I Corinthians 15:1, 2
- It is typical of pastors this time of year to bring a message from Matthew 26, 27, and 28 or Mark 14-16, or Luke 22-24, or lastly John 18-20.
- This Easter holiday, I believe that God wants us to hear from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, a message that was preached by the apostles to the first churches.
- I don’t believe that there are any people here in our congregation that doesn’t believe in the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We all believe.
- The problem is that there are many people (deaf and hearing) who do not believe. Many believe Jesus to be a person that was crucified but they deny His being the Son of God, God in the flesh, or that He arose from the dead.
- This is some of the problem of the church at Corinth.
- The biggest problem at Corinth, which is the biggest problem I believe to be facing the church today, is that they are mostly “sect” and “parties.”
- Sect – a group of persons who have their opinions or beliefs in common. These groups can be satanic or religious.
- Parties – A group of persons who take one side of a question only. A group of persons whose interest lay in pleasure and entertainment.
- You may ask “What’s wrong with that?” The problem is that there is no room for people of sect or parties in the church because their focus is not on their worship and service to the Lord Jesus Christ, nor the God who created them.
- It was obvious that the church of Corinth had some serious issues, and one that was mentioned back in I Corinthians 15:12 “…how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?”
- There were several people who did not believe as the others especially about a very serious issue as to the resurrection of Christ. This is serious because without Jesus Christ’s resurrection there goes our hope of a resurrection.
- Not only that, to not believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ also negates the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah, crushes the preaching and teachings of Jesus Christ, and it calls God a liar.
- Easter my friends, is about “the resurrection.” Easter is not about the Easter bunny, it is not about the Cross, or the burial of Jesus. It is about the resurrection.
- Do not get me wrong…the cross is important. The burial is important. But the cross and burial are meaningless without the resurrection of our Lord.
- Easter is about “who” they hung on the cross, “who” they buried, and “who” resurrected from the grave. The “who” in case you don’t know, is Jesus Christ.
- When I see a person criticize the pastor or other members of a church, my first blame goes to Satan (the deceiver, the accuser of the brethren). Secondly, the blame goes to the trouble maker person for allowing the devil to control them and attack the children of God.
- As we learned recently in our Sunday school class from God’s word written by the hand of Paul to a church that like us was “ignorant.” Colossians 3:11…Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.
- What Paul is telling the church is that when you look at one another, there are no Jews, no Greeks, no circumcised or uncircumcised people, there are no cultured or uncultured people, no slaves or masters. You are to see everyone as “Christ.” When you start looking at others as if they were Christ, then you will treat them as Christ would have them treated. That is what Christ does when “Christ is all, and in all.”
- We see everyone as they are and treat them accordingly.
- At Corinth, the problem was with former Sadducees and nonbelievers who were interested in having a “club” to go to, and they were not really interested in worship of God or praising Jesus. They looked not at each other as “Christ.”
- Acts 17:32…And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. Meaning…this discussion is not over, we will table it for now but the feats will begin later when we have more silverware to eat with.
- II Timothy 2:18…Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.
- The apostles were telling them that they do not know what the “truth” is.
- I also want us to consider that not only did these people cause problems in the belief of the resurrection, but also problems in small areas of the church and its beliefs, standards, by laws, and so forth.
- Satan uses people like these to create dismemberment of God’s people, His work of the church, and the ruination of the testimony of Christ.
I. Where Do We Stand
A) Standing in the faith
- Look at our text in I Corinthians 15:1…Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
- Paul is writing this letter to those of the church who still believe. He sent this letter to the elders of the church who were having issues with the troublemakers.
- Obviously, according to what Paul reminds them of is of some doubt placed in the minds of some elders in the church who have their doctrines misplaced because of heretics infiltrating the church.
- It is important to understand what Paul was reminding them of in verses 1,2
- What he preached to them (The gospel) ( vrs. 1)
- They received it (vrs. 1)
- Stood firm in the doctrines (vrs. 1)
- They were saved (vrs. 2)
B) Believing in vain
- Look at verse 2) By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
- I want us to catch this… What was their salvation? Through baptism? Through some oration of certain verbiage? Giving of their tithes? Being a good person? Obedient to all Ten Commandments? NO to all.
- Get this now… “IF” is a word that tells us here of “proof” that you are saved.
