This is Our Message (1 Corinthians 15:11) February 01, 2009Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on 1 Corinthians 15.
Tags: 1 Corinthians 15:11, afterlife, belief, glorified bodies, Gospel, physical resurrection, resurrection, spiritual bodies
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“Wherefore, if from me or them, in this way I preached and in this way you believed.”
(1 Corinthians 15:11)
Paul has returned to his starting point. This fact of the resurrection of Christ, he says, is the heart of his preaching. Without the resurrection, there would be no good news for man. There would be no hope for anything beyond this life except eternal condemnation. The resurrection of Christ is the surety we have been given that points to our own resurrection. This is an essential of the faith. Paul is saying that there is no Christian preaching apart from this fact and no one can come to faith apart from this fact. If one denies the doctrine of the resurrection of Christ, one cannot be a Christian. It is that simple.
All too often, when we think of the afterlife, we only think in terms of the spiritual. Some of this is a result of the tremendous influence that Greek philosophy has had on our culture, which taught that the spiritual was good and the physical was bad. One of the things that Paul goes out of his way to show us in this chapter is not only the reality of the physical resurrection of Christ, but later on he will talk at length about the physical resurrection of us. The point is that the Greeks were wrong and the conception of floating around in spiritual bodies forever is also wrong. There is indeed an intermediate state, where we will be with God in spirit and our bodies will be kept in the grave, but that state is not final. There will come a time when Christ will return as he left, with a shout all of those who are dead in Christ will rise up from the grave and be reunited with their spirits and they, along with all believers who are still alive, will be caught up in the air with Christ in glorified bodies. Those who are unbelievers will also rise to life once again, but will be raised for the purpose of eternal condemnation. Eternal life will be physical—though without the negative effects of sin.
Friends, I hope that you look forward to that day. It will be a day where you will be restored to a body that will be free from sickness and disease, free from aches and pains, and free from weakness. It will be a day where we will work, but without frustration or toil. It will be a day when hope is transformed into the reality of Christ’s presence. What a glorious time that will be! Praise be to God!
Not in Vain (1 Corinthians 15:10b) February 01, 2009Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on 1 Corinthians 15.
Tags: 1 Corinthians 15:10, 2 Peter 1:10, election, Grace, make your election sure, not in vain
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“and his grace towards me is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:10b)
Admittedly, nothing that God does is done in vain. He effectively works out all things according to his divine purpose and pleasure, and praise God that he does, because if things were left to us, we would usually make a colossal mess out of them. Yet, you knowing that God’s grace toward you was not in vain is a bit different from your neighbor knowing it. When the world looks at you, would they say of you that God’s grace toward you is in vain?
This is the same kind of language that Peter uses when he tells us to make our calling and our election sure (2 Peter 1:10). Sure in whose eyes? Certainly not in God’s eyes! Peter is saying that we must build upon the faith that we have been given by God if we are to mature in godliness. And if you look at the list of things that Peter commends us to add to our faith you will find that nearly all of them are things that have to do with the way we live toward others. What Peter is saying and what Paul is saying is that if you have received God’s grace, you should strive for a life of integrity that draws others to the cross of Christ. People should see you and recognize that there is something different in you that they want for themselves. This is how you witness through your actions—by living out your faith before others.
Sadly, I wonder how many Christians today could make such a bold statement as Paul is making. How many times have we been in a situation where someone then looks at us and says, “oh, I didn’t know you were a Christian?” Friends, endeavor to make your actions speak for themselves. Preach the gospel and if necessary use words, as Francis of Assisi once said. Live your faith humbly for the world and do so in such a way that the world is drawn to Christ. No, we will not be judged by your works (and praise God for that), but our works are a reflection of the faith that God has worked within us. And works are visible for the world to see. May the world never say of you that God’s grace toward you was in vain.
God’s Grace (1 Corinthians 15:10) February 01, 2009Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on 1 Corinthians 15.
Tags: 1 Corinthians 15:10, conversion, God's grace, Grace, Holy Spirit's Work, merit
“Yet, by God’s grace, I am what I am, and his grace towards me is not in vain; rather, I toiled more than all of the others, yet not I, but the grace of God which is with me.”
(1 Corinthians 15:10)
Paul reiterates his point once again. His apostleship is a result of nothing that he had learned or done. He did not merit anything except God’s condemnation. It is by God’s grace that he was called to be an apostle and it is only by God’s grace that he was strengthened to labor in the mission field harder than the others. Paul wants us to understand that not only is he a man who is totally sold out to God, but he is a man who works and acts totally at the good pleasure of God. There is not one success or conversion that he can lay claim to. He labored in the field, but God did the work.
