Call to Worship January 17 2021
Expository Thoughts on 1Corinthians 15:1-26
Previously in his letter to the Corinthians, Paul stated the importance of orderly thinking and activity in some secondary matters in the life of the church, alongside issues of Christian liberty. His goal was for the Corinthians to not only properly understand and order these matters, but live with one another in the grace of Christ. He turned his attention in chapter 15 to matters of “first importance” (vs.3). His thoughts focused on the very gospel itself and its value as a baseline understanding for Christ-like living in the church.
The Gospel as a term has been used for centuries. It has been properly preached, sometimes perverted, and in many places maligned, but it was, as Paul says, “delivered to you as of first importance.” Paul plainly wrote to them of the basis of the Christian life and that was the gospel. He told them, “Christ died for our sins.” Paul writing to a particular body of believers used the word “our” to note his reference to believers (1:1-2). Believers in what? Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. Jesus’ death served a particular purpose in the redeeming of sinners from the consequences of their sin. He died in the place of sinners. He paid the debt of sin, which is death. All sin deserves death and Christ died the death in the place of those whom God the Father chose to redeem before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1). Furthermore, Christ died a sinner’s death according to the prophecy and fulfillment of the (Old Testament) scriptures (vs.4).
It is Christ who died and His body was placed in a tomb or buried. Paul stated clearly the importance of a bodily or physical death. Jesus was not asleep, but truly died. It makes no sense to place his body in a tomb if He was only sleeping. It was His death, through the shedding of His blood as the one and only sacrifice on behalf of sinners, that accomplished forgiveness. There would be no forgiveness if Jesus was crucified, but was only unconscious as they took Him down off the cross. Therefore He must die and He did die. After his burial He arose from the tomb.
Over a period of time which encompassed the various parts of three days, His body lay in that tomb. All those hours after He had breathed His last breath and been taken off the cross and buried, people knew that He was dead. Yet, when Mary and Martha came to the tomb the stone was rolled away and an angel was sitting on it. The angel was sent to direct and comfort them that Jesus was risen. Risen from what? He arose from the dead and was no longer in that grave. Also, the angel directed them to tell the news to the disciples that Jesus was no longer in the tomb (Matt. 28).
Paul was summing up these matters in short phrases. Yet these were not empty phrases to Paul or any person who had listened to him preach. He had first been confronted and humbled by Christ on the road to Damascus. Afterward he was led away and spent some time hearing more from the apostles of the eyewitness accounts to Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection (vs. 1& 3). All of this providence bore fruit in Paul preaching of the gospel itself and its impact on the growth of believers in Christ. How could they grow in faith if they had no foundation on which their faith was based? Make no mistake that Paul turned to this teaching in his letter at a precise moment to call upon those in the church in Corinth to remember those things of first importance to aid them in properly ordering those secondary matters spoken of earlier. We are in need of this reminder today. If we will remember the gospel and its message it will aid our functioning in the body of Christ and in the world around us. Since we are sinners, how can we name Christ and make our earthly desires, thoughts, and personal perspectives of first importance? Remember the gospel and the grace of God toward sinners and we will seek to place others before ourselves. Remember the gospel first and we will not think too highly of ourselves. Remember the gospel and we will be willing to set aside some of our own wants and desires to bring glory to Christ. Soli Deo Gloria!