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Defining the Gospel

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

– 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (NASB)

The gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16).  But what is the gospel?  I have attended many churches over the years but few ever spent much time actually breaking down what the gospel is or is not.  Some say they preach the gospel each and every week but all they mean by this is that they offer “the sinner’s prayer” for salvation at the end of their sermons.  Few really grasp the gospel.

Asking people what is the gospel is also difficult.  People just don’t know.  Depending on their church, they might define the gospel as Jesus dying for our sins, good works for people, or a host of other statements.  The gospel, biblically defined, is often not taught in many churches.

Over the past few years we have seen an influx of “gospel centered” ministries.  We now view everything as “a gospel issue.”  Whether it be work, sex, marriage, sports, entertainment, etc. everything is now said to be a “gospel issue.”  We have groups such as “The Gospel Coalition” or “Together For The Gospel” but is the gospel the main focus?  Are we really together for the gospel?  How many people even grasp what the gospel is?

In 1 Corinthians 15 we have Paul the Apostle defining the gospel.  He states in verse 1 that he wants to remind the Corinthians of the gospel which he preached to them and which they received.  He states in verse 2  that this gospel is what saved them.  In verse 3 Paul states that this gospel is of first importance meaning that this message takes preeminence above everything else that could be taught.  This gospel came not from men but from God (Galatians 1:11-12).

What then is the essence of the gospel?  Paul tells us in verses 3-5:

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

Notice Paul’s movements here.  First, Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.  This is important.  Paul is not moving beyond what has been written beforehand in the Old Testament.  The Old Testament prophesied that Christ would die.  Jesus Himself taught His disciples from the Old Testament about Himself after His resurrection (Luke 24:44-48).  The Apostles were eye-witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection and they took not just His resurrection but the Old Testament texts and began to preach the gospel.  The Book of Acts records the Apostles preaching of the work of the Lord Jesus and it is clear that they took the Master’s teaching from the Old Testament and taught about Him to the lost.

All of this, the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus is based on the Old Testament.  The foundation for solid gospel preaching is not rooted in experience but in the Scriptures.  This was the apostolic authority and is ours as well (2 Timothy 3:15-17).  Peter the Apostle states we have a more sure word (2 Peter 1:16-21) because of the Scriptures.

So our preaching should be based on the apostolic authority of the Bible.  The gospel flows from Scripture and is focused on the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The gospel focuses on the fact that Jesus died on the cross for our sins.  He was buried and He was raised for our justification (Romans 4:24-25).

Sadly this gospel is often lacking in many churches.  I download a local seeker sensitive church to hear what they are preaching these days.  Each week my iPhone downloads their Sunday service.  What do I get to hear?  The gospel?  Sadly no.  I hear positive twists on texts and I hear a lot of talk about how God wants to bless us, use us, and work through us to touch our neighbors but I don’t hear the gospel.  Sometimes sin is mentioned or repentance but little is said about the gospel.  Sometimes the “sinner’s prayer” is offered and I assume they think that is the gospel but I don’t hear anything of 1 Corinthians 15:1-11.

We must see how the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 and all through the Bible impacts our lives.  I could write for days on this one issue but on a surface level, the gospel daily reveals to me that it was my sins that Christ died for.  This is clear in verse 3.  My sins.  I see my sins all the time.  My sins scream at me like demons hiding in the shadows.  My sins torment me in my dreams.  My sins are easy to find and easy to see.  But the gospel shouts to me that Christ died for my sins (Galatians 1:4).  My sins are not erased by good works (Ephesians 2:8-9).   My sins are not washed away by penance.  My sins are not taken away by my own self-reformation.  My sins are only washed away through the blood of Jesus that He shed on the cross for my salvation (Matthew 26:28; Acts 13:38-39; Romans 3:24-25; 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:22, 27-28; 10:4; 1 John 1:7).  The death of Jesus on the cross speaks to my sins and while my sins condemn me, the Lord Jesus saves me not because of what I have done but because of His grace alone (Titus 3:5-7).

The gospel is not just Jesus’ death for my sins.  Without the resurrection, we are still dead in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:16-17).  Paul wrote in Romans 4:24-25:

24 but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.

Without the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, there is no forgiveness of our sins.  That Christ died would prove nothing.  If Jesus is not raised from the dead then He died just like we will die.  But the Bible says that Jesus is risen from the dead.  A cursory reading of the Book of Acts shows not just the fact that Jesus died on the cross but that He was raised from the dead.  All four Gospels record the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  This is the main focus of the Christian message:  Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.

