“He Appeared To Me Also.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-11) April 8, 2012
As we live as God’s children who has taken faith in Jesus and received salvation, there are three facts we must absolutely grad hold of. First fact is that Christ died for us, second is that He resurrected for us, and third is that He will come in the end times on the very last day. We call these three facts Passion, Resurrection, and Second Advent. Because Christ died for us to take on the curse of the sin in our stead, our sins and curses are now finished. This is why you cannot go astray, but will become the source of blessings when you come to believe in Jesus. Because Christ resurrected, He can protect, help, and bless us as long as we live on earth. If He had never come back to life, you could still be forgiven of your sins but would not be able to receive help from Him (what ghost films slandered). This is why the Christian faith is unique, absolute, and complete. No one else in the history of mankind, even men of power or religious leaders, is known to have had come back from death. The state in which Christ is living within you, taking control and directly working upon your life is the ‘filling of Christ,’ ‘filling of the Holy Spirit,’ or ‘Kingdom of God’. No matter what kind of problems and incidents Satan may bring in front of your way, you will triumph. Why? Christ, who has arisen from the despair of all despairs the authority of death, is now living and helping you. As He promised, Christ will come back to us. That is why we have a future and a hope. He will return for two reasons. First, He has to repay all the unfair situations, heartbreaking incidents, and weariness we had to face because of our faith, and second, we must begin anew under a new heaven and on a new earth with Him. If the life on earth is all we get like the unbelievers say, I would not live like this. For what would I work, endure, and wait if the life on earth is it? However, my instinct tells me that there must be more than this. Among these three facts of which men can never lose grab hold, let us talk about the Resurrection and the blessings it encloses.
1. Unbelievers demand proofs for Jesus’ Resurrection. Of course there are many scientific and historical evidences, but the one that people talk about the most is “the empty tomb”. Would the Roman soldiers and Jewish leaders have left Jesus alone when He boldly declared that He would resurrect from death? What did they do when they found the cracked-open tomb and saw that the body was missing? They spread rumors that suggested, “Jesus never died; He only fainted,” and “Someone must have stolen the body.” Paul, however, explains three evidences in today’s passage.
1) “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, was buried, and was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1Cor.15:3-4) – Biblical Evidence. The Scriptures Paul is referring to, which is now known as the Old Testament, was recorded over the period of a few thousand years in different ages by different authors and was put together as one canon, yet the prophecy of Jesus’ Resurrection appears numerous times throughout the Old Testament and was finally fulfilled accordingly. That is why the Bible is not just any book, but the living Word of God.
2) The second evidence is the presence of eyewitnesses (1Cor.15:5-7). Paul argues that many people including the Twelve Apostles witnessed the resurrected Jesus.
3) The first two evidences are authentic, but do you know the most important and down to earth evidence is? It is in verse eight. “Last of all He appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” This is the evidence of all evidences that we must grab hold of and testify to the world as long as we live on earth. We must testify “He appeared to me also.” Going into the world and delivering this message is called evangelism (Acts 1:8). How can we live making this confession?
2. If we are indeed saved, we must absolutely find three things.
1) We must find the heart we had when we first believed, first accepted Christ and received salvation, and first were baptized.
a. We call this first faith or first love. The Lord reprimands the Church of Ephesus in Rev.2:4, “You have forsaken the love you had at first.” If you really received salvation by sincerely accepting Christ as your Savior, you must have first faith and first love within you. Do you think you just accepted Christ one day? You confessed that He was your Lord only when you were in a grave hardship, but now things are getting a little better you suddenly forgot about Him? Or have you lost everything because things are too difficult? I urge you to seek what heart you had when you first came to believe.
b. No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit (1Cor.12:3), and God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” (Gal.4:6) This is like your marriage. You may say things like “It is sickening,” “It wasn’t love to begin with,” or “It was just a mistake” about your spouse, but that is not what you thought when you first got married. That is what we lost hold of by Satan’s deception.
2) There must be answers and blessings you received in the past. That is what you must find.
a. Do you think you made it this far by a sheer chance? You could be walking on a street and run into a life-threatening crisis. If you really did go through times of hardships and crises, hold onto them as evidence rather than scars. They are only scars when you think you forced yourself to endure those times, but they turn into evidence when you think that it was God who held onto you during those times.
b. Is there anything you failed or did wrong? If you were to strictly follow God’s justice, you should be dead by now. God’s grace that allowed you a second and a third chance and His waiting in the meantime are all your evidence. That is what you must discover.
3) Have you been able to work harder and devote more than others could? It means you have received all the more blessings as much as you have worked more. That, in and of itself, is your evidence. Paul confesses in 1Cor.15:10, “No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” I really encourage you to find these three things. Believers who cannot fail end up failing and falling into affliction because they have lost hold of these. Having lost hold of their first faith and first love, they resent God and others although He did give them grace even during hard times, and end up letting the devil deceive them, and sometimes they do realize they have received God’s grace, but they obliviously become arrogant and crumble in the end.
3. In conclusion, Christ has undoubtedly resurrected and is living within us, but how must we live?
1) We must start from the lowest level, in humility, and sometimes as if we were little children. Paul admits that he was an abnormally born one and the least of the apostles.
2) Our eyes and vision must be fixed on the highest place. What is the highest place? It is of the heavens, an eternal place. This is the answer and blessing we will surely receive. We will be filled with the heavenly blessings (comfort, power, and rewards). That is why it says in Col.3:1 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above.” Jesus could bear the cross only because His Resurrection was prepared in prophecy. Although we may face problems, we never fall into discouragement for God has prepared the double portion of answers and blessings. This is the life of someone who believes in the Resurrection. It is looking “beyond” problems, pain, and death. God’s people, especially Remnants, all triumphed looking at this.
3) Let nothing move you, but always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord (1Cor.15:57-78). Why? Your labor in the Lord is not in vain. This is the conclusion of 1 Corinthians Chapter 15. I bless and hope that you may become someone who can confess and testify that “The resurrected Lord has appeared to me also” no matter who you meet.