1 Corinthians 15 is a very powerful chapter. Paul begins by reviewing the facts around the life of Jesus. He is making the case that this is the foundation for the church and our spiritual lives. It has to be true in order for our salvation for it is the Truth ”in which you stand, and by which you are being saved”. Jesus birth, life, death and resurrection are the very core of Christianity. Here is the description of Jesus as shared by Paul beginning with His death on the Cross:
- “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures
- he was buried
- he was raised on the third day
- he appeared to Cephas
- then to the twelve
- he appeared to more than five hundred brothers
- he appeared to James
- then to all the apostles
- he appeared also to me”
Paul is laying out the witnesses to Christ’s resurrection. Does it seem like a little overkill here – a few more details than needed. Not really since this is the very foundation of our faith. Paul is making sure there is no doubt that Jesus arose. He wants no one to doubt that Jesus overcame death. He says it this way: “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain”.
He goes on to remind us “But by the grace of God I am what I am”. All of us can make that statement. It is by God’s grace that any of us are alive and living life as we do today. God is the Creator and the Giver of all. We sometimes forget this truth. We buy into the old adage that we can pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and go get the American dream all on our own. I don’t think it works quite like that. We tend to buy into the lies that we should live this way: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die”. While we will all die at some point – life as a Christ Follower is not about just enjoying whatever happens. God has a plan for us. And Paul reminds us that who we hang out with impacts our ability to live according to His plan: “Bad company ruins good morals”. We need to surround ourselves with the right folks. If we don’t we will mess up and Paul is clear that we must not “go on sinning”. Who are you hanging with these days?
The chapter ends with my life verse. Do you have a verse that defines your life? God gave this too me over 30 years ago as the key verse to define how I live. Paul ends the chapter with it: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain”. I have had that verse memorized since my college days. And often I come back to it when I am discouraged with my work for God. It has been the rock of my relationship with Him. It ties into the truth Paul has shared earlier – to be steadfast, immovable, abounding I have to be surrounded with the right folks. We won’t live that way in isolation. But the key for me has been the last few words – knowing my labor is not in vain. I often hear the whispers from the enemy that all the things I do to minister for God don’t matter. After all, I am just a lowly sinner and no one is really listening. But God’s promise here keeps me focused and moving forward. I realize it is not my job to make sure my labor matters – God has promised that and takes that responsibility. My job is to just keep on walking faithfully in obedience and leave the results to Him!