First Corinthians 15.1-4


1. Folks, it is with great delight that I announce to you this evening that we are about to begin our study of First Corinthians chapter 15. Let me tell you one reason I am thrilled at being in this chapter.

2. When a preacher stands in the pulpit and preaches the Word of God he is aware of the fact that there will always be people in the crowd who will disagree with what he is preaching. This is an inevitable part of the spiritual conflict that every preacher engages in when preaching Godís Word.

3. Now, if you think about it for a while, you will see that there are two situations that a person can find himself in who will disagree with the preacher. He can either be a Christian who has a doctrinal difference in interpreting a certain portion of the Word of God....or he can be a lost person who simply does not believe certain cardinal doctrines of the Bible.

4. For example: Leading up to this chapter in First Corinthians, I have been preaching through three chapters of Godís Word that bear directly on what Christians believe about spiritual gifts and the role of women in worship. As I preached I knew perfectly well that some Christians are capable of having disagreement on the subject of both the gift of tongues and the role of women in worship.

5. But note this: Those three chapters are a portion of the Word of God that Christians can disagree on and still be Christians. You can believe that women pastors are unscriptural or that women pastors are scriptural and still be a born again Christian, in the Biblical sense.

6. And though disagreements on such topics are going to occur, it really saddens me that such things exist in this far less than perfect world we live in.

7. But chapter 15 of First Corinthians is a different story altogether. This is Paulís famous resurrection chapter. This is a chapter that deals with a subject that is so central to Biblical Christianity, the faith once for all delivered to the saints, that disagreement over the fact of this subject does not divide Christians.  Disagreement on this point actually identifies the skeptic as being lost.

8. For while it is possible for unsaved people to believe in the literal resurrection of Christ from the dead, and to believe in the literal resurrection of the righteous dead at some future time, it is totally impossible for a person to deny the fact of Christís resurrection from the dead on the third day and be genuinely born again.

9. Why is this so? This is so because the Biblical doctrine of the resurrection is one of those so-called cardinal doctrines of Christianity which make Christianity what it is. Remove from our faith the resurrection of our Savior and you donít have our faith any longer. You have something else entirely.

10. Why am I thrilled to preach on the resurrection? Because I know that brothers and sisters are not divided on this issue. As I stand from week to week and preach this truth, only those who are lost will deny the truth of what I say. Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the third day. Amen?

11. Think you can deny that and still be a Christian? If you think that you are unaware of the importance of the resurrection. You are unaware that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is critically important to you.

12. We see this in our text for today. Stand and letís read First Corinthians 15.1-4: "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."

13. From the four verses that stand before us this evening we understand that realizing the importance of our Lordís literal, bodily, resurrection is actually a two step process.


"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."

Notice that in these two verses Paul reviews the declaration of the Gospel to the Corinthians with regard to two time frames.

1B. First, With Regard To Their Past

Well, what happened in their past? Simple.

1C. First, the Gospel of Jesus Christ was preached

1D. Let me tell you something about Gospel preaching that is often unappreciated, or under appreciated, in our day of sophisticated and antiseptic Christianity. Something that modern era "believers" do not realize when it comes to this subject of Gospel preaching.

2D. But before I get to that, let me tell you exactly what is meant by the word "preaching" in these two verses. The word refers to bringing, announcing, or proclaiming good news.

3D. Want to know what we ought to realize regarding the Gospel that had been preached to the Corinthians? Two things: First, preaching is normal. Is it not a great tragedy in our day that Gospel preaching is not normal, but instead is usually an exception in Churches today? In Paulís day Gospel preaching was normal.

4D. Second, preaching is necessary. Thatís right. Preaching is necessary. The powerful and energetic declaration of Godís plan of salvation and Christís provision for manís sin is necessary. Not an option, as some obviously think it is these days. Thatís why Paul declared the "preaching of the cross" and not just "the cross" to be the power of God for those of us who are saved, First Corinthians 1.18.

5D. In the past of the Corinthians, then, as Paul wrote to them, the Gospel of Jesus Christ was preached unto them. Something which was normal. Something which was necessary.

