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But it is good for me to draw near to God… Psalm 73:28a

The Hope of All Christians

author Posted by: Mike on date Apr 24th, 2011 | filed Filed under: Bible Study, Jesus

There is one belief that is core to being a Christian and that is belief in the resurrection. Without the resurrection there is no hope for salvation. Without the resurrection the Apostles and our Lord Jesus Christ are all liars, for the resurrection is not only a belief, but it is a fact. The resurrection is a fact that was testified to by over 500 witnesses. These are witnesses who knew it could cost them their lives to testify to this fact.

To better understand this, turn to 1 Corinthians, chapter 15 and read verses 1-23.

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet 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 which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

11 Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.

12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?

13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:

14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:

17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.

1 Corinthians 15:1-23 (KJV)

The issue here is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some were saying that there is no resurrection of the dead. Paul starts out to remind the church at Corinth the true gospel.

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 (KJV)

Paul preached the true gospel to the church at Corinth, but now there are some who preach a different gospel. If you are saved, you are to believe the true gospel. Any other gospel will cause your belief to be in vain!

Here is the true gospel:

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: – 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (KJV)

First, “that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.” Yes, Jesus died for our sins. This is not man’s thinking, but it is according to the scriptures.

Second, “ he was buried, and that he rose again the third day.” Jesus was buried after he died for our sins. On the third day was the resurrection of Christ. Once again, this is not man’s thinking, but it is according to the scriptures.

The scriptures give the witness of prophesy. Prophesy that Jesus must die for our sins and prophesy of his resurrection.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. – Isaiah 53:7-12 (KJV)

14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.

15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. – Psalms 22:14-15 (KJV)

For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. – Psalms 16:10 (KJV)

Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. – Jonah 1:17 (KJV)

And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land. – Jonah 2:10 (KJV)

We not only have the witness of fulfilled prophesy, but we also have the witness of man.

5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. – 1 Corinthians 15:5-8

Peter [Cephas] and the apostles all saw Jesus after the resurrection.

33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,

34 Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.

35 And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.

36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.

38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?

39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.

41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?

42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.

43 And he took it, and did eat before them.

44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,

46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:

47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

48 And ye are witnesses of these things. – Luke 24:33-48

In 1 Corinthians 15:6, we are told that he was seen by about five hundred brethren. Of these five hundred, most were still alive at the time Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, so any of those wanting to check out the truth of the resurrection could go and find a witness! Even Paul, who calls himself “not meet to be called an apostle,” saw the risen Lord.

It is hard to believe that with this large number of witnesses that anyone could doubt the resurrection of Christ. However, we see from the Bible that some did!

Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? – 1 Corinthians 15:12 (KJV)

The number of witnesses far exceeded the established legal criteria.

At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death. – Deuteronomy 17:6 (KJV)

But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. – Matthew 18:16 (KJV)

Christ’s resurrection was witnessed, not by two or three, but by over 500!

There will come a time when the LORD will challenge the unbelieving masses to bring forth their witnesses and they will not be able to do it.

9 Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled: who among them can declare this, and shew us former things? let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified: or let them hear, and say, It is truth.

10 Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.

11 I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour. – Isaiah 43:9-11 (KJV)

Most people today believe that Jesus was a good person who was prominent in his day and did many good things, but they don’t believe that Jesus is God or that he rose from the dead. They don’t believe in the resurrection. Because of this, they have no salvation.

But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:

And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:13-14 (KJV)

It doesn’t really matter which way you look at it. If Christ did not rise from the dead, then there is nothing to hope for. There is no resurrection and there is no saviour. In fact, if Jesus did not raise himself from the dead, he would not be God.

Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. – John 2:19 (KJV)

If Jesus did not raise himself up from the dead, he would be a liar. God cannot lie. God cannot sin.

If Jesus did not raise himself up from the dead, then all the witnesses are false witnesses.

If Jesus did not raise himself up from the dead, then there is no hope of salvation because there is no resurrection.

15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:

17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished

19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. – 1 Corinthians 15:15-19 (KJV)

Thankfully, what Paul describes in these verses is not reality. The reality is that Christ did rise from the dead and stands at the right hand of God in power and majesty.

32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. – Acts 2:32-33 (KJV)

Jesus is the firstfruits of God’s harvest. We who trust in the finished work of Christ will one day also experience the resurrection of the dead and rise up to be with the Lord.

20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. – 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 (KJV)

13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words. – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (KJV)

1 Corinthians 15:20 states that Christ is the firstfruits of them that slept. (Slept is how Jesus described those who died.)

In the Old Testament, the firstfruits always belong to God.

And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O LORD, hast given me. And thou shalt set it before the LORD thy God, and worship before the LORD thy God: – Deuteronomy 26:10 (KJV)

The firstfruits come from the increase God gives you.

Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: – Proverbs 3:9 (KJV)

They may be crops or livestock.

And if thou offer a meat offering of thy firstfruits unto the LORD, thou shalt offer for the meat offering of thy firstfruits green ears of corn dried by the fire, even corn beaten out of full ears. – Leviticus 2:14 (KJV)

All the best of the oil, and all the best of the wine, and of the wheat, the firstfruits of them which they shall offer unto the LORD, them have I given thee. – Numbers 18:12 (KJV)

They may be bread that was made.

And there came a man from Baal–shalisha, and brought the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley, and full ears of corn in the husk thereof. And he said, Give unto the people, that they may eat. – 2 Kings 4:42 (KJV)

The firstfruits were given during special weeks or feasts.

And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end. – Exodus 34:22 (KJV)

The firstfruits were given to support the priests.

And the first of all the firstfruits of all things, and every oblation of all, of every sort of your oblations, shall be the priest’s: ye shall also give unto the priest the first of your dough, that he may cause the blessing to rest in thine house. – Ezekiel 44:30 (KJV)

In all cases the firstfruits were an offering to God.

As for the oblation of the firstfruits, ye shall offer them unto the LORD: but they shall not be burnt on the altar for a sweet savour. – Leviticus 2:12 (KJV)

In the New Testament, Christ is the firstfruits of those risen from the dead.

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. – 1 Corinthians 15:20 (KJV)

Believers are a kind of firstfruits of God’s creatures.

Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. – James 1:18 (KJV)

It is because, as believers, we are in Christ Jesus that we are a kind of firstfruits. It is the resurrection of Christ that ensures that we will be saved too.

For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. – 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 (KJV)

This is what we look forward to. This is the great salvation that Christ has wrought. Our resurrection as believers is our great hope on this earth.

But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. – 1 Corinthians 15:23 (KJV)

There is one hope that all Christians should have and that is the return of Jesus Christ. It is the blessed hope that God gives us.

11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. – Titus 2:11-14 (KJV)

Look up and watch.

Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. – Revelation 16:15 (KJV)

One final note. If you are not saved by the blood of Jesus, seek God now. Be certain of your salvation. You don’t want to be caught naked when the Lord returns. Just as Jesus was resurrected on the third day, he will come again.

Be ready!

God bless, Mike

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