What We Believe Gary D. Robinson January 1, 2006 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 In the movie “Serenity,” a dying pastor tells his unbelieving friend, “I don’t care what you believe, just believe!” That’s a strange thing for a Christian pastor to say! Is the substance of our faith less important than the strength of our faith? Not according to the apostle Paul! 15:1-4. This is what we believe – in a word, the Gospel. The Gospel is the announcement that God has acted, as He promised that He would, to rescue the world from sin and death. We may boil the Gospel down to three facts, two stark and one thrilling: Jesus died, Jesus was buried, and Jesus rose again. Christian faith isn’t faith in some nebulous notion of God. Still less is it faith in “faith.” Christian faith has shape and weight – the rough shape of crossed timbers, the weight of a bloody, beaten man hanging from them. Christian faith has substance. It’s heavy, like the rock that rolled from the entrance to Jesus’ tomb. Alexander Campbell defined faith as “belief in testimony.” We are gathered here today because we believe the eyewitness testimony of the apostles: “God raised Him up.” 5-8 This is why we believe it. Like a defense attorney, Paul calls his witnesses of the risen Jesus. He mentions Peter, James the brother of Jesus, also an unspecified group of 500 eyewitnesses. At the time Paul wrote, a few of this latter group had died, but most were still alive. In essence Paul says, “If you don’t believe me, go and ask them!” Why should we believe them? Perhaps they were deluded or lying. In Kingdoms in Conflict, Charles Colson writes, “In my Watergate experience I saw the inability of men – powerful, highly motivated professionals – to hold together a conspiracy based on a lie . . . The actual cover-up lasted less than a month. Yet Christ’s powerless followers maintained to their grim deaths by execution that they had in fact seen Jesus Christ raised from the dead.” Colson quite logically concludes that people don’t give up their comfort, still less their lives, for what they know to be a lie. T he evidence for Christ’s resurrection is solid, but a question may remain: So He rose from the dead? So what? 9-11 This is what difference it makes. The resurrection of Jesus makes grace effective in our lives. What’s “grace”? Grace is the surprising favor God shows to those who don’t deserve it. Case in point: Paul, formerly known as Saul. Here was a man who once believed he had God in his hip pocket. He actually believed He was doing God a favor by killing believers in Jesus. But God surprised this “terminator” with His marvelous grace. In Paul’s own words, “Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief” (1 Timothy 1:13). As Paul writes in our text God’s grace to him “was not without effect.” Not only did God pardon Paul, he changed his life. Grace became the rope Paul used to tie the ends of an empire to the cross. Grace was the springboard from which he dove into humanity, making a splash we will sing about for a million years. The Gospel gave Paul a new purpose and a new hope. It will do the same for us. There are people sitting here whom, to use Lincoln’s words, “the world will little note nor long remember.” They’re not celebrities. You won’t find them in “Who’s Who,” but they’re heroes nonetheless. I look up to them; I depend on them. They’re humble people, keenly aware of their sins and shortcomings. Yet they’re just as sensitive to the presence of the risen Jesus in their lives. They live for Him. His grace has been made them more effective – more powerful – than they realize. The cross of Christ is the door to a changed life. The resurrection of Christ is the key that unlocks that door. But only faith – informed and substantive – will take us across the threshold. Contrary to the pastor I mentioned at the beginning, it matters a great deal to me what you believe. Believe in the Lord Jesus! _________________ Sermon brief provided by: Gary Robinson, Preaching Minister at Conneautville (PA) Church of Christ. Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.