Oh, how wonderful it would be if all believers were able to adopt this attitude. All too often we are quick to accept the credit for our successes in life. I have heard many preachers speak of people being converted under their preaching or laymen speaking of the people that they have “led to Christ.” This is common language to use, but it is not accurate. A person is converted because the Holy Spirit is moving in their life, regenerating their dead soul and bringing faith where there was none. A person is led to Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit as well. Indeed, our preaching or our witnessing is an important part of the process; God allows us to participate in the Holy Spirit’s work and to be vessels through which the Holy Spirit flows. Yet, if it were up to us, on our own power and strength, not one person would be converted.
Frankly, I find that comforting. While I strive to work hard in the fields, sharing the gospel with others, I am keenly aware that the success or failure of my work does not depend on just how persuasive my arguments happen to be. That takes a big burden off of my shoulders. It prevents me from staying up all night when someone rejects the gospel, wondering if I could have used different words and illustrations to make my argument more convincing. It also prevents me from taking pride in the successes that God allows me to participate in.
Indeed, there is much work to be done, and God has commanded us to go into the fields and reap. For some, those fields will be in foreign lands with peoples who speak an unknown language. For others, the fields will be close to home and consist of unbelieving family members, neighbors, or co-workers. Regardless of the locality of the field, we are to labor. But though we labor, it is the power of God working in and through us that brings any successes we might see. Paul understood that the only thing good in him was Christ in him. It is no different for you or I.
Least of the Apostles (1 Corinthians 15:8-9) January 31, 2009Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on 1 Corinthians 15.
Tags: 1 Corinthians 15:8-9, gratitude for grace, Least of the Apostles, miscarriage, Paul, Saul, stillborn
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“And last of all, as to one who is stillborn, he was seen [by me]. For I, myself am the least of the apostles, not worthy to be called an apostle, for I persecuted the church of God.” (1 Corinthians 15:8-9)
Though Paul understood that he had been forgiven, he never forgot the life that God had redeemed him from. Paul, then known as Saul, had been a great persecutor of the Christian church and had been zealous to see this fledgling church destroyed. He was even present at the execution of Stephen, holding the cloaks of those who were stoning him to death. And though Paul turned his zeal toward preaching the gospel, he never forgot the evils that he had committed.
The term that Paul uses of himself is e¡ktrwma (ektroma), which can refer to a premature birth, a stillborn child, a miscarriage, or even an aborted baby. The language that Paul is using expresses the idea that he was one who was not supposed to live, yet Christ, in his mercy, revealed himself to Paul anyway, giving him life. Paul, probably the greatest missionary preacher of all time, understood that he brought nothing of his own to the table—the only good in him was God in him.
While there are many Christians who have a difficulty remembering a time when they were not trusting in Jesus Christ for redemption, there are many of us also that do remember with great grief the days of our rebellion, before God brought us to salvation. As I reflect on the years of my own rebellion, it shames me to think upon some of the things that I did. At the same time, those dark days make God’s gift of salvation very sweet to me. As I read this passage, I think that I have a sense of the joy and gratitude that Paul had in serving Jesus. Jesus has given we, the redeemed, so much and has assured us of so much more—and there is not an ounce of that blessing that we are deserving of. He pours it out freely according to his grace.
And God uses us to minister to others as well! When we read these letters that Paul wrote, sometimes we forget that the purpose behind them was to correct problems that were going on in a church—ministering from a distance. And if God is willing to use a sinner like Paul, and even a sinner like me—He is willing to use you in his work. What a remarkable thing that God would use us—broken and frail vessels as we are—and use us successfully for his glory.
Friends, if you are a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, you have been given a great and wonderful gift. But never forget that that gift comes with responsibilities. When God calls a person to himself he does so with a purpose—which means that you have a calling in life. For some of us that calling means preaching the Gospel from the pulpit. For others, it means preaching the gospel by the way you live your life in the workplace—by the way you farm, by the way you fix automobiles, by the way you work as a secretary or as an accountant, or in whatever you do—do so as for the Lord (Colossians 3:23). Do so not to earn your grace, for it is freely given; rather, do so as a way of expressing your gratitude and obedience to God.
James and the Apostles (1 Corinthians 15:7) January 31, 2009Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on 1 Corinthians 15.
