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Grace Bestowed in Vain

For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 

I Corinthians 15:9-10

In verse 10, Paul tells the Corinthians that the grace of God that was bestowed on him “was not in vain.”  That is a powerful statement.   God has given us a great deal of grace.  He has saved us and forgiven us.  He has loved us after we had rejected him.

The question is this – did He do all of this in vain?  What have we done with the grace that He has bestowed on us?  Are we using that grace for His honour and glory or are we just living however we want to live?  Paul said that the grace God bestowed on him was not in vain and I think that we would definitely agree with him.  He served the Lord faithfully and did all that he could for the cause of Christ.  He used the grace that he had been given to show others how to obtain this grace.

What have we done with the grace that He has given to us?  It would be a terrible thing to think that God gave us the grace that He has given us “in vain.”  It would be a terrible thing to think that we have hurt the cause of Christ after all that He did for us.  But, that is the what some of us have done.  Let us walk with the Lord today so that we will never wonder if His grace has been given to us “in vain!”

The Grace of God

And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.  For I am the least of the apostles, that am no meet to be called an apostle, because I persecute the church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 

I Corinthians 15:8-10

In this passage, Paul tells a little about himself as it relates to his being an apostle. He says that he was the last of the apostles to see the Lord Jesus.  He says that he was “as of one born out of due time.”  He knew that he was not worthy to be called an apostle, because he had persecuted the church. He understood what he was and where he came from.  Then he makes a brilliant statement.  “But by the grace of God I am what I am.”  Paul understood something that we should also understand.  He understood that anything good in him was there because of the Lord Jesus.

Everything in our lives that is good is there because of the grace of God.  We are saved and forgiven because of the grace of God.  We have families because of the grace of God.  We have friends because of the grace of God.  Everything we have and everything we are is because of the grace of God.

It is important that we remember this.  Sometimes we tend to get puffed up in ourselves.  We get filled with pride.  We are nothing without the grace of God. We need to remember and be thankful for this.

The Gospel

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.  For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures

I Corinthians 15:1-4

In this passage, Paul says that he declared the gospel to the Corinthians.  Then, he goes on to explain, in concise form, exactly what the gospel is.  “…how Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”  That is a perfect summary of the gospel.

1. Christ died for our sins.  We are all sinners.  We are sinners by nature and sinners by choice.  And that sin needs to be paid for.  Jesus Christ is the sacrifice for that sin.  He died for our sins.  That is the first part of the gospel.

2. He was buried.  Jesus died for our sins and He was buried.  He wasn’t just beaten and mocked.  He was killed.  And He was buried.

3. He rose again the third day.  This is a key to the gospel.  Jesus rose again.  He is the only man in history to rise from the dead on His own power.  He conquered death and the grave.  This is what separates Jesus from everyone and everything else.  He rose from the dead.

4. He did all of these things “according to the scriptures.”  He fulfilled the Word of God.  He did everything according to the scriptures.  If the Bible says something, it is accurate.  If Jesus says something, it is accurate.

That is the gospel.  It is simple and wonderful!

Faith, Hope, and Charity

For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as I also am known.  And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

I Corinthians 13:12-13

In this passage, we find that there are three things that are going to “abide.”  Those three things are “faith, hope and charity.”  Those are the things that are going to stay.  Those are the things that are going to last forever.  Those are the things that we need to have and that we need to be concentrating on.

We need faith. The Bible tells us that it is impossible to please the Lord without faith.  We need to believe the Bible and we need to believe what the Lord Jesus said, especially about Himself.

We need hope.  Without hope, our lives would be terrible.  Without hope, we would have nothing to live for.  Without hope, we would be miserable.  The Bible gives us hope.  In fact, it gives us a sure hope.

But we also need charity.  In fact, according to this passage (and the whole chapter), charity is the most important thing that we need.

It is “the greatest of these.”  Charity is a Christ-like, sacrificial, giving love.  That is exactly what we need.  We need that in every area of our lives.  Without charity, nothing else matters.  Do we have charity?  Do we have a Christ-like love in our hearts?  How do we treat others? Do we truly have charity?

Seeing Through A Glass

For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as I also am known.  And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

I Corinthians 13:12-13

Verse 12 of this passage tells us that now, we “see through a glass darkly,  but then face to face.”  What we see now of spiritual things is like looking through a dark glass.  We can see some shadows and objects, and we might be able to make out a few colors, but, for the most part, we can’t see much.  Things are definitely not clear to us.  They are, at best, very blurry.

We see the same way spiritually right now.  We might think that we see everything very clearly, but we don’t.  We might think that we are good at discerning spiritual things, but we do still have to deal with the old flesh every day.  The Lord helps us, guides us and shows us many things from His Word, but our sinful nature is always ready to try to stop us from learning and seeing them.  There is an old saying: “the best of men are men at best.”  None of us are perfect and none of us can see everything.  We can’t even see clearly the things that we can see.

We should be thankful for the light and insight that we have been given, but we should also understand that we don’t know or see everything.  It is simply not possible for us right now.  We can see pictures of Jesus in His Word.  We can see His effect on our lives and on the lives of others.  But our vision of Him is still a little cloudy.  But it will not always be like this.  There is coming a day when we will see Him face to face and we will see everything perfectly clear.

Psalm Saturday 9c

I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvelous works.  I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.  When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence.  For thou hast maintained my right and my cause; thou satest in the throne judging right.  Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever. O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetualend: and thou hast destroyed cities; their memorial is perished with them.  But the LORD shall endure forever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment.  And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.  The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.  And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.

Psalm 9:1-10

This Psalm tells us about Praising the Lord.  It then reminds us of what will eventually happen to the enemies of the Lord.  “They shall fall and perish at thy presence.  It is an interesting contrast.  As Christians who know the Lord, we are waiting for His appearance.  His appearance is precious and important to us.  We are even told to look for Him and to love His appearing.  But the wicked are not so.  They fall and perish at His very presence.  Just being in the presence of the Lord destroys the wicked.  We need to be thankful that we have a truly blessed hope!

Childish Things

Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.  But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.  When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

I Corinthians 13:8-11

At the end of this passage, it tells us that “…when I became a man, I put away childish things.”  There are some things that children do that adults do not do.  They are not always bad thing, they are just different.  Just as we would not expect a child to go to work an earn a living, we would not expect to see an adult man playing with a rattle.  There is nothing at all wrong with playing with a rattle, it is just not something that an adult man or woman would do.  That is something that a person should “put away” as they grow older.  There are many things like this in our spiritual lives as well.

There are many spiritual “baby rattles” in our Christian lives.  They are things that are not necessarily sins, but are things that are not becoming for a mature “adult” Christian.  There are some things that we just need to leave behind as we grow up.  Some things are just childish, and some things are just things that are too time consuming.  As we get older, we start finding that we do not have time to do everything that we would like to do.  We have to leave some things behind.  We have to put them away.  In our spiritual lives, we need to put away some things.  Hopefully, we are putting away the right things.

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