Steadfast in Faith

Thursday, January 5, 2017, 8:45 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “A Believer’s Prayer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 15:12-58 (Select vv. NASB).

Summary (vv. 12-31)

There were people in Paul’s day, even within the church, apparently, who objected to the idea of the resurrection of the dead. So, Paul delivered a discourse on the subject of the resurrection of the dead in order to explain to them what that would mean if there was no resurrection of the dead. It would mean that Jesus Christ was not resurrected, and if so, then the preaching of the gospel is useless (futile), and so is our faith, for we are still in our sins. He said, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” Yet, Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, Paul said. Thus, “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”

Do Not Be Deceived (vv. 32b-34)

If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.

There are always going to be people within the church, or within the institutional church who will try to get us to believe what is contrary to the Word of God. They will try to instill doubts in our minds by twisting the Word of Truth, or by diluting the gospel message to make it more appealing and acceptable to the flesh of humans. They will pull scriptures out of context to support their beliefs, too, while they ignore the bulk of teaching on the same subject. So, this is why scripture teaches us that we are to test everything we hear against the Word of Truth so we are not deceived by those who would try to lead us astray. We may even utilize Paul’s manner of examining a subject by comparing it to truth, thus showing the fallacy of the false logic being promoted by those who would attempt to deceive us. And, of course, all of this must be done under the direction of the Holy Spirit of God.

The Last Trumpet (vv. 50-57)

Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

As followers of Jesus Christ, this is what we have to look forward to one day. One day Jesus Christ – who is alive, because he was resurrected from the dead – is going to return for those of us who have put our faith and trust in him. He will return for us who have walked with him in truth; who have walked by the Spirit and no longer according to our sinful flesh. We will no longer be subject to temptation, sin, sickness, sadness or pain, because we will no longer live in these earthly and fleshly bodies. We will be resurrected to immortal (undying) bodies, for death will be no more. Amen!

And, yet, while we wait for that day to come, we can still experience victory over sin because Jesus put sin to death, and because he rose back to life, victorious over sin, and since we believe in him as our Savior from slavery to sin. We will still be tempted to sin, and that is bad enough, yet we can live life free from the control of sin and of Satan because of what Jesus did for us, and that is GOOD NEWS! Sin no longer is our master, because Jesus set us free. We are now, instead, to be slaves (servants) to his righteousness.

Be Steadfast (v. 58)

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

So, what should our lives look like while we wait for Jesus’ return? Is God’s grace merely forgiveness of sins so that we can escape hell and have the promise of heaven when we die? NO! God’s grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No!” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return. Jesus Christ “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Tit. 2:11-14). We are not our own. We were bought with a price – the blood of Jesus Christ shed on a cross for our sins. Thus, Jesus is not only our Savior, but he is our Lord (owner-master), and we are his slaves. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24).

Therefore, as his bond-servants, we are to honor God with our lives. We are to be steadfast (unwavering) in faith, hope and in love for God, and for one another. We should never give up on God or on people just because stuff in our lives might not be going so well, at times. We should follow Jesus in obedience to his Word in good times and in bad times, always believing that in all things he works for the good of them who love him, who have been called according to his purposes (Ro. 8:28). And, the “good” he works is not according to our standards, but according to God’s. It will be what is truly in our best interest, i.e. what is best for us, not necessarily what we want.

When we are working for the Lord, walking in the Spirit, and in the power of God’s Spirit within us, and we are fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives, things won’t always go the way we would like or hope. There will be bumps in the road, and storms, and roadblocks which we must overcome in the power of God’s Spirit within us. Not everyone is going to fall madly in love with us, either. Some people will hate us. Some will persecute us and say all manner of evil against us. They will reject us, and even close friends will abandon us. The closer we are in our walks of faith, and the more we are separated in lifestyle from this sinful world, the more people will distance themselves from us, because they won’t be comfortable being around us.

If we are those who share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others, even those within the church may distance themselves from us because they won’t like the message. It may be similar to what Jesus experienced when many people who had been following him deserted him, never to return, because they said his teaching was too hard. It was too hard because Jesus required that his followers die with him to sin and that they be resurrected with him to new life in Christ, to be lived to his righteousness. There was no middle ground with Jesus. If we would not die with him to sin, then we would have no part with him (Jn. 6:35-66; 13:8; Lu. 9:23-25; 14:25-35).

So, when they reject us, which they will, then we have to take it to the Lord in prayer, and give it over to him. Then, we must keep loving, and keep believing, and keep sharing the truth about Christ and his gospel of salvation, because many need to know Jesus and to have the assurance of salvation from sin and the hope of eternal life with God in glory. We are not here on this earth to please ourselves or so people will all love us. We are here to love God, and to love others, even if we are hated in return. So, never give up hope. His Word will not return to Him empty, but will accomplish what He desires and achieve the purpose for which He sent it (Is. 55:11). So, keep on keeping on. Remember that our labor in the Lord is not in vain (it is not hopeless or futile). On that, we can rest our hope. Amen!

A Believer’s Prayer / An Original Work / July 31, 2012

With my whole heart, Lord, I pray
To be Yours, and Yours always.
Lead me in Your truth today.
May I love You, and obey.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
When I sin, may I confess;
Bow before You when I pray;
Live for You and You always.

Love You, Jesus, You’re my friend.
Life with You will never end.
You are with me through each day,
Giving love and peace always.
You will ne’er abandon me.
From my sin You set me free.
You died on that cruel tree,
So I’d live eternally.

Soon You’re coming back for me;
From this world to set me free;
Live with You eternally.
Oh, what joy that brings to me.
I will walk with You in white;
A pure bride, I’ve been made right
By the blood of Jesus Christ;
Pardoned by His sacrifice.

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