I Corinthians 15:12-19
“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.”
Good morning everybody. If you were, you can turn with me to your Bibles to first Corinthians chapter 15, which is where we’re going to be going this morning. If you were not here at sunrise service, you missed a record crowd. We had to close our nine o’clock and 10 o’clock registrations early yesterday. And I think a lot of them switched over to the sunrise.
We had way over 300 people out there at six 30 in the morning, little ominous, because not only was it dark, uh, it didn’t really ever get totally light because the clouds hid the sun, which came up. I kept promising it was going to rise at six 39. But it w it was a great, great time. Just beautiful time out there.
First Corinthians chapter 15. I am pastor Mark. Um, we’re trying to identify ourselves this morning and looking at first Corinthians chapter 15, verses 12 through 19. Here’s what we read. But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless. And so is your faith more than that? We are then found to be false witnesses about God. For, we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead, but he did not read it, but if he did not raise him, in fact, the dead are not raised for if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile. You are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life, we have hope in Christ. We are of all people, most to be pitied. Lord, we look to you this morning. We thank you for the chance to gather here.
And in homes, watching online, God, we pray that you would enable us now, as we reflect on the truths of the resurrection of Jesus to so what’s, I pray that you would, um, shape us, mold us and yeah. And Lord enable us particularly to think, well, what does this mean in my own life today in Jesus name? Amen.
I’ve had a chance over the years, talked to a number of different. Pastors preachers in particular. And when they’re just talking, we’re having conversations just about what are some principles. I always bring up this principle. I said that one of the key things in preaching is to make sure that at the end of the message, you will have answered the question.
So what I mean, it’s, it’s important to share truth and, and we believe the Bible histories, but people want to be able to walk away. And it isn’t just a, the dactic presentation where you’re, you’re, you’re presenting. You want to say, this is why it matters. This is why it’s significant in your own personal life.
This morning, we’re looking at chapter 15 of the book Corinthians. It is the most thorough presentation on the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the whole Bible. It is a passage, particularly the one we just read. That focuses on the soul Watts. What difference does it make about the resurrection of Jesus Christ?
Well, first one thing I want to, I want to say, as we enter this passage, many people like the idea of the resurrection. I mean, it’s a great story. It’s a, it’s a, a symbol of a fresh start. It’s a picture of a man standing against tyranny, sorta like the hunger games, you know, vanquish defeated and yet rising and, and throwing over the, the desk spot.
It’s a picture of good triumphing over evil, but for the apostle Paul and the writers of the new Testament, this was not an interesting fable or an uplifting story of morality and hope. This was factual history to them. Guys like Paul we’re literally staking their entire lives reputation. The, the, the whole trajectory of, of, uh, how they live their lives was based on this.
Either being true or not true. And that’s exactly what Paul’s talking about in first Corinthians 15. He says, what if he didn’t rise from the dead? I mean, I mean, what if this is just a cool story and, and what if we did really pull it off and, and, and get the message out there that Jesus is raised, but really we know he died and he, you know, and that was the end of the story.
What does it mean if he did rise and what does it mean if he didn’t rise? What are the, so walk about the resurrection now, the writers of the new Testament believed in factly and implicitly that Jesus 33 year old carpenter from Galilee. Was executed on the electric chair of his day was wrapped in Glade grave clothes, laid in a cold rock, hewn tomb, as dead as a human can possibly be.
And three days later came back to life. He was not in a coma. He was not drugged and appear dead to these writers. And to hundreds of other eyewitnesses, he was a literal corpse and had been in the grave three days and he Rose literally from the dead. And here, Paul is telling us the ramifications of that to his own life.
It wasn’t just that Jesus was his teacher. And he had arranged himself around, under the teachings of Jesus. He says, everything is dependent on one truth. Jesus was dead and Jesus is alive. And so there are three things that I want to just simply highlight in a, in a fairly simply simple study this morning.
The first thing is if Jesus is raised from the dead the first, so what is something is over? He says this in verse 16, and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile. You are still in your sins. He says, if Jesus is still dead, if he is still in the grave, if he is still honestly a corpse, then you have hitched your wagon into the wrong horse.
