Hope based on the power of the risen Christ is a sure and unfailing one.
HYMN: CHRIST THE LORD IS RISEN TODAY
Text: 1 Corinthians 15:12-58
The resurrection of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the basis of the Christian faith. Its acceptance as an event of history provides the foundation for having faith in the scriptures and for living and dying for the truth of the scriptures. Without the resurrection of Christ, there is no Christianity. Without the resurrection of Christ, there can be no guarantee of a life after death. It thus gives hope to our beliefs. People have all kinds of hopes and expectations, there are those who at the moment are penniless, but who hope that in not too distant time they will have the financial resources to build a house and buy a good car. Others have the expectation that they will acquire a university degree, and still others dream of the day that they will have a very lucrative job.
While everyone has a right to have hope or expectation on anything the human mind can dream about, there are hopes which will not materialize and thus bring disappointment, and there are those that will be fulfilled. The hope of all believers of an eternal home of bliss and of rewards for all good done in the name of Christ is predicated on the resurrection of Christ. Because Christ rose from the dead, the believers hope shall someday be a reality. The hope generated by the resurrection in the hearts of the believers continues to provide the drive and motivation for faithful and unalloyed service and commitment to God and the well-being of humanity.
The objectives of this lesson are to know, understand, consider and appreciate:
- To know that the resurrection of Christ is a fact of history.
- To appreciate that there can be no veritable faith in Christ without a warm embrace of the resurrection of Christ.
- To know the benefits of the resurrection of Christ.
- To know how the hope generated by the resurrection can stimulate a dynamic Christian service.
Q1. HOW IS THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST A FACT OF HISTORY?
Efforts of many uneducated men and women philosophers, scientists’ historians, literary generals, etc. to erase the fact of the resurrection of Christ from the minds of people past and present and to present it as a figment of the imagination of the followers of Christ have not only met with woeful failure, but in some instances, made more converts to Christ. That is because the resurrection is at heart of anyone that fully appropriates it with a divine glow.
All four gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John penned the events of the man Jesus Christ who went everywhere on the shores of the Palestine doing good, healing the sick and delivering all those that were oppressed by the devil (Acts 10:38). After 3 ½ years of such unique ministry, the hatred, jealously, and indignation of the Jewish religious leaders had welled up to the point that they felt they had to get rid of Him. They framed charges which they could neither defend nor substantiate against Jesus and urged the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate to attend to their request to crucify Him. Pilate against his own will and judgement, consented and had Jesus Crucified. He was buried in the tomb of one of Jesus’ “secret” disciples, Joseph of Arimathea. But God raised him up to show to the world His divine approval of the ministry of Jesus Christ. “Him, Jesus, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God ye have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death because it was not possible that he should be holden of it”. This JESUS hath God raised up whereof we all are witnesses (Acts 2:23-24, 32). At this time Peter made this statement, the resurrection had occurred some 2 months earlier, so his audience of no less than 3,000 was very current on this unique event. That Peter was not challenged nor mobbed for telling “blatant lies” shows that the resurrection was a fact of history. That the disciples made the event of the resurrection the corner stone of their message soon after, shows that the historical context of the resurrection is incontrovertible.
As an event that will occur in time, it was foretold by those who were given divine insight into the event by God. Job caught a glimpse of his risen Messiah when he said, For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth (Job 19:25) and David predicted that God will not allow the body of Christ to have a taste of decay (Psalm 16:10).
Attempts at denying the reality of the resurrection have always made more demands on the faith of the proponents and their admirers than the simple account presented in the scriptures. There are those who conjecture that Christ did not die from the torture of the Roman soldiers but fell into a state of coma from which he later recovered. To this sort of people, it can be said that this unimaginable medically to think that one whose side was pierced with a sword from which gushed out blood and water recovered without any assistance. Some propound that although Jesus died, He did not rise because his body was stolen from Arimathea’s tomb and buried at a secret tomb. It is simple to believe that God raised Jesus from the dead than to accept that a tomb sealed with a Roman seal over which was set a guard of soldiers could have been broken into by a group of timid disciples who had all dispersed at the times of the arrest of Jesus Christ (Matt. 27:62-66, 28:12-15).
The resurrection of Christ is a fact of history to which many witnessed (1 Cor 15:5-8). In the very generation in which the event took place the disciples made it to the core of their preaching so that if there is any generation that should doubt this truth of the resurrection, it should certainly not be ours.
