IF CHRIST BE NOT RISEN........

Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 15: 1-31

Text verse:
1 Corinthians 15:14-15
And if Christ be not risen,
then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
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.

A young boy was standing, pondering over a painting depicting the crucifixion of Jesus
at an Art Gallery in one of the Museums in our beautiful land.
While he was standing deep in thought, examining the painting,
a man came and stood next to him and also gazed up at the painting.

The two struck up a conversation.
The young boy began to share with the man, his thoughts, about the crucifixion story.

But before I continue, lets read the Crucifixion story together:



Luke 23:38-49
And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew,
THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying,
If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
But the other answering rebuked him, saying,
Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds:
but this man hath done nothing amiss.
And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee,
To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth
until the ninth hour.
And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.
And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said,
Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.
Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying,
Certainly this was a righteous man.
And all the people that came together to that sight,
beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned.
And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee,
stood afar off, beholding these things.

The boy continued talking, pointing to those persons, captured on canvas by the artist,
who were witnesses to the crucifixion.

Look, there are the soldiers who crucified Him.
Look, at the crowd, notice how those in the forefront are beating their breasts.
Look, at the women standing in the background.
Did you know that they were the ones that made Jesusí ministry possible ? the boy said.
They, by sharing that which they possessed made it possible for Him to preach the Gospel in all Israel.

Luke 8:2-3
And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities,
Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,
And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herodís steward, and Susanna,
and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.

Just a thought:
You too can make it possible for the Gospel to be preached by sharing that which you possess
- by the giving of Tithes and Offerings.

A short while later, the man thanked the boy for sharing with him the story of the crucifixion and
began to walk away from the painting.

He had already walked some distance away from the painting, when he heard the footstep of
someone running behind him and a voice that called out:
Mister, Mister, I forgot to tell you something, I forgot to share with you the most important
news of all. He died on the cross but Heís not dead - Jesus rose from the dead after spending
three days in the grave - the grave is empty - He lives !

Friend, this what the Apostle Paul is telling us in our Bible reading
- Jesus arose from the dead - He lives.
Paul says further, that if Jesus did not rise from the dead then all our preaching is in vain.
If Jesus did not rise from the dead then the Apostles and Disciples of Jesus were false witnesses !

Paul tells the Church at Corinth that Jesus had appeared to His Disciples after His resurrection
and after that, HE was seen by about five hundred brethren all at once; of whom the greater
part he adds remain unto this present time, but some are fallen asleep.

It was as if Paul was saying:
If you do not believe me - ask any of the other 500, who can also testify to the great fact that
Jesus rose from the dead.

One of the Disciples however had doubted when he was told the news that
Jesus had risen from the dead.
The Disciple - Thomas !

John 20: 24 - 25
But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
The other disciples therefore were saying to him, We have seen the Lord !
But he said to them, Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails,
and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my
hand into His side, I will not believe.

Doubting Thomas, how quick we are to criticize Thomas, but have you thought of the fact that
Thomas was not prepared just to accept something that he was told.
No, he wanted proof - he want to make sure of the facts - he wanted to make sure of his faith.
Thomas became certain by doubting.
His faith became great, intense, and convincing.
He paid the ultimate price for his faith,
it is said that he was commissioned to build a palace for the King of India,
and he was killed with a spear (lance) as a martyr for his Lord.

Remember, the First Christian Martyr ?
Stephen, do you know why they stoned him to death ?

Listen to the words of Scripture:
Acts 7:55-57
But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven,
and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord.

Acts 7:59-60
And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice,
Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.
And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Both Thomas and Stephen paid the ultimate price because they believed and proclaimed
that Jesus had risen from the dead.

With the exception of the Apostle John, who continued to preach that Jesus had risen from the
dead, until his death at a ripe old age,
all the Disciples who had followed Jesus and were witnesses to his resurrection, suffered martyrsí deaths.

Matthew was slain in Ethiopia.
Mark was dragged to death behind horses.
Luke was hanged.
Peter and Simeon were crucified,
Peter being crucified upside down because he said that he was unworthy to die as Jesus had died.
Andrew was tied to an X-shaped cross until he died.
James was beheaded.
Philip was crucified and stoned.
Bartholomew was flayed with knives to death.
James the Lesser was hurled from a pinnacle of the Temple and his body sawed in pieces.
Matthias was stoned.
Jude was killed with arrows at Ararat.
Paul was beheaded.

But listen to what all happened to Paul while he travelled the Roman Empire proclaiming the
Good News of the resurrection of Jesus.

2 Corinthians 11:24-27
Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned,
thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers,
in perils by mine own countrymen,
in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city,
in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea,
in perils among false brethren;
In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst,
in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

And now I what to remind you of the words of Paul in our Text verse:

1 Corinthians 15:14-15
And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
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.

Paul was prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for his faith
- The Disciples were prepared to pay the ultimate price for their faith.
Why ?
Because they knew - they believed - that Jesus indeed rose from the dead.
Would you die such a cruel death, if you knew it was all a hoax and a lie ?
I think not !

They knew the truth, and they wanted everyone else to also know the truth
- namely -
that Jesus had risen from the dead !

Do you really believe that they would all be prepared to die such cruel deaths for a lie ?
Their actions and their deaths are sure proof that Jesus indeed rose from the death.

They believed that Jesus indeed rose from the dead and they remembered His words to Thomas:

John 14:6
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life:
no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

They were prepared to be faithful to HIM unto death.
Stephen had no doubt that his Saviour lived and just before they stoned Him he said:

Acts 7:55-57
But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven,
and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord.

The cruel deaths of the Disciples of Jesus are sure proof that Jesus indeed rose from the dead and
that the message of HIS Disciples
- namely -
that Jesus is the Messiah - the Saviour of the World - the SON of GOD
is the TRUTH !

Friend, and now I need to ask you:
Where will you spend eternity ?
Death awaits us.

Hebrews 9:27

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.

But remember Jesus conquered death.
He rose from the dead.
And Jesus said:

John 14:6
Jesus saith unto him,
I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

The message -the lives and the deaths- of the disciples testify and prove that
Jesus is the only hope for us in that day - the day of our death !.

He alone conquered that cruel enemy death.
And He alone can help you in that day when you face the cruel enemy of death.
Therefore, I ask for the final time:
Have you put your trust in Him
- JESUS -
the only One that can lead you to the Heavenly Father ?

Are you walking in HIS way ?

AMEN

Pastor CSJ Claassen
PO Box 99
Welkom
9460 SOUTH AFRICA

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