The Inseparable Connection Between Preaching and Believing: 1 Corinthians 15:11Friday, June 17, 2005
The second passage in our series is found in the same context, and actually forms the other bookend to the section of 1 Corinthians 15:1-11. Paul began the section by discussing the relationship of preaching and believing, and in verse 11 we find that this is the way he ends it. “Whether then it was I or they, this is the way we preach and this is the way you believed.” So for those students of the Word who say that I might be making too big a deal about the connection in verses 1 and 2 end up making too little a deal about it when they come to verse 11. Paul repeats the concept twice because it was obviously important. And it continues to remain important for us today. The point of the verse is that regardless of who preaches the gospel – and to be more precise, the one he reviewed in verses 3-8 – it is the one that all the apostles preach, and subsequently it is the one that the Corinthians have believed.
Believing is inseparable from preaching. The correct message must be heralded verbally so that people can internalize it spiritually. Otherwise, the message that is internalized ends up being nothing more than a “have it your way” gospel which each individual picks from the buffet of pluralism. Again, that’s part of what Paul was dealing with in Corinth. Either the Corinthians had believed the message he preached in vain, or else they received a different gospel and were deceived into thinking it was the real deal.
The entire point of 1 Corinthians is that if you have received the real gospel then you’ll act like it. Therefore, if you are not acting like it, you must ask yourself if you have truly believed the real gospel. Maybe they weren’t listening good enough. Maybe they weren’t paying enough attention. Maybe they were too gullible so that everything they heard sounded so good that they just mixed it all in with the gospel Paul preached. Whatever the case, the point Paul makes is clear – ungodly behavior is the number one indicator that a person has either not heard the gospel preached at all, or else they have not heard the real gospel preached. In either case, the preaching of the gospel is inseparable from the belief which necessarily flows from it.
Tomorrow, we'll look at 1 Timothy 3:16.