So, good news bad news good news this morning brothers and sisters, as we continue in our look through the Epistle of 1st Corinthians together. Good news Instead of trying to jump around three or four chapters like last week – we’ve only got one chapter before us this week so make you way in your bibles please to 1st Corinthians 15 bad news – the chapter in question is 58 verse long ugh…. But good news we’re only gonna focus on one verse. The last verse. Verse 58.And here it is:Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.Ooh, it’s so good I’m gonna read it again.Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.So to remind us of the past few weeks – we’ve been moving very quickly through the book of 1 Corinthians – Pauls letter to his beloved Church: And we know all sorts of things about the Church in Corinth – some things we know from history, some things we know from direct extraction from the texts, and somethings you can infer from the answers given.Corinth was of course a diverse greek city, centrepoint of busy trading routes, lots of cultures. Wisdom and philosophy was important to these people, and there were all sorts of temples to other gods in the area. Paul had helped establish this church, and he had been in communication with them – he longed to see them, and he had a deep care for them – that’s what we said last week – his deep love for them and his desire for the church to function properly, leads to him writing this letter – lots of correction, lots of settling disputes on practices that were more man boasting than God honouring, and exhortations, encouragements for all his beloved brothers and sisters to be using the spiritual Gifts that God had given them. And as Lawrence rightly pointed out when we started a few weeks ago – this is why it’s worthwhile for us to study this – we perhaps need to hear this as we find ourselves living in a modern day Corinth.And as we roll into chapter 15 this morning, we’re kind of in the home straight here – Chapter 16 is the last part of the letter, and it’s really just closing matters and greetings, and kind of ‘signing’ off.Chapter 15 is really the last part of the letter and Pauls final chance to make an impact in the text – so he sets up this layered argument – and closes it with the words we just read. In a sense everything has been leading up to this chapter – everything has been leading up to this THEREFORE.So what is the therefore there for uh huh – well in addition to all we’ve discussed in the past few weeks, such as:LISTSexual immorality, Marriage and singlenessWorship and the Lords supperGifts …Spiritual /FinancialIn addition to all this – Paul circles back to the start – the foundational matters:In the beginning of Chapter 15Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.My people, my church family – he says - remember what I preached to you in the beginning – you guys heard it back then and you took a stand on it – you set out your churchlife upon this teaching – and what was it? It was the Gospel of Jesus Christ – Christ died for our sins, he was buried, he was raised on the third day – he appeared to Cephas and then twelve. He appeared to more than 500 brothers and sisters – he appeared to James, He appeared to all the apostles – and he appeared to me also – as to one abnormally born – in other words Paul reaffirms his position as apostle – he had laid eyes on the Lord – while acknowledging that his experience an apostle was different to the others – remember Paul back when he was still Saul saw Jesus in the vision on the way to Damascus – Saul, why do you persecute me?SO, first ten or so verses are Paul just laying out the factual case for Jesus’ resurrection – the argument is about the death and resurrection of Christ – and he’s saying guys, we saw it with our own eyes. It really happened. BUT – and he turns it around on a but12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.SO… from verse 12, what’s the inference – somebodies been going round saying there is no resurrection from the dead – this life is all we have – you die, and that’s it – which is what you’ll hear from of a lot of humanists these days as well. How sad. Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. So Paul counters – nonsense how can that be – we (his followers)saw Jesus die. We saw him afterwards. And what that means if true, is that Jesus has power and victory over death. What that means if false, is that Death has power over Jesus – so which is bigger?NO, I wanna just pause here for a moment, because, there might be some of you that think this is boring… I also had a moment when getting into this text for this morning where I thought, well, is this really new stuff – Jesus died and rose again – I mean, we accept this, pretty much all of our Christian brothers and sisters are on the same page on this, right? All the songs seem to mention it – it’s echoed through the bible.. at Medway we take these emblems remembering it every week -what a waste of a morning to go through stuff that is old hat to even the newest believers here?You might be surprised to know that a recent article published by the BBC says that a quarter – 25 percent of the people who profess to being Christians in Britain – actively deny the resurrection. 