There are 66 books in our Bible today, each of them with chapters ranging from one or a few to over sixty or more. Which of these would YOU select as the most important chapter in the Bible?
What about GENESIS 1? 'Genesis' means "beginnings" and this chapter lays out the creation account. Did you know that the first 10 chapters of Genesis contains the foundation of all of the Bible's major, fundamental doctrines?
This is why evolution is so destructive to "the faith" because if evolution were true, then we couldn't possibly believe in a literal Adam and Eve (even though the LORD Jesus mentions them as actual people; MATT 19:4). And if they weren't real, how could we believe anything of the creation account? And if this was likewise contrived, the entire first ten chapters would be suspect, and therefore all the doctrines of the Bible would not be trustworthy.
This is also why theistic evolution is not compatible with scripture, for even this declares that death was a part of our reality millions of years prior to what 'evolved' into Adam, and so death wouldn't be such a 'big deal' and thus inconsequential; nor would there be a need for salvation from death or its precursory cause, that is, sin.
What about ISAIAH 53 perhaps? This chapter describes the suffering Messiah and His ministry to bear the sins of His people?
Or PSALM 119 - here is a chapter wholly devoted to the magnification and extolling of God's most Holy and precious Word!
Perhaps you might think of JOHN 3 where our LORD Himself establishes the mandate of the spiritual rebirth as a necessity in order to see and enter into the Kingdom of God?
ROMANS 8 would be a good candidate as well: here is the declaration of the love of God in Christ Jesus from which nothing, NOTHING, NOTHING can separate us!
Or 1 CORINTHIANS 13 where love is again the subject, but as it indwells the believer as the only sole, legitimate motivation for our service to the LORD and His people. We could do marvelous, incredible deeds and service, even allowing ourselves to be martyred and yet without love, scripture says, its all for NOTHING!
Now in reality, we know that ALL scripture is important (2 TIM 3:16)because if God saw it as necessary to get His Word recorded, then its necessary for us to read it. And study it. And know it. And understand it. And believe it. And love it. And Obey it. And live it!
Well here is another candidate for "the most important chapter" and the subject of today's teaching:
1 CORINTHIANS 15 - and why?
1 COR 15:16-17
For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
"Your faith is in vain"? "yet in your sins"? What does THAT mean?!
We'll get into all of the details in this teaching today:
vs. 1: "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand"
Paul preached the Gospel and the Corinthian saints received it, and stood in it. It was their foundation. Indeed, the Gospel is the foundation of the Christian life! If the foundation is solid, anything built on it is solid, and likewise vice versa: an unstable foundation will mean an unstable structure that's founded on it.
Remember the LORD's admonition in -
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
Note that 'hearing' (and in the Greek, this word can mean to perceive, to understand; not only to merely hear) is not enough. There are those who are granted understanding of the Word of God by His Spirit, but they don't obey or "do" the Word of God.Even though they hear and understand, their house is not founded on the Rock (the LORD Jesus Christ Himself) but on the sand - a VERY unstable foundation! When any storm in life comes their way, their 'house' - representing their lives - will not stand up to it, but collapse and fall to ruin!
Those that both "hear" and "do" can be assured that when storms come, no matter how powerfully fierce and destructive they may be (and I believe we here in America will see more and more of these!) we have God's promise in His Word, that we will survive them, and remain standing!
The LORD desires that we become and maintain a good, solid, unshakable "house of God" (1 TIM 3:15). So, a solid understanding and obedience to the Gospel is absolutely important and is foundational for salvation.
But what is foundational to the Gospel? This, we will examine today!
vs. 2: "By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain."
