The Greatest Witness of Hope
Reading 1 Cor 15:1-26
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:.(1 Cor 15:3-4)
The Greatest Witness of Judgement
The Greatest Witness of Mercy
The Greatest Witness of Love
The Greatest Witness of Hope
All are found in this text
The Greatest Witness of Judgement
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died …
Paul brings to the Corinthian Church that which was received willingly by him concerning the truth, the Gospel truth.
He begins, “how that Christ died…”
How that Messiah Died
How that the Saviour Died
Man has long desired to justify himself for the wicked acts he accepts himself to undertake.
Man convinces himself time and again that what he does, which he knows is wrong and sinful, was not his fault, or justified.
But the very fact “that Christ died”, that the Saviour Died, is the greatest witness of all that the evil deeds that man do has an eternal cost that must be born.
To those who accept the Mercy and Love of the Saviour and believe the Gospel, their evil deeds and sin was born by him.
To those who reject the Mercy and Love of the Saviour, and deny the Gospel, their evil deeds and sin will be born by themselves alone.
But Unwilling to accept Christ and the testimony of his death for them, but equally unwilling to be cast into hell for all eternity, man has concocted such an array of excuses to either reject accountability for his actions, or to deny the reality of consequence altogether.
But “I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died …”
The greatest witness against them however, is how that Christ died
NEVERTHELESS man pursues his own vain attempt to deny either accountability or consequence.
His first attempt is that of what I call ‘Adamic Misdirection’.
Yes beloved, it seems that Adam was the very first man who attempted magic. But God was his audience and was far from impressed.
Adam attempted to direct responsibility for his sin, first to his wife and then directly back to God himself;
“The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” (Gen 3:12)
Such misdirection has continued down through history and is best reflected naturally in Children.
Since my children were little I had told them that they do not become adults when they reach a certain age, (even though the world seems to think otherwise), they become adults when they take begin to take responsibility for their actions.
Sadly, it’s the teenage years when they are driven by the world that they behave more like children than when they were children.
The world is unwilling to take responsibility for its actions.
Misdirection and Denial of Consequence are the fundamental tools employed.
The more you are in the world, the more evident will those tools manifest themselves, the more you are in the Word, the more responsibility you are willing to accept.
One will conform you into its image,
the other will transform you and renew your mind (Rom 12:2)
MISDIRECTION and DENIAL OF CONSEQUANCE
But the death of Christ is the GREATEST WITNESS THAT dismisses them both.
We are all intuitively aware of misdirection, but what of Denial of Consequence?
Many years ago, I witnessed a young lady having the Gospel shared with her, the proposal of Mercy or Penalty was put before her. Her mind-numbing response was simply; “That’s ok, I don’t believe in hell”.
It is like a tight rope walker saying, “I don’t believe in gravity”.
This is a perfect example of the Denial of Consequence.
The Bible says
“as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” Hebrews 9:27
Reality will prevail against personal preference.
Some of the most extreme methods of Denial of Consequence has been developed by the Scientific Community. They are indeed marvelous magicians who can even make REALITY DISAPEAR ALTOGETHER.
The Philosophical Department is the top Escalon of the Scientific Community beloved.
(Remember that when a Scientist receives his PHD, he is receiving a ‘Philosophical Doctorate’. That is what PHD stands for)
Philosophy has moved heaven and earth to Deny Consequances, and the most extreme views are the most commonly accepted.
One of the least accepted, but growing in popularity, is The questioning of existence itself.
There is a philosophical idea that that came up many years ago called “Solipsism”: essentially, it is the belief that only one’s own mind is sure to exist, anything outside the mind is unsure.
There is no objective truth and nothing of the material universe or external world can be known.
In other words, you cannot be sure that there are any other people in the world other than you.
Sounds ridiculous, but what is more ridiculous is that those who believe this nonsense, have thought they could sell books on the topic….to other people….that they don’t believe exist!
There was a book written in 2016 Titled “Evangelical Solipsism”.
Just think about that for a minute.
The idea of Solipsism actually seems to have come out of a corruption of Rene Descartes’s famous statement “Cognito Sum” (I think, therefore I am), but Descartes was trying to correct another vain philosophy that was floating around that denies existence itself.
His full quotation was, “I cannot deny my own existence, for in order to contemplate a denial of my own existence, I must be thinking to deny it: I think therefore I am”.
