“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:57-58).
When facing a challenging situation, if you knew the outcome was going to result in a victory would this impact the way you coped with it? For example, if you had cancer and knew you were going to be overcome it, would this motivate you to continue battling knowing that you would win over it?
As the apostle Paul writes to the Corinthian church, he reminds them they had a great victory which belonged to them which had already been won by Christ. It was the victory over death. It had been won by Jesus as He rose from the dead giving them assurance that they too would overcome death through Him. However, these Christians seemed to have forgotten they were assured of this victory!
Why had this happened to them? It appears there were those in the church which began to question whether or not there was a resurrection of the dead. Paul writes, “Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? (1 Corinthians 15:12). Perhaps, part of the reason was because they did not understand all the details of how the resurrection was going to happen. Again, Paul states, “But someone will say, "How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?" (1 Corinthians 15:35). The old saying, “There is no such thing as a dumb question” is not necessarily true. Questions, such as the ones the Christians at Corinth were asking, which undermined their own faith in God, were not healthy questions to be asking.
Paul addresses how doubting the resurrection affected their faith: “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty” (1 Corinthians 15:13-14). Moreover, Paul adds, “And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (1 Corinthians 15:17-19). The resurrection of Jesus has a major impact on how we live our lives as Christians!
Paul answers these questions by reminding them of the many witnesses who had seen Jesus resurrected from the grave (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). Furthermore, Paul describes what will happen following our resurrection when Jesus delivers the kingdom (i.e. the church) to His Father having conquered the last enemy which is death (1 Corinthians 15:24-28). Moreover, Paul mentions how our resurrected bodies will be changed into spiritual bodies prepared to enter into our Heavenly Home as He gives us a glimpse of things to come (1 Corinthians 15:36-54).
As the opening verses above described, knowing by faith the victory we have in Christ over death, we can be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” because we know that our labor in the Lord “is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58). I rejoice in the impact that the resurrection of Jesus has upon my life. When I face the adversities in life, I will not be discouraged and act defeated. Today, I cling to my hope made possible by the resurrection of Jesus and know that no matter what happens to me I will overcome death. I will praise God and sing, “O Victory in Jesus!”
“So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’ ” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55).