There is that word again, "vain"! What is this talking about, "believing in vain"? This word 'vain' is used six times in chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians, and in the Greek they are not all the same word. In this verse, the word in the Greek is eike and it means "without a reason, or cause, to be in essence a failure"
Back to Matthew ch. 7 -
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
"Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
"And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
On that Day of Judgment, the scripture says "MANY"! "MANY will say to Me on that day, LORD, LORD" and will list all the wonderful works that they have done in His Name, professing a personal knowledge of the LORD, yet He will declare to them, "I NEVER knew you, you that work iniquity (that word 'iniquity' means "lawlessness" not being subject to authority, which in this case means that Jesus was not truly their LORD Whom they SHOULD HAVE been subject to!). Their belief in the LORD was vain.
Note that in vs. 21 it says that the only ones who will enter into the Kingdom are those that do the Father's will; the obedient, the ones who truly have Jesus as their Lord! There are no exceptions!
In JOHN 8:28-36 we have another example of vain belief in the LORD. In this passage it says that the Jews "believed on Him" twice (vs. 30 and 31)! Yet if you read this passage in its entirety, its plain to see that these Jews were likewise believing "in vain".
We must ask ourselves the question: Are we living a life of obedience (but not perfection necessarily) to God? How can we tell if our belief and faith in the LORD is genuine?
Do we have a new and different relationship with God now than before we made a profession of faith in Christ Jesus? I know for myself as a Roman Catholic for nearly 18 years, my image of God was one of a fierce and judgmental God Who was up in heaven, scrutinizing my every move, waiting for me to mess up so He could send down his condemning bolts of lightening!
It wasn't until after I received Jesus as LORD and SAVIOR - after I surrendered my life into His nail-pierced hands, that I came to know God as a loving, tender hearted, heavenly Father (Abba meaning "daddy" Who loved me enough to send His Son to die for my sins in my place. INCREDIBLE but TRUE!
Do we have a new and different relationship with sin now than before we made a profession of faith in Christ Jesus? Before I came to know the LORD, sin was no big deal; every one does it is the motto that's heard from any one who commits sin. Sin was fun - momentarily. Yet after I came to a saving knowledge of God's grace through Jesus, I developed a hatred for sin; it started to become repulsive to me. A good measure of one's spirituality is to ask oneself: Do I hate sin as much as God does?
And why does God hate sin so much?
Not only because He is a holy God and is offended at such rebellion against His Eternal Holy Commandments, against His Eternal Holy Kingdom and His Eternal Holy Heart; but also because sin separates God from those that He loves so, so dearly - you! (See Isaiah 59:2; Romans 5:8).
vs. 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"
Knowing exactly what the Gospel is, and receiving it personally is essential; the apostle Paul received it, and so did the Corinthian saints. So must we all to be saved and become a child of God. Remember this, God has no grandchildren!
We cannot think of ourselves in right standing before God because our parents are Christian, or even if our family has been Christian for generations! Or even if our Dad is an elder or a pastor of the church! God has NO grandchildren, and not every one in this world is a "child of God" as is so commonly believed.
JOHN 1:12-13 is very clear on this point -
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Nor are we children of God because we know and understand the Gospel.
We must individually receive the Gospel, and how do we receive it?
Let me give you a couple of analogies to illustrate this point:
Let's say you're at a railroad station; you want to take a trip, but you suddenly discover that you don't have nearly enough money to purchase a ticket! Yet someone out of a gracious, generous heart purchases one for you!
Now, with ticket in hand, you read the point of destination on it and understand that this is a valid ticket that will get you where you want to go. Obviously you know the place you're going to travel to is a real place, even though you've never been there before. You look over the train and the railroad tracks and see that they are in excellent condition and well suited for travel.
KNOWING and UNDERSTANDING all of these facts, will you be assured of arriving at your destination? No, and why not? One more thing is yet necessary:
You have to leave the railroad station and actually get on the train and trust that its going to get you there! If you don't commit your belief by actually getting on the train, all of your knowledge and understanding is worthless.
Another analogy: An acrobat fixed a high wire across Niagra Falls, and then began to traverse its length while thousands of tons of water thundered over the edge of the Falls, crashing down onto the river below, sending plumes of steam skyward. A crowd soon drew together and as the acrobat safely navigated his way back, they broke out into applause!
