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.”
A Little Background Here
This letter is to the church that is in Corinth, which included males and females. Now, this is speaking of the entire body of Christ who lived in that city. This is not speaking of a building or of a church denomination or of one specific place where the church met, for they met in houses and wherever they could find a place to meet. And they are described for us in chapter one as those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be saints.
Now, the church is the ekklesia, the people of God who are called out from the world and to God, to follow him in his ways and in his truth. We are those who are belonging to the Lord, and he is our Owner-Master. We are those who are set apart (unlike, different) from the world because we are being conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ, which is what holy is. So we are no longer to live in sin, like the world, but we are to obey our Lord.
Now, not everyone who met with the believers in Jesus Christ were true followers of Christ, like it is today. And not everyone of genuine faith were following the Lord in wholehearted devotion to him. Thus, the apostles had to regularly talk with the church about sin, and about turning away from sin to follow Jesus in obedience, and how to deal with unrepentant sin within the gatherings of the church, such as is described for us in chapter five.
And solemn warnings were given to all the churches (all gatherings of the church), pretty much, regarding taking God’s grace for granted, and against remaining in or going back to living in sin. And they were told quite frankly that they were not to be deceived, for neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. For the unrighteous are those who make sin their deliberate practice.
And Paul said something interesting in chapter nine. He talked about the Christian faith walk as us running in a race (1 Co 9:24-27; cf. Heb 12:1-2; 2 Tim 4:7-8). And he encouraged the Christians to run this race so that they may obtain the prize, which is our salvation completed and eternal life with God. And then he stated that he disciplined his body and he kept it under control, “lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
Following that, in chapter ten, the Christians are solemnly warned to not follow after the example of the children of Israel during their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. We are not to desire evil as some of them did. For many of them were idolaters, revelers, the sexually immoral, those who put Christ to the test, and those who grumbled against God. And most of them died in the wilderness and did not inherit the kingdom of heaven.
So, we are to flee from all of that, for we can’t partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons, too. We can’t live in sin and walk in righteousness at the same time, for these are opposed to each other. So, the Scriptures are quite clear on this issue. If sin is what we practice, and if righteousness and obedience are not what we practice, then we will not inherit eternal life with God, because we don’t really know God/Jesus.
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 ESV
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures..”
The Gospel Preached
So, when Paul said that he wanted to remind the Christians (and those professing Christianity) of the gospel he preached to them, he wasn’t referring to just what followed (vv. 3-58), but he was referring back to everything he just said, too. For the entirety of the gospel is not just Jesus’ death and resurrection, though without his death and resurrection we would have no forgiveness of sins and salvation and eternal life with God.
So, of first importance is that we teach about Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus Christ, God the Son, left his throne in heaven, came to earth, and took on human form. He suffered like we suffer, and he was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. While he walked this earth (for approximately 33 years) he was both fully God and fully man (human). And one day those who hated him had him put to death on a cross.
Jesus Christ, God the Son, although he knew no sin, yet he became sin for us on that cross. Thus, when he died he put our sins to death with him, and when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, Satan, hell, and death, on our behalf. And what that means for us is that, by God-given faith in Jesus Christ, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Romans 6 and Ephesians 4).
For, the Scriptures teach us that Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who died and who was raised. He shed his blood for us on that cross to buy us back for God (to redeem us) so that we would now honor God with our bodies. And he died to free us from addiction to sin so we would no longer walk in sin but in righteousness.
And then let’s look at what it says in Ephesians 4. We are warned there that we should no longer walk (in conduct, in practice) as those who make no profession of faith in Jesus Christ. We are not to give ourselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity, not that everyone lives like this who does not confess Jesus Christ as Lord, but many do, and many do who do profess faith in Jesus Christ, as well.
But the truth that is in Christ Jesus instructs us to put off our old self, which belongs to our former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (see Ephesians 4:17-24). And this is the essence of the gospel message which is taught us all throughout the New Testament (see also Luke 9:23-26).
So, the gospel message isn’t just that Jesus died on a cross for our sins and that he was resurrected from the dead on the third day and that by faith in him we can be forgiven and saved from our sins and we can go to heaven when we die. That is part of it, but not the whole of it. For he died on that cross to deliver us from our addiction to sin so we would no longer live in sin, according to the flesh, but so we would now walk according to the Spirit in holiness and righteousness, in obedience to our Lord, in his power.
Now, lastly I want to go back to verses 1-2 in 1 Corinthians 15 and look at what it says. We are “being saved” when we receive the truth of the gospel message into our lives, and when we stand on that truth, in practice in our lives, and if we hold fast without wavering and faltering to the truth of the gospel as it is being lived out in our daily lives.
This is progressive salvation and sanctification which won’t be finished until Jesus returns. But if we do not hold fast, and if we do not stand on that truth, in practice, then we have believed in vain, and we will not end up being saved and inheriting eternal life with God in the end. So, we need to take this heart. And we learn this by reading all of the New Testament.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8, 27; Rev 22:14-15]
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.