Monday, October 8, 2012
The "Nutshell Gospel" Part 3
“And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,” 1st Corinthians 15:4. Burial was a distinct proof that Jesus was in fact dead. Christ died on the cross, was pierced by a Roman spear, and taken down from it dead, Mark 15:43-45; John 19:34. Payment had been rendered to God; this was demonstrated by the physical death of Christ. The resurrection is the flip side of the coin. It was now demonstrated quite triumphantly that God accepted Jesus’ payment for the world’s sin.
This was the message that the apostles proclaimed to the world; this was the gospel that regenerated the lives of all who heard and believed it. The resurrection was a promise that what God did for Christ in granting Him newness of life in a body fit for His eternal spirit so He would do for those who placed their faith in Him. David prophesied of the Christ when he wrote in the Psalms “Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption,” Psalm 16:9-10.
We know the ancient patriarchs had faith in the future resurrection of the body. Job says “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” Job 19:25-27. In the book of Daniel the same subject is addressed. “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt…But you (Daniel) go your way till the end; for you shall rest (die), and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days,” Daniel 12:2, 13. In Christ’s time the doctrine of the resurrection was accepted by a number of the Jews, as is recorded in John 11:24 and Acts 23:6-8. It was not a radical New Testament teaching newly arrived.
“And that He was seen by Cephas...by the twelve…by over five hundred brethren at once…by James…by all the apostles…He was seen by me,” 1st Corinthians 15:5-8. Like the reality of Jesus’ physical burial, these verses clench the historicity of the resurrection. Over the course of forty days Jesus appeared to a good many people. He appeared to the two men walking toward Emmaus, Luke 24:15. He appeared to Peter alone, Luke 24:34; then He appeared to the eleven, Luke 24:36. He permitted them to handle Him, Luke 24:39-40; John 20:27-28. He ate with them to demonstrate that He possessed a physical body, 24:41-43; John 21:13-15. Most importantly they were taught by Him, Luke 24:27; Acts 1:3. Hundreds of eyewitnesses saw Jesus after His death and burial. They watched Him ascend bodily into Heaven, Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9.
This is the gospel that the first century Christians carried into the world and by it turned the Roman world upside down, Acts 17:6. Paul concludes with a personal testimony about the grace of God extended to him by whose power he strives so abundantly, finishing with a reminder to the Corinthians that “whether it was I or they (the other apostles), so we preach and so you believed,” 1st Corinthians 15:11. This was the message of salvation Paul conducted to Corinth and through this message God saved those who believed, 1st Corinthians 1:17, 21; Romans 1:16-17. It is the same message that saves today; any other is a perversion of the gospel and cannot save, Galatians 1:6-9. This is the faith in which we as Christians stand; my prayer to God is that we stand in it united.