First Corinthians 15:1-11
The Death And The Resurrection Of Christ
Messianic Prophesy Fulfilled
1. We've been reading from The First Epistle To The Corinthian Disciples for the fourth time. Among those [messages] chapter fifteen is telling us the most important things that Paul has stated so far. This section is an integration of what we could call the central elements regarding the meaning of believing in Christ. First of all, let's notice the scriptures. From verse one to verse eleven is the introductory section for all of chapter fifteen. From verse twelve he speaks on the resurrection. Paul says if a person doesn't believe in the resurrection, but only in hoping in Christ, that person would be the most miserable of all persons, (verses seventeen through nineteen), and that we should accept the resurrection as fact. Paul consistently proclaims the cross and the resurrection of Christ. I am sorry about going back to the beginning but he says in verse one that he will inform the Corinthians once again what the gospel is, which they had received. Then he tells them that this is the very basis for their day to day lives on the earth, (verse one). So, what were his points on this? He says that it is written in the scriptures and he wrote it twice in verse three and verse four, and it is the fulfillment of what we could call messianic prophesy. To which scriptural passage of the prophesy of the suffering messiah does he point? It is mainly Isaiah 53:5-12. This "Epistle To The Corinthian Disciples" was written after the resurrection event, about twenty-five years afterwards. But, the book of Isaiah is a writing that [scholars] say was written before in 530 B.C. He says that the events around Jesus Christ are a fulfillment of prophesy that was written five hundred and thirty years before [they happened]. He relates that those elements are four events. One: it says that Christ died for our sins, (verse three). Two: he was buried, (verse four). Three: He rose again from the dead on the third day, (verse four). Four: After he was resurrected, he appeared in front of many people, (verses five through eight, his [post] resurrection appearances). He says that we are to accept these four facts that actually, historically took place and that doing so is the basis of our day to day life. He says that it is the grace of God. For this grace Christians had been setting aside their lives in martyrdom. I would think that this grace sufficient to lay aside one's life is something that we must know today.
The Fact Of The Resurrection
2. When this type of statement is made and as we stand face to face with the Bible here now again, I feel the need to look at what the whole Bible says in it on a wide scale basis. In the time period when the Corinthian epistle was written, the Jews knew the details of the Old Testament to the point of having it memorized. Even in Corinth and especially to the Jews, Paul powerfully gave his testimony that the messiah was Jesus, (Acts 18:5). As for the Jews and anyone who knew the scriptures, they would have understood that Jesus was the messiah by only comparing the way in which Jesus had gone and the words of the scriptures, (Acts 2:41; 4:4; 8:30-39 and others). We Japanese are not well versed in the Old Testament scriptures. We will doubt whether there really ever was even a resurrection because it was an event from two thousand years ago. The resurrection is an event that goes beyond common sense for those of us today. We try so hard to believe it within the scope of our experiences and common sense. But, should we really do that? When it comes to the resurrection of Jesus, if it was a lie, why in Acts did the people, at one time three thousand of them and another five thousand, accept Jesus as messiah? Paul put it clearly, that unless the resurrection were true, our faith would be the most miserable among all peoples! If we do not understand it with our own common sense and experiences, we shouldn't docilely accept what some man who lived in the time period when Jesus was raised from the dead had testified to, should we? Because investigate as we might, we won't understand what [happened] back then except for what we read from the scriptures. If it were a lie, the scriptures wouldn't have lasted today. In that sense faith is simple; but, shouldn't it be?
3. Well, with the resurrection as a fact, then, would that be as good of a grace even if we were martyred? Yes, it would, [especially in light of the second death as we will all die at least once]. It couldn't be anything else but grace.
Sin And Death
4. Just earlier we recited the creedal confession that he was crucified, he died and was buried, descended into the underworld, and on the third day he rose up from the dead.
5. The faith that is worthy of confession is the cross and the resurrection.
6. We are only people dying in sin [at the body level, at the physical level of death]. But when we believe in Jesus Christ, we are promised liberation from this death. Where has sin and death come from? Also, why is the cross and the resurrection liberation from sin and death? When we look at the Bible to get the big picture, it becomes clearly visible.
