FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
Christ, The Lord, Is Risen Today
Vain the stone, the watch, the seal, Alleluia!
Christ has burst the gates of hell, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened Paradise, Alleluia!
Welcome to the Red Mountain Sunday Recap!
The Sunday Recap is a brief fly-by of what we did during Sunday worship. Did anything land with you from worship on Sunday? What did it make you think? How did it make you feel? What did you find especially sweet or challenging from God's word? What did we sing, read, or pray that left an impression on you?
Food For Thought!
[The resurrection] means that [Christian] faith is based on a particular event in human history, to which a definite circle of people gave testimony; the resurrection is not simply a symbol for the flowers coming up every spring or for the hope that springs eternal in the human heart. The Christian faith is grounded in the rising from the grave of Jesus Christ, who suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried…. This means above all else that the gospel is a word of radical grace, for resurrection is one thing that we can neither produce nor control nor manipulate: our hope is exclusively in God’s hands. – Richard Hays
Confession of Sin:
Prayer of Confession
Heavenly Father, we confess that our glory has been our own comfort, rather than your Son's cross; that we have craved the fellowship of those already like us, rather than the fellowship of Christ's sufferings; that we have worked to save our own lives, rather than lose our lives for Christ’s sake and the gospel. Have mercy on us, Father, and grant us the gift of gospel repentance. Cleanse us by the finished work of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and restore to us the joy of your salvation. Amen.
Words of Grace
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
1 John 1:8-2:2
Confession of Faith: The Apostles Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth.
I believe 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.
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
Sermon Text: 1 Corinthians 15:1-20
1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
1. The Foundation of Christian Hope (v. 1-8)
2. The Reach of Christian Hope (v. 9-10)
3. The Future of Christian Hope (v. 20, 23; Rom. 8:23)
In the early pages of his book Surprised by Hope, N.T. Wright says this, “From Plato to Hegel and beyond, some of the greatest philosophers declared that what you thought about death, and life beyond it, is the key to thinking seriously about everything else—and, indeed, that it provides one of the main reasons for thinking seriously about anything at all.”
According to the NT, that sentiment couldn’t be more true. Paul writes in v. 19 of 1 Corinthians 15, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” Here in this great chapter on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Paul is saying, “take away the resurrection of Jesus and you take away Christianity and with it any reason for hope at all.” Therefore, Paul spends close to 60 verses in 1 Corinthians 15 explaining the meaning and significance of the resurrection, which we can summarize like this: the resurrection of Jesus gives hope to all who belong to him that not even death can defeat!
Paul teaches us three key ingredients that together bring into our lives the hope of the resurrection not only for today but forever.
In verses 1-8 Paul shows us the foundation of Christian hope. According to the Bible the resurrection is not a religious symbol that inspires but a particular historical event upon which the meaning and hope of Christianity is based. How do we know this? First, the death and resurrection of Jesus is not a deviation from God's plan but in fact the very fulfillment of all that God has promised in the scriptures. (v. 3, 4) But secondly, the resurrection of Jesus was witnessed by hundreds of people, most of whom were still alive when Paul wrote 1 Corinthians c. 55 AD. (v. 6) Anyone who denied the resurrection could go and ask eye-witnesses to Jesus' resurrection. This speaks to a common objection to the historical reliability of the New Testament. Some say the New Testament can't be trusted because it was written too long after the events of which it speaks. However, as New Testament Scholar F.F. Bruce writes, "[I]n assessing the trustworthiness of ancient historical writings, one of the most important questions is: How soon after the events took place were they recorded?" Liberal and conservative scholars alike generally agree that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians c. 55 AD, which means, when compared with the generally accepted dates of the other New Testament documents, that at least 20 of the 27 New Testament documents were written within the lifetime of the eyewitnesses to Jesus' resurrection.
But even more than that, the practical implications of the historical character of Christianity brings great comfort to our suffering and hardship. Why? Because Christianity is built on the ministry, sufferings, death, and resurrection of a real human being that forever changes our perspective on suffering. The death and resurrection of Jesus teaches us that God entered into the brokenness and pain of our world and therefore can sympathize with us. It also teaches us that nothing in this world, however powerful it may be, will have the last word. Therefore, Paul writes, "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom. 8:38-39)
In verses 9-10 Paul shows us the reach of Christian hope. Paul describes his life prior to encountering the risen Christ as a persecutor of the church. (v. 9; Acts 8:1-3; 9:1-5; Phil. 3:5-8a) Do you feel you are beyond the reach of God's grace? Then you must sit with the story of Paul. His story teaches us that no one is beyond the reach of God's grace, not even those who hate Jesus. How do we know this? Look at how Paul describes the impact of grace on his life. "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me." (v. 10) What's he saying? Grace gives us a whole new identity not based on our past but on the gospel. Grace brings a whole new power and motivation for living life...God's glory and the good of others. Therefore, Paul says in Philippians 2:12-13, "[W]ork out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." But there is more. The new identity and power we receive in the gospel points beyond this life to the future of our hope.
In verse 20 Paul shows us the future of Christian hope. In the one word, "firstfruits" Paul teaches us the relationship believers have with the resurrected Christ. "Firstfruits" is an agricultural term used to describe the very first produce of a crop, which is a foretaste of the full harvest yet to come. The "firstfruits" and the full harvest though separated by time are organically connected. Therefore, to be in Christ is to be organically tied to his resurrection. So that Paul writes in v. 23, "But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ." Or again in Colossians 3:4, "When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." Here is the point: All who belong to Jesus through faith in him, will be with him when he returns! Not only that we will appear with him in "resurrection bodies". Christianity doesn't teach an afterlife of disembodied spirits floating around in some netherworld. No, it teaches a new creation, a new heavens and a new earth, including new physical bodies. The rest of 1 Corinthians 15 goes on to explain this great hope and mystery. Therefore, think of your resurrection body like the streets paved with gold in the new heavens and the new earth (Rev. 21:21). It will be far more glorious than you could possibly imagine. You will finally be the real you, the you God originally created you to be!
The good news of the resurrection is that Christianity doesn't depend on us. It all depends on Jesus Christ and what he has done in history back there and then and even right now as he is seated at the right of the Father in his glory. This is the foundation of our hope! This is the reach of our hope! This is the future of our hope!
- What was new or compelling to you? What stood out to you from this passage?
- What questions does this passage raise for you?
- Was there anything that bothered you?
- What happens when we forget that Christianity is based on once for all historic events?
- How does the story of Paul illustrate for you the reach of God's grace? Have you experienced it?
- Are you afraid of dying? How does the resurrection of Jesus guarantee that death will be swallowed up in victory? (v. 20, 23, 54)
I want to suggest to you two resources that have been incredibly helpful to me on two very important topics: Spiritual Depression and The Resurrection. At first it may seem these two topics are entirely unrelated. However, I would suggest to you that they are intimately connected and therefore incredibly important for enjoying the riches of God's grace. I hope you might find them as nourishing as I have.
Songs for this week:
O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing
King of Saints
In Christ Alone
We Will Feast in the House of Zion
Rock of Ages Cleft for Me
Sermon passage for this week: Genesis 11:1-9
Until next time,
Christ, The Lord, Is Risen Today
Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died, our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!