TEXT: 1 Corinthians 15:1-8
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
Regarding First Corinthians 15:4-8, Warren Wiersbe said, “It is important to note that the believers at Corinth did believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ; so Paul started his argument with that fundamental truth. He presented three proofs to assure his readers that Jesus Christ indeed had been raised from the dead. His first proof was their salvation; after all, a dead Savior cannot save anybody. Paul’s second proof was the Old Testament Scriptures. But where does the Old Testament declare Jesus’ resurrection on the third day? Jesus pointed to the experience of Jonah. Paul also compared Christ’s resurrection to the ‘firstfruits,’ and the firstfruits were presented to God on the day following the Sabbath after Passover. Since the Sabbath must always be the seventh day, the day after Sabbath must be the first day of the week, or Sunday, the day of our Lord’s resurrection. This covers three days on the Jewish calendar. Paul’s third proof was that Christ was seen by witnesses. On the cross, Jesus was exposed to the eyes of unbelievers; but after the resurrection, He was seen by believers who could be witnesses of His resurrection. The resurrection is not just important; it is ‘of first importance,’ because all that we believe hinges on it.”
On this Resurrection Sunday of Holy Week, we are continuing our series drawn from the Word of God, the Holy Bible, and a historical text based on the Word of God, the Holy Bible, that was passed down from the early church all the way to us today — the Nicene Creed. Not only are we talking about the power of Easter and Resurrection Sunday, but we are talking about the importance of the historical Christian faith that was passed down to us from the early church, how that we as Christians who are falling away from it ought to return to it, and how that the world ought to hear it so they can believe on Christ.
Regarding the history of the Nicene Creed, Ken Collins said, “The Church formulated the Nicene Creed before it issued an official list of the books of the New Testament that were already in use as Holy Scripture. Another way of looking at it is that God chose the people who were bound by the Nicene Creed to affirm the contents of the New Testament, thereby endorsing the theology of the creed. The Nicene Creed is therefore a reliable test of our interpretation of the New Testament. If we are at variance with the Nicene Creed, we are in error.”
In this series, we have looked at the following lines from the Nicene Creed:
We believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made;
of the same essence as the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
and was made human.
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered, died, and was buried.
Today, we will continue looking at the next section of the Nicene Creed, which reads as follows:
The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.
He was seen alive by Mary Magdalene and the other women,
the disciples, and over five hundred other brethren;
From the words of the Nicene Creed, we see three important facts about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the climax of Holy Week.
FIRST, WE SEE THE NECESSITY OF JESUS’ RESURRECTION. Just as Jesus had to die, Jesus had to rise from the dead. And, “He rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” It was necessary for Jesus to rise from the dead to prove His divinity. Jesus’ death on the cross could not prove that He is God. Many criminals were scourged, nailed to a cross, and left to die. Even Jesus’ miracles do not, on their own, prove that He is God. They are convincing proof that Jesus was indeed a Man of God, but many of the Old Testament prophets worked miracles as well. However, miracles alone cannot prove divinity. Romans 1:4 says that Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”
It was also necessary for Jesus to rise from the dead to prove His power to deliver us from sin. Remember, “the wages of sin is death.” First Corinthians 15:17 says, “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” If Jesus had only died, He would have satisfied the Father’s wrath, but we would have still bound by sin. We would still stand guilty before God with no hope of getting into Heaven.
Another reason why Jesus’ resurrection is absolutely necessary is because it proves His ability to give eternal life. Romans 6:9 says, “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.” Jesus’ death and resurrection secured the means by which we will also be raised from physical death and go to live in Heaven with Christ for eternity. Think of it as boarding a plane without having to worry about buying a ticket because somebody else has already paid for it. When Jesus defeated death and rose from the dead, He paid for our ticket to Heaven. Ephesians 2:6 says that, because of the resurrection, God “hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
Even though we are not physically in Heaven right now, it is just as good as if we were, because Jesus reserved our place by His resurrection. Simply put, without the resurrection, there is no salvation. John MacArthur said, “The salvation of God demanded eternal life, the coming of the Spirit, the forgiveness of sins, ongoing intercession, the bestowing of spiritual gifts, the granting of spiritual power and the outpouring of eternal blessing — and all of that hinges on the resurrection. If Christ doesn’t rise, none of it happens — none of it.”
