As the famed apostle Paul closed his letter to the troubled church at Corinth, he challenged them to see the bigger picture. The picture that they and we are serving God, One Who is greater than this world, able to make death victorious and worthy of steadfast love, service, and devotion (I Cor. 15:58). These truths were in stark contrast to the world view then and now which is a live-for-today attitude and views death as a terrible end to it all.
The sting of death was taken away by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ who sacrificed Himself to atone for the sin of mankind, and make death and the grave victorious for Christians (I Cor. 15:54-57). This should be an encouragement and reminder to Christians today that in Christ hope extends far beyond the grave. There should not be worldly sorrow for those who die in Christ. Oh yes, the separation is sad and lonely, but the promise is great. Paul affirms that victory. Yes, victory in death because of the salvation in Christ. John’s inspired message from our Lord in the book of Revelation was “overcome the world and you can come over and live with Me.” So why do Christians fear death and oftentimes speak of it like those of the sinful world? Perhaps they’ve been affected by the world or failed to understand the great salvation (Heb. 2:3a) which is just what the apostle was confronting in Corinth. Jesus said to rejoice when persecuted for righteousness “for great is your reward in heaven” (Matt. 5:12).
With overcoming victory in One (God) greater than all, the Christian should be able to see the need to be steadfast—steadfast in following and implementing God’s plan for man. God has delivered once and for all time His word of truth (John 17:17; Jude 3) and He does not change (James 1:17), thus, the call for His followers to be steadfast, immovable.
There is no need for change; God has empowered His people with the truth. The old saying “facts (truth) are stubborn”, because they don’t change even when man wants them to change! For the nearly 30 years I’ve been working for Tennessee Bible College, the call for change in the Lord’s church has been continuous. We’re living in a world of change, and we’re much like the people of ancient Athens given to telling and hearing some new thing (Acts 17:21). This affects the church. Weaker Christians get caught up in the worldly mindset and think the Lord’s church needs to change. Why? “Because change is good.” Not always, and change is never good when removed from the facts—the truth. God, who made us, saved us, guides us, (through His word the Bible) simply makes the case to follow in obedience (Heb. 5:9). That requires the faithful Christian to be steadfast, immovable.
The proof of one’s faith is seen in “always abounding in the work of the Lord.” If you know the power of God, then you are willing to go to work and rejoice in doing so. That’s faith, taking God at His word—just do what He says to do. The instructions are clear and available for everyone, if one is willing to follow. Why do we see such division in the world and even in the church? The answer is right here. Folks don’t want to follow God’s plan completely. They may accept some, but not all. Picking and choosing is not obeying (James 2:10). God asks us to love Him enough to be obedient—to abound.
Have you ever spent valuable time and effort on a project only to see it fail or be completely rejected? How did it make you feel? God’s promise to His followers is “your labor is not in vain.” What you do in service to the Lord is regarded and recorded—it counts. No wasted time! That should be of great encouragement. Know for sure that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. If every Christian would truly accept the commitment of I Corinthians 15:58, the world would explode with good works and there would be no containing the Lord’s church. The commitment starts with me, it starts with you, individually. That’s Christianity.