1 Corinthians 15:3-4
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;…
Why did the Apostle Paul make it the very beginning of his preaching? Because —
I. IT WAS MOST STRUCK AT BY ENEMIES. Though not a blind zealot who courted opposition, and though he knew how to become all things to all men, he was no trimmer; and when any known doctrine of his Master was impugned, that was the doctrine to which he devoted himself in affectionate defence.
II. IT IS THE DISTINGUISHING DOCTRINE OF CHRISTIANITY. In Christianity there are many things common to it with Judaism, Mohammedanism, and even pure Theism; but here is a discriminative mark.
III. IT BRINGS MEN DOWN TO THE EARTH, IN A SENSE OF SIN, WEAKNESS, SHAME, AND DANGER. The gospel is a remedy. It seeks, not to improve what is sound, but to cure what is dying. It is a remedy which none accept but such as despair of other help. All who ever received the doctrine, received it on their knees. He that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
IV. IT IS OF ALL DOCTRINES THAT WHICH LIES NEAREST THE HEART OF CHRISTIAN AFFECTION. It was uppermost in the heart of Paul; it throbbed in its inmost pulses. It reminds him of what he was, it makes him what he is.
V. IT IS THE PRECISE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH. To be saved is the one thing needful. But to be saved one thing is necessary — faith. But in what? In this crucified but risen Redeemer. The man who believes in Him, with a spiritual apprehension of what he believes, is a saved man.
VI. IT IS THE KEY TO ALL OTHER DOCTRINES. The symbol of Christianity is not the all-seeing eye, the creative hand, the sepulchre, the sceptre — but the Cross. With this you can explain all; but denying this, you go on till to be consistent you must deny all.
VI. IT IS THE GREAT INSTRUMENT OF CONVERSION. This is the very event the recital of which, even before the end of the generation then born, filled the Roman Empire with converts. It is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. Conclusion:
1. These things enable us to come to a judgment with regard to Churches and religious communities. The criterion is the relative place which they give to the doctrine of Christ's death.
2. In like manner, we may judge of books, preaching, and systems of theology. Try them by this question, What think ye of Christ?
3. We may here judge of our own personal religion.
(J. W. Alexander, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;