Friday, July 25, 2014

GOOD NEWS! (1 Corinthians Chapter 15)

1 Corinthians Chapter 15:1-4, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you…For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”

As I write this, news of another plane crash has just been reported.  A Swiftair flight enroute from Burkina Faso to Algeria, with 116 people on board, has crashed somewhere in Mali.  This on the heels of the two other recent plane crash disasters, in Taiwan and the Ukraine, that have left hundreds dead and thousands mourning.  There is a lot of other bad news in our world.  The centuries-old conflict between Israel and its neighbors has flared up again, and lives are being lost as Israel endeavors to defend itself.  Daily, news of other wars (and rumors of wars) cross the headlines.  An Islamic terrorist group is hell-bent on eliminating all Christians from parts of Iraq, telling them that they must leave, convert, or die.  And the persecution of Christians is on the rise all around the globe.  All this as our society continues to spiral downward into a moral abyss.  Some say that the world is spirally out of control.

There is a lot of bad news in our world.  And you don’t need to look very hard to find some.  Bad news prevails in this sin-cursed planet.  Adam and Eve sinned against God and unleashed a sin-contagion.  No one is immune to the disease and no one is exempt from its consequences (Cf. Romans 3:23, 5:12, 6:23).  We were created to know and worship our Creator.  Sin has worked to turn us all into rebels deserving of death

Were that the end of the matter, man’s existence on this planet would constitute the ultimate of horror stories.  We’ve all sinned.  We’re all deserving of death.  Eternal separation in a place called hell is what we deserve (Cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:9).  There is nothing we can do to rescue ourselves from our plight or avert God’s righteous judgment (Cf. Ephesians 2:1-3).

In the midst of this darkness there is a message of hope and salvation.  That message is the good news (i.e. gospel; 1 Corinthians 15:1).  It is a message about a Person and His work.  That person is Jesus Christ and because of Him there is good news amidst all the bad.  In fulfillment of the Scriptures, the eternal Son of God became man and dwelt among us (Cf. John 1:14; Luke 24:44-46).  In a radical divergent manner of life, He spoke truth, showed love, lived without sin, and purposed “to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).  He came into the world for the express purpose of saving sinners (Cf. 1 Timothy 1:15).  His death on the cross was no accident, for He was “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23).  “Christ died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3).  “He was raised on the third day,” having triumphed over sin, and death, and the devil himself (Cf. Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 Corinthians 15:54-56).  On the basis of Christ’s finished work, salvation—from sin and death to glory in heaven--has been availed to those who believe.

Like a ray of gloriously bright sunshine beaming through a cloud darkened sky, the gospel is a light to us in this darkness.  The Apostle Paul elsewhere referred to it as “the gospel of the glory of the blessed God” (1 Timothy 1:11).  The message illumines us to the truth about God.  There is bad news in this world!  Does God care?  Will He, can He, do anything about it?  The message is God’s declarative response.  Does He care?  “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  Can he do anything to rescue us from our plight?  “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

That message proclaimed by Paul to the Corinthians two millennia ago has spread from those early days to the four corners of the globe.  It has worked through the centuries to “save to the uttermost” those who have believed (Cf. Hebrews 7:25).  It is a timeless, powerful, and glorious message of truth imparting forgiveness and life eternal!  It represents the sole means by which anyone can be saved (Cf. John 14:6; Acts 4:12), and is the only answer to any of the problems that beset the sons of Adam.  Someone shared it with you—you believed and were saved.  God made it known to you that you might pass it on.  There is a lot of bad news in the world, but Christ died for sins and rose from the dead, and that’s good news!

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