September 19, 2014
I Corinthians 15:1-4
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
An Enigma is “a perplexing or baffling matter….” – Webster. And the Enigma of the Gospel is its simplicity and its complexity, at the same time!
In Acts 16:31, Paul and Silas told the Philippian jailer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved….” How simple! And according to the account that follows, the jailer “…believed in God with all his household.” (Acts 16:34). His household was his family and probably his servants. We don’t know exactly the further explanation Paul and Silas gave on this occasion, but in Acts 16:32 it says, “Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and all that were in his house.” However, that is all it takes – simply “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved….”
But the gospel’s complexity is brought out in I Corinthians 15:1 through 4:
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you,
which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are
saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you
believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also re-
ceived: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and
that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to
As we pointed out in the last blog – and according to the first two verses of our scripture – the Corinthian Christians had already done three of the things Paul emphasizes: “…the gospel…you received…,” “…the gospel…in which you stand…,” and “…the gospel…by which you are saved….” However, these three are conditioned by the rest of verse two: “…if you hold fast that word which I preached to you – unless you believed in vain.”
What Paul says in verse two: “…the gospel…which I preached to you…,” tells us something about that gospel – and the responsibility that it lays upon its recipients! Paul elaborates in Romans 10:14 and 15:
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how
shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they
hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they be sent?
This is called The Logic of Missions. Every Christian stands in that privileged position of belief because – in one way or another – someone else told them about the Lord Jesus Christ! Even Paul confessed in verse two, “…I delivered to you first of all that which I also received….” He received witness from Stephen in Acts 6 and 7 – and by others he persecuted as Saul the zealous Pharisee.
Anyone standing in saving belief are then held responsible to tell others – either personally or by sending out others as missionaries! This is simply the fulfillment of what Jesus told His disciples in Acts 1:8: “…you shall be witness unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Start where you are when you put your faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and then spread the good news out from there!
No wonder the apostle wrote in I Corinthians 9:16, “…woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” He would be disobeying the Lord, and lose his reward for doing so! (See I Corinthians 3:11 through 15).
Also in verse two of our scripture, Paul admonishes his hearers, “…hold fast that word [the gospel]…unless you believed in vain.” This should set us to serious thinking – even quaking in fear if we are not increasingly manifesting Christian faith and growth in our lives, and fear for others in the same situation!
You see, you can believe in vain! Vain belief is not real ‘heart’ belief, but ‘head’ belief! The difference, someone has said, is about 14 inches – the distance between the brain and the heart! Just a mental knowledge of the gospel will not save you! It must be deeper – as deep as what Paul said in Romans 10:9 and 10:
…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart
that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart
one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to
And didn’t Jesus say in Matthew 15:8, “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me….”
So get it right – both in real godly belief, and in The Logic of Missions!
To be continued….