Grounded in the Gospel
Grounded in the Gospel
1 Cor 15:1-11
I’m willing to bet some of the most influential people in our lives told us things over and over again. They told us over and over to make sure we got it. It was the thing that was most important to them, most important that we see it passed on.
We have seen over and over Paul is trying to root the Corinthians in the importance of what Christ has done for them. Today’s passage he is doing exactly that again.
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. (1 Corinthians 15:1-11 ESV)
This is a powerful summary of the gospel and what Christ has done for us. Some say these words sum up one of the early Christian creeds. I want to look at three things this tells us about the Gospel.
The gospel is the most important truth to live by
so we should be grounded in it.
- Grounded in the Gospel
Ground your tent. So it won’t blow away.
We need grounding in the gospel We forget things so easily. We need reminders. After a meeting I need a reminder of what we talked about. You need reminders of what to do this week. You need reminders when your test is. We need reminders of the good news. We need grounding as in not being moved. Not forgetting, being distracted.
1 “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain.
The gospel has been talked about constantly in this book. He has brought the gospel in as they dealt with divisions in the church, lawsuits among believers, marriage, baptism, Lord’s supper, and so much more. The gospel connects to all of those. And now, once again, after spiritual gifts a section follows on what Christ has done. This is not an accident. It is an intentional reminder.
The gospel is of first importance for every part of life:
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received:
It is so important because it is what saves you. This is what “saves you.” Being saved. It is a present tense. Scripture talks about Christ dying for our sins and when we believe in him we are justified. That is an instantaneous act. But that justification has ongoing effects in our lives. We desire to live more and more for Christ. So salvation is instantaneous and ongoing. We must continue to pursue the Lord. We must continue to seek Christ.
Otherwise we may “believe in vain.” Vain, not as though conceited, but vain as in no purpose, without effect. We must continue in what was believed and this is why reminders are necessary. We can’t let other things get in the way of what is most important.
The gospel is not just a diving board that you dive off of. The gospel is the whole pool. You don’t move on from it. You received on it, stand on it, being saved, and pass it on. It involves everything you do in life.
It’s the gospel that saves us. We will not experience deliverance from sin and evil through a political party. You will not experience salvation through your ballot box. Your doctor is not going to bring it. In Christ Jesus we are being saved from all that is wrong in the world. We have to keep that first and foremost. Your greatest need is not who you vote for president. It’s not who you keep out of office. Your greatest need is not getting through Corona.
It doesn’t matter what happens in the election – very little changes about our mission. We know not everyone will agree with us, we know people are hurting, we know people will…
You never move on from the gospel, only to a deeper and more profound understanding of the gospel.
You need to be grounded in the good news of Jesus. You need reminders. Who is reminding you of the importance of the gospel? Who is helping you connect the saving work of Christ to the obstacles and challenges you face? Have you given permission to speak truth into your life? Who is giving you reminders? Who is trying to anchor you in the gospel. The Corinthians needed reminders. I do, too and so do you.
Gospel summary. Christ died for my sins. Christ rose from the grave.
This keeps you anchored when life goes wrong. When your candidate doesn’t win. When injustice prevails.
- A Gospel that is Grounded
We need grounding in something that won’t be moved. God’s work is immovable and so we trust in that.
Part of us remaining grounded in the gospel is recognizing the grounds, the premise that the gospel is founded on. This passage also states grounds for believing the gospel.
I think of law shows. Liar Liar. Night court. Bull. “I object. On what grounds?” What is the basis you do that. Basis for believing. Law gets technical because wants to make sure it’s right. The gospel is well grounded.
There is a sense in which we believe God’s word because he spoke it. We obey him because he says so. Some things in the Christian faith we believe simply because Scripture tells us and there is not a lot that can be known about it and there is not a lot the Scripture says about it.
But we also believe that God acts in the world and in history, and he does things that help anchor our hope, and the resurrection is just such a thing. The gospel is grounded in Scripture and history. There is significant reason to believe the Gospel.
Grounded in Scripture, sacred writings.
3… that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
Christ’s death did not come out of nowhere. It is the culmination of all God has been doing in the world. The gospel can be traced out through the Bible.
Isaiah 53 written in 640 BC speaks of the servant of the Lord who would suffer for others:
4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. 6 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. (Isa 53:1 ESV)
You read this and it maps over to exactly what Christ has done. The new testament uses this to explain what Christ accomplished on the cross.
He was also raised according to the Scripture. The resurrection is seen in the many Old Testament passages that announce God’s great king will not be conquered by death and his reign will have no end, that he will redeem his people and make them whole.
It is based on history and God’s dealing with people in the past.
Grounded in Scripture. Also Grounded in appearances. These appearances explain how the Christian religion expanded across the world. This passage grounds belief in Jesus in the reality of the resurrection. And there is significant evidence that something spectacular happened in the lives of the believers. A great change happened in their lives, and the reality of the resurrection points to that.
He appeared to Peter. Peter was seen at the crucifixion denying Jesus to a young girl. A short period of time later he is in the streets of Jerusalem preaching and telling people to repent and trust in Jesus. That is a dramatic turn around for someone. What could possibly do that.
