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Monday, January 2, 2017, 10:07 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Tell Me the Story of Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (NASB).

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit 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 toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Creation and Creator

The One True God is a triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – three distinct persons in one God. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, existed with God from the beginning. He was with God and he was God. Through him all things were created (See: Matt. 28:18-20; Gen. 1:26; Jn. 1:1-34).

From what I understand, before God created the earth, and humans to live on the earth, he created angels, who are “ministering spirits sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation” (Heb. 1:13-14). One of these angels, Lucifer, decided he wanted to be God, and so he rebelled against God, along with a third of the angels in heaven. So, he was cast out of heaven and down to the earth (See: Is. 14:12; Lu. 10:18; Rev. 9:1; 12:3-9). Lucifer is also called by the names “the devil” and “Satan.”

When God created man and woman, he created them in his own image, and they lived in the Garden of Eden, where they were without sin. God gave them rule over all the earth, and he gave them everything to freely enjoy, except he commanded them not to eat of just one tree. Then Satan, who was in the form of a snake, tempted Eve (the woman) to eat of the tree, so she ate and sinned against God. Then she gave Adam (her husband), who was with her, the fruit of the tree, and he ate and sinned against God, as well. Then God cursed the serpent, Eve, Adam and the earth, and he removed Adam and Eve from the garden (Gen. 1:26-3:24). Because of Adam’s sin, all humans have been born into sin and fall short of attaining God’s divine approval (See: Ro. 3:23; 5:12-19; 1 Co. 15:21-22, 42-49).

God’s Divine Plan

Yet, God had a plan all along for how he was going to restore humans to himself and to save them from their sins (See: Gen. 3:15). God the Father sent Jesus, the Son, to the earth to be born as a baby to a human mother with God as the father – “the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 1:20). So, when Jesus walked the face of this earth he was fully God yet fully man, and without sin, although he was tempted to sin in much the same ways we are. Even though Jesus was God, he “did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant… he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross” (See: Phil. 2:1-11).

When Jesus was on this earth he healed the sick and afflicted, raised the dead, cast out demons, comforted the sorrowful and preached repentance for forgiveness of sins. He did not conform to the ways of the religious leaders in the Jewish temple, so they hated him. They were also jealous of him and his popularity among the people and they feared that their own positions of power over the people might be in jeopardy. They also didn’t like it that he healed people on the Sabbath, that he claimed to be God, who he was, and that he confronted them with their sins of wickedness and hypocrisy. So, they arranged to have him put to death on a cross.

“For our sake he” (God the Father) “made him” (Jesus Christ) “to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Co. 5:21). Basically, when Jesus died, our sins died and were buried with him. Then, he was resurrected from the dead, at which time he rose victorious over hell, Satan, sin and death. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us. And, he died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Ro. 8:1-14).

We Must Believe

This was God’s plan to save us from our sins and to restore us to a right relationship with Almighty God. Yet, not all are saved. We must believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives if we want to be saved from sin and have eternal life with God in heaven. So, how do we do that? Well, first of all God the Father must draw us to faith in Jesus Christ, and then his grace gives us the faith to believe, but we must still appropriate that to our lives. In other words, we are not puppets on a string. We must each individually accept God’s invitation to his great salvation by the faith he gives us. So, what does that faith look like?

Well, the Bible teaches us that coming to Christ means we forsake our former way of living (for sin and self), that we are transformed of the Spirit of God in heart and mind, and that we are given new lives in Christ to be lived to his righteousness (Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; Gal. 2:20). This is called repentance. Basically, we were going one direction, and now we turn, and we go the opposite direction, all in the power and working of the Spirit of God within us, and not in our own flesh. Saul’s (Paul’s) commission by Jesus says it well:

“I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me” (See: Acts 26:16-18).

Jesus didn’t go through that painful death on a cross just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He died to transform our lives out of darkness into his wonderful light. He said that if we would come after him we must deny self, take up our cross daily, and follow him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25; cf. Ro. 8:1-14). When we come to faith in Christ we die to sin, so how can we live in it any longer? “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves of righteousness.” (See: Ro. 6:1-23)

Now, going back to the beginning of 1 Corinthians 15, we are reminded here that by this gospel we are saved, if we hold firmly to the word preached to us (by Jesus and his NT apostles, in our case). To hold firmly means to embrace, to grasp, and to follow the teaching of the gospel, and to do so steadfastly and resolutely. In other words, if we say we have fellowship with God but we walk in darkness, we are liars (1 Jn. 1:6). If we walk according to the flesh, we will die (in our sins), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (with Christ for eternity). It is not enough to just say we believe. We need to live (in lifestyle) like we say we believe. If Jesus died to free us from slavery to sin, then we should no longer be enslaved to sin, but we should be servants of his righteousness.

Tell Me the Story of Jesus / Fanny J. Crosby / John R. Sweney

Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.
Tell how the angels in chorus,
Sang as they welcomed His birth,
“Glory to God in the highest!
Peace and good tidings to earth.”

Fasting alone in the desert,
Tell of the days that are past,
How for our sins He was tempted,
Yet was triumphant at last.
Tell of the years of His labor,
Tell of the sorrow He bore;
He was despised and afflicted,
Homeless, rejected and poor.

Tell of the cross where they nailed Him,
Writhing in anguish and pain;
Tell of the grave where they laid Him,
Tell how He liveth again.
Love in that story so tender,
Clearer than ever I see;
Stay, let me weep while you whisper,
“Love paid the ransom for me.”

Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.