How does this impact me?  Why is this part of the gospel?  Well again if Jesus is not risen, we are still dead in our sins.  But if Jesus is alive (and He is!) then we can be saved through faith in Him just as He said (John 5:24-25).  The focal point of John 20:31 is true:  Jesus is worthy of worship and praise as the One who shed His blood for our salvation and was raised for our justification.  Because of Christ, my sins are forgiven and I have peace with God through Him (Romans 5:1).  I have One who sits at God’s mighty right hand for my salvation (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25).  Jesus is now my faithful high priest who prays for me before the Father as my intercessor, my advocate (Hebrews 4:14; 1 John 2:1-2).  1 Timothy 2:5 states that Jesus is our mediator before our holy God.

This is the gospel.  The gospel is not self-reformation.  The gospel is not about trying harder.  The gospel is about the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus all according to the Scriptures.  Jesus is the One who was prophesied about in Isaiah 53:

Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.

3 He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.

6 All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.

7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.

8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

9 His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

10 But the Lord was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.

11 As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.

Jesus Died

Charles Dickens opens A Christmas Carol by stating that old Marley was dead and this fact, writes Dickens, must be understood lest anything wonderful is to come of this story.  Dickens goes on to say that Marley was as “dead as a doornail.”  In other words, Marley was truly dead.  The rest of the story would be nothing without this fact.

The same is true of the resurrection of Jesus.  Before the empty tomb, there is a cross.  Jesus had to die.  He had to be truly dead.  If Jesus is not dead, the resurrection is not true.  The story of the resurrection is only wonderful if Jesus is truly dead.

The Gospel writers go to great lengths to prove that Jesus is dead.  Let us just quickly go through how the Gospel writers present the death of Jesus.

  1.  Matthew – Matthew presents Jesus first being scourged by the Romans (Matthew 27:26) which was a violet process of whipping with a whip with bones on the end.  Many died at this point as their skin was ripped of their backs and their inner organs were often exposed.  Jesus is next taken to the governor’s headquarters were He is mocked and beaten by the soldiers (Matthew 27:27-31).  Finally Jesus is led away to be crucified (Matthew 27:32-44) and He finally dies after hanging on the cross for several intense hours (Matthew 27:50).  Pilate orders the body of Jesus to be given to Joseph of Arimathea who places Him in his own new tomb (Matthew 27:57-61).
  2. Mark – After Jesus’ arrest, He is led before the Jewish council where they mock Him and beat Him (Mark 14:53-65).  Mark records that the Jews hand Jesus over to Pilate so that He might be killed.  Pilate releases Barabbas instead of Christ and has Jesus scourged before His crucifixion (Mark 15:1-15).  The Roman soldiers mock Jesus (Mark 15:16-20) before taking Him to crucify Him (Mark 15:21-32).  Jesus hangs on the cross for several hours before dying (Mark 15:33-39).  Pilate, who is surprised to hear that Jesus is dead already, orders His body to be given to Joseph who buries Him (Mark 15:42-47).
  3. Luke – Like Mark, Luke records that the Jews mock and beat Jesus (Luke 22:63-65).  The Jews condemn Jesus to death (Luke 22:66-71) and bring Him before Pilate (as Jews could not put anyone to death because of the Romans).  Pilate sends Jesus before Herod since that is his jurisdiction but Herod mocks Jesus as well (Luke 23:6-12).  Pilate releases Barabbas (an insurrectionist and murderer) instead of Jesus (Luke 23:18-25).  Jesus is led away to be crucified (Luke 23:26-38).  Darkness falls over the land for three hours while Jesus hangs on the cross (Luke 23:44-45).  Jesus dies (Luke 23:46).  Pilate releases the body of Jesus to Joseph who buries Him (Luke 23:50-56).
  4. John – After His arrest, Jesus is led before the Jewish rulers who question Him (John 18:12-14).  The Jews condemn Jesus and send Him before Pilate (John 18:28-32).  Pilate questions Jesus and releases Barabbas instead of Jesus (John 18:33-40).  Pilate has Jesus flogged (John 19:1) and the Romans mock Him (John 19:2-5) and the Jews join in with this mockery (John 19:6-16).  Jesus is taken and crucified (John 19:17-27).  Jesus finally dies after hanging on the cross for several hours (John 19:28-30).  Pilate orders the legs to be broken of those on the cross which would ensure their death by suffocation (John 19:31-33).  A soldier sees Jesus is dead and to make sure he pierces Jesus’ side (John 19:34).  This likely pierced the sack around Jesus’ heart and revealed that He was dead.  Jesus is buried by Joseph in his own tomb (John 19:38-42).