- “If” you what? “keep in memory what I preached unto you,” This is the basis of the word “believe.” To keep something in memory is to believe it as truth.
- To reject it, forsake it and later forget about it, then it never was important enough to merit remembrance.
- Rejection of the Word is to believe something in vain.
- The word “vain” means what? 1) Having no real value 2) worthless 3) empty 4) without force or effect 5) fruitless or unprofitable.
- Real salvation comes to those who “believe” in Christ. Salvation is a continual thought or memory of Christ as being valuable to you, Christ being worth more than anything you own, Christ satisfying your thirst for life, Christian living being profitable.
- Some of these people at the church of Corinth here in chapter 15 had allowed idiots to come and take over the church with their heresies, false doctrines, worldly ideas and agendas. Christ was no longer “Head” of the church.
C) Sharing with others what you have learned
- Look now to I Corinthians 15:3…For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4) And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
- Paul reminded the Corinthians that he shared with them what he had learned about “the gospel (back up in verse 1).”
- What is the gospel?
- The Purpose – “…that Christ died for our sins” This is the purpose for which Christ died. To remove our sins. The O.T. Law only covered the sins with a sacrificial animal. But the ultimate sacrifice was Jesus Christ being that a pure lamb that became an atonement for all sins.
- The Judgment – “…He was buried,” Death is due to sin in a person’s life that brings them into the judgment of God. Christ never personally sinned, but He became sin for us. This was the “cup” that Christ had prayed in Matthew 26:39… O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
- The Hope – “…and that He rose again the third day” In the resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us the same hope that Christ had in His Father resurrecting His dead body, to change it into a glorified bodied.
- The Assurance – “…according to scriptures” What scriptures? Paul had not a copy of the Bible written by Zondervan, Moody Press, or Thomas Nelson. His assurance of the scriptures he recalled were the words of the prophets in the Old Testament as Christ had said in John 5:39…Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. What Scriptures? I believe the scriptures Paul was referring to may have been Genesis 3:15, Psalms 22, Isaiah 53, Daniel 9:26, Zechariah 12:10 and 13:7 to name a few.
- Paul’s father was a Pharisee and very well known in the synagogues of Jerusalem. Paul knew the scriptures. Paul had never acknowledged Jesus as being the Messiah until the Lord Jesus Christ meet him on the road to Damascus.
- We also must keep in mind that there were many false messiahs. The Jews were tired of the Roman Rule and the church synagogue leader’s strict mandates and pressure to keep all the ordinances they had created in the church. This kind of religious behavior led to many “wannabe (slang for want to be)” messiahs.
- Like today there many “wannabe” carpenters, doctors, lawyers, preachers, plumbers, cooks, and this list could go forever. In other words…there are people who claim to be something they are not in order to fool many people for awhile until human error brings light to their falsehood.
- This is the testimony of Paul that helped people to believe in Jesus Christ. WHY?
- Because they were like Paul. Paul was also stubborn and not willing to break from some of the traditions set by the church leaders. Habits are hard to break.
II. The Writer of the Hymn/Song Christ Arose
A) About Robert Lowery
- Many a fool would ask “Why are you talking about a Hymn/song writer in a message for Easter?”
- Answer: Because the hymns that we sing in church bring a message to the singers that touch the hearts of the listeners. God’s word does the same thing. The Bible was God inspired writing, just as I believe that songs are God inspired compositions.
- In 1874, a Baptist minister named Robert Lowry penned one of the most stirring hymns to ever exalt the resurrection of Jesus Christ—”Christ Arose”
III. Low in the Grave He Lay
A) Look at the word “low”
- Look at verse 1 of the hymn…
Low in the grave He lay, Jesus my Savior;
Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!
- The very first word is “low.” Many people today would interpret this word as to mean being low to the ground, low as in elevation status. So therefore they believe that the song writer is explaining the position of Jesus body in the grave.
- Quite the contrary. The word “low” written by Robert Lowery of the 1800’s English language was using a word quite common in those day.
- The word “low or lo” in the 1800’s (when the hymn was written) had several meanings.
- Low – as commonly known and used in the KJV Bible 46 times meaning
- Low – “…the cattle are “lowing.” It is a word like “mooing,” which is an characteristic word describing the sound cattle make.
