Here are my notes from a message I preached Sunday night. I tried to fill in some of the points to make clear the direction I took in the sermon. There may be audio in a couple of weeks. If and when there is I will link to it. I also gave an opportunity for questions about the ‘documentary so-called’ since I didn’t really address that much of it in the message. Although there weren’t any questions asked, I took thirteen pages of notes to be prepared. I may post some of them later, but I don’t have everything sourced correctly in the notes, so I don’t want to violate any copyright laws.:-)
Darrell Bock has an excellent article here.
1 Corinthians 15:1-20
Introduction: If you have watched the news or listened to the radio at all this past week, you will know that once again Christianity is under attack, a development all too common around the Easter season the past few years. Now on the one hand, this is no big deal. The ‘Family Tomb of Jesus Theory’ has little to no credibility among scholars of any kind. Yet on the other hand, this is a ‘big deal’ because of the nature of the attack upon Christianity coupled with the media attention it has received. And while everyone here probably can refute the theory presented in this newly released documentary, I thought it would make a good opportunity to stir you up by way of reminder of the truth and importance of the Christian dogma of the resurrection of Christ. R. A. Torrey wrote, “The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the cornerstone of Christian doctrine. It is mentioned directly one hundred and four or more times in the New Testament. It was the most prominent and cardinal point in the apostolic testimony.” (The Certainty And Importance Of The Bodily Resurrection Of Jesus Christ From The Dead, The Fundamentals Vol. 2) The earliest creeds the Church ever produced marked the Resurrection as an integral part of Christianity, but more importantly, our text this evening, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit tells us just how important this doctrine is. And in the book of Job, one of the earliest texts in the Old Testament, Job exhibits a remarkable belief in his own bodily resurrection. (Job 19:26-27) From the very beginning the Resurrection of Christ has been central to our faith, indeed without it there is no Christian faith. Christians throughout the centuries, beginning with the Apostles have lifted their voices with Job to proclaim, “I know that my Redeemer lives.” (Job 19:25) And though Job declares this from the side of the cross in which Christ had not yet died, we may state the fact just as certainly as he on this side of the cross.
I. The Importance of the Resurrection to the Gospel verses 1-8
A. The message Paul preached.
In the first chapter of this letter, Paul reminds the Corinthians of his purpose in coming to them. He did not come to make disciples for himself, to show off his wisdom or eloquence, or even to baptize. He came to preach the message of the cross. And though the world thought that message was foolishness, to those who believed it was the wisdom of God. Now in chapter 15, we see Paul’s definition of the message of the cross that he had declared to them. That message included the life, death, burial, and bodily resurrection of Jesus. All was done in accordance with the Scriptures.
B. The resurrection is what makes the Gospel good news! Romans 4:25
Paul’s ‘message of the cross’ is primarily a message of the resurrection. Not that he regarded the sufferings and death of Christ as inconsequential, but that the resurrection validates the sufferings and death of Christ as effective for the forgiveness of our sins. Further, Paul tells us in Romans 4:25 that without the resurrection we have no justification. The ordering of events in Paul’s mind seems to be, 1) Christ died for our sins taking the punishment and penalty we deserved for those sins in his own body, and 2) Christ rose again to bestow his righteousness upon all those that he died for. The righteousness he imputes is not only that righteousness which he accomplished in his life and death, but also in the life that he continues to live for us.
II. The Evidence of the Resurrection verses 5-9
Paul’s evidence for the resurrection rests in the various eyewitness testimonies that are given. Please note that those closest to the time of Christ’s crucifixion with a much more vested interest in proving him to be dead could never produce a body. We know why that is. Because Christ arose from the dead bodily. The fact remains that the Apostles did certainly believe that Christ had risen and that they had seen him in his body.
“It is an indisputable fact that in the early morning of the first day of the week following the crucifixion, the grave of Jesus was found empty. It is a second fact that the disciples and other members of the apostolic communion were convinced that Jesus was seen after the crucifixion.” -Daniel Schenkel
III. The Effect of the Resurrection on the Apostles verses 9-11
Paul lists three specific men in these verses. Peter, James, and himself. Note the change exhibited by these three men. Peter cowardice is turned to boldness. James’ hatred for his brother becomes service. And Paul’s persecution of the Church becomes a delivering up of his own body for Jesus Christ. Note also that Paul is removed from the resurrection by four years.
IV. The Relevance of the Resurrection to the Church verses 12-19
A. Because Christ rose, we will rise.
B. Without the resurrection of Christ faith is vain.
C. Without the resurrection of Christ there is no hope of resurrection for us.
V. The Fact of the Resurrection verse 20
A. Paul’s certainty of Christ’s resurrection.
B. Christ’s resurrection guarantees our resurrection.
Conclusion: It is the clear teaching of Scripture that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. There were eyewitnesses to the resurrection, there were effects of the resurrection, The resurrection could not be disproved during the Apostles time when presumably it would have been easiest to produce a body, and others who did not see Christ rise from the dead also believed that he had risen. By Christ’s resurrection we are justified, and because he rose from the dead we are sure that he will return to raise us up also.