All four Gospels reveal that Jesus is dead.  People have often come up with various theories about the death of Jesus and most are still with us this day.  For example, many Muslims believe the Gnostic theory that Jesus did not die on the cross but it was made to seem that way and many Muslims believe that Judas and not Jesus died on the cross but God made Judas to appear to look like Jesus.  This theory is simply false without any historical basis.  All four Gospels record that it was Jesus who died on the cross.  Even unbelieving historians acknowledge that Jesus died on the cross.  It is the resurrection they doubt.

Others teach the “swoon theory” in which Jesus merely passes out.  I like the reply J. Vernon McGee gave to a woman about the swoon theory:

A woman wrote J. Vernon McGee, “Our preacher said that on Easter Jesus just swooned on the cross, and the disciples nursed him back to health. What do you think?”

McGee replied, “Dear Sister, beat your preacher with a leather whip for thirty-nine heavy strokes. Nail him to a cross. Hang him in the sun for six hours. Run a spear through his heart. Embalm him. Put him in an airless tomb for three days. Then see what happens.”

To be fair.  Jesus was not embalmed.  Instead, probably about 75 pounds of spices were wrapped with His body to prevent smelling during the decay process (John 19:39-40).  Yet still Jesus suffered much and for Him to rise up, take off the 75 pounds, roll away the stone, fight off the Roman guards placed there by Pilate himself, and be clean and in good health when He appears to the women on Sunday morning is a feat unto itself.

The truth is that the Gospels record the death of Jesus.  Some suppose He remains dead.  I believe with all that is in me that Jesus rose from the dead and He now sits at the right hand of God till His enemies be made His footstool (Psalm 110:1).  I believe that Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead (2 Timothy 4:1; Hebrews 9:28).  I believe that Jesus has conquered death by His resurrection from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).  I believe that Jesus arose bodily from the dead and He is alive forevermore (Revelation 1:17-18).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/25/2016 at 12:13 PM

The Resurrection of Jesus is Central to Christianity

Islam basis its religion on the life and teachings of Mohammad.  Hinduism basis its teachings on the Vedas (their holy book that is full of imaginary stories about their various gods).  Buddhism is based on the life and teachings of the Buddha.  Mormonism finds its roots in the teachings of Joseph Smith and his Book of Mormon.   Christianity alone finds its roots in a historical event.  It is not the teachings of Jesus Christ that give rise to Christianity but rather it is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The resurrection is recorded in all four Gospels.  It is the one event that caused the Apostles to go from scared, running men to willing to die for Jesus.  The Apostles in the four Gospels are different men when you come to the book of Acts.  We have Peter who denies Jesus three times that he knows Him (Matthew 26:69-75) yet he preaches boldly in the book of Acts that Jesus is alive and he is willing to suffer for that name (Acts 4:5-13).  Luke records that Peter told the Jewish leaders that he could not but speak of what he had seen and heard (Acts 4:20).  The resurrection of Jesus completely changed these men.  Church tradition tells us that all of the Apostles gave their lives for the Lord Jesus including John who was exiled on the isle of Patmos.

If Jesus was not alive, if He did not rise from the dead then these men went from hiding while Jesus was alive before His crucifixion to boldly standing for Him when they knew He was not alive.  There was no doubt in their minds that Jesus was alive.  They had seen Him die.  They saw where He was buried.  They heard the women tell them Jesus was not there when they went to visit His grave (Matthew 28:1-10).  Peter had been one of the first Apostles to look in the empty tomb (Luke 24:12).  But it wasn’t that Jesus’ body was stolen or simply removed to a different tomb.  They saw Jesus (Luke 24:36-43).  Matthew even records that some doubted which is an amazing statement if Matthew believes a lie (Matthew 28:17).  The story of Thomas in John 20:24-29 is one that many (including myself) can identify with.  Yet Thomas saw Jesus alive and later was martyred for his faith in the living Jesus.

