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Easter Sunday // 1 Corinthians 15:50-58

Mary Ellen Ermis April 17, 2022 Devotionals, sermons, 1 Corinthians, 30 Days to Easter, cityrise, houston, Roger Patterson, West U Baptist,

The following is a manuscript of the sermon presented by Senior Pastor Dr. Roger Patterson on Easter Sunday, April 17, 2022 at our West U Baptist Campus. To view the sermon in full, check out the link below.

Why the Resurrection Matters: 10 Truths that will Shape Your Life

He is Risen! He is Risen, Indeed!  He is Risen! He is Risen, Indeed!

This was the greeting of the early church, as they proclaimed joyfully the life-altering truth of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth from the dead.

Have you embraced this life-altering truth? Have you let the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth impact your life and shape your future?

You probably remember this Nicholas Cage movie from the early 2000’s. It seems like everyone has seen it. The story revolves around Benjamin Gates and his crew racing to find the incredible treasure hidden for centuries by the Freemasons.

Their journey to find the treasure is crazy:

  • they have to steal the Declaration of Independence,
  • face kidnappers,
  • decode puzzles,
  • avoid the authorities,
  • travel around the country,
  • and chase all sorts of loose ends
  • until they finally arrive in the church where they believe the treasure should be hidden.

But what they find is heartbreaking. The treasure appears to have been looted and stolen—probably a long time ago. It looked like everything they had done was in vain.

Solving the puzzles and finding all the clues was completely meaningless if there was no treasure at the end. They toiled, broke the law, and almost got caught or killed numerous times, and there was nothing to show for it. The whole thing was a waste.

Paul makes a similar argument here in 1 Corinthians 15 about the resurrection. In the same way that the treasure was the crux of the hunt, so is the resurrection the pillar around which our faith rises and falls. If Christ did not rise, if he was not victorious over sin and death, then our faith is in vain and we are to be pitied.

But the good news is, the treasure was there.

The resurrection of Jesus is a stumbling block for some—frankly, for many, it is folly—but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Do you know the treasure of the resurrection?

You may say “treasure?” Why is the Resurrection a treasure? Well, that’s what I want to show you today. Basically, I want to share with you why the resurrection matters – the SO WHAT – THE IMPLICATIONS of the RESURRECTION and how it can Shape your Life!

I have provided an outline for you of 10 truths of the Resurrection. It is in your bulletin, on the back of your worship guide. You can follow along and fill in the blanks as we go.

Let me show you why the Resurrection of Jesus is a Treasure!

Look with me at 1 Corinthians 15. This chapter of scripture is the greatest treatment on the resurrection that we have. In the first 11 verses, we have the fact of the resurrection and the resulting verses, from 12-58, help us understand the TREASURE of it for our lives.

Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 15:3-8.

1 Corinthians 15:3-8

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.

The first thing I want you to see about the resurrection of Jesus is that it is of FIRST importance.

  1. The resurrection of Jesus is of FIRST All of the Christian faith hinges on this CONFESSION. (vs. 3-8)

There is no mistaking that this is the central claim of Christianity. And the Apostle Paul says that it was “According to the Scriptures…” In other words, the Apostle Paul says that this had been prophesied in the Old Testament.

One of these prophesies is in Isaiah 53, speaking of the suffering Messiah.

Isaiah 53: 4-9

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the 
Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

These words were written some 700 years before the life of Christ.

Psalm 22, written 1000 years before crucifixion was invented, prophesies the Messiah’s death.

Here is a small portion.

Psalm 22:16-18

For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
17 I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.

The Old Testament Scriptures declare the death of the Messiah in multiple places. These are just two.

The Old Testament Scriptures also declare the Resurrection of the Messiah.

In Isaiah 53, notice how it speaks of the death of the Messiah, and yet he is making intercession as one who is alive.

Isaiah 53:11-12

11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Daniel 12 proclaims the resurrection. Psalm 22 also.

The Apostle Paul says that the death and resurrection of the Messiah was foretold and fulfilled in Jesus. He then says, “And if that isn’t enough for you, he appeared to Cephas, the 12…and 500 others, many of whom are still alive. — If you don’t believe me, go ask them!”

And then he adds…and he also appeared to me!

And it was this appearance, through a vision of Jesus to Paul, that absolutely transformed his belief and life. He was Saul of Tarsus, persecuting the church, and he became the Apostle Paul, the church planter across all of Asia Minor and Europe.

Transition: Because of his understanding of the scriptures and his own experience, Paul has a lot to say to us about WHY THE RESURRECTION MATTERS.

Transition: Let’s begin to understand why this matters to our lives. The second thing I want you to see about this treasure is this.

  1. If Jesus was NOT raised, NO ONE will be raised. (vs. 12-14)

This is Paul’s simple logic. If you claim that there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ was not raised.

Look at 1 Corinthians 15:12-14.

1 Corinthians 15:12-14

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.

Do you see this logic? If there is no resurrection, then here is what that means:

  1. 13 – Not even Christ is raised.
  3. 15 – We are lying – we are testifying about God something that is not true
  4. 17 – There is no salvation available to mankind, and you are still in your sins.
  5. 18 – Believers in Jesus who have died have no eternal hope
  6. 19 – If our hope in Christ is only in this life, then PITY US, because we have believed a lie.
  7. 32 – We need to change our worldview to “eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

Look at verse 32.

1 Corinthians 15:32b

…If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

But, Paul declares in verse 20 that the Resurrection is an historical fact.

That’s the third treasure I want you to see here on our list.

  1. It is a HISTORICAL FACT. (vs. 20; 5-6)

Notice verse 20.