Tags: 1 Corinthians 15:7, Apostles, Are there still Apostles?, Continuing Offices, Elders, James, Jerusalem Council, Matthias, Was James an Apostle?, Was Matthias an Apostle?
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“Then he was seen by James, next by all of the apostles.” (1 Corinthians 15:7)
There is some discussion amongst scholars as to just who these other “apostles” are, given that Paul has already made mention of “the twelve” (verse 5). It is fairly clear that the James mentioned here is James the half-brother of our Lord (see context in Galatians 1, for example) who wrote the letter that bears his name. But, if the “twelve” have already been mentioned, who are these apostles and is James one of them? Oceans of ink have been spilled debating this subject.
The term ajpo/vstoloß (apostolos), from which we get the term “apostle,” refers to someone who is an emissary or an envoy of another. The apostle is given the authority to speak and act with the authority of the one who sent them. It was a commonly used term in ancient times and is found throughout extra-Biblical as well as Biblical literature.
Yet, Jesus seemed to have appropriated this term in a special way. He called the original twelve disciples to himself and renamed them “apostles” (Mark 3:14). We also know that the office of Apostle was never meant to be a continuing office, given that by the time we reach the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15), we see elders and apostles discussing together the issues of the church. Also, much later on, by the time we reach 1 Peter 5:1, Peter refers to himself as a “fellow elder.”
So, what is going on here? I want to suggest two uses of the term “apostle”—one with a capital “A” and one with a lower case “a.” The “Apostles” were the 11 original ones which Jesus called and commissioned (Judas not included), plus Paul. Matthias replaced Judas, but was not called personally by Christ for the task of Apostle. Paul was called by Christ and sent by Christ as well. These Apostles are those who were sent out on the direct authority of Christ to build his church. The “apostles,” then were those commissioned by the Church for her work. They carry the direct authority of the church, not of Christ. Though there are many in modern scholarship who would disagree with this distinction, assuming this is an accurate definition of the term, “apostles,” than Paul is speaking in this passage of those who have been sent specifically by the church.
Either way, what should we learn from this passage? Once again, God is consistent in witnessing his glory to mankind. Jesus appeared to these men to encourage them and to proclaim his resurrection to them. Jesus could have limited his appearance to only the twelve, but Jesus interacted with over 500 people to offer them concrete proof that he was who he said he was—even in appearing before his half-brother who was not a follower of Christ until after his death and resurrection.
Friends, we may not have the benefit of a personal visitation from the risen Lord to anchor our faith, but we do have scripture, which was attested to by those who saw Jesus for themselves. And the testimony we are given in scripture is not limited to the witness of a handful, but it is built on the witness of hundreds. Loved ones, cling to the scriptures, do not compromise them, and study them as you would study any other history book—in fact, study them more than a history book, for they are God’s words spoken through inspired writers—they are truth and life—and those who knew Jesus more clearly than you or I have blessed us with them.
Sleeping in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:6c) January 31, 2009Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on 1 Corinthians 15.
Tags: 1 Corinthians 15:6, bodily resurrection, Endor, fallen asleep, intermediate state, sleep and death, sleeping in Christ, soul in heaven, soul sleep, Witch of Endor
“yet some have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:6c)
There is a theology that is circulating within evangelical circles that spawns from passages like this. The argument is that when a believer dies, his body and soul “sleep” in the grave until the second coming of Christ. They argue that when you sleep, you don’t notice time passing, so in essence, the body and soul go into a holding pattern while they await Christ’s return. Sadly, this interpretation is simply a result of bad Biblical interpretation.
First of all, the term that Paul uses here (and in other passages) is the term, koima/w (koimao), which literally means “to sleep.” Yet, in ancient cultures, it is regularly used as an idiom for death. We can find this being used all over the Bible (Acts 13:36, 1 Corinthians 7:39, 2 Peter 3:4, etc… [note that it is also used in the same way in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament]). Jesus himself used it of the death of Lazarus (John 11:11), and it is clear from the context of the dialogues that he has in this chapter, that Lazarus had not fallen into some kind of spiritual sleep, but was legitimately dead.
Second of all, the scriptures regularly speak of the soul going immediately into the presence of the Lord upon death (Luke 23:43, 2 Corinthians 5:8, Revelation 6:9, etc…). Certainly, when Saul has the necromancer of Endor conjure up the spirit of Samuel, Samuel was not in some kind of soul-sleep, for he knew what was going on (1 Samuel 28: 15-19).
