The Gospel message is everything to a true Christian. If we wish to mature in our faith, we must take care to stand firm in our belief in Christ’s death and bodily resurrection. In our Bible passage for today the Apostle Paul proves himself to be a wise teacher by repeating the gospel message to the church at Corinth, even though he knows they have already heard it numerous times before. He writes to them:
Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain (I Corinthians 15:1-2 NASB).
Paul here explicitly states that his goal in the next few verses is to make known to you the gospel. This is not because they have never heard the gospel before, but because it bears repeating. The gospel had been preached to them before by Paul, they had eagerly received it, and in it they were able to stand spiritually, knowing that they could live successful Christian lives, pleasing to God. It was by this gospel that they were saved, but only if they held fast the word which had been preached to them. Indeed, the gospel message only saves those who stay committed to it; those who later reject it are not saved because their belief in it was only temporary and secondary; they had never truly accepted Christ as the most important thing in their lives. This is why Paul finds it so vital to repeat the message of Christ’s death and ressurrection, because he knows that it would be disastrous for them if they ever forgot or doubted it’s importance.
Some Christians today will actually be offended if a preacher preaches the gospel message to them. They do not think that they need to hear it again because they already know it. However, we always need to hear the gospel message again, because it is the most important thing in the believer’s life, and hearing it again will remind us to keep our hope for the future anchored in Christ. We need to remember that we are all awful people, capable of being redeemed only by the blood of Christ, unable to save ourselves by our own effort. We know that Jesus not only died, but literally rose again, so that we too may rise from the dead one day if we believe in him. If we stop hearing this message we might allow ourselves to stop remembering what was sacrificed, and allow our theology to mutate into something that is not truly Christian. Indeed, there are many so-called Christians that once started off professing belief in the gospel, but then slowly forsook it. They were swept away by the flattery of silver-tongued preachers who implied that the gospel message could be improved upon, and that a child-like loyalty to it was hindering their spiritual growth. These teachers told them they could become something greater than what was already available to them in Christ. However, in seeking to find something greater than the simple gospel message, they came up empty with nothing at all, for it was the gospel message that had given them confidence before God in the first place. They had allowed their confidence in Christ to be replaced by arrogance by believing that they could do better for themselves than what Jesus had done for them.
Therefore we must firmly defend the truth of the gospel message, knowing that if part or all of it is not true, than we have believed in vain; for there is no hope for the future. If Christ did not suffer and die for our sins, then there is no hope for the future. If we have to work to earn our own salvation in addition to what Christ did on the cross, then there is no hope for the future. If Christ did not bodily rise from the dead after being killed, there is no hope for the future. Our only hope lies in the gospel being completely true. Therefore, let us not be fooled by intellectuals who try to undermine the gospel by supposedly speaking a better one. There is no better gospel than the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we surrender it, we have nothing. So let us jealously guard it so that we can always have joyful confidence in our salvation, knowing that God will forgive our sins and raise us from the dead some day, just as he raised Christ.