Torchbearers for Christ
Thursday, July 18, 2024
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Easter is with us once again and our thoughts turn to this most vital event in the history of mankind. What is this event and what is its significance? It can be summed up in the words of 1 John 4:9-10, “This is how God showed His love among us. He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (NIV).
Few chapters in the Bible can be as enlightening, as enriching and as challenging in matters concerning the death, the resurrection and the coming again of our Lord Jesus Christ and our response to these momentous events, as 1 Corinthians, chapter 15. Paul opens this chapter by defining for us the gospel, or the good news, that changed his own life and which he knew could change the lives of all who would believe. His words to us are 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 15:3-4).
He then proceeds to enlarge on the vital matter of Christ’s resurrection, without which the foundations of Christianity would crumble. There were some in the church at Corinth who doubted the resurrection and so Paul explained to them the absolute necessity of the rising again of our Lord Jesus and the resurrection of believers. He tells us that “if Christ is not risen, then is our preaching vain and your faith is also vain (1 Corinthians 15:14) and “you are yet in our sins if Christ is not raised” (vs. 17). He adds that, apart from the resurrection, those who have fallen asleep are perished (vs. 18). He appeals to the sufferings he has experienced as a preacher of the Gospel, saying “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19).   Then in 1 Corinthians 15:20 he sums up his argument for the resurrection of both the Lord Jesus and believers with the delightful conclusion, “But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first fruits of them who have fallen asleep”.
How comforting it must have been to the disciples when Jesus said to them, “Because I live, you shall live also” (John 14:19). He left them in no doubt regarding their own resurrection from the dead when He told them in John 5:28-29, “Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming in which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation.
There is a cemetery not far from my home.  While attending a funeral some time ago, I was so interested to read this inscription on one of the headstones, “Oh, what a meeting!” This was obviously a memorial to someone who had been in no doubt as to what the future held for him. His trust had been on the Lord’s promise given by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord”. What a blessed hope we have as believers in the risen Christ. This hope is described in Hebrews 6:19 as “an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast”.
To conclude, we return to 1 Corinthians, chapter 15, and we notice that in the last verse of the chapter Paul, having presented us with great truths of the gospel of Christ, the grace of God, the resurrection from the dead and the second coming of the Lord Jesus, challenges us with these words, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as you know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord”.  Amen!
This article was written by Pastor Geoffrey Davies. He is a frequent contributor to this column. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he pastored a church for over twenty-five years.  For many years, he has travelled widely, continuing his ministry of encouragement and Bible teaching.