Resurrection (Easter Sunday) - 1 Corinthians 15 — A Christian Growth Message - Hope 103.2

Resurrection (Easter Sunday) – 1 Corinthians 15 — A Christian Growth Message

An Easter sermon looking at the Evidence, the Effects and the Excellence of the Resurrection by Simon Manchester of Hope 103.2's Christian Growth podcast.

By Simon ManchesterSunday 31 Mar 2024Christian Growth with Simon ManchesterFaithReading Time: 1 minute

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We thank you our gracious God for this very special day and pray that something of the truth and the significance and the joy and the value of this day would sink in, in a way which is helpful to us and causes us to be trusting and faithful. We ask it in Jesus name. Amen.

I’ve always liked the story of the man who’s trying out his new parachute, and he jumps from the plane, pulls the cord and nothing happens. And so he finds himself hurtling towards the ground. And as he’s hurtling toward the ground, strangely, another man goes shooting up in the air past him and the man who’s falling to the ground with his failing parachute calls out – “You wouldn’t have to know how these new parachutes work, would you?” And the guy who’s shooting up in the air calls back – “I’m having enough trouble with my new gas barbecue.”

I don’t know whether you’re the sort of person who thinks that after this life we will rise or fall whether we will go up or whether we will just go down. But I think you will agree that there are a lot of people who think that there is an afterlife and there’s a lot of religions that teach there is an afterlife. The problem with this kind of thinking is, where is the evidence? Is it just a piece of optimism or wishful thinking?

Is it that, people would like there to be something I’d like there to be something? So there must be something. The other problem with this afterlife is that it often seems to hang on how well you perform in this world as if a set of scales will come out and all the good will be put in one and all the bad will be put in the other. And we just naturally assume that the good will outweigh the bad. But if we’re coming, if we were coming into the presence of a perfect god, would we be so safe?

I think I can promise you that the only good evidence for a future hope is found in Christianity, and you’ll be pleased to know it has nothing to do with a set of scales. Christianity teaches that there is a resurrection for the people of Christ, and there is evidence for a resurrection, and it also teaches that it has nothing to do with human performance. Now, one of the longest chapters in the New Testament deals with the resurrection.

In 58 verses, It’s one Corinthians 15. We had a little section of it read just now, and the chapter discusses the resurrection, the evidence for the resurrection, what happens if there is no resurrection and some questions about the resurrection? So I have a very quick Easter message for you, and it goes like this. Evidence for Christ’s resurrection. Very quick.

The effects

If there is no resurrection again, I’ll be very quick and the excellence of a Christian’s resurrection again very quick. So there are three es the evidence, the effects and the excellence. First of all, the evidence for Christ’s resurrection. Paul summarises the evidence in four words. He says Christ died and was buried. He was raised and he was seen. He died. He was buried. He was raised. He was seen when Christ died. Of course, it was not a tragedy, Paul says. He died for our sins. If you’d been at the crucifixion, you might have wept a great deal if you’d loved Christ and thought to yourself This is a tragedy. But he was dying there purposely, deliberately, voluntarily, for our sins. So when he died, he paid our debts and he guarantees the paying of our debts in the promises of the Scriptures. I was in a supermarket once, and a lady got to the checkout with an absolutely full trolley, about $300 worth of stuff.

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And she had no money. She’d forgotten everything. So there she was, at the checkout with a queue behind her $300 or so of stuff in a trolley. And I always remember because somebody just said, put it on my cart. And then, of course, when the payment was finished, he was given a receipt. So she had two great advantages. One. Her debts were paid by somebody else. And then she was given a receipt so that if the security guard had come up to her and said, Did you pay for this stuff?

She’d be able to say it’s all paid. And so it is with the cross of Christ paying the debt of others and promising in his word that it is paid. You can be pretty sure that the death of Jesus succeeded because God raised him on the third day, and you can be pretty sure that he did rise because he began to appear to many people.

