The Apostles’ Teaching Sermon Manuscript

NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, please listen to the message on our YouTube channel to hear the whole sermon.
The Apostles’ Teaching

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

-Why do we spend so much of our weekly gathering listening to me talk? And what am I trying to do as I read, study, and pray each week for this?

-One time heard someone say imagine every week is finals week!

-But this is what God has called, equipped and gifted me to pursue, just like every one of you should have things that God has called, equipped, and gifted you to do.

-The very first NT sermon is in Acts 2, an exposition of Joel 2

-Early apostles in Acts 6 appoint the first deacons so they could be devoted to “prayer and to the ministry of the word.” Serving as a job description of pastors/elders moving forward

-What we try to do here every week is exposit the text in front of us. Walking through a passage of Scripture word by word and explaining what it means, how that relates to us today, and how we should live in response to that word.

-J.I. Packer defined preaching this way: “Christian preaching is the event of God himself bringing to an audience a Bible-based, Christ-related, life-impacting message of instruction and direction through the words of a spokesperson.” 

-John Stott similarly said “To preach is to open up the inspired text with such faithfulness and sensitivity that God’s voice is heard and God’s people obey Him.”

-What’s amazing is week after week of hearing God’s Word spoken and exposited (add details as to an account or idea; clarify the meaning of and discourse in a learned way) is we become changed people. We better learn how to ready and apply God’s Word to our lives! It is a common means of grace.

-The Bible is dripping through our whole service: the songs we sing, the verses read, the prayers prayed need to be so saturated in God’s Word that if they were a towel what you would wring out is the Bible

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PRAY

  1. The Gospel Is Central (1-7)

-We took a look at the gospel message in quite a bit of detail my first Sunday here, but if you haven’t figured out it’s a pretty big theme in the Bible, so let’s take a look at all the gospel entails.

-Transliteration of the Greek word euoneglion literally means good news.

-Also where we get the modern word “evangelical” so evangelicals are gospel people, people who believe in the Good News (not how newspapers define)

-Most helpful way I’ve found (and the way I talk) is using 4 words: God, man, Christ, response. 

God the righteous creator, man the sinner, Jesus Christ the Savior, Response – faith and repentance

-The Gospel in the NT

-proclamation (Matt. 4:23 – “And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.)

-kingdom (Matt. 24:14 – “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.)

-Centers on Jesus (Mark 1:1 “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.)

-Demands response (Acts 15:7 “And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.)

-Powerful (Rom. 1:16 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.)

-Primary use of gospel in the NT is Paul, which is why we’ll be looking at a passage he wrote. 

  1. Past, Present, Future (1-2)

-One of my favorite quotes about the gospel from Tim Keller: “We never “get beyond the gospel” in our Christian life to something more “advanced.” The gospel is not the first “step” in a “stairway” of truths, rather, it is more like the “hub” in a “wheel” of truth. The gospel is not just the A-B-C’s but the A-Z of Christianity. The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we make progress in the kingdom.”

-Think of a wheel. The hub is connected to every other piece of that wheel. The gospel is meant to be the center point of our lives, from which we lead into every other area of our lives.

-Struggling in your marriage? Look to the gospel. Struggling at work? Look to the gospel. Struggling as a parent? Look to the gospel. I realize this sounds simplistic, so bear with me as we work this out here.

-This is exactly what Paul is saying in these first 2 vss. 

-First thing we see is how the gospel contradicts the primary cultural ideas.

-“I would remind you” is gnosis in the Greek. “I would bring to mind” Gnosticism was an early heresy that you needed “secret wisdom/knowledge” to be in the “inside”

-While the Corinthians claimed this secret knowledge, Paul reminds them what’s really true. 

-Our world today has competing cultural ideas. Evangelism in a Skeptical World pgs. 40-41

-Second thing is the need for this gospel to be received.

-Past tense. Sometime in the past you had to believe this. There is a moment in time where the Spirit awakens you, brings you from death into life.

