The Gospel

by Mike Ratliff

3 παρέδωκα γὰρ ὑμῖν ἐν πρώτοις, ὃ καὶ παρέλαβον, ὅτι Χριστὸς ἀπέθανεν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν κατὰ τὰς γραφὰς 4 καὶ ὅτι ἐτάφη καὶ ὅτι ἐγήγερται τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ τρίτῃ κατὰ τὰς γραφὰς  (1 Corinthians 15:3,4 NA27)

3 For I handed on to you among the first things that I received, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures 4 and that he was buried and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:3,4 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

This Christians walk is one in which we must take up our own crosses and follow our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. In this life we will have tribulation. However, in the midst of fiery trials we grow less self-oriented, less self-dependent, and less self-righteous while we learn that we must, at all costs, abide in Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. In this time before our Lord takes us home, there will be much heartache, many crushing blows, and at times, it will seem that the world and those who follow it have all the cards and are on the way to winning by whatever means. However, as our Lord Jesus said on the night of his arrest leading up to his crucifixion, “ταῦτα λελάληκα ὑμῖν ἵνα ἐν ἐμοὶ εἰρήνην ἔχητε. ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ θλῖψιν ἔχετε· ἀλλὰ θαρσεῖτε, ἐγὼ νενίκηκα τὸν κόσμον.” Or, “These things I have spoken to you that in me you may have peace. In the world you have affliction, but be cheerful, I have conquered the world.” 

Therefore my brethren, when you are dealt a wicked blow and find yourself in midst of a fiery trial and find that you have no comfort zones left, you are right where Christ wants you and where you need to be spiritually. Is it painful? Yes! Is it heart breaking? Yes, assuredly it is and can be devastating depending upon the circumstances. However, the very last thing we need to do as Christians is put on a brave face and pretend that we are not affected by whatever it is. We hurt, we are grieved, we may even become angry, but what we must not do is forget who we are in Christ, turning our backs on him while being consumed by the flesh. The best place to be during these times is in prayer before the throne of grace.

What is it that enables us to live this way? How can we take these blows that would devastate unbelievers, tearing families apart, and causing nothing but more wicked fruits of the flesh? Those who are in Christ are so because they have been saved by Grace through Faith (Ephesians 2:1-10). The message they believed is the Gospel, which we will look at the rest of this post.

Without a doubt, because of the pragmatism and man-centered influences that have invaded the Church since the late 18th Century, the clearly defined Gospel that the Apostles proclaimed has become muddled and accumulated a great deal of baggage. In this post, instead of looking at the negative examples in our time, we will look at what it really is and how it was proclaimed and how in that proclamation, God works in the regeneration of His people in the building of His Church.

[The Resurrection of Christ]

            [15:1] Now I would remind you, brothers,[f1] of the gospel [g]I preached to you, which you received, [h]in which you stand, [2] and by which [i]you are being saved, if you [j]hold fast to the word I preached to you—[k]unless you believed in vain.

            [3] For [l]I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died [m]for our sins [n]in accordance with the Scriptures, [4] that he was buried, that he was raised [o]on the third day [p]in accordance with the Scriptures, [5] and that [q]he appeared to Cephas, then [r]to the twelve. [6] Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. [7] Then he appeared to [s]James, then [t]to all the apostles. [8] Last of all, as to one untimely born, [u]he appeared also to me. [9] For [v]I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because [w]I persecuted the church of God. [10] But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, [x]I worked harder than any of them, [y]though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. [11] Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.           

(1 Corinthians 15:1-11 ESV) 

[Cross References]

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[g] [2 Tim. 2:8]; See ch. 3:6

[h] Rom. 5:2; [2 Cor. 1:24; 1 Pet. 5:12]

[i] ch. 1:18

[j] ch. 11:2; [Heb. 3:6, 14]

[k] Gal. 3:4

[l] ch. 11:23; Gal. 1:12

[m] John 1:29; Gal. 1:4; Heb. 5:1, 3; 1 Pet. 2:24

[n] Isa. 53; Dan. 9:26; Zech. 13:7; [1 Pet. 1:11]

[o] [Hos. 6:2; Matt. 12:40; John 2:22]

[p] Ps. 16:10; Isa. 53:10; [Acts 2:25-32; 13:33-35; 26:22, 23]

[q] Luke 24:34

[r] Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36; John 20:19, 26; Acts 10:41

[s] See Acts 12:17

[t] Luke 24:50; Acts 1:3, 4

[u] See ch. 9:1

[v] 2 Cor. 12:11; Eph. 3:7, 8; 1 Tim. 1:13-16

[w] See Acts 8:3

[x] 2 Cor. 11:23; 12:11; Col. 1:29

[y] [ch. 3:6; 2 Cor. 3:5; Phil. 2:13]; See Matt. 10:20 

[Footnotes]

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[1] 15:1 Or brothers and sisters; also verses 6, 31, 50, 58

What is the gospel according to Paul in this passage? It is a message. He preached to the Corinthians a message, intact, that he had received from someone else. The Corinthians received that message and they now stood in the light of that message by which they were BEING saved as long as they held fast to the word he preached to them. What was the condition that they were NOT BEING saved by that message? It was that that they have believed in vain or for nothing. This brings to mind the parable of the sower where some seed fell on soil that looked good, but had no depth. This represented those who heard the gospel in vain. They received it with joy, but then when trials and tribulation came, they fell away. This is what Paul is talking about.  These are not genuine believers.

