Ok – I have a question.
I am studying 1 Corinthians 15 in preparation for some preaching I will be doing at the end of the month, and I wanted to put this concept out there for some group think.
Twice in the top of this chapter Paul uses a term that would fit nicely in my formerly hard and legalistic theological structure.
In verses 1 & 2 he says this:
Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:1-2
Then again in verse
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:10
What’s bugging me is this idea that somehow because he worked (labored) it proved that he was indeed an apostle.
Does this mean that in the first section, our salvation somehow does not count if we don’t get to work?
Clearly Paul militates against this idea in the book of Galatians where he reprimands them for going back to a trust in works after being saved by faith.
Ephesians 2:8-10 also clearly demonstrates that works are a result not a cause:
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. ~ Ephesians 2:8-10
It is interesting that the Greek word is not the same in both cases
In verse 2 the word is “eikē” -
1) inconsiderably, without purpose, without just cause
2) in vain
a) without success or effort
In verse 10 the word is “kenos”
1) empty, vain, devoid of truth
a) of places, vessels, etc. which contain nothing
b) of men
1) empty handed
2) without a gift
c) metaph. destitute of spiritual wealth, of one who boasts of his faith as a transcendent possession, yet is without the fruits of faith
d) metaph. of endeavours, labours, acts, which result in nothing, vain, fruitless, without effect
1) vain of no purpose
So here is what I think at this point in my process. It sound to me like in the second case, Paul was given a gift - that of apostleship. Had he denied it, suppressed it, ignored it dispensationalized it (saying for example he could not be an apostle because he did not walk with Jesus) or what ever – the gift would be like that juicer you received as a wedding gift that still has the ribbon on it. All it is good for is using up space on the shelf, though it is capable of so much more.
I think many of us Christians (myself included) leave the fabulous gifts the Lord has chosen for us, prepared us for, and equipped us with unused, perhaps because we don’t even realize we have them.
But what’s up with this first one – the word believe is the standard word for faith, so I have a hard time reconciling this, without some sugar coated cop out answer.
What do you think?
Do you have questions – or some topic you would like to discus in the this forum? Click the link in the side bar and ask away. I don’t promise right answers, but you can at least watch me think – LOL
Thanks to blueletterbible.org for the definitions!