This evening we had Stuart Olyott for the first of an intended two times. In his inimitable style he took us to 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 and the greatest message in the world. He began by pointing out that some things are more important than others and there is nothing more important than the gospel. In the gospel we learn how God saves us from God. With wonderful illustrations he brought it home so well. Things like the family on the eighth floor of the burning building and having the passport were used with freshness and power. It is important for saving people and for helping them to be clear whether they are truly saved.
He then came to the matter of what the gospel is. He began with an anecdote about a group claimiing to be evangelical but that could not agree what the gospel was. That is not how Paul answers the question of what the gospel is. What Paul says here begins firstly with Christ. Plenty of people preach a message but we must preach a person. Christ, of course, is not a surname but a reference to the fact that he is the Anointed One - the prophet, priest and king who other prophets, priests and kings anticipated.. We don't have to guess what God is like, how to come to him. He has come.
And so he expounded the person and coming of Christ and his death - his atoning death. He went on to the burial and resurrection - not a hallucination but a reality. “The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the best attested fact in history.” (Matthew Arnold).
The message is simple but it is easy to get inured to this message if we do not react to it. Unless God opens a person's heart there is no hope.