Holy Week Recap – “He Has Risen” Sermon
On Good Friday, I was blessed to have the opportunity to preach. One of my friends is assigned by his pastor the responsibility for putting this service together every year. For the last couple of years, he has put an interesting, yet biblical spin on this service. This year, the focus was on seven prayer requests of Jesus in John 17, the High Priestly prayer. I was given the task of preaching #7: A Prayer for Immortalization (John 17:24-26). It is quite a challenge to expound on God’s Word with such a tight time constraint (roughly 10 – 12 minutes). But I was grateful for the opportunity to serve.
And then there was Resurrection Sunday at Westside Baptist Church. I had been prayerfully anticipating this engagement for weeks. To summarize, the people were gracious and hospitable, the worship was biblical, Christ-centered, and energetic, and the fellowship was genuine. I preached on 1 Corinthians 15:12-20, 58 and entitled the sermon, “He Has Risen!” Below is the essence of what I shared at their 7:45 a.m. service. I pray it speaks to you even now. We are jumping to the tail end of my introduction.
“He Has Risen!”
Paul takes this idea of there being no resurrection of the dead in relationship to Jesus’ resurrection and hypothetically draws it out to its logical conclusions or consequences. Paul in essence says, to not believe in a resurrection from the dead is to not believe in the resurrection of Jesus, which in one way metaphorically rips the heart out of the chest of Christianity. However, with a stroke of the pen, beginning with a simple 3-letter conjunction, Paul turns this hypothetical case on its head. He turns it upside down. He writes: “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (vs. 20). With this one verse, all the hypothetical logical negations are turned into positives. And so, for our remaining moments together, I want to show how the resurrection of Jesus affects six aspects of the Christian life that Paul mentions in this 15th chapter of 1st Corinthians.
1. Our preaching (vs. 14)
If Christ has not been raised then our preaching is in vain. But because he has risen, our preaching is relevant.
It is through the preaching of God’s Word that non-Christians are confronted with and convicted of their sinfulness, and are made cognizant of their need to turn from sin and trust our Risen Savior, the Lord Jesus, for forgiveness.
Paul says in Romans 10:14-15, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
It is also relevant to our lives as Christians. It is a means of grace that God uses to work His Word into the fabric of our hearts. Through the preaching of God’s Word, we are conformed into Jesus’ image, comforted in our trials and suffering, confirmed in our obedience to Jesus, and convicted, corrected, and challenged in regards to sin and holiness.
Because Jesus has risen, our preaching is relevant. So keep prayerfully, wisely, lovingly and courageously preaching the Good News to your non-Christian family members, co-workers, friends, neighbors, and among ourselves.
In a pluralistic, post-modern world that says there are many ways to God (if there is a God at all, they say) and that seeks to shame you for preaching such an exclusive, only-one-way-to-God Gospel, preach it anyhow. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Rom. 1:16)
2. Our faith (vs. 14, 17)
If Christ has not been raised, then your faith is in vain, and we are still in our sins. But because he has risen, our faith is needed.
The resurrection of Jesus showed that the price He paid for our sins by offering his perfect life unto death on the cross was accepted by God, thus securing our right-standing before God: forever forgiven, accepted, adopted, redeemed, and justified. To say it more succinctly, Jesus’ death was the payment. His resurrection was the receipt. This is why Paul says that if Jesus has not been raised, our faith is futile (pointless, it doesn’t matter) and we are still in our sins.
But in order for that to be true in our lives, in order for Jesus’ payment for our sins to be accredited to our spiritual accounts, faith is needed, not our works.
“But the words ‘it was counted to him’ were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” (Rom. 4:23-25)
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9)
3. Our representation of God (vs. 15)
If Christ has not been raised, then we have been found to be misrepresenting God. But because he has risen, our representation of God is true.
Through the resurrection, God the Father declared the Lord Jesus to be the Son of God. He is who he said he was, and he accomplished what he set out to do, which was to save us.
Hear the words of Paul that were divinely inspired by God, “concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,” (Romans 1:3-4)
So, know that when we share the Good News of Jesus and the rightly divided Word of God, we are representing God correctly, even when the world disagrees with, ridicules, or condemns us for taking such a stand or position.
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died-more than that, who was raised-who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” (Rom. 8:31-34)
4. Our fellow Christians who have died (vs. 18)
If Christ has not been raised from the dead, then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. But because he has risen, their death is not final and our grief is bearable.
We are able to grieve over the death of our saved loved ones and friends with hope, knowing that our Risen Lord Jesus will reunite us one day.
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” (1 Thess. 4:13-17)
5. Our hope (vs. 19, 20b)
If Christ has not been raised, then we are most to be pitied because we lived our lives with a false sense of hope in eternal life with God after death. But because he has risen, our hope is guaranteed.
To all of us who believe in Jesus: we have a living hope that we will live with him forever. His resurrection assures ours.
“Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.” (2 Cor. 4:13-14)
6. Our laboring (and living) for Jesus (vs. 58)
If Christ has not been raised, then our labor is in vain. But because he has risen, our labor for Jesus is valuable (and our living for Him is now possible).
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Cor. 15:58)