1 Corinthians 15:20

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Listen to the writings from Josephus, a Jewish Historian of the First Century, who was not a Christian and from whom much of his writing has been greatly preserved.

Antiquities 18:63:

At this time there was a wise man called Jesus, and his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. Many people among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive. Accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have reported wonders. And the tribe of the Christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day.

J. Warner Wallace, a former LAPD Cold Case Detective, who came to Christ after investigating the claims of the Christian faith, gives many reasons to declare the resurrection an historical fact.

He has written a few books, if you want to look at them: Cold-Case Christianity, and his most recent is Person of Interest.

Wallace’s approach to show the historicity of the resurrection is fascinating and compelling. We don’t have time to unpack it here, but please consider picking up his work and doing the study for yourself.

As we declare the resurrection an historic fact, and as we read the gospels and look at history, we know a number of things that help us conclude the resurrection of Jesus is not a myth.

If it were a myth, the gospel writers would not have women as the first to go to the grave and see the risen Lord. Women were not valid witnesses in court in first-century Palestine, as they were not considered admissible, reliable witnesses.

Additionally, if this were a made-up lie, the Apostles, 10 of which were killed for their confession that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead, would have abandoned their myth in order to rescue their lives from death.

But these were absolutely convinced and they went to their deaths confessing the resurrection, not recanting it.

There are many other evidences to consider, but these are just a few.

Now, what’s so amazing about this resurrection is all the great implications for you and me who follow Jesus. Notice what Treasures the Apostle Paul shares with us about the IMPLICATIONS of CHRIST’S RESURRECTION.

4. Those who are IN CHRIST are included in the coming resurrection. (vs. 21-22)

1 Corinthians 15:21-22

For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 

Those who are IN CHRIST shall be made alive! Those who have put their faith in Jesus shall be RESURRECTED to EVERLASTING LIFE!

What else?

Let’s look at number 5 here.

5. There will be a moment IN TIME when Jesus will return to RESURRECT the dead and RAPTURE the church. (vs. 23; 51-52)

1 Corinthians 15:23

 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.

At his coming…this is the moment in time, I’m talking about.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52

 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 

Sleep here means die. We shall not all die, but we will all be changed. At the last trumpet, when Christ Comes to RESURRECT and RAPTURE, those who belong to Christ who aren’t dead, they will be changed! We will see more about this in just a moment.

What else do we see? What else is going on here? Why does the RESURRECTION MATTER?

The Resurrection is part of the cosmic war between light and darkness, good and evil, the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Satan.

6. Jesus will DESTROY all of God’s enemies, the last one being DEATH. (vs. 24-26)

1 Corinthians 15:24-26

Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

Jesus came to right all of the wrongs and to put all of God’s enemies to death – rulers, powers, authorities…and he will destroy death!

People ask, what is God’s response to all of the suffering in the world?

And they miss the reality of the cross and empty grave of Jesus.

Jesus was a man of sorrows – he fully identifies with your suffering and mine. He was despised and rejected and betrayed and abused and falsely accused and falsely imprisoned and falsely convicted and falsely murdered.

He was homeless. He wept at the death of his friend. Those closest to him denied they even knew him.

Jesus knew physical, emotional, and spiritual loss, grief, and pain.

He identifies with our suffering. But more than that, he suffered in our place. Died. And was Resurrected! And because of this, he will destroy all of God’s enemies – Satan the author of lies and his minions – and he will rule and reign in justice. He will destroy death!

And we will reign with him!

And notice what it says of us who are in Christ. Look at the 7th Treasure I want you to see.

7. Those who are in Christ RECEIVE a body fit for ETERNITY at the resurrection. (vs. 35; 42-44)

  1. It is IMPERISHABLE, never to DIE again (vs. 42, 53)
  2. It is GLORIOUS. (v. 43)
  3. It is POWERFUL. (v. 43)
  4. It is SPIRITUAL. (v. 44)

1 Corinthians 15:49

Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

I have just a few more for you…and it is some of the best treasure there is.

8. At the resurrection, the PAIN of DEATH will be removed. (v. 54-56)

Notice this promise as many of you grieve a loved one who has died. Look at this good news for us all.

1 Corinthians 15:54-56

When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”

Notice, this hasn’t happened just yet. Death deeply stings. Death overwhelms us. It crushes us.

But look at this promise – AT THE RESURRECTION, the STING OF DEATH WILL BE REMOVED! Oh, I pray that is a great encouragement to you this RESURRECTION SUNDAY. As we celebrate Christ’s resurrection and look forward to our own!

It’s such good news for us!

Now, notice numbers 9 and 10. Let’s do these last two together.

9. Because of Jesus’ DEATH and RESURRECTION, we have VICTORY over our greatest enemy, the grave! (vs. 55-57)

10. Because of these truths, we are to hold fast, be IMMOVABLE, ever working to ADVANCE His Kingdom. (vs. 1-2; 58)

Look at the conclusion of the chapter in verses 57 and 58. Then we will look at the opening verses, 1 and 2.

1 Corinthians 15:57-58

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Paul is saying, because we are victorious, we should labor continuously for God’s Kingdom! This is not too dissimilar to how he instructs us as the chapter opens.

1 Corinthians 15:1-2

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.

My friend, do you see the rich treasure? Do you see why the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth matters?

Oh, that you would embrace his resurrection! Have you? Have you taken Christ as your Savior?

To Receive Christ as Your Savior

A – Admit – “Dear God, I admit I am a sinner.”

B – Believe – “I believe Jesus died for me and rose again from the dead.”

C – Confess – “I confess my need for Jesus to save me.”