Easter is a joyous time to celebrate Christ's triumph over the grave. But when Easter Sunday is over and the day-to-day of our lives resumes, the power of the resurrection can often seem to fade. But Christ's resurrection is meant to be something that brings rejoicing each day of our lives–not just on Easter Sunday. We should constantly meditate on its significance. In 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul not only defends the validity of the resurrection but highlights the implications of Christ's resurrection for believers. In this chapter, Paul points out three truths from the resurrection that impact our lives as believers in Christ.
His grace toward you is not in vain.
In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, Paul provides a list of people, including himself, who have seen the resurrected Christ. Unlike Paul, we have not seen the risen Christ, but His work in and through us is evidence of His resurrection. Paul attests to this work when he writes in 1 Corinthians 15:10, "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain" (ESV). God's grace was evident in the life of Paul as God brought about his salvation and appointed him as an apostle despite his sinful history. Therefore, the grace of God was not in vain because God used Paul to declare the message of the gospel.
By Christ's death and resurrection, those who believe in Him are given salvation, a gift of grace from God. God's grace is never in vain because His gift of salvation is never wasted–it not only secures a place for us in eternity but also gives purpose to our lives in the present. As we are obedient to God and fulfill the calling that He has placed on our lives, we are ambassadors for Christ–vessels used to proclaim His glory. But while we are used by God, it is not us who do the work but God in us. Paul continues in 1 Corinthians 15:10, "though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me." God's grace is never in vain because His power through us will always accomplish His eternal purposes.
Your faith and evangelism are not in vain.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:14, "if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain." What a tragedy this would be–to come to the end of our lives, only to discover that everything we believed and everything we had spoken of our faith to others was a lie. If Christ remained in the grave, our faith would hold no value. Consider how uncertain our faith would be without the truth of Christ's resurrection. Without Christ's resurrection, there would be nothing rooting our faith. There would be no certainty that what we believe is true.
Paul continues in 1 Corinthians 15:17, "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins." Without the resurrection of Christ, there is no salvation from sin. If Jesus did not rise from the grave, the gospel would hold no meaning. If we spread a message that Christ rose from the dead when He was in fact still in the grave, our message would be a lie. But it is because Christ rose from the grave that our faith does indeed have meaning. There is no security of our salvation from sin apart from the resurrection. It is the fact that Christ rose from the grave that attests to His triumph over sin and death. Because of Christ, we do not have blind faith but faith that is rooted in the risen King. Our world will still accuse us of believing in something that isn't true, but the Word of God attests to the validity of the gospel. Be cheered, dear reader, for your faith is not in vain.
Your labor is not in vain.
Christ's resurrection has brought the kingdom of God. But while sin is still present in the world, God's kingdom has not yet been fully realized. We live in what theologians call "the already but not yet," which means that God's kingdom has been inaugurated, but it has not reached its culmination. One day when Christ returns, He will set all things right, fully establishing the kingdom of God. Because we live in the tension of the already but not yet, believers play a present role with future implications. One mistake that some believers make is thinking that there is no value in what we do in the present. They believe that we can just coast through life while sitting on our hands and waiting for Christ's return. But because Christ has risen from the dead, there is work to be done.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:58, "Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." If Christ did not rise from the dead, there would be nothing to work toward in this life. All of our work would hold no meaning. But because of Christ's resurrection, our labor is not in vain. We never have to go through life wondering, Is this worth it? Am I contributing anything to God's kingdom? The resurrection brings a resounding "Yes!" to both of those questions. By God's sovereignty, our work has kingdom purposes because it is through us that God builds His kingdom. Even though we may not be able to see how God is using what we are doing now, in the kingdom to come, the fruits of our labor will be revealed.
These three truths offer us a past hope, a present hope, and a future hope, all rooted in the resurrection. Let us meditate on and rejoice in the implications of the resurrection in our daily lives, treasuring the truth that the Christian life is not in vain.