‘Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, , unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.’–1 Cor. 15:58.
We all know the fifteenth chapter of 1st Corinthians, in its Divine revelation of the meaning of Christ’s resurrection, with all the blessings of which it is the source.
It gives us a living Savior, who revealed Himself to His disciples on earth, and to Paul from heaven. It secures to us the complete deliverance from all sin. It is the pledge of His final victory over every enemy, when He gives up the kingdom to the Father, and God is all in all. It assures us of the resurrection of the body, and our entrance on the heavenly life. Paul had closed his argument with his triumphant appeal to Death and Sin and the Law: ‘O Death, where is thy victory? The sting of Death is Sin, and the power of Sin is the Law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ And then follows, after fifty-seven verses of exultant teaching concerning the mystery and the glory of the resurrection life in our Lord and His people, just one verse of practical application: ‘Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.’ The faith in a risen, living Christ, and in all that His resurrection is to us in time and eternity, is to fit us for, is to prove itself in–abounding work for our Lord!
It cannot be otherwise. Christ’s resurrection was His final victory over sin, and death, and Satan, and His entrance upon His work of giving the Spirit from heaven and extending His kingdom throughout the earth. Those who shared the resurrection joy at once received the commission to make known the joyful news. It was so with Mary and the women. It was so with the disciples the evening of the resurrection day. ‘As the Father sent Me, I send you.’ It was so with all to whom the charge was given: ‘Go into all the world, preach the Gospel to every creature.’ The resurrection is the beginning and the pledge of Christ’s victory over all the earth. That .victory is to be carried out to its complete manifestation through His people. The faith and joy of the resurrection life are the inspiration and the power for the work of doing it. And so the call comes to all believers without exception: ‘Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye always abounding in the work of the Lord!’
‘In the work of the Lord.’ The connection tells us at once what that work is. Nothing else, nothing less than, telling others of the risen Lord, and proving to them what new life Christ has brought to us. As we indeed know and acknowledge Him as Lord over all we are, and live in the joy of His service, we shall see that the work of the Lord is but one work–that of winning men to know and bow to Him. Amid all the forms of lowly, living, patient service, this will be the one aim, in the power of the life of the risen Lord, to make Him Lord of all.
This work of the Lord is no easy one. It cost Christ His life to conquer sin and Satan and gain the risen life. It will cost us our life, too–the sacrifice of the life of nature. It needs the surrender of all on earth to live in the full power of resurrection newness of life. The power of sin, and the world, in those around us is strong, and Satan does not yield his servants an easy prey to our efforts. It needs a heart in close touch with the risen Lord, truly living the resurrection life, to be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. But that is a life that can be lived–because Jesus lives.
Paul adds: ‘Forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not vain in the Lord.’ I have spoken more than once of the mighty influence that the certainty of reward for work, in the shape of wages or riches, exerts on the millions of earth’s workers. And shall not Christ’s workers believe that, with such a Lord, their reward is sure and great? The work is often difficult and slow, and apparently fruitless. We are apt to lose heart, because we are working in our strength and judging by our expectations. Let us listen to the message: ‘O ye children of the resurrection life, be ye always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know your labor is not in vain in the Lord.’ ‘Let not your hands be weak; your work shall be rewarded.’ ‘You know that your labor is not vain in the Lord.’
‘In the Lord.’ The expression is a significant one. Study it in Romans 16 where it occurs ten times, where Paul uses the expressions: ‘Receive here in the Lord;’ ‘my fellow-worker in Christ Jesus;’ ‘who are in Christ, in the Lord;’ ‘beloved in the Lord;’ ‘approved in Christ;’ ‘who labor in the Lord;’ ‘chosen in the Lord.’ The whole life and fellowship and service of these saints had the one mark–they were, their labors were, in the Lord. Here is the secret of effectual service. Your labor is not ‘in vain in the Lord.’ As a sense of His presence and the power of His life is maintained, as all works are wrought in Him, His strength works in our weak ness; our labor cannot be in vain in the Lord. Christ said: ‘He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit.’ Oh! let not the children of this world, with their confidence that the masters whose work they are doing will certainly give them their due reward, put the children of light to shame. Let us rejoice and labor in the confident faith of the word: ‘Your labor is not in vain in the Lord. Wherefore, beloved brethren, be ye always abounding in the work of the Lord.’