Some of the most benign ideas clothe themselves in Scientific jargon, such as the most popular of all proposed by the naturalist Charles Darwin 150 years ago, and still taught today to your children as if it is true.
As I showed last week with the quotation of George Wald, the Theory of Evolution, though known to be impossible in reality, is preferred over the reality of God, WHY?
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Eccl 12:13-14)
But Monkey to Man Evolution has led science to be guided by what is referred to as “Methodological Naturalism”. The Philosophies that naturally follow are;
ALL OF THESE HAVE ONE OBJECTIVE IN MIND, to mentally escape the conclusion of a judgment at the end of our days. TO DENY CONSEQUANCE!
God answers however;
3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? 4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds: (Rom 2:1-6)
THE REVELATION OF THE RIGHTEOUS JUDGEMENT OF GOD has its Greatest Witness in the Death of Christ
The Greatest Witness of Mercy
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
In Law, and most particularly in the Building industry, there is what is known as “Deemed to Satisfy” provisions.
There are specific construction practices that are to be followed, but there are times in certain applications when it cannot be perfectly followed as it is designed.
But if there was a manner of following the law by substitution, it can be “Deemed to Satisfy” the law.
For example: Standard timber construction of homes have a certain strength provision that needs to withstand loadbearing, shear strength and integrity during a fire.
If the timber was substituted with steel, the metal would need to be constructed in a way that would be ‘Deemed to satisfy’ all those same elements in construction.
The Death of Jesus Christ for our sins was “Deemed to Satisfy” the justice of the law.
The Laws of God would not be followed as designed due to the fall, but by SUNBSTITUTION, Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures ‘Deemed to satisfy the law’.
Jesus Said “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil” (Matt 5:17)
Romans 10:4 says “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth”
Galatians 4:4-5 says “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons
Man had broken Gods eternal law, but Jesus Christ satisfied the provisions made under the law though his death on the cross. His Death was ‘Deemed to Satisfy’.
His Death is therefore The Greatest Witness of Mercy for all who believe.
When sons have sinned against their mothers, they have broken Gods laws.
For all the care and love of a mother given to a son, yet he speaks evil of her, he lies to her, there are times when he yells at her, even despising the love she has for him.
He never sees the tears of her eyes.
He lives his life in blissful and selfish ignorance of the pain he has caused her. “A foolish son is the heaviness of his mother” (Prov 10:1)
There are daughters who have disregarded the wisdom of their fathers and neglect their council to their own suffering and long term pain and sorrow. Their fathers grief is never known to them.
There are fathers who have denied their children by giving them any time during their childhood years, and even less during the teen years when they are needed most. They do not teach their children as the scriptures instruct, but they provoke them willingly to anger.
There are husbands who have given themselves to two-dimensional images on screens rather than their wives. They are satisfied by the imagined caress of a stranger who has been herself taken advantage of by a media pimp, who profits through the disintegration of her virtue.
Lies are told by the husband to the wife when she asks why he pays no attention to her, and why he stays up so late at night.
“You’ve put on too much weight” he says
“I’m tired” he says
“I’ve got a lot of work to do” he says
And behind the scenes the family itself is falling apart.
Meals are all taken in private,
Son’s are failing in school,
Daughters are dating a new boy almost monthly and constantly worried about their appearance.
There are wives who have been shown many things they are missing out on. The Home with all the nice decorations and furnishings, the men who pay them romantic attention. They have witnessed these things in movies, and books and magazine covers….and they have strayed.
There was some attention given to them by a young man at work, a barista at her favourite Café, an uber driver, or waiting in a long line at a Checkout. One coffee led to another until thoughts of adultery excited the heart.
Soon, the sin is ignored.
Its guilt is attempted to be dealt with by some other means. Most often by misdirection.
Substance abuse nullifies the guilt
But none of these are “Deemed to Satisfy”.
Sin beloved, needs two things to deal with it permanently.
Either needs to be paid for or….forgiven.
Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
There is a provision in the law that is “Deemed to Satisfy”.
Jesus is our substitute and his death on the Cross is the greatest Witness of mercy toward you.
Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
His death on our behalf was “Deemed to Satisfy”, not only the Law of God, but the aching, guilt ridden heart .