7. As we look at the Old Testament, in chapter one of Genesis where the Bible starts, God created the heavens and the earth, then he made the day time and the night, the great sky and the seas, the land and the plants, the sun and the moon, the birds and the fish, [and he called each part of his creation "good"], lastly he made the animals and then he made humanity.
8. He made humans at the end, then after that he looked at all of [humanity] whom he had made, he said, "Look, it is very good." Until he made humanity and upon looking at what he had made, God only considered [that non human portion of creation as just] "good."
9. God looked at the human he made, which he made in the image of God, and made the statement that "it is very good."
10. The humanity that he made was Adam and Eve. God created the Garden of Eden for Adam and Even and put them there to live. Without wanting for anything to eat in the garden, Adam and Even would not even have any death. They felt the presence of God all the time and passed each day happily. We might only imagine how happy they were. But, because of the the serpent Satan, Adam and Eve sinned before God, they were driven out of Eden, then women were given the pangs of birth as a suffering for women, men were given the pain of seeking to obtain food all their lives, and they began to die. Here is where sin and death came in upon humanity. The punishment from God for sin is death. When we see that, we might even have some doubts about the love of God. So, how will we understand the sufferings from God? It says in the Bible that in the Garden of Eden, there was the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and that if they ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they would die. How much did God love humanity who was created in the image of God? How much grief did God endure in driving them out of the garden and giving death to humanity? Ireneaus the early church father said, "God thought of the disaster in which the humans would eat the fruit from the tree of life and live for ever in sin, [so] he exiled them from Eden." I wonder if that isn't really true. But did God consider the humans good just as they were driven from the Garden of Eden? Were they [more] like the way Satan was?
In Order To Save [Humanity] From Sin And Death
11. God did not desire that men or women in their free will that has been given to them to be subject to their sin. But, humanity could not get the victory over its sin. Whereupon God gave them his ten commandments as a covenant. His people swore to keep his ten commands as the law, but far from turning back to him, they fell into idolatry and were far far away from God so many times. As we read on through the Old Testament Bible from the beginning and nearly to the end of it, God spoke to the people who had gotten away from Him time after time again, [and said] to the people who had worshipped as just some ritual and who had forgotten the will of God for them, "What have your sacrifices for your sins to me become?" God says, "Purify yourselves!," (Isaiah 1:1-23). In Hosea, the text has it about Israel's disloyalty and God's long suffering love, and some compelling words from God, (chapters one through three). But even still in the end, God promises to restore Israel and grant her abundant prosperity, (chapter fourteen). The Old Testament, put together with a great amount of words, is the history of God's love towards a people who have had a succession of rebellions against God but still God continues to forgive them, and it is a messianic prophecy. We read this great body of words and are granted our first steps in knowing the will of the Lord God.
12. To save the people who had been expelled [from the Garden] under Satan's delusions, God [did not give] what might be termed a substitutionary atonement of some animal, but he did want to give to humanity a complete liberation from the death which took place since sin, which began with Adam and Eve.
13. Satan brought death upon humanity and rebelled against God. By liberating humanity from death, God began squashing Satan down under his feet. In His giving death to death, humanity might again have a happy life in the presence of God like it was in Eden. Humanity would not be under the bidding of Satan.
14. As it would not be an animal, but a human sacrifice for the complete atonement for sin, God sent Jesus to the earth for the complete atonement of humanity. Jesus came as a human being on earth to fulfill God's plan of salvation for humankind.
