Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 1 Cor 15:1-2 NAS
Maybe you fear that you do not have enough faith or saving faith. Some teach that 1 Cor 15:2 is talking about a problem with our belief, with our faith, a belief/faith that is lacking and not real faith, thus not saving faith. In other words, not a saving faith. However, when reading in context, a whole new picture arises. It is not our imperfect faith that leads to vain faith. Our less than perfect faith can only be in vain if what we have placed our faith in, the resurrection of Jesus, is a lie. The New Living Translation states this more clearly.
It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place. 1 Cor 15:2 NLT
Vain Faith in Context
After making the statement in 1 Cor 15:2, Paul goes on to present the true gospel. Many scholars believe 1 Cor 15: 3-5 was one of the first and earliest orally taught creeds regarding the gospel dated at around AD 33 to 35. The following verses encompass the whole gospel message.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. 1 Cor 15:3-8 NAS
Notice the creed lists over 500 people, most of whom were still alive when Paul made these statements and could be questioned by those he was speaking to. They would back up Paul’s testimony. Paul, along with these 500 plus people, witnessed the resurrected Jesus.
After this, Paul goes on to emphasize that what he just stated in the creed, cannot be true if there is no resurrection of the dead, as some opponents of the resurrection like the Sadducees claimed. Paul then states clearly that our imperfect faith would be in vain if there is no resurrection of the dead because that would mean Jesus has not been raised from the dead.
Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. 1 Cor 15:12-19 NAS
If the resurrection were not true, our faith would be in a lie, thus vain and worthless as Paul states. If Jesus did not rise we would also need to believe that Paul lied about seeing the Him resurrected. This makes no sense because by preaching the gospel and a resurrected Jesus, Paul was beaten, tortured, imprisoned, and finally beheaded. While it is believable that a person might do this if they knew for a fact what they were proclaiming was the truth, no man would do this for a lie they knew for a fact was a lie. Next, Paul confirms his eyewitness testimony and assures us our faith is not in vain specifically because Jesus has been raised from the dead. Being an eyewitness to this truth led Paul to give up his life for the truth.
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 1 Cor 15:20-22 NAS
Therefore, even if you have imperfect faith, the size of a mustard seed, and if you have doubts at times but still can confess your faith, that Jesus is Lord, your faith is not in vain, you are saved by grace through faith. You have overcome this world by the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony - Rev 12:11. The truth is that a Christians faith cannot possibly be in vain because what we have placed our faith in is the truth, Jesus did, in fact, rise from the dead. This is the truth that validates our faith.
The use of 1 Cor 15:2 to make a person question their faith is really a deception from the enemy, often fostered by well-meaning but deceived believers who doubt their own salvation. By doubting and questioning our level of faith, we manufacture and place a burden on ourselves and others that God did not give us. God made us a promise in John 3:16, and we can do nothing to make Him keep it. The burden is on Him to keep His promise. So, as a little child would do, we trust our good, good Father and leave the burden of our promised salvation on Abba where it belongs. We stop worrying and just believe He will always be faithful to what the Word, Jesus, has accomplished.
Free Ebook: Review Objective Evidence for God's Existence, Jesus Identity and the resurrection: https://www.god-evidence-truth.com/
Another New Covenant Bible Study Applies: Faith Without Works is Dead?
Many more New Covenant Bible Studies HERE. Jesus poured out His blood for the New Covenant of grace and truth, replacing the Old Covenant law of Moses. Believers are exclusively under the New Covenant, the last will and testament of Jesus that began after the cross.
And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. Luke 22:20