And hell, the extreme portal of death and the grave, demanding every victim who stands alone! 

Though legions of men should be summoned to deliver us from this horrible monster, are they not all like you and me? Would they not all succumb to the same devastating power?

But we know that our Redeemer liveth, and He is not only able to deliver; He has overcome! 

Death is swallowed up in victory! 

Death, grave, and hell are wholly impotent through the superb strength of the risen Lord!

Therefore, my beloved brethren . . .! 

But there is more! 

The apostle has been speaking of the hope of a complete change. Flesh and blood, so he informs us, cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 

That we shall inherit the kingdom, there can be no doubt. Indeed, we shall possess it, walk in it, abide in it. We shall see it, and enjoy it forever. All our senses shall be filled with the beauty of it. As God’s covenant friends we shall eternally drink in the glories of His heavenly kingdom. 

But the question is: How? 

That kingdom is wholly spiritual, other worldly, incorruptible and eternal. But we are natural, corruptible, temporal. 

O, indeed, there must be a change! 

Whether that change take place through death and the grave, when we shall shed, as a garment, the natural, earthly flesh and blood; or whether we shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye at the last trump,—we must be changed. 

And changed we shall be! 

Therefore, my beloved brethren . . .! 

Be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord! 

O, to be sure, there was occasion for such an exhortation to the church which was in Corinth. Was this not the church which had been rocked by unholy partisanship? Had not this church, scarcely organized, been well-nigh rent to pieces by wrangling, division, and debate? And did not the apostle find it necessary to rebuke this church sharply, reminding them that Christ is not divided, and emphasizing the glorious truth that all things are theirs, and they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s? Was not also this the church, though hardly called out of darkness into God’s marvelous light, yet apparently sinking back into that darkness, when they condoned moral corruption? Had not this church been thoroughly shaken with errors concerning the doctrine of the resurrection? Had not the apostle explained at great length the seriousness of this error? Did he not point out to them that if there is no resurrection, then is Christ not risen? And was it not in detail stressed that if Christ be not risen, then all is vain, their faith is vain, they are still in their sins, and they are without hope in the world? 

Remembering all this, the apostle, before he closed his epistle to them, felt the need to admonish . . . 

Be ye steadfast, unmovable . . .! 

But is not this exhortation also necessary for the church of Christ at any time? Also today? 

Is it not true that the Church is always beset by much opposition? And do not the Scriptures forewarn that as time goes to its end, the perilous times shall increase, when there shall be ill winds of doctrine, and many shall be deceived? When there shall be a great falling away? 

To be sure, the Church of Christ in the world is always in need of such an exhortation! 

Be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord! 

But what does this mean? What does it mean to be steadfast and unmovable? And what are we to understand concerning the relation of these two? 

Steadfastness expresses the notion of strength to stand; while unmovableness emphasizes this strength as it is tested by opposing forces. Steadfastness has its figure in the natural, but also proverbial, Rock of Gibraltar, jutting up above the sea on the southern coast of Spain. Or, for those who are more familiar with it, steadfastness has its figure in the Rockies, stretching across our country from the south to the north and up into Canada; appearing not only as a huge spinal column holding the nation together, but as a symbol of strength. Unmoveableness, on the other hand, has its figure in that same rock formation as it stands in the midst of the sea, battered by the waves and the tempests. Nothing moves the rock from its mooring, it stands immoveably steadfast, though it be beset with much opposition. 

This figure of immoveable stability, the apostle urges upon the church. She must stand so immoveably steadfast that no powers of opposition can move her from her place. Though she be assailed with many forces of attack, their raging is all in vain. 

And this implies, in the first place, that the church must have a place to stand. That place must be the truth as it is in Christ Jesus our Lord, and revealed in the Scriptures. This is, indeed, a sharply defined position. There is nothing vague about the truth. It is not undefinable, nor is it impossible to distinguish it from the lie. Nor does it contain contradictions, as higher criticism would have us believe. It is readily discernible, easily distinguishable, and the sole basis for faith and practice. 

Secondly, and in close connection with the foregoing, it implies that you know the truth. That you be convinced of it, and carry that truth in your heart, and love it. When vain philosophy entices you and false doctrines would lead you astray, how shall you be immoveably steadfast if you do not know the truth, and are unacquainted with the very place on which you must stand? 

Thirdly, however, we hasten to add that it is not sufficient merely to know the truth; but you must be rooted and grounded in Christ Jesus, Who is the central revelation of the truth. It must therefore be not merely an intellectual acumen, but a spiritual knowledge of faith. The truth must be very precious to you, more precious than anything else. So that you will be willing to lose everything, your possession, your liberty, your life, than move one inch from your position in the truth. 

