Skip to comments."First Things First" (Sermon for Easter Day)
Posted on 04/11/2009 6:31:16 PM PDT by Charles Henrickson
First Things First (1 Corinthians 15:1-20)
Alleluia! Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed! Alleluia!)
Thats the first thing we said this morning at the start of this service, and it is the first thing to say now. Christs resurrection is of such paramount and overarching importance that we put it first and foremost here on Easter Day, right up front. First Things First.
And were not the first ones to think this way. Back in the first century, St. Paul said as much in his first letter to the Corinthians: For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. . . . Christ died for our sins, he was buried, and on the third day he was raised in accordance with the Scriptures. For the Apostle Paul, this interlocking set of facts was first and foremost and foundational to the gospel that he preached and passed on.
And it was passed on. For we find almost these same exact words from 1 Corinthians 15 showing up a couple of centuries later in the Nicene Creed: And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures. We just confessed it here. So from Jerusalem to Corinth to Nicaea to Bonne Terre, Missouri, the same message has been resounding through the centuries: The Lord Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for our sins, whose body was buried in the tomb, on the third day rose, bodily, from the dead. And all this was according to Gods plan, according to the Scriptures God had inspired his prophets to write centuries earlier. This is first and foremost, of first importance, in the gospel that Paul preached and that we continue to preach still to this day. First Things First.
Without these great facts, and without them at the forefront, there is no Christianity. There is no gospel. There is no hope. There is nothing to preach, nothing to believe. If Christ has not been raised, Paul says later in 1 Corinthians 15, If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. And again, If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. Its all riding on Christ actually being raised from the dead, physically, bodily. If not for that, theres nothing there.
If Christ has not been raised, then he himself is a liar and the gospels are untrustworthy documents, mere fairy tales. For Jesus himself prophesied his rising again and all the gospel writers record the bodily resurrection of Christ as the culminating event of their accounts. Whats more, if Christ has not been raised, then you are still in your sins, lost. For then his death means nothing, except possibly as just another example of the noble death of a good man suffering unjustly, bearing up with dignity--and, oh, isnt it a shame how the good die young. But that isnt much, and weve already got The Death of Socrates as an example of a noble philosopher dying with dignity. If Christ has not been raised, then this Christianity thing is a joke, and we might as well fold up our tent, and call this whole church thing off. Its just a quaint, outmoded tradition that a few old fogies are hanging on to, totally irrelevant and dying out here in our advanced, sophisticated age. If Christ has not been raised, then church becomes just a boring set of rituals, out of step with our pleasure-seeking, entertainment-addicted culture. Look at all the people who arent here this morning.
This is serious business. The implications are life and death. If Christ has not been raised, then you will not be raised, either. Death will come and take you away, and thats the end of the story. Your heart stops beating, your lungs stop breathing, brainwave activity ceases, and this worn-out collection of organs and tissues becomes nothing more than compost for somebodys garden. Human beings are just an accidental phenomenon of evolution, an evolved mass of tissue and bone, no different from armadillos or daffodils, roadkill waiting to happen, bodies so cheap they can be burned up and disposed of like so much refuse. Human life loses its value and meaning, if Christ has not been raised. Death is the end of the road, and thats it. Nothing more. Were Christ not arisen, then death were still our prison.
Everything is up for grabs if Christ has not been raised. Life becomes a joke, a cruel joke. Shakespeare captured this emptiness when he wrote, Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Thomas Hobbes described the life of man as solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. That is what life amounts to if Christ has not been raised from the dead. All thats left is to distract ourselves from our own coming doom and amuse ourselves to death while were waiting.
If Christ has not been raised--but, no, wait, in fact Christ has been raised! Thats the truth of the matter. Thats the good news of Easter! But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. Christ has indeed been raised, and that changes everything! Everything! All the depressing implications that would be the case if Christ had not been raised--these are all reversed and turned around in the light of our Lords resurrection.
Since Christ has indeed been raised, then he is telling the truth in everything he says and the gospels are the true record you can rely on. He is risen, just as he said, and These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Since Christ has indeed been raised, then you are not still in your sins, you are not lost. Christs resurrection validates and puts Gods stamp of approval on everything Jesus did when he bled and died there on the cross. God accepted Christs sacrifice for sin, said yes to it. By raising Jesus from the dead, God the Father said of his death on the cross, Yes, my Son, that does the job, that covers all sins for all time. Job well done. The debt of sin for humanity has been paid, paid in full. Easter, Christs resurrection, says yes therefore to your forgiveness. What Jesus did on Good Friday covered all of your sins, dear Christian. Your faith in Christ is not futile, not by a long shot. Your faith is fruitful, not futile, and you are freed from your sins.
Since Christ has indeed been raised, then that makes Christianity the one true religion in all the world. When Jesus said, I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me, he wasnt kidding. The mockers and ridiculers of Christ and his church--they may mock and they may ridicule, but they are wrong, dead wrong. Yesterday I saw a survey that said 79% of Americans believe Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Well, at the final survey--at the final survey, that numbers going to change to 100%, only they wont all be happy about it.
Since Christ has indeed been raised, then the church is the most relevant place to be in all the world. For here in the church you get something you get nowhere else: You get Christ himself speaking his words of life to you through the preaching of the gospel. You get Christ himself giving you his body and his blood in this sacrament, for you, for your forgiveness, and for the strengthening of your faith. Jesus is here, and therefore there is no better place on earth to be.
And since Christ has indeed been raised, then death is not the end of the story for you. There is something more in store. Death is not the end of the line for those who die in Christ. By his being raised from the dead, Christ is the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep, meaning, there are more to follow. Your loved ones who have died in the faith, all the great saints of the past and all the unknown saints too, you and I and all who put their trust in Christ--we will not be disappointed. For you and I--our mortal bodies will be raised at the Last Day, new and glorious, and fitted out for eternal life. In Christ we have new life in this life, yes, but beyond that, we have hope, sure hope, for the life to come. Therefore we are of all people, not the most to be pitied, but rather the most abundantly blessed.
Dear brothers and sisters, Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, he was buried, and he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. This is the gospel that has been preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved. First Things First, and this is truly what is of first importance.
Alleluia! Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed! Alleluia!)
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
AMEN PAstor! He Lives!!
A Blessed Easter to all!
“He died for all that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them and rose again.” 2 Cor. 5:15
Just as I am, without one plea
But that Thy blood was shed for me
And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
“Daily Bread” 1926
If you have a ping list please add me......I am enjoying your teachings....
He lives to silence all my fears
He lives to wipe away my tears
He lives to calm my troubled heart
He lives, all blessings to impart
He lives, my kind, wise, heavenly Friend
He lives and loves me to the end
He lives, and while He lives, I'll sing
He lives, my Prophet, Priest and King
He lives, all glory to His name
He lives, my Jesus, still the same
Oh, the sweet joy this sentence gives
"I know that my Redeemer lives!"
Han är verkligen uppstånden!
Glad Pask to you too
-fran Halmstad, living in Tacoma
And for those of you who celebrate a more secular Easter - please don't overdo the chocolate!
We can look confidently at what Christ has done (confidence in Christ, not confidence in ourselves) and we can look to what Christ will do in the future! We can have confidence in these words: (John 14:3) “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
A Happy Easter to all. For us, after service & breakfast we’re going to be painting a bedroom while our ham is roasting... Then we’ll be watching the Masters.
Happy Easter to you too Pastor!
“Christ is risen.”
“He is risen indeed”.
"He has risen indeed!"
Now that church is over and breakfast enjoyed, it's time to celebrate at home.
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