Hope for Living

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1 Cor 15:58 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.

Many years ago, a friend gave me this verse to encourage me to persevere in my ministry. What has resurrection to do with my ministry? Paul spent the whole of this chapter talking about resurrection: resurrection of Christ (1-11), resurrection of the dead (12-34), and the resurrection body (35-58).

Today as I analyse these 3 sections, I discover why Paul ended with v. 58. He exhorted the believers to stand firm. Standing firm means not be swayed by the world. To be firm is to be immovable and not led away from your current position. In this fast changing world of moral decay, how do I stand firm? How do I remain ‘faith’ful to my beliefs and not be influenced by the world? 3 things to be aware of to help us stand:

1) Assurance: The basis or foundation of my faith is Jesus Christ. Paul expounds and recounts the reality of the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus appeared to many people after He rose again from the dead. Lastly, He appeared to Paul on the road of Damascus. Paul ended the section with an important truth: v.10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
Indeed my whole person – who I am, what I am, what I do, what I say are all by the grace of God. My ministry is by the grace of God. My ministry has an effect because his grace to me was not without effect. Whatever hard work I do, still by the grace of God that is with me.

2) Warning: Paul then argued on the resurrection of the dead. Some people doubted the reality of the resurrection. Apparently, the Corinthians were being misled on the validity of the resurrection. So Paul exhorted the believers: Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” To stand firm in the world is not to be misled by the world. Let us discern wisely the good and the bad. Let us not be fooled by the ‘wisdom’ of the world. Let us diligently study the word of God to help us know the truth, understand the truth and distinguish the truth from the false.

3) Hope: Paul described in the 3rd section the resurrection body. Paul shared a secret (a mystery) to encourage the believers:
51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

We have hope that at the end of life on earth is resurrection of our body – the imperishable immortal body that overcomes death! We can claim victory over death because Jesus conquered death with His resurrection.

On this hope we do not give up to devote ourselves to doing the work ‘OF’ the Lord – not ‘for’ the Lord as if it’s our work but the work that God wants us to do. Let us not be discouraged and give up because whatever we do for the Lord is not in vain. It is never for nothing even when it seems to be for nothing just because we do not see the fruit of our labor.

Let us stand firm because Jesus is our foundation for ministry. With His resurrection He has conquered the ultimate enemy – Death! By the grace of God – I am what I am, His grace is not without effect on me.

Let us stand firm and not be misled because bad company corrupts good character. Beware of bad influence in the world. Let us stop sinning and come back to our sense. v.34

Let us stand firm because one day we will sing ‘Where, o death is your victory? Where, o death, is your sting?” We celebrate our triumph over sin, over our perishable sinful body because Jesus Christ lives now and forever!

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