I Would Remind You of the Gospel
Paul begins I Corinthians 15 reminding the believers of the Gospel. It has been said, “The entire Christian life is understanding and applying what happened at your conversion.” It is essential for every Christian to remember the Gospel everyday. Our tendency can often be to view the Gospel as “beginner’s Christianity.” I encourage you to reflect on these basic truths of the Gospel in some form each day.
God Cares: At any point when you wonder if life has meaning, God’s love answers, “Yes!” Do you use every good gift in your day as a reminder of God’s involvement and concern? Do you look at people as objects of God’s design and affection? Are your acts of love primarily an attempt to pursue personal happiness or a passionate imitation of God’s character?
We Sinned: Does the Gospel give you the humble courage to acknowledge your sin without defensiveness, shame, or blame-shifting? Do you start each day expecting your biggest challenge will come from within? Do you hate sin or believe it is somehow cute, entertaining, or the “unfortunately off-limits good life”?
Christ Came: Do you think of the incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ as you face a given struggle? Do you believe absolutely every thing Christ did was absolutely necessary for you to have victory over any temptation you face? Do you believe Jesus’ life represents what it means to be “truly human” or do you think “I’m just a man”?
Faith is Required: Do you only obey God when you think the results will likely be what you want? Do you dream dreams (about God’s kingdom) that are bigger than your potential? Do you believe that coming to the end of yourself (recognizing your full, constant need for God) is the best thing that can happen every day?
Use these questions as a starting point to introduce the Gospel into the way that you think about daily living and see “your normal” transformed by God’s Gospel.
If Christ Has Not Been Raised (15:17)
How often do you battle a particular sin without ever thinking of the resurrection? I’ll admit it, most of the time. Yet Paul says, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” I’ve also tried to change a light fixture without thinking about the breaker box. That did not work out so well either.
Our only hope against the power of sin in our lives is the resurrection of Christ. We get so caught up in learning “practical steps” that we forget that it was Calvary that gave our dead legs the power to take any steps (practical or not). When we forget this we battle sin as if we must conquer (in our strength) an already defeated enemy. We forget the only admonitions we have against sin and Satan are “Stand firm (Eph 6:13)” and “Flee (II Tim 2:22).”
Application: Memorize I Corinthians 15:17 and repeat it during your moments of temptation. Let the verse remind you of the nature of the moment’s struggle. Christ is raised! Your faith is not futile! You are not still in your sin! Temptation is not a time to “prove” or “earn” something; it is a time to “reveal” and “display” the effectiveness of what Christ has done. Temptation gains its effectiveness by making the moment about you (your desires or your weaknesses). When you make the moment about Christ (standing firm in His truth or fleeing to His presence) temptation is transformed into a moment of worship – you have declared Christ as worth more than anything Satan could offer (pleasure or protection) in that moment.
How often do you remember that the victory has been won? That is easy to forget in the midst of life’s struggles. Life and history are a battle between two kingdoms: light and darkness, truth and folly, holiness and sin. While it is sometimes hard to see, God has won! It is not merely that God is winning or God will win, but God has won!
Proclaiming the Gospel is simply asking people to admit defeat and join the winning team. Unfortunately, I think we often fail to appreciate the victory, because even as Christians, we are hesitant to admit defeat. The words of Jesus in Luke 9:23-24 still seem a bit extreme to us, “And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.’”
Reflection: Do you fail to remember and celebrate the victory of Jesus over sin and death because you have not completely admitted defeat (full reliance upon Jesus) and are still trying to show what you can do? Do you stay in the presence of temptation too long thinking “I can handle it” instead of fleeing? Do you conjure your own “rules” for behavior rather than standing firm in God’s truth? If so, acknowledge defeat in order to embrace Christ’s victory.
Introduction to the “Living Our Faith” series.