1 Corinthians 15:55-58
O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?…
The apostle had been proving the resurrection, yet he was not to forget to make practical use of the doctrine which he established. He was not like those who hew down trees and square them, but forget to build the house therewith. He brings to light the great stones of truth: but he is not content with being a mere quarryman, he labours to erect the temple of Christian holiness. He does not merely grope among the lower strata of truth; he ploughs the rich upper soil, sows, reaps, gathers in a harvest, and feeds many. Thus should the practical ever flow from the doctrinal like wine from the clusters of the grape. Note here —
I. TWO GREAT POINTS OF CHRISTIAN CHARACTER.
1. "Be ye steadfast, unmoveable." Two things are wanted in a good soldier, steadiness under fire and enthusiasm during a charge. The first is the more essential in most battles, the most essential virtue for victory is for a soldier to know how, "having done all to stand."(1) Be ye steadfast.
(a) In the doctrines of the gospel. Know what you know, and, knowing it, cling to it. There are certain things which are true; find them out, grapple them to you as with hooks of steel. Buy the truth at any price and sell it at no price.
(b) In not being changeable. Some have one creed to-day and another to-morrow, variably as a lady's fashions. There are many like those described by Whitfield, "you might as well try to measure the moon for a suit of clothes as to tell what they believed." How can a tree grow when perpetually shifted? How can a soul make progress if it is evermore changing its course?
(c) In character. Alas! many Christians have started aside as a deceitful bow. Their integrity was once unquestioned, but now they have learned the ways of a faithless world; truth was on their lip, but now they have learned to flatter; they were once zealous, but are now careless. Be ye not corrupted by evil communications.
(d) In attainments. Is not Christian life with many like the sea which spends its force in perpetual ebb and flow: to-day all earnest, to-morrow all indifferent; to-day generous, to-morrow mean? What they build with one hand they pull down with the other. Be ye steadfast. "When ye climb ask for grace to keep there. Columbus would not have discovered a new world if he had sailed a little way and then had turned his timid prow towards port.
(e) In Christian work. Perseverance is at once the crown and the cross of service. Have you taken a class in the Sabbath school? The novelty of it may carry you through a month or two, but be steadfast and hold on year after year, for therein will lie your honour and success. Noah preached for 120 years, and where were his converts? Be may have had a great many, but they were all dead and buried with the exception of himself and family.
(2) "Be ye unmoveable." Be "steadfast" in times of peace, like rocks in the midst of a calm and glassy sea; be umnoveable like those same rocks when the billows dash against them. Be unmoveable —
(a) When you are assailed by argument. No man can answer all the queries which others can raise, or reply to all objections which may be brought against the most obvious facts. It will be your right course to be unmoveable, that your adversary may see that his sophisms are of no avail.
(b) When you are met by bad example. The world never overcame the Church in argument yet, for it has always refuted itself; but its example has often told upon the soldiers of Christ with powerful effect. The current of the world runs furiously towards sin, and the fear is lest the Lord's swimmers should not be able to stem the flood.
(c) In the fear of the world's persecutions and its smiles.
2. "Always abounding in the work of the Lord."(1) Every Christian ought to be engaged "in the work of the Lord." True, our every-day labour ought to be so done as to honour His name, but every Christian should be labouring in some sphere of holy service.
(2) He is to abound in it. Do much, very much, all you can do, and a little more. Our vessels are never full till they run over.
(3) He is to be "always abounding." Some Christians think it enough to abound on Sundays. When you are young abound in service, and in middle and old age.
(4) In the work of the Lord. We must never become proud, but remember that it is God's work, and whatever we accomplish is accomplished rather by God in us than by us for God.
II. THE MOTIVE WHICH URGES US TO THESE TWO DUTIES. Let us be steadfast, for —
1. Our principles are true. If Christ has not risen, then we are the dupes of an imposition, and let us give it up. But if Christ hath risen, then our doctrines are true, and let us hold them firmly and promulgate them earnestly. Since our cause is a good one let us seek to advance it.
2. Christ is risen, therefore what we do is not done for a dead Christ. We are not contending for an effete dynasty, or a name to conjure by, but we have a living King, one who is able both to occupy the throne and to lead on our hosts to battle. If it could be proved to-morrow that Napoleon still lived, there might be some hope for his party, but with the chieftain dead the cause faints.
3. We shall rise again. If what we do for God were to have its only reward on earth it were a poor prospect. Never think of diminishing your service, rather increase it, for the reward is at hand. And remember that as you will rise again, so those whom you come in contact with will also rise.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?