What does this mean?
The first part of the gospel: What Christ has done for us
“Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received, I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures . . .” (I Corinthians 15:1-4).
“This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day . . . “ (Luke 24:46).
“Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel . . . “ (I Timothy 2:8).
These are the central events of the gospel: Christ’s death for our sins and his resurrection. Most people in North America know these facts of the gospel. Many times those who are unsaved have no awareness of what Christ has done through these events for salvation.
Why Christ died: he died as an atoning sacrifice for our sins
Because no human morality, even based upon divinely inspired commands, could earn righteousness before God and eternal life”: “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Galatians 2:21). Scripture explains elsewhere (such as Romans 3:23, Psalm 14:1-3, Isaiah 64:6) the nature of sin, that all people are sinners and that no one can earn or deserve eternal life.
Because God had to punish sin: “He was delivered over to death on account of our sins . . .” (Romans 4:25: see also Romans 3:25-26). ” . . . without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins . . .” (Hebrews 9:22). His death was the death that we deserved for our sins: “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
Because God loves the sinful people of this world, and he wants them to have eternal life: “For God so loved the world that he gave his One and Only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “God shows his love to us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Why Christ rose from the dead on the third day: the promise of his resurrection
As the demonstration that sin was completely atoned for, and the demonstration of the victory of Christ over death, the consequence of sin:
“(he) was raised to life on account of our justification” (Romans 4:25). “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (I Corinthians 15:17).
As the promise of the resurrection of the believer: “By his power God raise the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also” (I Corinthians 6:14).
What does this mean to me?
Salvation is found only through what Christ has done for us, and through him alone. This means that we need to be clear in what we think and say about the nature of salvation: it is not in church membership or church attendance or anything that anyone can do for themselves, but only in what he has done for everyone. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
The believer looks forward to a glorious future of being like Christ in his resurrection: “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power the enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:20-21).
All scripture references taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, copyright 1973, 1978 by the International Bible Society and used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.