2C. The next thing that happened in their past was this: The Gospel was received.

1D. Folks, itís a wonderful thing for the Gospel to be preached with power and conviction on the part of the preacher.

2D. But until the Gospel message is received by faith in Christ it does the listener no good whatsoever.

3D. Quite the contrary. A lost person who listens to the Gospel but who will not entrust the safekeeping of his soul to Christ is only storing up wrath for the judgment day by his stubborn refusal to repent of his sins.

2B. Such Was The Corinthianís Past. Paul Next Reviews The Gospelís Declaration With Respect To Their Present

We know they responded to the Gospel preaching. We know they trusted Christ to the saving of their souls. But where does that now leave them, as Paul writes? Where does that now leave us who are saved by faith in Christ?

1C. Notice their standing

"the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand"

1D. When you genuinely respond to the Gospel, when you really do yield your life to Christ, when you really bend the knee and bow the head and confess Jesus as Lord, you have what is called a standing.

2D. That standing, which only the true believer has, guarantees you a place . . . heaven. Further, that standing, which only the legitimate child of God has, guarantees you a petition . . . prayer. That is, it guarantees that God will listen to your prayers. Thatís a guarantee that lost people do not have, not to mention the fact that a place in heaven is definitely not awaiting them.

2C. Now, notice their salvation (2)

"By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain."

1D. What does their salvation guarantee? It guarantees power for living. It guarantees power over sin in your daily life? It guarantees that the life you lived after you responded to the Gospel will not be and cannot be the same kind of life that you lived before you responded to the Gospel. But notice the last two phrases in verse 2.

2D. "If ye keep in memory" This is a condition of the first class. Paul is assuming that his readers will keep in memory what he preached unto them. And the only possible reason they would not is "unless ye have believed in vain," which is a false profession.

3D. Paul is telling us that everything believers have or hope to have is secured by and through this Gospel message which Paul preached. And the only way a person would not have the place and the petition guaranteed by the Christianís standing, and the only way a person would not have the power guaranteed by the Christianís salvation, is if he didnít really trust Christ to the saving of his soul.

4D. The first step, then, of realizing the importance of the resurrection is to realize that everything you could ever hope to have, by way of spiritual blessings in your Christian life, revolves around your personal response to the Gospel.

5D. The Gospelís role in your salvation and mine, then, is critical.


"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."

You will realize how important the resurrection is when you realize that the resurrection is critical to the Gospel, which is critical to your personal salvation, which is as critical as critical can be.

1B. As To The Revelation Of The Gospel

Though he mentions it only in passing in this first phrase of verse 3, Galatians chapter 1 gives precise detail regarding the revelation of the Gospel to Paul.

1C. Paulís Gospel was received (Galatians 1.11-12)

"11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ."

1D. Folks, these two verses inform us of at least two profound truths: First, the Gospel message which Paul preached is a message that is not of human origin. Second, the message was not taught to Paul, but was communicated to him directly by God through revelation.

2D. Think about this for a second. Do you realize the import of this claim? This man claims to have a message which God uses to save menís souls. Further, he claims that the message is not of human origin, but divine, and that he did not learn it, but was given this body of knowledge in a miraculous way by God.

3D. Thatís what I mean when I say that Paulís Gospel was received.

2C. But Paulís Gospel was also related (Galatians 1.8)

"But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed."

He preached this saving truth to others and did not keep it to himself. And heíd better not keep it to himself, because others were preaching a false Gospel which did not save.

2B. As To The Presentation Of The Gospel, It Is Very Clear

1C. First, there is the death of Christ

1D. The purpose? "For our sins." Notice how Peter describes the purpose of Christís death, in First Peter 3.18: "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit." Christ died a substitutionary, a vicarious, death. It was the innocent for the guilty to satisfy the righteous demands of a holy God for the crime of sin.

2D. The prediction? Isaiah 53.4-8:

4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

Not just the death of Christ, but the death of Christ as accomplishing the task He set out to accomplish by the shedding of His blood for the sins of all mankind.