When you go into religious education and your leader is led away in chains and executed in capital punishment things tend to go down hill, right. You don’t stay in that profession. Peter went back to fishing. Why would he change course? Something dramatic happened. And he would give his life testifying to the resurrection.
Blaise Pascal, I believe witnesses who get their throats cut.”
Appeared to James. Most believe this is James the brother of Jesus. James became a follower of Jesus and a leader in the church.
“Don’t we have the right to be accompanied by a Christian wife, like the other apostles, the Lord’s brothers, and Cephas?” (1Co 9:5 CSB)
What is amazing is that prior to the death of Jesus, James did not believe Jesus was the messiah.
“For even his own brothers did not believe in him. (Joh 7:5 NIV)
Something significant changed the attitude of James. If the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus was made up then it does not seem James would have changed.
Appeared to all the apostles. Most believe this was a limited circle but more than just the 12 and would have included people like
“Therefore, from among the men who have accompanied us during the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us– 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day He was taken up from us– from among these, it is necessary that one become a witness with us of His resurrection.” (Act 1:21 CSB)
Appeared to 500. Now there is no account of this in Scripture, but the point being made is quite powerful. Paul mentions some have fallen asleep. But others have not. And so the point is look, if you don’t believe me then go and ask some of the others who saw him raised from the dead. Paul is writing a public letter about a public event that people could have gone and asked about. This is how Luke wrote his gospel. He went and asked eyewitnesses, people who saw the events themselves.
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, (Luke 1:1-2 ESV)
Appeared to Paul. Paul considers himself one abnormally born. He was not born of the church. Jesus appeared to him on the Damascus road in a blinding light knocking him off his horse.
9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.
Eyewitness testimony. These are people who saw what happened. Court cases are won based on people who saw what happened. If it is your word against another’s, it may be difficult to prove something. But if there are 500 people who say they saw you steal the cookie from the cookie jar then you better hire a really good lawyer.
God acts in history. He moves in people’s lives. And when you recognize what he has done for you, then you are willing to base your life on him. You realize he is able to save you from all that has gone wrong in the world. Peter and James, and Paul, and the other apostles were willing to give their lives testifying to this. 1 Corinthians is written twenty five (ad 54) years after the resurrection of Jesus. It will be another 10 years of preaching for Peter before he finally gives his life testifying to who Jesus is (ad 64).
In Christ we are saved. Saved from God’s wrath for our sin. Saved from the justice that our wrongs deserve. Saved from our bad ideas. Saved from going our own way. Saved from the things others have done to us. Saved from a world that is perishing and falling apart. Saved from viruses. Saved from sickness. Saved from death. Saved from the pursuit of Satan. Saved from our limitations. Saved from rebelling against God.
Everything our world so desperately wants to find is only found in Jesus.
But taking hold of Jesus means we let go of living life the way we want to. It means letting go of doing our own things. It means submitting to Jesus and following his word.
All of these people who saw Jesus were transformed by Jesus. If you have not been transformed then you have not really seen Jesus.
Peter left everything to follow Christ. He did it twice. Paul left his way of life in Judaism. Have you left everything for Jesus? Are you doing that each day? Have you forgotten the power in the gospel and the amazing promises that comes to us?
- Grounded for Kingdom Work
If we are grounded in the gospel it is going to mean we want to share that news with others. That we see everything through that lens. It means when we talk about our lives we can’t not talk about the connection the gospel has to us. It means we take risks and do hard work. Paul would go on to show how his confidence in the gospel led him to work harder than everyone else.
On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. (1 Corinthians 15:1-11 ESV)
Paul is going to do a little boasting here. His faith propelled him to do hard things. He worked harder than anyone. Paul saw God do some amazing things.
I used to think faith meant God showed up and made everything fall into place when you needed it. I have learned that faith often means doing hard things for a long time. Paul worked harder than any one else.
How hard are you working at making Christ known. Are you doing hard work in your family, in your marriage, in your neighborhood. I think more often than not the reason we don’t see Christ do anything is because we are not willing to get some calluses and blisters on our hands and feet.
If we are saved by Jesus we are not going to give up when things get hard. We are not going to back down to servant girls. We are not going to back down if we are not respected in society. Not going to back down if people call us names. Not going to back down if liberties are taken away. Not going to back down if there are obstacles.
Later Paul is going to talk about fighting wild beasts in Ephesus, being shipwrecked, betrayed, etc. He endured that because he was saved from it all by Jesus.
-Faith is not the absence of hardship but the ability to press on despite hardship.
What is going to get you through Corona? Economic slowdown.
It’s not about how many doors miraculously opened for you but
John Newton: Two things I know. I am a great sinner. Christ is a great Savior.
If you are not grounded in the gospel you are not grounded. Nothing to live for. Nothing to stand on. Nothing worth giving up everything else in life to get that one thing. Christ gives us the most precious gift we could ever receive. His life. And if you are going to take hold of it you have to let go of everything else.