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Resurrection Sunday - LIVING IN THE POWER OF HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION 1 Cor. 15:12-20
Today we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. And we as Believers, make the claim that Jesus literally rose from the dead physically. Without the risen Savior, there is no Christian faith. As the Apostle Paul said: “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14).
The reality of the resurrection is central and critical to everything we believe. The evidence is overwhelming. Jesus rose, there is no question about it. But beyond the fact that Jesus came out of the grave, we must answer the questions: Why does it matter? And what does this mean to us personally?
"If Christ Has Not Been Raised . . . " In 1 Cor. 15:12-20 Paul says there are six things that wouldn’t happen if Christ did not rise from the dead. Then verse 20 reverses the whole paragraph: "But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead." So let's look at those six things. Verse 14: "If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain." But since Christ has been raised, our preaching is not in vain.
Verse 14: " . . . and your faith is in vain." But since Christ has been raised, our faith is not in vain.
Verse 15: If Christ has not been raised, "we are found to be misrepresenting God [literally: we are false witnesses], because we testified of God that he raised Christ." But since Christ has been raised, the apostles are not false witnesses about the work of God.
Verse 17: "If Christ has not been raised then your faith is futile and you are still in your sins." But since Christ has been raised, we are not still in our sins.
Verse 18: If Christ has not been raised, then "those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished." But since Christ has been raised, the dead in Christ have not perished.
Verse 19: If Christ has not been raised, then "we are of all men most to be pitied." But since Christ has been raised, we are not to be pitied.
Stating the Negatives in Positive Terms
So now, let’s go back and restate each of these 6 reversals in positive terms, then we will see what God has really done for us in raising Jesus from the dead!
1. We Are Forgiven for Our Sins
First, skipping to verse 17, instead of saying negatively that we are not still in our sins, we can say positively that because of the resurrection we are forgiven for our sins. We can put this first as the basic need and longing of our hearts because if God holds our sins against us —and we all have sinned!—then there is no hope of anything else from God.
The foundation for every other blessing from God is that God won't hold our sins against us. Everything hangs on forgiveness. How is the resurrection connected to our forgiveness? Isn't it the death of Jesus that takes away our sin, because he bore our sins and took our judgment? (1 Corinthians 15:3)? “For what I received I passed on to you as FIRST IMPORTANCE: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures...”
Yes. But the connection with the resurrection is very important. Romans 4:25 puts it like this. "He was handed over [to death] on account of our transgressions, and he was raised on account of our justification.” This means that by his death he paid the penalty for our sins and purchased our justification, our forgiveness.
And since the achievement of the cross was so complete and the work of our justification so decisive, God raised Jesus from the dead to validate our forgiveness and to vindicate his Son's righteousness and to celebrate the work of justification.
Everyone of us in this room this morning needs forgiveness, and deep inside, even when we don't think about it, we long for it.
We long to be accepted by God. We fear the alienation from God because of our guilt. (Be honest, how many of us have felt that our sinfulness might keep us from the love of God or even keep us from the Kingdom)?
But Paul says, because Christ rose from the dead, we are no longer in our sins.
The first words Jesus stated from the cross were words of forgiveness. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). He lived, died and rose again so that we can be forgiven! Ya wanna be forgiven today?!!
His blood cleanses us from sin and the risen Redeemer now guarantees that He has conquered sin, death and hell.
Because of the resurrection, we know God has accepted the Savior’s sacrifice and we are forgiven. If Jesus is still in the grave, we are still in our sins. But because He lives, we can live forgiven and free! A dead Savior can forgive no one. But our Lord did not die a meaningless death. The resurrection proves that He has the authority to forgive sin, and now we can know we are forgiven. Every sin and all the shame are forever gone because they are buried in an empty tomb!!!!!
Jesus carried our sins to the cross and then the grave.
The burial of Jesus is a part of the Gospel: “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” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Our sin is forever buried in the grave of God’s forgetfulness. He remembers our sin no more. Why? Because Jesus is alive!!
Do ya think God can forget things? No! But He chooses to! Isa. 43:25 (Heb. 8:12)- “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more!”
2. Our Faith Is Well-Founded
Second, from verse 14, instead of saying negatively that our faith is not in vain, we can say positively that because of the resurrection our faith is well-founded. Or, to put it more personally, because of the resurrection of Jesus there is someone we can trust absolutely.
How many of us have trust issues? I hear it all the time. I believe that deep in the heart of every one of us there is a longing for someone that we can count on through thick and thin.
