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First Importance

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Sermon Preached at Grace Community Church (EPC)
Sun City Grand, Surprise, AZ
Sunday, August 12, 2018
by Elder Steve Jones

“First Importance”
1 Corinthians 15:1-4

What an exciting time to live because, if my friends from H.S. could see me at this pulpit they could definitely believe the 2nd coming is not far away. I First became interested in the Bible from my friend Ron, who told me about Bible prophecy. Then my mother and father-in-law gave me a “Good News” Bible (with pictures) and a gospel glove. Next in about 1976 at my mother’s Home Bible Study I met Marilyn Dale, my first real Bible teacher, (not that there weren’t others, but it takes a teachable learner to understand it.)

So when she was teaching about being in fellowship with God by being filled with the Holy Spirit and Faith - Rest, which means exploring and believing all the amazing Promises of God.

That started my never ending search to study the Bible.

How many times do we hear and see the word “gospel” meaning - good news, and many times it is assumed everyone knows what it is. Well what is it? What is the gospel? Let’s explore exactly the words of the infinite God explaining to finite man what the gospel is.
And only the Holy Spirit can make it real to anyone.
Here is a question for you. 
Can God say what He means and mean what He says? Absolutely!
The Bible, every year, is by far the best selling and most read book.

Remember how John the Baptist introduced our Lord Jesus Christ?
“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!..." Jn.1:29

Then later, God supernaturally chooses Paul to clarify how things are now - after the cross, burial, ressurrection and ascension.

One of the neat things about this church is the invitation printed on every bulletin right above this scripture for today.

Here is where it comes from.

** 1 Cor. 15:1 "Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, → [and here it is:] that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,"

Notice first importance - not only important but of 1st importance.

That is why I made a little card with this scripture.

Sylvia just asked me for some cards to pass out along her journey to New York City. Let's pray the Lord gives her success and His Word always goes out in power and does not come back void. Or you can cut it out of the bulletin like I used to do before I made the cards. A pen works too to write 1st Cor. 15 in an airplane magazine and your voice to an annoying caller, but don’t be annoyed, politely say I don’t do business over the phone, but if you want to see the most important words ever written look at 1st Cor.15.

So, Saved? Saved from what one may ask? Jesus tells us in Mat. 25:41 “Then He [the king at His 2nd coming] will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; Rev. 20:11-14 - describes the great white throne judgment and the Lake of fire.

The tragic fires in CA and the Hawaiian volcanoes are a vivid picture, but probably do not even come close to the real thing. One of the firemen called the “the holy fire” “the holy hellfire”

And remember Jesus’ words in Mt. 7 about the broad way and the narrow way and the many and the few. Many are on the Highway to Hell and don’t know it, but a few take the exit to the narrow road.

Just a few? Only a few the same as always. Only a remnant

Now the 1st phrase of the gospel: Christ died for our sins - Ps. 22 describes the anguish of the cross, then finally our Lord Jesus Christ announced - it is finished - the blood of the lamb of God was shed, and applied through the ripped veil in the temple going into the holy of holies to the mercy seat on top of the ark of God.

AMAZING LOVE… Hallelujah! What a Savior.

Romans chapters 1-3 explains the dilemma, 1st for the immoral man, then the moral man & finally the religious man. And of course, he is talking to mankind both men and women. The conclusion is in Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God - So we are all natural born sinners in need of a Savior.

Next He was Buried - God even arranged to have his enemies guard His tomb. For further proof it happened.

Then He was Raised on the third day - according to the scriptures (Old Testament was all they had at the time).

But 1 Cor. 15 continues on to record all the eyewitnesses of whom most were still alive at the time Paul wrote 1 Cor. and then verse 50 and following tells about how our own resurrection will happen, another mystery hidden until it was revealed to Paul.

Where did the gospel come from?
The revelation of Jesus Christ.

*Gal.1:11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

Read Gal. chaps. 1-2 and Acts 15. These chapters describe the most important meeting at the head church in Jerusalem to make the gospel crystal clear and deciding that gentiles do not need to be circumcised and follow the Jewish law in order to be saved.

Why get it right? He will judge everyone by my gospel, according to Rom. 2:16

Some more scriptures that give additional insight are these:

*2 Cor. 5:20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. [verse] 21 He [God the Father] made Him [God the Son] who knew no sin to be sin [the sin bearer] on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

How incredible that the Lord Jesus Christ, the perfect sinless Almighty God became a perfect sinless man so He could die to bear my sins so that BY Faith in Him, I receive His own Righteousness to be able to live forever with Him.

*Eph. 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. (no bragging in heaven)

*Phil. 3:9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,

*Heb. 11:6 tells us -  And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Heb. 11 gives examples of faith and no faith 4 By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous.

Cain had no faith and wanted to come to God his own way with a beautiful bouquet instead of a bloody lamb.

Everyone must come to God the way He prescribes.

Jesus said in John 14:6 I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except through Me.

Gen. 15:6 states simply: Abraham believed God and God counted it to him for Righteousness.

Also quoted 3X in the New Testament as an example of faith.

All religions are do this or that, or don’t do this or that, compared to Christianity declaring it is done, it is finished, believe God. - Jesus paid it all...

Now you know. It is a gift by grace alone, to be received by faith alone, in Christ alone.

Do you believe God? I hope you do.

Tell Him thanks and pass it on joyfully with a pleasant smile.

Pray 1st, for the right words at the right time, use His Word, The Word of God, in the power of the Spirit and leave it up to God.

He only asks us to pass it on. God alone can make it real to anyone.

When my wife Carol, and I go to a real estate closing for our business, I explain that the transaction is between you and them. Not me, I am only the notary to certify your signature. They may sometimes comment oh, so you are just the paper boy or oh, you are just the messenger. To which I reply you are right.

And that can be compared with how we pass on the gospel. I am only the paperboy. I am only the messenger.

This is so much easier in our free country to pass it on, compared to just about any other place in the world.

Like Turkey where Pastor Brunson may be released soon. Where in many places they do shoot or torture the messenger. This book “extreme devotion” a homework assignment from Pastor Gates, explains what others go through in Communist or Islamic regimes. Page 220 ...

...  And finally -

*Romans 16:25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began 26 but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith— 27 to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.

Grace Community Church