What is the essence of the "gospel"?
1) Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.2) He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.3) He appeared to His apostles, many more, his half-brother, James, and eventually to Paul.
This is the "Good News" in a nutshell! Death came through Adam (Romans 5:12-21) making us all sinners, but life came through the "last Adam," Jesus Christ and His resurrection (15:22). Because Christ rose from the dead, we know that He is God, we have forgiveness of our sins, He represents us to God, He has defeated death, and we will also be raised with transformed bodies. In the end, He will defeat all evil on earth and death itself.
Paul called himself the least of the apostles because, as a zealous Pharisee, he persecuted the church (Acts 9:1-3) and felt himself so unworthy to be chosen by God to be a minister of this Good News. Therefore, he ministered according to the grace of God, laboring harder than all the apostles.
Paul speaks of the resurrection of the dead (15:12ff) because most Greeks did not believe that a person's body was resurrected after death. The soul was released from the body at death and entered an eternal state. Paul needed to teach the believers that were having a difficult time in this pagan culture believing that the body and soul will be united after resurrection.
Because of the resurrection, the believers in Corinth needed to "stand firm and let nothing move" them and continue to give themselves fully to the Lord in their labor knowing that their toil would not be in vain!
By the Grace of God
It was the Fall of 1980, and I ran away from the epicenter of the conference I was attending at Aldersgate Camp in Turner, OR to have a good cry with the Lord. God was calling me to ministry, and I felt so inadequate and so unworthy for the task He was calling me to. In the midst of the flood of tears and downpour of rain, I felt His presence and an overwhelming sense of His amazing grace, despite my shortcomings.
I shouted these words aloud through the thunderous sound of the downpour:
But by the grace of God I am what I am,
and His grace toward me did not prove vain;
but I labored even more than all of them,
yet not I, but the grace of God with me. (15:10)
I stood there in the rain only by God's grace, and it would only be by His grace that I would continue to labor. He gave me such hope in that downpour that I carry in my heart so many years later. His grace has brought me through an amazing lifetime of ministry, and I treasure the sweet memory of meeting God that day in the downpour!
Do you doubt God's grace working through you or do you feel that your labor for the Lord is in vain sometimes? I sure have!
Meditate on and memorize 1 Corinthians 15:10 and 58! Both of these verses have been in my heart for more than thirty years, and they have encouraged me immensely!
Lord, I know the enemy did not want me to write this post. What obstacles, with a virus attacking my computer so that I could not open my web browser. Thank You for reminding me that I could use this other computer and for this sweet time of fellowship with You in the wee hours of the morning. I love You! Thank You for Your grace that has not proved vain. I give all the glory to You for these wonderful 30+ years of ministry! I pray for others who read this who are struggling with their place in Your work. Give them confidence in Your grace to carry them through. In Jesus' name. Amen.