“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” I Corinthians 15:3-4
For several years I pastored in the Detroit area where within one mile of each other there were three Baptist Churches. On I-75 south at the 10 mile exit was Calvary Baptist Church; at 9½ mile was First Baptist Church; and at the 9 mile exit was Tabernacle Baptist Church. The Calvary Baptist Church for 35 years was pastored by Dr. David Allen, noted pastor and Bible conference speaker; the First Baptist Church was pastored for 30 years by Rev. Bill Bach; and I was the new kid on the block, just having come to the Tabernacle as a rather young pastor. When we would get together they would call me the “Rookie Rector!”
Each of the churches would have summer daily vacation Bible schools and many children of the community would go to all of them, including mine. Calvary Baptist Church had an active bus ministry so they would reach out into surrounding communities to pick children up. At the very front of their auditorium was a large sign that read, “Christ Died for our Sins!” On one particular day, sitting in front of our children, were some kids, who upon arriving and seeing the sign, shouted, “We been here before – Christ died for our sins!” Our family still chuckles about that when we reminisce the past.
Actually this particular text is a powerful acclamation of the Gospel. In fact, it is the Gospel in a nutshell: “Christ died, was buried and rose again on the third day.” Paul was saying, when I speak to you, when I preach to you, the first thing I want to say is, “Christ died…He was buried….He rose again…according to the Scriptures!” Now I don’t know for sure if this was the preface of every sermon he preached, but it certainly was a good one. This was his platform for it had been delivered to him and as a result he received it and had a passion to deliver it without fear. The Gospel changed his life and he wanted it to change others! Maybe there is something here for us to think about who are pastors, missionaries or any carriers of the Truth. Regardless if our message is to the unbeliever or believer, first of all, we proclaim that Jesus died, He was buried and He rose again, according to the Scriptures! That would let everyone know right up front exactly where we stand regarding the Gospel and the Scriptures. We all have heard some preachers where we couldn’t quite be sure what they believed or where they stood biblically.
This phrase, “Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures,” carries a four-fold reality. First, it is a proven fact: Christ died; second, a personal focus: our sins; third, a powerful force: He was buried and rose again; fourth, a prophetical foresight: according to the Scriptures! This truth has stood the test of time against ancient critics and modern skeptics. Not to be too repetitive, but the Gospel is a person – Christ! It is personal – died for our sins! It is prophetic – according to the Scriptures!
It intrigues me that Paul said, “according to the Scriptures” twice in our text. First, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried and rose again according to the Scriptures. I believe that Paul was confirming the divine inspiration of the Old Testament where time and again we have prophecies of Christ that have been fulfilled in the New Testament. As someone once rightfully said, “the New Testament has its life-giving roots in the inspiration of the Old testament.”
When I was nearly twenty years old and a ministerial student, one summer while living at home I was invited to speak in a little country church where the flock had quit coming mornings to listen to their itinerant preacher because of liberalism in the denomination. Honestly, I was excited to preach but hardly knew anything having been a believer less than four years. I preached what I had been studying. My first message was on baptism by immersion and second on eternity security. Only later did I know this denomination didn’t believe either one! But they were hungry for the Word and asked if I would continue preaching even after I went back to school. The Lord provided a car and during our engagement year my future wife and I drove 160 miles round-trip every Sunday to preach the Word from both the Old and New Testaments. They even bought me snow tires so I could make it through the wintry country roads.
In my youthful inquisitive mind I never questioned the Scriptures! Only one who knew the future centuries ahead could also destine the future, and that could only be God! If only one word of Scripture was inspired, every word had to be inspired. J. Sidlow Baxter, in his devotional, Awake My Heart, states that, “The Old Testament and the New Testament are necessary to each other. The inspiration of the Old authenticates the revelation of the New; and the fulfillments which we find in the New prove the inspiration of the Old.”
Christ died for our sins! I certainly hope that those little bus kids at Calvary Baptist Church daily vacation Bible school recognized not only that big sign in front of the church auditorium but also the Christ who could save them from their sins. The Bible is the only book that can fulfill such a promise.