2C. Second, there is the burial of Christ (Mark 15.42-46)

42 And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath,

43 Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus.

44 And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead.

45 And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph.

46 And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre.

1D. I want you to notice that Christ died rather quickly on the cross. Much more rapidly than men ordinarily died, who could struggle for days before finally suffocating.

2D. But because of the rapidly approaching dusk and the sabbath day that would come with darkness, the legs of the others who were crucified were broken so they, unable to support themselves, would slump and suffocate.

3D. When they came to Christ, however, He was already dead, having given up the ghost and having died for the sins of mankind.

4D. Pilate, surprised that Christ was already dead, knowing that men could live for days and probably unaware that the legs of the others had been broken, checked with a Roman centurion before allowing the body of Jesus to be taken and buried. Checking to make sure He was really dead.

5D. Folks, the burial of Christ is important because it establishes that Christ really did die. Had the Romans not been absolutely sure He was dead they would not have allowed Him to be taken for burial.

6D. Jesus was certainly dead, which makes this next aspect of the Gospel so much more important.

3C. Finally, there is the resurrection of Christ

1D. Were you aware that Christís resurrection is predicted elsewhere in Godís Word? Psalm 16.8-11:

8 I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.

10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Acts 2.24-31:

24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

25 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:

26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:

27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.

29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.

30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;

31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

Simon Peter, in his great Pentecostal sermon, explains that Psalm 16.8-11, written by David, was actually a prediction of the resurrection of the Messiah, Who is the Son of David.

2D. That being so, what was the purpose of Christís resurrection? Two verses will suffice to make three comments.

1E. Acts 2.24: "Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it." Christ was raised from the dead, firstly, because it was not possible for Him to remain dead. Possible for Him to die, yes, but not possible for Him to remain bound by death. Therefore, He had to be raised from the dead by resurrection. How could the Author of life not come back to life? Amen?

2E. Romans 4.25: "Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." This verse is often misunderstood as teaching that the resurrection of Jesus Christ somehow atoned for our sins or provided for our forgiveness. That is not what Paul meant here. Realizing that anyone can die and anyone can be buried, Paul noted that the resurrection of Christ was our justification with our fellow man.

1F. I could point to Christís death and talk about it, but no one need pay attention to me, since anyone can die.

2F. I could point to Christís burial and talk about it, but no one need pay attention to me, since anyone can be buried.

3F. But when I make claims concerning Christ and what He has done for me and what He can do for sinners and tie that to His resurrection, then men must listen. Why? Because not anyone can raise up from the dead.

4F. Itís His resurrection which enables me to shout the works accomplished by His death and burial from the rooftops. His resurrection proves all of the other things to be true as well.

3E. Look at Romans 4.25 again: "Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." Even more importantly, this verse shows that Jesus needed to rise from the dead for our justification. Why? So He could, as our high priest, take His Own blood to heaven to there satisfy Godís demands that our sins be cleansed.


1. Before jumping into a long discourse on the general topic of the resurrection, Paul wanted to grab the attention of his reading audience. He wanted to prove to them that this subject, the resurrection of Christ specifically, and the resurrection of all the righteous generally, in the future, is of practical importance.

2. He wants believers to realize how important to their daily lives the resurrection of their savior really is. So, he attacks the problem in two steps.

3. The first step is related to your personal salvation and mine. We have to understand how critical to our personal relationship with Christ, how critical to our forgiveness of sins, how critical to our going to heaven, is the preaching of the Gospel. You simply donít get saved, you simply donít get to heaven, you simply donít get your sins forgiven apart from receiving the Gospel message.

4. The Gospel, then, is critical to your salvation. But how critical to the Gospel is the resurrection? When you understand that the Gospel revolves around three historical facts, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, the answer is simple.

5. The resurrection is critical to the Gospel, which is critical to your salvation and mine. The resurrection, beyond that, is the only objective way anyone can evaluate the efficacy of the other two factors.

6. Is the resurrection important to your daily Christian life? Itís this important: No resurrection, no Gospel. No Gospel, no salvation.

7. The resurrection, therefore, is an indispensable ingredient of the Christian faith

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