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NOTHING IS EVER LOST OR WASTED: 1 Corinthians 15:50-58

NOTHING IS EVER LOST OR WASTED: 1 Corinthians 15:50-58

By Ted Schroder,
May 21, 2017

"It is now time for Paul to draw the argument of the long chapter to a close. He is defending the thesis that there will be a resurrection of the body. This proposition cannot be reduced to absurdity by the argument that the resurrection of an immense number of corpses is unthinkable; resurrection is accompanied by transformation...The absurdity indeed lies the other way; religion and morality alike make no sense if there is no resurrection. That which ultimately makes future resurrection credible is the fact of the resurrection of Christ." (C.K. Barrett)

Neither the living nor the dead can take part in the Kingdom of God as they are. They must be transformed and be provided with a new spiritual body. How this is to happen is a mystery. "We will all be changed -- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet." We will be changed. Instantaneously.

"As therefore a commander, with the sound of a trumpet, summons his army to battle, so Christ, by his far sounding proclamation, which will be heard throughout the whole world, will summon all the dead. ..Far different will be the commotion then, when not one people merely, but the whole world will be summoned to the tribunal of God." (John Calvin)

This is the fulfilment of prophecy: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." "He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces" (Isaiah 25:8). "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction?" (Hosea 13:14) Salvation is completed. He reduces death and the grave to nothing. He removes the sting of death and the power of sin by his death upon the Cross for our salvation and his resurrection for our new life in the kingdom of God. "Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

What are the practical applications of this incredible promise for our life in this world?

"Therefore, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."

Stand firm in what? Stand firm in your belief in the resurrection. Stand firm in your conviction about the future? Stand firm in your trust in the Scriptures that prophesy about the resurrection and eternal life. Stand firm in your allegiance to Jesus who won the victory over death, sin and the devil in the Cross and his resurrection. Let nothing move you from your commitment to the Gospel. These are not mere opinions to be selected and discarded according to their popularity. They are not changeable according to what company you are in. They are truths that are as necessary to life as the rock on which to build your house. They will help you stand when the winds and the storms batter you and threaten your existence.

Our secular culture will tell you accept the opinions and beliefs of others and be tolerant of them and that to stand firm in your faith is to be stubborn and bigoted. But if you are moved and influenced by the latest article, statement, book, theory and fashion you will be the creature of the herd and lose all your self-respect and Christian identity. The Gospel is not one thing today and another thing tomorrow. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. You have to decide whether you are going to bear the likeness of the man from heaven rather than the earthly man.

"Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." Or, "Be sure that nothing you do for him is ever lost or wasted." (JBP) If all that Paul has written and argued is true then what are their implications for the work of the Lord -- the spreading of the Gospel. Muslims are zealous for the spread of Islam and are over-running Europe and are contending with Christian in Africa and Asia. What are we zealous for apart from our own comfort? What are you doing for Jesus Christ who died for you and gave you new life in the Spirit? What are you doing for his church? What are you doing in his name in your community and amongst your friends and neighbors? You may retire from your career or your business but you never retire from the work of the Lord. You are to give yourselves "fully", wholeheartedly, enthusiastically to the work of the Lord. That means to dedicate all of your life to the glory of God, to fulfill God's purpose for your life. Even at the end of a life not so dedicated you can make sure that you put God and his righteousness first on your life. Even the thief on the cross was able to do that.

How do you give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord in yourself? The Lord wants to work in us so that we come to maturity in him. "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love...." (2 Peter 1:5-11) I am working on this every day in my own life to overcome my own self-centeredness.

Look back over your life. How have you given yourself to the work of the Lord? "Be sure that nothing you do for the Lord is ever lost or wasted." As I think back over my life I wonder whether nothing was ever lost or wasted. When I was in High School I led a Bible study during the lunch hour which I advertised on the bulletin board with a new topic each week. On Sundays I sold booklets and Bibles in the entrance of my church and taught a Sunday school class. I was a camp counselor each summer at a Christian boys' camp. At the University of Canterbury I served on the leadership team of the Christian Union which sponsored weekly meetings with visiting speakers as well as prayer meetings and Bible Studies for students. At the University of Durham I preached in churches in the coal mining villages and in the cities of Sunderland and Newcastle. Years later I assisted at a mission to the university. In London I hosted a Good Companions Club for the working poor, supervised the Old Peoples' Welfare Visitors, was chaplain to a nursing home for the indigent, and a club for young business professionals. Then I went on to be a chaplain to students. I prayed that nothing I did would be ever lost or wasted.

What is the story of your life? Are you standing firm in the Gospel? Are you giving yourselves fully to the work of the Lord because you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever lost or wasted? If this Gospel of the resurrection is true, then apply it to your life now and every day.


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