“I am so tired and exhausted, this Calculus is killing me. It’s way harder than the high school curriculum. My head is pounding heavily; I need to take a break!” Brandon was complaining to Alan who was sitting next to him in the library. “We have been studying 4 hours non-stop. Let’s take a coffee break; we still have time before the exam tomorrow,” Alan agreed and they walked toward the coffee shop.
“Brandon, any plans for the summer?” Alan was sipping his coffee. “I am taking my life one day at a time, there is so much going on right now, I don’t even want to plan about next week. After the exam tomorrow, I need to help out with the Easter service on Sunday, which means planning and practicing non-stop again!” Brandon blurted out. “Easter,” Alan said, “Do you actually believe that Jesus Christ was resurrected?” “Why not?” Brandon replied, “I was brought up under such an atmosphere and my dad always said that Christ is living in his heart. I have never doubted that!” “Do you believe whatever your dad said? How about yourself? How do you know that Jesus is raised from the dead? Overall, he was just a normal human being.” Alan was challenging Brandon’s faith. Brandon was a bit shocked and unprepared. Alan kept on saying, “Have you read the book ‘The Da Vinci Code’? There would be a movie coming up based on it. It mentioned that Jesus was just a human being and he actually married with a girl. How could a human be dead and raised to life again? I don’t think so.” Brandon was a bit upset and started to protest, “That is just a fiction, it is not a true story. A fiction could be anything, as long as the author loves to write, he has his freewill and his own creative writing. That does not imply that everything he writes is the truth. Why are you taking it so seriously? I need to go back to my study now.” Brandon stomped away irritably, leaving Alan dumbfounded.
“Dad, I don’t get it,” Brandon was whining at the dinner table. “What is it, my boy?” Dr Cooper asked patiently. “Why do people always love to pick on Christianity? They don’t believe in Easter and the resurrection of Christ. How could we prove that Christ is resurrected? You know the book ‘The Da Vinci Code’, Alan is so crazy about it and he actually believes in everything the author writes, but that is just a fiction and is not true, right?”
“Brandon, calm down, you need to stay cool. People will never listen to you if you have a defensive and scornful attitude, even though you are 100% right! Since Alan loves to read, why don’t you ask him to read the book ‘Breaking the Da Vinci Code’ by Dr Darrell Bock? Dr Bock is a renowned scholar and a New Testament professor at the Dallas Seminary. His book is probably one of the best that promise to break, crack, unlock or decode ‘The Da Vinci Code’. A coin has 2 sides. Everything has its pros and cons. Can you make use of this chance to share about the truth instead of protesting? The Da Vinci Code offers Christians an exceptional educational opportunity to learn about the story of how the New Testament came to be, to explore the real identity of Mary Magdalene and to talk about how marital sex can be holy….In this way, we can equip congregation to build up the faithful….” Dr Cooper cruised on tranquilly.
“Dad, no wonder you are my role model, you are always so composed, so shrewd, so easy to understand and so faithful. I think you are not just the best ophthalmologist, but also the best apologist!” Brandon looked at his Dad in awe and admiration.
Dr Cooper smiled while shaking his head, “Brandon, there is something in my life that I have never told you. I used to be like Alan, but my life was transformed during one costly incident…” Dr Cooper sat back in his arm chair with a long sigh and stared toward the fire place with watery eyes, “See the picture over there? That’s Uncle Frank, my best friend and mentor…… (To be continued)
Your Initial Response
Do you really believe that Christ is raised from the dead? How would you respond to your non-believing friends and relatives regarding this?
1 Corinthians 15:1–11
1Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.
2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
5and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.
6After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.
7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,
8and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
9For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
11Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed. (1 Corinthians 15:1–11 NIV)
1) “Eye” (“i=Eye”)
iEXP Bible Study Method
1 Draw a question mark at the place where you have difficulty of understanding.
2 Circle all the words that are related with humankind.
3 Underline all the words containing “gospel.”
4 Refer to other translations and come up with some new insights.
2) “Expound” (E)
iEXP Bible Study Method
The prophecies of Jesus Christ about shedding His blood on the cross and rising from the dead on the third day were recorded in the Old Testament a long time ago, proving that He was the Messiah (the Christ) that God prepared for humankind. Furthermore, many people witnessed the resurrection of Jesus Christ and had their lives changed as a result; these evidences were hard to refute.
1 What does the gospel mean to you?
2 How did the Apostle Paul comment on the gospel (1 Cor. 15:3–4)?
3 Why did the Apostle Paul refer to a group of people who witnessed the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:5–8)?
4 Why did the Apostle Paul claim to be the least of the apostles (1 Cor. 15:9)?
5 The Apostle Paul declared he worked harder than all the other apostles. Was he thinking too high of himself (1 Cor. 15:10)?
