[Willow Creek Association] 1998-04-01 - Finishing a Good Work

The What is the Gospel? Series - Part 3

The past two devotionals, I have been focusing on just what the Gospel is and expanding on the list of four things Paul tells us the Gospel is in 1 Corinthians Chapter 15. For your reference here is the list once again:

  1. Jesus died for our sins. (He did not just die; He died for us, in place of us.)
  2. Jesus was buried.
  3. Jesus was raised on the third day.
  4. He appeared to many people.

This week I want to expand on item #2. Jesus did not just disappear; He was buried. Interesting that only Paul mentions the burial.

1 Corinthians 15:4 (NIV) that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures

Why is the burial important? It shows us that Christ was indeed killed on the cross. He did not just pass out, and He did not just go away somewhere to hide, only to reappear. All throughout the Bible it is awesome how God always prevails and how those against God's plan unknowingly work for the plan. The Jewish and Roman leaders made certain that Jesus was indeed dead and buried. They made certain that all the witnesses knew without a doubt Christ had died. Then, when the tomb was found empty, they unknowingly verified the validity of the resurrection, by taking such extreme measures to make sure no one could enter the tomb in the first place and steal the body. For something to be resurrected, something must die. Something in us must die when we become Christians. Paul identifies our baptism with Christ's burial in the following verse:

Romans 6:4 (NIV) We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

As a Christian are you living a new life or clinging to the old? It is the hardest struggle we face each moment of each day. No where does the Bible say, "Once you become a Christian, living the Christian life is instantly easy." It is a lifetime process. For me it is a process of burying the old things one at a time, a slow and sometimes frustrating process. Here are three things to remember that help me.I pray they help you in your journey to be more like Christ.

  1. As newness comes, there will always be tension with the old. In all change there is tension for us, whether it be a policy change at work or school, a change in our home environment and the like. Paul said it best in this verse:

    Romans 7:15 (NIV) I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
  2. We must build a climate of love in all that we do, a love God, love people attitude. By affirming each other with the love of Christ we will grow in Christ. When we start treating others and seeing others through Christ's eyes, we can't help but to grow more like Christ.

    Ephesians 5:2 (NCV) Live a life of love just as Christ loved us and gave himself for us as a sweet-smelling offering and sacrifice to God.
  3. We must cling to our faith that we will reach Christ-likeness when we are resurrected. Without Christ, death is our number one enemy; it the enemy that we can not overcome with force, power, science or governments. It can only be overcome through our Savior, Jesus.

    Philippians 1:6 (NKJV) being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

And the day of Jesus Christ will come, my friends. It will come when we are resurrected from being "copies" of Adam and dead to sin, to being "copies" of Christ and alive for eternity with Him. What an awesome hope and promise.

Father, again we praise You and thank You for making us right with you, through the Gospel. Thank You for giving us the opportunity to be buried and resurrected into a new body and a new life in Heaven with You. Help us to bury our old sinful ways, help us to recognize the tensions created by the old and the new. Forgive us when we fall short. We pray all this in His name, Amen.