The Triumph of Christ Over the Cross

The Triumph of Christ Over the Cross

April 13th, 1990 @ 12:00 PM

1 Corinthians 15:1-4

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
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THE TRIUMPH OF CHRIST OVER THE CROSS 

Dr. W. A. Criswell 

1 Corinthians 15:1-4

4-13-90     12:00 p.m.

 

The series the=is week has concerned The Triumphant Christ.  On Monday: Triumphant over Satan.  On Tuesday: Over Sin and Hell.  Wednesday: Over Death.  Yesterday: Over the World.  And today: The Triumph of Christ from the Cross. 

All of the messages are from the fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, and this is the way it begins:

 

Brethren, I declare unto you – I make known unto you – the gospel which I preached, which you receive, wherein ye stand, 

By which you are saved . . .

For I delivered unto you that which also I received: how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 

He was buried, the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures

[1 Corinthians 15:1-4]

 

And then the rest of the chapter concerning the triumphant resurrection and return of our Lord. 

Do you notice what the Apostle says?  "I delivered unto you that which I received" – that is, he is not an innovator.  He’s not an originator.  He is a deliverer.  The message does not come from an entrepreneur, but it comes from somebody else and he is delivering it.  The gospel message is not invented by the Apostle, but he delivers it from God in heaven. 

I so well remember several years ago sitting before the radio and listening to the King of England as he spoke a message to America; and the next day, I read in the paper that just as the king was beginning to speak a wire cable broke, and the technician had the foresight to seize one end of that cable in one hand and one end of the broken cable in the other hand, and the message of the king that came to America went through the literal body of that employee. 

That is an example of what Paul is saying, "I am not the inventor of the message.  It does not originate with me, but I deliver to you that which I have received from the Lord God" [1 Corinthians 15:3].  Now, do you notice that he calls it "the gospel"?  "I make known unto you the gospel which I received" [1 Corinthians 15:3].  If a man stands up in the pulpit, such as I am standing now, and he preaches the gospel, what does he preach?  If a man is sent out to a foreign field and he preaches the gospel, what does he preach?  Paul says, "This is it."  He preaches that Jesus died for our sins, that He was raised for our justification, and that someday He is coming in triumph [1 Corinthians 15:3-4].  He defines that as the gospel. 

The gospel is our modern word for an old English word meaning "the good news."  The gospel here in the New Testament is the translation of the Greek word euangelion which also means "the good news."  When the angel came from heaven to announce to the shepherds before Bethlehem of the birth of our Lord, the angel said, "For I declare unto you this day glad tidings – euangelion, the gospel of joy – which shall be to all people" [Luke 2:10]. 

The tragedy sometimes is that people identify the gospel with a dull, insipid sermon; and they’d rather go to a baseball game or to some entertainment rather than listen to it when actually there is nothing in this earth that has the dynamic, and the glory, and the promise, and the victory of the gospel of the Son of God. 

We had here in our pulpit the chaplain who was in the death march of Bataan, and he was incarcerated with those men facing inevitable extinction, death; and he described to me when General MacArthur returned to the Philippines and to Bataan.  He described to me how it was when those soldiers, American soldiers, came to the compound in which they were incarcerated, imprisoned; and they begin to snip.  They begin to cut the barbed wire that surrounded them; and the imprisoned American soldiers, facing death, thought that surely this was the end.  And the American liberators said, "Yank, don’t you be afraid.  We’re here.  We’re yours.  You’re free."  And he said it was unbelievable: the infinite joy and gladness of those American soldiers on Bataan when they were liberated.

That’s the good news of the gospel.  It’s the best hearing in this world.  In the first part of this century, there came to pass in Wales one of the most marvelous revivals that the world has ever seen.  It was led by Evan Roberts, and out of that revival came this word:

 

The Lord was slain on Calvary! 

That’s the news!  That’s the news! 

To set a world of sinners free, 

That’s the news!  That’s the news! 

‘Twas there His precious blood was shed, 

‘Twas there He bowed His sacred head, 

But now He’s risen from the dead, 

That’s the news!  That’s the news! 

