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April 23, 2014

Captivated by the one message

Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed (1 Corinthians 15:11)

"I, They, We, You." Here, in this famous fifteenth chapter on Christ's resurrection, is stressed the uncompromisingly unanimous message of the New Testament believers; preachers and listeners alike.

1. Who were the preachers? Answer: It didn't matter! They might have been Paul, Barnabas, Timothy or Silas, but there was no deviation in the convictions of those first century Christian leaders. "We preached!" The hallmark of an authentic Gospel church is that its representatives always come across as people of Christ, of conviction and courage. Courage, certainly, because such preaching nearly always brings persecution. But as the historian T.R. Glover has written, "It was worth martyrdom."

2. What did they preach? Answer: 'Move from the four pronouns of verse 11 to the four verbs of v. 3-5 that Christ died, was buried, was raised and appeared. In that one sentence is compressed the vibrant, historic message 'as of first importance.' Some fatuously argue that, while Christ indeed died and was buried, He only 'rose' in the imaginations and memories of the early church. Forget that. All four verbs occur in the one sentence. What was raised was what was buried!

3. Have you believed? 'We preach; you believed.' Undoubtedly there would have been some wobblers, but there is no doubting that there was a bedrock, a standard of agreement that bonded preachers and believers into a force that would eventually prove more durable than any other message in the world. Nothing else would last.

And nothing else WILL last.