Due to a technical issue, the quality of the audio recording is sub-optimal. Please accept our sincere apology.
In lieu of the recording, here are the notes from Pastor Will’s sermon on this, his last Sunday in the pulpit, in which he exhorts us to re-focus on the one true Gospel.
THE APOSTLES CREED – ARTICLE 6 | “The Third Day He Rose Again From The Dead” | 1 Corinthians 1:1-11
by Dr. William Hope, Interim Senior Pastor of First Evangelical Free Church
This past week I was involved in a slugfest. No, I didn’t hit anyone and I didn’t yell at anyone. In my daily Bible reading I was slugging my way through the Old Testament books of Chronicles.
One of the greatest horrors in these books is Israel’s (as well as Judah’s) fascination with Baal worship. What made pagan worship so attractive that God’s people would abandon Him?
Why in the world would they give up God’s holy covenant which contained all of His promises of provision, providence, and protection?
In the middle of my slugfest I reminded myself that the Bible is very clear that misplaced love is at the center of any departure from our affections.
If you want to drill down to the core of why things go wrong in our lives, you will find “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.”
This is true for a marriage. A friendship. A courtship. A partnership in business. A membership in a church.
John, the Apostle of Love, wrote in 1 John 2:15-17, 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides for ever. (RSV)
Misplaced love for God, driven by the flesh, lustful eyes, and arrogant pride, is how Baal worship flourished in Israel’s history.
And this is true in the history of the Christian church. We forget the truth of Romans 5:8 which says, “God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”
Because of the flesh, because of wandering eyes and the stench of selfish pride, love for Christ is replaced by another gospel.
More specifically, here in this church, there is another gospel pulling at our hearts. This other gospel is not as blatant as Baal worship but it is just as powerful in corrupting “the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3).
So this is why throughout the New Testament warnings were given to the church to be on guard about false teachers and other gospels. Even Jesus warned his disciples that ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing would try to enter the church.
This is why in the 4th Century the Apostles’ Creed served as a standard for refuting false teachers and other gospels.
For us, the other gospel dogging our heels is our love for celebrating and honoring diversity in our pursuit of social justice.
For some, pursing ethnic diversity and allowing divergent doctrinal views to coexist in the church is of equal importance to the message, “God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”
The Gospel of Christ, the Gospel of forgiveness and transformation, has no equal.
When we pursue this Gospel, diversity and social justice are its fruit. But you can’t have the fruit without the tree. The tree in this case is “Come to Jesus. Be honest with sin in your life. Ask Christ to forgive you and He will give you a new life.”
Jesus is not only the Tree of Life. Jesus is the Tree of Eternal Life.
In this Sixth Article of the Creed, “. . .the third day He rose again from the dead” the “other gospel” said that Jesus did not physically and literally rise from the dead.
At the heart of this teaching is human pride. We all know that dead men do not come back to life.
So how do we deal with things such as pride that challenges the foundations of our core beliefs and values?
In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul is concluding his letter to a church that has had a few problems (to put it mildly). He has three corrections for them. And these three corrections are also good reminders for us.
What does he do? How does he bring this church back to her first love?
First of all, he takes them back to square one – to the beginning that made the beginning possible.
He says in verse 1: “I want to remind you of the gospel. . .”
Another way of saying this is, “I want you to understand – “I now am making known to you, brothers, the gospel which I declared to you, which also you received, on which you stand complete.”
The “stand complete” part is a perfect tense. This carries the idea that everything that you needed for life and salvation is found in the Gospel of Jesus.
Paul is coming to closure in this letter with this church and he is reminding them of the authentic Gospel.
He says to them in verse 2, “[It is the Gospel] by which means you were saved by the word I preached to you – if you hold fast.”
What if you do not hold fast? What if you let things slide? The end of the verse says that if you go this route, “you have believed in vain.”
If you drift in this direction, pretty soon nothing really matters. There is no reason for going to church or for being in fellowship. Pretty soon you find yourself never reading your Bible.
Secondly, how does Paul bring this church back to her first love? Paul not only takes them back to square one, he reminds them what is of first importance.
Look at verses 3 and 4: “For what I received I passed on to you in first importance: Christ died on behalf of our sins, according to the Scriptures.
Verse 4: “. . .and he was buried, he also was raised up on the third day according to the Scriptures.”
When we say in the Creed, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried. He descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead;
At this point we are in the very middle of the Creed. The very heart and center of the Creed is the declaration of the resurrection.
Not only did these things happen which is of first importance, they happened in fulfillment of Scripture which is embedded within first importance.
Acts 17 tells us of Paul and Silas’ ministry at Beroea. Verse 11 says,
11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessaloni′ca, for they received the word with all eagerness, examining the scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.
The Readers Movement in the Free Church consisted of house groups gathered to read the Bible, asking themselves for every decision and doctrine, “Where is it written?”
A departure for another Gospel is always preceded by a departure from the Bible. For those departing, they no longer make decisions based upon chapter and verse. Why? Because they are biblically illiterate. Other know enough of the Bible to twist the Scriptures to accommodate what they want to believe and practice.
Thirdly, in answering the question, “How does Paul bring the Corinthian church back to her first love?” He makes the resurrection the centerpiece of the Gospel.
Three times in 1 Corinthians 15 in three different settings, before three specific people and three specific groups — Paul emphasizes that Jesus appeared alive after He was crucified, dead, buried, and descended into the place of the dead.
From the Gospels we know that this just wasn’t a ghostly appearance. He ate first with His disciples. Thomas touched His nailed-scared hands and thrust his hand into His riven side. This was a real body – not some apparition.
Verse 5 says after His resurrection, He appeared before Cephas (another name for Peter) – that’s one person.
This same verse also says, “then to the Twelve” – that’s one group of the Disciples.
Verse 6 says He then appeared to over 500 “brothers” at one time – that’s the second group.
Verse 7 says He then appeared to James – that’s the second person.
This goes on to say that he appeared to “all the apostles” – that’s the third group.
Verse 8 Paul says that Jesus appeared to Him – that’s the third person.
What is the meaning and implications of the resurrection? I have four.
First of all, the resurrection is a divine vindication of Jesus’ message and claims.
When He returned to the Father after His resurrection and ascen¬sion, He was show¬ing the world that He was the Risen conquering Savior –endless in victory.
Peter at Pentecost preached, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).
Paul put it this way: “[Jesus], through the Spirit of holiness was de¬clared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4).
Second, the resurrection of Christ spells the defeat of sin and death.
Paying the penalty for sin, Jesus died on the Cross.
Rising again from the dead, He conquers sin and death.
Who can match Paul’s note of triumph (concerning the future resurrection of believers that will oc¬cur because of the past resurrection of Christ)? “Death has been swal¬lowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Je¬sus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:54-56).
Third, the resurrection of Christ means new life in the present.
The apostle Paul teaches that, because Christ has been raised from the dead, we now no longer need to live under the power of sin.
In bap¬tism, we die with Christ and rise to new life.
The old body of sin was crucified with Christ.
We now have a new life–which means free¬dom from sin.
Those who truly believe are united with Christ in his resurrection (see Romans 6:1-14).
Because of this, both our thoughts and affections are transformed by the power of His resurrection (Colossians 3:1-11).
Finally, the resurrection of Christ means hope for the future.
Peter puts it this way: “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 the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5).
If we want to say the Creed’s “the third day he rose again from the dead” with integrity, we must be convinced that the resurrection is the centerpiece of the Gospel.