Skip to main content

Of 'First Importance' and Fads

When Paul writes to the Corinthians, he reminds them what's of 'first importance'. They were quite a distracted lot in Corinth, with everything from church splits (or, at least, significant divisions), to sex scandals, to people getting drunk at the Lord's Supper, to major abuses of spiritual gifts, to distract their attention from what was most important. So, right at the end of 1 Corinthians, Paul reminds them again what is most important. (And, by the way, it's not just something he slips in as a by-the-by at the end of the letter, but something that he highlights right at the beginning as well.)

So, what is it that Paul wants to remind them is most important? What is the thing that their focus and attention should be on?
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:1-4)
Do you see that? What Paul says is of first importance - the most important thing - is the gospel, the message that Jesus died for our sins and rose again. Christ, His Cross, and His Resurrection - that's what's most important.



Now, think about this. What do we spend most of our time speaking or thinking about? To what do we devote our time and energy? What get's the biggest share of our attention? You see, normally our attention and energy go to what we consider most important. And perhaps what gets our focus might reveal to us what we really think is most important.

Paul's not exaggerating when he says that Christ, His Cross and His Resurrection are most important. After all, he's just said that this gospel is what saves us. And he puts that in the present tense, we 'are being saved' (v.1) by this gospel of Christ crucified. So it's not just something for the past; not just something for the beginning of our Christian life. But it's something for now; something for the whole of the Christian life. What Paul tells us here, as he tells us to 'hold fast to the word' of the gospel, is that the gospel - the good news of Jesus Christ who died for our sins and rose again for our justification - is what the whole of the Christian life is built upon. Every moment we need the good news of Jesus in our place.

And yet, so often our attention gets caught up with the latest fad, with the latest big thing on the church scene. Yet, no matter how big something is on the church scene, it is powerless to save. No matter how much people are talking about it, it offers no foundation or power for the Christian life. Only Jesus Christ and Him crucified can do that.

Our hope cannot be in programmes, conferences, books, methods, techniques, or any other fad. Our hope cannot be in what this church over here is doing, or what that one over there has done. Salvation and growth in grace won't be found in what looks like it works for the man we've heard about on the other side of the globe or the other end of the street. No. Jesus Christ, the Head and Builder of the Church, the Saviour who purchased the church with His own blood (Acts 20:28) is our only hope, our only salvation, and the only one in whom we can grow in grace. He's the Head; He's preeminent; and all glory and honour belong to Him.

So, turn your eyes to Jesus. Turn away from the fads that may offer so much, but yet give so little. And look to the One who is of first importance. And rejoice - for what's of first importance, what's most important, never changes - Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever!

Popular posts from this blog

These are the Bones of Elisha (Declaring the Word of the Lord)

One of the most curious events in all of Scripture is found in a single verse in 2 Kings 13. That chapter records the death of the prophet Elisha, and yet, there’s still one more story of Elisha here some time after his death. 2 Kings 13:21 tells us:
So it was, as they were burying a man, that suddenly they spied a band of raiders; and they put the man in the tomb of Elisha; and when the man was let down and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet. Elisha was dead. And yet when a corpse was thrown into his tomb hastily in an attempt to hide from marauding bands of Moabites, the man came back to life simply by his corpse touching Elisha’s bones. Even as miracles go, that one’s quite impressive.

On the Church and On Sin: With a (former) Tory MP and a Catholic Priest

What with the Extraordinary Synod going on in Rome this week, the Roman Catholic Church has been in the news a bit of late. And as a result of all this pre-synod hype in the media, two Roman Catholics wrote two of the best articles I read last week. One was an article in the Catholic Herald by a priest. The other was an article in the Spectator by a former MP. You should read both of them. (But if you're not going to read both, then please at least read the second one!)

Now, maybe that seems a bit odd. I am, after all, both a Pentecostal pastor and an Ulster Protestant. And as such, I'm convinced that very significant aspects of Roman Catholic theology are seriously wrong. I still believe that justification by faith alone is the article on which the church stands or falls. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't read, and even learn from, Roman Catholics. Although we are justified by faith alone, it is by faith in Christ alone, not faith in the right formulation of the doc…

Money, Money, Money (Must Be Funny, in a Rich Man’s World!)

‘Not the Pentecostals! Watch out – they’ll be trying to get all your money.’
     – The reaction when a new Christian told her Muslim uncle that she’d got saved and           started attending a Pentecostal church. ‘Hello, I’m calling from [“Christian” TV channel]. We have some great deals on advertising during our broadcasts and wondered if the church would be interested.’
     – A phone call yesterday. ‘$11,150’
     – the amount one American church is appealing to raise to produce a worship album $750 plus expenses
     – an American amount recommended as a gift for visiting preachers ‘US pastors paid up to $300,000 - are Church of England vicars getting a raw deal?’
     – recent Headline in Christian Today

£5.75 million
     – the amount of money an evangelical church down south is trying to raise for               building improvements.$25,000
     – the amount two American pastors are raising to produce a six minute teaching video Money has been on my mind a bit of late. Not my …