Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you– unless you believed in vain.
~1 Corinthians 15:1-2
In the face of the Corinthian church’s major doctrinal and moral trainwreck, Paul’s concern was to remind them of the gospel. This might seem strange to us; we would probably be more likely to upbraid them for their loose morality or give them a lecture on the finer points of doctrine. But Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, traces their problems back to the source: their tendency to forget the gospel. He specifically wants to remind them of three things about the gospel- the gospel is what we received, the gospel is where you stand, and the gospel is how we are being saved. For the next three days, we will study and remind ourselves of these things, too.
The gospel is what we received. We know this; the message of Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection is the news we heard and believed, and were saved. But from that first moment on, our arrogant hearts have a tendency toward spiritual pride. WE responded to the gospel; WE saw the truth and beauty of Christ; WE were wise enough to see our need; WE are now living obediently. But this sort of thinking, which had infected the Corinthian church and often rears its head in our own hearts, is actually contrary to the gospel. What Paul wants the Corinthians and us to remember is that the gospel is not primarily something we respond to; it is something we receive. God is the active agent here, not us. This should humble us to realize that it is not our intelligence or spiritual aptitude that has brought us where we are now; it is the free and sovereign mercy of God, who saved us while we were dead in our transgressions, and put His Spirit in us so that we could respond to what we had received. All praise to the Father, who responded to our need in eternity past before we could ever respond to His grace. All praise to the Son, who responded to the Father’s command and laid down His life for us, while we were still sinners, before we could ever respond to His love. All praise to the Holy Spirit, who brought our dead hearts to life and caused us to be born again so that we could respond to what we had received. This is the gospel; this is what we have received.
Dear God, Thank you for pursuing me before I pursued You, for drawing me to Yourself when I was still dead in my sins. Thank you for awakening my heart and opening my eyes to see Christ as a beautiful, trustworthy, mighty Savior. Keep me humble, remembering always that everything I am and know and believe is only what I have received from You.
“Our confidence is in Christ, not in ourselves. We are weak; He is strong. We fluctuate; He is constant. We cannot trust our feelings nor our emotional state. We trust in Christ. Those who come to Christ by faith are not kept unto Him by our faith, but by his faithfulness.” ~Albert Mohler
This post is written by Brendan Beale, author of Cross Connections