Resurrection Life and the Gospel

In one of our videos this week, Rudy Ross made an insightful comment. He said, “People want to know about God, but they don’t want to read the Bible.”

His words were so true that I asked him to repeat them for emphasis.

When God’s people take their understanding of God from the surrounding culture, they will end up thinking about God in destructive ways. The Corinthians church is a perfect example of this fact.

Most people in Corinth believed that there was no such thing as life after death.

The Corinthian public engaged in religious activities at various pagan temples to obtain the gods’ blessings for the hear-and-now.

Archaeologists who have studied the era reveal interest in childbearing, success with crops, victories in war, status, and physical health.

The church apparently adopted the cultural view of Corinth about life after death. Chapter 15 is Paul’s correction to the church.

The Gospel and Resurrection

God’s good news message is centered on the cross. The message of the cross is central to the opening chapters of 1 Corinthians.

The final chapter of Paul’s message concerns the resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15.1-2Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand,

Through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you — unless you have come to believe in vain.

The good news of what God has done through his Son is powerful.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1.16).

Millions of people have heard the good message, received it in faith, and experienced God’s new life. The radical transformation of people through the gospel authenticates its message.

The Resurrection

The birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus are at the heart of the good news message. If you eliminate one part of the gospel story, what kind of good news do you have?

Paul will answer that question later in chapter 15, but the first order of business is to remind us all about the gospel story.

1 Corinthians 15.3-7For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures,

And that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.

Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.

The good news of God’s love was proclaimed in the Old Testament. Isaiah 53 is prominent in that picture.

The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus are central to the good news of God’s saving act through his Son.

The crucifixion was a public event, but the resurrection was also public. His resurrection appearances were not confined to a small group, who could concoct a conspiracy.

More than 500 people experienced the risen Jesus. They could be consulted if there was doubt in someone’s mind.

Paul’s Authority

Paul could claim an authoritative position in Corinth for many reasons. One was that Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus.

1 Corinthians 15.8-11Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them — though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.

Paul’s experience of the resurrected Jesus transformed his life. He experienced God’s grace and served God with his entire being.

Paul was probably in Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified. The cross didn’t transform him into a new person.

An encounter with the resurrected Jesus turned Paul from a persecutor of the church to an apostle of God’s love.

Practical Application

The basic elements of the gospel show us the great importance of the resurrection.

While some of the Corinthians church members denied the resurrection, people today may take resurrection life too lightly.

Both Corinth and the United States take life after death too lightly. The behavior of both reveals why this is so.

An extreme emphasis on the here-and-now – happiness, health, wealth, status, recreation – to the exclusion of obedience is a telling sign that something is wrong.

Corinthians believed that no one was going to heaven, while Americans believe everyone is going to heaven. Our belief affects our behavior, which is all too focused on present-day success and happiness.

Holy living, sacrifice, obedient service, and the like are traits of people who have been truly transformed by the grace of the gospel.

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel. Please take a few minutes to listen.

Please email your prayer request to bsprad49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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