For Heaven’s Sake!

Tuesday Re-mix –

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.  1 Corinthians 15:58

“So what?”  That is a question I always ask when I study the Bible.  I just need to know why the writer is telling me this…why it is important to me.  Nobody in the Bible answers that question better than Paul.  In 1 Corinthians 15, there is a fascinating discourse from Paul about the reality of resurrection.  Paul spends this longest chapter of all of the epistles laying out a brilliant apologetic for the doctrine of the resurrection, logically laying out the facts of the gospel, the hope of the faith, and the description of what is yet to come.  The perishable becomes the imperishable, the seed becomes the sprout.  Verses 1-57 beautifully spell it all out in what would be as complete a sermon as anyone would ever want on the subject of the resurrection.  It is so complete, in fact, that one could easily end the lesson there.  But I will not.  Here’s why…

More than any writer I know, Paul uses the word “therefore” to signal a very important bottom line for him.  In fact, even after a long diatribe so beautifully laying out facts and arguments such as he does in 1 Corinthians 15:1-57, you can rest assured that Paul has not yet said what he really came to say until after the “therefore”.  That is how Paul signals that he is about to answer the question, “So what?”

In this case, he goes to great lengths to address those in the Corinthian church who were not convinced there would be a resurrection for Christ’s followers.  After painstakingly arguing that there would, in fact, be a resurrection, Paul says, “Therefore…”.  In other words, “Here is why that is important…”  Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

For these dear followers of Christ who were already experiencing persecution of the severest form but upon whose backs the New Testament church would be carried for generations to come, Paul’s words about the resurrection were encouraging…they were a compelling reason to get up in the morning and to stand firm in their faith.  That Christ was Himself resurrected and that we too will be physically resurrected in new, glorified bodies fit for the spiritual realms helped those early believers remember what is at stake in their ministry.  It motivated them, even in the face of unspeakable adversity.  It kept them engaged, remembering what was to be gained in their defense of the gospel.

And doesn’t it do the same for us?  Doesn’t the promise of Heaven, the assurance of our resurrection, make the brokenness of this world somehow more bearable?  Indeed, for many believers even today, that is the only hope before them…the reason we persevere.  It is the ultimate prize for which we are fighting!  But what about the victorious life in Christ now?  Shouldn’t that be enough?  Perhaps.  But it is not.  That is why Paul said “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”  It is the human condition.  We need more.  And the promise of our resurrection provides it.  It was the reason for Paul and his contemporaries to persevere…and it is our reason as well!

So what?  So everything, for Heaven’s sake!

© Blake Coffee
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