Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Why We Stand Our Ground

By Dennis Pollock


The fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians is unique. It is the longest of all the chapters we find among Paul's epistles in the New Testament. Of course, I realize that Paul did not write in chapter and verse, but clearly the translators of Paul's letters felt that the theme of this section of the letter was so tightly woven together it should not be separated into two chapters.


Anyone who reads the chapter will easily grasp that theme. It has to do with the significance of the resurrection from the dead – both the resurrection of the believer at the coming of Christ, and the resurrection of Jesus Himself. Paul is using logic, reason, Scriptures, and his own torrential eloquence to demonstrate and prove that apart from the hope of heaven, our Christian faith is meaningless. For those of us who have trusted in Jesus and have been given the gift of eternal life, the certainty that we shall live forever provides us the hope and patience to maneuver our way through our lives optimistically and cheerfully.


Paul informs us that Christianity itself stands or falls on the premise of the resurrection from the dead, for:


…if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable (1 Corinthians 15:17-19).


But Christ IS Risen!


But Paul affirms that Jesus has indeed been raised from the dead as the firstfruits, and that we as the "later fruits" will follow Him and live together with Him throughout never-ending ages of happiness, peace, and righteousness. And after hammering this theme of everlasting life for the believers in Jesus, he then closes his essay with these words:


Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:58)


When Paul uses the word "therefore," he is saying: "based upon what I have just told you." In this case he is saying that because there will indeed be a resurrection from the dead, because those who believe in Jesus will live forever, because we will be enjoying fellowship with God a million, billion, trillion years from now (and just getting started), we need to be steadfast, immovable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord. Let's look at these three things that should follow our understanding that we will live forever.


Our Need for Steadfastness


First is the word "steadfast." Because we know we shall live in heaven with Jesus forever, we need to be steadfast right now, while here on the earth. We won't need exhortations to be steadfast when we get to heaven. We'll be perfect then, and we won't face the struggles we have here on the earth. Nor will we have to battle the sin nature as we do here. So Paul's command to be steadfast is to people like you and me: people who live on earth with earthly bodies that can get sick, with minds that can be discouraged and depressed, and with a human nature that can be tempted to chuck it all and give up on God.


But when we feel those temptations to draw back, to give up, to become discouraged we need to remember Paul's "therefore." We need to remember that we are destined to live together with God and with all our brothers and sisters in Christ. We have an amazing future in store for us, and it will never end. If we have to struggle a bit for a while, if we must face a few or quite a few disappointments, that's OK. Our future is bright, and our future days of happiness and peace will infinitely outweigh our present 70, 80, or 99 years of struggles.


Shed without a Foundation!


So Paul tells us "therefore" we must be immovable. We must not allow the winds of difficulties or setbacks to move us away from our position in Jesus Christ. Many years ago I decided to buy a metal shed to house my riding lawnmower and some of my tools. It would have been nice if it had arrived on a big truck, fully put together and ready for use. But I could not really afford that, so I purchased a "shed-in-a-box." This metal shed came in parts and pieces, and when I took it all out of the box I was dismayed by the huge number of parts I would need to assemble. With all the nuts, bolts, screws, and sections of pressed metal, it surely must have included over a thousand different parts and pieces.


Fortunately for me, the instructions that came with it were plain and quite helpful. Under the blazing, Texas July sun I began, step by step and piece by piece to put the shed together. Often, I became too hot to work and had to come into our air-conditioned house to get a drink and cool off. But after fifteen or twenty minutes I would be back at it again. Following the instructions to the letter I ever so slowly assembled my masterpiece. Finally, in about three and a half days the project was complete. The tool shed looked gorgeous and I proudly moved my lawn mower and various tools into it. I knew it should have been anchored to a foundation, but I lacked experience with foundations, and decided to wait until my dad could come and visit me, where he could guide and help me with that process.


But I never got the chance to do that. In just a week or two, while our family was away from home on a shopping trip, a powerful thunderstorm arose, and when we returned home, my new, beautiful shed was gone. The lawnmower was still there, and the tools were exactly where they had been placed, but no shed!


