“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
The basis for the exhortation and promise found in this verse hinges on the first word: “therefore”; and the validity of that, hinges on the strength of what came before. In other words, if what came before this final verse in the chapter is not true, the verse is simply high-sounding rhetoric for the purpose of rallying the troops, as it were. If what preceded it is not true, there is absolutely no reason to be steadfast, no incentive to “abound” in the work of the Lord, because all our labor is in vain.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the only valid motivation for even acknowledging God, much less serving Him. His miraculous Virgin Birth, His sinless life, and substitutionary death on the Cross, may change the way we live, but only His Resurrection changes the way we die. Verse seventeen says, “If Christ be not raised, your faith is in vain; ye are yet in your sins.” What a sobering sentence, clanging like a death knell in our ears. But thanks be to God! the death knell becomes pealing chimes of victory when we get to verse twenty: “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man [Adam] came death, by man [Jesus Christ] came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (vv. 20-22).
Christ’s resurrection is the Christian’s guarantee of life after death. Not an ethereal half-life, but the life He enjoyed those forty days He spent with His disciples after He arose. Mark it down, this life is the only chance we have to take advantage of God’s offer of salvation; but for those who do, God’s Word promises that death will be “swallowed up in victory” (v. 54). Death may close his bony hands around our necks, but we will slip out of his grasp before he has a chance to squeeze!
Therefore — O, therefore! — because Jesus Christ has won the victory over sin, death and hell, you and I are assured of immortality. We can well afford to be steadfast and unmoveable, absolutely unbounded in our work for God. We have nothing to lose. We can go for broke. Nothing we do for Him now will ever be in vain.
“We are more sure to rise out of our graves than to rise out of our beds.”
Thomas Watson (d. 1686)