Centrality of the Gospel
I Corinthians 15:1-11
The Gospel… Songs are sung, books are written; glowing statements are given about every part of the human experience, proclaiming that the essential elements of those experiences and disciplines are the “gospel”.
The term is used as the ultimate statement of any discipline. There is the gospel of sport, the gospel of business methods, etc. However, it is not possible to understand the Bible meaning of the Gospel, the Good News, until we first admit the truth of the bad news, indeed the worst news possible.
The trouble starts in Gen. 3 and leading to the summary eviction of the first couple from the Garden. That was bad news. There was the horror of the man’s intolerable decline over the entire world. Gen. 6:5-7. That was very bad news.
Even after God graciously allowed man to repopulate the earth, again judgment was required because of mankind’s arrogance against the holy and sovereign LORD.
Gen. 11:7 that was very bad news for all of mankind.
This then is the summation of the condition of all people. We are judged as dead in our trespasses and sin. That statement is the final nail in the coffin, proving that you and I are totally hopeless and lost because of our nature and practice of sin. Eph. 2:1-3
The Primacy of the Gospel
1. 15:1 Paul’s Essential Declaration– The great news of the gospel was the main truth that Paul taught. Here he is writing to Corinth, a city situated on a major trade route, between two port locations in the Isthmus of Achaia, was an extremely well endowed town. Benefited by the constant traffic on the road that connected the two ports, they were financially set and just as morally corrupt. This city was given over to the worst forms of immorality. The moral decadence was everywhere to be seen and also a challenge to the Christian community. Yet, Paul’s main focus was not the sin of the city but the grace of God given to that city through the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. There had been decline in the appreciation and concentration on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ; likewise their attention waned regarding the resurrection of the Messiah. The maintenance of the gospel as the centerpiece of Christian thinking is the persistent issue in the heart and mind of Paul. He addressed a similar matter with the church at Galatia. See Galatians 5:4-9.
- 15:2a The Power of the Gospel– Why such a determined focus and unwavering commitment to the communication and centrality of the Gospel? It is the Gospel through which they/we are being saved. Understanding the truth of the Gospel brings sanctification. This is the means of cleansing, growing and maturing in Christ Jesus.
- 15:2b The Responsibility of the Believer– The Gospel, however, does not take up residence in the heart and mind without a specific call to action. Paul says, that these benefits: receiving, standing, being saved, are present with those who hold fast to the word that was preached to these believers.
- There are dire consequences to believing the Gospel without holding fast to the tenets, elements of this good news, i.e. it is possible to believe the truths of the Gospel and receive no benefit from that belief. It is possible to believe in vain. See James 2:9
Principle: Salvation is the result of believing and holding fast to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Application: How are you, how am I choosing to daily, keep my heart and mind centered on the amazing grace of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus.
The Heart of the Gospel
I Cor. 15:3-8
- 15:3a The Primacy of the Gospel– There are many things that can and must be taught of the Word of God to man. There is one thing, however, that deserves the first place in the heart and mind of every believer. That one thing has two main clauses.
- 15:3b Christ died as the scriptures said He would. See Psalms 16:1-11; 22; Isa. 53.
- 15:4a Jesus the Messiah was buried- See John 19:40-42
- 15:4b Jesus arose from the dead, just as the scriptures said He would. The Word of God gives these facts as support to the reality of the resurrection. Many people in many different situations saw Jesus, in His resurrection body. John and Peter together saw him: John 20:19-20; He was seen by several of the disciples as they walked together, Luke 24:34- The O.T. prophets said the Messiah would be raised from the dead. (See Hosea 6:2; Isa. 53:10) Jesus said it would happen. See (Matt. 12:40)
- 15:5-7 In this passage, Paul reminds the Corinthian believers that the Messiah, Jesus was seen at once, by more than 500 people. Many of those people could be questioned about this at the time of the writings of Paul.
- 15:8 Paul, himself, saw the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus, Syria. See Acts. 9:1-11
Principle: Jesus Christ died for our sins; He was buried and was raised from the dead on the third day, according to the scriptures.
Application: Do you believe these facts with you whole heart? How does you conversation with co-workers, friends and family demonstrate the fact of your believe in and embrace of the Gospel.
The Transformation by the Gospel
I Cor. 15:9-1
- 15:9 The Gospel produces a changed life. The man that God used to write half of the books of the New Testament saw himself as the least among God’s servants. That is another consequence of embracing and believing the Gospel; humility. Paul was ever aware of what he was before he was saved by the gospel.
- 15:10 The Gospel received, bears fruit by God’s grace. The amazing and fruitful ministry of Paul was only due to the grace of God.
- 15:11 The Gospel produces a passion for its proclamation.
In the final analysis it was not the messenger but the message, which was important, and in that regard the apostolic message was that the crucified Christ, became the resurrected Lord. That is the message that Paul preached to the Corinthians and that which they believed.
Principle: Believing, receiving and embracing the Gospel produces a new, transformed life in Christ.
Application: Do you believe the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ? How has your way of life, your thinking, been changed by the Gospel? How will you pray now in order to demonstrate the reality of the power of the Gospel in your life?
Perhaps you have not yet come to the place of surrender to the truth of the Gospel. Will you today, confess that you are dead to God and His promises because you have not received Jesus Christ as your Savior? Will you today, confess you spiritual bankruptcy and accept the new life that Jesus Christ is offering you, now!