1 Corinthians 15:1 – 8 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you were saved, if you hold fast that word which was preached to you – unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received; that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried and that He rose on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by the Twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James then by all the apostles. Then, last of all, He was seen by me also, as one born out of due time.
- The point being delivered as of first importance is that the gospel is based on evidence, not that the death, burial, resurrection of Jesus summarized the gospel.
- The death, burial, and resurrection are three things; evidence is one thing.
- The reason that evidence is of first importance is because Christianity is the only religion based on facts.
- The rest of the chapter is a logical argument presenting facts about the resurrection of the faithful, that the fact of Jesus’ resurrection cannot be separated from its logical conclusion. The concepts of Jesus’ death and burial are not invoked again in the argument because the point is evidence and logic.
Restricting the list of essentials of the gospel to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus omit some equally essential facets Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father…” (John 20:17) After His resurrection, Jesus pointed out that He still had important things to do.
- Jesus’ glorification
- Glorification is the figurative parade staged in heaven in celebration of Jesus’ character.
- “I was watching in the night visions and behold, One like the Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven. He came to the Ancient of Days and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and His kingdom one which shall not be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:13 – 14) Jesus applied this passage to Himself in Matthew 24:30, 26:64, Mark 13:26, 14:62, Luke 21:27. It describes Jesus returning to heaven after His ascension (coming to the Ancient of Days and receiving a kingdom).
- …Being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had purged sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High… (Hebrews 1:3 – 4)
- Jesus’ glorification (the victorious king being celebrated by a parade of His character traits) is an essential part of the gospel. If not, the everlasting kingdom is still future.
- Jesus’ sacrifice was brought to fruition in the tabernacle in heaven
- Jesus offered the sacrifice of His own blood in the heavenly tabernacle (Hebrews 9:11 – 12)
- Jesus cleansed the heavenly tabernacle (Hebrews 9:23 – 26).
- The heavenly tabernacle required cleansing partly due to the former occupants of heaven (Revelation 12:7 – 12)
- The Lamb was worthy to open the scroll after the completion of His sacrifice and return to heaven (Revelation 5:5, 9 – 10)
- The offering of Jesus’ blood (not just the shedding of His blood) is essential to forgiveness and, therefore, the gospel.
- Jesus sent the Spirit
- “It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7, cf, John 14:17, 17:20 – 23) Jesus’ future followers were to have miraculous unity, character, and consistency, attainable only through the Spirit.
- …Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by the hearing of faith?…Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? (Galatians 3:2 – 3)
- Godly love has been poured out in our hearts by the Spirit (Romans 5:5)
- Overcome through Jesus and the Spirit (Romans 8:9 – 14, Galatians 5:16)
- Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23 – 24)
- Strengthened by the Spirit (Ephesians 3:16)
- Without the work of the Spirit, we are forgiven slaves, not liberated from sin but rather without hope of transformation in this life, without the ability to overcome.
- Jesus’ glory is to be manifested in us
- …that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called… (Romans 9:22 – 24)
- But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory… (1 Corinthians 2:7)
- But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
- God…has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God… (2 Corinthians 4:6 – 7)
- Without transformation, we have no proof that Christianity is effective.
- Jesus continues to rule the whole world actively.
- You shall rule them with a rod of iron (Psalm 2:9, Revelation 2:26, 12:5, 19:15)
- Jesus is the ruler over the kings of the earth (Revelation 1:5, 17:14)
- He sends forth ministering spirits to serve those who will inherit salvation (Hebrews 1:14)
- Jesus is neither a passive king nor king only of the church
- The “essential” points of the gospel are:
- Death – accomplishing the prediction, facing all temptations
- Burial – accomplishing the prediction, incorruptible
- Resurrection – The “only” sign as predicted, guarantee of our resurrection.
- Granted an eternal kingdom – all power, a present kingdom
- Offering His blood – forgiveness accomplished, our accessible High Priest
- Sent the Spirit – true liberty, transformation, continuing evidence
- Continuing world-wide monarch – actively containing opponents, serving the faithful