Easter 2015

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

Text: I Corinthians 15:1-20

THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST

INTRODUCTION:

People deny many doctrines. Every Biblical doctrine has at some time or other been denied by some liberal or cultist.

The Bodily Resurrection of Christ is the most crucial doctrine of all Christianity, and has been denied by many liberals as well as cultists.

Romans 1:4 - And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.

Romans 1:4 means that Christ's resurrection from the dead powerfully declared Him to be the Messiah.

In I Corinthians 15:1-20 we see the fact and importance of the Bodily Resurrection of Christ.

We see -

I. THE PROOF OF CHRIST'S RESURRECTION - 15:1-11

There is -

1. The reminder of the gospel Paul had preached - 15:1-2

I Corinthians 15:1 1 Moreover, brethren, I declare [i.e. I am declaring] unto you the gospel [i.e. the good news] which I preached unto you, which also ye have received [i.e. which you accepted], and wherein ye stand [i.e. in which you stand];

I Corinthians 15:2 2 By which [i.e. through which] also ye are saved [i.e. saved from sin and its consequences], if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

Verse 2 is of a conditional statement. Ordinarily the condition is placed first. Here, however, the conclusion (By which also ye are saved) comes before the condition (if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you). This was done in order to emphasize the conclusion.

By which (i.e. through which, which means through the gospel) . . . ye are saved [i.e. through which you are saved from sin and its consequences]. The gospel is an intermediate agent in salvation. As people believe the gospel message, God, Who is the direct agent in salvation, saves them through it.

If ye keep in memory is assuming that you are keeping in memory or assuming that you are holding fast.

What I preached unto you (i.e. what I proclaimed to you). If you are not holding fast the gospel (i.e. continuing to believe it), you have never been saved in the first place.

Unless ye have believed in vain is if you did not believe in vain, i.e. unless you believed without result. Your belief in Christ would be worthless (or without result) if the resurrection of Christ is not true or if there is no such thing as a resurrection from the dead.

Next, we see -

2. The elements of the gospel Paul had preached - 15:3-4

I Corinthians 15:3 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received [i.e. God the Father revealed the gospel to Paul through Christ - Paul did not dream it up on his own], how that Christ died for our sins [i.e. on behalf of our sins] according to the scriptures.

According to the scriptures indicates that Christ's death for our sins was foretold in the Old Testament Scriptures.

I Corinthians 15:4 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.

And that he was buried refers to Christ's burial in the tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea, where His body remained until His resurrection from the dead. Christ's burial took place late Friday afternoon.

And that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures is And that He has been raised (up), and its passive voice indicates that He did not raise Himself from the dead. God the Father raised Him from the dead. His resurrection occurred before dawn on Sunday morning. We celebrate His resurrection not only on Easter Sunday but also on every Sunday.

The third day indicates that the resurrection took place on the third day. This means that He did not spend a full seventy-two hours in the tomb. The only day on which Christ spent twenty-four hours in the tomb was the day after the crucifixion. Partial days on the first and last days constitute two full days. So, Christ was buried prior to sundown on Friday. This counts as one day, even if His entombment was only minutes before sundown. From sundown Friday to sundown Saturday constitutes the second day, and from sundown Saturday until sometime before dawn on Sunday constitutes the third day.

According to the scriptures indicates that Christ's resurrection from the dead was foretold in the Old Testament Scriptures.

We see that the gospel message has three elements:

1. Christ died on the cross in payment for our sins, which means that Christ paid for our sins in full in His death on the cross.

2. Christ was buried.

3. Christ was raised from the dead on the third day by God the Father in order to demonstrate that God the Father had accepted Christ's payment for our sins.

We also see -

3. The Evidence of the Resurrection - 15:5-8

I Corinthians 15:5 5 And that he [i.e. the resurrected Christ] was seen of Cephas [i.e. was seen by Peter], then of the twelve [i.e. by the twelve apostles minus Judas Iscariot who had already hanged himself - Although one of them was dead, the group of apostles was still referred to as "the twelve."]:

I Corinthians 15:6 6 After that, he was seen of above [i.e. by more than] five hundred brethren at once [i.e. at the same time]; of whom the greater part remain unto this present [i.e. most of them (or the majority of them) are still alive], but some are fallen asleep [i.e. some have died].

