1 Corinthians 15 ‘Now I make known unto you, brethren, the gospel which I preached.’
This Week’s Focus Passage: 1 Corinthians 15
‘Now I make known unto you, brethren, the gospel which I preached.’
The apostle John has taught us, in the third chapter of his gospel account, where he has written in verses fourteen and fifteen, and saying there, these very solemn words of eternal life;
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth may in him have eternal life.
The Son of man, Jesus Christ Himself, who John has just pronounced earlier, in his first chapter, to be the Word, when that marvelous and blessed truth was revealed:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.
He declares shortly thereafter, in that marvelous fourteenth verse of chapter one, how that this Word became Immanuel, God with us, as John explains:
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth.
The Word became flesh, the Son of God, became also the Son of man, in order to accomplish the redemption of man, through His own blood, yes, the very blood of the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world. This is the very One of whom Jesus spoke, when saying, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.—Jn. 3:14.
In preaching on that particular verse regarding the comparison of Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness, with the Son of man being lifted up, the point was made, by the speaker, that this was a gospel picture, or a type, wherein the Son was, indeed, lifted up on that Roman cross, to die the death due unto His people. Their sins were laid upon Him. This is that which was prophesied long before by the prophet, Isaiah, in his well-known fifty-third chapter. Specifically, in the sixth verse, it was foretold of the Servant of Jehovah, that:
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and Jehovah hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Our iniquity was laid upon the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, in order that He might take it away, being our Satisfaction, our vicarious Substitute, in our place:
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
These truths are not easy to receive, and believe; that He was grieved; that He was made sorrowful; that He was stricken, that He was smitten, and that of God, His Father. He was wounded; He was bruised. He was chastised for our peace; in other words, what He suffered resulted in our having peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, as Paul has taught (Romans 5:1). But, ‘smitten of His Father,’ how is that to be received and believed? This is precisely that which was taught also by Peter in his sermon to the gathered people on the day of Pentecost, as he spoke those startling words, that while they ‘by the hand of lawless men did crucify and slay,’ it was all supervised by God Himself. He was ‘delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God,’ the apostle stated unequivocally to his auditory.
This that was foretold by Isaiah, was communicated through Moses, in the typology of the circumstances of Numbers, chapter twenty-one. The account given there informs the reader about the murmuring of the people of Israel, once again complaining to Moses because, they said, ‘there is no bread, and there is no water.’ This repetition of their inclination to murmur, which was not against Moses, but really against Jehovah. This they admitted when they told Moses, ‘We have sinned, because we have spoken against Jehovah.’ Because of their sin of murmuring, God had sent among them ‘fiery serpents,’ which bit the people, and much people died.’ They, then, pleaded with Moses that he would pray to God for the people, which he did, and upon which, he received the following response from Jehovah:
And Jehovah said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a standard: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he seeth it, shall live.—Numbers 21:8.
This was the remedy for this sin, provided by Jehovah, for His people. That which was required of them, was simply to look upon the serpent on the standard, ‘and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he looked unto the serpent of brass, he lived.’ This was that reference Christ was making, in John 3:14. And when Jesus compared it to His own being lifted up, that whosoever believeth may in Him have eternal life,’ was clear and simple. Look upon Jesus Christ, crucified for the sins of His people; look unto Him in faith, as the only true Savior of lost sinners. We may read of this beautiful reality, also, in Isaiah 45:22. This happens to be the verse a lay preacher, as Spurgeon referred to him, who, according to C. H. S, was attempting to preach on this verse, since the regular pastor had been prevented from being among them, because of a harsh winter storm. Spurgeon, who had been forced to seek refuge in this little Primitive Methodist chapel, has told the tale of his conversion through this word declared by this man. The old gentleman, not being a very able preacher, was forced thereby, to repeat his text frequently. His text was;
There is no God else beside me, a just God and a Savior; there is none besides me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else.
This old gentleman looked directly at Spurgeon, sitting under the gallery, and said unto him, ‘Young man, you look miserable! Look, young man, unto Jesus Christ, and be saved.’ Spurgeon exited that little chapel, still a sinner, but a saved sinner through the regenerating power of God the Holy Spirit, using that Word out of Isaiah.
And this is what Paul expresses in our text this week, as being the gospel which he preached unto them. But the point to be made, and received, is the point that the apostle made over and again. For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: Paul insisted, that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day, and once again, with this caveat, it was according to the Scriptures. This is truly the gospel of Jesus Christ. And that is not to say, that John 3:16 is not relevant to the salvation of the children of God. Surely it is, but it is not ‘the gospel in a nutshell,’ as some insist upon saying. We may, more accurately, say that Paul’s message, here in 1 Corinthians 15, is the gospel in a nutshell, if we must insist upon saying that. Then what are we to say of John 3:16, when we read those wonderful words?
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.
This has followed immediately upon Christ Jesus’ making His glorious statement of comparison between the serpent in the wilderness being lifted up so that whoever was bitten (by the knowledge of their sinnerhood), should look upon Him, would be saved; would have eternal life. The gospel; ‘Look unto me, and be ye saved.’ John 3:16, then, gives us the reason for the gracious gospel of salvation through the blood of the Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world. The reason for the gospel is, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.
Jesus’ unsurpassable love for His people that He would, and did, submit, to being raised up, and slain, on a Roman cross, so that all who would look upon Him in faith, would be saved; alongside the equally unsurpassable love of the Father, that He so loved us, that He gave Him to us, to be our Savior, our Mediator, our Lord.
David Farmer, elder
Fellowship Bible Church
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