In a very real sense, after death, there is a middle state that fills the time between death and resurrection. When a believer dies, his body goes into the ground (still united with Christ) and experiences decay. The soul, though, goes to be with Christ and to enjoy his presence. This is the middle stage, enjoying Christ’s presence but separated from our bodies. When the great day of Christ’s return comes, our bodies will be raised up from the graves, transformed into glorified bodies, and our souls will be reunited with flesh, that we might enjoy Christ in the fullness of our being.
Regardless whether you have heard this concept of “soul sleep” being argued or not, there is something that you can gain from this discussion. God created the physical as well as the spiritual, and he has promised to restore the spiritual and the physical in the end times. Mankind was meant to be flesh and blood—but in paradise, not this fallen world. There will come a time, though, that paradise will be restored, and we will be reunited with our fleshly bodies in a glorified manner, free from sin and the effects thereof, that we may enjoy perfect fellowship with our Lord and Savior for eternity. Friends, if this is not a promise that you can get excited about, I don’t know what is. May you keep your eyes focused on this great promise, not simply that when you die your spirit will be with Christ, but that in God’s proper time, you will be resurrected to a new and glorified body. Praise be to God!
More Appearances (1 Corinthians 15:6) January 31, 2009Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on 1 Corinthians 15.
Tags: Appearances of Jesus, Christian proof, five-hundred brethren, Muslim blind faith, Roman Catholic blind faith, witnesses of Christ's resurrection
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“Then, he was seen by over five-hundred brethren at one time, of whom, many still remain even now, yet some have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:6)
The Apostle John begins to bring his gospel to a close with the statement that Jesus did many other things that were not recorded in his book (John 20:30); here we have Paul relating one of those things to us. At the time of Pentecost, there were 120 who had gathered together in fellowship and devoted themselves to prayer. Of course, after Pentecost, the church exploded in its size rapidly. Thus, the instance that Paul is referring to had to have taken place some time after the time of Pentecost (for there were not yet 500 brethren), but the specific details are uncertain.
The fact is, though, that Jesus did appear to this group of more than 500 believers—note that the word Paul uses here is a˙delfoi/ß (adelphois), which literally means “brothers,” but when used in this context, Paul consistently uses this term to refer to the fellowship of believers—though we also do not know the exact reason why Jesus chose to make this appearance. Regardless, the emphasis that Paul is making here is once again on the reliability of Jesus’ resurrection. Paul is saying, don’t take my word for it, look, he appeared to Peter and the twelve and he has appeared to more than 500 people—most of whom are still alive. Go ask them!
One thing that amazes me about our culture is its amazing demand for proof when it comes to matters of the Christian religion. Thousands will flock to shrines where supposedly some tribal deity made its appearance, and do so only on the testimony of one or two people (usually who were under the influence of hallucinatory drugs at the time). Millions of Muslims flock to Mecca each year to kiss a rock that was supposedly sent by Allah. Millions of Roman Catholics will flock to various churches where one or two people supposedly witnessed a statue cry blood or to touch something that is supposed to be the finger bone of one of the saints. Yet, these same people, when confronted with the Gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection, will reserve judgment. Paul was reminding the Corinthians of all of the proof that was out there.
If we look back through church history, it would seem that two of the earliest heresies of the church were heresies surrounding the denial of Jesus’ return (see 2 Peter 3:4) and the denial of Jesus’ death and resurrection (see 1 John 4:2). How quickly people fall into those age-old traps over and over again. If a lawyer were to bring 500 reliable witnesses through a courtroom today, the judge would have no choice but to admit that their testimony was true and reliable—why is it that so many people are so quick to discredit the many witnesses to the truth? Loved ones, stand upon the truth of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection—it is a fact, and you can have complete confidence in it. And then, by the way you live, proclaim to those around you that Jesus Christ is alive and at work in the lives of his people.
Appearances (1 Corinthians 15:5) January 31, 2009Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on 1 Corinthians 15.
Tags: 1 Corinthians 15:5, Apostles, Appearances of Jesus, Cephas, Easter morning, The Twelve, Who were the Twelve?, Why were the women not included in the Twelve?
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“and he was seen by Cephas, then the Twelve.” (1 Corinthians 15:5)
Paul goes on to point out that not only was Jesus raised from the dead, but there are many people who are witnesses to the fact that he rose. What is interesting is the way he organizes and lists the groups of folks who witnessed Jesus. He begins in this verse by speaking of “Cephas” and “the Twelve.” Cephas, of course, is better known by his Greek name, Peter, and the Twelve refer to the close fellowship of Apostles that followed Jesus during his earthly ministry. Yet, we need to look a little more closely to see what is going on in this statement.
