Fixed, Fervent, and Filled with Hope

Christian, what do you believe?

Are you one who believes Jesus came to earth, was crucified, killed, and buried in a rich man’s tomb? Do you also believe that on the third day Jesus physically and victoriously rose from the grave? Is it also your belief that Jesus visited with hundreds of friends before magnificently ascending to his rightful throne in glory? Are you confident he is the King of kings and Lord of lords who sovereignly rules over all things in heaven and on earth? And are you eagerly awaiting the future reunion with your Savior, your sinless condition, your new body, and your new eternal environment? My friends, if you are one who really believes these doctrines, if you are one who holds these sacred truths not only in your head but also in your heart, then you must find yourself increasingly fixed, fervent, and filled with hope. This is Paul’s concluding exhortation in 1 Corinthians 15:58:

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Christian, are you doubting and disbelieving?

Paul was traveling abroad ministering for the risen Lord, and in the course of time he heard of questions, heresies, and sins in his former church at Corinth that needed to be addressed. One of their issues was their growing doubt or disbelief in the resurrection of Christ and Christians. Liberal Jewish theologians had sown the seeds of doubt in an immortal soul, angels, and the afterlife. (Sadducees)  Prominent Greek philosophers had also mocked the idea of spiritual beings being attached to an eternal body and planet. (Dualists)  In response, Paul spends 57 verses outlining the doctrine of resurrection.

Paul reminded his friends that the Gospel was true. Jesus was risen. He had been seen by men, women, Apostles, disciples, small groups, large groups, and by Paul himself. Therefore, nothing in Christianity was vain — not their scriptures, not their preaching, not their faith, not their understanding and presentation of God, not their hope of personal salvation, not their rejoicing in the saints triumphant, and not their religious practices. Nothing was vain; all was valuable.

In addition, according to Paul’s resurrection theology, Jesus lorded as a very active sovereign. He was currently reigning in the presence of his enemies and working out his plan. And the glorious end was yet to come. When the wicked had finally served Christ’s purposes and exhausted Christ’s long-suffering posture, Jesus promised to return to dominate and destroy. He would purge his world of every evil rule, authority, and power and give the dominated kingdom to his Father. However, his affection for his beloved family members and citizens would never fail. In the end, as he was raised and given an incorruptible body, so too would they.

And what was Paul’s conclusion? Hear it again from 1 Corinthians 15:58:

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Christian, it is time for us to be fixed.

As the Living Great Priest, Jesus has already provided our needed righteousness, and he has purged us of any deserved condemnation. We never need doubt our relational condition with God. Clothed in the righteousness of Christ and filled with his Holy Spirit, we are eternally and unchangeably acceptable in his sight. Though the world, the flesh, and the devil assault us, never should we doubt our Father’s merciful, gracious, and radical love for us. Relationally, we are to be “steadfast and immoveable.”

As the Living Great Prophet, Jesus provided and validated his Old Testament scriptures. In addition, he spoke and taught like none other. He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and he promised that, after his ascension, he would lead his church in further truth. Friends, there may be much that seems to be confusing in our world, neighborhood, business, church, family, and head. There may be many voices offering competing “truth claims” to us. Liberal theologians may ask tough questions and encourage a incessant skepticism. Worldly philosophy dominate our culture and call into question all we have been taught. However, let us not doubt the true-truth we have received in the Word of God. Let us read, receive, believe, and in our thinking be “steadfast and immoveable.” Let us be rock-like, steady, and principled. Let us be firmly cemented in the teachings of God’s Word and countercultural in our insistence on objective truth. Like Jesus, like Paul, like church fathers and mothers who have gone before us, and like many standing beside us today, let us be “steadfast and immoveable.”

As the Living Great King, Jesus rules over all things in heaven and on earth. The righteous are his. The reprobate are his. Saints serve him in the heavenly choir. Satan serves him according to God’s mysterious and all-encompassing designs. Whatever comes our way today, it comes directly or indirectly from the heart, head, and hand of God. It is all for his glory and our ultimate good, so be “steadfast and immoveable.” Christians who serve the risen Savior, let us be fixed!

Christian, it is time for us to be fervent.

Jesus is our Living Savior and Lord. He is the one who worked and works on our behalf, and he is the one who calls us to labor for and with him. Therefore, let us “always abound” in the Lord’s work. On earth, Jesus enlisted the Twelve, the Seventy-Two, and the Hundreds in Galilee. A few months later, Jesus called the Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus. Through his letter to the Corinthians, Paul called his Greek friends to faithful service in the Lord’s field, and through this same letter he calls you and me today. Are we over-abounding? Are we busy? Are we ambitious? Are we so “always” or “at all times?” The Lord’s work ought always be before us — in our own personal sanctification, in our family dynamics, as we utilize our spiritual gifts in the church, and in our relentless evangelism. Let us not be apathetic, occasional, or slothful. Let us commit to labor as did the Anglican, John Preston:

Spend your fat and sweetness for God and man; wear out, not rust out; flame out, not smoke out; burn out, be not blown out.

Because Jesus is our living Savior and Lord, let us respond with obedient, affectionate, hard-working worship. Let us be “aways abounding in the work of the Lord.” Let us be fervent!

Christian, it is time for us to be filled with hope.

God works for us. God works in us. God works through us. And God works with us. He is omnipotent, and his desire is never frustrated. Therefore, as his beloved children, victorious saints, truthful prophets, interceding priests, and stewarding kings, there is something we are to “know.” Here it is one more time:

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

It is true that we will get to heaven and see our earthly ministerial labor was not in vain. Nothing done for the Lord will be futile or wasted. This is true, but this is not Paul’s point, for he does not speak using the future-tense.

Paul wants his doubting friends to know that their “labor in the Lord is not in vain.” As we utilize the means of grace and kill the flesh, as we train our children and encourage our spouses, as we use our spiritual gifts and edify members in the household of faith, as we preach, teach, evangelize, and perform acts of Christian charity, nothing is chaff-like. It is not possible for the Lord’s work to be fruitless or wasted. It is not possible for the Lord’s work through us to “be in vain.” This we must know!

Therefore friends, let’s repeat the matter one more time. Today, let us cease our doubting and waffling. Let us cease our apathetic slumber and get up from our beds of ease. Let us labor with all our might for the Lord’s harvest is at hand. One day each week we are to rest; six days each week we are to labor. Let us be more fixed, more fervent, and more filled with hope, for we “serve a Risen Savior who is in the world today” … and tomorrow … and forever and ever.


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