#680. TAKE YOUR STAND, HOLD FAST (31/10/22)
This week, in our series on 1 Corinthians we begin looking at Paul's teaching on the gospel from chapter 15.
Summary: The gospel message is to be firmly retained against the assaults of the world, the flesh and the devil.
I remember visiting a National Trust property. Whilst walking the grounds, I looked round to see my son disappear. Not watching where he was going, he had stepped off of the path and into a pond leaving only his cap floating on the surface! Needless to say, we retrieved him. Likewise, we must beware of walking off the path of truth. It’s important that we don’t become complacent and vulnerable. Paul is writing this to the Corinthians who were in danger of failing to ‘take a stand’ and ‘hold firmly’ to the gospel. Having received and believed the gospel, some were in danger because they were failing to be vigilant. Paul writes:
‘Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.’ (1 Corinthians 15:1-2 )
‘Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.’ (1 Corinthians 16:13)
This is a warning to all of us. Are we taking a stand and holding firm to the gospel? Many things assault and discourage. Passivity and laziness can creep In. False teaching is everywhere. The devil is at work. Jesus taught on many occasions about the danger of losing our way if we are not alert. For example, The Parable of the Soils exhorts us to avoid being bad soil:
‘The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.’ (Luke 8:14)
Jesus encourages us to be ‘good soil’ which he describes as:
‘But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.’ (Luke 8:15 )
What is this ‘seed’? Jesus tells us:
‘This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God.’ (Luke 8:11)
Do you see that this is an encouragement to treasure the word generally and the gospel in particular? We, like the Corinthians, and like the first listeners to this parable, need to guard our hearts and minds so that we are good receptive soil. We need to take care that the seed of the gospel is not choked.
How is our joy and amazement at being justified by grace? Are we growing in worship or have we become accustomed to God dying for us?
How can we take our stand and hold firmly to the gospel? Perhaps a good response is to memorise and mediate on Paul’s definition of the gospel today.
‘For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
What has God been speaking to you about from His word recently? How would you like prayer?
3. Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group
TAKE YOUR STAND, HOLD FIRMLY TO THE GOSPEL
Please read 1 Corinthians 15:1-9
On Sunday we began looking at chapter 15. This section is about the gospel with a focus on the reality of Jesus' resurrection.
In 15:1-9, Paul gives an outline of the gospel message that some of them, it seems, were in danger of rejecting. Paul is urging them to continue to take a stand and hold firmly to the gospel that they had received.
WE MUST NOT BECOME COMPLACENT
This chapter, and many similar sections in the Bible, make it clear that we all need to be reminded to take care to hold onto our faith. Although we believe that a true Christian will never be lost, the Bible never uses this doctrine (the doctrine of The Perseverance of the Saints) as a basis not to fight the fight of faith and take care to hold on to what we believe.
WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?
If we are to take our stand and hold tight to the gospel, we need to know what it is. Here Paul summarises it:
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,”(1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
Summary: The gospel is what God has done, through Christ, to save us.
CHRIST IS OUR SUBSTITUTE
A very important term to be aware of is 'substitutionary atonement'. This is at the heart of the gospel. As Paul says:
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins…”
Jesus was our substitute. He was sinless and yet He died for our sin. We deserved judgment but He took this in our place.
BRIDGE TO LIFE
A really helpful illustration to familiarise ourselves with is The Bridge to life.
i) Did you feel that God spoke to you from any particular aspect of Sunday's message?
ii) How would you summarise the gospel message?
iii) Perhaps you might like to try explaining the gospel using the 'Bridge to life' illustration above?
iii) What are the alternative 'gospels' that the world offers?
iii. What are the various things that can help us to take a stand and hold firmly to the gospel?
SIV - Do you have any encouraging stories of sharing your faith with your friends?
SIV - How do you plan to 'serve, invest and invite' into your friendships?
SIV - Let's pray for the Spirit to lead us in reaching our community.