As Easter approaches, Christians all over the world reflect vigorously on the event of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. In 1 Corinthians 15:1-2, where Paul gives the Corinthian church (and by the Spirit’s preservation of the Scripture, Paul gives us) four pieces of how the gospel is dispensed.
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain (1 Cor 15:1-2).
- The gospel is preached: The Good News of Christ gets out through the act of preaching. The gospel is not ultimately discussed in an effort to provide a consensus among a myriad of opinions. The gospel is heralded, proclaimed–preached. Romans 10:14-15 shows the role of preaching in the economy of God in salvation.
- The gospel must be received: You can receive the gospel or reject it. Just because this gospel is preached does not mean it will have its effect. God works in our unrighteous heart that does not seek after him (Romans 3:9-12) to transform it so we will receive it. This gospel is not simply an intellectual quest–it is a spiritual gift! And what is received must be put into practice (see Philippians 4:9-10). The way you can tell that someone has received the gospel is that they live out the gospel (thus the final clause: “if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain).
- The gospel is that in which we stand: The gospel is our anchor. Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection is of first and foundational importance (see 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). We stand because He arose and is alive.
- The gospel is that by which we are saved: The gospel does not merely justify (take away the penalty of sin) but the gospel continues its work in the Christian’s walk by its sanctifying work. We are rescued from the penalty of sin (justification), being rescued from the power of sin (sanctification), and will ultimately be rescued from the presence of sin (glorification).