THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST - AN EASTER SERMON

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Friday Evening, April 18, 2003


"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel" (I Corinthians 15:1).


I seldom preach what modern preachers call "expository" sermons, but I reserve the right to do so at times. Tonight I will give a brief exposition of the passage which our deacon Dr. Chan read a moment ago.

The Apostle Paul says, in verse one, that he is declaring, or making known, the gospel which he had previously preached to the church at Corinth. The word gospel simply means "the good news." What he said to the church at Corinth, he also says to us. This is the "good news" about Christ. He says, at the end of verse one, that they had received this good news and stand in it. Then he says, in verse two, "By which also ye are saved."

We are saved by believing in Jesus. We hear the good news of the gospel - that He died for our sins, and that He rose from the dead. Then we believe in Him, and He saves us from sin, death and Hell.

Then Paul says, "By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory [hold fast] what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain." Some people may have a shallow faith. They may only have believed the words of the gospel without actually trusting Christ. You can be convinced that the gospel is true without being born again. The demons believed these doctrines about Christ, but were not converted (cf. Luke 4:33-34). Then Paul gives the truths of the gospel, the facts concerning the good news about Christ.

I. First, Christ died for our sins.

"For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures" 
   (I Corinthians 15:3).

Dr. J. Vernon McGee reminds us that

Dr. Machen says…Christianity does not rest on a set of ideas or creeds, but on facts. The gospel is not the Ten Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount. The gospel is a series of facts concerning a Person.  And  that  Person  is  Jesus  Christ  (J.  Vernon  McGee,  Thru  the  Bible,  Thomas  Nelson,  1983,  volume  V,  p.  72).

We are told in verse three that "Christ died for our sins." This means that Christ bore the punishment for our sins. He died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sins. A holy and righteous God cannot overlook sin. Sin has to be punished. Either you will be punished for your sins in Hell, or you believe on Jesus, and His death on the Cross pays for your sins. It's one or the other. Which will it be for you? The Bible says, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31). If you trust the Son of God, His death on the Cross saves you from God's punishment for your sins in Hell. Dr. John R. Rice wrote these meaningful words in one of his songs,

He loves so long, He loves so well,
He died to save your soul from Hell.
      ("He Loves You Still" by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

But verse three continues, "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures." What Scriptures did the Apostle Paul have in mind? He was undoubtedly thinking about such Old Testament prophecies as Isaiah 53:1-12. Peter and Paul referred to the prophecy of Christ dying to pay for our sins in Isaiah 53. Isaiah 53:5 says,

"But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."

The fist point of the gospel is the good news that Christ died to pay for your sins.

II. Second, Christ rose from the dead.

Verse four tells us,

"And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures" (I Corinthians 15:4).

We are told that He was buried. That is important because it shows that He was actually dead. The Muslims don't believe He really died on the Cross. They say that God rescued Him before He died. The Koran says that. But they are wrong. God allowed Him to die to pay for your sins. The fact that He really did die is shown by the fact that He was buried - for part of three days. Christ's body was buried in a sealed tomb for part of Friday, all of Saturday, and for a short period on Sunday.

Then verse four says, "he arose again the third day." Christ did not die and then remain buried like other people who die. His body rose from the dead after three days. The tomb that He was buried in was found empty. Even the unbelieving Romans and Jews had to admit that Christ's tomb was empty. He was not there because He had risen from the dead on Easter Sunday morning! That is an historical fact. And because He arose from the dead we know that He is the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity. We know that He is who He claimed to be because He rose from the dead. And because He rose from the dead, we can be sure that He has the power to raise us from the dead also.

That is why His resurrection is so important. If He had remained dead, our faith would be vain [or worthless], as we are told in verse 14,

"And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain" (I Corinthians 15:14).