I Corinthians 15:7 7 After that [this suggests that Paul is giving a chronological order of the appearances of Christ], he was seen of James [i.e. Jesus' half brother - this appearance apparently resulted in James' salvation - At the time Paul was writing I Corinthians, James would have been the pastor of the church in Jerusalem.]; then of all the apostles.

Although the list of persons who saw the resurrected Christ mentioned in I Corinthians 15 does not include all the persons mentioned in the gospels who saw the resurrected Christ, it includes some who are not mentioned in the gospels.

I Corinthians 15:8 8 And last of all he was seen of me also [i.e. by Paul also], as of one born out of due time.

And last of all he was seen of me also means that the last of all persons the resurrected Christ appeared to was Paul himself.

As of one born out of due time is to one characterized by untimely birth or to one characterized by miscarriage. This one is Paul.

The twelve apostles were disciples of Christ who had spent three and one-half years with Jesus during His public ministry. With the exception of Judas Iscariot, they were already saved at the time of their call to be apostles. Paul lacked this opportunity to mature gradually under the tutelage of Jesus; therefore, he considered himself to be like a premature child compared to the twelve apostles. He went instantly from being a persecutor of Christ to being an apostle sent by Christ.

Next we see -

4. The Fruit of the Gospel - 15:9-11

I Corinthians 15:9-11 - 9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11 Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.

For I am the least of the apostles indicates Paul's view of himself in relation to those who were apostles before him.

I am not meet to be called an apostle is I am not fit to be addressed as an apostle, and the reason is because I persecuted the church of God, i.e. the local church or assembly in Jerusalem as well as other local churches elsewhere.

Paul never quite got over the fact that he had persecuted believers prior to his accepting Christ as his personal Savior. Although he had accepted God's forgiveness, he never forgot where he came from.

I Corinthians 15:10 - 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

But by the grace of God I am what I am. Although Paul believed he was not worthy to be an apostle, he knew that whatever he was, it was because of the grace of God. Also, he had labored more abundantly than the other apostles; yet, he recognized that it was only the grace of God working in him.

And his (i.e. God the Father's) grace (or favor) which was bestowed upon me (or which was given to Paul) was not in vain (i.e. was not without effect or was not without result).

But I laboured (i.e. I toiled or I worked hard) more abundantly (i.e. even more) than they all suggests even more than all the rest of the apostles. It may mean more than any of the apostles; or, which is more likely, it may mean more than all twelve of the apostles put together.

Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

Yet not I suggests that Paul is not the real force behind his labor.

But the grace of God which was with me suggests that it was really God's grace which labored abundantly in and through Paul which was the real force behind Paul's labor.

I Corinthians 15:11 - 11 Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.

Therefore whether it were I or they (i.e. the other apostles) suggests that it really does not matter who proclaimed the gospel to the Corinthians. The important thing is that it was proclaimed among them and that they believed it.

So we (i.e. Paul and the other apostles) preach (or proclaim Christ).

And so ye believed suggests and so you Corinthians believed the gospel.

In verses 1-11 we have seen the proof of Christ's resurrection. Next, we see -

II. THE BODILY RESURRECTION OF CHRIST DOUBTED - 15:12

Likewise today, there are many people who doubt that Christ was actually raised from the dead.

I Corinthians 15:12 12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?

Now indicates a continuation of the thought with a slight change of direction.

If Christ be preached that he rose from the dead is a condition which, for sake of discussion, is assumed to be true; and it actually is true. It is proclaimed that Christ rose from the dead.

Inasmuch as it is true that it is preached that Christ rose from the dead, if is understood in the sense of because, since, inasmuch as, or in view of the fact that.

Christ be preached is Christ is being preached or Christ is being proclaimed.

That he rose from the dead is that He has been raised (or is raised) from the dead.

Rose is passive, which indicates that God the Father has raised Him. Its action has been completed in the past, and its result has continued to the present.

