if there is NO hope – if there is NO resurrection.
Isn’t that true?
It is better to be sorrowful for NO hope than sorrowful for FALSE hope.
So, today, I want to share the CREDIBILITY of the resurrection of Christ.
Yes, this is a miracle. The kind of evidence needed to prove this fact is the same evidence that we need to prove any other miracle. i.e. reference to the laws of nature cannot apply when the laws of nature are bent (miracles work outside natural laws). So, competent witnesses and other proofs are the most appropriate methods to show the credibility of this fact.
- Cause and Effect = the first
- Argument from witnesses = the second
Every effect around us has a cause. Without an effect, no cause.
So, if Jesus’ resurrection = a cause, then what are the effects? There are MANY throughout history, but I will share only 4.
1. The empty tomb
The fact that the tomb was empty was testified to by many competent witnesses – both friends and enemies, angels, Roman soldiers, women, disciples.
How can we explain this? The angel came down from heaven and rolled away the stone and sat on it, said to the women, “Don’t fear, I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified, but he is not here. He has risen, just as he said. Come and see the very place where Jesus lay.”
2. The Lord’s Day
(Sabbath = Saturday, right?) then why do we worship on Sunday? For us, every day is “technically” the Lord’s day because he created them all, but the first day of the week is the “Lord’s Day” because Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week.
At that time, to keep the Sabbath (Saturday) service had been VERY important. So, who would ever dare to change it? On what grounds could it be changed?
The origin of the Sunday worship service can only be explained by the resurrection.
3. This building
The temple of Jesus Christ – the Christian church – all over the world
There are so many churches all over the world, the Church is a grand institution all over the world. What would the world be without church? Helping ministry, mercy ministry, worship, songs, preaching, etc. Where did this church come from? This is an effect, what is the cause?
The reason Jesus appeared and visited the discouraged and revived the faith of the disciples to send them forth on mission to announce BOLDLY and LOUDLY (the character change of the disciples is also another effect of the cause of the resurrection) the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Christ – to continue his work and expand his kingdom on earth.
This is HOW the church began. This is why the church is called the “body of Christ” and Jesus is the “head of the Church.”
4. The New Testament
This is the Word of God written in human language for us to understand clearly. For our understanding, the Bible is written in human language. This is based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Had Christ remained dead, his story ALSO would have remained buried with him. What would be the point to tell such a story of a dead zealot/rebel?
As you know, in the New Testament, his resurrection is spoken of more than 100 times. There are fruits, interpretations, meanings, of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the “Book of the Resurrection” – the WHOLE New Testament.
Next, there are the testimonies of the witnesses:
We need three things:
- Capable, eye-witnesses
- Enough in number (more than 2)
- Have a good reputation
All the disciples qualify in these respects. They all said, “We are EYE WITNESSES” – there were at least 12 appearances of Jesus to the disciples. There were MORE THAN 500 eye witnesses to his resurrection.
If only I said, “Wow, I saw a tiger running on the street yesterday.” (But do you trust my reputation?) What if Pastor Brian said that? The same thing. Would it still be difficult to believe? If FIVE people said the same thing, would you believe? What about 10, 50, 100, ALL members of AICF? Would you believe then? Jesus appeared to MORE THAN 500 eye witnesses who testified to his resurrection.
What about their character, human reputation? Yes, we know before the resurrection, many of the disciples were timid, cowardly – Peter denied Christ 3 times at the cross and all the others RAN AWAY returning to their old lifestyles. They lost their faith and hope totally.
Yet, after they met the risen Christ again, these believing disciples became STRONG and TIRELESS believers and they ANNOUNCED his resurrection LOUDLY putting their own lives at risk and DIED as martyrs.
Yes, today, this message remains the same.
The resurrection is our HOPE, our JOY, our HOPE of HOPES.
(v. 58) “STAND FIRM” – why? Because Christ has risen. “Let nothing move you” – why? Because Christ has risen. “Give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord” – why? Because Christ has risen. “And we know that our service for the Lord is not in vain” – why? Because Christ’s resurrection is HOPE for us.
Jesus’ resurrection is the firstfruits (guarantee) for us who believe in him. Only Christ can say, “I am the Resurrection and the Life and whoever believes in me will not die.” Do you believe this? If we believe, then we also believe that Jesus is still guiding us now. If we believe, it means that we are to give our lives to his service – we will also be resurrected into eternal life later.
- Romans 8 “If the Holy Spirit who raised Christ from the dead is living in you and me, then he will also give you life.”
- Phil “We want to know the power of Christ’s resurrection and sharing in his suffering.”
Why? Without death, no resurrection.
May God bless us with his resurrection joy, power, and HOPE.
- John 11:26 “I am the Resurrection and the Life, he who believes in me will never die…”
We must share in his death and cross. Without these, there is no resurrection nor crown.