Nothing’s different. He says we are still in our sins now, what, what does that mean? Well, to be in your sins simply means what does it mean to be in your sins? It means that you are still in the grip of sin, that all the results from your statin is still yours. Nothing’s really changed now just to play this out a little bit to be in, in our sins, mean that we are still in the state, the position of bearing the consequence of sin, the Bible makes clear what that is.
It says the way Jews of sin is death. He says, you’re still in the grip of death. Now, what does that mean? Well, it’s, it means two things. There are two types of, of death that are, that are prominent here. The first of those, and, and as I’ve mentioned this before, when the Bible uses the term death, it’s talking about, uh, another way of describing that would be the one word separation.
We do, we do it that way as well. We talk about what he’s given up the ghost. Uh, but that means as a spirit, as departed, that that, that person has died. That, that the material part, the body has been separated from the soul spirit. If I dropped dead on the stage this morning, I’ll still be here. At least this fart will be, but my spirit soul has departed.
I have become a separated entity body here. Earth suit, if you will. But the soul spirit has departed that as physical death. It’s, it’s, it’s been looked at that way. Uh, historically we look at it that way today. The other ramification of sin is what is called spiritual death. And this is the most important part.
Spiritual death is also separation. It is our spirit, which is our orientation towards God, where we have two orientations in our immaterial part, we have what’s called the soul, which is the horizontal part. It’s the word SU cost. The word we get psychology from psychology is, is, uh, evaluating and the study of how I do life with others.
And with myself, it’s the horizontal level. I have a soul soulless person, but I am also a new mosque, a spirit person. There is a vertical dimension to my immaterial part, and this is what has become separated from God through sin. And Paul is saying if Jesus isn’t raised you, haven’t changed in the whole reality of death in your life.
First of all, when you die, that will be it. Second of all. You will never escape this state of spiritual separation or disconnection with God. Now some of you have been attending church here and maybe other places, and maybe you’ve gone, or maybe you’ve listened to a preacher on TV and you’ve listened to see.
That is so interesting. I mean, those people talk about God. Like he’s somebody you can personally do life with and personally know, and, and maybe your honest expression, maybe never sanitation buddy, maybe just processing is I just feel like I’m, I’m sort of looking through a glass and, and I I’m there, but I don’t get this idea of personal relationship and, and, and knowing God M’s.
And I mean, I’m an, I believe in God. I believe God’s real. I believe he’s big. I believe he’s loving all of a sudden, but I don’t get the, the, the, the personal relationship part. Well, what the Bible says is there is because of sin, all of us are born in a state of disconnection with God. We can learn about God.
We can believe things about God, but as far as being connected with him in relationship, the way we were originally designed to be and was broken because of sin, Jesus, resurrection has everything to do with that being repaired. Paul says we’re still in that state of disconnection with God. If Jesus hasn’t been raised from the dead, but he says, if Jesus Rose, first of all, when we physically die, it’s not the end.
He is the first fruits of the scene. He’s the one that enables us to experience something beyond this grave, ultimately life beyond this grave, but he says also. He’s the one that enables us to have connection with God, to have a relationship with God where our spirits have been, been separated and disconnection disconnected.
There’s a disease that I would guess some of you you have, or, or have, have known of. It’s called my Estonia gravis. And it’s basically a disease where the, the, uh, whenever I do my wife’s father was a, uh, biology professor. Whenever I do a science illustration, she’s nervous. Um, uh, but I’m just, so I am not a medical doctor or medical, anything, but, um, my Estonia gravis, as, as I’ve understood, it is basically the nerve impulses from the brain are sent, but they do not find that the receptors.
At the muscles are able to receive the nerve impulses. And so with my Estonia gravis, it’s possible that your, your, your muscles atrophy actually begin to atrophy and other things take place because the nerve impulses are not received when we are in our sins, as he’s describing here, which is the state of all of us originally, when we are not reconnected with God, when you read the Bible, it doesn’t speak to you the way it speaks.
You know, you hear other people talking about God spoke me through his words. I don’t hear it. I mean, I, I, we, we don’t understand. We don’t, we don’t, we don’t see, we don’t interpret life the same way, where God is just working in my life. There is a disconnect that disconnect is healed. Because Jesus can be healed because Jesus Christ Rose from the grave.
And Paul says, if he didn’t rise, there’s no hope beyond the grave, the spirit physical death, and that’s the end. And secondly, they’re spiritual deaths and that’s not going to be paired. We can’t be reconnected. He says death is raining and death is inevitable in both of those realities. Some of you watch the cartoon story.
