In chapter fifteen Paul tells us about the importance of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the implications of would it means for believers. Paul starts by explaining to us what the gospel is and why it is important that we understand the gospel. This is an important chapter for the church today and many churches would do well in studying it and adjusting their message to be in line with the proper gospel of Christ.
Unfortunately, many churches have abandoned the gospel of Jesus and replaced it with a false gospel. They have replaced it with the gospel of health, wealth, and happiness; called the prosperity gospel. Many churches have been able to fill their churches and buy bigger and bigger facilities by preaching this false gospel. People flock to these churches because the message is in line with their self-centered view of the world and God. They believe lies like: A good God will not judge, and will only give me blessings that I “speak” into existence.
At such churches, there is no concept of remorse or shame of sinfulness and no need for repentance of sins. Their pastors are leading them to hell because they are failing to teach the gospel of Christ.
Some churches are teaching another type of social or progressive gospel where they do not believe that Jesus was raised from the dead. Some even do not believe that Jesus was sinless, just that He was the most perfect to have lived but not completely perfect and not the Son of God. Instead, their social gospel is one of selecting verses and morals that can help them to be a good person. Treat others with respect and dignity, etc. They believe that if you can just be a good person then you will be alright and get into heaven if there is such a place.
These types of churches are more interested in being woke and liked than they are in teaching the truth of the word of God. What does Paul say about such churches and their false gospels?
“Now brothers, I want to clarify for you the gospel I proclaimed to you; you received it and have taken your stand on it. You are also saved by it, if you hold to the message I proclaimed to you — unless you believed for no purpose.”
1 Corinthians 15:1-2 HCSB ( https://bible.com/bible/72/1co.15.1-2.HCSB )
Paul would start his answer to these false teachers and churches, I believe, just like he started 1 Corinthians 15. If you stand on the gospel that he, and the rest of the apostles, have proclaimed then you will be saved. The implication is that if you change the gospel of Christ from what they have taught us into the prosperity gospel or some social justice woke gospel, you will not be saved. Paul even says that they have believed for no purpose. The gospel that these false teachers are expounding is meaningless leading to death instead of life.
If all one takes from the bible are moral teachings and instructions on how to relate to others. Instructions on how to have a good marriage, be a good parent, etc then you have wasted your time and missed the target. One has to believe the gospel as it is presented by the apostles.
“For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time; most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one abnormally born, He also appeared to me.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 HCSB ( https://bible.com/bible/72/1co.15.3-8.HCSB )
The gospel of Christ is that Jesus died for our sins. He did not die from old age. He was nailed to the cross because of the sins of the world. It is also important that we know what Jesus Paul is talking about. He is talking about the Son of God, born of a virgin, and without sin. Making Jesus the only life-giving sacrifice that can give salvation to us. Believing that Jesus was just a good teacher, or a prophet will not lead to salvation.
The second detail of the gospel that Paul points out here is that Jesus was buried. This is important because it reinforces the fact that Jesus was dead. He did not faint and then later awaken. He was dead. The Roman soldiers were experts at crucifying people and would know the difference between somebody that fainted and someone dead. Jesus died for our sins and was buried.
Then on that faithful third day, Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus defeated sin and death so that we could have eternal life through faith in Him. Some will try to say that Jesus either did not die or He did not raise from the dead. This is why Paul included these eyewitness accounts as evidence that Jesus has risen from the grave. Jesus appeared to the disciples and then to over 500 other brothers at one time. It might be a convincing argument to some that the apostle would have lied about this, but 500 other people some of who were still living at the time of Paul writing this letter. Many of the believers could have known some of those witnesses or at least went to meet them.
Paul says plainly that if you hold to the gospel that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, died on the cross for our sin, and rose on the third day then you will be saved. If you reject this gospel or reject Jesus Christ, then there is no reason to call yourself a Christian and no reason to be a part of the church because you have believed for no purpose.
May we all stand on the gospel of Christ and be saved by it.