“THE TRIUMPH OF CHRISTIANITY”                   By Pastor Yau

Text: 1 Corinthians 15:17-25                                      March 23, 2008.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)     Some 21st Century Words: In the introduction of the book AFTER JESUS the TRIUMPH of CHRISTIANITY, published by Reader’s Digest, it says, “There are 2 important dates in Christian faith, one is the Christmas and the other is the Easter. Christmas is about the miraculous birth of Jesus and Easter is about the resurrection of Christ. The importance of the birth of Christ ended at his death on the cross. All the hopes and expectation ended with his death. It is his resurrection that revived his importance in human history. All religious founders have their legendary births and life stories, but only Jesus rose from the dead that gave new life to the Christian movement. His journey back to life after death set Christianity apart from all other religions.”

2)     Some 1st Century Words: Soon after the resurrection of Jesus, one of his disciples Paul wrote about Jesus to the believers at Corinth, one of the major centers of Christian faith in the Roman Empire. “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise you have believed in vain. For what I received, I passed on to you as first importance that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures and that he appeared to Peter and then to the Twelve. After that he appeared to more than 500 of the brothers at the same time most of whom are still living then he appeared to James then to all the apostles and last of all he appeared to me also.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-8)

 

THE DEATH OF JESUS: Why must Jesus die? He must die…..

1)   To fulfill the prophecy: The Apostle Paul said “Jesus died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” (15:3)The death of Jesus was foretold by Prophet Isaiah, “He was pierced for our transgressions and was crushed for our iniquities.” (Isaiah 53:5) Jesus explained his death to the 2 disciples on the road to Emmaus, “He (Jesus) said to them, ‘How foolish you are and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’ And beginning from Moses and all the Prophets he explained to them what was said in the Scriptures concerning himself.” (Luke 24:26-27)The death of Jesus was not an accident or an act of men but a fulfillment of God’s will spoken by the prophets.

2)   To pay the price: “For the wages (price) of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life.” (Romans 6:23)Instead of all sinners pay for their sins by death, God prepared a substitute for our death by the death of Christ for the price of our sins.

3)   To forgive our sins: “The law requires that nearly all things be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22)God has ordained a way to forgive sins in the Mosaic laws and that is by shedding of blood. The blood of Jesus was shed so the sins of all men will be forgiven. There is no other way.

4)   To show God’s love: “At just the right time when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8) There is no better way to show us God’s love by sending His Son to die for us.

 

THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS: Here are some of the witnesses:

1)   The first witnesses: “After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earth quake, for an angel of the Lord cam down from heaven and going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women: ‘Do not be afraid for I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” (Matthew 28:1-6)The women were the first witnesses to hear the resurrection message by the angel and saw the resurrected Jesus: “Suddenly met them. Greetings, he said. They came to him and clasped his feet and worshipped him.” (28:9)

2)   Two disciples: “Now that same day, two of the disciples were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking to each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them.” (Luke 24:13-15)

3)   The key disciples: “Peter and the other disciple (John) started for the tomb. Both were running but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter who was behind him arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. Finally the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went inside. He saw and believed.” (John 20:3-8)

4)   Other disciples: “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together with the doors locked for the fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.” (John 20:19-20)

5)   The doubter: “A week later his disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ The he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ And Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:26-28)

6)   The diehard witness: “Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belong to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.” Jesus replied. (Acts 9:1-5)

7)   And the millions: “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you have not seen him now, you believe in him and are filled with inexpressible and glorious joy. For you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9)Even though these are the words of Peter written to the very early Christians, they represent the faith and joy of millions of faithful believers including you and me. Yes, none of us have seen the risen Lord, but He lives in our hearts and gives us the basis of faith and the glorious joy.

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE RESURRECTION: (1 Corinth. 15:17-25)

1)    The centerpiece of the gospel: “Men of Israel, listen to this Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s 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…God has raised this Jesus to life and we all are witnesses of the fact.” (Acts 2:22-24, 32)The resurrection of Jesus from the death has been the center of the gospel of salvation since the day of Peter. Untold millions have been saved by the power of the resurrected Jesus.

2)    The validity of salvation: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile you are still in your sins. Then those who had fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” (1 Corinthians 15:17-19)All those who believe in dead religious founders believed them in vain or futile or useless because none of those religious founders had risen from the dead. But this Jesus is different. Since He has risen from the dead, our salvation is guaranteed and sealed.

3)    We all shall rise from the dead: “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruit of those who had fallen asleep. For since death cam through one man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through one man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” (15:20-22)This is more than just an empty hope, it is a truth guaranteed by the resurrection of this Jesus. We all shall rise from the dead to be with Him.

4)    Jesus shall reign forever: “But each in his own turn: Christ the first fruits, then when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come when he hands the kingdom to the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he had put all his enemies under his feet.” (15:23-25)The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is much more than just an event in history it is the turning point of history: God in Christ will reign forever and we as his children shall reign with Him in heaven.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)      Triumph over sin: The bondage of sin was long broken by the resurrection of Jesus who has brought release to all believers who have trusted Him as Lord and Savior. Sin has no control over those whom Jesus has forgiven. We have been forgiven forever.

2)      Triumph over death: The fear of death and eternal loss were all broken because Jesus has risen from the dead. To all believers, death is a revolving door leading to eternal life given to those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior.

3)      Triumph over Satan: The power of Satan and all temptation are gone because we have the risen Lord who lives in our hearts and the accompanying Holy Spirit with us. We are no longer alone in the journey on earth. Jesus promised to be with us to the end of this world. (Matt. 28:20)