Maybe a few of you have even gone so far as to read the jungle book by Rudyard Kipling. And in it Mowgli, the man CLA Cub asked the animals. What’s the most feared animal in the juggle. And I feared thing in the jungle. And he’s told when two animals meet on a narrow path that, uh, the most feared thing is the one that will, everyone will give sway.
And some people say it’s an elephant that nobody’s going to try to push their way past. Other people say Elian. And finally, the wise old owl says this, the most feared thing in the jungle is death. It steps aside for no one, but Paul is saying here, one has come, who has conquered physical death doesn’t mean we won’t experience it, but it means that we will pass through it to the other side, just like he did.
And he has conquered spiritual death, that there is a new spiritual reconnection with God, because Jesus Rose from the dead. Christ died for our sins. He says the righteous for the unrighteous to bring us to relate to God through Jesus resurrection. Something is over the state of, of, of being captive and physical death with nothing beyond this state of being disconnected from God and spirit actually dead.
He says the potential is for that to be over. The second thing he says of the, so what of the resurrection is something new has begun in verse 20. He says this, but Christ has indeed been raised from the dead. The first fruits of those who have fallen asleep, but each in turn Christ the first roots. Then when he comes, those who belong to him, this, this is such a beautiful picture.
He is saying, Jesus is the first fruits. Of the resurrection. He says, there’s a world coming that he is the first fruits of now. The first fruits is simply an expression of saying, this is the first part of the, of the, of the product out of the field. This, these are the first apples taken out of the tree.
And in during Apple harvest time, these are the first tomatoes you pick in the old Testament. You were to give a portion of your first fruits to God, as a way of saying everything I got in the field you own. And I’m just acknowledging it by, by giving this first fruit portion. And here it’s saying, Jesus is first.
He’s the, he’s the first one out of the field. He leaves the way he is expressing the reality of what is true for all that come after him and embrace the reality of him in their lives. Christ says this believe in me and the resurrection will come into your life. What I have experienced can be yours.
That doesn’t mean you’ll get inspired. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to have warm feelings. It doesn’t mean you’re going to have superhuman strength, but it does mean that in your life, you will begin to experience a taste of what is coming and what it means to be made new in Romans chapter six. It says it this way, just as Christ was raised from the dead for the glory of the father, we too may live a new life.
He says there is an inner transformation that can begin to take place in our lives because of what Jesus has done. Basically, he’s saying he’s the first fruits of this resurrection. Jesus has risen beyond the grave. Jesus has risen to a newness of life. It says you can begin to taste that future reality in your own lives because it has.
Excuse me. It has already begun the old stuff. Self dominated life is still potentially in charge, but in the resurrected life of Christ power for a new life change in what you bring to relationships, a capacity to forgive other people, a new peace that passes understanding hope self-control a contentment in circumstances because there is a newness of life.
As we are reconnected with God through the resurrecting power of Christ in our lives, the resurrection of Jesus was the beginning of the incredible change. He came back from death and apparent defeat, and he says, you can do your life can be irrevocably changed.
There’ve been historic comebacks that have been mentioned. I read us a sports illustrated article, a number of years back, and it was talking about the 10 greatest comebacks in history. It was an interesting article because it sort of weighed, it went outside of sports. Although I mentioned a couple of sports, the greatest comebacks of all time included Muhammad Ali, uh, when he returned from his, his seven year exile from, from boxing and then reclaim the world championship.
It talked about Michael Jordan. When he, when he had left after three D three consecutive NBA championships and then went into baseball to the oppression of all of us, and then came back and won three more, three straight NBA championships. Again, they had a historic events, the story of Japan and Germany devastated in the second world war, but becoming world economic powers again within a generation.
They even waxed somewhat, uh, world history in a big way, historic. And they talked about humanity returning from the black plague of the 14th century when 25 million Europeans, somewhere between 30 and 40% of every human in Europe died, but it survived. But the number one named by the editors of sports illustrated magazine, the greatest comeback of all time took place in 80 33 by Jesus Christ.
When he came back from the grave, when he Rose victorious, maybe you need comeback maybe in your life. Life has you down and defeated, hopeless, and weak, and trying to live in your own strength in capable of fighting your destructive habits and passions in your own resources, place your hope and trust your faith.
