Friday, April 17, 2020

The Vision (4.17.20): Four Indispensable Facts of the Gospel

Image: Golden Euonymus shrub, North Garden, Virginia, April 2020

Note: Devotion taken from last Sundays's sermon on 1 Corinthians 15.

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas and then of the twelve (1 Corinthians 15:3-5).

In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul reminds the Corinthians of the gospel (good news) he had preached to them when they first came to the faith.

He lists four main points.  They are not exhaustive of everything that is true about Christ, but they are essential.

1.  The atoning death of Christ (v. 3b):

He begins with Christ’s death on the cross: “how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.” Notice that Christ’s death was an atoning death.  It was a death for others, for the elect.  The Shepherd laid down his life for his sheep.  Here is a prooftext for what we call the doctrine of particular redemption. Christ’s death on the cross fulfilled scriptural prophecy (cf. Isaiah 53:4-6).

2.  The burial of Christ (v. 4a):

The burial of Christ is a historical point upon which all four Gospels agree.  After his death on the cross, the lifeless body of Jesus was laid in an empty tomb by Joseph of Arimathea.  Why is Paul so keen on this point?  It proves the reality of Christ’s death.

3.  The resurrection of Christ (v. 4b):

Christ was crucified on Friday morning at the third hour (9am); at the sixth hour (12 noon) darkness came over the earth; and at the ninth hour (3 pm) he breathed his last (see Mark 15:25, 33-34, 37). His body was then placed in the tomb late on Friday afternoon, before sunset, and remained in the tomb on Saturday. Then on the first resurrection Sunday morning the women disciple came and found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty.  According to the Jewish reckoning he had been part of three days in the tomb but then he had been gloriously raised I fulfillment of Scripture (cf. Psalm 16).

4.  The resurrection appearances of Christ (vv. 5-11):

As the burial gave proof of his death, the appearances vouch for the truth of the resurrection.  In Acts 1 we are told that the risen Jesus appeared over a period of 40 days to his disciples.  Paul here gives a list of various resurrection appearances: To Cephas (Peter) and the Twelve (v. 5); to over 500 brethren (v. 6); to James and all the apostles (v. 7). Finally, Paul says the Lord appeared to him “as one born out of due time [ektroma, miscarriage]” (v. 8).

The gospel, by God’s grace, had reached the Corinthians through the preaching of Paul.  Whenever and wherever the Gospel is rightly preached these four essential elements, these four indispensable facts, will be proclaimed:  Christ died for us; he was buried; he was raised; and he appeared.

We are not called to be creative with the Gospel, but to be faithful to it.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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