Witness in Action – The Gospel You Received

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Ever read something or listened to someone and had the thought, “I wish they’d say something already”? Not the case with Apostle Paul. Begins this new section of his letter to church @ Corinth: “I declare”, “I want to clarify for you the Gospel”. Unlike 03/11/2010 American Journal opinion piece “The Bible Any Way You Want It” and others who would like “The Gospel Any Way You Want It”, Paul makes crystal clear the essence of the Gospel.

1st letter written nearly 10 years earlier,Gal. 1:8-9Twice: “preach any other gospel, let him be accursed” (eternally condemned,NIV) No doubt in Paul’s mind about the content of the Gospel and what it would accomplish.

A. work of the Gospel vv. 1-2

preached it –εὐαγγελίζω not κηρύσσω; evangelizing (announcing the good news) not heralding

can occur in any context incl. person-to-person; not limited to formal authoritative proclamation

received it

made it their own way of thinking

were convinced of its truth and usefulness

standing in it

continue in the belief with determination

serves as the basis of their confidence

being saved by it

because they heard it, made it their own, persevered in it, their salvation is ongoing

salvation incomplete but assured provided the message (Good News) is authentic

and their belief system is actually grounded on the true Gospel

B. essence of the Gospel vv. 3-4

1st importance – fundamental essence

Christ died

main thrust of argument leads up to resurrection; hence emphasis on Christ’s death

does address the need for death – “in behalf of”, “for the sake of” our sins

his death a fulfillment of prophecy –κατα τας γραφας

we have sinned

penalty for sin also declared in Scripture

the necessity of a substitute sin-bearer foreshadowed in animal sacrifice

he really died – he was buried

he wasn’t feigning death

his death was real and it was final

he’s no longer dead

everything else wasκατα τας γραφαςso also his resurrection

that by itself should be enough to guarantee authenticity of the Gospel message

1st (in logical order) importance of resurrection – stamp of approval on Jesus and his sacrifice

the Father accepted the Son as a fit substitute

the Father accepted His sacrifice as full satisfaction

C. hope of the Gospel vv.4b-8

the resurrection

gives confidence:

since God’s wrath was fully poured out on Jesus, no wrath left for those who are “in him”

since there is life after death for Jesus, there is life after death for those who are “in him”

unquestionably validated by witnesses

if prophecy isn’t enough………

too many witnesses

to be fooled by a ghost

to be taken in by a rumor

for either Roman govt or Jewish religious leaders to silence

even Paul himself –ωφθη– used uniformly 4x vv.5-8 (seen by, appeared to)

puts his “apostolic reputation” on the line

D. effect of the Gospel vv. 9-11

explanation of Point A – being saved, ongoing process

also serves as personal testimony – “here’s how the Gospel has changed my life”

a changed mind

from “consenting to his death” (Acts 8:1) to “chief of sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15)

from one “zealous toward God” (Acts 22:3) to one who was what he was “by the grace of God” (1 Cor. 15:10)

a changed mission

from “persecuting this Way to the death” with letters of authority from the chief priests (Acts 22:4;26:10) to “least of the apostles, …not worthy to be called an apostle” (1 Cor. 15:9)

from “ravaging the church” (Acts 8:3) to “laboring more than everyone else” to build up the church (1 Cor. 15:10)

a changed message

from compelling the saints to blaspheme (Acts 26:11) to declaring “of first importance” the Gospel of Christ (1 Cor. 15:3)

from doing “many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth” (Acts 26:9) to not knowing “anything among them except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2)

from slavishly trying to satisfy the demands of the law (Phil. 3:6) to basking in the grace of God (1 Cor. 15:10)

The grace of God expressed in the Gospel and accompanying the Gospel message was not without effect; it did indeed accomplish God’s purpose. In fact, God’s grace was so powerful in Paul’s life that it transformed him from Christianity’s greatest enemy into its greatest ally and promoter.

Has your life been transformed by the grace of God through the saving power of the Gospel? What you have received, then, is of first, primary, most importance; given not to be hoarded, but to be passed along to others for their use. Would you like to see the world transformed, churches filled, heaven overflowing?

People Need the Lord lyrics

Rom. 1:16“the gospel… is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes”

Even a child can articulate the Good News:

I’ve disobeyed God and deserve to be punished.

I believe God’s Son Jesus took my punishment for me by dying for my sins.

I believe God brought Jesus back to life and He is in heaven now.

Because I believe this about Jesus I’ll go to heaven someday, too.

I’m different now because I love Jesus and want to do what will please him.

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