Q2. HOW IS THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST THE BASIS OF OUR CHRISTIAN FAITH?
The Christian faith is a life-giving faith that transformed the vilest sinner into a child of God. It is not asset of religious rules and guidelines (catechism) on how to conduct oneself to please God. Rather it is a life that is imputed by the power of God. John 1:12 says, “But as many received Him, to them gave He, power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name”. The power to create the life and nature of God in a mortal man is the same life imparting power that raised Jesus from the dead. Thus, to deny the resurrection is to deny this lifegiving power and render vain the Christian faith. “And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him (Christ) from the dead”. Ephesians 1:19-20.
To deny the reality of the resurrection is to deny the power that gives life to our faith. Our faith in Christ is lifeless and completely ineffective if the resurrection never occurred. “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain: ye are yet in your sins (1 Cor. 15:17). The resurrection power provides the dynamism in our faith that makes the Christian experience an exciting one. It takes away the drudgery that the average Christian experiences. There are believers who in their deepest yearnings seek to be back in the world; they still go to church and do the things other Christians do, they may be coasting along because of social strings which they find difficult to break from. They certainly need the quickening power of the resurrection to rekindle life in their relationship with Christ.
Q3. HOW DOES THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST PROVIDE A LIVELY HOPE?
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus” Christ” (Titus 2:13).
The hope of every believer is to be clothed in immorality and be eternally united with his Savior. That is yet to take place. It is the blessed hope of every believer. This hope is founded on the reality of the resurrection of Christ. Hope that is not founded on sound principles or premise is no more than wishful thinking. For one to parade himself that he will soon have a 50 million Naira contract simply because he sent an application to be considered for the contract in response to a newspaper advertisement may suggest that he either has a mental aberration or just wants to provide some temporary relief to his tensed nerves. In a contract with competitive bidding, there is no guarantee that any particular application may be accepted. In contrast, our hope of reward of an eternal inheritance is founded on the fact that Christ rose from the dead which guarantees our future resurrection. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52).
To live for now without eternity in view is due to lack of belief in the reality of the resurrection. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Cor 15:19). The trend today whereby many Christians pursue money and possessions with their last ounce of bleed is a sure indication of lack of appreciation of the fact that Christ rose from the dead.
Q4. HOW DOES OUR LIVING HOPE STIMULATE CHRISTIAN SERVICE?
Christian service varies from one individual Christian to another. Such a service may be teaching the word of God, or singing to edify the body of Christ, or counseling, or praying and interceding for others, or visiting others, or supporting another believer materially etc. When such a service is stimulated from on high with eternity in view, the service is pure, unpretentious, and effective. After Paul had expounded the truth of the glorious resurrection of Christ, he concluded saying, “Therefore my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor 15:58).
Every believer is saved to serve. Serving others offers the greatest fulfillment to the believer. A believer who is self-centered is usually very sad with himself, He cannot experience the joy that goes with selfless service. Many a time services in the local church are stimulated by the presence of the Pastor or an ordained minister. Because of this the services of God’s people do not produce much results. But when there is heave consciousness, then the service is carried out in such a way that a lot is achieved.
Daily Living Application
The hope of receiving eternal rewards is predicated on the reality of the resurrection of Christ. With another Easter celebration before us, we pray that the mistakes which many make in celebrating Easter can be avoided. A celebration devoid of experiencing the quickening power that raised Jesus from the dead is hollow and most unrewarding.
As we examine our lives today, there may be areas that need life impartation. It may be that one is living in sin. The power of the risen Christ is available to deliver us from the power of sin. It may be that we have become caught in the rat race of pursuit for money and material gain without eternity in view. The message of Easter can change this perception and bring the reality of eternity in proper focus. It is possible that we have lost the joy of Christian service and we have become so self-conscious that we now serve self. The power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to stimulate us to pure Christian service that is most rewarding to him that serves and him that is being served.
1 Corinthians 15:14
“And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain”.
Daily Devotional Guide:
Monday: Christ’s resurrection predicted.
Ps. 16:10, Acts 2:31
Tuesday: Christ’s resurrection a fact of history.
Wednesday: Christ’s resurrection proved by witnesses.
Acts 1:22, 4:33, 1 Cor 15:1-13
Thursday: Christ’s resurrection is basis of Christian faith.
1 Cor 15:12-30
Friday: Christ’s resurrection bodily essential for salvation.
Saturday: The hope of our own resurrection should stimulate Godly living.