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Faithful Words for week of April 12, 2012

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By Dr. Kenneth Faught

FAITHFUL WORDS

 The Bible is filled with great messages

“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (See 1 Corinthians 15).
There are many “great chapters” in the Bible. Genesis 1 is the story of creation. Exodus 20 holds the Ten Commandments. Psalm 23 is a favorite of believers around the world. Isaiah 53 offers the great “Suffering Servant” passage. Matthew 5-7 records the Sermon on the Mount, which includes the Beatitudes, The Lord’s Prayer, and the Golden Rule. 1 Corinthians 13 is known as “The Love Chapter.” During this season of the year we are especially aware of 1 Corinthians 15 – Paul’s great treatise on the resurrection and its meaning.
Paul begins by asserting the heart of the Gospel- Christ died, was buried, and rose again (15:3-4). He sees this message as the central proclamation of Christianity, and is astounded that some in the church are questioning whether or not there is a resurrection (15:12)! He then invites us to consider what it would mean if there were no resurrection (15:13-19). If Christ were not risen from the dead, then (1) our preaching is vain, empty, and meaningless; (2) our faith is in void; (3) we are false witnesses of the message we proclaim; (4) we are hopelessly lost in our sin; (5) those who have died in the faith have perished; (6) Christians are, of all people, the most to be pitied. The apostle is painting a picture of hopelessness and helplessness.
However, Paul proclaims, “Christ is risen from the dead.”
That means the reverse is true of all the hopeless and helpless results of “no resurrection”. Our faith is real and vital! Our preaching is true! Our sins are forgiven! Those who have died in the faith live! Believers do not need anyone’s pity! The ending of 1 Corinthians 15 contains a taunt of death itself – “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” The final affirmation of faith declares, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Did you go to church on Easter Sunday?
Have you heard the Easter message?
The reason Christians gather for worship on Sunday (rather than some other day of the week) is to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus and to both remember and declare the gospel (“good news”) message of a risen Christ and what that means for time and eternity. That story is to inform and guide our lives not just on Sunday, but every day of the year.

Dr. Faught is Pastor of The LaFollette United Methodist Church.