- Low /lo– as in the term…“Low and behold.” Is the old fashioned word for “look!” or “see!” The word “lo” is used 159 times in the KJV.
- In today’s dictionary, the word “low” has 26 different meanings.
- So why all this verbiage on the word “low?” I believe that Robert Lowery wanted us to take notice of the importance in “seeing” that His personal Savior Jesus laid in the grave…dead without a doubt, as everyone will.
- He further wanted us to see that Jesus body awaited “the coming day” of his rapture, just as we await His second coming.
B) Vainly they…
- Let us now look to verse 2 of the hymn “Christ Arose…”
Vainly they watch His bed, Jesus my Savior;
Vainly they seal the dead, Jesus my Lord!
- The word “vainly” means uselessly.
- So what Robert Lowery is reminding us here is that it was useless to watch the tomb (His bed) where Jesus lay, and furthermore, it was useless to seal the tomb with that giant rock because God is all powerful and there is nothing that man can do to prevent his plan from succeeding.
- To me, I believe Satan is in some ways the most stupid of God’s creation. Why do I say that? Because he will stop at nothing to see Christ destroyed. How many times has he felt that Jesus was defeated, or beaten down? And how many times has God redeemed His Son and His people?
- Satan keeps trying to defeat God and get his way. He doesn’t learn.
- I mean, Satan is stupid enough to believe that he still has a chance to defeat Jesus Christ and be equal with God.
IV. Death Cannot Keep Its Prey
A) Power of death
- Look at the third verse of the hymn “Christ Arose…”
Death cannot keep its Prey, Jesus my Savior;
He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!
- “Death cannot keep its prey” What does this mean?
- In this hymn/song the song writer is talking about who? Jesus! Death is described here for Jesus “…as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” Satan is not the ruler of death. God decides who dies and who lives. Satan was trying to kill Jesus since his birth, but God protected His Son. Jesus was “prey (animal hunted or killed for food, a person or thing that falls victim to someone or something)”
- “Death cannot keep its prey” meaning that death could not keep what it was trying to capture. Jesus was not going to be eaten by death because He is the “Lord of life.”
- This is why we sing this at Easter with special meaning because “Christ Arose” from the dead, defeated death, became victorious over death, hell and the grave.
- This is our hope as well. When Jesus Christ (Lord of life) rules your heart then you too will be victorious over death, hell and the grave.
- By the way…death keeps its prey when you do not allow the Lord to be ruler of your heart because living for self and Satan is separation from God which is “death.”
V. Up from the Grave He Arose
A) Triumphant over His foes
- Look at the chorus words that we sing after each verse of “Christ Arose.”
Up from the grave He arose, With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!
- Did you pay attention to the words that Robert Lowery wrote for a chorus to be sung over and over again? These are words of hope. These are words that bring joy to the hearts of believers everywhere.
- Is this song important? Is this song necessary to sing especially at Easter time? You bet it is! This song brings a joy and happiness because the reason for that joy and happiness and hope is Jesus Christ and His resurrection from the dead.
- People of the world need a wake-up call. I am really getting sick to my stomach living in today’s United States of America. Why?
- Because we as Christians and believers in God are being silenced and told that we cannot speak about God on the T.V. , radio, or in public. For the world to silence us is telling me that they do not want to hear about or they do not believe it and they are not going to tolerate us anymore.
- This takes away our hope, our belief/doctrines and our joy.
- Would they tell a person with a seemingly terminal illness that there is no cure? Would they tell a child at Children’s Mercy Hospital that there is no hope? Of course not. Then they need to leave us alone!
VI. What If There Were No Resurrection?
A) We would be miserable?
- Let us look into I Corinthians 15:16…For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
- Meaning…if you don’t believe that dead cannot be raised then Christ did not rise from the dead.
- 17) And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
- Meaning…if Christ did not raise from the dead, your belief in Christ is useless and a waste of time. AND, you are still worthless sinners to God and dead to Him.
- 18) Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
- Meaning…that those of you who are dead thinking yourselves to be “saved” are going to hell and will never see heaven because you are “dead.” Without life.
- 19) If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
- Meaning…if our only hope is in Jesus while we live on this earth and cannot be reconciled to God for the hope of heaven then we are truly miserable and looked upon by others as ignorant wretches to be pitied.
- Without Christ, we are hopelessly lost.
