‘But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied’.
1 Corinthians 15:12-19 is a ‘Parchment with a purpose’, in these few verses Paul, who himself had witnessed power of the resurrected Christ on the Damascus road, is alarmed, as a pastor to see his flock being lured into a culturally-compromised, resurrection-free Gospel. Paul’s dismayed that false teachers are robbing his flock of resurrection hope. In these few verses, Paul reaffirms that the unabridged Gospel is crucial. If you take away the resurrection, he asks, what have you left? Useless preaching, futile faith and a people to be pitied.
The Gospel, good news, revealed in God’s word, is ‘Alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart’. (Hebrews 4:12)
Take a few moments to allow God’s Holy Spirit to reveal any ways you may have culturally-compromised or abridged the Gospel and let His Word speak deeply into your heart.
Lord come and speak your Word into my life today. Forgive me, for the times I’ve compromised your Gospel and in doing so taken the wrong road. Let your word penetrate deep into my heart. I chose today, to allow your Holy Spirit to convict, inspire, challenge and change me, without compromise. Help me to live a life that brings glory to you. Amen
The Rev’d Sally Willett is an Evangelism and Renewal Advocate for GEAR – the Group for Evangelism and Renewal in the URC and minister of West Thamesmead Community Church.