This is what the Lord says: “Cursed is the person who trusts humans, who makes flesh and blood his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. He will be like a bush in the wilderness. He will not see when something good comes. He will live in the dry places in the desert, in a salty land where no one can live. Blessed is the person who trusts the Lord. The Lord will be his confidence.
He will be like a tree that is planted by water. It will send its roots down to a stream. It will not be afraid in the heat of summer. Its leaves will turn green. It will not be anxious during droughts. It will not stop producing fruit.”
1 Corinthians 15:1-8, 12-22
Brothers and sisters, I am making known to you the Good News which I already told you, which you received, and on which your faith is based. You are saved by this Good News if you hold on to the doctrine I taught you, rather than believed without purpose. I passed on to you the most important points of doctrine that I had received, that being: Christ died to take away our sins as the Scriptures predicted.
He was placed in a tomb. He was brought back to life on the third day as the Scriptures predicted. He appeared to Peter. Next he appeared to the twelve apostles. Then he appeared to more than 500 believers at one time. (Most of these people are still living, but some have died.) Next he appeared to James. Then he appeared to all the apostles. Last of all, he also appeared to me.
If we have told you that Christ has been brought back to life, how can some of you say that coming back from the dead is impossible? If the dead can’t be brought back to life, then Christ hasn’t come back to life. If Christ hasn’t come back to life, our message has no meaning and your faith also is without purpose.
That would make us witnesses who lied about God because we testified that he brought Christ back to life. If it is true that the dead don’t come back to life, then God didn’t bring Christ back to life. Certainly, if the dead don’t come back to life, then Christ hasn’t come back to life either. If Christ hasn’t come back to life, your faith is worthless and sin still has you in its power. Then those who have died as believers in Christ no longer exist. If Christ is our hope in this life only, we deserve more pity than any other people.
Yet Christ has come back from the dead. He is the first-fruits of those who have slept to come back to life. Since a man brought death, a man also brought life back from death. As everyone dies because of Adam, so also everyone will be made alive because of Christ.
Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Jewish council. He came to Jesus one night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that God has sent you as a teacher. No one can perform the miracles you perform unless God is with him.”
Jesus replied to Nicodemus, “I can guarantee this truth: No one can see God’s kingdom without being born from above.”
Nicodemus asked him, “How can anyone be born when he’s an old man? He can’t go back inside his mother a second time to be born, can he?”
Jesus answered Nicodemus, “I can guarantee this truth: No one can enter God’s kingdom without being born of water and the Spirit. Flesh and blood give birth to flesh and blood, but the Spirit gives birth to things that are spiritual. Don’t be surprised when I tell you that all of you must be born from above. The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you don’t know where the wind comes from or where it’s going. That’s the way it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
Nicodemus replied, “How can that be?”
Jesus told Nicodemus, “You are the teacher of Israel. Can you not understand this? I can guarantee this truth: We know what we’re talking about, and we confirm what we’ve seen. Yet, you don’t accept our message. 1f you don’t believe me when I tell you about things on earth, how will you believe me when I tell you about things in heaven? No one has gone to heaven except the Son of Man, who came from heaven. As Moses lifted up the snake on a pole in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up. Then everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.”
God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but to save the world. Those who believe in him won’t be condemned, but those who don’t believe are already condemned because they don’t believe in God’s only Son.
This is why people are condemned: The light came into the world. Yet, people loved the dark rather than the light because their actions were evil. People who do what is wrong hate the light and don’t come to the light. They don’t want their actions to be exposed, but people who do what is true come to the light so that the things they do for God may be clearly seen.