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RCCG Miracle Land Dundalk
Thursday, July 20 2017

Contributor: Alex Alajiki

INTRODUCTION: Last week, we looked at the second part of Paul’s instructions for the proper use of the gifts of the spirit during worship services. He corrected the Corinthian Church about the importance of the gift of prophesy to edification. He made us to realise that gift of tongues must come with interpretation to benefit the Church.

This week, we are studying one of the most important subject in the gospel of Christ; the resurrection.

1)  The True Gospel of Christ: 1 Cor.15:1-2

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

The Church in Corinth was going through many doctrinal misunderstanding and Paul needed to remind them the gospel he preached to them, 1 Cor.2:1-2. By means of that message, God had saved them. (In other words, he had given them a right relationship with Himself.) However, that message was not just important on the occasion when God saved them. It is both necessary and essential through their entire lives as Christians to hold fast to the original gospel that they believed. Paul wanted them to know that they were saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord (Eph.2:8-9). He also wanted them to remember the purpose for which God saved them. They learn this from the resurrection of Christ. In other words, Christ became alive after his death - and God will do the same thing for them, too. God is giving them a wonderful life with him, which will never end (Eph.2:5-7, Rom.6:4).

2)  The Risen Christ: 1 Cor.15:3-8

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time

Paul chronicled the passion of Christ here to show that Christians believe are not ideas, but real events that happened
The events of Christ’s birth, death and resurrection were foretold by David 1000 years before in Ps.22 and Isaiah wrote about it 700 years before Christ’s death in Isa.53.

Christ’s death is so important because of what He achieved by his death. All people have done many wrong and evil things that are against God’s law (Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:23). The punishment that everyone deserves for their evil deeds is death (Romans 6:23). Christ alone obeyed God perfectly (Hebrews 7:26-27); he alone did not deserve death. But Christ suffered death so that God could forgive many people (Hebrews 9:28; Isaiah 53:6)
His death and shed blood is the atonement for our sins (1John 2:2).

Christ was buried for a period of three days to confirm that He actually died. He was in the grave from Friday until Sunday morning when he resurrected (Ps.16:8-11). Paul does not merely mean that Christ’s spirit was alive. The same body that the men had buried became alive again. In fact, his body was not just alive again; it had a new quality of life (1 Cor.15:35-44). His body had received the same quality of life that already existed in his spirit.

Paul gives a list of occasions when people saw Jesus alive after his death (15:5-7). This began to happen on the third day after Jesus’ death, and continued during a period of 40 days. Paul’s list does not include every occasion when this happened. That is clear from such passages as John 20:11-18, Luke 24:13-32 and John 21:1-2. Perhaps Paul selected the most important occasions to give evidence that Jesus is alive.

Peter and John went to the grave, but they did not find Jesus there (John 20:1-10). However, later that same day, Jesus met Peter (Luke 24:34).
Many people were witnesses of the fact that Jesus became alive again after his death. Here, Paul mentions an occasion when over 500 brethren were present.
He was also seen by James. However, it seems quite likely that Paul actually refers to James, the brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3). Paul refers to this James in a similar manner in Galatians 1:19; 2:12.
Paul met the living Christ on his to Damascus to persecute the Church (Acts 9:3-7; Acts 9:17). All these appearances were to show that He actually rose from death.

3)  God’s kindness to Paul: 1 Cor.15:9-11

For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy 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 toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11 Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Paul too had seen that Christ was alive and from Paul’s experiences, we can see how great God’s kindness is. Christ met this cruel enemy of the Christians, and Christ gave him a new life and commission him as an apostle

Paul hardly dared to consider himself an apostle. He did not think that he had any right to compare himself with Peter and the other apostles. They had served Christ loyally for such a long time. But now, because of the kindness of God, Paul is not only a Christian, but an apostle too.
The word ‘apostle’ means someone whose master sends to carry out an important task. God had given Paul an important task: to declare God’s good news to people from all the different nations (Galatians 1:15-16).

Paul worked harder than any of the other apostles, and he had more success than any of them. However, Paul did not believe that this was the result of his own efforts. God, because of his kindness, had done these things. God showed his kindness to Paul when God saved him. Then God used Paul’s work to show his kindness to many other people. Those people had become Christians when Paul declared God’s good news to them.

4) The Risen Christ, Our Hope: 1 Cor.15:12-19

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? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

The resurrection of Christ is the fact upon which the whole of the gospel rested upon (15:17-18). It was after resurrection that He presented Himself before the father (John 20:17)
It astonished Paul that some of the Corinthian Christians actually thought that there is no life after death. He himself had declared in Corinth that Christ became alive after his death. This was the message that Christians were declaring across the world. More than 500 of them were witnesses of that fact. This was an essential part of God’s good news.

Already, twice in this letter, Paul referred to dead Christians as people who ‘sleep’ (11:30; 15:6). Paul was not just using a word-picture. He really believed that after death, Christians will live again. Their spirits are already alive with God in heaven. Their bodies will become alive again when Christ returns. This is as certain as the fact that Christ became alive again. In fact, it will happen because Christ became alive again.

There are still many people today calling themselves Christians although they do not believe in life after death.
In 1 Corinthians 15:16-19, Paul examines the nature of this kind of religion. He considers it a terrible religion, because it cannot offer any real hope to anyone. He feels sorry for a person who has such beliefs. Christ died and became alive again to save his people from their sins (evil deeds). If that did not happen, then God cannot forgive anyone. God’s plan to save people would have failed completely. So, such a belief could achieve nothing.

Christianity is not for this life only. That is, its purpose is not to make people happy in this world. People should not become Christians in order to make themselves wealthy, impressive or important. A religion that tries to satisfy people’s feelings now has no value after death.
In the end, the only worthwhile religion is the one that can save people from death and hell. Christ died on the cross to achieve that; he became alive again to prove it.

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