Summary: A talk on the Gospel, which is the basis of salvation and Christianity
Text: 1 Cor 15:1-4, Title: A Simple Reminder, Date/Place: NRBC, 2.26.12, AM
A. Opening illustration: Have I Forgotten video, recount my own conversion
B. Background to passage: Addressing this broken, immature, divided, prideful, loveless, immoral, undisciplined, gluttonous, racist, snobbish, worldly church as brethren (WOW, isn’t that amazing!), he begins this next to last chapter preparing to discuss the resurrection. He is about to point out some theological heresy that is also included in their list of vices. And he simply reminds them of why he calls them brethren. Why a former Pharisee, a Jewish rabbi, a Hebrew of Hebrews, would include these pork-eating, fornicating, Greek-speaking, philosophizing, heretical, gentile dogs as his family would be well beyond the comprehension of their world. But the answer is their fellowship, belief in, commitment to, and kinship in the gospel and the Lord of the gospel. The church is the only voluntary organization that intentionally embraces people radically different from one another. And he is “making known” to them something they already know, but it’s good to remind them.
C. Main thought: Let us be reminded this morning of the simplicity of the gospel, and our bond in it
A. The Gospel (v. 3-4)
1. Paul says the gospel has been around longer the he has, and it was given to him. He is being faithful to the truth of the early church. The gospel means “the good news.” It’s only good news if you know that you need good news. The good news is that you were made to know the glory of Christ, but because of sin you can’t, and deserve punishment; and then God made a way for sin to be forgiven, freedom to be granted, life to be abundant, peace with God, and joy to be full through Christ’s death. We don’t have time to go through the depth of these simple truths today (I want to cover the other verses), but we will at Easter. So Paul gives us the core of it here, which, by the way, is probably an early church creedal statement of faith. 1) Christ died for you. God must punish those who fall short of and trample His glory, and each one of us is guilty. Jesus took the death that you deserved. And God told us this would happen in Isa more than 700 years before. Twenty-nine prophecies related to his death, burial, and resurrection fulfilled in four days. 2) He rose again on the third day to verify all His claims, solidify your justification, and provide you an intercessor at the right hand of God (what a thought! Christ intercedes for you to the Father).
2. 2 Cor 5:21, Rom 5:8, 1 Pet 3:18, 1 John 2:2, Isa 53:5-6, Rom 4:24-25, 8:34, 1 Pet 1:21
3. Illustration: pastor and author, Tim Keller points out, "Here's the gospel: you're more sinful than you ever dared believe; you're more loved than you ever dared hope." Richard Foster told of Billy Graham preaching at Cambridge in 1955. For three nights he tried to make his preaching academic and enlightened, but with no effect. Graham finally realized that presenting the intellectual side of faith was not his gift and began preaching the simple message of Jesus rescuing us from our problem with sin. Foster wrote, "The results were astonishing: hundreds of sophisticated students responded to this clear presentation of the gospel. It was a lesson in clarity and simplicity that he never forgot."
4. It is important for us to know “the gospel,” because many things are substituted for it in our day, some intentional and some unintentional results of “religion.” Some teach a gospel of works, doing enough good things to gain God’s favor. This is also the default in the human heart, so it by what most of us operate on before the true gospel comes. Some teach a gospel of baptism and church attendance and membership. These are good but they are not the gospel. Your hope of heaven is not based on the church nor any particular religious ritual. The gospel is good news to the perishing. It is not for those who are in no need of a Savior. But it is the power to open blinded eyes to the need and the its beauty.
B. The Reception (v. 1)
1. Romans teaches us that the proclamation of the gospel is necessary for salvation. Paul declared then, I declare now. But another thing that he reminds them of is their reception of this gospel, and their standing in it continually by faith. There was a time in the lives of these men and women when they were changed, born again, and began to walk with Jesus. “Received” (aorist tense) speaks of the Corinthians embracing of the gospel by faith. The word is also translated often as “take,” which is an important insight to what Paul is saying. The gospel must not only be a mental assent, but a reception in the heart; an embracing, an ownership, a “stake your life and hope on” grasping of Jesus. The Corinthians saw the beauty of Christ, and they wanted it, regardless of the cost. The word “standing” (perfect tense) the permanent and continuing nature of this faith “upon which you have taken and continue to stand and establish your life and faith.”