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Scripture reading – 1 Corinthians 15

The focus of today’s Scripture reading moves from Spiritual Gifts, their distribution, uses, and abuses in the church (1 Corinthians 12-14), to the central doctrine of our faith–the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Corinthians 15). Paul’s exposition of the Gospel, that is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (15:1-4), makes 1 Corinthians 15 one of the greatest and most pivotal chapters in all the Scriptures.

Are You Guilty of Blind Faith?

“Blind faith” is an expression used to describe a decision to place trust or confidence in something or someone that has not, or cannot be proved. I have heard some say glibly, “you just got to have faith.” “Blind faith” or “just got to have faith,” begs the question: Faith in what? The world is populated with those who follow men and women blindly, and join cults and religions that require “blind faith.”

So, in what do Bible believers put their faith? Are Bible believers to be numbered among the “blind faith” followers of men and religions? In what, or in whom do we put our faith? The writer of Hebrews defined faith as, “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Yet, is that “blind faith?” For instance, we were not there when God created the world, set the stars in place and the planets in their courses (Genesis 1). Where were you when God created man, and said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness?” (Genesis 1:16) We were not among those who watched Christ crucified, nor witnessed His glorious resurrection from the dead (Matthew 26-28).

Ours is not a blind faith, but a confident faith in God’s Word, its truths and promises. Those who witnessed the life of Christ, His death, and resurrection went to their deaths as martyrs rather than deny those things they had heard and seen. Thus, Paul comes to 1 Corinthians 15 and gives assurance to believers in Corinth who were suffering persecution, and many of whom would themselves die for their faith. Consider with me, the heart of the Gospel.

The Heart of the Gospel (15:3-4)

Paul did not call on the believers in Corinth to put their trust in “blind faith,” nor challenge them, “you’ve just got to have faith.” No, he assured them, “I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand” (15:1). The apostle declared three great truths. The first, “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (15:3; Isaiah 53:5-7). He continued, “He was buried” (15:4a), leaving no doubt Jesus was dead, and his body was lifeless when it was removed from the cross. Finally, “He rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (15:4b; Psalm 16:10; Matthew 12:40).

Rather than “blind faith,” there were eyewitnesses who validated Christ’s resurrection from the dead (15:5-9).

Numbered among the witnesses was “Cephas” (the apostle Peter), and “the twelve” disciples, less the traitor Judas (15:5). Then, Jesus was “seen of above five hundred brethren at once” (many of whom were still alive when Paul penned this letter, 15:6). One, named James, was a witness of Jesus’ resurrection, and scholars believe he was the half-brother of Jesus (15:7a), who became the head of the church in Jerusalem (15:13-21). There were other witnesses whom Paul identified as apostles (15:7b). (The number of apostles was not given; however, Jesus had sent out seventy in Luke 10:1, 17.)

Paul then gave an account of his own observation concerning the risen Christ, whom he encountered on the road to Damascus when he was temporarily blinded by the LORD’s heavenly glory. Paul wrote, “last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time” (15:8).

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is not only central to the faith, it is also the motivation for boldly, and unapologetically declaring the Gospel (15:10-19).

Preaching a Savior sacrificed on the Cross, but not raised from the dead, would be a hollow, lifeless, hopeless message. There is no Gospel, good news, hope of salvation, forgiveness of sins, or eternal life if Christ was not raised from the dead. Paul assured the Corinthians believers:

1 Corinthians 15:20–2220 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits [the first of many raised from the dead] of them that slept [who died in faith, believing]. 21 For since by man [Adam, the first man] came death, by man [Jesus Christ, the Second Adam] came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Closing thoughts – We are sons and daughters of Adam, born with his fallen, sinful nature, and under the curse and penalty of sin (15:22a; Romans 6:23a). Yet, when a sinner confesses his sin, and trusts Christ paid the penalty of his sin by His substitutionary death on the Cross (Ephesians 2:13), he is promised we “shall all be made alive” (15:22b). To be “made alive,” is to be revived in our spirit (i.e., our inner man), and promised one day our bodies will be raised from the dead to life eternal (15:23).

What about faith? We who are saved put our trust and faith in this: “by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9). “Blind faith?” Absolutely not! By faith we join with Paul, and declare: “55O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (15:55–57).

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Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

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