Finally, to be immoveably steadfast, you must also know the forces of opposition, those powers of darkness that are many and strong, and their method of attack. Not always do these powers of opposition appear in their proper garb, and reveal their vicious nature. Vain philosophy, for example, one of the more potent enemies of the truth, does not always come to you as a lie, but with a semblance of truth. Shrewdly, but deceitfully this opponent approaches you with the doctrines of men, pretending to teach Christ. Often it looks like the Lamb, while it speaks like the Dragon. Shall you stand immoveably steadfast therefore, you must discern sharply and distinguish unerringly the light from the darkness, the truth from the lie. Then, too, you must know the vanity of the world which, with its many allurements, will seek to draw you away from your position. It will offer you its favor, honor, power, and glory, if you will but be persuaded to leave your place. And you must know also that these forces of evil, if they do not succeed to move you from your stand in the truth, will persecute you unto the death. They will frown on you, make your way difficult, cast you out, mock and deride you, imprison you, and even kill you. 

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast and immoveable! 

Always abounding in the work of the Lord! 

So, and not otherwise, shall you remain steadfast and immoveable! 

Be sure, however, that you take particular notice that the apostle is speaking here of the work of the Lord! Not your work, nor even your work for the Lord! 

Not our work must abound. But the apostle is saying emphatically that we must abound in the work of the Lord. Never should this be interpreted to mean that we are God’s little helpers, co-workers with God, as many, no doubt, would explain. 

Emphatically, it is the work of the Lord! The work which He has done, and is still doing as the God of our salvation. And that work of salvation is entirely His work from beginning to end. That work is the work of His counsel, according to which He has chosen His people in Christ from everlasting. In that counsel He also ordains the Christ, His only Begotten Son, to be our Mediator and Saviour. That work of the Lord is also manifested in time, when He comes into our world, assumes our nature, under the curse of the law, in order to redeem us who are under the curse. That work He performed in His suffering and death on the cross, and in His resurrection and ascension to God’s right hand, where He received the Spirit without measure. That work of the Lord is the work of the Spirit as He operates in our hearts, regenerating us and raising us up from spiritual death unto eternal life and glory. That work He accomplishes when He makes us to become partakers of all His saving benefits, justification, sanctification, faith, love, and grace; when He makes us righteous as He is righteous, and holy as He is holy, when He illumines our understanding so that we also are able to discern spiritual things spiritually. That work of the Lord causes us to mortify the old man of sin in us, and to put on the new man. It so powerfully operates in us that we are able to know and to love the truth once more, and to take our stand on the basis of that truth of His Word in the midst of the world. And when that work of the Lord shall be finished, we shall be raised from the dead, and transformed completely into His perfect image; for we shall see Him as He is, and know Him even as we are known. 

In that work of the Lord we are to abound! 

That means that consciously and spiritually we respond to that work of the Lord inwardly and outwardly. It means that we experience that work overflowing in our lives. So that we desire it with all out hearts, speak of it and sing of it all the live long day, and all the days of our lives. We act as those who cannot get enough of it, not only on the day of the Lord in His house, but all the years of our pilgrimage. 

O, how radical is the Word of God here! It leaves no room for our works, not even our works for the Lord. It wants us to embrace only the work of the Lord, nothing else! 

And abounding in the work of the Lord constitutes our labor! 

And we know that our labor is not vain in the Lord! 

That expresses the motive for our always abounding in the work of the Lord, and for being steadfast and unmoveable. O, yes, we labor! We are not mere robots upon whom the Lord works, or in whom He so works that we mechanically respond to His manipulations. Not so does the Lord save us. But He works in us in such a way that we will and do of His good pleasure. 

Note the term “labour”! Labour is work that is characterized by hardship, toil, wearisomeness, much difficulty. Evidently the apostle is reflecting on the difficulty, the wearisomeness, that is connected to our remaining steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. As we suggested above, to remain unmoveably steadfast, always abounding in the work of the Lord, is demanding; it entails much hardship, the loss of all worldly things, the reproach and persecution of the world. The child of God who remains steadfast, knows of the billows of life, and often, in distinction from the insensible, unfeeling stone, experiences in his soul the bitterness of the taunts of the wicked, the testing of the temptations of the world to remove him from his place. This is labour, work with toil and wearisomeness. 

But the apostle hastens to add: this labour is never vain, idle, without positive fruits, when it is “in the Lord.” This we know from experience. Does not this same apostle in another of his letters write: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling: for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure?” (Phil. 2:12, 13)

That our labor is never vain in the Lord is due to the fact, not that you and I are so faithful, so steadfast and unmovable, so always abounding in the work of the Lord; but in the fact that the Lord, the mighty, loving, gracious, Lord Who died for us and in our stead, is alive, is risen from the dead. That risen and glorified Redeemer keeps us in His sphere, and upholds us by His right hand. 

So, we never labor in vain!

So, we are encouraged to remain unmoveably steadfast!

Always abounding in the work of the Lord!

My beloved brethren!