Jesus not only delivered us from our sins, but also from the meaninglessness and emptiness that sin produced. It’s “in the Lord” that we can have lasting fruit.
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:58
Jesus’ resurrection is the evidence that He’s God’s Son: “. . . and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 1:4).
His resurrection also attests His finished work: “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). Paul made it clear that our faith would be in vain—empty and meaningless—if Jesus hadn’t rose from the dead. Since that’s not the case, our faith isn’t in vain. There’s real freedom from our sins: “Who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). That brings us to an important and encouraging reality—one that only comes through Jesus.
Paul began this verse with a therefore, a reference to the whole chapter. He started with the gospel (v. 1-11) and then addressed the undeniable evidence and declaration of God’s good news—Jesus’ resurrection and our subsequent resurrection (v. 12-57). In light of that great news—death not having the final say—Paul commanded us to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” Why? Jesus has delivered us from futility and meaninglessness, which exists apart from Him. Through Him, though, there’s real meaning and value to our work. It’s not in vain!
Notice how he adds “in the Lord.” The best illustration is, once again, the vine and branches: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit [good works], for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). All our works “in the Lord” are not in vain for they flow from the Vine. That’s also the essence of being a co-worker with God.
Jesus didn’t only save us from our sins, but also from the results of sin—futility. When the Preacher of old wrote that “all is vanity” (Eccl. 1:2), he wasn’t exaggerating. Apart from Jesus there’s only emptiness. It’s only when we’re in Him that we can have lasting fruit. That’s the essence and totality of the gospel—sharing in Christ.
The Devotional Writer
P.S. check out my latest devotional about Joy to the World: Christmas throughout the Year