In the greatest comeback of all time, Jesus Christ conquered death. He offers hope beyond the grave to you. He offers transformed power, where you are brought into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through Jesus Christ. With God, the father that your life can be changed with this new life that he offers.
Something is over something new has begun. And third, this passage, the resurrection of Jesus Christ guarantees that some things will never end first Corinthians 15 verse 58. The end of the passage. He says, therefore, my dear brothers and sisters stand firm, let nothing move. You always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labor.
In the Lord is not in vain. The resurrection of Jesus Christ means that investing your life and following Christ makes ultimate sense. There what’s done in Christ’s name has eternal value because ultimately the one who conquered death will conquer all in 1930, there was a man named Nikolai Evanovich Bukara one of the most powerful men.
I think I have his picture there. One of the most powerful men that had existed on planet earth at the time close associate of Lennon, he was a member of the Politburo. He was the editor of prov, the, the Soviet newspaper, uh, in, in the Soviet union. And Russia at the time. And now he had become the primary spokesman for Joseph Stalin.
They appeared on stage all the time when they did speeches. And in 1930, this was 13 years after the, the, the Russian revolution took over. Uh, communism took over Russia, BU Caren was sent to do a mass speech at Kev in Russia. The Russians were still the Soviet, excuse me. The communists were, we’re trying hard to eradicate any vestiges of Christianity at the time was an atheistic system of belief in communism.
And he was a, a magnificent, compelling speaker. And so he went and he was arguing against. Christianity religion at large, but Christianity in particular. And he presented this, uh, heavy artillery filled with facts and intellectual data speech, trying to destroy the faith of people that listen that might possibly be.
They’re still identifying as Christians. And he got done. He spoke for literally an hour and as at the end of his speech, in the apparent smoldering ashes of peoples dismantled faith Bukara then said, are there any questions? And it was totally silent for awhile. And then finally this older man got up and actually came forward and walked onto the platform and he stood next to Bukharian and he turned to this mass.
There were thousands of people there.
And he said, this Christ is risen
and almost the entire crowd stood and said, Christ is risen. Indeed. The resurrection of Jesus Christ guarantees Jesus is going to win. It is the declaration that he, who has conquered death, who has risen to offer new life to people in every corner of the world. In every age, in every Epic, in every generation is allowing his church and his kingdom to go forth today.
But ultimately what he’s done in rising from the dead is just the first fruits of the change life. Of the rising above death, into eternal life and heaven that he’s offering to anyone that chooses to embrace Christ, a savior, maybe you’re here and you say, well, yeah, I’m a, I’m a Christian and me and I were, what else would I be?
I mean, a it’s what most people seem to be today, or they’re a non, you know, nothing, but, but have you embraced Christ as your savior? Have you personally said, I want Christ to be mine or are you looking through the glass and say, I hear about it. I like it. I mean, I, uh, I like Christian people at least, but, but ultimately.
Do you know, Jesus Christ as a living power in your life. Have you ever realized the significance of his dying on the cross for sinners like you and like me rising from the dead and saying I did this as a first fruits of what you can become. You’re that field? You’re the apples. You’re the peaches.
You’re the tomatoes. You’re the harvest. I want to bring in, to share in my resurrection. I did it for somebody just like you.
Maybe you’re here today. Didn’t expect this, but maybe you’re here today and you’re just here because your family says you got to go to church. If you’re going to get Easter dinner at our house, but maybe there was a higher plan than lunch. Maybe Jesus wanted you to know he died and Rose for you. And he who’s the first fruits just for you.
And that this hope beyond the grave and this transforming inner power that he offers because of his resurrection he’s offering to you. Maybe that’s why you’re here today. In his idea,
Paul closes with this statement stand firm. This is the end of first Corinthians 15 stand firm. Let nothing move you. Your labor is not in vain in the Lord. Why? Because Christ’s gonna win desk Barts and dictators have their moments of bullying and dominance, atheist mockers faults profits, have their say.
But the one who Rose from the dead will conquer his purposes will stand. His kingdom will conquer. Jesus is alive. Maybe you’re here and you’ve heard of the resurrection. It’s a nice story. Cool.
