Believing in Vain

I read the wonderful words of Paul concerning the resurrection, but somehow I got hung up on this little phrase, “unless you believed in vain” in I Corinthians 15:2. “What in the world does that mean?” I wondered. Salvation in Christ is secure (Romans 10:9; Ephesians 2:1-10). Without belief in His finished work on the cross, and faith in the resurrection, there is no salvation. So how can someone believe in vain, as if the belief has no effect?

As with all of scripture, words must be taken in context, and also compared with other scriptures. The Bible tells us to rightly divide the Word of truth, and when we do so, it all fits together. When I kept on reading in I Corinthians 15, the familiar Gospel story came next, along with eyewitness accounts of Christ’s resurrection (verses 3-8). There is clear evidence that many people believed Paul’s and these witnesses’ accounts, but not everyone. Verses 12-17 indicate that some said, “There is no resurrection of the dead.” So Paul makes some powerful “if” statements: If Christ did not rise from the dead, your preaching is empty and so is your faith. (Another translation of empty is “futile” or “vain.”) If He is not risen, you are still in your sins.

Paul presents a single hypothetical case here. If a person believes in Jesus, but Jesus didn’t truly rise from the dead, then that person’s faith would be in vain, no matter how strong he or she believed in Jesus. Everything hinges on the resurrection of Christ, even our future destiny (15:17-18). Paul states that if Jesus is not the risen Christ, then all believers who died believing in Him have already perished.

“But now Christ is risen from the dead” (vv. 20-23). What a contrast this reality is to the hypothetical “if.” What a difference that word “but” makes! My choice is to believe this truth—He is risen indeed, just as he said (Matthew 28:6). Our believing is not in vain!

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

I'm always blessed by your timely words and ability to uplift and encourage!

I always come away feeling like I can do better...and will do better.

Love, Rebecca