Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:1-2
This makes being "saved" sound kind of conditional, wouldn't you say?
Does this teach that one can lose their salvation? If not, why do the arguments to the contrary usually sound so lame? I propose that both sides of the argument suffer from the same basic flaw in logic - which is that they have the exact same focus. But I'll get back to that.
First, these verses suggest nothing about LOSING something, because Paul's argument puts the EXISTENCE of salvation in the balances of the Corinthians' logic, not the DURATION of it. And this leads me to my next point: Paul IS presenting salvation as CONDITIONAL. Do I have your attention? :)
Okay then, the flawed focus: ME. I got thrown off by the "believed in vain" comment because it tapped into MY fear that something was wrong with MY faith. I wondered if I had enough faith to satisfy the technical demands of God. My questions sounded like this:
- "Did I believe the right things?"
- "Did I believe enough of the gospel?"
- "Was I sincere enough?"
- "Is my faith strong enough?"
- "Will I be able to hold out long enough?"
- "Was my faith Biblical?"
- "Could it be real faith if I still sin?"
MY fear revolves around ME, and it is so strong that even reading the context clouded the obvious STATED reality that "vain faith" had NOTHING to do with ME, but ONLY with JESUS. His grace took the blinders off my eyes to see what had been written so clearly:
IF Christ has NOT been raised, THEN our preaching is vain, YOUR FAITH ALSO IS VAIN. 1 Corinthians 15:14
IF Christ has NOT been raised, YOUR FAITH IS WORTHLESS; you are still in your sins. 1 Corinthians 15:17
There's the condition! Paul never examined the "believing" to suggest IT might be "vain", he laid it ALL on the reality of Christ's being raised from the dead.
So, why did he say, "if you hold fast the word which I preached to you"? For the same reason he said the same basic thing in almost all his letters: HIS message came from God, so to hell with anything that contradicted it! Paul wanted them to consider the contrary message they were hearing so they would see for themselves that it offered a WORTHLESS faith. In other words, if the message of the false teachers was true then Jesus had NOT been raised and faith itself would be absurd since faith is our dependence upon HIS life.
Because deliverance all rests on CHRIST your faith is NOT worthless. Take those "new" teachings that keep popping up to put it back on YOU and shove 'em where the sun don't shine. So, what kind of a worthless faith have you been offered lately?