“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed” (1 Corinthians 15:1-11 ESV).
Paul writes this letter to the church in Corinth, and he says essentially, let me give you the “Cliffs Notes” of the message that I have preached to you. We can summarize these points this way. As prescribed by Scripture: 1) Christ died for our sins. 2) Christ was buried—he truly was dead. 3) Christ was raised from the dead after three days. In verification of Christ’s resurrection: 4) Christ appeared to over 500 people before his ascension, many of whom Paul names by name. 5) Christ appeared to Paul himself.
We can see three themes fleshed out of this passage. I) The gospel is not an addition to the Old Testament Scriptures, but a fulfillment of all of Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation. II) The gospel contains at its center truths that must be believed (i.e. the death, burial and bodily resurrection of Christ). III) The gospel is historical. The person of Christ entered time and space, actually lived a real, flesh and blood existence, did ministry, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate in history. And, Christ was raised from the dead, in history.
As we enter the month of March, and experience the hints of spring on the horizon, we can be reminded and find hope in the reality of Christ’s ministry, life, death, and resurrection. See, the gospel is not just a set of truths for mental assent, but the proclamation of the fulfillment of all of history found in one man, Jesus Christ. This is where we need to be reminded that the reality of the gospel rudely rouses us from our sluggish and faint-hearted living with the proclamation of a new world. The gospel is the proclamation of a kingdom where death no longer has reign over our lives, but where Christ is King. Christ the giver and author of life. Christ absorbed all of hell’s fury so that we can embrace heaven’s joys.
When we believe the gospel, we are at odds with the perspectives and thinking of the world around us. When the world sees despair and hopelessness, we see the old world grasping for all it can destroy with its dying breaths, and we see our King Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father triumphant.