The resurrection is central in the New Testament letters.  Paul speaks of the resurrection in nearly all of his letters as do the other New Testament writers.   Paul the Apostle even states in 1 Corinthians 15 that without the resurrection of Jesus, we have no faith.  Even worst, we are liars for we claim that God raised Jesus from the dead but if Jesus is not risen, we are making God a liar by saying that He raised His Son from the dead (see 1 Corinthians 15:12-19).  The central message is not about the teachings of Jesus but His bodily resurrection from the dead.

The central message of the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  It is central to our salvation (Romans 4:24-25).  Paul records in Romans 10:9 that we must confess Jesus as Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead.  Yet this is not based on mere faith but faith in the historical record given to us by the Apostles.  Yes we don’t see Jesus now (1 Peter 1:8) but we have faith that God did in fact raise Him from the dead just as the New Testament writers claimed (2 Peter 1:16-21).  This has been the hope of the Church for 2000 years.  Jesus is alive and He sits at the right hand of God and He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead (2 Timothy 4:1; Hebrews 9:27-28; Revelation 22:12-13, 20).

The resurrection is pivotal to Christianity.  Present a body and our faith is done.  Present facts with proof that Jesus did not rise from the dead and our faith is in vain.  The resurrection of Jesus is our cornerstone.  If He is not alive, if Jesus is not risen, our faith is foolish.

When it comes to the resurrection the world does a couple of things with it.  First, some just refuse to believe.  They don’t care about the evidence.  They just refuse to believe that Jesus is alive.  Second, many just don’t care.  Who cares if Jesus is alive?  Who cares if Jesus rose from the dead?  The historical event mattes to them about as much as George Washington crossing the Delaware river.

This is why we must preach that resurrection to sinners.  Our lives must reflect His resurrection.  Our God is not dead like the false gods of all the false religions.  Our God is the only true God.  Jesus Christ is Lord of all.  We must preach this.  We must live this.  The resurrection of Jesus is what is our guarantee for peace with God (Romans 5:1).  The resurrection gives us hope for our own resurrection (John 5:24-25).  No doubt it takes faith to believe in the resurrection (Hebrews 11:1) but it is not blind faith but faith in the historical writings of the historical event of the resurrection of Christ.

My prayer is that God would raise up more and more people who boldly preach like the Apostles that Jesus is alive.  I pray that many people in the churches would come to see that our God is alive.  Jesus is not a historical person who once lived and then rose but He is alive right now.  His Spirit abides with us forever and someday we will see Him face to face when our faith will be made sight (2 Corinthians 5:7; 1 John 3:2-3).  May we all boldly preach the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead!  May we live that truth every day in holiness.

Christ’s Resurrection As Our Foundation

13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is without foundation, and so is your faith.
– 1 Corinthians 15:13-14 (HCSB)

The cornerstone of my faith in God is Christ Jesus.  You take Christ out of my faith, I have no faith.  I believe all that is written about Him in the Bible from the promise given to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:15 to the fulfillment of the ages when Christ shall reign victoriously forever in Revelation 22.  I hear the rebuke of Jesus (Luke 24::25-26) and I respond in faith that He is who He says that He was, the very Son of God who came to take away our sins (John 1:29).  I believe the testimony of the Apostles, that Jesus is alive forever more (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)!  I stand with Paul the Apostle and declare that He will see all His enemies under His feet including death (1 Corinthians 15:24-26).

My faith isn’t based on reason alone.  My faith isn’t based on the teachings of Jesus alone.  My faith is reasonable (Acts 26:25).  I do believe that the words of Jesus are faithfully recorded in the Bible for me to study and live (John 8:31-32).  Yet my faith is in a historical person, in what He accomplished.  I believe with Isaiah the Prophet that Jesus went to the cross for my sins (Isaiah 53:4-6) and this pleased the Lord (Isaiah 53:10).  I believe that Jesus alone now turns away the holy wrath of God against my sins (Romans 5:8-9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10).  I believe that I now have no condemnation before God the Father because of the work of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:1) and I am declared righteous before a holy God through faith in Jesus (Romans 3:26 HCSB).  Jesus now sits by the right hand of God signifying His position of authority (Matthew 28:18) and power (Psalm 110:1).  Jesus now prays for the saints of God (Hebrews 7:25) till the kingdom of God is fully come (1 Corinthians 15:24, 28).