1 in four say nope, don’t think it happened. That is tragic. A faith that leaves out Jesus death and resurrection - the centrepoint of what we as God’s church believes – that’s not Christianity. I don’t know what that is, but it’s not Christianity.25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; Aaagh, those crazy Brits – they’ve lost the plot – we’ve got it right here in South Africa – really? – so when you see the video clip come through recently of Pastor Alph Lukau, of Alleluia international Ministries and his so called resurrection where in the front of many witness – the anointed Pastor raises a young man from the dead and he rises from out of his coffin – you’ve seen the video? It’s quite something - maybe even amusing at first, but what it is, is actually Blasphemous – and this guy is very rightly being called out by religious leaders for bringing the name of God and the name of the church into disrepute. There are some crazy teachings out there people – it’s worth knowing your bible. Back to Paul in 1 Corinthians - Paul expands the argument from Jesus all the way back to the first man – Adam – why do we die, - because of Sin – linking back to original sin – Garden of Eden with Adam. And just as death came in by one man – ADAM – life – power over death – comes in by one man – Jesus- if Jesus cannot conquer sin and death, then there really is no hope for the future, there really is no eternal life. Your faith is in vain. But death must be defeated – death must itself, die, wrap you heads around that! And in Jesus Christ, in Christ alone – you are raised from the dead. But is it our physical bodies – Pauls a clever guy – further down he anticipates an argument – and he starts to talk about the difference between – there is a natural body and a spiritual body -verse 44.Flesh and blood (in other words, our original, untransformed bodies) cannot inherit the kingdom of God – he’s talking about a spiritual transformation. We need to be changed, and we will be changed. Oh what a mystery – 52 we will not all sleep, we will all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.Death will be swallowed up in victory: Verse 55 calls back a prophecy – Where o death is your sting, where o death is your victory – sounds almost taunting doesn’t it? The sting of death is sin – sin and death are companions. We die. Not because we get old – we die – our physical bodies die, because of sin. But We have victory over death through our Lord Jesus Christ.So, Jesus died and rose again – we saw it.He has victory over death and sin.Therefore in him, we have victory over death and sin.Therefore death is not the end for usTherefore whoever was talking in the church about there being no resurrection of the dead is dead wrong.My body, hey, carve me up and donate me to science! I’m done with that thing – but my spirit – is going one way. Come Lord Jesus!Therefore, therefore, therefore – back to our key verse therefore – because of all of that. for that reason / on that ground / consequently verse 58!58 Therefore,my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. My dear, precious, fellow servants in Christ, stand firm – stand firm on what I told you in the beginning – the Gospel that I preached to you when we started this church together. Stand firm on the foundational teachings of Christ and his apostles – not the modern philosophies of the current day and age. Wow, these are words for us too hey. Corinthian church – it seems, were maybe struggling to stand – getting some things wrong with the way they were going about doing things – so Paul reminds them of what he left them with – takes them back to some of the basics – setups up the foundation so they can stand firm again. Stand firm on the gospel of Jesus Christ.My son has started Karate – just to spite his father he doesn’t want to do cricket, or hockey, or any sport that I’m interested in – he want to do karate – you would have seen some of the poses at the family camp concert – and you know what the first thing they teach you at karate is, before they teach you cool things about how the punch and karate chop and kicks and shout things, The very first thing they teach the young boys and girls is how to stand properly. If you’re not standing firm you have no chance in the fight.My dear brothers and sisters – stand firm, let nothing move you. NO strange teaching, no disorder, no pride in the peoples teachings and positions in the church, no factionalism and division, no thing NOTHING – must move you. Oh, but Andrew, we seem to move all the time - we do things very differently to the way they did things back then – ok, sure, the Church has changed in style, has continued to stay relevant to the times and practices of the people. We’re not talking about cultures and practices here – about old songs and new songs. We’re also not talking about God moving in his church – he does – he does new things all the time within his Church. The Church is alive and very mobile in a sense – but it should never move away from the fundamental teachings – from the Gospel of Christ who died and was resurrected. