Two thousand years ago, a crowd walked on the road ascending from Jericho to Jerusalem. Many were caught up with thoughts about the Passover; all, but one, were ignorant to what would occur just outside Jerusalem on the eve of the Passover. On His mind was this: His final journey, His betrayal, His last supper with the twelve now walking with him, His agonizing in a garden, the holiness of God His Father, the darkness, and finally the death – an extraordinary death – His death. The importance of this death, its significance, and its accordance with Scripture combine to provide the foundation to the message called “the gospel” (1Cor 15:1).
The death of this Man, the Christ, is what Paul the apostle places first in importance in all he taught and wrote. He says in his letter to the Corinthians, “. . . I delivered unto you first of all . . . how that Christ died . . .” (1Cor. 15:3). Prior to his salvation, Paul knew that Jesus had died, and, with religious zeal, he consented to the death and imprisoning of those who claimed that this Jesus was both Lord and Christ. While on the road to persecute Christians, Paul met this Jesus and his life changed when he realized that the Messiah was Jesus whom he persecuted” (Acts 9:5; 22:8; 26:15). Paul preached first what he had directly received and that which effected an eternal change in his life: the all-important fact that “Christ died.”
The death of Christ is significant because it was for others. It was not when others were at the height of greatness, nor when they had achieved a level of righteousness, neither was it when the nations had entered a certain acceptance with their Creator God. It was at the time and depth of great need. Five times this apostle, born a Jew, writes, “Christ died” (Rom 5:6; 5:8; 14:15; 1Cor 8:11; 15:3), underscoring the significance and suitability of this death. The timing was perfect. In his letter to the Romans, Paul notes that “when we were yet without strength in due time Christ died” (5:6). It fit us perfectly, for “while we were yet sinners Christ died for us”(5:8). Here, in his first epistle to the Corinthians, it meets the greatest need: “Christ died for our sins“(15:3). Christ did not die for His own sin; He had none. He died for “our sins.”
To those saddened and disappointed by the death of Christ, the words of Christ himself are best suited, “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things …” (Luke 24:26). Here, to the Corinthians, Paul writes that “Christ died … according to the scriptures” (1Cor 15:3). From the first prediction of His death in Genesis 3:15, through the symbolic references in Old Testament animal sacrifices, on to the sufferings recorded in such Psalms as 22 and 69, and finally to the prophets such as Isaiah in chapter 53, “nothing was more clearly prefigured and foretold, and nothing more punctually and fully answered.” His death, its purpose in purchasing redemption for “our sin,” and its fulfillment on the cross were in accordance with Gods Word.
The foundation to the gospel message is this: “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3). It comes first because it executed the contract of eternal redemption without which lives cannot be eternally changed. It is significant in that it was for “our sins.” It is “according to” Gods Word, giving the gospel message its trustworthiness. To what conclusion can you come, other than that a Bible-based salvation is founded solely in the death of Christ for your sin?