Under Gods Command

1 Corinthians 15:3-11For what I received I passed on to you as of 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 Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.  For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

The central theme of the gospel is given in these verses, a key text for the defense of Christianity. The three most important points are:

  1. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. Without the truth of this message, Christ’s death was worthless, and those who believe in him are still in their sins and without hope. However, Christ as the sinless Son of God took the punishment of sin so that those who believe can have their sins removed. “The Scriptures” refers to Old Testament prophecies such as Psalm 16:8-11 and Isaiah 53:5-6. Christ’s death on the cross was no accident or afterthought. It had been part of God’s plan from all eternity in order to bring about the salvation of all who believe.
  2.  He was buried. The fact of Christ’s death is revealed in the fact of his burial. Many have tried to discount the actual death of Christ, but Jesus did in fact die and was buried in a tomb.
  3.  He rose from the dead on the third day, as the Scriptures said. Christ was raised permanently, forever; his Father raised him from the dead on “the third day” as noted in the Gospels (Friday afternoon to Sunday morning—three days in Jewish reckoning of time). This also occurred “according to the Scriptures.” Jesus quoted the prophet Jonah in Matthew 12:40 (see Jonah 1:17) to show the connection to “three days” as prophesied in the Old Testament. Psalm 16:8-11 and Psalm 110 also foretell the resurrection of the Messiah.

There will always be people who say that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. Paul assures us that many people saw Jesus after his resurrection: Peter (Cephas); the twelve apostles; more than 500 Christian believers (most of whom were still alive when Paul wrote this, although some had died); James (Jesus’ brother); all the apostles; and finally Paul himself. The resurrection of Jesus is a historical fact. Don’t be discouraged by doubters who deny the resurrection. Be filled with hope because of the knowledge that one day you, and they, will see the living proof when Christ returns. (For more evidence on the resurrection, see the chart.)

This James is Jesus’ half brother, who at first did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah (John 7:5). After seeing the resurrected Christ, he became a believer and ultimately a leader of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15:13). James wrote the New Testament book of James.

Paul’s most important credential to be an apostle was that he was an eyewitness of the risen Christ (see Acts 9:3-6). “Abnormally born” means that his was a special case. The other apostles saw Christ in the flesh. Paul was in the next generation of believers—yet Christ appeared to him.

As a zealous Pharisee, Paul had been an enemy of the Christian church—even to the point of capturing and persecuting believers (see Acts 9:1-3). Thus, he felt unworthy to be called an apostle of Christ. Though undoubtedly the most influential of the apostles.

Paul wrote of working harder than the other apostles. This was not an arrogant boast, because he knew that his power came from God and that it really didn’t matter who worked hardest. Because of his prominent position as a Pharisee, Paul’s conversion made him the object of even greater persecution than the other apostles; thus, he had to work harder to preach the same message.

 

Lets Bring it Home: Paul was deeply humble. He knew that he had worked hard and accomplished much, but only because God had poured kindness and grace upon him. True humility is not convincing yourself that you are worthless

but recognizing God’s work in you. It is having God’s perspective on who you are and acknowledging his grace in developing your abilities.

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