Jesus I now proclaim!  He is my message (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).  Jesus is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16-17).  What Jesus did is what I preach!  My focus, my worship, my thoughts, my affections, my desire are all aimed at one person, the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 14:25-35).  I want to see Him glorified in everything I say and do (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17).  I now have access into the holy presence of a holy God through the holy Son of God (Hebrews 4:14-16).  Jesus is my high priest by whom I pray and worship God (Hebrews 9:14).  Through Jesus, the Lord has removed the blinders so that I now see Him exalted and glorified (2 Corinthians 3:12-18).  He is my everything (1 Corinthians 1:30-31)!

I know that when I die, I will not leave a large mark on human history.  I will not go down in the history books for my great accomplishments or acts of valor.  I will not go down in history as a great poet, a great writer, or a leader.  Yet that is okay with me.  I know Jesus and that makes all the difference in the world to me (2 Timothy 1:12).  In eternity, Jesus will be all that matters (John 3:18).  No one else will matter.  Nothing else will matter.  Only what is done for Christ will last forever (1 Corinthians 3:11).  This is why Jesus must be our foundation.  He must be the one that we build our lives upon or we fail (Matthew 7:24-27).  Jesus must be the one that we preach or we fail (2 Corinthians 4:5-6).  Jesus alone is the only one who can save us from the wrath of God (Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:4-5).

As I celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, I pray that others will repent and see that Jesus alone is the only way to God (John 14:6).  The answer for us fallen humans is not religion.  The answer is not a church group or the moral teachings of great people.  The answer is Jesus alone!  Our foundation must be built on Jesus alone or we fail.  The hope for the nations is the Lord Jesus Christ.  May His kingdom come (Matthew 6:10)!

I say with Paul here in 1 Corinthians 15:14, that if Jesus is not risen from the dead, our faith is without a foundation and is pointless.  Yet if Jesus is alive (and He is!) then this makes all the difference in the world for the disciple of Christ (1 Peter 3:18).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/04/2015 at 10:46 PM

The Resurrection Is The Key

Islam claims that the faithful Muslim is to not only study the Quran and the Hadith’s but they are to seek to copy the example of their prophet, Mohammed.  The difficulty, of course, is that Mohammed lived in the 7th century.  Yet faithful Muslims claim that we are still to copy his example and seek to be just like him in all that we do.

In Buddhism, the teachings of the Buddha are studied and the believer seeks to apply them to their lives.  Again, the example of the Buddha is to serve as an example and he is the truly enlightened one that we are seeking to be like.

In Hinduism, the vast amount of gods means that we are to be devoted to our god.  We are to fulfill our duty to our god.  It is our work that we must do.

A pattern exists when you study world religions and cults and that is works for salvation (if they believe in some sort of salvation) or we must copy the examples of the religious teachers.  We are to copy the examples of these prophets, teachers, leaders, apostles, etc.

This is not so with Christianity.  No doubt the Lord Jesus left us an example that we should follow (1 Peter 2:21-24) but His example is one that we realize we can never obtain in that Jesus was absolutely perfect and sinless (2 Corinthians 5:21).  Even the Quran states that Jesus (though in Islam, He is just a prophet) was sinless.  But the more I study Jesus and His life, I realize that I can never obtain His perfection.  I am imperfect.  I am sinful by nature.  Jesus, on the other hand, left us a perfect example and one that we can seek to copy (1 John 2:6).

But the key to Christianity is not the teachings of Jesus.  It is not the example of Jesus.  It is the resurrection of Jesus that is the key.  Paul the Apostle makes this clear in 1 Corinthians 15.  The key to our saving faith is in the resurrection of Jesus (Romans 10:9-10).  It was the resurrection that caused the Apostles of Christ to go forth with His gospel (Matthew 28:16-20).  It is the resurrection of Christ that transforms the sinner into a saint of God (1 Peter 1:18-21).

While I agree with C.S. Lewis that grace is a fundamental difference between world religions and Christianity, grace is based on the resurrection.  Without the resurrection of Christ, there could be no grace (Romans 4:24-25).  Grace flows to us because Jesus is alive and because He sits at God’s right hand (Hebrews 7:25).

My prayer is that the Church would go forth in the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8) preaching the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.  To this day, faithful Muslims visit the tomb of Mohammad in the city of Medina.  Christians have no tomb of Christ to visit where His body lays.  We have an empty tomb because Jesus is risen from the dead.  He reigns now forevermore (Psalm 110:1).  Jesus empowers us now by His resurrection power to go forth and make disciples.  This is what will change our world.  This precious gospel, that Jesus shed His blood for our sins (Galatians 1:4), is what we will change our world (2 Corinthians 5:17).  I rejoice that Jesus is risen and I will see Him face to face (1 John 3:1-3).

