The Power Of The Gospel
One of the messages God has for sinners in the New Testament is that they have the possibility of being delivered from sin through the gospel. A life of sin is degrading and shameful (Romans 1:22; 3:23). It ultimately leads one to hell (Revelation 20:10; Luke 13:3, 5). But people do not have to live in sin.
God has made it possible for sinners to come out of the trap of sin and walk into an abundant existence on earth with the hope of eternal life in heaven. This deliverance is known in New Testament scriptures as salvation (Romans 1:16; 1 Peter 1:9).
However, the amazing grace God has thus provided can benefit sinners only if they will receive it. And to receive it means to believe in the expiatory death and resurrection of Christ. The Apostle of God, Paul, said in 1 Corinthians 15:3 that Christ “died for our sins according to the scriptures (Old Testament scriptures, emphasis mine)”. But if one does not believe that Christ died for our sins, that is He took away the destructive power of sin on our lives, then they shall die in their sins (John 8:21; Ephesians 2:1).
What sinners need to do next is submit to water baptism in order to effectively enjoy the salvation Christ’s death provides. There is no alternative to this condition. We have in the New Testament examples of groups of people who understood this necessity. The Corinthians were one of them. The inspired historian Luke wrote, “the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized” (Acts 18:8). What they heard was the gospel Paul preached to them. The sacrifice of the Son of God became reality to their understanding upon hearing Paul. After the Apostle had impressed it upon their minds and it touched their hearts, they received it and were baptized.
The church that resulted from Paul’s preaching in the city of Corinth was a demonstration of the power of the gospel (1 Corinthians 1:2). Incidentally, the word church derives from the Greek Ekklesia which literally means “called out” and refers to an assembly of people set aside from others to serve God. The gospel had turned some Corinthians into saints, that is people who had become servants of God. God called these individuals, through the message of salvation based on the death of Christ, and they responded. God had called them to live holy lives. Through the pen of the Apostle Peter God said to the Christians in the first century, “you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;” (1 Peter 2:9; cf. Colossians 3:12; 1 Peter 1:16).
The gospel is powerful inasmuch as the Corinthians brethren were, prior to their conversion to Christ, like puppets on strings in the hands of the devil. Located in the southern part of Greece, and having two harbours, Corinth was in the first century a busy centre for trade. It was for that reason a city of wealth. But it was also known for idolatry and immorality. It had no parallel as a place of vice. There were thousands of prostitutes in the city, many of them belonging to a temple dedicated to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. Corinth was so vilely corrupt with bad sexual behaviour that to say that a person lived like a Corinthian was a reflection on his identity and character. Yet the gospel of Christ penetrated such an ungodly place and touched the hearts of many people.
Sadly, it was not long, after Paul had worked tirelessly preaching Christ in Corinth, before Satan tried to get his hands back on the city (2 Corinthians 2:11). The saints of God soon were confronted with the power of false doctrine as well as several other problems that plagued the church among which was the issue of division (1 Corinthians 1:10). Satan had changed tactics and was now trying to destroy the Corinthians’ faith in the doctrine of the resurrection of Christ. Through the agency of false teachers, the devil tried to convince the church that there was no such thing as the resurrection from the dead – such was the case, in the church at Ephesus, with men like Hymenaeus and Philetus who claimed that “the resurrection is already past” (2 Timothy 2:17). But Paul, once again, battled ferociously to prevent the repudiation of Christ from spreading in the Corinthian church. First Corinthians 15 constitutes a synopsis of the arguments he put forward in defense of the resurrection.