Then, in verse four, we are told, "that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures." Paul undoubtedly had in mind such Old Testament prophecies of His resurrection as Psalm 16:10,

"For  thou  wilt  not  leave  my  soul  in  hell  [the  grave];  neither  wilt  thou  suffer  [allow]  thine  Holy  One  to  see  corruption" (Psalm 16:10).

This verse was quoted by Peter and Paul as a prophecy of His resurrection. The second point of the good news of the gospel is that Christ rose from the dead.

We should remember that this was a physical resurrection of His body. That is important because the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Christian Scientists say that He rose as a spirit - it was only a spirit that rose. But they are wrong. Christ rose physically from the dead. He appeared to the Disciples and said:

"Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have" (Luke 24:39).

Here we enter into what the Bible calls "a mystery" [Greek: musterion]. Our resurrected bodies will be like Christ's (cf. I John 3:2). Then we are told, in I Corinthians 15:51,

"Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed" (I Corinthians 15:51).

All true Christians will "be changed." That verse in I Corinthians 15:51 tells us so. We will "be changed." Our present bodies will be raised like Christ's resurrected body. How that is done is not fully revealed in the Bible. It remains a "mystery" until the day of the rapture, when our bodies will be made like His glorious resurrected body. As Charles Wesley put it,

Made like Him, like Him we rise,
Ours the Cross, the grave, the skies.
     ("Christ the Lord is Risen Today" by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).

The second point of the good news of the gospel is that Christ rose in a physical resurrected body. And Jesus said:

"Because I live, ye shall live also" (John 14:19).

That is a wonderful promise, made to every truly converted person by Christ Himself!

These, then, are the two main points of the gospel: Christ died to pay the penalty for our sins, and Christ rose bodily from the dead. But there are other points in this passage of Scripture that we should think about tonight.

III. Third, the risen Christ was seen by many people.

Look at I Corinthians 15:5-7,

"And that he was seen of Cephas [Peter], then of the twelve [disciples]: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep [a phrase used to describe some who had died since they saw the risen Christ]. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles" (I Corinthians 15:5-7).

The greatest proof that Jesus rose from the dead is that so many saw Him after the resurrection. And hundreds of these people were willing to die rather than deny that they had seen the risen Lord. And many of them were tortured and did die for proclaiming to everyone who would listen that they had seen Christ after He rose from the dead. He did not appear to these people in a vision or a dream. They actually saw His risen body. If anyone doubted what Paul was telling them about Christ's resurrection, they could go and talk to hundreds of eye-witnesses. The resurrection of Christ is a proven fact of history. In all the history of the world there has never been a more important event than Christ's resurrection.

"For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life" (Romans 5:10).

IV. Fourth, the risen Christ has been seen through faith by many others.

Look at verse eight. Paul says:

"And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time" (I Corinthians 15:8).

Only after Jesus ascended back to Heaven did He appear to the Apostle Paul. That's why Paul said, "last of all He was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time." Paul was born again by encountering the resurrected Christ after He left the earth and ascended back to Heaven.

Another great proof of Christ's resurrection is that countless millions of people have themselves been confronted with the reality of the resurrected Christ - through living faith in Him. Do you know Christ? Is He real to you? When Christ becomes a reality to you it is the greatest proof of all that He has risen from the dead. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31).

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: I Corinthians 15:1-8.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Jesus Paid It All" (by Elvina M. Hall, 1820-1899).

THE OUTLINE OF

THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST - AN EASTER SERMON

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel" (I Corinthians 15:1).

(I Corinthians 15:2; cf. Luke 4:33-34)

I.   Christ died for our sins, I Corinthians 15:3; Acts 16:31;
Isaiah 53:5.

II.  Christ rose from the dead, I Corinthians 15:4, 14;
Psalm 16:10; Luke 24:39; I John 3:2; I Corinthians 15:51;
John 14:19.

III. The risen Christ was seen by many people, I Corinthians 15:5-7;
Romans 5:10.

IV.  The risen Christ has been seen through faith by many others,
I Corinthians 15:8; Acts 16:31.