Serving Christ and sharing the Gospel

True Hope (1 Cor 15:1-22)

Our new sermon series is called ‘True Spirituality’, and on the New Testament letter of 1 Corinthians which was written by Paul. Today’s title is ‘true hope’. So the question is: ‘What is your hope based on?’ There is a song that has a refrain ’My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ and his righteousness’. Now what Paul is saying in this passage is that our hope should be on Jesus, on the good news the Gospel that Jesus taught. But he is also warning us to hold firm to that word, to hold firm to all that we have been taught to hold firm to what we believe, or it will all be in vain.

It is no good being a part-believer, the Gospel is all or nothing it is not pick and mix, Paul says by this Gospel you are saved, he does not say by this part or that part.

By the whole Gospel we are saved. Saved from what - from having to pay the price for our sins, for all the wrong we have done to others, in thought word and deed. Has anyone ever in the whole word in all of time (other than Jesus) never had a bad thought about someone else, we have all sinned some of us have sinned more than others, but we have all sinned, and what Paul is saying is that we should hold fast, keep on believing keep on holding on to the word of God.

And Paul reminds his readers that Jesus died, that Jesus did raise from the dead and that Jesus has paid the price for our sins. Paul reminds us that Jesus was seen by many people as well as the Apostles and also by Paul himself on the road to Damascus where he was going to persecute the believers, and God saves him - the worm of a man who had Steven Stoned to death who held the coats of the people stoning Steven because he did not want to get his hand dirty. This is such a great example of God’s grace - that he should not only forgive Paul but use Paul for the teaching of his Church. What Grace God has - no matter what we have done he will forgive us if we repent and ask for that forgiveness.

Paul goes on to say that some did not believe that there was a resurrection of the dead, that there was no hope. So even at the time when people said “I saw Jesus after he was crucified and buried I saw him alive”, some people did not believe it could happen.

While I was away in Spain I got talking to this old expat who said he was a Christian, but he did not believe in God -  “well” he said “there may be a God but I can’t believe that Jesus was raised from the dead”. He said he believed that Jesus lived, that he was a good man. But that he died and raised for the dead? “No I can’t believe that” he said, but I am a Christian he said, because he liked the teachings of Jesus, the teaching on which our western societies are based. Well I have to tell you and I told my friend he is not a Christian! He was not happy with that remark, but a Christian is someone who follows Jesus, his teachings, and who 100% believes that Jesus lived, died and rose again and did all this for us so he could pay the price for our sins.

My friend missed the point you cannot be a Christian without Jesus, Christian means following Jesus and believing in the Gospel of Christ, and that the Father Son and Holy Spirit love you care for you and want to be with you now and for every. Unfortunately this country and some Churches are full of people who call themselves Christian but they don’t believe in Jesus or worse they do believe but don’t follow Jesus’ teaching.

Paul finishes our reading by asserting that Jesus has been raised from the dead, that the resurrection comes through Jesus. Paul also reminds us that we are all human, we will all die, so we must put our true hope in Jesus, if we believe and hold fast we will all be made alive again.

What is your hope based on? Is it based on Jesus and his Gospel, or like my friend’s, based on nothing. In other words, no hope - there is only this life and that is it, or based on what the Bible teaches us and on what we can feel and see.

Since I gave my life to Jesus, I have seen lives changed through faith in Jesus. I have seen remarkable healings, I have seen the Holy Spirit come upon people and all sorts of things happen. The Bible tells us these things will happen and I have seen them, and I have been part of that transformation that God has done in my life and in my family’s lives.

Hope is a word that implies a certain amount of uncertainty, but I am certain that there is a God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The more you open yourself up to God the more God will revile to you. Put your trust in God and let him do the rest.

My hope is that you all will also put your hope in Jesus Christ, just as that song says our hope in in Jesus Christ and his righteousness. True hope is in Jesus through reading the Bible and living the way that he Jesus has taught us. A prayer Chris and I say every day is this: “Lord we pray that all we say and do today will glorify you that nothing we say or do today will sadden you”.

Lets pray: Lord thank that you came to save us from ourselves, from the sin that stains us, thank you that you love us so much that you would die for us so that we may be with you forever. Lord help us to move from hope to certainty of your love for us and help us to follow Jesus all the days of our lives. Amen.