The Greatest Witness of Love
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried
God is not compelled to forgive man for sin. (Job 35:6-7)
On the contrary, proverbs says “But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.” (Prov 8:36)
Jeremiah “19 Do they provoke me to anger? saith the LORD: do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces? (Jer 7:19)
Man did not just fall into sin, man is justly condemned for his sin and deserves the penalty for it.
God is under no obligation to forgive sin. There is no reason for him not to wipe the entire world away and begin again, He spoke this very thing to Moses about the people he chose for himself saying;
“ … How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them? 12 I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they.” (Num 14:11-12)
God is no respecter of persons, all are condemned with Satan for their wickedness.
There is only one motivator for the Lord, only one thing possibly could have moved him to be willing to die for the sin of mankind, to be buried and to suffer the penalty due for all of mankind;
It is love.
But it is not just any Love, it is a sacrificial love;
It can be represented in the love of a mother for her son. She is willing to take being dishonoured and rejected, being abused and used, being lied to and stolen from. Willing to be trodden down in the hope that one day her son may be lifted up.
It’s the same love a father has for his wayward daughter, one of patience when anger is deserved, one of quietness and comfort when yelling and scolding is warranted.
And It is a love that says “no” when the easiest option for a temporary bliss is to say ‘yes’.
This is the same love Christ offers, but more.
It is the wife who will patiently wait for the tender affections of a loveless husband.
It is the husband who will double his effort to show his straying wife the love and security she longs to receive, despite her adultery.
Beloved, the Greatest ever witness of Love is Jesus Christ death and burial and suffering of the penalty due for the sin of the world.
“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isa 53:5)
Speaking to his own disciples told them of how to now live and what to expect in time to come, and he said this;
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
Friends the Gospel is not complicated, it is simple.
Jesus is the Son of God, and God the son.
He came into the world to seek and to save that which is lost.
You and I were lost in trespass and sins, we were and many still are, dead in trespasses and sins. None shall escape the judgment of God, all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God.
But God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16)
Jesus lived the life we should have lived, and died the death we are all condemned to otherwise die.
He gave his life as the greatest exchange for our own, and if we are willing to accept the pardon offered to us, we are free.
The debt forever settled in the death of Christ.
The punishment ever paid, there is no double jeopardy, we cannot ever be convicted of sin again, all was paid for on the Cross by Christ.
There is Nothing you are to do, there is nothing you can do but believe the Gospel, believe that Jesus took the penalty that was due to you, on your behalf.
So simple its maddening, and the only question anyone might have is WHY?
A genuinely good question! Why would God be willing to do that?
It’s a question I had
It’s a question I still have, even more so as I see my own sin now as exceedingly sinful
Why would God do this for me when I know full well, I deserve the fullest penalty for my sin, why?
Can a child ever understand the love of a parent? No! Not until the child is grown and becomes a parent.
I know of many people who love their pets. People who have never had a child, can’t imagine having a love any greater than that which they have for a pet….until they have a child of their own. It is then that the love they had for their pet cannot even come close.
Only in this is it possible to understand the Love of God toward man. His patience, his longsuffering.
And even then, I am not sure we can comprehend the depth of that love.
The Bible says that God is “longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet 3:9)
There simply can be no greater witness of his love than his personal willingness to suffer and die for the sin of the world.
No person alive can comprehend how or what took place in the death of Christ and his experience, for the first time in eternity past, of feeling forsaken by the father.
Nevertheless, it was in this work that the greatest Witness of Love for you was expressed.
The Greatest Witness of Hope
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
The Greatest Witness of Hope is the resurrection of Christ.
If it was not for the resurrection of Christ, Christianity itself would not exist.
If it were not for the Resurrection of Christ, according to Paul, you would YET be in your sins and without hope of ever having your sin redeemed.
There would be no reconciliation, because there would be no proof that Life defeated the grave!
No evidence that Christ defeated death, no hope that Christ had accomplished the work and settled the debt owed the penalty of sin.
No Evidence that his death was ‘Deemed to Satisfy’ the requirements under the Law of God.
Turn to 1 Cor 15:12-19 and consider Pauls argument
12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
The conclusion is clear, if there is no resurrection of Christ, if there is no indication that God hath raised him from the dead, then there is no reconciliation unto life.
