1 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:1–2, NKJV)
The gospel is God’s power to save the lost (Rom. 1:16). No other message has such power. Since all have sinned, every one of us needs its power to save us from sin, and the eternal death sin brings (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). To grasp the preeminence of the gospel message and its impact on our lives, the apostle certifies its pertinent features in today’s text. 1) The gospel is preached. It is a constant and fixed message, unchanged by the whims and foibles of men (1 Cor. 1:18-25). 2) The gospel is received. Believers do not keep it at arm’s length; they embrace it and thoroughly associate themselves with its converting power (Rom. 12:2). 3) We are to stand in the gospel. It is not a one-off message to be initially believed and then laid aside. We must continue in it, living by its guidance and truth (Col. 2:6-7). 4) The gospel saves us if we hold it fast. The gospel teaches us to keep on living by the gospel, holding to it as the pattern for our lives (Acts 2:42; 2 Thess. 2:15). The word “if” in verse two is huge. If we do not hold fast the word of the gospel, our faith is vain, idle, and useless. Yes, if we choose not to be faithful to the gospel, our faith fails, and we are lost – not because the gospel is weak or powerless, but because we cast it aside for sin. Believe and faithfully follow the gospel, and its power will save you.
10 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men. (Acts 17:10–12, NKJV)
The Berean Jews were more noble-minded than the envious Jews in Thessalonica, who had rejected the gospel and threatened the Christians (Acts 17:5-9, 13). The Bereans’ ability to listen to what Paul and Silas said and then to search the Scriptures to assess its accuracy, was a result of their “readiness” of mind. They were predisposed with an eager enthusiasm to hear, know and follow God’s will. Their hearts were good and honest, so that when they discerned the apostle’s message was truth, they readily believed it (Luke 8:15; Acts 17:12). We must have minds that are fair and free of prejudice to examine, understand and follow God’s word. We will not receive the word when our minds are closed by envy, pride, self-satisfaction, or other obstacles which prevent a fair hearing and examination of God’s word. Our goal is to hear, know and follow the truth of God. We will achieve our objective by preparing our hearts to receive the word. Then, we can examine the Scriptures daily and follow the truth of God.
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12–13, NKJV)
God gives believers the right to become His children – to be saved in the Son (1 John 5:11-12). John explains that birth into the family of God is not due to physical lineage (“not of blood”) or fleshly procreation (“of the will of the flesh”). The apostle Paul said, “nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham” (Romans 9:7). One is not born into the family of God by the will of man. Neither human desires and wishes, doctrines, creeds or confessions produce the new birth. Birth into the family of God is of faith, not of flesh. “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27). Children of God are born of God and have life in the Son. Children of God walk in the light. Such rich blessings of salvation come “by grace, through faith” to those who put on Christ, which occurs when the believer is baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:27).
6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6–7, NKJV)
As used here, “received” means “to receive near…to associate with oneself” (Strong’s Dictionary). Christians have a close association with Christ. This relation began with belief: “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:11-12). Those who believe in Christ are given the right to become children of God. Receiving Christ begins with belief, but it does not end there. Jesus clearly said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved: but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). To receive Christ (take Him near, to be saved) one must believe and be baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:26-27). Through obedient faith, one receives Christ and His salvation (Acts 2:38-41). Christians need a grounded and growing faith to continue to walk in Christ (Colossians 2:7). The teaching of the apostles establishes us in the faith (Acts 2:42). Having heard, believed and obeyed the word of salvation to receive Christ, our hearts were filled with thanksgiving. Now, to remain close to Christ, we must continue to live with an obedient, vibrant faith.