Now I’ve never taken much notice of the appearances of Christ in the New Testament, but I read this week somebody has summarised the appearances. And in this little paragraph, this is what they said. Jesus appeared to people in Judea and in Galilee in town and countryside indoors outdoors in the morning in the evening, expected unexpected, close up and distant on a hill and by a lake, to groups of men, to groups of women to individuals to groups. 1/500 sitting, standing, walking, eating, always speaking. It’s quite a range of appearances, and the evidence for Christ’s resurrection is therefore quite logical. It’s quite plentiful, it’s documented, and it is persuasive. But I must warn you this morning, if I could bring somebody from one of the graves into this building, it would not persuade you of anything. If you don’t want to believe it.

Jesus said. On one occasion, if a person was to come in front of you, resurrected from the dead, but you closed your ears and you hardened your heart, it would do you no good. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, the people who are hostile to Jesus plan to kill Jesus and get rid of Lazarus as well. In other words, there is a refusal which can never be satisfied.

I personally feel no pressure at all to believe in Islam or Buddhism. I’ve read their books and I’ve faced the claims. I think they completely lack the evidence which is found in Christianity. And I think they offer no real answers and no real hope. But the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is very reasonable and very life changing.

The evidence

There are positive evidences, but one of the negative evidences is looking at the Western world today, where there is a great rejecting of Christianity and a great emptiness and a great hopelessness. Look at the suicide rates. The West is losing the glue that holds it together. Trust is disappearing. Hope has disappeared. People are throwing themselves at stuff food, clothes, houses in the hope that something will solve the emptiness, and there is a huge discontent.

So the evidence for the resurrection of Christ is positive and negatively powerful. Second, the effects if there is no resurrection, Paul says in Chapter 15, Verse 11, There is a resurrection. But there are people in the church in Corinth who say Verse 12, there is no resurrection. It’s hard to know whether these no resurrection people were Greeks who believed that the soul would fly out of the body like leaving a prison. And so what they were saying was, this idea of a risen body is ridiculous. It’s repulsive.

Or it’s hard to know whether these no resurrection people were live for the moment. People who Paul refers to in Verse 32 who say You drink and be merry for tomorrow we die well, Paul has a double edged sword for these no resurrection people, he says. What will you do with the facts? Empty tomb appearances of Jesus, the explosion of the church, the global family around the world, in every culture, the impact on people? What will you do with the fact, says the Apostle?

And for people who say there is no resurrection they invariably avoid the facts. You can give them all the information that you could possibly find, and there is a strange resistance to it. And then secondly, Paul says to the no resurrection people, Do you realise the effects? If there is no resurrection? Uh, for example, if Christ has not been raised, those who preach in churches have nothing to say. Those who believe in churches have nothing to believe. The preachers are being dishonest. If Christ didn’t rise, the believers are hopelessly lost. If Christ didn’t rise, dead believers are gone. Kaput. Finished.

Living believers are pitiful and tragic. So says the Apostle Paul. Now why is this such a great argument? I can imagine taking this to some of my neighbours in the street where I live, and I can imagine them saying, I completely agree.

I completely agree. Your preaching is nonsense. Believing is nonsense. Preachers in churches are deluded. Forgiveness is nothing. Dead people are dead. I completely agree. But Paul is saying to the unbeliever, What do you do with the facts?

How long can you play the agnostic card and sit on the fence? One of the men in my previous church became a Christian when he said to the minister, after a particular service, that was very interesting and the minister said to him, When are you gonna become a Christian?

And he said, Oh, I’ll think about it And the minister said, So that’s a no and the man was so angry he went back and he fumed all day and then realised it was a no. And that’s how he became a Christian.

Paul is saying to the people who want Christianity without a resurrection or think there could be a Christianity without a resurrection. He’s saying to them, Have you faced the consequences, the effects of the results? Because if you remove the resurrection from Christianity, Jesus is a fraud promising to rise and not doing it promising eternal life. And he can’t pull it off for himself. He’s a failure.

There’s nobody who can trust in Jesus. There’s nothing to say about him that is really worth hearing. There’s nothing to promise. The whole of Christianity collapses like a stack of cards. Now there have been people in the church archbishops and bishops and theologians who have denied the resurrection. Trendy bishops, always very popular with the ABC, but their message is incredibly impotent.