The gospel is good news of great joy that will be for all the people (Lk 2 :10). The Corinthians received the gospel through Paul, so that they could believe and become righteous (15:1). The believers could stand firm, showing that they truly accept the gospel (15:1). The New International Version paraphrases it as, “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.”
If the believers hold firm to the gospel, they would be saved for sure. If it was not directed toward Christ the Lord, that is, did not believe Christ as personal Saviour and the resurrected Lord, then, all the price that paid as well as the faith would be in vain (15:2).
The Scripture that Paul referred to was the Old Testament. God put the message of Messiah in the Old Testament (cf Lk 24: 25 – 27; Acts 2 : 25 – 31; 26: 22 – 23) so that when time came, Jesus Christ would born to become the Saviour, being sacrificed to God and became the redeemer for sinners. The Apostle Paul pointed out three important points about the gospel according to Jesus Christ: Firstly, the gospel relates sinless Christ and sinful humans together. Humankind sinned; therefore, we need the redemption of Christ. Secondly, Jesus Christ died on the cross, bled for our sins, and was buried. This is a historical fact. Thirdly, Jesus Christ not only died on the cross, but was buried and overcame death on the third day, showing that he was really the resurrected Lord, and also the one who had power over life and death.
What Paul considered as first importance was the gospel, and this was what the Corinthians ought to stand firm in it.
Paul quoted a list of eye-witnesses for Christ’s resurrection:
Peter and John both saw the empty tomb (Jn. 20:2), and Peter was the one who later saw the resurrected Lord face to face (Jn. 20: 19 – 20).
2 The Twelve Apostles
The twelve became a general address to the apostles. Beside Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus, all the eleven apostles saw the resurrected Lord with their own eyes (Jn. 20: 19 – 20; Lk. 24:36; Acts 1:22).
3 More than Five Hundred of the Brothers
Only here refer to the five hundred believers in the New Testament.
This might be the son of Zebedee (Mk. 3: 17 – 18), or the brother of Jesus; the latter is one of the early church leaders, and is also the author of the book of James (Acts 15: 13 – 21)
5 All the Apostles
It is clearly depicted in the gospel of John that all the apostles saw the risen Lord (Jn. 20: 19 – 29).
“Abnormally born” means “untimely birth,” “miscarriage,” “abortion.” Paul had not been a disciple, was torn out of his former course of life, saw the Lord after the forty days, and was not fit in himself for his new life and calling. Some scholars think that Paul talked in this way just to show that it was quite abnormal for him to become one of the apostles. Christ revealed Himself to Paul, making him know that Christ was the Messiah that the Israelites were waiting for, in turn let him receive the salvation (Acts 9: 1 – 8; 18:9,10; 23:11; 2 Co 12: 1 – 7). God granted Paul the office of apostle, which he thought he did not deserve. Paul claimed himself to be the least of the apostles, this is because he had persecuted Christians in the past. There was a very bad record in his personal history. The past history always reminds Paul that he did not deserve to be saved and become an apostle. This was out of the grace of the Lord so that Paul could know Christ and serve Him. Paul was not exaggerated, this is true. He worked really hard for Christ, far more than the rest of the apostles. Although John lived longer than Paul, his work was not as extensive as Paul’s.
7 The Corinthian Church
Not only did the above believers witness the resurrected Christ, even the Corinthians became the witness for Christ. Although they did not see Christ face to face, they personally accepted and received the gospel, which made them the witness as well.
The Bible works together with the life experience and transformation of sincere believers in Christ, proving that Jesus Christ is the resurrected Saviour.
3) “Exercise” (X)
iEXP Bible Study Method
1 After Jesus Christ rose from the dead, the apostles and many believers witnessed His appearance at that time. As for us, we claim to be Christians, have we ever experienced the resurrected Christ in our hearts?
2 As the truth about the resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the most important principles of Christianity, believers should wholeheartedly believe in it and preach this biblical truth (1 Cor. 15:1-2).
3 Memorise 15:3–4.
3 I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me—that Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. 4 He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, as the Scriptures said. (1 Corinthians 15:3–4 NLT)
4 Resolve to read more apologetic books about the resurrection of Christ, as means of strengthening one’s own faith and able to testify to other people more effectively.
5 Owing to the fact that the Lord’s Day is a day to remember Christ’s victory over death, we must have a higher regard on Sunday worship.
4) “Proclaim” (P)
By applying the biblical truths to their lives, believers would experience God. When the Bible students experience God and His truths, they should follow the example of the early Christians of testifying to non-believers and believers boldly. By means of speech, we witness to non-believing friends and to edify believers alike. The fourth step of the iEXP Bible study is “Proclaim”.
iEXP Bible Study Method
After finished studying the text, try to apply the truths to your daily living, family life and church life, and pray that you will experience the truthfulness and power of God’s Word. Grab the opportunity to share your experience with non-believers and believers, in family altar, small groups and social gatherings, as a way of witnessing the power of the gospel to non-believers and edification of believers.