“1Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, KJV)
This is, according to Paul’s own understanding, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One of the things that I am amazed by is that there are a lot of things “missing” from what we have commonly come to believe the Gospel is. There are many things that we must understand about the Gospel, but these come after we have received this simple message and believed what it says.
There are four key aspects that Paul says must be present in order for the Gospel to be “THE” Gospel. Those four revolve around the resurrection of Jesus.
- Christ Died
- Christ was Buried
- Christ rose again on the third day
- All this is was done “according to the scriptures.”
Over the last several months I have been coming back to this simple definition of the Gospel. I think that I have found that many time the message that proclaims the redemption of the human soul is not complicated. It is profound. The heart of the Christian faith is a miracle of unprecedented proportions. The entire Christian faith depends on the resurrection being true. If there is no resurrection there is nothing. Paul tells as much when he explains that if Jesus did not rise from the grave, then we all should be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). If any point of the resurrection account is questioned the entire thing falls apart.
Let’s take a few moments to look at each of these.
1. Christ Died
There are many who do not believe that Jesus actually died. The mystery of God becoming a man in the person of Jesus of Nazareth has been a point of contention for many people. But, to think that God would allow himself to be subjected to the humiliation and horror of death is not something that many are willing to accept. What we have to realize is that if Jesus did not die, we cannot live! His death had to be real and total.
2. Christ was Buried
The death of Jesus was like every other dead. It was total and complete. There was no life left in Jesus body. If it were not true, then Jesus would not be able to provide for us what we needed. Without a substitutionary death, I would not be able to experience the fullness of Christ’s life in me. The reason I can share in Christ’s righteousness is because he fully, completely and perfectly shared in my death.
3. Christ rose again on the third day
If Jesus did not come out of that grave, there is no hope of heaven and fellowship with our heavenly Father. Jesus comforted the disciples by telling them that he was going to prepare a place for them (John 14:1-3). When was that going to take place? After his death and resurrection! That is why the disciples could not make sense of what Jesus was saying. They wanted to follow Jesus, but Jesus let them know that the path that was laid out for him was not one that they could travel with him.
4. All this is was done “according to the scriptures.”
Of the four aspects of the Gospel that are necessary, this last one stands out. It stands out becuase Paul is essentially saying that God has staked his reputation and his “worthiness” as God on his ability to predict and fulfill the resurrection. Everything that happened to Jesus happened exactly how God said that it would. Everything that the Bible has to say about anything hinges on the Resurrection of Jesus having taken place! That seems like a big risk unless it actually happened.
As we have traveled on this exploration of faith, I have found that many times we do not understand the place of God’s Word in the development of faith. God’s provides his word to us to verify and to support everything that he is doing in, through and around us. Whenever we forgo using the word of God as God designed we will find that what we are trying may not work as well as we have planned.
I am thankful that God has awakened me to a this powerful truth. The Word of God, all of the the scriptures are not only sufficient for all that I need, they were designed to fulfill my every need in preparing me for living a life of faith. Paul tells Timothy to never lose sight of this amazing reality.
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16, ESV)
With each passing day I grow more convinced that the reason the Word of God does not have the effects that it describes is not because it does not work, but because we do not allow it work in us.