Christ Is Risen … He Is Risen Indeed!

1 Corinthians 15

Resurrection Sunday, April 21, 2019

A. Introduction — Christ’s resurrection is

    1. proven — a fact in which we can trust

    2. profound — meaningful for our lives

    3. propitious — improving our outlook for the future

 

B. Proven: Christ is Risen

    1. because of the witnesses who were

        a. N____________ (500+) Footnote

        b. I_____________

        c. C__________ (or believable)

 

    2. their evidence is acceptable as shown by

        a. G_________’s reasoning that Christianity would cease if false Footnote

        b. the character of the S________s’ false evidence Footnote

        c. the perseverance of disciples’ witness until D______

 

    3. the implication of Paul’s argument

        a. he is seeking to prove the F________ general resurrection

        b. he calls upon the unquestionable F_____ of Christ’s resurrection

 

C. Profound: Christ is Risen

    1. Society’s dismissal of the importance of Christ’s resurrection

    2. because Christ’s resurrection is profound — is deeply meaningful —

        a. P____________ has a purpose

        b. F______ has power Footnote

        c. we can be saved from S______ Footnote

        d. D______ is not the end

 

D. Propitious: Christ is Risen

    1. Death’s S_______ has been removed

    2. I_____________ is now available to mankind



Endnote  1 Corinthians 15 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Christ Is Risen … He Is Risen Indeed!

 

A. Introduction

    1. Jesus Christ Speaks at a Funeral — When Dwight L. Moody was still a young and relatively inexperienced pastor, suddenly — as it is usually the case — he was called upon to preach a funeral sermon. His first impulse was also the most obvious, and the most frequently employed by a preacher in an unfamiliar situation: find someone else’s sermon on the subject! And what better Someone, than Jesus Himself? So, before his panic could rise to too great a level, Moody went to the gospels, searching for a funeral sermon by Jesus. And without success — for Moody searched in vain, finding instead that at every funeral that He had ever attended, rather than Christ preaching a sermon, He broke up the funeral — and none more spectacularly, more decisively, more permanently, than His own. Wherefore we say today as we remember, “But Now is Christ Risen!” Endnote

    2. Outline — this Resurrection Sunday, as we consider 1 Corinthians 15, I want to make just three elementary points about the Christ’s resurrection

        a. it is proven

        b. it is profound

        c. it is propitious

 

B. Proven: Christ is Risen

    1. The Witnesses

        a. Their number

            (A)    Deuteronomy 19:15: A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.

            (B)    Applicable now and in many nations. I was subpoenaed to court 40 or so years ago on a traffic case. The policeman laying the charge failed to show up. I was the prosecution’s only witness. I can recall very clearly the judge saying to the prosecutor “You have no case; case dismissed.”

            (C)   think back to the passage we read, 1 Corinthians 15:1-8

                 (1)    the first witness is that of the Scriptures given beforehand

                 (2)    then comes a list of human witnesses

                     (a)    Cephas (or Peter)

                     (b)    the rest of the “Twelve” (the disciples or apostles)

                     (c)    more than 500 brethren, most of whom were still alive

                     (d)    James (the brother of Jesus)

                     (e)    the apostles, again

                     (f)    Paul, himself

        b. Their independence

            (A)    granted that the first eye-witnesses were disciples, following Jesus through his ministry, therefore sympathetic to this story — but …

            (B)    the prophetic Scriptures & human witnesses were independent

            (C)   500 brethren — probably come together as Jesus had previously commanded — by their very number represented

                 (1)    all flavours of opinion; even the 12 had their doubting Thomas

                 (2)    500 pairs of eyes independently giving testimony

            (D)   to these is added Paul, not a follower of Jesus, but antagonistic to Jesus and to them

        c. Their credibility

            (A)    their very number rules out collusion (at the Jewish trial they could not find two witnesses who agreed in their testimony)

            (B)    the 12 came from various walks of life

                 (1)    one a tax collector

                 (2)    four of them ran a fishing business well enough to leave it for 3½ years and find it intact when they returned

                 (3)    read the gospels:

                     (a)    they were not idling dreamers,

                     (b)    but business men, their feet planted firmly on the ground

            (C)   if these reasons apply to the 12, how much more to the 500!

