"Oh to Grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be.
Let thy goodness, like a fetter
bind my wandering heart to Thee!"

Sunday, December 16, 2007

If Christ Be Not Raised, Our Faith is Vain

1 Corinthians 15:17
"And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins."


empty, that is, (literally) profitless, or (specifically) an idol: - vain, vanity.
1) devoid of force, truth, success, result
2) useless, of no purpose

"Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead." 2 Timothy 2:8
"The opening verses of the second chapter of the Second Epistle to Timothy are in essence a comprehensive exhortation to faithfulness. The apostle Paul was lying imprisoned at Rome, with expectation of no other issue than death. The infant Church had fallen upon perilous times. False teachers were assailing the very essence of the Gospel. Defection had invaded the innermost circle of the apostle's companions. Treachery had attacked his own person. Over against all these dreadful manifestations of impending destruction, he strenuously exhorts his own son in faith, Timothy, to steadfast faithfulness. Faithfulness to himself, faithfulness to the cause he had at heart, faithfulness to the truth as he preached it, faithfulness to Jesus Christ, their common Redeemer and Lord.

The temptations to unfaithfulness by which Timothy was assailed were very numerous and very specious. Many good men had fallen and were falling victims to them. The perverted teachings of the errorists of the day were urged with a great show of learning and with eminent plausibility. And they were announced with fine scorn which openly declared that only dull wits could rest in the crude ideas with which Paul had faced the world-- and lost. The sword of persecution had been ruthlessly unsheathed, and sufferings and a cruel death watched in the way of those who would fain walk in the path Paul had broken out. It seemed as if the whole fabric which the apostle had built up at such cost of labour and pain was about to fall about his ears.

Paul does not for a moment, however, lose courage, either for himself, or for his faithful followers. But neither does he seek to involve Timothy unwittingly in the difficulties and dangers in which he found himself. He rather bids him first of all to count the whole cost. And then he points him to a source of strength which will supply all his needs. We called the passage an exhortation. We might better call it, more sepcifically, an encouragement. And the encouragement culminates in a very remarkable sentence. This sentence is pregnant enough to reveal at once the central thought of Paul's Gospel and the citadel of his own strength. Amid all the surrounding temptations, all the encompassing dangers, Paul bids Timothy to bear in mind, as the sufficing source of abounding strength, the great central doctrine, --or rather, let us say, the great centract fact-- of his preaching, of his faith, of his life. And he enunciates this great fact, in these words: Jesus Christ raised from the dead, of the seed of David.

...Paul bids Timothy in the midst of all the beseting perplexities and dangers which encompassed him to strenthen his heart by hearing constantly in remembrance, not Jesus Christ simpliciter, but Jesus Christ conceived specifically as the Lord of the Universe, who has been dead, but now lives again and abides for ever in the power of an endless life...

It is not to be overlooked, of course, that Paul adverts to the resurrection of Christ here with his mind absorbed not so much in the act of His rising as in its issues. "Bear in mind," he says,"Jesus Christ, as one who has been raised from the dead": that is to say, as one who could not be holden of the grave, but has burst the bonds of death, and lo! He lives for evermore. But neither can it be overlooked that it is specifically to the resurrection, which is an act, that he adverts; and that he adverts to it in such a manner as to make it manifest that the fact of the resurrection of Christ held a place in his Gospel which deserves to be called nothing less than central...To Paul, it is clear, the resurrection of Christ was the hinge on which turned all his hopes and all his confidence, in life and also in death...

It is through the power exerted by His resurrection that His saving work takes effect on men. That is to say, Paul discovers the centre of gravity of the Christian hope no less than of the Christian faith in the fact of the resurrection of Christ. And of the Christian life as well. From the great fact that Christ has risen from the dead, preceed all the influences by which Christians are made in life and attainments, here and hereafter, like him.

O the comfort, O the joy, O the courage, that dwells in the great fact that Jesus is the Risen One, of the seed of David; that as the Risen One He has become Head over all things; and that He must reign unil He shall have put all things under His feet."

-B.B. Warfield from "The Risen Christ "

*I pray that the fact that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead will
encourage you just as it encouraged Timothy in Paul's second epistle to him.
Let it be your strength as you endure the tribulations and laborings for
Christ in the midst of a fallen world.

Also, here is a great video from Paul Washer on this subject:

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