Turn in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 15:1-11. Today will be the third week we look at this particular text. Some of you may be asking why? The reason is because it is saturated with piercing and convicting truth, and at the core of this passage is the Gospel, and there is no end to the unsearchable riches of the Gospel. Today we are looking at 1 Corinthians 15 with the lens of evangelism and missions. So let us read it, pray, and ask God to give us His vision.
- 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 - “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then 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 James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because 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, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. “
The person who wrote this text is the Apostle Paul. I cannot think of anyone else in the Bible that is more Biblically radical than the Apostle Paul. You can get a sense of this in our text today. Look at verse ten.
- 1 Corinthians 15:10 - “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.”
- 2 Corinthians 11:24-28 - “ Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one.25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.”
The question then becoems why? Why was Paul the way he is? Why did he risk so much? Why was he so driven, so radical? Paul tells us why: God’s Grace.
- 1 Corinthian 15:10 – “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. “
But what does Paul mean when he says it was the grace of God that was within him? Is he simply waxing poetically? No. When you receive the gospel through believing the Gospel, something changes in you. Jesus calls it being born again. Paul calls it being a new creation or passing from death to life. In the moment of having faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, God comes and lives in your heart. Let me say that again in case it didn't sink in. The Sovereign God of the Universe, who makes stars explode, comes and lives in your heart. Listen to these verses:
- John 14:15-17 – “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
- Galatians 2:20 – “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
- Philippians 2:12-13 – “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
When we repent and believe in the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, God comes into our lives in a way that flips our world upside down. We go from being a slave to our sinful passions and pleasures, to slaves of God. And yes, I truly mean slaves of God. We are His possession, we are his people.
- 1 Corinthians 6:20 – “for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
- Revelation 5:9 – “And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,”
- Titus 2:14 – “who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.“
With all this said, what did Paul do? What were his works? What was his primary purpose of his beatings, shipwrecks, and stoning? It was preaching the Gospel.
- 1 Corinthians 15: 1- “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you”
- 1 Corinthians 15:2 – “if you hold fast to the word I preached to you”
- 1 Corinthians 15:11 – “so we preach and so you believed.”
I am not trying to be mean, or polarizing with this comment, but how many places in the Bible have you read of Paul or any of the other disciples partaking in mission trips digging wells, or building schools? Perhaps they did, and it never made it into the Bible. Don't misunderstand what I am saying, those things are not bad. We should be good Samaritans, no doubt about that, but is that the main things, or the only thing we should be doing in this world? Is this what Jesus meant when he said go and make disciples, did he really mean go and make schools? Absolutely not! Remember what we talked about two weeks ago. What is the most important thing to every human on the planet, the Gospel.
This week, read through the book of Acts. The book of Acts is the story of the early Church and its significant growth in the first 30 years of existence. In the 28 chapters of Acts, you see one common and strategy for Church growth, preaching of the Gospel.
- Acts 2 - Peter preaches the Gospel at Pentecost,
- Acts 3 - Peter preaches the gospel at Solomon's Porch
- Acts 4 - Peter and John preach the gospel to the Jewish Council
- Acts 5 - Peter and the apostles preached the gospel in the Temple
- Acts 6 - Stephen is arrested for preaching the gospel
- Acts 7 - Stephen preaches the Gospel to the Council and High Priest again
- Acts 8 - Philip preaches the Gospel in Samaria, Azotus, all the way to Caesarea
- Acts 9 - Paul preaches the Gospel in Damascus and Jerusalem
- Acts 10 - Peter preaches the Gospel to Cornelius the Gentiles
- Acts 11 – The disciples preach the the Gospel in Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch
- Acts 12 - we are told the word of God increased and multiplied
- Acts 13 - Barnabas and Saul preach the Gospel in Salamis, Paphos,and Perga
- Acts 14 - Paul and Barnabas preach the Gospel in Iconium and Lystra
- Acts 16 - Paul preaches the Gospel in Philippi
- Acts 17 - Paul preaches the Gospel in Thessalonica, Berea, and Athens
- Acts 18 – Paul preaches the Gospel in Corinth and Apollos preaches the Gospel in Ephesus
- Acts 19 – Paul preaches the Gospel in Ephesus
- Acts 22 – Paul preaches the Gospel in Jerusalem
- Acts 24 – Paul preaches the Gospel to Felix the governor in Caesarea
- Acts 26 – Paul preaches the Gospel to King Agrippa
- Acts 28 – Paul preaches the Gospel in Rome where it is believed he eventually is killed for preaching the Gospel.
Perhaps you have heard it said that the book of Acts should be retitled the book of the Holy Spirit or the Acts of the Holy Spirit. This reason for this is because it is in the book of Acts you see for the first time the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling believers.
With that in mind, what you see in the book of Acts is not a book filled with speaking in tongues, or miracles in every chapter, or wells being dug, and schools being built. What you see all over the place is the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And this makes sense, because the Gospel is the Holy Spirit's favorite topic. Listen to what Jesus says in John 15:26.
- John 15:26 - “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. “
- 1 Corinthians 15:11 - “so we preach and so you believed. “
- Romans 1:16 - “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes “
- Mark 16:15 - “And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.“
I think it comes down to, do we trust the Gospel. Do we believe 1 Corinthians 15, do we believe Romans 1:16, do we believe the entire book of Acts, do we believe Jesus. Our King does not hide the ball from us. He tells us what our mission is. He tells us how to expand the borders of his Kingdom, it is not by digging wells, or building schools. It is by testifying about Jesus Christ and him crucified.
We must proclaim it in our homes, in our work places, in our neighborhoods, on facebook, in Kentucky, in India. If you are a Christian, this is the primary reason that God has left you here on this planet, to proclaim the Gospel.
- 1 Peter 2:9 – “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
However, in addition to your testimony, on your seats is what is called a tract. In my opinion, this tract is one of the simplest and perhaps best ways to explain the Gospel. It is simple, it is true and it is easily learned. Take this tract home and memorize it. Memorize every word of it, the scriptures, the pictures, and the explanations. Then practice. Practice in the mirror, practice with your brothers and sisters, practice with me. Then go and do it. Look for opportunities to weave threads of the Gospel in your conversations and see what stage God sets for you. I think you will be amazed how simple and how powerful it is.