September 22, 2014
I Corinthians 15:1-4
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
The Enigma of the Gospel is “a perplexing or baffling matter….” – Webster – because it involves both its simplicity and complexity.
• The Gospel is Simple because it is in its simplest form – “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved….” (Acts 16:31)
• The Gospel is Complex because there is so much more to it – as brought out in I Corinthians 15:1 through 4:
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you,
which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are
saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you
believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also re-
ceived: 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
In our last blog, we saw The Logic of Missons. Paul told the Corinthian church in our scripture above, “…I delivered to you first of all that which I also received…” (verse 3). What did the apostle receive? Three things – “…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…” (verses 3 and 4). Let’s consider what lies behind these three declarations.
• Verse 3 – “…Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures….” This is a subject which the learned have tried to explain for two millennia! How could God become man – for He would have to become a human being to represent man in the offering He was going to present on the cross. It was the work of the Triune God:
▸ I John 4:14 – “…the Father has sent the Son as the Savior of the world.”
▸ Philippians 2:5 and 7 (KJV) – “…Christ Jesus…was made in the likeness of men.”
▸ Luke 1:35 – “The Holy Spirit…” impregnated Mary.
But here we run into the difficulty of how do we explain the triune God? Saint Patrick used the shamrock with its three leaves to explain ‘three in one’. Other attempts have included an egg (yoke, white and shell), and even 3 in 1 shampoo! All fall short of the inexplicable truth – One God in three Persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
It was the Son – The Lord Jesus Christ – who left the glories of heaven and came to earth. He was born of the virgin Mary, He lived a perfect life by the power of the Holy Spirit, and then He voluntarily laid down His life as a sacrifice for sinners. He took upon Himself all the sins of the world – past, present and future – and fully paid the penalty by actually becoming the guilty sinner before the holy Father. The Father then poured out His wrath upon the Son, and in the three hours of darkness – from noon until three – Jesus somehow experienced eternity in hell for all who “…have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23).
But there was more that happened on the cross. Two major victories were wrought at Calvary. The first, already stated above, was what the Lord accomplished concerning the record of sins for man – also called in Colossians 2:14, “…the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us…He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” He paid for our sins! And so Isaiah could prophesy in Isaiah 1:18, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
The second victory Jesus Christ accomplished was providing for man His own righteousness, worn like a robe (see Isaiah 61:10), and replacing the soiled rags of our iniquities (see Isaiah 64:6). So those who receive Him as Savior stand before God as perfect – the perfection of Jesus Christ Himself. And thus “…He has made us accepted in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:6).
Volumes have been written on what in just a few paragraphs I have presented here. And there will be a few paragraphs more! In our scripture of I Corinthians 15:1 through 4, there are still two more truths to be considered that the Apostle Paul received “…Christ…was buried, Christ…rose again the third day according to the Scriptures….”