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Of first importance

Published 7:53am Thursday, March 21, 2013

By Charles Christmas

We are not left to one’s own reasoning or opinion to determine exactly what is of first importance. The person whom God used to write 13 books of the New Testament confronts us with the declaration concerning what is “of first importance.”

Here is how it is declared by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1-7: “For what I received, I passed on to you as ‘of first importance:’ that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter and then to the Twelve.” The Bible calls the death, burial and resurrection of Christ “the good news” and “of first importance.” This good news is of first importance for specific reasons:

First, it is good news from God to each one of us, and to every person on earth. The good news has your name written on it.

Second, it is good news about our sins. You are probably aware of the truth about the bad news concerning our sins. God sees each person as one who has come short of his requirements, is a sinner by nature and by choice, is helpless and without hope.

Third, the good news about our sins is that Christ died for our sins and was raised from the grave on the third day. His death on the cross and the resurrection was God’s eternal plan from the beginning of time. It was all in fulfillment of the 66 books of the Old Testament.

Paul said that it was according to the (Old Testament) Scriptures that he died and that it was according to the (Old Testament) Scriptures that he was raised on the third day. This is why Jesus said again and again, “I must be put to death at Jerusalem and be raised the third day” and “it was for this very purpose that I came to this hour.”

After he was raised from death, Jesus gathered his disciples about him to explain and assure them of what had really happened from God’s perspective relating to his death on the cross. He said, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. This is what is written: that Christ shall suffer, and shall rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

Now the disciples were beginning to see and understand. God in his sovereign love, mercy, grace and power had been at work in it all. He had transformed the indescribable sufferings of Jesus Christ relating to the cross into the climactic event “of first importance” in all of history. Jesus now was alive to explain it all to all of us.

How does this “good news” which is “of first importance” become effective in your life? This is explained in simple and unmistakable steps in verses one and two: (1) You must hear or read and understand this good news from God to you about your sins. Christ died for your sins, and forgiveness of all sins can be yours in the name of the risen Christ when you turn to him. (2) You must receive this good news as something you know you need and desire, and are more than willing to believe and commit your life to it. (3) You must take your stand upon this good news: that Christ died for your sins and was buried and rose again the third day. Words in one hymn explain: “On Christ the solid Rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand… my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” Another hymn adds explanation: “In my hands no price I bring; simply to the cross I cling.” Have you taken your personal stand in total dependence upon that which is “of first importance?” Make your personal stand right now. (4) What happens when you take your personal stand upon the good news from God to you concerning your sins? By this good news you are saved!

Read carefully the following from 1 Corinthians 15:1-2: It is personally for you and me. “I remind you of the Good News you have heard, which you have believed and received, and on which you have taken your stand. By this Good News you are saved!” If this is true for you, then you can say: “That is exactly what God has enabled me to do; therefore, God said it, I believe it, and that settles it!”

(Could you share this article with someone who needs assurance about that which is “of first importance”?)

—Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Thursday.

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