Paul returns to the thought unless ye have believed in vain expressed in verse 2 with, How say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? It means, How are certain ones among you asserting that there is no resurrection of the dead?

Were these people, who were saying that there is no resurrection of the dead, genuinely saved? Yet, they are described as some among you, which suggests that they were professing believers and members of the church in Corinth. What does the Scripture say? It indicates that, if they did not believe that God raised Christ from the dead, they were not saved.

Romans 10:9 - That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

It is no wonder they had such problems in the church at Corinth if some vocal group of people within the church was unsaved. This is one of the reasons we believe in a regenerated church membership.

This is why we must preach the Bible, the whole counsel of God, not just certain themes or topics. It helps people get straightened out in their theological thinking. It also weeds people out who are in disagreement with the Scriptures.

This is also why we don't rush people through the baptistry the instant they make a profession of salvation. Remember that baptism brings people into the membership in the local church.

Not rushing people into membership gives the Holy Spirit a chance to weed some out who may not be genuinely saved. It also gives the Holy Spirit a chance to work in the hearts of some who are not yet saved to get them saved. In addition, it gives people an opportunity to check us out to see if they really want to be part of the church before they become members.

In verses 1-11 we have seen the proof of Christ's resurrection and in verse 12 we have seen that some have doubted the resurrection of Christ. This leads us to -

III. THE ALTERNATIVE TO THE BODILY RESURRECTION OF CHRIST - 15:13-19

I Corinthians 15:13-19 - 13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

Of course, there is a resurrection, but Paul is debating the issue by showing the consequences of there being no resurrection. Some are claiming that there is no such thing as a resurrection. Paul's tactic is to reduce this claim to an impossibility.

What would be the result of there being no resurrection?

1. With Respect to Christ - 15:13

I Corinthians 15:13 13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen.

But if there be no resurrection of the dead suggests, Assuming that there is no resurrection of the dead. Although it is assumed to be true for sake of discussion, it is actually false. Therefore, if should be understood in the sense of assuming that.

Then is Christ not risen is, Then Christ has not been raised.

Inasmuch as the condition is false, the conclusion is also false. There is a resurrection of the dead, and Christ has been raised from the dead.

What would be the result of there being no resurrection?

2. With Respect to Preaching and Faith - 15:14-17

I Corinthians 15:14 14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

And if Christ be not risen is assuming that Christ has not been raised (from the dead). Again, although the condition is assumed for sake of discussion to be true, it is actually false. If should, therefore, be understood as assuming that.

Then is our preaching vain, i.e. our preaching is to no purpose, our preaching is without result, our preaching is senseless, or our preaching is without any basis.

And your faith is also vain, i.e. your faith is to no purpose, your faith is without result, your faith is senseless, or your faith is without any basis.

Once again, since the condition is false, the conclusion is also false. Christ has been raised from the dead, our preaching is not in vain, and also your faith is not in vain.

I Corinthians 15:15 15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

Yea is emphatic and understood in the sense of indeed, really, or in fact.

And we are found false witnesses of God is we are discovered to be lying witnesses of God.

Because we (i.e. Paul, Silas, and Timothy) have testified (i.e. have borne witness or have attested) of God (i.e. against God the Father or in contradiction to God Father) that he raised up Christ. This provides the reason Paul, Silas, and Timothy are discovered to be lying witnesses. Remember that they are not really lying witnesses.

Whom (i.e. Christ) he (i.e. God the Father) raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

If so be that the dead rise not is a condition whose structure indicates that it is assumed, for sake of discussion, to be true; BUT it is actually false.

Since the condition is false, the conclusion must also be false. The conclusion is Whom he raised not up, BUT this is false because God the Father did raise up Christ from the dead.

I Corinthians 15:16 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised.

In verse 16 Paul explains his statement in verse 15.

For if the dead rise not [i.e. for if the dead are not raised] is a condition whose structure indicates that it is assumed, for sake of discussion, to be true. However, it is actually false. The dead do rise from the dead.

Then is not Christ raised is the conclusion of this conditional statement. Inasmuch as the condition is false, this conclusion must also be false. If the dead are not raised from the dead, then Christ could not have been raised from the dead. BUT the dead are raised from the dead, and Christ has been raised from the dead.