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, I like the absolutes here, not, please try guys, do your best to - no let NOTHING move you – and ALWAYS give yourselves FULLY to the work of the Lord – not only a Sunday, you know, come here, wear your Sunday best sing your loudest – give that full ten percent tithe, pray the best – fellowship the hardest, smile the widest. Give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord. Don’t do a half job. You know what happens to the Lukewarm church– they get spat out. Give yourselves fully. And I say this regularly when I ‘m up here obviously because I need to hear it regularly too – we like to partition ourselves off – this is church me over here, this is family man me – this is me in my sports team – this is work me – I even have a holiday / long weekend me it seems – Phil got hold of me on Sunday and said hey, we need to have a deacons meeting, how does Thursday sound, and I stopped him and said – what Phil, no ways, Thursday a public holiday, we can’t meet then – you know, Heaven forbid the Church me try and steal some time away from the Long weekend me.Give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord – you have been equipped - you have been gifted – we spoke about this last week – you have received everything you need for the Lords work in some capacity – and I don’t know if you’re a foot or an arm or a leg or whatever… but you’re something in the body, and you’re needed. And doing nothing means that some other body part has to pick up the slack. But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be – that was from last week.Verse 58 wraps up – you know that your Labor in the Lord is not in vain. You labor – yes. it’s hard, costly work work. But Paul gently reminds the Corinthian church of what lies ahead – that there is an ahead – because of the resurrection – there is a hope and a future - there’s even a reward – just like he mentions in Romans, just like he does in Galatians. He’s spent so much of the letter, especially the last 50 something verse establishing this argument for resurrection – death is not the end – Jesus has promised us eternal life, and like an added bonus, there is an eternity waiting for those who Labor in the Lord. Those who persist, those who stand firm, unmoved, and continue in the lords work. You have to wonder how much time we spend even thinking about – the next life – what will happen after we die. Unless there’s an illness, or a recent death in the family – we pretty much focus on the good life we’re busy living. because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. Now maybe you think that’s a bit kind of, worldly, transactional thinking – bit too much karma, where’s the grace in all of this . The grace – was you being resurrected in Christ – theres the grace – if we REALLY got what we deserved for what we have done, no matter how good we think we are – we would never see the Kingdom of heaven. We would never be able to come before God. Before we come to faith – before we become believers – none of this sort of talk applies – because we are unrighteous – we are dead in our sins, we have no eternal weight, or value or standing even. But that’s not who Paul is talking to – he is talking to reborn believers – who have an identity in Christ. And that’s also who Christ is talking in Revelations when he says…Revelation 22"Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.Now it’s of course up to you, how those words sounds in your ear. Is that a threat or a promise. What you’re gonna, get, when we’re talking about heavenly rewards, relates to what we’re willing to give now. What we are willing to sow now, we will reap in eternity. And yes, it sounds selfish doesn’t it – stand strong, be unmoved, give yourselves fully - , because, well, you’re going to GET SOMETHING. Like if I say to my kids clean your room and they say what are you gonna give me and I shout just do it or else. But you know what, this is the best kind of selfishness there is. Your perfect father in heaven is promising a reward for you labors – you go for it. Why, because that’s not stuff – that’s not driving a nice car in heaven – that reward is Himself – that reward is God – your inheritance, your reward, your treasure, your prize, your crowns – that is your great HOPE – that comes in the next life. Knowing Him fully.The whole of Pauls letters have been leading to this chapter, have been leading to this thought – stand strong church, unmoved , it all for the Hope that awaits in the eternal future. Think about the conditions for that early Church – come together – leave your families – leave that faith that you were born into - leave you comforts and security behind - put your worldly belongings into this new upstart community - and start to endure hostility – start to suffer and labor for Christs sakes….why, for what? We’re all gonna die anyway – that guy who’s living it up and this guy who diligently labouring – both will die. But for the Christian believer – who identifies with Christ – death has no sting – death is defeated and our eternity awaits. The labour is not in vain, your life doesn’t have to be wasted. The hope is always there – My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.Paul echoes his encouragement in the next chapter.1 cor 1613 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.14 Do everything in love.That’s Pauls heart for his brothers and sisters in Corinth. And words that we can take to our heart here I think as well. You take a few verses out of this long chapter and you can easily paint a picture of an Authoritarian writer really, getting angry with these misbehaving believers. But that’s not really the way to encourage change – these teachers will probably tell you the same thing – so Paul reminds them of the great hope and the glorious future that lays ahead of them, and lies ahead of us. And one dayWhen He shall come with trumpet sound, - we read about the trumpet!!Oh, may I then in Him be found;In Him, my righteousness, alone,Faultless to stand before the throne – Come Lord Jesus.