1 Corinthians 15:1-8. Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
First and foremost, gospel Christianity is an event. It is news. It is not an idea, concept, ethic, or path to spirituality. It is not a moral code, rule for life, or political platform. It can inform all of these things, but it is not these things. It is a story. God’s story of redemption. The story of his kingdom breaking through into human history. That is what Paul is telling us above in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8. Christ’s life, death, burial, and resurrection are a story- the same story told by all of scripture. And we can stand or live in that same story.
“To live is Christ” is not about figuring out how to live like Christ. It is believing that his story is now your story too. That the good news happened and that it happened to you. Christ’s life, death, burial, and resurrection happened to us. Our union with Christ unites us to this greatest of stories. We stand in it, and we are being saved by it.
The bedrock of this story is the resurrection. Christ was resurrected into a new body and a new reality. This reality is now true for us too. Think back to everything Paul has taught in this letter. The resurrection has been the reason behind all of his admonitions to this church. Because there is a resurrection, we don’t need to pick sides now, or sue each other here on earth, or seek status, or chase sexual pleasure, or grab the best seats in church, or seek our “Christian rights.” Belief in the resurrection empowers our love- all else will cease and fade away, but love will live forever (13:8-13). Why? Because God lives forever, and Christ lives forever, and we live forever.
How is that possible? Because Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures.
This gospel, that Christ died for our sins and rose for our justification, is the objective reality behind “to live is Christ.” You are positionally, legally, and objectively united to Christ because the penalty for your sins has been taken on by Christ and he has gifted to you his righteousness in its place. And we know that this transaction worked because Christ was raised to life by the Father in vindication of his righteous life. And we know that the resurrection is true because of the testimony of many witnesses to this historic fact, and because of the real and true witness of the Spirit in our hearts.
Praise God that our union with Christ and our salvation is not rooted in an ethic to obey, a spiritual path to follow, or a wisdom to attain to. Praise God that our salvation is rooted in a historic fact, a story. Praise God that his story is now our own story. The gospel story.
Have you wrongly seen your salvation as something for you to achieve or attain? Can you see that salvation is an objective reality rooted in fact? Do you believe in the resurrection of Christ? How is it, along with Christ’s substitutionary death for our sins, the basis of our union with Christ?