Today we celebrate the greatest series of events in all of human history. Greater than the American Revolution, the Reformation, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of World War 2, greater than all these combined were the events of Jesus’ sinless life, His death on the cross for everyone who would believe in Him, His resurrection from the dead, and His appearances to people.
These are the simple but profound and staggering facts of the gospel – this is what everything we are and everything we do is based on: this series of events that really happened in history with a man named Jesus.
Receiving the Gospel
Christians are those who have received the gospel that Paul lays out in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8.
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you have received, . . . (v. 1)
That word received is not a passive word – it is aggressive taking for oneself. The opposite of this kind of receiving isn’t rejecting, it’s neglecting and ignoring. Many people never reject the gospel of Jesus Christ, and yet do not receive it. Many people who would even say “Yes, I believe that” won’t receive it because they neglect it.
The Christians who receive the gospel in the way the Bible describes are the ones who take hold of it aggressively for themselves, not just the ones who think that Jesus is a good idea. It’s the ones who say, “Christ died for me, my sins. He was raised not just as the Lord, but my Lord.” Only those who take hold of the gospel for themselves receive the benefits.
Standing in the Gospel
If you have received the gospel, you will find yourself standing in it.
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you . . . in which you stand, . . . (v. 1)
The gospel isn’t a certificate that you file away and forget about until you die or Jesus returns, and then you pull out – it’s the daily, living reality of the Christian. It’s a standing place, the place where a Christian stands to live his or her life.
We are all born into mortality, into sin, guilt, a hopeless situation before a holy God and separation from Him, but what we celebrate at Christmas was the silhouette of the Rescuer. He was coming and He came, and by the time we get to the cross He is here. The rescue boat is right here. Now those sinners who allow Him to pull them up into the rescue boat will be saved; their sin will be exchanged for righteousness; they’ll be living in light of the fact that they are redeemed.
Being Saved by the Gospel
It’s a natural thing to question your salvation, to wonder if you have received the gospel and if you are standing in the gospel. Jesus said that when He returns, there will be people who claim to be Christians, and He will say, “Depart from me, I never knew you.” So how can you know? Well, if you have received the gospel and are standing in the gospel, you will find yourself being saved by the gospel.
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel which I preached to you . . . by which you are being saved . . . (vv. 1,2)
Christians are those who are being saved by the gospel. Salvation is an event, but it’s also a process. The moment you climbed into the rescue boat and took your stand beside the Rescuer, you were legitimately saved. But you’re not yet back to land, and the salvation has not yet been fully completed and fully realized. Your salvation is secure, but it’s not completed until Jesus returns.
So how do you know if you’ve received the gospel and are standing in it? You’ll be getting closer to the land. You’ll see progress toward living in light of your justification, progress toward the re-prioritization as a citizen of the kingdom of God, progress toward increasing sinlessness in light of being forgiven and freed from sin. Christians are those who are being saved by the gospel, not being the same as they were 10 years ago.
Christians are those who have received the good news of Jesus Christ, who are standing in it, and who are being saved by it. This Easter, let’s pause our lives and really focus on this. Receive the gospel, stand in it, be saved by it.
Don’t struggle in the stormy sea or live as if you have to – the Rescuer is here; He is more than willing to pull you onto the boat and paddle toward the land to save you. If you have not received the gospel, take hold of it aggressively. And let’s all move forward and live our lives in the rescue boat together.
This sermon was preached on Easter Sunday.
Discussion Questions (Based on 1 Corinthians 15:1-8)
- How do we receive the gospel for ourselves?
- How can someone not reject the gospel, and yet not receive it?
- Share some examples of this.
- Have you received the gospel for yourself?
- Can you receive the gospel and not stand in it?
- What does it look like to live standing in the gospel?
- How do you know if you have been saved?
- What does it mean for our salvation to not be fully complete?
- How do we live in light of being saved by the gospel?