According to Paul, the gospel was the vital key of his ministry, the message he preached; if received, it causes us to stand; it held fast, it will cause us to be saved (1 Corinthians 15:1-2). But today we have a wide spectrum of what is asserted to be the message of the gospel. We find everything from four spiritual laws to hyper-detailed theological frameworks to even the thought that it is nothing more than the presence of Jesus in me! We need to find our certainty about this from God’s Word. According to the Bible, the gospel is indeed a message. But it is not a hyper-detailed theological checklist. The gospel is the message of a living Person. The four books we call “gospels” are simply accounts of the life of Jesus Christ. The message mankind must hear and receive simply boils down to the truth regarding this man, Jesus of Nazareth.
In a stroke of divine clarity, Paul laid out for the Corinthians the heart of the gospel he preached. “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (15:3). This statement includes who Christ, or Messiah, is: the Word of God who took on flesh, Deity who became a man, born of a virgin. We can explain how forgiveness of sin requires the shedding of blood, we can define what sin is, but the message stays the same. Paul then writes, “that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (15:4). The burial was certain and complete; the resurrection was absolute and total. This means definite victory over sin and death, as well as undeniable power and life, without limit. If we die to the old self with Him, we can be raised to new life with Him. This gospel is not one man’s opinion; Paul says, “and that He appeared…” (15:5). He appeared to Peter, the twelve, all the apostles, James, five hundred believers at once!
What should be the concluding ingredient of this good news? Paul lastly says, “He appeared to me also” (15:8). Do you have a testimony? Have you come to moments when, if God is not God, everything will fall apart for you? Have you had moments when, if Jesus were not risen, your faith would have crumbled and your life would have turned 180 degrees back to sin? Praise and thank God for this testimony, however costly it was to obtain. This is a precious capstone to the gospel of Christ, a unique proof of the resurrection in every believer. I have heard stories of mountains of unbelief being hurled instantaneously into the midst of the sea, all because one ordinary believer was able to tell someone, “I know Jesus is alive, because He lives in my heart.” We should not share a gospel of mere experiences; yet, our experience might be the staggering factor that brings the ancient Bible text into living, breathing reality before someone’s eyes.
In our age of confusion, don’t add on to the life, death, resurrection, and appearing of Jesus. You can build your spiritual home on this Rock, and it will never be moved. To be saved, we must put our faith in this glorious Lord and Savior. Let’s not overcomplicate it, for ourselves or for others.
The Rock Church