Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:57).
What we celebrate at Easter is unique. There is nothing else like it, nor has there ever been or ever will be in the history of the world. Other religions offer a code of conduct, a path of progress. Christians proclaim a living Savior.
The gospel heralds the good news of what Jesus Christ has done. Our King has triumphed over sin, death, and hell. Therefore, there is peace, freedom, hope, and joy for all who live under His rule! Religion tells you what you must do. The gospel tells you what Jesus Christ has already done.
When Jesus said “It is finished,” He did not mean that some of what it took to save us was done through the Old Testament law and sacrifices and Jesus did the rest. And He did not mean that some of what it took to save us was done on the cross, and we have to do the rest. Rather, everything that was needed for us to be reconciled to God and brought into life everlasting was fully accomplished in Jesus’ death and resurrection. All that remains for us to do is to receive what He now offers as a gift. We do that by turning to Him, believing in Him, embracing Him as our Savior, and submitting to Him as our Lord.
The Risen Christ Changes Death
“O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55).
When Jesus died on the cross, He took on Himself the sins of all who would believe in Him. He drew the sting into Himself, and all its lethal venom was pumped into Him–it was spent on Him.
So, Christian brother and sister, when you are in Christ, death may seize you, but it cannot hold you in its power and sting you. It will not lead to the ultimate disaster of you standing before almighty God as a sinner who has failed to keep his law. Jesus Christ stood there for you. He faced death with the sting, and that transformed what death will be for you.
By removing its sting, Jesus has forever changed forever the anticipation of death, the experience of death, and the outcome of death—for all who are in Him. No wonder Paul says, “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57).
The Risen Christ Changes Life
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable… (1 Cor. 15:58).
The word “therefore” shows that there is a direct connection between confidence in the resurrection (which is what Paul has been speaking about) and stability (which is his first application). Here’s what this means: Faith soon flounders if you lose sight of the resurrection.
If you lose sight of the risen Christ, you will find yourself besieged by all kinds of questions and overwhelmed by temptation and unbelief. You may say that you have faith in Christ; but without confidence in the resurrection, you will be miserable. But faith that rests on a risen Savior will be strong, firm, and stable.
Here is the sure foundation of faith: Christ is risen! Let this be the settled conviction of your life, and when it is, you will be steadfast and immovable! When you can say, “I have a risen Savior. He sits at the right hand of God the Father for me. Nothing in life or in death will ever be able to separate me from His love,” you are building your life on something solid.
The Risen Christ Brings Joy
…always abounding in the work of the Lord… (1 Cor. 15:58).
‘Abounding’ speaks of energy and joy. Paul describes believers who are “abounding in the work of the Lord.” No reluctance here. No sense of doing God’s work in order to earn God’s favor. That’s always deadly. Instead, these believers have freedom in serving the Lord because they know that they have the smile of God over their lives.
Here are people who know that their eternal future is secure. They know that, because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, it won’t be long before they see the Lord and are welcomed into the eternal life of joyful service for which they were made. And knowing this, they give themselves gladly to the work of the Lord now.
Notice they are “always abounding.” It is a lifelong thing. If you come to the settled conviction that Christ is risen from the dead, you, too, can give yourself gladly to the work of the Lord when you are young. You won’t be saying, “I’ll get to that in 10 years.” And you will gladly serve the Lord in your middle years and even when you are old.
The Risen Christ Brings Fulfillment
…your labor is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58).
The word “labor” simply means hard work. We are talking here about the accumulated total of all the investments you have ever made, the sweat equity of your whole life, all that you’ve poured yourself into. And to “labor in vain” means that the effort you extended does not accomplish the objective you intended. What would it be like if everything you had given yourself to, everything you had invested yourself in, proved to be in vain, that is, without lasting value? Nobody wants to be in that position!
What Paul says in this chapter is brutally honest: “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (15:14). He does not say, “Even if Christ has not been raised, Christianity is still the best way to live.” He doesn’t say that. What he says, in effect, is: “If Christ is not raised, shut the doors of the church and go home!” There’s no value in defending a tradition. If there’s no risen Savior, it’s all in vain.
None of us wants to labor in vain. We are told that if our labor is in the Lord, it will not be in vain. Which raises the question: How can you be in the Lord? Faith is the bond that unites you with Christ so that you become His and He becomes yours. Through this bond of faith, your labor will be in Him, and you can believe the promise that none of it is in vain.
Have You Found the Pearl of Great Price?
Jesus told the story of a merchant who traded pearls (Mt. 13:45-46). One day, he found a pearl like none he had ever seen before. It was a pearl of great price. Seeing its beauty and its value, he made a decision: He sold all of the other pearls that he had in order to obtain the one of supreme beauty and value.
Jesus Christ is the one pearl of great price. He loved you and gave Himself for you. He rose from the dead and offers Himself to you. He is able to change death for you, and He is able to change everything about life for you, too.