                 (1)    the more witnesses, the less possibility of deception

                 (2)    made up of even more backgrounds, classes of society

                 (3)    most still alive –

                     (a)    by persecution spread across the empire

                     (b)    available to affirm the truth of Paul’s words

            (D)   but view this, from a totally different perspective

                 (1)    the behaviour of these witnesses confirms their veracity

                     (a)    they taught that believers abandon lies, tell the truth

                     (b)    they laboured to promote the pure, the holy, the just

                 (2)    by these things, then, their testimony increases in value

 

    2. The Evidences

        a. Gamaliel’s reasoning

            (A)    Acts 5:34-39: But a certain Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody; and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. And he was slain; and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After this man Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away some people after him, he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. And so in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action should be of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”

            (B)    and the very fact is that if Christ had not risen; if He were still dead, then so would have been the movement of those following Him just as had happened with Theudas and Judas — but it didn’t!

            (C)   it not only survived, but turned the world upside-down (Acts 17:6)

        b. The Confirmation by the Anti-Witnesses:

            (A)    consider on the other hand, their testimony, Matthew 28:12-15: And when they had assembled with the elders and counselled together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, and said, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’ And if this should come to the governor’s ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble.” And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day.

            (B)    the falseness of the report and the soldiers’ complicity

                 (1)    are manifest by the one and the same fact

                 (2)    that they were alive to make the report

                 (3)    for if it were true that they were asleep they would have been executed for dereliction of duty, and,

                 (4)    for it it were true that they were asleep how would they have known who stole the body?

            (C)   and I leave it to you to see all the flaws in their fiction

        c. So, did the disciples perpetrate a hoax? Did they steal Christ’s body? Reflect for just a moment: the disciples persevered in their testimony, and, as Paul Little writes: Endnote “Men will die for what they believe to be true, though it may actually be false. They do not, however, die for what they know is a lie. If a man ever tells the truth, it is on his deathbed.” Most of the disciples along with a great number of their immediate followers died for this truth to which they bore witness. — yes, bearing witness even to death

 

    3. The Implications of Paul’s Argument

        a. in this 15th chapter in its entirety:

            (A)    What is the matter that Paul is seeking to prove?

            (B)    not the resurrection of Christ in particular, although he does call as evidence those who could bear witness to Christ’s resurrection

            (C)   but it is the matter of the future, general resurrection

                 (1)    1 Corinthians 15:12: Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?

                 (2)    and that it is bodily, 1 Corinthians 15:35: But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?”

        b. now in any realm of knowledge, as you are seeking to prove and to discover some truth

            (A)    you proceed from the known to the unknown

                 (1)    from that which is not questioned

                 (2)    from that which is undoubtedly authentic

                 (3)    and on that basis proceed to the new truth

            (B)    and that is what Paul is doing here

                 (1)    from the unquestionable fact of Christ’s rising from the dead; so well known; so well authenticated

                 (2)    he is proceeding to show that the day is coming when all who are in the graves will be raised

 

C. Profound: Christ is Risen

    1. Society’s Rejection of This Truth

        a. the Resurrection was once central point of church year

            (A)    now Christmas holds that place

            (B)    the focus of

                 (1)    Good Friday on sin

                 (2)    Easter on life and God’s power

                 (3)    Christmas on giving

            (C)   question of marketability, of opportunity for profit

        b. many dismiss the matter of Christ’s resurrection as unimportant

            (A)    Philip Yancey in an article on “Does Heaven Matter?” Endnote cites three reasons that have infected even the church

            (B)    affluence has given us in this life what those in the past expected in heaven

            (C)   Creeping paganism accepts death as the end of life on earth. Eternal life would be a violent interruption. Groups of dying people do not talk about heaven - it is seen as denial. Acceptance is key

