Paul is clearly explaining the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8. Yesterday we looked at the value of preserving the clarity of the gospel at all cost. We live in a nation that has not done this. We have blurred the lines of the true gospel. We have not valued the truth of the gospel, nor have we taught our children to love it. This is why we find ourselves as a nation in the spiritual cesspool of God’s judgment (Roman 1:18-32).
Today we look at Paul’s words, “Unless you have believed in vain.” Another way of expressing this is “unless your faith is empty of any real content.” This can be taken different ways. Paul may be saying “unless you have placed your faith in a false gospel” – an empty, twisted gospel that has been adulterated (mixed) with the addition of human works – a gospel that has no power to save – and obviously many have. Or on the other hand, Paul may mean that unless God really did not become a Man nor did He die on a cross for sin, nor did He really rise from the dead, nor is He alive today and coming back to establish His kingdom. The result would be the same. There would be no saving power in the gospel either way. I personally think that by saying “unless you believed in vain” Paul meant the latter.
Let’s continue. Paul said, “I delivered to you that which I received.” This begs a question. How did Paul receive His message of the gospel? This is truly amazing. When Paul was saved on the way to Damascus, he did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, meaning he did not go back to Jerusalem to meet with the apostles (Galatians 1:15-16). He did not get his message from them.
Paul went immediately into the desert of Arabia alone – but He was not alone. He went to meet with someone. Get ready now for some strong meat – an amazing glimpse. He met with Jesus Christ once again – face-to-face. Wow! He said thatthe gospel which he proclaimed did not come from flesh and blood. Now I quote verbatim, “but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:12). Jesus Christ unveiled himself once again, and He gave the gospel message to Paul, who had been called from his mother’s womb to preach this message to the Gentiles (Galatians 1:15-16).
Later Paul told the Ephesian believers that he had actually become a prisoner of Jesus Christ for them. The only way Ephesian believers could understand what Paul meant would be for them to have heard and understood of the dispensation of the grace of that was given to him – by Jesus Christ when He made known the gospel to him. A dispensation is a stewardship, a window of opportunity. In Arabia Jesus Christ had made known to Paul not only the gospel, but also the result of the gospel.
The gospel is the truth that not only saves but will immediately result in the baptism of the Spirit – real baptism. This baptism joins both Jew and Gentile into one body – the church. This amazing truth had been hidden in God for ages. This mystery was not made known to the Old Testament prophets – anywhere. If it had been, then they would have no doubt proclaimed it again and again. They did not! (Ephesians 3:1-12). Spirit baptism occurs instantly upon hearing and believing the gospel. The believer is instantly baptized into one body – Jew and Gentile – in Christ. Paul was the first to make this mystery known.
Now through the church preaching the gospel and many believing and being saved and also being instantly immersed into Christ, the principalities and powers in heavenly places can finally know this truth. This is why the angels are looking onto it (1 Peter 1:12). Through the gospel God is raising a new generation of people – made up people from every tribe and tongue – Jew and Gentile – made lower than the angels but in Christ, raised far above them. This new generation will ultimately reign with Christ over a renewed earth for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-6) and then reign with Him for eternity in a new heaven and a new earth forever (Revelation 22:3-5). Remember, it was in the angelic realm and in the old heaven where the first rebellion – Satan’s rebellion against God – occurred (Ezekiel 28:11-15; Isaiah 14:12-14). This is amazing is it not? This is God’s eternal purpose revealed. This is the reason for the gospel. Stay safe and stay tuned.