He then took a wheel barrel and walked it across the high wire, and again he returned safely to the other side! The crowd went wild! He then asked,
"How many of you believe I could put a person in this wheel barrel and walk them back and forth across this high wire?" The crowd cheered in affirmation! The acrobat then pointed to one particular young man, and said, "You sir, what about you? Do you believe I could carry a person safely across this high wire in the wheel barrel?"
The young man confidently affirmed this belief.
"Alright then," said the acrobat, "hop in; we're going across the Falls!"
The young man paled as he looked at the powerful Falls that suddenly looked so very dangerous! He fell silent, and his feet remained frozen on the solid, stable and safe ground!
While professing a belief in the acrobat's abilities, the young man failed to make a commitment and trust his life to another!
Just as he needed to get 'in the wheel barrel' and entrust his life to the acrobat, proving his profession and belief to be valid, we also must entrust Jesus with our very lives, though it will mean forsaking our old life and live a new life "in Christ".
vs. 3-4: "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures"
This is the Gospel, plain and simple: Jesus died on the cross for our sins, He was buried and rose again from the dead on the third day. Note that in both His death and His resurrection it says "according to the scriptures".
There are some that would suggest that the Gospel message is a Christian invention, and has nothing to do with the Old Testament. Yet the Old Testament scriptures were all that were around at the time of Paul's writing (except for some of the Gospels, and an epistle or two). Thus when Paul mentions that these things were accomplished by the Messiah, they were indeed fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies!
Jesus, after His resurrection taught His disciples that "Christ must needs to have suffered all these things" and showed from the Old Testament all things "concerning Himself" (ACTS 17:3; LUKE 24:27).
vs. 5-8: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
"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.
"After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
"And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
Many suggest that the visitations of the resurrected Jesus were merely illusions, hallucinations or even delusional episodes brought on by extreme emotions and grief. Yet five hundred people saw Him at one time, small groups saw Him, individuals saw Him - all over a span of 40 days. They reached out and touched Him; He ate food in their midst, demonstrating He was no ghost or figment of their imagination. He really did rise from the dead!
A good book to read about the Gospel accounts, and how their details prove that Jesus genuinely did rise from the dead was written by a lawyer who studied the scriptures and determined that the facts as presented in these accounts are legally viable and would be accepted in any (unbiased) court room as evidence of the Resurrection.
Testimony of the Evangelists - The Gospels Examined by the Rule of Evidence by Simon Greenleaf
vs.9-11: For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet 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 which [was bestowed] upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
"Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed."
vs. 12: "Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
There were some teachers, even in the early church who were very influential and didn't believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ! These were either Gnostics or influenced by Gnostic teachings.
To learn more about what Gnostics believed (contrary to biblical truth) see the following from C.A.R.M. ministries (http://carm.org/):
What is Gnosticism?
Today its no different; there are still those, even among the church that claim to be true followers of Jesus, that deny the resurrection. One such person is a prominent figure in what's known as the Emergent Church Movement; he is a liberal theologian named Marcus Borg. He said:
"Were the skeletal remains of Jesus to be indisputably identified, it would not matter to me. To think that the central meaning of Easter depends upon something spectacular happening to Jesus’ corpse misses the point of the Easter message and risks trivializing the story (huh??!! [emph. mine]). To link Easter primarily to our hope for an afterlife, as if our post-death existence depends upon God having transformed the corpse of Jesus, is to reduce the story to a politically-domesticated yearning for our survival beyond death."
To read the entire article, go here:
Marcus Borg article Denies the Resurrection
Reading Simon Greenleaf's book would prove quite useful in refuting Borg's false claims. Another would be material from Josh McDowell, particularly information that can be viewed here:
A READY DEFENSE by Josh McDowell
(Note: There are some issues with which I don't agree with McDowell therefore I can't endorse everything he states, but the material here seems very good to me!).
vs. 13-14 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
"And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
Once again we have this word "vain" appear, and this time a different Greek word is used - kenos, which means "empty, devoid of content, hollow".
