Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
and that He was buried,
and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures
(1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
When Paul wrote these words to the Corinthians, he understood the historical background of the passion of Christ as the culmination (fulfilment) of the event that delivered a nation from the slavery and oppression of Egypt to freedom and redemption. I like the way he introduced this to the Romans, “The gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness.” These scriptures were the same that Paul encouraged Timothy to continue in the things which he “learned and become convinced of” (1 Timothy 3:14). He reminded him that “from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 3:15).
The reason for the Gospel is because “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). Man was condemned because Adam introduced corruption into the world by his transgression (Romans 5:12). Here is a brief summary of what happened according to Genesis 1-11:
Chaos to order in creation
Disunity between God and man with the transgression of Adam
Judgment of the world by the flood
Human attempt at unity with the Tower of Babel
Disharmony among humanity with dividing cultures
However, all is not lost. Once again, God steps into human history and speaks. “Go!” From this, Abraham is called to plant the seed of a new culture. This is the new humanity that is formed “in Christ,” the word made flesh. “God, after He spoke long ago … has finally spoken to us in his Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world” (Hebrews 1:1-2). No lovelier words could he speak — Jesus.
This month, the Christian world celebrates what is considered by us as one of the greatest moments in history — the resurrection of Jesus. Of course, before the resurrection comes the gruesome death and burial. These mandated that humanity look at the historical evidence that Jesus was a real man who could die! However, unlike us, death did not hold him captive. Rather, “through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Hebrews 2:14-15). The agency by which this happened was the power of the resurrection.
In Galatians 2, Philippians 3, and Romans 6, Paul instructs his readers that there is a necessity to connect with Jesus’ historical death. This is not done merely by believing he died. In Galatians 2:20, Paul will say he was crucified and raised with Christ. In Philippians there is a sharing in both the power of the resurrection and the sufferings of Christ Jesus. Finally, in Romans 6, Paul clarifies how this is actually accomplished. “
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin
Paul’s conclusion to this matter is in Romans 8. In chapters two and three of Romans, he describes how all have sinned. In chapters four and five, he instructs his audience that God’s remedy for this was through the covenant with Abraham. This covenant is ultimately ratified by the blood of Jesus. Paul then identifies in chapter six how we can partake of the covenant by our contact with the blood of the covenant that was made available in his death. Understanding that our humanness introduced by Adam constantly wars with our spirits, Paul ultimately concludes that although God has revealed his wrath, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). For Paul, the conclusion is that the curse will be lifted from humanity and creation who waits like a woman in labor (Romans 8:19-22). Because of this, nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).
This is Paul’s gospel. It is the Gospel I believe and teach.