4/28/2014 9:58:04 PM
But Thanks Be to God!
Posted under: 2014
“If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith…. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ…. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:14, 57, 58).
It’s easy for me to forget the awesome improbability of my saving faith. What about you – have you thought about it? “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). There is nothing in us—nothing we are or can do—that makes any sense of the incarnation of the Son of God, who lived perfectly for us, suffered unimaginably for us, and displayed his awesome power over death and Satan by rising from the dead. Incomprehensible!
We’ve been observing the solemn season of Lent, attending extra services, pondering our own sins that nailed Jesus to the cross, rejoicing in our resultant right relationship with God. But have we marveled at the willingness of the God-Man to set his face resolutely toward Jerusalem, knowing full well what would follow?
Jesus lived and died and rose again. By God’s grace, this we know and believe. This we preach, and this we send others to preach where we cannot go. Thanks be to God for his free and full grace which gives us abundant life on earth and eternal life in the joy of heaven!
But read again verse 14 above: “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is [our] faith.” WHAT IF this were where it ended? WHAT IF we did not know of Christ’s resurrection—the proof of the Father’s acceptance of Jesus’ payment for our sins? Incomprehensible!
Most of the world does NOT know this! For them, this IS where it ends! No matter what they believe, how they live, the rituals they perform, the works upon works they accrue – they never know they are saved. They might hope, might be pretty sure, might even be indifferent, figuring death is the absolute end. But they are wrong, for “all have sinned” and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 3:23; 6:23). They do not know the joy of the certainty that “Jesus…purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7); that “whoever believes in [Jesus] will never die” (John 11:26).
How truly beyond human understanding is the fact that God himself would plunge to the depths of hell to save us, his worthless enemies, from eternal separation from our Maker and from the endless fire and darkness of hell. “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” He GIVES – freely, fully, without contribution on our part – he gives eternal life to all who believe in Jesus as their Savior from sin.
And this we preach. This we affirm every Sunday. This we speak to our friends, family, neighbors, and strangers. This we educate our sons and daughters to proclaim. This our missionaries travel far and wide to share with those living in the darkness of denial, the darkness of hopelessness. And this proclamation we support through our prayers, encouragement, and offerings.
Let nothing move you from this most valuable work; stand firm against the attacks of Satan. He thought he’d won, that Holy Saturday so long ago. But how wrong he was! How great the joy in heaven and on earth when Christ took back his life as proof of his victory! We, too, are heirs of Christ’s victory – as our Substitute, he imparts his victory to us, so that we have the sure hope of God’s loving care in this life and of eternal peace and joy in his presence in heaven.
As the daylight hours lengthen, let each day remind you that there is much work yet to be done. Never grow weary of supporting those who go where we cannot. Bask in the warmth of God’s love, but don’t do so alone – work to draw ALL into the Son-light of Easter joy!