It helps nobody. It changes nobody. It saves nobody. And what they don’t tell you is that the people who go on to the ABC and talk as if there is no resurrection invariably have nobody in their churches. One writer has described the impotent message like this a god without wrath, bringing men without sin into a kingdom without judgement through a Christ with no cross. And if Christ has not been risen, we have nothing to say. The roots of the faith have been slashed. Churches should pack up.

Missionaries should come home. Ministers should get proper jobs. Funerals are just a farewell. And if you don’t believe in the resurrection, there’s nothing to say today and there’s nothing to sing about and a minister standing at the front or a choir sitting in the pews here. We should quit if we don’t believe in the resurrection, because we’re just faking something, so the effects you see are very powerful. Thirdly, the excellence of Christian resurrection Christian resurrection is better than you think. I wonder if you realise the Bible teaches the believer, the simple believer who puts their trust in Christ.

The Excellence

We’ll one day be with Christ with a resurrection body. We’re not going to be spooks sitting on a cloud in a nightie, playing a harp. That is a definition of hell. We’re going to be resurrected people with new bodies that don’t decay in a new creation. This is what the Bible talks about, a new creation of people and a new creation of the world. One very sick old lady was asked how she was, and she said, I’m OK. Nothing a resurrection won’t fix, and that is a great attitude, Paul says in Chapter 15, Verse 20 Christ has been raised the first fruits of the harvest.

In other words, when he was raised, a little bit of wheat came up and the rest of the field will come up or to change the illustration. A high jumping illustration. If the head of the jumper has gone over the bar, the rest of the body will follow and Christ has gone over the bar and all his people will follow.

And then Paul says in verses 21 and 22. If you’re joined to Adam and you are, you’ll die if you’re joined to Christ, you will rise. The resurrection of Jesus was not just a private affair. Oh, that was nice for him. No, If you’re joined to him by faith, you must rise. He’s turned the fall into a rise. And then Paul says, Remember the sequence Christ first, then his people one day, a very great reunion in what Jesus called the house with the feast to help us understand.

Now, as I close this morning, friends, I think I would be a lousy pastor and a lousy person and a lousy friend if I spoke today as if everybody who comes into an Easter service is safe and sound and glory bound. I really want you to be safe and sound. I really want you to be safe and sound.

But Christianity is not about being respectable. I’m pretty sure everybody in this building is pretty respectable. And some people think Christianity is about being respectable, being nice and helping the world to be a nice place. The Bible says Christianity is about being regenerate, regenerate. It means that a whole new life has come into you because you’ve put your faith in the one who died and a whole new life, a spiritual life. An eternal life has come into you, and your eyes are open to what’s important and your ears are open to what’s important. And your heart is open to what’s important. One minister in England in the 18 fifties called William Haslam was not a believer. He’d gone into the ministry, but he was not a believer. He was not regenerate.

And one Sunday, as he was preaching, suddenly he was reborn and he began to preach like somebody who believed. And a visiting minister who was sitting in the very back row, stood up and called out to the congregation. Your pastor has been converted, and the whole congregation stood up and began to sing the doxology Praise God, from whom all blessings flow over and over again because their minister had been converted.

Do you see? It’s possible to be in the ministry and not be regenerate. It’s possible to be a church warden and not be regenerate. It’s possible to be musical and not be regenerate, and a living person can tell if a dead person is dead and a regenerate person can tell if a non regenerate person is not regenerate I suspect, as I say, everybody in the building is respectable. I suspect not everyone is regenerate. I’m not the judge. I don’t know.

Well, today is a great day to face the facts, the wonderful facts of Christ and the important facts of yourself. It’s a great day to do that. People will perish without Christ. But today is the day where Jesus Christ stands risen, inviting you to come to him. You who are weary and heavy laden. And I says he will give you rest forgiveness a place in the family, a future.

This is a great day to think about these things and then to act on them because, as we know from the last few days, a person can fall very quickly and be gone. And we need to make sure that we are ready to meet him with joy and without fault.

Let’s Pray

Let’s bow our heads together. Thank you, Our gracious God, for this very wonderful day. Thank you for the good evidence of Christ’s rising. Thank you for the shake up. Thank you for the great excellence that you have planned for your people. Please help all who are here today to take hold of Christ and live. We ask it in his name. Amen.