The Most Important Message (1 Corinthians 15:1-8)

First Baptist Church http://fbcbartow.org

“The Most Important Message”

(1 Corinthians 15:1-8) [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

April 1, 2018 – Easter Sunday

Introductory Comments:

This morning, on Easter Sunday, we remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord!

We celebrate the work of Jesus!  We celebrate the gospel!

Well, what is the gospel?

Illustration: Can you think of some words that have been redefined over the last few years or many decades?  Words like “epic,” “literally,” or “love.”  Albert Einstein famously said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. As smart as Einstein was, that’s actually not the definition of insanity. We have the lost a basic understanding of some words. 

There’s another thing of which we may have lost the basic meaning. That’s the gospel.

When it all boils down, what is the basics of the gospel? What does “gospel” really mean?

The apostle Paul sought to answer this question in 1 Corinthians 15. 

This morning we will take a look at 1 Corinthians 15:1-8. 

Let’s look at this passage together. 

Read the Passage

Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-8

1 Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel I preached to you, which you received, on which you have taken your stand 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold to the message I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. 6 Then he appeared to over five hundred brothers and sisters at one time; most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one born at the wrong time, he also appeared to me.

Let’s pray together.

(Prayer)

As you can see, Paul was very careful to lay out the basics of the gospel, element by element. 

Paul said, “I passed on to you as most important what I also received.”

Well, let’s talk about the importance of what Paul said. 

As we gather this Easter morning I want to point out three importances of this gospel that we believe. This gospel of which Paul speaks. 

First, . . .

I. The Importance of the Particular Gospel  [on screen]

As Paul speaks of the gospel, he speaks specifically of one particular gospel. 

He says, “I want to make it clear for you.”

He says, “The gospel I preached to you.”

The one that one which you received!

The one on which you have taken your stand!

The one by which you are being saved!

The one I passed on to you!

The one I received!

(pause)

The one with particular content. 

Paul says, “That Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures.” That is, in accordance with the prophecies given to us in the Old Testament. 

That Jesus was buried. 

That He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures. 

That He appeared to people. 

He appeared to Peter (Cephas is Peter’s Aramaic name). 

He appeared to the other apostles. 

He appeared to over 500 other people. 

He appeared to James. 

James is the brother of Jesus. 

By the way, this is the James that we have been studying for the past six months here at First Baptist Church. 

James was probably completely unimpressed with Jesus while growing up. That was his brother. 

However, after His resurrection, Jesus appeared to James. That would have impressed him for sure. He became a follower!  He was changed by the gospel!

Then, He appeared to Paul. We’ll come back to that in just a moment.

Second, we must remember . . .

II. The Importance of the Powerful Gospel [on screen]

This particular gospel is powerful!

It can change lives!

Paul says, that the Corinthians are taking their stand on this gospel. 

They are being saved by this gospel!

People are saved from their sins by this gospel!  It is powerful!

It’s important that we never forget the power of the gospel. 

(pause)

This gospel had the power to change the lives of twelve men that decided to follow Jesus, only to see Him die; they lost all their hope, only to see Him rise from the dead, and then these twelve men radically changed the world, with the power of the gospel. 

This gospel was not only displayed in the power of Jesus’ resurrection, but also in our own lives with the hope that we can be forgiven of our sins, we can have a home prepared for us in heaven, we can have the hope that we will one day rise from the dead, we can have our lives changed!

This gospel showed its power by leading James to turn his life over to follow his big brother and lead the early Jerusalem church. 

This gospel demonstrated its power by convincing Paul, a devout Jewish man that took joy in persecuting Christians, to instead become the greatest missionary of his day!  

Paul laid out the historicity of the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. 

He pointed to actual people, many of whom were still alive. 

They could have offered witness to what happened. They could have said, “Yes!  I saw Jesus alive, then I saw Him die; I saw Him buried, and I later saw Him alive again!”

Paul pointed to the resurrection of Jesus as historical fact. 

He was a doubter, but now he was a defender of the faith. 

He turned from persecuted to proclaimer!

He moved from a foe of Jesus to a friend of Jesus!

Rather than destroying the cause of Christ, he became devoted to the cause of Christ!

This gospel had power in the early church!

This gospel still has power today. 

When I was eight years old God showed me that I was lost in my sin and that I needed a Rescuer. He showed me that I needed Jesus!  Jesus powerfully saved me from my sins!

