Of First Importance

Of First Importance

Sermon Notes

Key Thought: Paul the Apostle taught that the resurrection of Jesus, or the Gospel message, was of first importance in our faith. He also concluded that this teaching is what gives us hope of having life beyond this world. Many, however do not believe in this. What about you? Today Pastor Rusty will discuss why we can have confidence in the resurrection along with two key observations about this unique, historical event.

Consider This:

  • Question: So, why do some of these historians believe that the early disciples saw a vision of Jesus?
  • Answer: Because the evidence for that is overwhelming.
  • Question: But if they believe the early disciples saw something, why not believe in a bodily resurrection?
  • Answer: A priori

Key Concept: a pri·o·ri (adjective)

  • Relating to or denoting reasoning or knowledge which proceeds from theoretical deduction rather than from observation or experience.

Minimal Facts Regarding the Resurrection
Here is a list of facts that practically all historians (Christian and Non-Christian) find acceptable:

  • Jesus’ death and resurrection had multiple, independent sources (Josephus and Tacitus)
  • Jesus had powerful enemies that did not want to see him alive, and yet they failed to produce a corpse
  • Eyewitness testimony provided evidence
  • Early testimony among the early church, and the success of the church
  • The conversion of James, Jesus’ brother

What is the best way to account for these minimal facts?
Key Observations About the Resurrection from Scriptures

1. This resurrection of Jesus (and thus, the Gospel) is of first importance – 1st Corinthians 15:1, 3, 4

Here is a list of the various things discussed in Paul’s Letter

  • Church Unity
  • How to treat those outside of the faith
  • Payment for Pastor
  • Bringing a lawsuit against a fellow believer
  • Church discipline
  • Use of personal freedom
  • Sex outside of marriage
  • Spiritual gifts
  • Marriage and divorce

Question for Believers: What do you sometimes place in the top spot (with your time, attention, emotional energy) other than the Gospel message of Jesus?


2. The resurrection of Jesus is what give us hope in the afterlife – 1st Corinthians 15:14-19

  • If Christ has not been raised
    • Preaching is useless
    • So is our faith
    • The dead are not raised
    • You are still in your sins
    • Those who are asleep are lost

Questions for Skeptics:
What hope do you have of an afterlife if you deny the resurrection of Jesus?

Key Quote: 
Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important. – C. S. Lewis

Application:
Consider assisting with the Work Day
Consider Inviting

Discussion Questions

TALK IT OUT

  1. The Apostle Paul said Jesus’ resurrection (the Gospel) is of first importance to our faith. He concluded it gives us the hope of life beyond this world. Why is the resurrection so important to our faith?
  2. Pastor Rusty mentioned a debate between scholars about the resurrection. If you can, make the time to watch the debate between Dr. Bart Ehrman and Dr. William Craig Lane. Here is the link: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MW5_nJYSKyk) If you made the time to watch it, did the debate strengthen or weaken what you believe about the resurrection? Why?
  3. Pastor Rusty said several facts about the resurrection are agreed upon by many Christian and non-Christian historians: 1) Jesus’ death and resurrection are confirmed by historians who were not believers. 2) Jesus’ enemies didn’t want to see him alive, but failed to produce his body. 3) Many eyewitnesses said they saw Jesus alive after his death. 4) The success of the early church was based on Jesus’ resurrection. Which of these facts is most meaningful for your own faith in Christ?
  4. Paul makes the point in vs. 14 that if Jesus hasn’t been raised “our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” As if Paul’s point in vs. 14 isn’t strong enough, in vs. 17 he makes nearly the same point, “…if Christ has not been raised your faith is futile…” Why do you think Paul hangs the entire Christian faith on the resurrection?
  5. In vs.18 Paul says, if Christ hasn’t been raised we have no hope of life after death. Pastor Rusty poses this question for skeptics, “What hope do you have of an afterlife if you deny the resurrection of Jesus?” Could the fact that skepticism is growing in the US be one of the major reasons fewer and fewer people feel any hope?

LIVE IT OUT

  • Take a moment to write down what Jesus’ resurrection means to you.
  • C. S. Lewis wrote, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” Is your faith in Christ central in your life? What practical differences should the hope of the resurrection be making in your life?
  • Ask God to help you live with Him at the center of your life.
  • Make a list of friends who need the hope that comes from faith. Ask God to help you be alert for opportunities this month to share the hope of the resurrection with them.