The cross is crucial to our faith. Without the cross, there is no forgiveness of sins. Without the cross we cannot have a relationship with our Holy Father. By itself though, the cross is not the gospel. Paul makes it clear what the ingredients of the gospel are in 1Cor 15:1-8. He packs in the important ingredients of the gospel in this passage.
“Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”
This is Paul’s gospel: It is the living Jesus, died for our sins, he was buried, and then after 3 days he came back to life. Then he started appearing to people. All this is gospel because it makes our faith legitimate.
The cross brought forgiveness of sins and the empty tomb proved his victory over death and sin. Without the cross we would still be in our sins and without the empty tomb none of this would matter. Jesus said that he would rise after 3 days of death, so if he didn’t we would not believe in Him. Without it we would know that the cross really was foolishness. Without Jesus coming to life we would know that worshiping Jesus as our Lord and Savior would be pointless.
Paul knew this! He said that if Christ has not been raised then “our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (1Cor 15:14) He goes on the say “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; and you are still in your sins” (v.19)
Paul goes on to say in 1Cor 15:19, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”
If Christ was not resurrected than we should be pitied. We pity those who should have known better. In the words of Mr. T, “I pity the fool.” We pity fools that don’t know what’s right from what’s wrong, and what’s true from what’s false. And if we have given our lives for something that is only to help us in this life then we are to be pitied.
But what if he did? What if Jesus was raised from the dead? What if what is told us the gospels are true? Then what?
If we are convinced as the gospels attest that Jesus did come alive again, it means a few things:
- I believe that if he really was resurrected from the dead than he really was who he said he was. He really was the son of God. He really was God among us. He really was both human and the Creator himself.
- If he really was raised from death than he has the power to forgive sins. The resurrection gives validity to the cross. Jesus told men that he had the power to forgive sins and he proved it through his miracles. But his raising from the dead proves it even further.
- If he really was raised from the dead than we should listen to him. I will do what he says. I will obey him. I will follow him. I will worship him. If he came alive from death then he alone is be worshiped. No other religious leader or founder can claim resurrection and has so many eyewitnesses to prove it. They were so convinced that he came alive again that they were willing to die for it. And many of them died and suffered terribly for this.
- If he really was raised from the dead than there is hope for us. The empty tomb gives us great hope for our own resurrection. The Scriptures teach that those who believe in Christ and dedicate their lives to Him will one day themselves be resurrected to live with Christ forever. This life one earth is not all there is in Jesus. This is the eternal plan of God. In a real sense, those in Christ will one day come alive again from death and live eternally with Him.
- The resurrection of Christ gives us new life even now. In Jesus, you can come alive even today, by dying to your old self and Christ will raise you anew.
This is seen in Romans 6:1-13
“3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
In the light of the resurrection, we are to die to sin, be done away with the old self, with all its selfishness, and impurity, and anger, and jealousy, and harshness. We do away with that life. It dies through the cross. And we are then made “alive in Christ Jesus.” We come alive in Jesus. You were dead in your sins before Jesus. Meaning that you were living unapologetically a life of selfishness, impurity, hatred, obscenity.
Some of you are dead because you don’t know Jesus. You haven’t trusted Jesus with your life yet. You haven’t received his love, grace, and peace. You haven’t received his death, burial, resurrection. You are dead. I’m saying that to be harsh but stating the truth and we find it here. We are meant to come alive in Jesus.
In sin without Jesus we are walking dead. Insert Zombie illustration here. I won’t go there. We are dead without Jesus.
Paul ends the passage in Romans 6 by saying:
12 “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”
Jesus came back to life so that you could too. If he really was raised from the dead than we need to listen to him. If he was really came alive we need to die to ourselves and live for him. It says here that those who are raised to life offer themselves to God. Have you done that? Have you given your life to him? Do you use every part of yourself to the cause of Jesus? Are you an instrument of righteousness?
Come Alive in Jesus Christ today.