Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Good News

The truth of the resurrection is a foundational element of the Christian faith. If the resurrection is invalid; if Jesus is dead and His body still in the tomb, then Christianity is a waste of time. At least, that is what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:17, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins”. At the beginning of that same chapter Paul wrote, “I declare unto you the gospel.”

What is the gospel? It is the “good news”, and it is true news. The gospel truth has three components.

“Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures”1 Corinthians 15:3b

Take a hard look at the important prepositional phrase “for our sins”. All of us, regardless of education, position, financial or social status are in the same hopeless predicament. Whether you are a mostly good guy who only sins a little or a mostly bad guy who always sins a lot or someone who in between the two, all are on the same road to nowhere. The good news is the gospel truth that Jesus took your place on the cross. He bore your punishment. He paid your deb. Christ's death was unlike any other death, because He died not as a sinner but in the place of sinners. Jesus freely sacrificed His life for ours, because only His death could satisfy our debt.

Please understand that the cross was not "Plan B". This is for certain because verse three says, “according to the scriptures.” Hundreds of years before Christ the OT foretold His death on the cross (Isaiah 53). Everything that happened on the cross, from the words spoken by His enemies to the soldiers gambling for His clothes, it had all been predicted in the OT. Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.

“And that he was buried”1 Corinthians 15:4a

Why is it important to know that Jesus was buried? Because you don’t bury the living. At least you shouldn't bury the living. Jesus was buried because He was dead. He did not swoon. He was not faking His death. There was no doubt in the mind of the Roman soldiers. There was no doubt in the minds of Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus, those two secret disciples who publicly declared their love for the Savior when they took His dead body from off the cross, prepared it for burial, and then placed it in the tomb. Jesus was dead. His burial was evidence of His death.

“And that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures”1 Corinthians 15:4b

Jesus was dead, but that's not the end of the story! He rose again on the third day, just as the Scriptures said He would; indeed, just as He said He would. Three days after His death, the stone was rolled away, and it was rolled back not in order let Him out. The stone was rolled away so all could see that He was no longer there. Jesus Christ came out of that grave alive, and He is still lives!

This is the most astounding truth of the Christian faith. It is the truth that Jesus Christ is not dead. His remains are not in a Jerusalem tomb. He is alive. That's the good news of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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