- But thanks to God’s Word which was made flesh in Jesus Christ that speaks to us and is our proof of the resurrection.
B) The Resurrection, Purpose for trusting Jesus Christ
- Let us look again into I Corinthians 15, but now examine verses 3…For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4) And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
- If we do not believe in Christ and His resurrection, then we cannot believe that He can die for our sins either.
- For Christ to never be raised from the dead would mean that all Old Testament saints and New Testament saints (including us today) are lost sinners never to be reconciled to God, never to be heirs of salvation, and all that belongs to God is null and void of inheritance.
- Hymns/Songs like “Christ Arose” bring life to the other hymns such as “Power in the Blood,” or “Victory in Jesus.”
C) Imagine a world without Christ’s resurrection
- Without the resurrection of Christ there would be no salvation from hell, no sanctification, no forgiveness for sins or wrong against others, no example to follow, no gospel to preach, no faith for believers, no life, and no hope.
- What would all of the world be like if no one believed in Christ’s resurrection?
- If Christ’s resurrection is not true then He would be no different than Jim Jones and the People’s Temple, or David Koresh and the Branch Davidians, or the Rev. Moon.
- To believe not in the resurrection of Christ would mean all of our worship, service, preaching, church attendance, prayers, and etc. are meaningless.
- We would be like Paul said of the unbelievers in Ephesians 2:12…That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
- When we are without Christ we are…
- Aliens from the commonwealth of Israel – The word “commonwealth” means the things shared by the people of the nation or state (Israel). In other words we would alienated (separated as foreigners) from anything that is given to Israel by God. Aliens from the commonwealth of Israel would be like foreigners to the United States without citizenship. They have no rights to anything that pertains to the natural born citizens of the U.S.A.
- Strangers from the covenants of promise – What were these “covenants of promise?” Just to name a few… a promise of a Messiah to come and rule His Kingdom, promise of future blessings for their obedience, promise of a pardon for sin, promise of a New Jerusalem, promise of a resurrected body and etc.
- Having no hope – The Gentiles of the Bible and the world today are without hope for being able to enjoy the same promises that Israel has. But with Christ Jesus who opened the doors for the Gentiles to be able to walk through and become partakers of the holy union with God and His people …there is hope.
- Without God in the world – The Gentiles always have put other things first before God. Gentiles have many gods (many things they worship), and many lords (many things that they allow to rule their lives). All these gods and lords, means that they are “Without God.”
VII. Hallelujah! Christ Arose!
A) The Resurrection Is True
- In the Hymn/song titled “Christ Arose!” we all are lifted up in spirit as we sing the last stanza of that song… “He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose.
- Back into our text of I Corinthians 15, look now at the conclusion in verse 20…But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
- Why do we sing “Christ Arose?” Because He did rise from the dead! And when Paul said that Jesus “…become the firstfruits of them that slept” he means that Jesus was the “first” to be raised from the dead. Being first means that others will follow. That includes the O.T. Jews, the N. T. Jews and Gentiles who believe in God and His Son.
- This is a promise of God that brings life to the dead soul corrupt with sin that ruins joy and true happiness.
- Verse 21) For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
- By “man (Adam, human flesh)” was brought “death” through disobedience of God’s command. So to keep things in correct order according to the righteousness of God, by “man (Jesus Christ, human flesh)” was brought a resurrection through obedience to God’s command in His grace.
- 22) For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
- This verse tells us that since Adam will die because of sin, so must Christ die on the cross. Not because He (Jesus) sinned, because He was perfect and without sin. But He must carry on Him the burden of every man’s sin since Adam and after Christ in order for all the believers to be made “alive.”
- Verse 23) But every man in his own order: God is a God of “order.
- Verse 23b…Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Christ was first to be raised from the dead, therefore those who belong to Christ will be raised when they die.
- Verse 24…Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. This verse is talking about “the end.” The second coming of Christ. So that all saints bodies from the day of Pentecost to the Rapture are covered with the blood of Christ and will be raptured as “the dead in Christ shall rise first.”
- Verse 25…For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26) The last enemy that shall be destroyed is These are the saints that will be raptured after death during the Millennial reign of Christ. The only rapture left will be of the lost who will stand at the Great White Throne Judgment and sent to hell.
“He Arose! He Arose! Hallelujah, Christ Arose!”