Know WHAT You Believe
I CORINTHIANS 15:1-11
This past weekend I started a new teaching series entitled, “The Creed.” For the three weeks leading up to Easter we’ll be talking about what we believe and why we believe it. Using I Corinthians 15 as a guide map, I’m leading our church through the historical and orthodox Christian truth, as taught by Jesus and the Apostles.
So what is a creed and why is it so important? The dictionary says a creed is a “system of beliefs, a faith, an ideology, a credo, tenets, dogma.” Two of the earliest and most well-known Christian creeds are the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed. Like an ancient water cistern that captured water in geographic landscapes where water was scarce, an ancient creed captured and collected truth. Creeds were/are truth basins. And before the Bible, these ancient creeds were recited, sung, and celebrated in gatherings of early believers.
Creeds were invaluable in establishing truth and fighting off untruth. The Apostle Paul brings this idea to bear in 1 Corinthians 15:1-2, where he reminds the first Christians to “take your stand” and “hold firmly” to the truth.
Today, we too need to “take our stand” and “hold firmly” to historical orthodox Christianity. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 is considered by scholars to be one of the most ancient Christian Creeds: For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”
What We Believe: 5 Words Say It All
The essence of the Gospel and the core of the Christian faith can be summed up in 5 words: (as found in 1 Corinthians 15:3) “Christ died for our sins.”
- CHRIST – Jesus Christ was fully man and fully God. His virgin birth, sinless life, sacrificial death, glorious resurrection, and soon coming are all beloved truths of Christianity. (Colossians 1:9; Philippians 2:6-11; Galatians 4:4)
- DIED – Jesus didn’t just swoon or pass out… He died. He was dead for three days – but then He rose from death to life! God had to die for our sins to pay the price of redemption. Only God could do it, and He did it in Christ. (1 Peter 3:18; 1 John 2:2; John 19:30)
- FOR – God’s holiness requires punishment for sin and disobedience. We are guilty, but Christ came and took our place. He took the punishment for us and died the death that we deserved. (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21)
- OUR – He died for you and me. He came to die for everyone, whether they be an atheist or a puritan. All one needs to do is believe in Him. He loves you and came to die – for you. And now, He is preparing a special place for you. (John 3:16; 1 John 3:16)
- SINS – No man is perfect. Our sin separates us from God. Only Jesus is perfect and His death and resurrection provides us a way back to God. (Isaiah 59:2; Colossians 2:13-14; Romans Road – Rom 3:23; Rom 5:8; Rom 6:23; Rom 8:1; Rom 10:9).
What We Believe: Hope
1 Corinthians 15:4-8, “that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
Jesus Christ died and was buried… but He didn’t stay there! On the third day, Christ rose from the dead. He then proceeded to make several post-resurrection appearances, appearing to people from Mary Magdalene (John 20:10-18), 10 apostles and others (John 10:19-23), to James (1 Corinthians 15), to 500 people (1 Corinthians 15), and many more.
We have hope because He rose again! And because He rose again, we too will rise.
What We Believe: Grace & Peace
1 Corinthians 15:9-11, “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve 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 to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.”
Paul is Exhibit A of a changed life story. He went from hating Christ and killing Christians to loving Christ and being Christ’s ambassador – all because of Jesus. Paul’s life shows us how committing our lives to Jesus will change us. It will transform us, and because of God’s grace we can find peace.
Know What You Believe
If we’re not anchored in truth we can be led astray. We need to anchor deep in God’s Word and take our stand on truth. There is no better time than right now to decide what you believe and why you believe it.