It is only by His grace that we are saved (Ephesians 2:8-9).  May we settle that issue now and realize that nothing I can do can earn God’s salvation nor His favor.  My works are tainted by sin (Isaiah 64:6).  Yet Christ bore my sins on the cross and His blood washes away all my sins so that I now have peace with God through His finished work on the cross (Romans 5:1).  I am a child of God not by my works but because of His grace toward me in His holy Son (Titus 3:5-7).

On Easter and Passover

I have always referred to this season that we celebrate the Lord Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and then His resurrection from the dead as Passover.  I have always struggled with the term “Easter” as it just simply wasn’t in the New Testament and somewhere along the way, the beauty (and tragedy) of Exodus 12 seems lost to the modern Church because we have replaced it with Easter.  I understand that the Church still celebrates the sacrifice of Christ and His resurrection from the dead but it seems much is missing.

Next year I intend to have a Passover meal at our home.  I want my children and my friends to see the beauty of the Lamb of God (John 1:29) in the Passover meal (1 Corinthians 5:7).  The early disciples no doubt kept the biblical feasts with an eye on Jesus Christ as Lord and understood that they pointed to the reality of Christ Himself (Hebrews 10:1-4).  At some point in Church History, the Church begin to celebrate Easter and the glorious resurrection of Christ but stopped celebrating Passover altogether.

My hope is that I can show people the glory of Christ in the Passover meal.  One cannot read the Passover account in Exodus 12 and not see the Lord Jesus as the Lamb of God who was slain for us.  Christ was sacrificed on the cross at Passover and His death pointed back to the book of Exodus.

My hope also is to show that the biblical feasts point to the Lord Jesus (Leviticus 23).  They reveal Him in ways that we Gentiles often miss and I am guilty of that.  While only Christ saves us by His grace and not works of the law (Galatians 2:15-16), the Old Testament is a wonderful portrait of Jesus that we can miss if we fail to study it.  Paul the Apostle stated in 1 Corinthians 10:11 that the Old Testament was an example for us.  We can learn from the examples seen in the Old Covenant while praising God that we are saved under the New Covenant that Jesus brought to us by His own blood (Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 8:8-13).

In all this, my heart is not to return to Judaism but to worship the Lord Jesus and exalt Him for all that He has done in saving me from the wrath of God (Romans 5:1-11).  I want to see Him and know Him more and if this can happen by seeing Him in the Passover, I want to celebrate it with all my heart.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/21/2014 at 8:03 PM

His Resurrection Guarantees Our Justification

Romans 4:25 reads,

“Who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”

Jesus gave His life for our sins.  He died a cruel, unjust death at the hands of sinners.  Yet Jesus did this for our sins (Isaiah 53:4-6).  His blood was shed so that we could have peace with God (Ephesians 2:14).  His blood was shed to wash away our sins (Ephesians 1:7).  He committed no sin yet He bore our sins (1 Peter 2:22-24).  2 Corinthians 5:18-21 reads,

18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

He died to take away our sins (John 1:29) and in Him alone do we find forgiveness of our sins (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; Hebrews 9:22, 27-28; 10:10, 14; 1 John 2:2).

Yet the resurrection is key to this forgiveness.  Without a resurrection, there is no forgiveness.  This is the point of Paul the Apostle in 1 Corinthians 15:16-19:

16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

But since Christ has been raised from the dead (Matthew 28:6; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:6-7; John 20:1-10; 21:24-29), we have the blessing of knowing that our sins are truly forgiven.  This is not merely God ignoring our sins or simply by-passing His just law to forgive us just by the waving of His hands but this is true forgiveness.  Jesus took my place on the cross.  It was my sins that He bore.  He died in my place and He stood condemned  for me.  

And how do I know this?  Because of Romans 4:25!  Jesus was raised for my justification before a holy God.  My only hope for salvation, my only assurance of my forgiveness before a holy God is the blood of Christ that He shed on the cross.  The Father raised Christ from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 1:4; 8:11) and showed that the Father had accepted the sacrifice of the Son.  Jesus was crucified for my sins and He was raised for my justification.  Now I have peace with God because of Christ Jesus and because of Christ alone (Romans 5:1).

What a glorious truth is the resurrection of the Lord Jesus!

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