15. We find the appearance of Satan in the Old Testament at the time of Adam and Eve, in Job, and besides that in Chronicles and Zechariah. The serpent initiated the purposes of Satan and brought death to Adam and Eve. But, in the New Testament, it is in the Gospels where Jesus is on the earth and that Satan is active once again. Knowing that it was starting, that Jesus had come to trample down Satan under his feet, Satan was wanting to obstruct Jesus' plans. But, after putting the plans of Jesus in motion, Satan does not appear in the Bible until the johannine book of Revelation. In that part, he goes to work against humanity [on a grand scale]. Therefore, the war in the Old Testament period was specifically a war for defending the righteousness of God and had to be waged by the sword. If not waged that way, the Bible might not have lasted to our times, and even if it had it probably wouldn't have been to the extent to which it is a reference and a help. I think thanks to this war we are able to clearly recognize that the Bible is God's word. Coming to the New Testament period, after the fulfillment of God's plan of salvation and the prophecies, the war of Satan, to hinder God's plans, was a battle of spirits through human[s], to not let them come to faith. It is a battle for the faith against Satan who is behind humanity. Thus, in the war in the New Testament period I don't think weapons are needed. It seems that humans are evil, but it is a battle with Satan who is behind it all. In The Gospel Of Luke, after Jesus enters his public life, Satan was the one who first recognized Jesus as the holy one of God, (4:34).
Our Salvation In That We Only Die In Sin [In The Flesh And Not The Second Death In The Spirit]
16. We have only died in our sin. But, yet, the sinless Jesus became our sacrificial substitute, and we receive release from sin by only accepting him as our scapegoat through faith. It is the resurrection that brings to fulfillment our liberation from sin. Without the resurrection we would have been freed from sin, but we would still be put to death at the very end [on the Last Day at the Judgment]. In the Bible the scripture says, "It is appointed to [each] human being to die just once and after that to undergo the judgment," (Hebrews 9:27). If we truly die but it is not the whole end after we die, there will be the judgment, and since there is one path that goes to Jesus and another path that doesn't, which road will you choose? We don't have the time to study about sin in detail. There are some who claim sin doesn't exist, but yet [they know it does]. To the woman caught in the place of adultery, Jesus had said, "Anyone among you who has not sinned, be first to throw the stone at her," (John 8:7). There was the crowd around Jesus who was trying to trap him. The crowd was pointing out to Jesus the sins of that woman and pressed him over it. But, no one threw a stone at the words which Jesus spoke. Everyone realized his or her sin. What about us? If you don't see [yours], won't you think there aren't any, that you have no sin because you just felt that way in your heart? [But,] if there truly will be a judgment of God against sin, who will be able to escape it? We always feel the sin consciousness of the multitude in Jesus' time. Though we're alive [like that] crowd [once was], we too will only go on to die in our sin unless we believe Jesus as the messiah. Even after we are dead we will continue to wait in hope for the coming of the messiah who is written about in the scriptures. So, after Jesus died and then through his being raised from the dead, we don't have to accept a hopeless eternal death. Our liberation from death has been put into effect for us. Since the death that had taken Jesus, death is [still] a putrid tomb and our final haven of earthly rest. We will lie our wearied bodies down in [the grave], and await our joyous resurrection morning, (from "What do Christians believe?," by A. van Ruler, [Dutch theologian 1908 - 1970]).
17. The Corinthians had accepted this good news of the gospel. But, in the passing of time, they had forgotten the gospel in their routines, and so Paul re-gave the meaning of the cross and the resurrection solidly to those had been giving a misinterpretation to the gospel at Corinth.
18. How do you all understand death to be? The old time religions are many which [serve as] explanations for shaking off one's fear of death. What is deliverance from death? As it says in the Bible, I believe that we are to accept Jesus as Lord and we are admitted into God's salvation for us; because I believe that it is a book that one could not just write, and had it not come by divine inspiration, I would not [be attempting to] tell forth its truth in easily understood clearly defined words.
19. God created humans, he made us to live with him always happy. But then, sin and death came upon humans when they were tempted by the serpent believed to be Satan.
20. God [will] save a person from death, and just as humanity used to live with joy in the Garden of Eden, God has been wanting to give us the kingdom of God. For that purpose he sent Jesus into the earth, and he promises release from sin and death by only having faith in the cross and the resurrection and by accepting it.
21. We understand through The Apocalypse Of John, in Revelation chapter twenty-one, the new city and the conditions in which we will live in that place after the second coming of Jesus. But, it also is written there in the text about the second death. My heart is aching for you to accept Christ and for you to walk the new life so that none of you would be subjected to the second death. More than anything, God wills this also for you, and it is for that reason that he has given his only son to you and me as a gift.