There is a reason why the disciples were so despondent when Jesus was crucified on the cross at Calvary. They believed him to be the promised Messiah of the scriptures. It was Jesus himself who said to the scribes and the Pharisees; “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (Jn 5:39)
So, it is reasonable for them to have been excited for the prospect that this is indeed the very messiah promised them.
After all, he perfectly fit the description of the messiah, he did the works that testified to the messiah,
The timing was perfect for the coming of the messiah as detailed to the very day in Daniel 9, and yet he was “smitten of God and afflicted” (Isa 53:4),
He was put on a cross between two thieves and buried in the tomb of a rich man, “he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death” (Isa 53:9).
They parted his garments among them, and they cast lots for his vesture (Ps 22:18).
It was testified by the disciple Matthew that out of Egypt, God had called his son (Hos 11:1).
It was known by the disciples also that from Bethlehem “shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2)
And they Rejoiced greatly, when they beheld, that “thy King cometh unto thee: he isjust, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass” (Zechariah 9:9)
They had seen that the “zeal of the Lord had eaten him up” (Psalm 89:9), as he overturned the tables of the money changes in the house of the Lord, crying out that this house was a house of prayer and not a den of thieves.
Surprised, I am sure the Pharisees were, when a goodly price was weighed for him, “thirty pieces of silver” and they “cast it unto the potter in the house of the Lord” the day Judas betrayed Christ for the price set 400 years earlier for him in Zechariah 11:12-13
Even though Christ was seen as the fulfilment of every prophecy concerning him, that he fulfilled those prophecies in detail, yet when the shepherd was smitten the sheep scattered (Zech 13:7).
Did you see what I did there? All these ancient texts quoted from the Old Testament, that Jesus Christ fulfilled so perfectly.
All of which testified as to who he is, and yet not one of them gave them any hope UNTILL;
RUNNING IN TO see the disciples were the women who went early to the sepulchre and had seen it empty, with angles testifying of the resurrection.
Lets look at the account first hand, as I bring this sermon to a close;
It is testified in Matthew, in Mark as well as in Lukes account
1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. 3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: 5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, 7Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. 8 And they remembered his words, 9 And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. (Lk 24:1-8)
It was this.
It was the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ that was evidence of the Greatest Witness of Hope, not only for the disciples, but for all the people of the world throughout history.
For “if Christ be not raised, you are yet in your sins”
“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Cor 15:20)
This is the hope that inspired two thousand years of preaching of hope.
This is the HOPE that inspires us NOW
This is the witness that gives life to all people,
- that the sting of death is lost,
- that the victory of the grave is no more,
- that men around the world have testified to the truth of a transformed life filled with joy and hope.
This is the witness, this is the witness, the resurrection of the Lord is the greatest witness of hope the world has ever seen.
Don’t be fooled into thinking this cannot be true, no man was ever willing to die for what they know to be a lie, so it is not reasonable to think that the disciples, who are said to have seen the risen Lord, would have given their life for a fable!
No man alive would be willing to die for what he knows is a lie.
Friend, I have laid out before you the greatest witness I am able to do in such a short time.
- I have laid out The Greatest witness of Judgment ever given, and that by the death of Christ.
- I have laid out for you The Greatest Witness of Mercy ever given, and that too by the substitutionary death of Christ.
- I have laid out for you The greatest Witness of the Love of Christ, for his personal willingness to die and be buried in death for the sake that you might live.
- And lastly I have laid out for you The Greatest Witness of Hope through the resurrection of Christ, as not only did he die and suffer the penalty of sin for us all, but he demonstrated victory, complete and full victory in conquering the grave.
The words of Paul are final when he said in this very same chapter we have considered;
“So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”(1 Cor 15:54-58)
For us, there is a good work yet to be done, a most pleasant work, a joyful work in telling all of the good news and hope that is laid before them.
For you who have heard the truth of the Gospel, hope is laid before you.
No religious effort will ever save you from the “handwriting of ordinances that was against us, and was contrary to us, but Jesus took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Col 2:14).
There is no work you can do that can pay for sin.
The book is thrown at you.
It is mercy alone that will save you, that can pardon you.
It is believing that Jesus Christ died for your sin, and in believing you will have life, everlasting life.
Guilt can only ever go away when it is forgiven!
Believe the Gospel