"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; (1)
By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. (2)
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; ( 3)
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:"- 1 Corinthians 15:1-4
The question arises concerning Verse 2, which is as follows: "What if I have been saved by believing the Gospel?", as described in Verses 1,3,4; therefore, trusting Jesus Christ as my Personal Savior; I now know I have everlasting life.
1. Acknowledgement Number One:
a. Paul is speaking specifically to the Christians at the church in Corinth.
"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; (1)
In 1 Corinthians 1:2, he is addressing the Christians as stated.
"Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified (set apart) in Christ Jesus, called to be saints,..." 1 Corinthians 1:2
b. Notice the word "received" in 1 Corinthians 15:1. This is the Greek word "PARALAMBANO" and means, "not only to hear, but to receive by faith the gospel by which ye were saved."
There are many examples: one would be Matthew 1:24.
"Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took (Greek, "PARALAMBANO") unto him his wife:" (i.e., Took her for his possession.)
In other words, Joseph took, or received unto himself his wife, Mary, as his possession; just as the Corinthians took, or received, Jesus Christ as their Personal Savior.
The foregoing was presented only to establish that Paul was addressing Christians.
2. Acknowledgement Number Two:
There are many blessings in Salvation, with itself, being the first. Here are just a few:
a. I am now a new creation with a new life.
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17
b. All my past sins are buried in the depths of the sea.
"He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea." Micah 7:19
c. My sins are removed as far as the East is from the West.
"As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us." Psalm 103:12
d. Before I trusted Christ, I was only a creation of God; but, now I am His son and He is my Heavenly Father.
"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:" - John 1:12
e. He took my sin and gave me His Righteousness.
"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." - 2 Corinthians 5:21
f. I now have a REST that I never had before.
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." - Matthew 11:28
g. As I study and learn more about serving the Lord, I have another rest which I never had before.
"Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." - Matthew 11:29
h. How could God love a sinner like me?
"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
I. I always thought, and this was confirmed by some preachers, that I had to have good works to earn my right to go to Heaven. I was never told Salvation was a free gift.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9
j. I have a peace, mentally, that I never had experienced before I was saved.
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:" Romans 5:1
k. My Heavenly Father invites me to come to Him with any problems I might have.
"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16
l. God proved his love for a sinner like me by giving His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to pay for my sins.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16
m. It taxes my mind that Jesus could consider it a joy to endure the Cross for such a sinner as I.
This is only the "tip of the iceberg" of what Salvation encompasses.
3. Acknowledgement Number Three:
We are now moving on to 1 Corinthians 15:2, and the examination as to the meaning of these words as given to the Christians at Corinth. They are also for all Christians everywhere, that are living. I will quote the verse again, so we will have it before us as we continue.
"By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain." - 1 Corinthians 15:2
Since Paul was addressing Christians, why would he then say, "If ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain?" The reason is that someone is going to attack their Salvation by a number of different ways.
Satan has always had his ministers and representatives to influence the believer that they are not really saved. You have the same thing today. How many times have you heard the following comments, all voicing Satan's opposition to God's Word.
a. "There is more to Salvation than just faith."
b. "You can lose your Salvation, without good works."
c. When you lead a Catholic to Christ, family and friends will many times ostracize the Christian; thus claiming you have left the true church and are headed for Hell.
d. The same is true with Jehovah's Witnesses, who deny Hell; have a works Salvation, and believe in the false doctrine of soul-sleeping, etc.
If you accept Christ, you have Satanic influence on almost every street corner; as Satan is the "god of this world." Every cult religion has a works Salvation; and Satan loves it!
"In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." 2 Corinthians 4:4
When a Christian is attacked by someone trying to get them to doubt their Salvation; this is why Paul instructed them to remember from God's Word how they were saved. In other words, remember that you were saved by accepting the payment Christ made for you on the Cross; i.e., His Death and Resurrection. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:1,
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;"
4. Acknowledgement Number Four:
Paul is addressing the Christians, who had not grown in their faith, as stated in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3,
"And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. (1)
I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. ( 2)
For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" - 1 Corinthians 3:1-3
In other words, they were living their lives by the influence of their old human nature; and not by the influence of their Spiritual nature, that of the Holy Spirit. As you read all of 1 Corinthians, you realize they were obviously the most carnal and immature church in the New Testament! They were primed for Satan's influence.
There are four main areas in the Christian's life that can bring a person to actually get mad at God; and to not believe He is the loving God He claims to be.
a. Hebrews 10:25 - The Christian quits going to church.
"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." Hebrews 10:25
b. 2 Timothy 2:15 - The Christian quits reading God's Word.
