Corinthians – Belief and Behavior
I must confess. I continue as a believer and follower of Jesus Christ because He won’t let me go. In discouragement, I’ve tried to stop and walk away but He always brings me back. I cannot run or hide from His Presence. His promise was to always be with us. He is. In times of trouble when the world is too much for me and I want to give up, His love draws me back.
When I feel like I haven’t contributed as much as I could to His Kingdom work, His Spirit renews my mind and defeats the foe that pulls me down. When others make me feel less than and unworthy, His Holy Spirit renews the joy of His salvation working in and through me with the same joy and more that I had at the beginning of rebirth. Realizing that He’s coming back someday, I remain firm in my faith and trust. Because of His Grace…here I am. “And I’m not about to let His grace go to waste.”
These are my thoughts as Paul carefully and lovingly confronts people of the church gone wild in Corinth of what God has done, is doing and will do in our lives. It’s all about God’s generous, continuous grace. It is God who works in and through us. He doesn’t need us to do His work but invites to join Him anyway for our benefit.
Paul then reminds them of the Truth, simple yet profound Truth, of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ…EXACTLY as the scripture said. Because of listening to the world, many were twisting this Truth to the point of denying the resurrection. Paul explains that without the resurrection of Christ, there is no hope, no reason to live in hope of His return, no reason for our belief. It is no wonder that their behavior had gone wild and worldly.
1 Corinthians 15, The Message
(These are only excerpts. Read this chapter in it’s entirety to get the full flavor of Paul’s passionate plea to convey the Truth of all Jesus did from death to resurrection because of God’s generous grace.)
1-2 Friends, let me go over the Message with you one final time— this Message that I proclaimed and that you made your own; this Message on which you took your stand and by which your life has been saved. (I’m assuming, now, that your belief was the real thing and not a passing fancy, that you’re in this for good and holding fast.)
3-9 The first thing I did was place before you what was placed so emphatically before me: that the Messiah died for our sins, exactly as Scripture tells it; that he was buried; that he was raised from death on the third day, again exactly as Scripture says; that he presented himself alive to Peter, then to his closest followers, and later to more than five hundred of his followers all at the same time, most of them still around (although a few have since died); that he then spent time with James and the rest of those he commissioned to represent him; and that he finally presented himself alive to me. It was fitting that I bring up the rear. I don’t deserve to be included in that inner circle, as you well know, having spent all those early years trying my best to stamp God’s church right out of existence.
10-11 But because God was so gracious, so very generous, here I am. And I’m not about to let his grace go to waste. Haven’t I worked hard trying to do more than any of the others? Even then, my work didn’t amount to all that much. It was God giving me the work to do, God giving me the energy to do it. So whether you heard it from me or from those others, it’s all the same: We spoke God’s truth and you entrusted your lives.
12-15 Now, let me ask you something profound yet troubling. If you became believers because you trusted the proclamation that Christ is alive, risen from the dead, how can you let people say that there is no such thing as a resurrection? If there’s no resurrection, there’s no living Christ. And face it—if there’s no resurrection for Christ, everything we’ve told you is smoke and mirrors, and everything you’ve staked your life on is smoke and mirrors. Not only that, but we would be guilty of telling a string of barefaced lies about God, all these affidavits we passed on to you verifying that God raised up Christ—sheer fabrications, if there’s no resurrection.
30-33 And why do you think I keep risking my neck in this dangerous work? I look death in the face practically every day I live. Do you think I’d do this if I wasn’t convinced of your resurrection and mine as guaranteed by the resurrected Messiah Jesus?
42-44 This image of planting a dead seed and raising a live plant is a mere sketch at best, but perhaps it will help in approaching the mystery of the resurrection body—but only if you keep in mind that when we’re raised, we’re raised for good, alive forever! The corpse that’s planted is no beauty, but when it’s raised, it’s glorious. Put in the ground weak, it comes up powerful. The seed sown is natural; the seed grown is supernatural—same seed, same body, but what a difference from when it goes down in physical mortality to when it is raised up in spiritual immortality!
51-57 But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it’s over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. Then the saying will come true:
Death swallowed by triumphant Life!
Who got the last word, oh, Death?
Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?
It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!
58 With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.
I believe Jesus Christ, Son of God, came to earth to die for all sin for all people who believe and accept this gift of God’s mercy and grace. I believe that Jesus died for us and three days later rose again, appeared to his followers, scars and all, to provide evidence of His victory over sin and death. I cannot walk away from the Truth. I cannot walk away from a Love like this. Jesus, I look forward to Your return. In the meantime, I cherish Your Presence in our lives today.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Oh, how you love us! To You be all glory, honor and praise for the gift of Your salvation to us! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Continue to give us strength to stand firm in a world full of people who mock us as the crowd mocked You. Transform me. Transform Your church. Transform the world.
In Jesus Name, Amen