Many of you can give testimony to the way Jesus has powerfully saved you!

(pause)

The gospel still has the power to change lives today!

Broken hearts are mended back together. 

Dark hearts are brought into the light of Jesus. 

Blind eyes see!

Hard hearts are softened!

Broken families are healed!

Addictive chains are broken!

Hate is turned to love!

Racism is healed!

Apathy is turned to empathy!

Bitterness is turned to forgiveness!

Greed is turned to generosity!

Evil is turned to holiness!

Impurity is turned to purity!

Enemies of God are turned into sons and daughters of God!

All because of the wonderful power of the gospel!

We must remember the importance of the powerful gospel!

(pause)

If the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus didn’t really happen, there is no power. 

Paul said in verse 2, “unless you believed in vain.”

It’s all vain and useless if Jesus didn’t really live, and die, and rise again. 

There’s no power. 

Paul says later in chapter 15, in verse 19, “19 If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone.”

We’re still lost in our sins without the power of the gospel!

But, we are not lost in our sins! We are not without hope!

Jesus really did live, He really did die, He really was buried, He really did rise from the dead, and He really did appear to real people. 

There is power in the gospel!

Paul’s message was important because of the powerful gospel. 

Finally, we must remember . . .

III. The Importance of the Persevering Gospel [on screen]

The same gospel is still true for us today. It goes from generation to generation, from person to person. 

Paul said that this gospel is the one that he received directly from Jesus Himself.

Paul didn’t invent this story. 

It really happened to him and it was passed on to him. But, not only to him. 

Many received the message, many saw the risen Christ, and many experienced the miraculous work of God. 

This same gospel is the one that Paul passed on to the Corinthians. 

The apostles took this message of Jesus all throughout the Middle East, the Roman Empire, into Asia, into Europe, and into Africa.

It continued to take root all over the world, eventually spreading to the Americas and to the Far East and all the way to the Southern tip of Africa. 

It persevered through persecution from people like the Roman emperor Nero.  

It persevered through the Protestant Reformation, making the riches of the gospel available to the everyday man and woman. 

It penetrated and persevered through dark places like oppressive dictatorships in places like Cuba, China, North Korea and Iran; where we some of the fastest growing movements for Christianity. 

The gospel is persevering.

Jesus said the gates of Hell would not prevail against His Church!  The gospel will persevere. 

Throughout the last two thousand years, millions of people have been changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ!

We must understand and see the perseverance of the gospel. 

You see, from just a small group of dejected and rejected ordinary men who lost their teacher, the gospel persevered. They found out that Jesus was still alive. He is risen!  And His ministry was not over at the cross!  No!  His ministry was getting ready to go to an entirely new level!  The message of Jesus Christ would not only change the streets of Jerusalem forever, it would change our world forever!

The gospel persevered and is persevering!

The gospel is still changing lives!  

Concluding Thoughts:

Notice that Paul refers to himself as “one born at the wrong time.”  

He says often that he did not deserve the gospel. 

He was thankful to be included among the apostles. 

He was thankful to have received the gospel. 

We should be thankful as well.

We must understand that we don’t deserve Jesus. 

However, the beauty of Easter is that while we deserve death, Christ died in our place and rose from the dead. 

This is the important message: that Jesus died, He was buried, He was raised, and He appeared on the earth again. 

Bottom Line: Never forget the importance of the gospel.  [on screen]

(repeat)

Whether Easter or any other day: remember the importance of the gospel  

Weekly Challenge: Reflect on the gospel’s impact in your life.  [on screen]

Closing:

One of the beauties of the gospel message is that it is not calling us to do something to earn God’s favor. It’s calling us to trust what Christ has done. 

This particular gospel is powerful and it will persevere until the end. 

Have you experienced this particular gospel?

Have you been changed by the power of the gospel?

Will the gospel persevere in your life as you join those who have trusted Christ?

Will the gospel persevere through your life as you tell others about Jesus?

(Gospel Presentation)

(Closing Prayer)

Invitation Song – Jesus Paid it All

Benediction:

There will be no evening service tonight. Spend some time with friends and family!

Don’t forget to take your Easter lilies if you ordered some. 

Happy Easter, everyone!

Let’s dismiss by singing the Doxology. 

(Sing Doxology)

God bless you, all!

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