Someone who is absolutely trustworthy. Someone who, if you put your faith in them, it won't be in vain. They won't let you down. They will always be there. We want it because we were made for it. God put man and woman in the garden of Eden to glorify God by trusting him for everything they needed.
And that need has never changed, in spite of sin. And now that we are no longer in our sins, this longing too is satisfied by the resurrection of Jesus. The death of Jesus proves his love for us, and the resurrection proves his power over every enemy of life. And so there is someone we can count on. Someone absolutely trustworthy. Someone who will never let you down. Jesus is alive to be trusted. "The life I live I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).
3. The Apostles Preach What Is True
Third, from verse 15, instead of saying negatively that the apostles are not false
witnesses about the work of God, we can say positively that because of the resurrection the apostles preach what is true. Many of our young people are being taught (and many of us were taught) that there is no absolute truth—something that is true all the time and everywhere whether people know it or like it.
Without the conviction that there are absolutes that can be shared and made the basis for society, the only end will be anarchy where “everyone does what is right in his own eyes.” Therefore the need for truth is a deep need of the human soul and human society. And Jesus came into the world to say, "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). And then he rose from the dead to vindicate his claim. Jesus has a right to tell us what is absolutely true because in the resurrection God proved him to be absolutely true.
4/5. We Are to Be Envied
Fourth and fifth, from verse 19, instead of saying negatively that we are not to be pitied, we can say positively that because of the resurrection we are to be envied. Our preaching is not in vain—it is full, meaningful, valid, valuable, significant. If Christ is not raised, then living for him, doing what he says, and following his will is a great delusion. We should be pitied like insane people who live by delusions and hallucinations.
But since he has been raised and is alive and reigns as king forever, all our obedience, all our love, all our self-denial is not just not-to-be-pitied, but highly desired. "This slight momentary affliction is working for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison," Paul said in (2 Corinthians 4:17). And there is in every one of us the longing that our lives be well spent—that our lives count for something, that we have significance and usefulness, that we don't come to the end of our days and say, it was all in vain, empty, pointless, useless, insignificant—pitiable.
Paul knew this. That's why he ends this whole chapter on the resurrection (v. 58) with the words: "Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain."
6. Those Who Have Fallen Asleep Are Alive
Finally, there is the longing that we shall live forever in joy. That we not come to an empty end after a full and valuable life. That we not become a zero, or worse, damned. Or, as Stephen Hawkings said: “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”
And so Paul says in verse 18 that because Christ is raised those who have fallen asleep in him—those who have died in faith—have not perished. Or positively, they are alive. They will live forever. They live the way Christ lives. They will enter into the joy of their Master.
The Greatest News in All the World
The resurrection assures us that Jesus can transform our lives every day. We live empowered by the presence of Jesus to live changed lives. We not only are forgiven, but we are filled with the mighty power of God who raised Jesus from the dead.
Paul called this “the power of the resurrection.” Jesus is no longer someone we know about, He is someone we know. “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:10). One of the most life-changing truths we can learn as a Christ follower is the “saving life of Christ.” We are not only saved by His death but also by His life—meaning the risen Lord lives in us by His Holy Spirit. His divinity inhabits our humanity. We can live the Christian life not in our own strength, but in the strength of a risen Savior who lives IN us!
And We can plug into that power every day—Galatians 2:20 power. “ I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Some question whether people can really change. We’re being told that people who are stuck in a certain lifestyle and can never be different—that once a person’s personality and behavior are set, it is impossible to change. And If I you believe that, I would close my Bible and never mention Jesus again.
But I know Jesus changes lives. He has changed mine and millions and millions of others through the generations. He transforms the hateful and the angry into loving, caring people. He changes the selfish into generous givers and the immoral into men and women of character. The resurrection raises us from the death of sin to a life of righteousness.
The Bible says in Romans 1:4 that Jesus is shown to be the Son of God with power by His resurrection from the dead. The mighty power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same resurrection power that lives in us today. Do we live like it?! So the resurrection means we are forgiven and transformed by the power of the Living Lord.
Sin and death have no power over us.
We can overcome every temptation and endure every trial because of the resurrection.
The risen Christ lives in us day by day, enabling us to walk in victorious faith and obedience. This is not behavior modification. It is the living, transforming power of Jesus! We have a new life in Christ.
The resurrection matters today because we now have a living hope. The Scripture says: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).