It is worth noting two difficulties that people sometimes have with the mention of Peter, here. First, Peter is one of the Twelve, and is not his separate mention being redundant? Second, was it not Mary Magdalene who first saw Jesus risen (John 20:11-18)? Yes, both of these questions are accurate, but they miss the intent of what Paul is doing. Peter, or Cephas, was a prominent leader in the church, and his name would have been familiar to the Corinthians. But more importantly, Peter is the one who had denied Jesus three times (and later been reinstated three times as well).
On the first Easter morning, when the women had gone up to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body, they found it empty! And on that morning, two angels appeared to them, one giving them instructions. And the instructions were to go tell “the disciples and Peter” (Mark 16:7). When people are guilty of great misdeeds against those they love, oftentimes they make themselves outcasts from the fellowship that they have failed. Peter was probably at about the lowest point that a human being could be on that Easter morning. The message of the angel was to say, “And make sure that Peter knows what has happened!” Oh, what a day that must have been! There is nothing so sweet as the promise of forgiveness.
Paul brings this out for the purpose of highlighting that Peter was not only reinstated to fellowship, but also to leadership. Throughout this letter, Paul has written some fairly harsh words toward the Corinthian church. They had become divided, were spiritually immature, and were emphasizing flashy gifts (even at the point of faking those gifts) instead of love. Yet, Paul is reminding them that there is redemption in Jesus’ name. Just as Peter turned from his sin and sought forgiveness, so too, the Corinthians can do the same.
The second point of contention is that it was Mary Magdalene who first interacted with the risen Lord. Paul never says that Jesus appeared to Peter before anyone else; rather Paul simply jumps to the point in time where Jesus appears to Peter and the rest of the Twelve. Secondly, a woman’s testimony was not allowed in Roman courts of law (or Jewish). Paul is not degrading women by not including Mary here, but he is making a case to the Corinthians for the reality of Christ’s resurrection, and he does not want to compromise his case before those in Corinth who may yet be questioning the reality of Jesus’ resurrection. Because of this, Mary is not mentioned.
Paul is pointing out to the Corinthians that they can place their trust in the doctrine of Jesus’ resurrection because of the faithful witness of others. In the following verses, Paul will go on to say that there are more than 500 who witnessed the resurrected Christ. Friends, how many witnesses do we need? On the word of one or two, we may reserve judgment, but on the word of the witness of 500, if we still reserve judgment, we have moved from being prudent to just being stubborn. Friends, you too are presented with this witness to the resurrection of Christ; will you accept their witness as corroborating evidence that Jesus Christ did rise? Then live with confidence that if you are in him, you, too will rise on the last day.
And He was Raised! (1 Corinthians 15:4) January 31, 2009Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on 1 Corinthians 15.
Tags: 1 Corinthians 15:4, afterlife, hope, raised from the dead, resurrection
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“and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day, according to the scriptures,” (1 Corinthians 15:4)
There should be no sweeter words in the Christian’s ears than, “and he was raised…” For it is the raising of Christ that assures our hope. Had Jesus not risen, there would be no afterlife, there would be no promise of the resurrection, and there would be no assurance of our justification before God. Were that the case, we would be a sorry fellowship indeed. But he was raised! Jesus is alive! And he has promised us that on the last day he will raise us up with him! Oh, what a glorious day that will be!
And all of this happened according to the scriptures. The prophesies of the Old Testament which speak of the Messiah all point to the person of Christ. There was nothing that he did that was outside of the scope of God’s plan, and there was nothing in God’s plan that was meant to be a total surprise. It is all laid out in the Old Testament scriptures. The reason that it was such a surprise is that the people of Jesus’ day were not putting the puzzle pieces together properly—they were trying to force pieces together that did not belong together to make the puzzle turn out their way. Of course, this is not how God works.
Yet, are we not guilty ourselves of trying to put God in a box or to make his puzzle pieces fit like we think they ought, rather than how God designed them? Do we not have a tendency to tell God how he “ought” to do things? Oftentimes we are just as guilty of interpreting scripture according to our own preferences.
In the end, Paul is driving the Corinthians to remember the first things, or primary doctrines, of the faith. Yet, in doing so, he deliberately ties it all to scripture. It would do us well to keep that principle before us at all times. God’s word is our only rule for faith and practice; it is the only guide that will keep us on a straight path. As a people, we must affirm the things that God’s word affirms and deny the things that it denies—of course, to be able to do this, we must constantly have God’s word before us so that we know what it affirms and denies! But, if we would be faithful to make God’s word our foundation in all things, we would fall into much less error in the doctrines that we hold.
