“Now brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, the he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-8
As I read this text, the words that jump out at me are, “by this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to. Otherwise you have believed in vain.” My first thought is, do I “hold firmly to the word” that has been preached to me? Does the way that I behave make it obvious to others what I believe? Sadly, the answer would be different depending on which day it is. So what does this mean to me? Is my belief in vain? Am I still saved?
I keep reading this section of Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church. He boils down the entire Christian faith in a couple of sentences. Christ died for our sins, he rose, and lots of people saw him. Very simple…as if they need reminding. I wonder about those people who were on the receiving end of that letter. These people were given the gospel first hand from Paul the apostle. And yet, the tone of Paul’s words makes me wonder if they had been acting like they had forgotten.
I’m not sure that I have a perfect answer to these questions. I have been on this path for many years. I still battle with sin on a daily basis. Sometimes I am strong, and sometimes I am overcome. I know that I look more like a follower of Jesus than I did 2 years ago. And 2 years ago, I looked more like a follower than 5 years before that. The point is….I don’t think that God is finished with me yet. And he promises me that he won’t quit on me until the work the he began in me is finished.
It sounds like maybe this very early Corinthian church wasn’t too different from me. God didn’t give up on them either. He sent Paul to be their shepherd. To corral his beloved sheep. I am so thankful that my God is patient and faithful.
What does this passage say to you?