1) The Foundation of Who the MESSIAH is and what He would accomplish in His ministry are the OLD TESTAMENT Messianic prophecies.
2) The Foundation of the Gospel is the MESSIAH Himself Who shed His blood for our sins.
3) The Foundation of our faith in the Gospel is in the death, burial and resurrection of the LORD JESUS CHRIST Who shed His blood for us!
Here is some excellent commentary on this passage from another epistle written by Paul the Apostle (remember, your best commentary on the Bible, is the Bible itself! Let scripture interpret related scripture. This is the best way for any student of the Bible to really learn the truth of God's Word):
For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
For he that is dead is freed from sin.
Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
There is a LOT of spiritual meat here that could be used for a sermon on its own! The point I want to make here is that EVERYTHING in our Christian faith, our daily living, and our hope for the future depends 100% on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
For our sins to be forgiven, He must be risen!
For His Spirit to indwell us, bring us Life Eternal and empower us to follow after Jesus, He must be risen! (see JOHN 20:22)
For a victorious Christian life, He Must Be Risen!
For a hope and a future after this life is over, and when He returns to establish His kingdom, HE MUST BE RISEN!
Other verses that deal with the atonement for our sins, accomplished by Jesus death on the cross and resurrection from the dead are found in:
1 COR 5:21; ROMANS 8:3; ISAIAH 53: 5-6, 10-11; as well as PSALM 16:10; (ROMANS 6:9 as mentioned already); and 1 PETER 3:18.
"By the death of Jesus our sins were slain,
By the Risen LORD, eternal life we claim!"
vs. 15-18: "Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
"For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
"And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
"Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished."
Take a gold fish out of its fish bowl and toss it on the floor.
Uproot a flower from the soil and throw it on the sidewalk.
Snip the umbilical cord of an astronaut that's free floating outside of his spaceshuttle, in outer space.
What will happen to each of them? They will die, because they are removed from their source of life.
Cemeteries and their grave stones stand as testimonies that sin has done its destructive work!
God told Adam, that in the day he ate of the forbidden fruit, he would surely die (In the Hebrew, its even clearer: God told Adam that "in dying, you shall die", that is, once Adam sinned for the first time, he would spiritually die then and there; the process of sin would then take effect and he would begin to die slowly physically until finally, it too would be dead).
God is the only source of Eternal life; knowledge of God in a genuine, spiritual way of true belief is itself eternal life according to JOHN 17:3. Sin separates us from God, and so its because of sin, we 'pay for it' ("wages" as in a penalty) by our death.
Yet we also know that in Jesus Christ there is no sin (2 COR 5:21) so He should have never died, because He never sinned; but He did die! How is that? Because He took upon Himself our own sins!
Yet as He is the author of eternal life, He overcame sin and death, and in victory rose from the dead!
Getting back to vs. 15-18, if its true that Jesus did not rise from the dead, then everything just stated above is a lie! Any that would support these statements would be a false witness!
We can see even more so now, the vital importance and necessity for the resurrection, can't we?
vs. 19: If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (see Ecclesiastes 1:14)
vs. 20: But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
This phrase, 'first fruits' is very relevant; it refers to the first harvest of fruit that is grown with the promise of an even greater crop in the future. Just as the Bible commanded Israel to render to God their first fruits (in crops, in live stock, our first born children who were especially dedicated to the LORD) we as the church today, offer God the first fruits of our labor (working as unto the LORD and not human beings) and finances (as in tithes), our time in study of His Word, prayer, and fellowship, whatever ministry the LORD has given us, etc.
God offered up His First Born (a title for one who was pre-eminent, or rank #1), the LORD Jesus Christ on our behalf, and He has risen with a promise of even greater fruit, when all the church is likewise risen from the dead!
1 PETER 1:3-5
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
~~ This concludes the first half of this teaching. The second half will be posted at a later time (hopefully soon!) for the prayerfully hopeful blessing of the saints!~~