            (D)   the Biblical images of heaven have lost their appeal — a people that has lived on titillation of the senses will be shocked at what it means to enjoy God

        c. C. S. Lewis’ words about Christianity applies equally to one of its major teachings, the resurrection: Endnote If false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.

        d. so these evidences today are to confirm the faith of Christians, not to convict unbelievers: God’s Holy Spirit does that & uses these truths

 

    2. Supercharged with Meaning

        a. that Christ is risen is supercharged with meaning;

            (A)    from it there are profound outcomes

            (B)    I want to highlight four verses from this chapter of profound results from the fact that “now is Christ risen”

        b. 1 Corinthians 15:14: and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. — But now is Christ risen and our preaching has a purpose

            (A)    Christ’s resurrection from the dead twenty centuries ago made the gospel indeed the good news

            (B)    there is now something for us to preach, to proclaim

            (C)   we have a vital message for a society that has rejected God, that gives a real life purpose in Christ, Philippians 3:10; NAS: that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.

        c. 1 Corinthians 15:14, 17: if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain … and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins — But now is Christ risen and our faith now has power

            (A)    Our faith is not based on arguments about religious principles, nor on a philosophy of life — it rests squarely upon facts, upon events that have happened, upon hopes that have been fulfilled, upon realities that have been experienced, upon the Person who has lived and died and been raised from the dead to reign for ever Endnote

            (B)    our faith has power because Christ is now risen

        d. 1 Corinthians 15:17: and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins —But Christ is risen to save from sin

            (A)    we mentioned that Resurrection Sunday is not as popular in society as Christmas because its message deals with sin

            (B)    mankind does not really want to face up to the fact of sin nor deal with it; but those who do are assured in

            (C)   Romans 4:25; NIV: Jesus Christ was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

        e. 1 Corinthians 15:18: If Christ has not been raised Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. — But now is Christ risen and death is not the end, which brings us to …

 

D. Propitious: Christ is Risen

    1. Very briefly, there are two strongly linked, propitious truths that we can know from 1 Corinthians 15:20; NKJV: But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

 

    2. First: It is propitious: the sting of death has been removed

        a. since Adam

            (A)    death has been the insatiable enemy of mankind

            (B)    the Grim Reaper has had his sway over our fears, but

        b. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57: “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

    3. Second: It is propitious for we likewise can have immortality

        a. John Owen, the great Puritan, laying on his deathbed had his secretary write to a friend, “I am still in the land of the living.” “Stop,” said Owen. “Change that and say, ‘I am yet in the land of the dying, but I hope soon to be in the land of the living.’” Endnote

        b. and this he could say because 1 Corinthians 15:51-54: Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “death is swallowed up in victory.”

 

E. Conclusion

    1. Points to Remember on Christ’s resurrection

        a. God’s signature on His love-letter to mankind, the Bible

        b. God’s seal of approval on the Christ’s finished work

        c. God’s assurance of the Christian’s resurrection, too

 

    2. Winnie’s Funeral Music

        a. Winston Churchill planned his own funeral, which took place in Saint Paul's Cathedral. Included were many of the great hymns of the church and surrounded by the sonorous words of the eloquent Anglican liturgy. At his direction, a bugler, positioned, high in the dome of Saint Paul's, intoned, after the benediction, the sound of “Taps,” the universal signal that says the day is over. But then at Churchill’s instructions came the most dramatic turn for as soon as “Taps” was finished, another bugler, placed on the other side of the great dome, played the notes of “Reveille” — “It's time to get up. It's time to get up. It's time to get up in the morning.” Endnote

        b. what does death mean to you?

            (A)    just the playing of “Taps” – end of your day?

            (B)    or immediately followed by “Reveille?” – Wake up!

        c. Praise God that for those who know the Jesus Christ, who is now risen, as their own, personal Saviour there is coming a day, that they, too, will be raised to live with Him forever