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 15:1-8, Raymond Ortlund Jr. said: “The Gospel of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ is today suffering humiliation among [Christians] by our conspicuous neglect of it. We should not think, ‘Well, of course we have the Gospel. We already know that. Ho-hum.’ Such complacency will cost us dearly. Every generation of Christians must be retaught afresh the basic truths of our faith. The church is always one generation away from total ignorance of the Gospel, and we today are making rapid progress toward that ruinous goal. Rather than carelessly assume the Gospel, we must aggressively, deliberately, fully and passionately teach and preach the Gospel.”
Joe Rigney said, “Jesus is like us, but different. Jesus’ body was buried, like ours, but it did not decay. Jesus’ soul went to Hades, like the Old Testament saints, but wasn’t abandoned there. God raised him from the dead, reunited his soul with a now-glorified body, so that he is the firstfruits of the resurrection harvest. And this is good news for us, because those in Christ now bypass the land of forgetfulness, where no one praises God. Instead, when we die, we join with the angelic choir and the saints of old to sing praises to the Lamb who was slain for us and our salvation.”
On this Holy Saturday 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 first two sections of the Nicene Creed, which read:
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.
Today, we will continue looking at the next section of the Nicene Creed, which reads as follows:
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.
These words remind us of the first Good Friday, which, to those who lived through it, would have seemed like a very dark day indeed. Certainly not a day to celebrate or call “good.” Unfortunately, as Eric Gungor wrote a few years ago, “Good Friday isn’t always noticed by modern Christ-followers. In fact, it is the least attended service on the Christian calendar. (Some churches don’t even have a Good Friday service.) Contrariwise, Easter has the highest attendance. It appears we love to think about the hope of the Resurrection without attending to the messiness of the Cross. But the truth is, there would have been no Easter without a Golgotha.” If Jesus had not died, if He had not been crucified, His coming into the world would have been in vain.
From the words of the Nicene Creed, we see three important facts about the coming of Jesus Christ, the focus of Holy Week.
FIRST, WE SEE THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST. “Through him all things were made.” John chapter 1 tells us that “all things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” The Son was with the Father in the creation of the world. Hence, the Son has the same authority and lordship over the world that the Father does. However, Jesus’ lordship extends beyond the general to the specific, beyond the cumulative to the individual, beyond the universal to the personal. We see this in John 20:28, when the disciple, Thomas, meets the risen Saviour and declares, “My Lord and my God!”
We often refer to Jesus Christ as the “suffering servant,” especially in light of Good Friday. We often speak of how He was whipped, beaten, spit on, jeered at, and mocked. But that only heightens the stark contrast of Him being the Lord of all. It was His creation that rejected Him, abandoned Him, betrayed Him, and killed Him. In John 13:13, Jesus Christ told His disciples, “Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.” In Acts 2:36, Peter is preaching before a crowd in Jerusalem just after Pentecost, and he says, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
Jesus’ lordship is not dependent on our acceptance of it. Even while He hung naked, bloodied and grotesque, between the earth and the sky, He was the Lord of Heaven and Earth. R.C. Sproul Jr., said, “We make the foolish mistake of thinking that when enough souls decide to make Jesus the Lord of their lives, that He will become the Lord of all things. The reality is that Jesus is already Lord over all things. His kingdom, strictly speaking, does not expand, for even now it knows no borders. He does not, therefore, engage in some sort of power sharing arrangement with other pretenders to His throne, whether they be false deities, or those who falsely worship them. His lordship is not something we accomplish. It is something we recognize and submit to. It is not something we negotiate; it is something we proclaim.”
Jesus did not set aside His lordship when He came to earth. Rather, He chose to make “himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” Jesus did not abdicate His throne; He merely set aside His glory for a little while so that He could identify with and save lost humanity. While He was on Earth, He was still God almighty. He was still the Lord of the universe, and He demonstrated that lordship by healing the sick, casting out demons, calming stormy seas, raising the dead, multiplying food for thousands, and opening the eyes of the blind. And, most importantly, He demonstrated His lordship over the powers of sin, death, and darkness, by “triumphing over them by the cross.”
SECOND, WE SEE THE COMING OF JESUS CHRIST. “He came down from Heaven for us and for our salvation.” In John 6:51, Jesus says, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven.” He says, “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” Ever since the Old Testament prophets predicted that the Messiah would come, the people of Israel had been waiting expectantly for His arrival. Rick Reinckens said, “God tells us in Isaiah that He alone knows the future and He tells it to us to prove that He is real and that the Bible is His word. This is called prophecy. The Creed contains nine examples of things that were foretold and later happened.” The coming of Jesus Christ is one of those things.
The Old Testament prophecies regarding the birth of Jesus provided hope for the people of Israel as they lived through the Exile, as they went back to their homeland, and as they waited through 400 years of silence from God. For us today, the prophecies of the coming of Jesus form a trail of truth and evidence which verifies the claims of Christ and upholds the real meaning of the Christian faith. If Jesus Christ had not come, we would have no faith, we would have no salvation, and we would have no eternal life.
Because most of the members of the early church were Jewish, they were able to appreciate Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah of the Jews and the Saviour of the world. We see this appreciation in the reaction of Anna and Simeon when Joseph and Mary brought the infant Jesus to the Temple. They both had long-awaited the Messiah and expressed great joy at finally seeing Him. Aren’t you glad that God keeps His promises? As the Bible says, “God is not a man that He should lie.” The promised Savior came, and each of us today receive benefits and blessings because of Him.
THIRD, WE SEE THE EMBODIMENT OF GOD IN JESUS CHRIST. That is what the Creed means when we read, “He became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary, and was made human.” All of us are familiar with 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.” Verse 17 goes on to say, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” When God saw that man continued to sin and rebel against His authority, He could have very well decided to give up on trying to save us; but, He didn’t. He made a personal sacrifice by coming into the world and incarnating Himself in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Speaking rhetorically, the writer of Proverbs 30 says, “Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?” Of course, at the time these words were written, no one knew the name of Jesus as the Son of God. But, today, we are blessed to know the name of Jesus Christ and to see God Himself revealed through the sending of His Son. Matthew Henry states, “We must now exalt Christ as one revealed; they [the Jews] magnified him as one concealed, as one they had heard something about, but had very uncertain ideas of.”
The embodiment of God in Jesus Christ allows us to grasp that which is ineffable. The person of God is revealed in His incarnate Son. Carnegie Simpson said, “The face of Christ does not show us everything, but it shows the one thing we need to know — the character of God. God is the God who sent Jesus.” When Jesus came to earth, He came to unite sinful man to God. He “came into the world to save sinners.” That salvation involved severe physical suffering and death. Yet, Jesus still put on a cloak of mortal flesh and took care of everything necessary for a lost soul to be saved. The once-for-all sacrifice of Christ — yea, the once-for-all sacrifice of God — is the only means by which man can be saved.
This Easter season, we celebrate Jesus as the Lord of all, the promised Savior, and the embodiment of God for the benefit of man.
Fanny Crosby wrote:
Shout for joy, ye holy throng,
Christ the Lord is King;
Angel harps, the sound prolong,
Christ the Lord is King.
Shout for joy, ye nations all,
Christ the Lord is King;
Crowns before His throne shall fall,
Christ the Lord is King.
He who rent the boasting grave,
Christ the Lord is King;
He who lives the lost to save,
Christ the Lord is King.
Shout for joy, ye realms of night,
Christ the Lord is King;
Hail the beams of Gospel light,
Christ the Lord is King.
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.