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 15:8, Mark Dunagan said, “Paul is one who, from the spiritual point of view, was not born at the right time because he had not been a disciple during the lifetime of Jesus. His calling is somewhat forced as well as abnormal. He is torn from his previous course of life by the powerful intervention of the exalted Christ. Paul didn’t consider his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus to be a visionary experience, but an actual resurrection appearance of the same kind as the others mentioned in this series. His seeing Jesus was as ‘objective’ as theirs.”
Today, 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. In this series, 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 existence of creeds in the early church, J.N.D. Kelly said, “Examples could easily be multiplied, and the conclusion is inescapable that, however anachronistic it may be to postulate fixed credal forms for the apostolic age, the documents themselves testify to the existence of a corpus of distinctively Christian teaching. In this sense, it is legitimate to speak of the creed of the primitive Church. Nor was it something vague and nebulous, without precision of contour: its main features were easily defined.”
In this series, we have looked at the following factual statements 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.
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;
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
Today, we will continue looking at the next section of the new Nicene Creed, which reads as follows:
He will come again with glory
to judge the living and the dead.
His kingdom will never end.
From this passage, we have seen that Jesus’ ascension marked, not an ending, but a beginning (and continuation) of the work of announcing the Kingdom. Second, the ascension marks the beginning of the fulfillment of Christ’s kingdom. Third, the ascension marked Jesus’ return to the Father after the completion of His work.
IN THE ASCENSION, WE ALSO SEE THE EXPECTATION OF CHRIST’S RETURN. The Nicene Creed says, “He will come again with glory.” After His ascension, two angels appeared to the disciples and said, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Perhaps the one thing that has driven Christianity forward more than anything else is the expectation that Jesus Christ is coming again. All other religions worship and follow a dead leader. But Christians worship and follow a living Savior. We don’t make pilgrimages to Jesus’ tomb seeking guidance and inspiration. We aren’t looking to the ground for our deliverance, we are looking up into glory because that’s the direction in which our resurrected Savior went. He ascended and we expect Him to descend one day soon and take us to be with Him.
David Guzik points out that the way in which Jesus Christ left the earth was different from the way in which He had appeared and disappeared to His disciples over the 40 days after His resurrection. “Jesus was taken up from them, as He was blessing them, slowly disappearing into the sky, surrounded by a cloud. Jesus certainly could have simply ‘vanished’ to the Father’s presence in a secret sort of way.” But Jesus wanted to let His disciples know with certainty where He was going. After Jesus had disappeared beyond the clouds, the disciples stood gazing into the sky, and that is when the angels appeared and told them that Jesus would come back one day and that they needed to get busy right now. Like the disciples, we ought to be about our Father’s business in this world as well. But we ought to look up in expectation of Christ’s return.
FINALLY, THE ASCENSION SHOWS US THE COMING EXECUTION OF CHRIST’S JUDGMENT. The Nicene Creed states that, at His return, Jesus will “judge the living and the dead” and “His kingdom will never end.” Second Timothy 4:1 says, “the Lord Jesus Christ shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom.” In John 5:22, Jesus Christ said, “the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.”
We like to think of Jesus Christ returning to take us to Heaven to be with Him, but the Bible tells us that the Lord is also coming to execute judgment on the living and the dead. When we pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven,” we are, of necessity, praying for the judgment of sin and evil in the world because, in Heaven, just as there will be no suffering, no pain, no heartache, and no tears, there will be no sin and no evil to cause suffering, pain, heartache, and tears. When He returns, the Lord Jesus Christ will execute judgment on the Earth, and all of those who remain in rebellion against Him will be destroyed.
Brian Tabb said Christ’s judgment should infuse believers with “hope for a glorious future. The ascended Lord will return as judge and king. He will abolish injustice, end suffering, and destroy death and set up his kingdom of truth, righteousness and love. Best of all, we will be with our king forever.”
The ascension of Jesus Christ is just as important as His coming, His death, and His resurrection. All of it is a part of God’s plan. Jesus’ exaltation reminds us that even now, He is King of kings and Lord of lords. The expectation of His coming gives us hope for the future. And his execution of judgment on Earth lets us know that He has everything under control, and that one day, His kingdom will fully come and His will will be fully done on Earth as it is in Heaven.
James R. Woodford wrote:
Christ, above all glory seated!
King triumphant, strong to save!
Dying, Thou hast death defeated;
Buried, Thou hast spoiled the grave.
Thou art gone, where now is given
What no mortal might could gain,
On the eternal throne of Heaven,
In Thy Father’s power to reign.
There Thy kingdoms all adore Thee,
Heaven above and earth below;
While the depths of hell before Thee
Trembling and defeated bow.
We, O Lord, with hearts adoring
Follow Thee above the sky!
Hear our prayers Thy grace imploring,
Lift our souls to Thee on high.
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.