 

His work’s reviving all around, 

That’s the news!  That’s the news! 

And many have salvation found –  

That’s the news!  That’s the news! 

And since these souls have caught the flame, 

They shout hosannas to His Name, 

And all around they spread His fame –  

That’s the news!  That’s the news! 

 

Where’er we meet, you always say, 

What’s the news?  What’s the news? 

Pray, what’s the order of the day? 

What’s the news?  What’s the news? 

Oh!  I’ve got good news to tell! 

My Savior has done all things well, 

And triumphed over death and hell –  

That’s the news!  That’s the news! 

["What’s the News," Anonymous] 

 

There’s nothing like it in the earth: the wonder of the miracle, of the marvel, of the triumph of Christ over death and the grave. 

Now, we’re going to look at that in just the few minutes left.  What’s the news?  What’s the good news?  One: our Lord has triumphed over sin and brought us victory over our sins. "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us" [Psalm 103:12].  That’s what the Psalm is saying. 

In the third chapter of the prophet Zechariah – do you remember?  The prophet is looking at Joshua, the high priest, and he is clothed in filthy garments; and Satan is by his side to accuse him [Zechariah 3:1, 3].  And the Lord God sends an angel and says to that emissary from heaven, "Take off his filthy garments and clothe him in garments of glory and life [Zechariah 3:3-5].  That’s what Christ has done for us [1 Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 5:25-26; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 3:21]. 

You look at yourself just for a moment.  What if I had a screen up here, and on that screen I published the secret sins of your life: the thoughts of lust and evil in your heart and the things that you hide out of sight?  What if I placed that on a camera up here for our people to look at?  There’s not a one of us but would bow his head in shame, embarrassed beyond despair [Romans 3:10-20, 23].  That’s what happens to us before the judgment seat of Almighty God when we stand before the Lord in our sins, and the whole world looks at them at the great judgment day of the Almighty.  What a sadness.  What a tragedy. 

But Jesus, in the death on the cross, has taken away our sins [Matthew 8:17; John 1:29; Romans 3:21-26, 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 9:28].  Our filthy garments He has exchanged for garments of light and glory [Galatians 3:27; Revelation 3:4-5, 18, 7:13-14, 19:7-8]; and we stand before Him pure, forgiven, washed, cleansed [Romans 4:7, 5:1; 1; 32; Colossians 2:13;; Hebrews 10:22].  That’s what Jesus has done for us.  That’s the good news; that’s the good news. 

What’s the good news?  That Jesus has overcome death and the grave: that’s the good news [1 Corinthians 15:54-57].  Paul said, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is a gain" [Philippians 1:21].  Death now is nothing other than I exchange this decaying body for immortalized, glorified body like that of my risen Lord [Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 15:51-54]. 

I’ve been here, as you know, now toward 46 years; and I see my people grow old.  And in those years and years, practically all of the generations that I’ve known have died; and I’m facing that inevitable day.  We face that tragic hour.  We grow old; we die.  But death to the Christian is but the exchange of this old, worn-out, decaying house in which I live for a new house, and a new body, and a new home in heaven [2 Corinthians 4:12-18; Philippians 3:20-21; Colossians 3:4; 1 John 3:2].  Jesus has done that for us.  That’s the news!  That’s the good news!  What’s the good news?  That the terrible judgment for us has already passed [John 5:24; Romans 8:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; 1 John 3:14].  It’s over with. 

I grew up on a farm in eastern New Mexico and in the northwestern part of the Panhandle of Texas in a desert land; and one of the terrible nightmares was always the possibility of a great, vast, destructive prairie fire.  I’ve seen them on the horizon.  Dear God, they are awesome!  Well, what do you do in the face of a vast conflagration like that?  What you do is you burn all of the prairie around you.  You burn it around you, and your house sits there in the midst of a prairie that is already burned; and when that terrible prairie fire comes, the judgment for you has already passed.  The burning for you is already done. 

That’s the way it is in our lives.  Before God, the judgment for us is already passed.  It’s already been accepted and received by Jesus Christ our Lord, and I am delivered and free.  This is the good news.  That’s the good news. 