First Importance (1 Corinthians 15:3) January 31, 2009Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on 1 Corinthians 15.
Tags: 1 Corinthians 15:3, Atonement, Christ, Christ died, death and resurrection, first importance, historical Jesus, Paul, Propitiation, Redeemer, scriptures
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“For I delivered to you of first importance that which I also received—that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;” (1 Corinthians 15:3)
Paul now is about to lay out for the Corinthians once again the essentials of the faith. Please note, these things that he lays down are what he calls things of “first importance.” As you read through the writings of Paul, you will find other doctrines that are of high importance for a Christian to hold to, but the doctrine of Christ’s death and resurrection is the first and most important of all doctrines. Regardless of what other things you may or may not hold to, if you do not hold to this doctrine you cannot call yourself a Christian. It is of first importance.
Through the history of the church, there have been those who have tried to deny this doctrine. Even in our own day, there are those who would teach that there was no historical Jesus. Friends, these people are heretics and blasphemers and we should never allow ourselves to be swayed by their arguments; rather, we need to call them to repentance.
Why is this doctrine so important? To understand the doctrine’s importance you need to unpackage what Paul is saying. In this verse, Paul lays before us one half of the doctrine; namely, that Christ died for our sins. There are three elements that come out of this statement.
The first element is that Christ died. To die, Christ had to be fully human. Were Christ some kind of legendary Greek god-man or demi-god, being part human and part God, there would have been no real death, for an immortal God cannot die. Christ did die, and that means he had to be fully human by definition. Were Christ not fully human he could not have identified with us, he could not have suffered like we do, and no sacrifice would have been made. For atonement to be made, blood needed to be shed; this is the purpose of all of the Old Testament sacrifices. Jesus offered himself up as the sacrificial lamb, which means his blood needed to be shed for our sins.
The Apostle John would later write that Christ is our propitiation (1 John 2:2). Though sometimes this word is translated as “atonement,” there is a difference between atonement and propitiation. Atonement is the bringing of two parties back into harmony after they have been separated. Christ certainly did just that, becoming a bridge to cross the gap between a sinful mankind and a Holy God. But, propitiation is the act which brings atonement. Jesus’ act of propitiation was his death on the cross, where he took the just punishment for the sins of the elect upon his own head. This required his sacrifice, which required his death, which requires that he be fully human.
Secondly, the sacrifice is for our sins. The only one who had the ability to make a perfect sacrifice for sinful man was God himself. Because of the fall, sin tainted all that we are and all that we do. We are not capable of satisfying God’s righteous judgment. This is why God sent his son, that those who believe in as their Lord and Savior would be saved. That means that Jesus, by definition, was also fully divine. He had to be fully human to make the sacrifice, but he had to be fully divine for that sacrifice to be effective. Oh, the heresies of the church that would have been avoided had people listened to the Apostle Paul’s words!
Thirdly, all this happened in accordance with the scriptures. God had proclaimed in his word the promise of a coming redeemer. He did so as far back as the fall (see Genesis 3:15). And, throughout the scriptures, particularly as you read the prophetic writings, there is a clear hand that is always pointing to Christ. And Christ fulfilled all of the prophesies that point toward him. This is an amazing fact. This means two things for us. First, it means that God is in complete control of all of human history. Were God just influencing things as they went along (making good guesses as the “Open Theists” would say) then some of the prophetic statements would have necessarily fallen through the cracks—none did. The only way that hundreds of statements about Christ could have been fulfilled in Christ was if God had intimately controlled history, and indeed, he wrote the book. Second, it also tells us that the entirety of the Old Testament is about Jesus. Jesus is directly or indirectly the subject of all of scripture! What an amazing statement that is, dear friend.
And these things only represent one half of the doctrine of first importance. Paul is essentially telling the Corinthians that until they get this doctrine right, they will never make any sense of the other doctrines of the church. As I said earlier, this is not the only essential doctrine of the Christian faith, but this is the doctrine that will provide the foundation for the other doctrines clearly taught in scripture. Friends, grasp a hold of this doctrine and cling to it. It is the foundation of your hope. Without Christ’s shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins, and as we will soon see, without his resurrection, there is no hope of life beyond the grave. Be encouraged by all God offers to you in Christ.