In vv.3,4 we see where Paul got the message, the Gospel. From where did he get it? It was from the Scriptures, which was what we call the Old Testament.  Our Lord’s death on the Cross for the sins of his people was in accordance with the Scriptures. His resurrection on the third day was in accordance with the Scriptures. Then in vv.5-8 we have the account of the witnesses of our Lord’s resurrection, which is part of the Gospel message. The Gospel message is the proclamation of the finished work of Christ on the Cross, his death there, his resurrection and the proof of that resurrection by all these witnesses. By his rising from the dead, this proves all his claims of deity and it also means all those promises of the Atonement are true and that is what makes the Gospel Good News.

My brethren, we live in a dark age, but never forget that Christ has never stopped building His Church. We all need refining and that sometimes means some pretty heavy blows and fiery trials. Keep your eyes on the prize.

Soli Deo Gloria!

10 thoughts on “The Gospel

  1. “Christ has never stopped building His Church” – Amen my brother! One of my pastors likes to remind us that the church is always successful, even when it looks like she is not. For the work of the Lord will succeed and man can only see in part. Chaff and false professors may grab our attention, but the Lord WILL build His church and the gates of Hell will not prevail!

    (Been off the grid, camping with my wife and puppies. Nice to be back.)

  2. Yeah Manfred, I’ve been busy as well, but mine has been more work related. In any case, yes indeed our enemy wants us to believe he is winning and so we have all these “evidences” that he is, but it is all just a vapor that will be burned up. Please lift us up in prayer my brother…

  3. “. . . when you are dealt a wicked blow and find yourself in midst of a fiery trial and find that you have no comfort zones left, you are right where Christ wants you and where you need to be spiritually.”

    This is hitting me more and more as I sift through the cloud of dust that my “fiery trial” has caused.
    The dust is beginning to settle in some places and I can see things more clearly and objectively, and through the glasses of the WORD and not my own emotion.
    This thing that has happened to me, actually things, plural, has definitely changed me.
    It has take me quite a while to realize my source of strength consistently, my confidence has been sorely shaken to the point of questioning my walk and convictions. I have never questioned my salvation, because I know the miracle that took place in my heart, but that cloud of dust had dulled my spiritual senses.
    I am now able to breathe clean air, and with each breath the Spirit of God reassures me that He has all of this in His hand. I am resting, sweetly resting in His perfect, pleasing will.
    Praise God for the Word, for Jesus and the glorious Gospel!

  4. Thank you Mike – what a timely message! I have just got off the phone with my Aunt who is 85, had a fall, knows she doesn’t have too much longer on the earth, and doesn’t know the Lord. I hung up the phone, sat in my study and shed quite a few tears for her, and my members of my immediate family who don’t know the Lord; and then logged on here to be reminded so beautifully through your words, and God’s eternal Word, that this world “is not my home”!! At times like this, as I’m typing and still crying, I yearn for them to know Him who IS our eternal HOPE, and to have that blessed assurance of an eternal future with our Father God, far beyond this tangible reality………….

  5. Sandra, yes, you are welcome and as I am sure you and others have discerned it was issues in my own family that God used that prompted me to write that. We all have loved ones we care about deeply who are not part of the Family of God. They do not know the Lord and it is heartbreaking. However, look what we have in Christ! None of us deserve it and yet we have the free gift of eternal life in Christ. The how and why of that are so profound that we struggle with describing it yet in God’s Word we are comforted with the words of the Gospel and so know it is true and so we eagerly await our reuniting with our Saviour, but we also pray for our loved ones who do not know him that they may also believe and be saved…

  6. Amen and amen, let us thank and praise the Lord. For he does not need us – He lacks nothing. I also have close family in the cult of Rome, easy-believism of protestant stripe, “personal religion” that dare be spoken of”. As has been noted – the Lord God of all things has called a people to Himself for His own glory – and we who have been called get immeasurable benefits.

  7. Mike, my 85-year-old mother raised us to depend on no one but ourselves — not our neighbors, not our friends, and certainly not God, who created the world and then left us to ourselves. She’s 3,000 miles away, but it might as well be 3 million. She’s heard the Gospel come out of my mouth several times over the last 10 years and each time she becomes exceedingly defiant. I walk in the house with joy and leave with sadness and frustration.

    The hope I have, the assurance I have, the high privilege I have in Christ are to be celebrated with solemn reflection, for I was once as stubborn as my mother. No one could get through to me except for the Lord Himself. Paul’s Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. It is an awesome wonder. I can’t fully understand it, but I believe by the grace of God. Others cannot believe it. It is difficult to live with the knowledge that so many will not believe, but it is all to His glory. I have to keep reminding myself that He knows better than I.

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