Vain: Empty; worthless; having no substance, value or importance.
hold fast: stick to firmly
Before we jump in to 1 Corinthians 15, please stop and consider the definitions above.
Can you think of anything you own that is worthless. Something that has no value at all, yet you don't throw it away. It has no sentimental, emotional or monetary value at all, yet you keep it.
In verse 1, Paul addresses the reader as those having heard and received The Gospel. They received The Gospel and stood for The Gospel, knowing it is very power to save, as we read in Romans 1:16;
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
But, look what word Paul includes in 1 Corinthians 15:2. It is one of those words which we dare not ignore in Scripture. The word is: IF!You will be saved, IF you stick firmly to that which you claim to believe, lest your belief has no substance. Real belief will move you to be firm and resolute in your belief.
I believe in the law of gravity, as such, I will not be moved by any pressure from others or this world to test it by stepping off a building; I will fight as hard as I can with anyone trying to throw me off a building. I believe so strongly in the law of gravity I would gouge Mike Tyson's eyes out to defend myself from him throwing me off the IDS Tower. I will hold fast to that belief to the end.
In the same way, we should hold fast to belief we profess in Jesus Christ. If our belief is so empty that the lures of this world will allow us to put our belief aside to enjoy the lusts of this world, then the only conclusion that can be made is that our belief is in vain....it is WORTHLESS and does not have the power to save us from eternal condemnation.
1Corinthians 15:1-2 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.
Let's take a look at the very foundation of that which we profess. The foundational Truths are NOT negotiable, they are essential and eternal. If you hear anyone preach anything contrary to these Truths....RUN! There are plenty of churches out there that will deny at least one of these:
1Corinthians 15:3-4 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,
1. Essential number one, Jesus Christ died to redeem all who believe in Him from sin and the penalty of eternal death that comes with sin. EVERYONE needs to be redeemed from their sin and there is NOTHING you can do to earn or deserve this redemption
2. Jesus Christ died, was buried and was raised from the dead and appeared to hundred of people. We serve the Risen Christ, not a dead Jewish carpenter
Back to our word of the day...VAIN. God has shown you Grace if you are reading this. You may say, "how so?" If you are reading the Truth of His Gospel today, God has extended His Grace towards you that you may believe and that belief would not be in vain. However, if you ignore that Grace, or you are flippant about it, you have made His provision of Grace of no substance.
1Corinthians 15:9-10 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
All the preaching of The Gospel of Jesus Christ is worthless if Jesus Christ has not risen.
1Corinthians 15:14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.
See how crucial that piece of the puzzle is?....that is why the enemy focuses his attack on the work and deity of Jesus Christ.
Let's bring it even closer to home, how crucial this is; if Christ is not alive you are still in your sin and will be condemned!
1Corinthians 15:17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!
Paul makes the point in verse 32 that if the dead do not rise we might as well eat and drink for tomorrow we die. Obviously Paul is being sarcastic. Paul follows that up with another of those phrases we've talked about before....DO NOT BE DECEIVED! What is he warning us of now.....same warning....repent of your sin:
1Corinthians 15:33-34 Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits."
34 Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.
Paul wraps up this chapter of INFORMATION OVERLOAD with our word of the day:
1Corinthians 15:56-58 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.