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." - 2 Timothy 2:15
c. 2 Timothy 2:16 - The Christian associates with the wrong crowd and listens to their anti-God philosophy.
"But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness." - 2 Timothy 2:16
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." Colossians 2:8
d. 1 John 1:8 - The Christian lies to justify his actions.
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." - 1 John 1:8
All of the Christian's decisions to run from God's Word, quit church, associate with the anti-God crowd and listen to their philosophy; as well as, having no fellowship with other Christians, has a consequence. It leads to God's withdrawing His blessings, and, as a result, things go "haywire" in the Christian's life.
It could be that Satan is doing everything he can to this Christian to make life miserable for him; which could also cause him to blame God for it. Out of his rebellion, and hating and blaming God for all of his problems, he is now going to get revenge on God by telling people he "doesn't believe in God anymore."
The question is, does God become unfaithful to His promise of everlasting life because one of His children has become unfaithful to God? The answer is, "NO!" Paul answers this question in his Epistle to young Timothy, in 2 Timothy 2:13,
"If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself." - 2 Tim. 2:13
God's warning is given in Verse 14,
"Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers." - 2 Tim. 2:14
The word "subverting" is the Greek "KATASTROPHĒ" and means "to overthrow." -- "KATA" means "down," and "STROPHĒ" means "a turning." Therefore, it means to overthrow or to throw down. Our English word is from the Greek, which is "catastrophe. It is used metaphorically of unbelievers subverting, or throwing down, the faith of weak Christians; which is a catastrophe!
Notice 2 Peter 2:6,
"And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;" - 2 Peter 2:6
The word "overthrow" is the Greek word "KATASTROPHĒ," showing that God did "overthrow" the ungodliness of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Here it is used in a good sense of what God did. Paul warned Timothy to avoid these "blabbers" as they have already overthrown the faith of some, as described in 2 Timothy 2:16-18,
"But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. (16)
And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; (17)
Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some." - 2 Timothy 2:16-18
Paul, in his first epistle to Timothy, had also warned him about Hymenaeus who was a professed Christian, who had succumbed to heresies, and was now trying to overthrow the faith of others.
"Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: (vs 19)
Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blas-pheme." - 1 Timothy 1:19-20
This is what Paul was warning these carnal, baby Christians in Corinth to beware of. With the foregoing in mind, 1 Corinthians 15:2 should become perfectly clear. Let us examine the three parts of Verse Two.
a. "By which also ye are saved." - They had believed the Gospel Paul had preached to them as recorded in Verses 1,3,4 and were Christians.
b. "If ye keep in memory what I preached unto you."
Between "a." and "b.," is where you stay as these false teachers try to convince you that you are not really saved by faith alone; as you must be baptized; or, tell you that you need to "turn from your sin," etc. You are to "keep in memory" how you got saved. Between "a." and "b." is the memory of how you got saved.
The word "memory" is an interesting word. It is the Greek word "ECHO" and means to have, hold and keep. It is like shouting in a cavern and the words you shout reverberate around the cave again and again. In just the same way, when the unbeliever tries to apostatize the believer; or, lead you astray; you are to mentally go back and remember why you possess Salvation. You are to remember God's promises and that He is the one "holding on and keeping you!" Our Precious Savior promised that He would never let go.
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: (27) And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." - John 10:28
"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." - John 3:36
We need to "keep in memory"; or, "echo" the gospel message of how we got saved to others.Remember the promises of God's Word, instead of listening to the philosophy of these heretics.
Note: The translation of "memory" is not a bad translation; but, does not quite give the depth of the Greek word, "ECHO."
c. "Unless (Gr. also as "except") you have believed in vain." There are several Greek words that are translated "vain" in our English language, each having a different meaning according to the context in which they are used.
In this context of Verse Two, it is the Greek word "EIKE" and means "without a cause and to no purpose."
It comes down to this for the Christians at Corinth, the same as it does for the Christian today. Who are you going to believe--the inerrant Word of God; or, the philosophy of the heretics trying to deceive you. Psalm 118:8, the middle verse of the Bible, is excellent advice!
"It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man." Psalm 118:8
In other words, you have no reason to, cause or purpose to believe these deceivers in lieu of God's Word, and His promises of everlasting life. In Colossians 2:8-10, God warns of these deceivers,
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (8) For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. (9) And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:" -Colossians 2:8-10
God's advice to every Christian is found in Romans 16:17,18,
"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. (17)
For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple." - Romans 16:17-18
The Old Testament saints faced Satan's sons of deception, just as Christians do today. Here are a couple of comments from the Lord.
"So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him."- Isaiah 59:19
"No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord." - Isaiah 54:17