1 Corinthians 15:55-58
O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?…
There are many places in St. Paul's writings where the "therefores" are to be carefully noted. But there is no place, except perhaps in Romans 8:1, where the "therefore" is so emphatic as here. We have not only hope in this life, our faith is not vain, etc., therefore "be ye steadfast," etc. We know by what is revealed in this chapter that our labour is not in vain, "therefore" let us labour. We have here —
I. IMMOVABLE STEADFASTNESS. In what?
1. In the belief of the actual resurrection of Christ. It is the apostle's design to show that that is the foundation of our faith, and that if that can be overthrown all our hopes are vain; but that if Christ be indeed risen, then we are to feel assured that our forgiveness is secure, and that we have a full answer to the demands of the broken law of God.
2. But we are warranted in regarding this exhortation as also pointing to steadfastness in every fundamental Christian truth. There are many questions on which men may differ with the widest charity. But we are not allowed to give and take on such matters as the atonement, etc. And in these days when men are being driven by every wind of doctrine away from their moorings it is specially needful for us to pray to be kept steadfast in the faith. Of course it is the duty of the Church to adapt itself to the changed circumstances of the age, but with regard to the truth of God there must be no compromise.
II. ABOUNDING WORK.
1. Before we get outside our own homes, before we use our telescopes to look for distant objects, understand that the Lord's work is your own proper duties discharged as unto God. The first way in which the humblest and the highest is to do the work of the Lord is by bringing the religion of Jesus in its lofty principles and noble motives into the duties of daily life. The Christian servant can do the work of the Lord by being a good servant, the young man in a place of trust by promoting his employer's interest. Before you talk of Sunday-schools, Christian associations, etc., go to the kitchen, counting-house, etc., with the feeling — this is the work which God has given me to do.
2. Yet there must be many who by self-denial and economy can undertake some religious work. A heart hungering for duty will be sure to find it. If you are ready to say, "Lord, give me some work to do," the Lord will respond. Here I would appeal particularly to young women, for they have greater opportunities — are you working for God or killing your time — pretending to do work with your fingers which is all but useless or, far worse, poisoning your mind with frivolous or impure novels?
3. But the apostle presses you further. He asks not only are you working, but are you abounding in the work. "Herein is My Father glorified that ye bear much fruit" — not a little or an occasional bearing of fruit. Religion is not a thing of fits and starts, a life of spiritual spasms.
4. Paul presses you still further. "Always." You are to err rather by excess than by defeat. And while so much is being done, how much remains to be done!
III. A SURE HOPE. It is not forasmuch as ye trust, speculate, think, but "know," that your labour is not in vain. It is not in vain because —
1. No real work for God can be in vain. We are constantly tempted to think we have failed; yet we must know a great deal more about providence, the issues of things, and the hearings of what we have done before we so conclude. Many a minister, Sunday-school teacher has so felt about men and boys who are now earnest Christians.
2. For every work of God there is a reward — not of merit, but of grace. "God is not unrighteous," etc. "Well done, good and faithful servant."
Parallel VersesKJV: O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?