Resurrection—Christ the firstfruits
‘But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.’ 1 Corinthians 15:20
Suggested Further Reading: Romans 6:5–11
Why is it that the resurrection of Christ is of so much importance? Upon it we have said that the whole system of Christianity rests; for ‘if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain… ye are yet in your sins’ (1 Corinthians 15:14,17).
The divinity of Christ finds its surest proof in his resurrection, since the apostle tells us that Christ was ‘declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead’ (Romans 1:4).
It would not be unreasonable to doubt his deity if he had not risen. Moreover, Christ’s sovereignty also depends upon his resurrection, for Scripture affirms: ‘to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living’ (Romans 14:9).
Again, our justification, that choice blessing of the covenant, hangs upon Christ’s resurrection. He ‘was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification’ (Romans 4:25).
Our very regeneration depends upon his resurrection, for Peter, speaking by the Holy Spirit, exclaims, ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’ (1 Peter 1:3).
And most certainly our ultimate resurrection rests here; for ‘if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you’ (Romans 8:11).
If Christ be not risen, then we shall not rise; but if he be risen, then they who are asleep in Christ have not perished, but in their flesh shall surely behold their God.
A great emphasis was placed by the preachers of the early church upon the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ as well as upon his death (Acts 2:24,31–32; 3:15,26; 4:10,33; 5:30; 10:40–41; 13:30,33–34,37; 17:3,18,31; 26:23).
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Sermon no. 445
20 April (1862)
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