I Corinthians 15:17 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

And if Christ be not raised is another condition whose structure indicates that, for sake of discussion, it is assumed to be true. Once again, however, it is actually false. Christ has been raised from the dead.

Your faith is vain is the first conclusion of this conditional statement. It means your faith (i.e. your belief or trust) is useless (i.e. without result or to no purpose). Once again, however, inasmuch as the condition is actually false, this conclusion must also be false. Your faith is not in vain.

Ye are yet in your sins is a second conclusion in this conditional statement. It means that your sins have not yet been forgiven, canceled, or pardoned. Inasmuch as the condition is false, the conclusion must also be false. You are not still in your sins. Your sins have been completely and forever forgiven.

What would be the result of there being no resurrection?

3. With Respect to Saved People Who Have Died - 15:18

I Corinthians 15:18 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ (those who have trusted Christ as Savior and have subsequently died) are perished (i.e. are lost forever with no hope of heaven).

This is a third conclusion for the conditional statement begun in verse 18. Again, inasmuch as the condition is false, this conclusion is likewise false. Those, who have trusted Christ as Savior and have subsequently died, have not perished. They are in the very presence of Christ at this time.

What would be the result of there being no resurrection?

4. With Respect to Saved People Who Are Still Alive - 15:19

I Corinthians 15:19 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

In view of the fact that Paul's entire life and ministry, including all the suffering he and the Corinthian believers have endured, are based on their hope in Christ, if there is no hope of a resurrection beyond the grave, they are the most pitiable people on the planet.

If in this life only we have hope in Christ is a condition which, for sake of discussion, is assumed to be true. Once again, however, the condition is actually false; so if is understood in the sense of assuming that.

We are of all men most miserable suggests we are of all humanity most pitiable. However, inasmuch as the condition is false, this conclusion must also be false. We are not of all humanity most pitiable. We are not of all men most miserable.

In verses 1-11 we have seen the proof of Christ's resurrection and in verse 12 we have seen that some have doubted the resurrection of Christ. In verses 13-19 we have considered the result of not believing in the bodily resurrection of Christ. Finally, we see -

IV. THE GRAND PROCLAMATION - CHRIST HAS BEEN RAISED FROM THE DEAD - 15:20

I Corinthians 15:20 20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

Far from being the most miserable or pitiable person on earth as a result of there being no resurrection from the dead, Paul is very happy in life knowing that Christ has indeed risen from the dead. Christ has also become the first one raised from the dead to die no more, and His resurrection is the first of many. All believers will likewise be raised from the dead.

But now is Christ risen from the dead.

Now is emphatic and introduces the real situation which exists in contrast to the unreal conditional clauses in verses 13-19. It is used in the sense of as a matter of fact.

Is Christ risen from the dead is Christ has been raised from the dead, and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

(But now is Christ) . . . become the firstfruits of them that slept.

(Is) become is became, and it has also been translated in a way which emphasizes its existing result.

Firstfruits is first portion. It means that Christ is the first one raised from the dead Who is no longer subject to death and is the promise that there are more to come, i.e. more who will likewise be raised from the dead and no longer subject to death. All others in the Bible, who were raised from the dead, died a second time.

Of them that slept is of the ones who have slept, i.e. of the ones who have died.

CONCLUSION:

We must remember that without the bodily resurrection of Christ from the dead, there is no salvation. That bodily resurrection demonstrated God's seal of approval upon Christ's sacrifice for our sins.

There is no doubt that He rose from the dead as He said. He was observed on many occasions. Further testimony is borne by the changed lives touched by the Gospel message.

I Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

As a result of their belief in the resurrection, believers should remain steadfast and be unmoveable while they abound in the work of the Lord. They know that their labor will never be without result in the Lord.

In view of the certainty of the resurrection and the eternal changes it will bring for believers, Paul challenges the believers to live completely for the Lord, serving Him with all their hearts. They realize that their service will not prove to be worthless.

Whatever they would undertake to do for the Lord Jesus Christ was to be done in an outstanding manner. They were to do it to the best of their ability.