A Simple Easter – 1 Corinthians 15
A lot of people ask, “So, what kind of church is Sugar Hill Church?”
// We believe the Bible is a big deal.
// We believe Jesus is the biggest deal.
// We believe the best way to show those two things is by serving people here and around the world.
That’s the kind of Church we are. We try to keep it simple. We try to keep it focused. We try to cut through the clutter and the things that side-track us.
Today’s message is built around one specific week in the life of Jesus – we literally believe that Jesus died, was buried, and that he rose from the dead. He and he alone has beat death.
The resurrection changes everything! If there is no resurrection, there is no reason to be here today.
Some of you may be wondering, why is this a big deal? What make such a big deal about this?
We’re not the first people to deal with this and to ask this question. This is such a big question that Paul, who wrote about half of the NT, took time to answer that question to one of the churches he started.
Check out 1 Corinthians 15.
Corinth was a Greek city, and the Greeks did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. When Paul preached at Athens and declared the fact of Christ’s resurrection, some of his listeners actually laughed at him. Most Greek philosophers considered the human body a prison, and they welcomed death as deliverance from bondage.
That skeptical attitude had somehow creeped it’s way into the church. So instead of ignoring it, Paul faced it.
So what’s the big deal about the resurrection? Why is it so important? How does it change everything?
The resurrection means….
1. Rescue is Possible
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive…” 1 Corinthians 15:3-6
Paul had traveled to Corinth. He had preached the message of the Jesus and their faith had transformed their lives. An integral part of that message was the fact that Jesus beat death!
For Paul, this is of 1st importance. It’s not an add-on. It’s not something that is secondary. In fact, Paul says, “Jesus was seen by over 500 people. Most of them are still alive. You can ask them!”
// Matthew, a tax collector, wrote about it.
// Mark, an earlier follower believed it.
// Luke, a doctor, investigated it and wrote about it and believed it.
// John, the first person to the empty tomb, wrote about it. He was there. He saw it all.
// Peter, a fisherman, gave his life for what he saw – a resurrected Jesus.
// James, brother of Jesus, believes in his brother after the resurrection. Becomes a leader in the early church.
// Paul, wrote over ½ of the NT, was a persecutor and came to believe Jesus rose from the dead.
These guys were all eyewitnesses. They give us a first century account. They believe in Jesus not because they grew up going to church, lived in the south or because it’s just the right thing to do.
They believed in Jesus because of what they saw with their own eyes. Eventually they died because of what they saw and believed.
For them, Jesus’ beating death changed everything. For them, it was impossible to dismiss Jesus as just a prophet, a good guys, a teacher. For them, the resurrection changed everything!
And that’s what we believe here today.
Jesus’ resurrection means that salvation is possible. A dead Savior can’t save anybody.
2. Forgiveness/Peace is Possible
“…for our sins…” 1 Corinthians 15:3
At the end of the day the focus isn’t necessarily on the fact that Jesus died on the cross. The focus is on why he died on the cross. Have you wondered why?
Why? Because of our our sins. Our sin separates us from God. It drives a wedge between us and the one relationship that matters.
Here is what Paul says about sin in another letter that he wrote:
“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” Romans 3:23
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6
“…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
When Jesus died on the cross, he became a sign magnet for the world. He took everything that we’ve done against ourselves, God and others and paid it on himself!
Jesus took my punishment. He took yours. He declares us to be what we could never be on our own.
3. Lasting Change is Possible
“Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy 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 was not 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.” 1 Corinthians 15:8-15
After talking about the peace and forgiveness. Paul applies the resurrection of Jesus in a very personal way. He says that he’s been changed by the grace of God.
You and I can be changed the same way! Everything that is real in Christ, when we receive him into our life, becomes real in us.
At some time in our life we must experience Easter: that we would identify with the death of Christ and receive it as payment for our life. That upon receiving Christ’s payment for our life that we receive his life and that we died to our sins and were raised in the newness of Christ. Spiritually we experience a resurrection. The resurrection gives us a reason to be on this earth and a reason to face every day.