Bedrock Belief

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

All religions, in fact, all worldviews including those couched in the language of unbelief, are built on a belief in something. This something may be an idea, a theory, an ideology, an explanation, a feeling, a skepticism, a method, or other things. However, I want you to realize two truths that Paul reveals in the verses that you are to read today:

  • The basic Christian faith, the good news about Me, is very straightforward and easy to understand. Believing that good news might be hard, but understanding what you must believe is very clear.
  • Christian faith hinges on My resurrection from the dead. My resurrection was an event in history that was investigated and verified. It emboldened fearful and confused disciples to become powerful witnesses. They had no expectation of My resurrection, but then they met Me alive from the dead. They boldly confirmed My resurrection before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council that had condemned Me to death. They then risked their lives to verify My resurrection to others all over the world, some ultimately becoming martyrs for what they proclaimed.

Paul summarized this bedrock Christian faith with four truths, all culminating in My verified resurrection:

  1. I died for your sins as the Scriptures had prophesied.
  2. I was buried in a tomb.
  3. On the third day, I was raised from the dead just as the Scriptures had said.
  4. After My resurrection, I appeared to those who knew Me and thought I was still dead. Paul mentions some of these people by name and points out that some of them were still alive as witnesses to My resurrection. I also appeared to Paul, who was one of My fiercest opponents. Those appearances changed all of their lives forever.

Paul made very clear to the Corinthians that these truths form the bedrock Christian gospel that is necessary for salvation. Notice the words below in bold to see how emphatically he makes this point. Paul’s summary sentence at the end of these verses adds emphasis to this claim of bedrock belief:

In the end, it doesn’t matter whether it was I [Paul] or the other witnesses who brought you the message. What matters is that we keep preaching and that you have faith in this message.

A few verses later he also made the unequivocal observation that “if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless…” (1 Corinthians 15:17 NLT). You must build your life of faith on the bedrock historical truth of My resurrection if you are going to be My disciple.

Verses to Live

Some people try to make faith depend on an elaborate set of principles that are difficult to understand. Paul reminded the Corinthians, and I am reminding you, that the bedrock truths of your faith are not difficult to understand. The challenge is found in believing these four truths and building your daily life upon them.

Let me remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I [Paul] preached to you when we first met. It’s the essential message that you have taken to heart, the central story you now base your life on; and through this gospel, you are liberated [saved] — unless, of course, your faith has come to nothing.

For I passed down to you the crux of it all which I had also received from others, that [Christ] the Anointed One, the Liberating King, died for our sins and was buried and raised from the dead on the third day. All this happened to fulfill the Scriptures; it was the perfect climax to God’s covenant story. Afterward He appeared alive to Cephas (you may know him as Simon Peter), then to the rest of the twelve. If that were not amazing enough, on one occasion, He appeared to more than 500 believers at one time. Many of those brothers and sisters are still around to tell the story, though some have fallen asleep in Jesus. Soon He appeared to James, His brother and the leader of the Jerusalem church, and then to all the rest of the emissaries He Himself commissioned. Last of all, He appeared to me; I was like a child snatched from his mother’s womb.

You see, I am the least of all His emissaries, not fit to be called His emissary because I hunted down and persecuted God’s church. Today I am who I am because of God’s grace, and I have made sure that the grace He offered me has not been wasted. I have worked harder, longer, and smarter than all the rest; but I realize it is not me — it is God’s grace with me that has made the difference. In the end, it doesn’t matter whether it was I or the other witnesses who brought you the message. What matters is that we keep preaching and that you have faith in this message.

(1 Corinthians 15:1-11)

Response in Prayer

Father, forgive me. Forgive me for getting distracted when I pursue theological tangents. Forgive me when I become distracted from what is important and make essential Christian doctrine so much more complicated than it has to be. Thank You for loving Me enough to have Jesus pay the price for My sins. Thank You that Jesus faced death and the realities of human frailty and mortality so that I can trust Him to help me when I face such difficult times. Thank You for raising Jesus from the dead and verifying His resurrection with human witnesses who were not expecting His resurrection and who first hid in fear when He died. I am emboldened to believe when I see how their fear turned into fearlessness because of their experience with the resurrected Jesus, in Whose name I pray. Amen.

‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.

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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.