-Third, this gospel IN WHICH you stand

-Present tense. It’s not enough to look back fondly on your conversion and get on with your life as if it doesn’t matter.

-Fourth, the gospel is the means by which you are BEING saved.

-In the future. Gospel is means of salvation, AND sanctification. (define)

-Lastly, is the conditional “if”

-You must hold fast. Seems to be a theme last week and this week! 

-We cling to the gospel message itself. That Jesus died for our sins, that he was buried, and that he rose again.

-Unless you were believing in the wrong thing!

-This gospel message affects past, our present, and out future. 

-Martin Luther “It (the gospel) is also the principal article of all Christian doctrine, wherein the knowledge of all godliness consists. Most necessary it is, therefore, that we should know this article well, teach it unto others, and beat it into their heads continually.”

-As we focus on the gospel we continually behold, set our gaze on, and become more like the risen Christ.

-Paul focuses on this idea in 2 Cor. 3:18 “We all with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”

-This past, present, and future aspect of the gospel means our image is supposed to day by day look more and more like Jesus.

-It’s like the beast from Beauty & The Beast. He was hideous to look at, refused to even look at his image in the mirror, God slowly softens our beast features to look more like Him.

-The gospel is therefore the primary thing we need to be fixated upon, individually and corporately.

  • First Importance (3-7)

“Although everything in the Bible is important, not everything is equally important. Some doctrines are more important than others. The gospel is most important.” (ESV Expositors Commentary)

-Theological triage (major on the majors, minor on the minors)

Originally coined by Dr. Al Mohler, picked up more recently by Gavin Ortlund Finding the Right Hills to Die On

-Hospital analogy

-Way of prioritizing the most important theological issues. 

-This is really important for us to understand, because generally where the disagreements comes with people is over the third order issues. Some examples:

First – Jesus being fully God and fully man, virgin birth, empty tomb

Second – baptism, complementarianism, spiritual gifts

Third – age of the earth, views about the end times, Calvinism/Arminianism 

         Evangelical Convictions “Though all Evangelical Christians are unity in the conviction that God is the Creator of all things, they have been divided over how God created – how long it took and what process he may have used.” (33)

-Some things aren’t even on this list that I’ve been told are reasons people left a church – style of music, what clothes should the pastor wear, translation of the Bible, politics 

-People will have different issues that they’ll put in different spheres of importance.

-For myself, I’ve come to some strong conclusions about baptism, but the EFCA has it as a third level issue. You may have issues that you’d put as a level 2 that I wouldn’t put there, that’s ok!

-Fundamentalism makes everything an essential, “progressive” or liberal leaning Christians put everything as optional.

-When you come into an area of disagreement with someone, it’s vital to (just like Paul did here) differentiate between that which is PRIMARY and that which is not.

-“In essentials unity; in non-essentials charity; in all things, Jesus Christ.” Rupertus Meldenius (17th Cent)

-As we have discussions/disagreements about theology, humility is crucial. “If maintaining the unity of the body of Christ is not costing you anything – if it doesn’t hurt – then you probably are not adjusting enough…The unity of the church was so valuable to Jesus that he died for it. If we care about sound theology, let us care about unity as well.” (Ortlund, Hills, 150)

-Gospel believers – the fact that there are “first importance” doctrines must lead us to humility. I don’t feel the need to defend every tiny piece of by theological beliefs, that which is true will stand the test of time! As a professor at seminary often said, we should attack ideas (ideas have consequences, bad ideas have victims) not people.

-“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” -Alexander Solzhenitsyn (Russian)

-The gospel then serves as the hub of the wheel, the primary way of viewing everything we see around us. 

-C.S. Lewis “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

-This section is thought to be an early church creed, with some of Paul’s comments thrown in.

-Attesting to the historical reliability of the risen Christ. Most scholars think this creed was written within months of Jesus’ resurrection. Even when Paul is writing this letter, most of the people who saw Jesus after his resurrection are still living.

