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THE GOSPEL - PART II: The Good News

1 Corinthians 15:1-15:4
Key Verse: 15:3-4

Yes, it is good news to me, too! This verse says that: the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23b)

Do you like to receive gifts? There are gifts from people. And there is a gift from God. The gift from God is eternal life in Jesus Christ. What we deserve is death as the wages of our sin, but God gave us his gift free of charge. How exactly did God accomplish this - how did he give us this gift? Our key verse from 1 Corinthians tells us how: (verse on power point) first Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and second, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.

These two facts - the death of Jesus and the resurrection of Jesus - are the good news!

Part 1: JESUS DEATH

"Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures"

The death of Jesus is recorded in all 4 Gospels in the Bible. It is a historical fact. And not only that, but Jesus also died "according to the Scriptures", that is, in fulfillment of the many prophecies in the OT regarding the Messiah.

Recently, we studied Lukes gospel. In ch. 23 of Lukes Gospel, the crucifixion of Jesus is recorded. It is described how Jesus was questioned by the council of the Jewish elders and by Pilate, a Roman governor. In the end, Pilate found no fault in Jesus, but he condemned Jesus anyway to die by crucifixion. Jesus was crucified on Golgotha along with two criminals—one on his right and the other at his left. While he suffered on the cross, Jesus was mocked and sneered at and insulted.

But why did sinless Jesus have to die? -- our key verse says "for our sins."

John 1:29 highlights Jesus role as the lamb of God. It says: "Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."

The idea of lambs being sacrificed for our sins is a bit strange to us today, but the contemporaries of Jesus day would have understood it.

In the OT God instituted animal sacrifices: the wages of sin is death. Therefore, when people sin, they ought to die, that is, they ought to shed their blood. But instead of each person dying for their own sin and shedding their own blood, God allowed the shedding of the animal blood to count as the wages for their sin. The shedding of that blood took away their sins. : the night the Israelites were delivered from the Egyptian bondage, they slew a lamb and applied its blood to the doorposts of their houses so that the angel of death that came to kill the Egyptians passed over their houses and spared them from death. Following that, in the OT, lambs were sacrificed at the temple, every day twice a day for the Israelites sins [for my own purposes reference: Exodus 29: 38 - 42]

These sacrifices point to Jesus. Jesus was the ultimate lamb sacrifice -- He was the Lamb of God, he died once, he died for the whole world, and he died to cover all sin. Imagine the blood flowing on the cross -- blood flowing from his hands & his feet where the nails pierced; blood pouring down from the crown of thorns on his brow; blood that gushed out when the solder pierced Jesus side with a sword. This precious life blood that was drained out of Jesus took away our sin and paid in full for its wages.

Isaiah 53:5 describes the suffering of Jesus, as a lamb led to the slaughter. It says "But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed." (ESV)

This verse explains why the death of Jesus is precious to me personally. Because it brings me peace and healing for my wounds created by living fearfully. For years, I went on day by day, and year by year, with life questions pressing down such as what school shall I go to? What subject shall I study? How can I get better grades? After I graduated: where shall I work? what church shall I make my community? Whom shall I marry? What is my life mission? What is my purpose? All of these questions are important life decisions, for sure, but the questions became burdens when I did not trust them into the hands of Jesus. These burdens created fear in my heart. That fear condemned me -- I fully expected that Gods punishment would catch up with me sooner or later. All of this - burden, fear, expecting Gods wrath -- stemmed from my unbelief. I did not believe that God could take care of my life questions. So, unbelief in God was my transgression and my iniquity. But this verse tells me that Jesus was punished for my unbelief. On the cross, Jesus bore my burdens, my fear, and Gods wrath. I do not have to bear them because his suffering brings me peace and healing.

And so, because Jesus was the final sacrifice for all sin, it is through Jesus alone that I and that you can have relationship with God. There is no other way. 1 Timothy 2:5 says "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."

John 3:16 is the most well-known Bible verse. It says: John 3:16 : For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

This verse tells us that God loved and God gave his Son, as the evidence of his love for us. Gods part is accomplished, it is finished. Everything needed for relationship with God and eternal life, God has done for us. God did not leave it for us to strive to find a way to Him. We cannot work for eternal life, we cannot save money to buy it, or earn it by being good or doing good. No, God in His great love for you and for me has already provided the way, and it is Jesus. The only condition for us is to believe, as it says: “whoever believes…”

Jesus Himself said "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my words and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned. He has crossed over from death to life." John 5:24

“Whoever hears my words and believes…” We hear Gods word and we believe and we receive eternal life. We cross over from death (which is the wages of sin) into life (which is the gift of God). It seems too simple. But Jesus says thats the way of salvation. “Do you believe what you hear today?”

