The Gospel of Jesus Christ
Topic: The Gospel Verse: 1 Corinthians 15:1–15:11
“The Gospel of Jesus Christ”
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Theme: The Gospel of Jesus Christ demonstrates the immensity of the love of God.
I. THE ESSENCE OF THE GOSPEL – 15:1-4
A. The Essential Focus of the Gospel – vv. 1-2
1. “The Gospel” – what is conjured in your mind by this phrase?
2. Often people think of an objective set of facts relating to the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ Jesus – and appropriately so.
3. However, before we discuss the facts of the Gospel, we ought to address the focus of the Gospel – the sinner.
4. He addresses those in Corinth who have embraced the Gospel and discusses how having “received” the gospel, it is that “in which you also stand, by which also you are saved.”
5. Each of us who knows Christ knows the glorious deliverance that is provided from lives of complete ruin and despair.
6. When a person is genuinely born again, having been saved by the grace of God, they “hold fast the word” – otherwise the “believed in vain” – that is, those who turn their backs on the Gospel have never truly know the grace of God found in the Gospel.
7. The Gospel is a “cure” for sinners from which no “antidote” exists!
B. The Essential Facts of the Gospel – vv. 3-4
1. Paul declares: “for I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received …” – indicating that the following succinct expression of the Gospel is of utmost significance.
2. The essential facts include:
a) The Payment for Sin – “Christ died for our sins according to the the Scriptures” – a reference to the substitutionary role that Christ filled when he received the wrath of God on Himself because of our sin – cp. 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:5
b) The Proof of Judgment – “… and that he was buried …” [ἐτάφη from θάπτω] Aor. Pass. Ind. 3s – a reference to the totality of the separation between the Son of God and the Father – cp. Mark 15:34
c) The Power over Sin – “… and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”
(1) “raised” [ἐγήγερται] Perf. Pass. Ind. 3s – It is not merely a point of historical fact - Jesus has been alive since the point of His being raised!
(2) Now death and the grave are defeated foes – no longer the victor, they’ve met a greater power – cp. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57.
II. THE EVIDENCES OF THE GOSPEL – 15:5-8
A. The Gospel Is Tolerant – v. 5a
1. In providing evidence of the resurrection, Paul cites irrefutable evidence of multiple eyewitnesses.
2. “… and that He appeared to Cephas” – it is interesting that the first eyewitness introduced was Peter.
3. Peter had forsaken and denied the Lord during Christ’s darkest hour.
4. Here we have evidence of the truth that God is truly tolerant toward sinners – refusing to deal with us according to our sins and iniquities.
5. No matter how great our shame is in ourselves and our sin, the Gospel of Jesus Christ emphasizes the grace of God – Peter was the first to preach of the resurrected, living Christ Jesus – cp. Acts 2:14.
B. The Gospel Is Tender – v. 5b
1. Next we are told that Jesus “then [appeared] to the twelve …” – an obvious description to the inner circle of Christ’s disciples (since there were now only eleven).
2. On that first Easter night, the men who would later be known as the Apostles were cowering with fear, huddled in the upper room terrified of the Romans, the Jews, the Ghost reportedly seen by some of the others.
3. Here we see the evidence that God understands the hesitancy and fear of sinners – John 20:19-20.
4. The Gospel message overwhelms our fears and brings peace.
C. The Gospel Is Trustworthy – v. 6
1. “After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time …” – an overwhelming testimony to the trustworthiness of the message of Christ’s resurrection.
2. Having been completely disillusioned by the crucifixion, hundreds of people who had believed that Jesus was the real thing had begun to disperse back to their homes with dashed hopes.
3. However, the trustworthiness of God is demonstrated through the fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ – they hadn’t misplaced their hope.
4. The emphasis here is that the sinner who trusts in the Gospel message of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is not disappointed – cp. Romans 10:9-11
5. As a further emphasis on the trustworthiness established through the Gospel message, Paul states: “… most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep.”.
D. The Gospel Is Tenacious – v. 7a
1. That the Gospel doesn’t give up on a person, Paul includes the appearance of the resurrected Lord to His unbelieving half-brother – “… then He appeared to James.”
2. We know that James was not a believer from John 7:5
3. This emphasizes that the Gospel does not falter or stumble in the face of unbelief – that it will keep pressing the hearts of those whom God has chosen.
E. The Gospel Is Truthful – v. 7b
1. Yet another evidence of the Gospel was that the risen Lord appeared “then to all the apostles”
2. Here you see a reference to the ministry of the Lord as those who would officially represent the Lord were trained over the 40-day period prior to the ascension.
3. The truths entrusted to these apostles, which later they taught, were given by Christ Himself and would therefore be esteemed as truth.
F. The Gospel is Timely – v. 8
1. Finally, Paul cites himself as the final eyewitness of the glory of the resurrection: “… and last of all, as it were to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.”
2. “untimely” [ἐκτρώματι] – refers to an abortion or miscarriage, and refers to the condition he was in when the Lord appeared to him, dead in his sins and hopeless of life.
3. At the appropriate time – that of God’s choosing – Paul was selected as one who would give testimony of the fact of the resurrection.
III. THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE GOSPEL – 15:9-11
A. The Obliteration of Our Guilt – vv. 9-10a
1. In light of Paul’s past, he states: “For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church.”
2. Paul was always mindful of the atrocities that he was guilty of performing on the Christians prior to his conversion.
3. These memories of his past served as catalysts for his devotion and sacrifice in service of Christ.
4. He continues to state that “By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain.”
5. The magnitude of his sin highlighted the intensity of God’s grace in removing the guilt from him and making him not only clean, but an apostle!
B. The Objective of God’s Grace – vv. 10b-11
1. This all motivated him to insure that “grace toward me did not prove vain” and therefore, “I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.”
2. God doesn’t merely save us and provide a grace that is spent in the delivery; true saving grace extends and operates throughout a life of service for Christ, proving that grace was not vain.
3. Hence, “whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.”
4. We are not the end of the line when it comes to the Gospel – we receive grace in order to be a means of the conveyance of God’s grace through preaching and witnessing.
5. God’s grace is given to us as a stewardship, and we must mindfully labor to demonstrate that it was not entrusted to us in vain.