But what if it’s true? What if it’s true? What are the, so what’s, if you embrace Jesus as the living Lord and savior of your life, well, one, something will be over your spiritual disconnection from God. Number two, something new will begin. This connection will God will bring change empowerment to live in a power that is beyond yourselves.
The power of the spirit of God, of the triune third member of the triune deity. God. And something will never end your life takes on eternal consequence because you are a part of a kingdom that is eternal and purposes that will be fulfilled through the power of Christ. Maybe God is speaking to you right now, right in this room, or right in your home about you re embracing Jesus Christ as your savior and Lord, there is no, there is an experience that Jesus says is the means by which this resurrection is made operative in our lives.
He talks about having a new birth experience that we, we actually are spiritually reborn. That disconnection is broken we’re. Now there is life in that relationship, it involves acknowledging that you are a sinner. Acknowledge admitting that you need God’s forgiveness for your sins, because ultimately your sin has been against him and his commands and an involves personally, individually receiving Jesus Christ as one savior for your sins and Lord of your lives.
I’m going to close this service on this Easter Sunday morning with an invitation to you personally, right? Where you are. It’s an invitation to personally embrace Jesus Christ as your savior. There’s a prayer that has been used for generations called the sinner’s prayer. It’s just a simple way of embracing Jesus Christ as savior.
You don’t have to use these exact words. God knows your heart. But I’m going to share these. These are my way of saying it, the sinner’s prayer. And if you would like to pray and you hear, and you say, I, yeah, I’m a sinner. I don’t deserve to go to heaven. I’m not going to get, I know I’m not going to be good enough.
Nobody is. But yeah, I, I, I knew if realized how important it was that Jesus Christ died on the cross. I never really thought this was for me, but he Rose for me. Yeah. Right now, pastor Mark, I would love to receive Christ as my savior. Would you help me to do that? Love too. What I’d like to do is just as I close.
I’m going to pray. And then I’m going to invite you to write where nobody’s talking out loud. You don’t have to stand up. You don’t have to move around all as you’re doing silently is from your heart. You’re speaking to God. If this is your prayer to him this morning, I’ll tell you the words. And I’m going to ask you to pray.
I’m going to ask you to pray. I acknowledge that I’m a sinner. I realized that I need your forgiveness for my sins. And I ask you Jesus to enter my life as my savior and my Lord. We’re going to do that in just a moment. Lord, you look at every heart here today. Online,
you see the people in whom your spirit is right now, drawing Lord it’s about those people. I’m specifically praying, protect them from distraction, protect them from anything that would take them from this eternal moment in their lives. And may your spirit enable them to pray and receive Christ right now with every head bowed and every eye closed believers praying right now for people.
If God has spoken to your heart, I invite you from your own heart to God’s to pray these words, silently God, I acknowledge that I am a sinner.
I realized that I need your forgiveness for my sins.
Jesus. I ask you to enter my life as my savior and as my Lord right now,
with every head bowed. And I mean this sincerely, every head bowed and eye closed right now in this room. If you’d prayed this prayer, I’m going to ask you. And I am the only one that’s looking and God just slip up your hand and is totally just cause I want to pray for you. If you’ve prayed that prayer just now, would you just slip up your hands?
Say yeah. Wow. Yes. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Wow. Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. Thank you. God,
John makes very clear that nobody turns to you apart from you drawing us. We sent your work right now in this room and maybe in homes. Oh Lord. Or each of these that has raised their hand and prayed this prayer bird. May they now grow? May they imbibe the truth of what it means to be a child of God. May they get that?
The fostering and the deepening that comes as we get into your word and we spend time with your people. And most of all, spend time with you, Lord, Lord Jesus. We love you for coming to God, goth this Hill. We love you for being willing on those moments in the cross to be separated from the father that we would never have to be.
We love that you Rose. We love that you offer the life of reconnection with God because you have risen victorious over all that sin did in our lives. In breaking connection. We worship you. Jesus. In whose name we pray. Amen. We’re going to close in a second. If God spoke to your heart this morning in this room or online, and you raised your hand, you prayed to Christ.
There’s nothing. Any of us as pastors or ministry staff would love more than to be able to sit with you and just get you started on your spiritual journey. Please reach out to one of us, let us know that we can, uh, just get you started on, on a relationship with Jesus. All right, we’re going to close. Here we go.
He is risen. Yes. Enjoy your Easter. . .