Part 2: JESUS RESURRECTION

"he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures"

The second part of the good news is the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection is also recorded in all 4 gospels. After Jesus was resurrected, he appeared to many people: to people individually -- Peter, James, Paul; to groups of people: to the 12 disciples, to the apostles, and to more than 500 people at the same time.

His resurrection, like his death, is a fact.

Acts 2:24 says: This man was handed over to you by Gods set purpose and foreknowledge. And you with the help of wicked men put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

Why was it impossible for death to keep its hold on him? Because Jesus was without sin. 1 Peter 1:19 says that Jesus was the lamb "without blemish or defect". And remember that death is the wages for sin? But because Jesus had no sin, there was no wages to pay and therefore death could not have a hold over him.

In the Bible, there were a couple of other people who were raised to life after they physically died: Jesus raised Lazarus from the tomb and the prophet Elijah raised a boy from the dead (2 Kings 4:18-37). But both Lazarus and the boy eventually died again. Their rising to life was still only temporary; due to their sinful nature, their sin demanded its final wages: death.

But Jesus was raised to life and He stayed alive. He conquered over death. If we do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus, then our faith is futile and we are still in our sins. Death on the cross alone is not our foundation for believing. Rather, it is the death plus the resurrection of Jesus, together, that give us that foundation. As Romans 10:9 says: "If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

1 Peter 1:3, 4 speaks further of the resurrection of Jesus. It reads: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade, kept in heaven for you.

It is through the resurrection of Jesus - his victory over death - that we are born again, that we too can be raised to life. Unlike a physical birth where a baby is born into a dead and passing world, when we receive new spiritual birth through believing that God raised Jesus from the dead, this verse says that we are born anew into what cannot die - a living hope - and into what lasts forever - an eternal inheritance.

Although we continue to live in this passing world, yet we have been transformed and we live with new direction. When a person is born anew spiritually, they look the same, they live in the same body, they go to the same school, work the same job, yet other people notice that something has changed. They cannot even tell what -- somehow, that interior spiritual transformation which is the consequences of spiritual birth radiates out from the inside.

This verse promises us two things:

1) First, a living hope. Have you ever really, really hoped for something? Maybe a good grade on the exam? And then you got your exam back and the professor failed you? Your hope died? When I was younger I would ask my mom to take me to the park and she would say "tomorrow we will go". And the following day I would ask her again "can we go to the park?" And she would say "Tomorrow. I told you tomorrow we will go." Finally one day I asked my mom "But is not today tomorrow?" With each day that I did not go to the park, my hope turned into a dead hope and I was disappointed. By contrast, what the new birth gives us is "living hope". This hope means two things. It means that we look forward to our own bodies being resurrected after we die our physical death. But also, this living hope gives us also assurance and confidence for living in the present.

2) The second thing this verse says that the new birth gives us is an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade, kept in heaven for us. Our joy is to remember that, what God our father has prepared for us, we will inherit because we are his children. This inheritance is eternal and is secure -- it is not at the whim of the stock market; it cannot be stolen; its beauty will never fade. It is kept in heaven specifically for each one of us who have new birth.

So, if we have resurrection faith -- so what? What does it mean practically now? It means that we have a new life direction. It means that we should live for Jesus, not for ourselves, that sin should no longer be our master. Rather, we are to love God and give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58 says that this work for the Lord is not in vain.

For me, I am still learning what it means to have resurrection faith. Because the gift of God of eternal life is not just for after death, but it is also for the present. Gods love is to be enjoyed now, presently. For a long time, I was someone who received the gift of life - I received Jesus as my Saviour - but I did not open the gift. But I was wrong. I realized that, Jesus is not only my Saviour, but the Risen Christ is my shepherd. So I want to repent of my unbelief and fear and I want to follow my shepherd, fully trusting in his leading. I pray that I may be able to give myself fully to the Lord with resurrection faith.

So, this is what the good news means to us: that Christ died to pay the price for our sins in full and that He was resurrected in order to give us new birth into a living hope and an eternal inheritance.

Written by Nicole

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