1 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: 3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul was one of the church’s first missionaries. It is estimated that during his lifetime he traveled over 10,000 miles in effort to share the gospel. It was even Paul’s desire to travel as far as to Spain, although we are unsure if he ever made it.
There is no way to measure the full impact of Paul’s ministry. We are here today because of Paul’s faithful to spread the gospel. Paul was the first to take the gospel to the southern Europe. As time passed on the gospel message migrated up into northern Europe and eventually to America. Even we today owe much to Paul’s faithfulness to preach Christ and Him crucified.
I. The Simplicity of Paul’s Message
Some of us are worried about witnessing because of a lack of knowledge. Paul was worried that too much knowledge getting in the way of the simplicity of the gospel. Paul did everything he could to keep the gospel simple.
1 Corinthians 2:3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
Paul didn’t want men following him. He didn’t want to them trusting in his wisdom. He wanted men to trust in the power of God to save them.
Paul wanted to keep his presentation of the gospel very simple. Yet the gospel itself is not simple. It contains the wisdom and power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified , unto the Jews a stumblingblock , and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
This morning I call your attention to the Superiority of Paul’s Message.
II. The Superiority of Paul’s Message
Note with me Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15-
1 Corinthians 15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also receive, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried , and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
Paul said that he ‘first of all’ delivered unto them the gospel. Why did Paul make the gospel his number one priority?
There are two words that can be translated as ‘first.’ One word has to primarily with time. Paul could have been saying, “Telling you the gospel of Jesus Christ was the very first thing I did.”
There is also another Greek word for ‘first’ and it refers not only to time, but to rank and importance. Paul could have also been saying, “Telling you the gospel of Jesus Christ was the most important thing I did.”
Actually I believe that Paul meant both. “Telling you the gospel of Jesus Christ was the very first thing I did because it was the most important thing I could do.”
There are many reasons why I could say that Paul’s message concerning the gospel was superior to everything else, but for the sake of time and simplicity we will focus on just one. Paul’s message concerning Christ’s death is superior because it brings to us God’s forgiveness of sin.
A. How Can We Find Forgiveness With God?
If indeed there is a God, then the most important question we will ever answer is – “How can God justifiably forgive us of our sins and allow us into heaven?” The way I see it, God has three options:
1. God can sweep our sin under the rug
In other words, God could say – “Let’s just wipe the slate clean and start all over. After all, no one is perfect. Let’s just let bygones be bygones.” That’s what a lot of people think will happen. Have you ever heard someone say, “My God is too loving to ever send someone to hell”? What they are saying is, God will one day sweep our sin under the rug. God will wipe the slate clean and let us start all over. Yet there are a few problems with that theory.
a) It Would Not Satisfy God’s Need for Justice
The Bible tells us that God is holy. God is perfectly pure. There is not even a hint of evil in Him. Because holiness is His nature, God can’t condone what is sinful. Even if God cold swept our sin under the rug, that wouldn’t deal with our sin. It would not satisfy God’s need for justice.
b) It Would Give the Devil Ammunition to Attack
Sweeping our sin under the rug would only temporarily conceal the problem with the possibility of it one day resurfacing. The Bible teaches us that we have an enemy called the Devil. Do you know what the name ‘devil’ means? It means accuser or slanderer. If God swept our sin under the rug, the devil would have ammunition to slander not only us, but God as well. Think of what the devil could say to God- “What kind of holy God are you to let such injustice pass?”
No my friend, God can’t simply sweep sin under the rug and pretend like it never happened.
2. God Can Expect Us to Somehow Earn His Forgiveness
Some people believe that in the end, God will simply sweep all our sin under the rug. Others believe that there is a giant scale in heaven and God is going to one day weigh our good against our bad. If our good outweighs our bad, then we will go to heaven. If our bad outweighs our good, then we will go to hell. I’ve met a lot of people who believe this, yet I’ve met very few who actually believed that they had done enough evil to deserve hell. “I’m not perfect, but I’m better than so and so.”
The Bible tells us that we all have sinned (Romans 3:23) and that we lack the ability to become righteous on our own. “There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10)
3. God Can Do For Us What We Can’t Do For Ourselves
There is only one possible way for God to be able to justly and completely forgive us of our sins. He can do so only through the sacrifice of His only Son. We read from God’s Word-
Romans 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
B. Why Can We Find Forgiveness Through Jesus Christ?
Forgiveness of sin can come only through our faith in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. Only the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ can give God the ability to forgive us and to save us from judgment. How so?
1. The Gospel of Jesus Christ
I’ve talked a lot so far about the gospel this morning. What is the gospel? The word gospel means ‘good news’ or ‘good message.’ An angel used this word the first time it is found in the Bible.
Luke 2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
The word translated as ‘good tidings’ means “good news.” What is God’s good news? Unto us is born a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. Paul defined the gospel as-
1 Corinthians 15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
2. Who is Jesus Christ?
If salvation can come only through Jesus Christ, then we need to determine who Jesus Christ really is. There are many passages we could study to answer that question, but perhaps one of the clearest is found in the book of Philippians-
Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
There are four important truths concerning Jesus Christ that we need to learn from that passage.
a) He is Equal With God
The Bible clearly says that Jesus is equal with God. If that is so, Jesus must be God. Notice the Jews reaction when Jesus said that God was His Father.
John 5:18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
b) He Voluntarily Made Himself of No Reputation
Some say that Jesus is not God because He never directly said that He was. Yet they fail to realize that Jesus did not come to this earth to prove His deity. He was not concerned with proving that He was God. Jesus came to this world to die for the sins of the world.
c) He Was Made in the Likeness of Men
One of the greatest mysteries concerning Jesus is the question of how the Son of God could become the Son of man. How could God enter into the womb of a woman and be born as a child?
The Bible says that God is Spirit and therefore He does not have a body. Therefore, because Jesus is God, He also did not have a body before Bethlehem. He was in Spirit form. In was in this Spirit form that Jesus entered into the womb of Mary and received His human body. Some have said that Christ– “Clothed Himself in human flesh.” He put humanity on like a garment. Why did Jesus do this?
d) He Became Obedient to Death
Jesus said –
John 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
When Jesus hung on the cross, He was suspended between heaven and earth. He was between holy God and sinful man. The Bible says –
1Timothy 2:5 … For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
The word ‘mediator’ means someone who intervenes between two opposing parties in order to restore peace. There is only one who can restore peace between holy God and sinful man and that is the man Christ Jesus.
Philippians 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Who is Jesus Christ? He is the Son of God who became the Son of man so that He might be the Savior of the world.
C. What is Necessary to Receive God’s Forgiveness?
Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die . 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
1. What does it mean to be justified?
What does it mean to be ‘justified’? Justification is a legal term that means to be declared just or righteous. To be declared justified by God means to be legally acceptable in His sight. How can a man be justified in the sight of God? Can he earn his justification? He can do so only through his faith in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.
2. What is saving faith?
Saving faith is:
a. Believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins
b. Believing that His death was according to God’s perfect plan
c. Believing that God raised Him from the dead on the third day and that He is now seated at God’s right hand
d. Believing that He is Lord of your life