William Nicholson, 1862
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord!" 1 Corinthians 15:58
The design of the Apostle is to establish the doctrine of the resurrection. His arguments are cogent and invincible; his description is sublime and enrapturing. Some people in the Corinthian Church called in question the leading principles of the Gospel, alleging that they were too mysterious for belief, and that they could not admit what they could not comprehend. Too much of the same spirit prevails now. The resurrection of the body is a glorious doctrine in the estimation of the Christian; it affords a powerful motive to diligence and perseverance in the work of the Lord.
I. The Character of the People Addressed:"Beloved brethren."
1. They were believers. They had heard, received, and believed the Gospel, and were saved, verse 1, 2.
2. They were brethren. The same faith which united them to Christ, united them also to one another. "They gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will." 2 Corinthians 8:5. They are called "the Church of God, the sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints," ch. 1:2. They had been chosen by the same heavenly father, believed in the same Jesus, had been regenerated by the same Spirit, etc. etc.
3. They were beloved brethren. "Therefore, my beloved brethren." Beloved especially by Christ, being a part of his flock purchased by his blood and they are, if true believers, dear to each other, and they love as brethren.
II. The Advice Given to Them:"Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord."
1. The advice refers to the doctrines of the Gospel: the divinity, sacrifice, and resurrection, of Christ, as stated, verse 1-8, and the resurrection of the saints, and their immortal happiness, verse 12, etc. These doctrines were opposed, and will ever be opposed by the carnal mind.
(1.) The Apostle advises them to be steadfast. The truths of the Gospel are to be steadfastly maintained. "Be steadfast." Be fully established in your own minds; be rooted and grounded in the truth. Well-built upon the true foundation. Recognize the vital importance of those truths ardently love them.
(2.) They must be steadfastly defended. "Be able to give a reason of the hope that is in you." Labor to understand them, to feel their power. "Contend earnestly for the faith." Be not overcome or silenced by the sophistry, carnal policy, and mere declamation of your antagonists.
(3.) Steadfastly exemplify their practical influence. Glory in your alliance to Christ and his people. It is most honorable. Let your light shine. In the family, in your calling, in your associations, in the Church, in the world — show by your behavior that you are a Christian — that you are not ashamed of Christ, his cause, and his people. Thus be a "faithful servant," and "be faithful to death."
2. In maintaining these doctrines, Christians are to be "immovable;" that is, they should persevere in their steadfastness. To be "immovable" is to have continued stability. Christians "should not be moved away from the hope of the gospel." Colossians 1:23. "For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord," 1 Thessalonians 3:8. "Standing fast" is a military term, like that in 1 Corinthians 16:13. Saints are here compared to an army, liable to attack, and standing firm against the enemy. The object of Satan is to divide and scatter them, in order to accomplish their defeat.
Many are movable. They soon surrender the doctrines of the cross and renounce their profession. Do not be moved . . .
by worldly temptations,
by the wiles of Satan,
by the desertions of others from the truth.
As a motive to invincible adherence to the truth, think how Christ, the Apostles, the martyrs, and others, resisted unto blood. Hebrews 11.
3. Christians are to be "always abounding in the work of the Lord." The "work of the Lord" is that holy employment in which all his servants are engaged, the design of which is to advance his kingdom, and diffuse his glory in the world. It is the work of saving souls from death.
To abound in this work is to consecrate all our talents to his service. Some preach, exhort, pray, advise; some employ their influence, some their property, etc. Whatever contributes to promote the cause of Christ, that is the work of the Lord, and it is to be the business of our lives.
In this work Christians are to abound. Preachers are to be instant in season, and out of season, to rebuke and exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine. Those who hear are to take heed how they hear, etc. Those who pray are to pray always, without ceasing, with all prayer and supplication. People having influence, property, talents, of any kind, are to employ them as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Romans 12:6-11. "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up!" Galatians 6:9
III. The Powerful Motive Assigned."Knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord!"
1. You know it from various promises. "For at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." "God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them!" Hebrews 6:10
2. "It shall not be in vain." God will bless your efforts. Sinners shall be converted, or left without excuse.
3. The work shall be followed with an infinite reward. The resurrection to eternal life insures this, and a blessed immortality is before us, Matthew 19:28, 29. If we serve him, if we suffer with him — we shall also reign with him. For, observe,
4. The certainty of this reward is founded on the resurrection of Christ, verse 5-8. As sure as Christ arose, so shall his servants come forth to the resurrection of eternal life to be then honorably and publicly rewarded.