I WANT TO REMIND YOU OF THE GOSPEL
1 Corinthians 15
This time of year is fascinating. Spirituality and faith are being talked about everywhere not just in church ...
Even the news acknowledges faith.
Two years ago, it was the Passion of the Christ.
Signs of spirituality abound without the level of commercialism that we see at Christmas.
And one may encounter spirituality and faith in the strangest of places my boys were watching Nickelodeon and an icon appeared during one of their shows that said Happy Passover. Happy Passover from Spongebob Squarepants! Thats what is fascinating about this season.
It was controversial.
Now the spirit of the culture has become one of spiritual suspicion and secrecy. What if everything we have been taught is a lie? What if the gospel we always took for granted is not the truth? What if the story of Jesus was very different from what we have always known ...
It was transforming. People left theaters silent, sobbing, and some of them changed!
If the trend two years ago was to be passionate about our beliefs, the trend now is quite different ...
No one has captured this spirit within the popular culture as well as Dan Brown in The DaVinci Code. The movie is to be out in May and it will be better than the book. It may disturb or upset some that the premise of the The DaVinci Code is all the talk during the season of celebrating Christs resurrection, because The DaVinci Code suggests that something very different happened with Jesus.
These ideas did not originate with Dan Brown. Two other popular books, not claiming to be fiction like The DaVinci Code, claim that the Jesus of history is not the Jesus we thought we knew.
But none of this is new. You may have noticed the news this week that another secret document has been released to the public: "The Gospel of Judas." The Gospel of Judas has been around since the second century. It, too, claims that the Jesus we thought we knew is not the true Jesus and even more so, Judas was someone different.
The Jesus Seminar has been doing this for years claiming that only a small percentage of the gospels are authentic and the part with the resurrection does not make the cut. (But the Jesus Seminar is a bunch of boring scholars. Ron Howard and Dan Brown have Tom Hanks in their corner! No wonder it is so popular!)
- Jesus Dynasty, James Tabor
- Jesus Papers claim of secret documents that show Jesus survived the cross and raised a family.
And ever since the Gospel of Judas and even before there have been other Gospels. There have been other claims about Jesus. That he wasnt really human, that he wasnt really divine.
The common denominator between the Da Vinci Code, the Jesus Papers, the Jesus Dynasty, the Jesus Seminar, and the Gospel of Judas is that they have no place for the Resurrection. It isn't as important or it never happened.
At worst it is a lie (a con One of the clues in DaVinci Code is So dark the Con of Man.).
So what if? What if it isnt true? What if the Code, the Papers, the Seminar, and Judas and the Gnostics are all correct?
Perhaps we might say that even if it isnt true, then this Christian life is still the best life. Perhaps we might say that we would still follow Jesus anyway because Christianity is still the best way to live just on moral and ethical grounds.
We might say that ... but a word of advice: Dont let the apostle Paul hear you say that! He gets rather testy when people say that ...
At best, the dominant tradition made a wrong turn and bought into those who had an agenda with the resurrection (when we should have bought into one of these other branches of Christianity because they of course had no such agenda).
And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless ...
You see, Paul and lot of the people he knew risked everything to follow a RISEN Christ. Paul took all the things he had built up for himself in this world to gain prestige, wisdom, and security and tossed it into the dumpster because he encountered a RISEN Christ.
Dont tell Paul that it would be better even if it werent true. Dont tell Paul that this is the safest bet.
If it isnt true if Christ isnt RISEN then people ought to feel sorry for us and recognize us as a bunch of losers! Why? Because we have been duped by a big fat lie!
But the fact is that Christ has been raised from the dead!
This is why Paul calls the Gospel -- of the death, burial, and resurrection -- something of first importance!
Theyve got secret documents? Fine says Paul, I have documents that I freely disclose to the public! I have witnesses! I have a petition with over 500 signatures! I have a bruise where I landed when the RISEN Christ knocked me down to get my attention!
This is what we preach. This is what we believe. This is what we welcome everyone to believe! Its no secret. Its a wonderful mystery that has been revealed by God.
Throughout the ages someone has always tried to reveal a new secret or a new document or new research. And yet for thousands of years in places all around the earth, a simple meal of bread and wine has sustained believers. Whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lords death until he comes! How can you proclaim someones death until he comes? You can only do that if that person is resurrected!
Because Christ is RISEN, death is not the last word. With every death not just death of the body with every death there can be a resurrection.
Because Christ is RISEN, there is hope! We can face the future because we know that Christ is risen and he is just the first.
Because Christ is RISEN, he lives he has not left us he shall return (not to catch us off guard) but to catch us up in his arms.
1 Corinthians 15
1Now let me remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then and still do now, for your faith is built on this wonderful message. 2And it is this Good News that saves you if you firmly believe it--unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place.
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 16 April 2006
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