SECOND, WE SEE THE UNLIKELY EVIDENCE FOR JESUS’ RESURRECTION. “He was seen alive by Mary Magdalene and the other women.” Since the four gospels were written by four men with different perspectives and four different audiences, there are variations in the accounts of the Resurrection. But there is one detail that is consistent in all four accounts — that women were the first to discover that Jesus’ body was not in the tomb and that they were the first to bear the message that Jesus had risen to others. The angels at the tomb and Christ himself gave women the task of delivering the great news of His resurrection to His disciples during a time when the testimony of women would not be believed in court unless men could corroborate it.
In his book, Exploring Reality: The Intertwining of Science and Religion, physicist John Polkinghorne said: “Perhaps the strongest reason of taking the stories of the empty tomb absolutely seriously lies in the fact that it is women who play the leading role. It would have been very unlikely for anyone in the ancient world who was concocting a story to assign the principal part to women since, in those times, they were not considered capable of being reliable witnesses in a court of law. It is surely much more probable that they appear in the gospel accounts precisely because they actually fulfilled the role that the stories assign to them, and in so doing, they make a startling discovery.”
If they were making up the resurrection, the most unlikely thing any of Jesus’ disciples would have done, would have been to make women the discoverers and deliverers of this news. The only logical explanation is that the gospel accounts come down to us in the way they have because they are the absolute truth.
THIRD, WE SEE FURTHER EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY OF THE RESURRECTION. Jesus was also “seen alive” by “the disciples, and over five hundred other brethren.” These are men and women who met with, talked with, and ate with Jesus after His crucifixion. It is impossible that all of them were hallucinating, experiencing flashbacks, or fabricating a story. Paul even adds in his letter, “the greater part [of these eyewitnesses] remain [alive] unto this present [day], but some are fallen asleep [or have died].” He says, “Most of these guys are still alive. You don’t have to take my word for it. Go ask them.”
The disciples and brethren who saw Jesus alive went on to establish the church in Jerusalem. Jesus’ crucifixion was a major event in the life of the city. Historians tell us that the population of Jerusalem was normally about 100,000. But, during Passover, the city’s population swelled to around 3 million as Jews from all over the diaspora traveled to the city for the commemoration. Everybody knew what had happened to Jesus, not only in Jerusalem, but in the surrounding areas as people left the city and traveled back home. It would have been foolish for Jesus’ followers to begin preaching that Jesus was alive when everybody knew He was dead — unless He actually was alive.
The disciples’ preaching about a risen Jesus only got them persecuted and killed. And that is yet another evidence that the resurrection really happened. Jonathan Morrow said, “The earliest disciples would have known — not just believed, but would have known — that either Jesus was who He claimed to be and was actually raised from the dead or they were making this thing up. And yet history tells us that we have good reason to think they all went to their death with the exception of one for that core belief: that Jesus was raised from the dead. They didn’t recant that. Conspiracies break down under pressure. And this conspiracy would have cost them their lives.”
The disciples were willing to die for Jesus because Jesus had died for them — and because they knew that since He had risen from the dead, He would raise them from the dead as well. This Easter, we remember a risen Savior who was seen alive by Mary Magdalene and the other women, the disciples, and over five hundred other brethren. It’s the most important thing.
Charles Wesley said:
All ye that seek the Lord who died,
Your God for sinners crucified,
Prevent the earliest dawn, and come
To worship at His sacred tomb.
Could neither seal nor stone secure,
Nor men, nor devils make it sure?
The seal is broke, the stone cast by,
And all the powers of darkness fly.
The body breathes, and lifts His head,
The keepers sink, and fall as dead;
The dead restored to life appear,
The living quake, and die for fear.
The Lord of Life is risen indeed,
To death delivered in your stead;
His rise proclaims your sins forgiven,
And shows the living way to Heaven.
Haste then, ye souls that first believe,
Who dare the Gospel-Word receive,
Your faith with joyful hearts confess,
Be bold, be Jesus’ witnesses.
Now, if you are with us today and you do not know Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to show you how you can place your faith and trust in Him for Salvation from sin and Hell.
First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now that is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your Salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you believed in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the Cross, was buried, and rose again, allow me to say, congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour! For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
If you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior today, please email me at [email protected] and let us know. There is some free material that we want to send you. If you have a prayer request, please e-mail that to us as well, and we will pray for you until you tell us to stop.
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books including the Essence Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and Amazon.com national bestseller, Letters to Young Black Men. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry.
He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity (formerly Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary). He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree.
He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica since 1987. God has blessed their union with seven children.