Summary: Part 1 of 4 in a series covering the things of first importance as presented by the Apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians 15
INTRODUCTION: People, especially non- Christians often ask of the church “why is there such a single minded emphasis on the gospel?” Our response is simple yet profound… because it’s all about the gospel! As a church everything we do, everything that we say, everything we preach, and everything that we teach all comes back to the “gospel,” which means it all comes back to Jesus… without the core gospel message nothing that we do as the “body of Christ” means anything to anybody! The Gospel isn’t just what “gets us in” with Jesus it’s also what “keeps us,” and “grows us” into mature believers!
BACKGROUND: Our primary text find’s us in the City of Corinth, with Paul is nearing the end of his letter to this church in ancient “sin-city.” Instead of being a “light” in their world, they are more and more becoming of the world… Nearly every chapter of this letter finds Paul addressing some serious issues that that are killing the spirit of this church and totally negating its evangelistic effectiveness… issues about teachers, marriage, idolatry, adultery, lawsuits, communion, and so on… While there are many issues plaguing this church, the number of them isn’t the issue, the issue is that this is a letter to a sick church, a church that needs healing!
ADDRESSING THE ISSUES
• In addressing the issues Paul takes us in a direction that we wouldn’t necessarily expect after 14 chapters of admonition and correction
• Instead of playing Dr. Phil and offering some pseudo-psychological or philosophical answer to their issues, he takes them back to what is important, back to that which is of “first importance” (1st Corinthians 15:1-5)
• This passage is incredible for its content, its placement, and its directness…
• What Paul describes as of “first importance” is that which stresses priority, not time
• He gives us the basic answer for everything, the basic motivation for everything we do, and in the case of the Corinthian church what they should do and it’s is rooted in the Gospel…
• So what exactly is the Gospel? – the word “Gospel,” (euangelion), appears 75 times in the Bible and means “good news”
• The message of the Gospel is that God has provided a way of salvation for men through the gift of His son to the world. He suffered as a sacrifice for sin, overcame death, and now offers a share in His triumph to all who will accept it
• In a day of depressing headlines and uncertainty, “good news” is indeed a welcome sight
• In our passage are summarized the core foundational truths of the gospel – the death, burial, resurrection, and appearances of the resurrected Christ. We now focus our attention on the first 2
CORE FOUNDATIONAL TRUTH # 1
• Jesus was Crucified by the Romans at the behest of the Jewish leaders, who felt threatened because Jesus challenged the status-quo, He challenged their power – an event recorded in all 4 Gospels
• We pick up the Gospel of Mark’s account of Christ’s death just after he’s been beaten and humiliated by the Roman soldiers (Mark 15:20-21)
• He’s then handed over to the “execution” squad – typically 1 centurion and 4 legionaries
• They put His clothes back on Him, which is a rare thing, since most condemned men were marched naked through the streets! – a little “dignity” in an “undignified” action!
• With the cross-beam lashed across his shoulders He begins the journey to the place of execution, “Golgotha,” the place of the “skull” – there He is crucified between two thieves!
• Look at vs. 37 – the Jewish authorities thought that they had won! Satan thought that he had one!
• But the victory belonged to Christ, for the death of Christ was a “miracle” restoring that which had been destroyed at creation – (Romans 5:10)
• In fact that day was a day of miracles – the death of Christ is the most significant point in History, in fact it’s the singular point that all History rests upon
• So paramount in importance was this event that we see the emotions of God played out in manifestations of super-natural magnitude as He sacrifices His son for His creation!
• Darkness – Torn Veil – Earthquake – Graves Opened – even creation itself is testifying to what is truly happening!
CORE FOUNDATIONAL TRUTH # 2
• The fact that Christ died is not the whole story, not by a long-shot.
• Paul give us the second core foundational truth; a short statement that is often overlooked when covering the passion of Christ - He was buried (15:4) (Luke 23:50-53)
• The inclusion of this detail in so brief a statement of the facts is quite remarkable. The fact that it is recorded by all 4 Gospel writers underlies the fact of its importance – most of the time we want to jump straight from Jesus’ death to His resurrection, but without the burial, there would be no resurrection!