-Brothers and sisters – we have a similar testimony. Jesus has appeared to us in some way through the testimony or witness of someone who loved us enough to tell us about Jesus, and then to live out the truth of what they were telling you.

-If we believe in the Apostles’ Teaching (the gospel) then we need to be intentional about sharing that truth with others, about living in such a way that others will see glimpses of Jesus in you.

-Glimpses. Not perfectly, we’re poor reflections of him, at least on this side of heaven. One author said we need to hold our mirrors at 45% – angled up to heaven!

-Last year Barna released a statistic that said 47% of Christian Millennials think evangelism is wrong. Statistics can be misleading, since Barna also says that 95-97% of all Christians believe that part of their faith means being a witness about Jesus, and the way questions are worded is always tricky because people project their own definitions.

-But what is implied by this list of people who had seen Jesus was Paul exhorting the church at Corinth to go talk to them if they didn’t believe! The single most important thing is getting Jesus right. 

-“If Christ is risen – then nothing else matters. And if Christ is not risen – then nothing else matters.” (Jaroslav Pelikan – Yale professor) 

– I was reminded this week about an author named Randy Alcorn who knows the that nothing but Christ matters.

-1990 was peacefully protesting outside an abortion clinic, was arrested, placed in prison, then sued by the abortion clinic for 8.2 million dollars. He resigned from the church he was working at, was already giving away the royalties from his book, and spent 20 years making minimum wage. In that time, he gave away over $8.2 million from his royalties to various charities, ministries and organizations that are continuing to have gospel impact throughout the world. Don’t underestimate what God can do through you being faithful! 

-We need to keep Christ as the most important thing in all our lives! 

  • The Gospel Is Personal (8-11)

-After exhorting the church to keep the focus on the gospel, Paul then talks about how the gospel transformed him personally.

  1. The Last Apostle (8-9)

-One of those fun theological debates people have – does the office of “apostle” continue today?

-Because of this text, I say no. Vs. 8 says this is the “last of all” and apostles are those who were eyewitnesses to the risen Christ. Gifted to begin the early church, write down God’s truth, and usher in the new era of history.

-Crazy that the “least” of the apostles wrote half the NT. God has a tendency to use “the least of these”

-Paul acknowledges his past, his persecution against Jesus’ bride, yet still realizes God has uniquely called and gifted him to carry out the gospel message.

-That’s where all of us are. If you do the math, none of us are good enough to measure up to God’s holy, perfect, righteous standard. Remember the plumbline illustration from Amos? 

-The ground is level at the foot of the cross. Because the tomb is empty there is no least or greatest, we’re all one, we’re all together in Christ. What other religion offers a way for everyone to be in the same place??

  • God’s Grace (10-11)

-Even though Paul was the least of the apostles, he realized that God’s grace changed everything. 

-But is one of the most important words in the Bible!

-I’ll be honest, this used to be one of my favorite verses, the Popeye verse! I yam what I yam and dats what I yam! 

-God’s grace is enough to change even the most ardent persecutor of the church to the most ardent discipler in the church.

-God’s grace is never wasted, as God’s grace was extended to Paul he was then able to work harder than any other apostle to share the gospel message with the world. 

-Just as you might be tempted to think he’s pounding his chest, Paul quickly jumps back to remind that it wasn’t him working, it was God’s grace working itself out in him.

-This is true of us too! God’s grace affects us too. God’s grace saves us and then begins to transform us. So just as Paul was placed at a specific time and place (even though he considers himself “untimely born”) you and me are here for this time and place for a reason. 

-The last sentence tells us the reason. We preach, you believe. 

1 Cor. 3:4-7 “For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

-By keeping the Apostles’ Teaching (the gospel) the first importance, it will allow us to see God getting the growth.

-Doesn’t mean we let go and let God, “I planted, Apollos watered.” We still have a job to do! That is being the church! We need to be committed, we need to be here to support and encourage each other, we need to be praying for each other, we need to love each other, and we need to do all those things because the gospel is of first importance. The gospel transforms us day by day into the image of God.

-They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and the prayers.

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