What’s the good news?  The good news is that this message of salvation and hope is addressed to all people.  The angel said, remember, "I bring you glad tidings of great joy which shall be to all people" [Luke 2:10].  And in the commission that the Lord delivered to His apostles, He said, "Preach this message to every creature," every human being [Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:46-48]. 

I can imagine Simon Peter standing before the risen Lord and saying to Him, "Lord, do you really mean to every human being?  The announcement of this good news, these glad tidings, the forgiveness of our sins, the passing through of our judgment, and the clothing of our souls in righteousness – You mean to every human being, every human being?"  And the Lord says, "Simon, yes." 

And Simon says, "Lord, do you mean to the Jews who slew Thee?"  And the Lord says, "To the Jew first and also to the Greek" [Romans 1:16]. 

"But, Lord, do You mean to include that high priest who mocked You and who delivered You unto death? [Matthew 26:57-66; Mark 14:55-64, 15:1; Luke 22:54, 66-71, 23:1]  Do You mean the good news for him?" 

"Yes, Simon, for that high priest who mocked Me and delivered Me to death." 

"Lord, do You mean that I’m to present this message of salvation and forgiveness, the good news, to that soldier that beat You with stripes and the blood gushed out?" [Matthew 26:67; Mark 14:65; Luke 22:63-65]. And the Lord says, "Simon, to him, to him also, the blood that cleanses and washes away [your] sins." 

"But, Lord, do You mean to preach the good news to that man who slapped You with the back of his hand and spit in Your face?" [Matthew 26:67, 27:30; Mark 14:65, 15:19; John 18:22, 19:3]   And the Lord says, "Yes, Simon, to him, the good news.  If he’ll turn and repent and believe, I’ll make him a royal member of the family of the court of heaven." 

"But, Lord, do You mean the good news to that man that wove that crown of thorns and pressed it on Your head?" [Matthew 27:29; Mark 15:17; John 19:2]

"Yes, Simon, to him; and if he’ll turn and repent, I’ll crown him with glory in heaven."

"Lord, that soldier who mocked You with a reed, and slapped You, and smote You on Your head, and bowed down in sarcasm and said, ‘The king’ [Matthew 27:27-30; Mark 15:16-19; Luke 23:11; John 19:1-5].  You mean him?"  And the Lord says, "Simon Peter, if he’ll turn, I’ll give him a scepter of gold in glory." 

"Lord, You mean to preach the gospel to those men who drove those nails in Your hands and in Your feet and raised You on the cross? [Matthew 27:33-35; Mark 15:22-25; Luke 23:32-33; John 19:16-18]  You mean preach the gospel to them?" 

"Yes, Simon.  If they’ll turn, if they’ll repent, I’ll make them a part of the glorious part that protects the throne of God in heaven." 

"Lord, do You mean that soldier that thrust that spear into Your heart? [John 19:34]  You mean preach the gospel of salvation and forgiveness unto him?"

"Simon," the Lord says, "Simon, that blood and that water that flowed from My riven heart – that will cleanse even that soldier who thrust the spear into My side." 

"Lord, You mean You can forgive me?  Me?  You mean the gospel of salvation, the good news of eternal life, is extended even to me? To me, a sinner, to me?"

And the Lord replies, "To you I promise the forgiveness of sins [Matthew 26:26-28; Luke 24:45-47], the resurrection from among the dead [John 6:38-40, 11:23-26], and entrance into heaven [Luke 23:43; John 14:2], and a mansion in the city of God [John 14:2-3], if you will just open your heart to receive Me" [John 1:12].  That is the good news. 

 

Could we with ink the ocean fill, 

And were the skies of parchment made, 

Were every stalk on earth a quill, 

And every man a scribe by trade; 

To write the love of God above 

Would drain that ocean dry; 

Nor could the scroll contain the whole, 

Though stretched from sky to sky. 

 

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure! 

How measureless and strong! 

It shall forevermore endure –  

The saints’ and angels’ song. 

["The Love of God," by Frederick M. Lehman, 1917] 

 

This is the good news.  This is the gospel.  This is the love and mercy of Jesus, our Lord.