Summary: What we believe about the events of Easter morning must be at the center of our faith in Christ Jesus. We must believe in the resurrection of Christ Jesus "Otherwise, you have believed in vain."
I Corinthians 15: 1 – 11 What Do You Believe?
Intro: A number of years ago, some Chinese and Americans were witnessing an athletic event together for the first time. The band struck up a tune. The Chinese, thinking it was playing the United States’ national anthem, stood. --- Then, the Americans, thinking the Chinese were standing for their own national anthem, also stood. --- Actually, the band was playing a toothpaste commercial. --- This story reminds us that in religion as in everything else, we should not jump to conclusions without understanding.
I. (There are 4 things concerning our faith in Jesus that Paul mentions in these verses. Listen and see if you hear them.) Read verses 3 – 8 (3) “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, (4) that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures, (5) and that he appeared to Peter, then to the Twelve. (6) After that, he appeared to more than 500 of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. (7) Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, (8) and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”
A. Did you get the four things? (Christ died, he was buried, he was raised, he appeared) Even bigger question to be answered by each of us, Which one or ones do you believe?
B. There are 2 groups of people: 1st group – convinced that Jesus rose from the dead and are committed to honoring Jesus in their lives.
C. 2nd group – have had bad experiences in church, are seeking God but haven’t come to a point of making a personal commitment to Christ Jesus.
II. Peggy Key from Portage, Michigan wrote of a personal incident in Guideposts magazine. She was driving to church on Easter Sunday and as she drove, she told her children the Easter story. She said, “This is the day we celebrate Jesus coming back to life,” Right away, her 3-year-old son, Kevin piped up from the back seat, “Will He be in church today?”
A. Good question! --- If there had been no resurrection, death and Satan would have won. Darkness and evil would reign and there would be no hope of eternal life and no heaven.
B. I want to share a brief story I read while preparing this message. It seems there were three friends who were discussing death. One of them asked the others: “What would you like people to say about you at your funeral?” He continued, “I would like them to say that I was a great humanitarian who cared about his community.” The 2nd guy said, “I want them to say that I was a great husband and father who was an example for many to follow.” The 3rd guy said, “I want them to say, ‘Look, he’s moving!” (From the sermon, Jesus, the Living Savior by Rodney Buchanan)
C. With no hope of resurrection, life after death, heaven, I’m afraid that’s what most of us would be hoping.
III. What do you believe? In the 1st verse of chapter 15, Paul reminds the Corinthian congregation and us of the gospel of Christ Jesus which he had preached to them. (“Now, brothers, 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.”)
A. There are so many things in this world that make attempts to take away our faith: life has its problems to which there seem to be no solution, its questions to which there seem no answer, its dark places where there seems to be nothing upon which to hold.
B The faith that collapses is the faith that has not thought things out, a faith that is secondhand. It is not the faith to which Christ calls us.
C. The faith to which we are called is a personal, living and vital faith where we walk daily close to Christ Jesus, a faith where we meet Him at this very table.
Conclu: One of the things I have come to appreciate about the reunion/prayer group that meets in our offices every Wednesday is the sharing of our “closest to Christ” experiences each week. What faith experience have you had this week that has brought you “closest to Christ?” Have you shared it with someone? That is the essence of our faith. --- "Otherwise, you have believed in vain.(I Corinthians 15:2)