Saturday, October 6, 2012

The "Nutshell Gospel" Part 2

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand,” 1st Corinthians 15:1. Paul was presently reiterating the gospel that he had already proclaimed and which they already believed; “I declare to you (present tense) the gospel which I preached to you (past tense), which also you received (past tense) and in which you stand (present tense).”

The gospel had been preached and received, and it was the truth on which the foundation of their faith was laid down. When someone makes their stand they have reached a point of conviction about their beliefs and will not retreat from it. The Corinthians stood on the foundation of Christ and His gospel, but another gospel had come, and its peddlers wished to convince these believers to build on a foundation other than Christ, 1st Corinthians 3:11; Galatians 1:6-7.

By which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain,” 1st Corinthians 15:2. Paul makes it clear that this message, this gospel he preached and which they received, was what saved them. Paul compels them to hold fast to the gospel’s truth about the person and work of Jesus Christ, and not to be moved from their position of faith. Then he makes a subtle stab at the consequence of what embracing this subverting teaching would bring. To believe in vain at this point has nothing to do with how strongly or enduringly one believes the gospel. It has nothing to do with failed or lost salvation. Paul is mocking the doctrine that there is no resurrection. We read something of this again in verse 17 when Paul writes, “And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” The same Greek word for “in vain” in our present verse is used in Romans 13:4 when Paul writes “he does not bear the sword in vain.” The phrase then can mean “for no reason or no point.” He’s accusing the Corinthians of believing something pointless, if in fact the dead do not rise.

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,” 1st Corinthians 15:3. Here we enter the “nutshell gospel” itself. Paul delivered to the Corinthians what he himself first heard and believed. Refer back to verse 1. The Corinthians “received” the message from Paul; but Paul of course “received” the gospel from another. His testimony indicates that Jesus Himself personally revealed these things to Paul, Galatians 1:11-12; Ephesians 3:3-4. Here is the gospel Jesus gave directly to Paul by revelation. The first segment speaks about how Christ died for our sins according to the Old Testament Scriptures. For the sake of clarity about which Scriptures Paul refers to we shall quote at length from Isaiah.

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

“He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked—but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth.”

“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors,” Isaiah 53:4-12.


  1. Amen.

    The Old Testament Law instructed how to live the best possible life here on the earth, but offered nothing for eternity. If Christ does not provide something more, then it is a waste of time and energy to believe in him, and his coming serves no useful purpose. Fortunately, as Paul pointed out, the facts are clear, that there is more.

  2. And how glad we should be that it is so! The gospel makes it clear that Jesus did perfectly what we cannot ever do: save us.


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