Now I remind you, brothers, of the Gospel … (1 Cor 15:1)
Moving from the problem in the Corinthian church of disorderly worship, which required correction, Paul now deals with correcting a disordered belief. There is no question that in First Century Corinth, as well as today, errant belief concerning the Gospel invariably leads to errant behavior in the church. In fact one cannot expect to correct erring practice without ever getting to the root of errant belief. When we see inappropriate practices in worship in any church, usually at its core is a skewed understanding of the Gospel. In chapter 15 we come to the root doctrinal problem in Corinth, namely their misunderstanding about the final resurrection.
Paul prefaces his discussion about the resurrection with a prologue about what has been preached from the beginning by him as well as all of the apostles who witnessed Christ’s resurrection. He begins with something that there was complete unanimity on in all of the churches – namely Christ’s death for man’s sin and His resurrection. Ultimately he wants to bring them to the understanding that all Christians will be raised from the dead (or changed, if they are alive at Christ’s coming) into a new body, but as he so often does, Paul begins his argument where there is agreement.
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 contains the Gospel (the good news) in four verses. It is a very brief summary of what he expands in detail in the first four chapters of the book of Romans, namely that mankind is in trouble, sunk in our sins, in need of being saved from God’s wrath; and salvation comes in this: Christ died for our sin, was buried, and was raised on the third day. This good news becomes saving as we hold fast to this message preached and truly believe it. Every time the Gospel is reiterated we find one form or another of this basic principle of “problem/solution” or “God-man / Christ-response.”
The Gospel is such a very simple message, but misunderstanding any part of it can result in havoc wreaked in the visible expression of the Gospel – the church. Usually churches that practice errant and even apostate practices have at their core, a misunderstanding of something that would simply be corrected with a proper explanation of the Gospel.