It turned out that the storm had brought some wind gusts of up to 60 miles per hour and while we were shopping, a gust of wind had lifted that shed off the ground, blown it across the road where it now rested up against a fence, crumpled up like a smashed soda can, entirely useless and worthless. What had taken me three and a half days to create, a storm had destroyed in mere seconds. All my labor had been in vain.


Therefore Be Immovable


Paul was probably not thinking of metal sheds when he wrote these words, but the concept definitely applies. He tells us that "therefore," (based upon Christ's resurrection and our future life with Him) … Therefore, we must be immovable – so solidly rooted in Jesus that no storm, no wind gust, no hurricane, no tornado, no hundred-miles-per-hour straight-line winds can blow us even one inch off our solid foundation which is Jesus Christ.


Sadly, many who profess Christianity are moved or blown off their place of trust in Jesus. Something happened that they were not counting on, someone they loved died long before their time, some great plan or project or ministry or business did not pan out, even though they had prayed long and hard. In their minds, God had let them down. He had not come through the way they were so sure He would, the way they told everyone else He would. And so they drew back. They lost their fervor for Christ, they stopped reading the Scriptures, they rarely attended church anymore, and finally they stopped attending at all.


Paul says, "Don't you do it! – Remember the resurrection! Remember that this life on earth, these few days of struggle and sweat and disappointment are merely a probationary period before our real life begins. Earlier in the chapter he wrote: "If the dead do not rise, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die" (1 Corinthians 15:32). But that is not the case. The dead in Christ do indeed rise, and our heavenly tomorrows will be infinitely superior to our earthly todays. When those gale-force winds come screaming down upon our heads, we will stand, for Christ is able to make us stand. And we will rejoice as we think of a life to come when no such winds can ever touch us again.


Always Abounding


The third instruction Paul gives us after his "therefore" is that we are to be "always abounding in the work of the Lord." Not only steadfast, not only immovable, but actually doing something for Christ! What we do will vary with each individual, but we all need to be doing something. We cannot merely go and hide ourselves under the covers in our rooms with our doors locked and our windows closed tightly. It is not fitting for the representatives of the King of kings to hunker down with every approaching storm, to hide ourselves away just because the wind is blowing and the rain falling. We are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. We who abide in Jesus are the fruit-bearers, the only ones in this world capable of doing spiritual good for the rest of humanity. We must sally forth into the world using whatever gifts we have, employing whatever skills we can muster, and making the most of every spiritual opportunity Christ has placed in our lives to do good for others and bring honor to Him.


After exhorting us to be steadfast, immovable, and always abounding in the work of Christ, Paul tells us why we can do these things: "knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." We are not wasting our time! Of all the people and all the careers, occupations, hobbies, and human efforts in our world, ours is by far the most meaningful. Entertainers may amuse us for an evening, politicians can set the course of our nation for a few decades, but the work that we do in Jesus’ name will produce fruit that lasts forever.


The atheist has no such hope. He or she believes that their life is not only hopeless, but therefore by definition meaningless and purposeless. All that they can manage to accomplish ultimately means exactly… nothing. Sooner or later, they will die and be put in the ground and rot, as will their children and their children's children. And all that will be left of them and their families and their friends will be a bunch of bones. Nothing from all their hopes and plans and efforts can last, and therefore everything is surely in vain.


Not a Vain Life


But we who follow Christ do not believe this. We see our lives filled with meaning and purpose, and we recognize that we will live eternally. And so we persevere. We keep on doing the work of Christ even through heartaches. We continue to minister in Jesus' name even when battling sickness, or hurting over the pain of being rejected by a spouse, or the death of our children, or facing rejection when others mock and despise us, or when the world tells us that we are "on the wrong side of history." No wind, no storm, no hurricane can blow us off our foundation. We stand on the Rock, the One who was raised from the dead so long ago and serves as the Firstfruits from the dead. Paul writes triumphantly:


But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep… For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:20,22).


Being convinced of this, we will be steadfast, immovable, and always abound in Jesus' work! And when the storms of this life come, our “sheds” will stay put on Jesus’ firm foundation.





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