Summary: The 4th testimony of Christ’s resurrection listed was that of the apostle Paul himself. He was an unbeliever who was convinced that the imposter Jesus was dead. He radically changed from the worst of unbelievers to the strongest of believers.
[RESURRECTION REALITIES SERIES]
1 CORINTHIANS 15: 8-11
PAUL’S WITNESS TO THE RESURRECTION
[Acts 9:1–8, 17]
The first eleven verses of chapter 15 reviews the evidences for Jesus’ resurrection, [a truth the Corinthians already believed (vv. 1, 11)]. For it is on the foundation of the resurrection of Jesus that the hope of our resurrection is built. In verses 5-7 we looked at an impressive array of witnesses, most of whom were still living when 1 Corinthians was written.
The fourth major testimony of Christ’s resurrection listed was that of the apostle Paul himself. He was a special and unique witness of the risen Lord. Paul was an unbeliever who was solidly convinced that the imposter Jesus was dead. Paul radically changed from the worst of unbelievers to the strongest of believers. He testified before one and all that what changed him and his life was becoming an eyewitness to the Resurrected Lord of Life. The radical change in Paul’s life which brought him persecution, suffering, and a new purpose, is certain evidence that the Lord indeed had risen from the dead.
Let’s look this morning at:
I. THE TESTIMONY OF A SPECIAL WITNESS, 8-9.
II. THE TESTIMONY OF AMAZING GRACE, 10.
III. THE TESTIMONY OF THE COMMON MESSAGE, 11.
As one of the greatest witnesses of the resurrection, Paul must add himself in verse 8. And last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.
Though there were many other resurrection appearance to many other people (Mt. 27:56; Jn. 20:14; Acts 18:9–10; 23:11; 2 Cor. 12:1–7), Paul now turns to himself. Paul’s most important credential to be an apostle was that he was an eyewitness to the risen Christ. As one abnormally or untimely born means that his was a special case. [Ektroma (untimely born) ordinarily referred to an abortion, miscarriage, or premature birth—a life unable to sustain itself. In Paul’s figure, the term could indicate hopelessness for life without divine intervention, and convey the idea that he was born without hope of meeting Christ. But the use of the term in the sense of an ill-timed birth, too early or too late, seems to fit Paul’s thought best. He came too late to have been one of the twelve.] Paul was not among the original apostles, all of whom had been disciples of Jesus during His earthly ministry. He was not among the five hundred other believers who had seen the resurrected Christ. Rather, he had for many years been an unbeliever and a chief persecutor of the church.
He was, however, last of all allowed to see the risen Christ. Paul testifies that by special divine provision, "He appeared to me also." The Lord’s appearance to Paul not only was post-crucifixion but post-ascension, making Paul’s testimony more unique still. It was not during the forty days in which He appeared to all the others but several years later. All the others to whom Christ appeared, except perhaps James, were believers, whereas Paul (then known as Saul) was a violent, hateful unbeliever when the Lord manifested Himself on the Damascus road (Acts 9:1–8; 17-18).
Let me help you recall the life changing event of the Risen Christ appearing to Saul.
[Tell story of Acts 9:1-18.]
The Person Paul met on the Damascus Road changed Paul’s life. None could deny the before and the after in His life as verse 9 indicates. For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
Though Paul never doubted his apostleship or hesitated to use the authority that office brought, he also never ceased to be amazed that, of all persons, Christ would have called him to that high position. He not only considered himself to be the least of the apostles, but not even fit to be called an apostle, because [he] persecuted the church of God ( Acts 22:4; 1 Tim. 1:15-16) which he now served (2 Cor. 4:5). Paul realized what a depraved man he truly was before he met Jesus.
Paul thus also would called himself "the chief of sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15). He called himself the worst of sinner because he persecuted the church. The worse sin is causing the church damage and the worse sinners are those who do damage to the church of the Living God. Before God there is nothing worse, no greater sin that one can commit than to do harm to the church for which Jesus die and shed His blood. But God is a God of amazing grace.
I hope you too have a BEFORE AND AFTER TESTIMONY. It won’t be as dramatic as Paul’s but if you have had a true encounter with Jesus Christ, your life was change. You were once lost, maybe even lost while thinking you were serving God, but then you had an encounter with Jesus that radically changed your life. Do you have such a testimony? Every person that has been born from above has had a life changing encounter with the Lord of Life.