1 Corinthians 15:1-2 ESV
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
The gospel Paul preached
What was the gospel that Paul preached? He taught that we are all sinners by nature, who are incapable of attaining God’s divine approval on our own merit. We are not saved from our sins because of our own righteousness or because of good works that we do (Rom. 3-5).
For, it was while we were still living in sin that Jesus gave his life up for us. He was crucified on a cross, and he rose from the dead, though, that we might die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness, all in his power and strength (Rom. 5:8; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17).
For, he became sin for us when he died on that cross, so that in his death he might put sin to death in our lives. So, when we believe in him to be our Lord and Savior, by the Spirit we die with him to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Rom. 6:1-23; 2 Co. 5:21; Eph. 4:17-24).
Yet, if we continue living in sin (making it our practice), we are still slaves to sin, which leads to death, and which does not lead to life eternal with God (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:19-21; Gal. 6:7-8).
Which you received
If we have received this gospel which Paul taught, and Jesus and his other NT apostles taught, we have embraced it, made it our own, taken possession of it, and accepted its truths into our lives. We have taken hold of its truths, and we apply its truths to our daily lives.
Thus, the gospel message is having an effect in our lives. It is bearing fruit. Our lives are not the same as before. Once we were enslaved to sin, doing what we wanted to do, living for sin and self-pleasure. Now we are free from our bondage to sin to now walk (conduct our lives) in Christ’s holiness.
This is not some mere acknowledgment of who Jesus is and what he did for us in dying for our sins and being resurrected from the dead. This is not some intellectual assent to his grace which provided for us salvation from sin. And, this is not some emotional decision made, either, in order to escape hell and have the promise of heaven when we die.
This receiving of the gospel is submission to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives. It is surrender to his will for our lives. It is a turning away from our former lives of living for sin and self to follow our Lord in obedience to his commands, not as a means of earning our salvation, but as part of the faith gifted to us by God necessary for our salvation from sin (Rom. 6:1-23).
In which you stand
If we stand in/on this gospel, our lives are supported by it and we live what we say we believe. This is not saying we will never sin, but that sin no longer is our master. Jesus is now our Lord. And, our desire is for him. We believe what his Word teaches, and because we believe it, we do what it says, by God’s grace, and in his strength and power at work within us.
We do not waver back and forth in our beliefs so that our beliefs and our practices change with the shifting of the wind. We are not one person when we are around some people and another person when we are around other people. We don’t act one way when everyone is watching and then act another way when we think no one is looking. We are who we are, and we believe what we believe consistently and persistently.
By which you are being saved
Our salvation from sin is not a one-time experience, then we live our lives, and then one day we die and go to heaven. The Bible teaches us that our salvation is a process which will not be complete until Jesus returns to take us home to be with him forever. Some people call this the process of sanctification. Yet, scripture teaches that we are saved (past), we are being saved (present) and that we will be saved (future) when Christ returns.
[Rom. 8:24; Rom. 13:11; 1 Co. 1:18; 1 Co. 15:1-2; 2 Co. 2:15; Eph. 2:5; 2 Tim. 1:8-9; Heb. 5:9; Heb. 9:28; 1 Pet. 1:5, 8-9]
Also, our salvation from sin is not a mere escape from hell and the promise of heaven when we die. It is not mere forgiveness of our sins, either. Just as the children of Israel were saved out of slavery in Egypt, we are saved out of our slavery to sin, for this is why Jesus died. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). But, this is something that must take place every day (Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
If you hold fast to the Word
We are being saved by this gospel IF we hold fast to the Word, i.e. to the teaching of the gospel as taught us by Paul, by Jesus, and by the other NT apostles, i.e. by the writers of the NT.
To hold fast means to continue (persevere, persist) to adhere to (follow, obey) the gospel message.
And, this fits, too, with progressive salvation (saved, being saved, will be saved). And, it fits, too, with many scriptures which, in the original language, show present tense belief (believing) as required for salvation from sin and eternal life with God (Jn. 3:16, for one).
In other words, we are not saved from our sins on the basis of past belief. For, true faith in Jesus Christ continues to the end, it perseveres, it grows, it matures, and it walks (conducts itself) by the Spirit of God and no longer according to our flesh (Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
Unless you believed in vain
There are many people who do “believe” in vain because their faith is human faith, and because they are not following the gospel of Jesus Christ but a man-made gospel which tells them that Christ requires nothing of them other than some non-descript faith.
Thus, they are convinced that the only faith required of them is some one-time experience which then guarantees them heaven when they die, regardless of how they live while still on the earth.
So, if we don’t want to “believe” in vain, then we need to make sure first of all that we are hearing the right gospel. And, we can know that by reading the New Testament from beginning to end, in context. For, many false doctrines arise from taking scriptures out of context and by applying them in ways not intended by those who penned God’s Word to us.
Then, we need to believe the correct gospel by surrendering our hearts and lives to Jesus Christ and by making him both Savior and Lord of our lives.
And then, by God’s grace, and by his Spirit, and in his power and strength at work within our lives, we need to persevere in the faith we have been gifted, and continue in God’s grace, which delivers us from our slavery to sin, and which frees us to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to God.
An Original Work / June 24, 2012
Based off John 10:1-18 NIV
My sheep hear me. They know me.
They listen to my voice and obey.
I call them and lead them.
They know my voice, so they follow me.
They will never follow strangers.
They will run away from them.
The voice of a stranger they know not;
They do not follow him.
So, I tell you the truth that
I am the gate, so you enter in.
Whoever does enter
Will find forgiveness and will be saved.
Nonetheless whoever enters
Not by the gate; other way,
He is the thief and a robber.
Listen not, the sheep to him.
Oh, I am the Good Shepherd,
Who laid his own life down for the sheep.
I know them. They know me.
They will live with me eternally.
The thief only comes to steal and
Kill and to destroy the church.
I have come to give you life that
You may have it to the full…
They know my voice, so they follow me.
Sunday, April 14, 2019