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Tim Chaffey, AiG–U.S., opens our new series on 1 Corinthians 15 by showing how Paul explained the gospel.
I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1–4)
Today’s big question: how did Paul explain the gospel in the Resurrection chapter?
1 Corinthians 15 is aptly known as the Resurrection chapter. In this series of devotionals, we will examine this incredible chapter and see how important the Resurrection is to our theology, our faith, our lives, and our futures.
To open the chapter, Paul reiterated the gospel message he preached. Notice he did not add circumcision or other works to the message. In fact, he stressed the importance of preaching the true gospel when he warned the Galatians that if anyone preached “any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8–9). This warning was so important Paul repeated that those who taught a false gospel would be accursed.
The true gospel is what Paul delivered to the Corinthians, and it was the message he had received. The gospel message is “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” Wait, that’s it? What about church sacraments? What about works? Don’t we have to do these things to be saved? Not according to Scripture.
The gospel (literally, “good news”) reveals Christ has already accomplished the only work that could be done to save us from our sins. Since we are guilty of sinning against our perfectly holy Creator, no amount of “good works” we do could erase the sins we’ve committed. Through Christ’s substitutionary and atoning work on the Cross and His subsequent Resurrection, the penalty for sin has been paid in full.
So how can we appropriate His offer of salvation? We must respond in faith by holding “fast that word” (the gospel). We do not work to become saved. Christ declared, “It is finished!” in John 19:30 because He had completed all that could be done for our salvation. We perform good works out of gratitude for all the Lord has already done for us (Titus 3:8). We do not work to earn His favor. We work because we already have His favor.
Today’s big idea: salvation cannot be earned—it can only be received through faith in Christ’s completed work.
What to pray: praise God for His unfathomable love, mercy, and grace.