Yesterday morning I preached on the central hope of Christianity – the resurrection of Christ. It was a good day of worship and we as a church witnessed several people follow Jesus in believer’s baptism. My text was 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. As the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, he wanted to correct some false teaching that had crept into the church regarding the resurrection of the dead. Paul made it abundantly clear that if Jesus was not raised, our preaching and our faith is vain.
Paul’s Warning of False Salvation
In the first two verses, we see Paul’s warning to the church at Corinth. They had received his gospel preaching, and they were currently standing in the truth, but Paul made it clear that if they cease to embrace the gospel and stop persevering onward, they would have no hope of eternal life no matter what they previously believed. I’ve had people say to me, “Pastor, we need to pray for Jim, he just stopped attending church. We need to pray that he will get back into church again.” We must not pray for Jim to get back into church. For, if he starts attending church again, something will certainly arise and take him away. It’s highly probable that Jim needs to be saved. Far too many people have a false salvation based on a past experience, If there’s no perseverance, there’s no salvation and no hope.
It should likewise be noted that Paul had delivered the message of the gospel (good news) through his preaching ministry. He did not come to Corinth to “suggest” the gospel or “talk” the gospel. He came to preach the gospel of Christ. With authority, Paul laid out the facts of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection and then demanded people to repent and believe.
Paul’s Message of Hope
In verses three and four, Paul made his point clear regarding the hope of Corinth and the hope of the world. Our hope is based on the primary message of Paul’s ministry – the death and resurrection of Christ. According to Paul, he pointed out the fact that Jesus died for our sins according to the Scriptures. The Just was put to death for the unjust in order that He might bring us to God in full reconciliation. We were brought from a state of condemnation and guilt to forgiveness by the death of Jesus on the cross.
Paul pressed forward to remind the church at Corinth that their hope was grounded on the resurrection of Christ. It’s one thing to claim to have faith in a religious belief, but for the follower of Christ, we have ultimate hope because Jesus was raised from the dead. Our hope is not built upon sinking sand. Our hope is built upon the sure foundation – the rock of Jesus’ sacrificial death and victorious resurrection.
Paul accents his message to the church with a statement that he repeats two times in these verses. Paul appeals to the authority of the Scriptures as his evidence and proof. Paul could have spoken of the blinding light of Jesus’ holiness as He appeared to him on the Damascus road. Paul could have spoken of his apostolic authority. He could have started with the other proofs and eyewitness accounts that he later speaks of in this chapter, but instead, he begins with the Scriptures. Paul doesn’t begin with reason and evidence and then seek to bring it back to the Scriptures to prove them as trustworthy. Instead, he begins with the Scriptures and then goes out to evidence to demonstrate the facts.
Paul had ultimate confidence in the Word of God. That was his basis of authority and he held it up to the church at Corinth as proof. Do you have hope today or is your faith shallow and in vain? We have hope in Christ, but as Paul reminded the church at Corinth, we must persevere in the faith to the end. As the hymn writer articulated so well:
Crown Him the Lord of life, who triumphed over the grave,
And rose victorious in the strife for those He came to save.
His glories now we sing, who died, and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring, and lives that death may die.