Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Implacable Spirit - sermon notes

In the religious history of the world given to Paul by the Holy Spirit he lists many things that God gave men and women over to because they turned their backs on Him. One section of this list, one verse, says;

Romans 1:31  Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

What does implacable mean sandwiched as it is between without natural affection and unmerciful?
The word is only used once in the Bible but the Lexicons of Early Modern English Database online informs us that in 1611 it meant obstinate, can’t be appeased, can’t be pacified, can’t be reconciled, and cannot be pleased. Do we know someone in our personal lives, perhaps even ourselves, who is possessed of an implacable spirit?

It is sin and wickedness, not just a personality quirk. It is listed in a long line of things mankind is given over to by God for their rejection of Him. It is something we who are implacable need to repent of, not something that you who are not need to walk around on eggshells because of lest you incur our unreasonable and unrighteous wrath. Let’s read the entire history of mankind’s self-worshipping religious impulses carefully to get a better understanding of what we are talking about in context of unrighteousness.

Romans 1:16 ¶  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17  For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. 18  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

    19 ¶  Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21  Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23  And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 24  Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25  Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26  For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27  And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28  And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29  Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30  Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31  Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32  Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

    1 ¶  Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. 

Paul noted that someone who is implacable is worthy of death. Does that underscore the seriousness of this sin mentioned in context with murder and homosexual behavior?

An example of an implacable person in the Bible is the churlish fool, Nabal, who died of a heart attack of some kind. You can read about him in 1Samuel 25 starting in verse 2 up until his heart died and he became as a stone in 38, dying ten days later.

David did Nabal’s sheepshearers a kindness but Nabal was not only ungrateful he insulted David and would have suffered for his indiscretion had not his wife, Abigail, intervened on his behalf. His response to David’s kindness was the following.

1Samuel 25:10  And Nabal answered David’s servants, and said, Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse? there be many servants now a days that break away every man from his master.11  Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men, whom I know not whence they be?

We can call him ungrateful, ungracious, arrogant, stupid, and even self-righteous, all symptoms of implacability.

Nebuchadnezzar shows us another side of implacability when he gives his magicians an impossible task, recorded in Daniel, chapter 2, which he knows is impossible and then commands their deaths when they cannot perform. The implacable person you know, perhaps it is you, sets up conditions that cannot be met and no reasonable person expects them to be met. You have no chance of pleasing them and they know this.

In these two examples we have clues as to what an implacable nature is like. It is ungrateful, ungracious, even arrogant, stupid, self-righteousness, and sets up conditions that it knows cannot and will not be met thereby making it impossible to please them, to gain their approval.

Some of us have had experience with a parent who would never be pleased. Nothing you could do ever satisfied them. A child living under those conditions has no foundation in what is acceptable behavior as nothing he or she can do will ever please that parent. It can become a lifetime pain in that child’s heart. It can give them a lifetime filled with anxiety and the doubting of every decision they make with a constant nagging in their hearts that nothing they ever do will ever be good enough. Or, they will just grow to hate that parent and do everything possible to avoid them.

Fundamentalist preachers often misrepresent God as in implacable parent. If you aren’t doing what that preacher wants you to do they will say you are cold towards God and need revival regardless of your relationship with God. They will call you worldly if you don’t have their convictions. They’ll say that you need to ‘get right’ with God when they have no idea of your prayer life or your time in God’s word or how you treat others.

The fact is, while we all need to draw closer to God, He loves us. We can do nothing to earn our salvation or to pay for it as we go. We’re not renting God’s love and in danger of being evicted from His kingdom for not paying. God has already performed all the parts of the drama and we are justified by what He has done not by anything we can do.

Romans 8:31 ¶  What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32  He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33  Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34  Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36  As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ephesians 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9  Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Titus 3:5  Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6  Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;7  That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Now, I am certain we disappoint God at times. It is certain that we can grieve the Holy Spirit and dampen its influence in us.

Ephesians 4:30  And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

1Thessalonians 5:19  Quench not the Spirit.

And while God, who often covers our debts keeping us from the consequences of our sins we commit after becoming a Christian sometimes leaves us to have to deal with our unfaithfulness to Him. But, that doesn’t mean He isn’t joyful when we sing a hymn to Him, pray to Him, or read His word believing. God is not an implacable being. He has placated Himself for His righteous wrath at our sin and He delights in our seeking a relationship with Him. Our faith pleases God. Propitiation is the act of appeasing God for His wrath at sins against Him.

Romans 3:25  Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

1John 2:2  And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

1John 4:10  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Hebrews 11:6  But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

God delights in showing mercy to us.

Micah 7:18  Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.

God wants to show you mercy and He wants to show you His love.

But, the person possessed of an implacable spirit only wants to show you judgment. And this, in spite of;

James 2:13  For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

An implacable spirit is a prideful spirit. The world revolves around them. In fact, the more helpless they seem, the more victimized they act, the more egotistical they are. This is evident in an implacable person who is dominant and oppressive and demanding as it is in one who seems weak and a victim. You cannot please them so they will hurt you physically or you cannot please them so they will hurt you emotionally.

Every glance, every word, every failed action reveals your disrespect for them or an attempt to hurt them. There is no winning with the implacable person.

King Ahab sought counsel from so-called prophets in 1Kings 22. The only condition was that they say what he wanted to hear. He even demanded of a prophet to tell him the truth and then punished him for doing so because it was not what he wanted to hear. This is another trait of the implacable spirit. They only want to hear what approves of their opinion, bigotry, hatred, and prejudice. Any information to the contrary is met with anger and wrath. You can’t win with these people. They are never satisfied with your response unless it is exactly what they wanted to hear. They will demand the truth and then lash out when the truth contradicts their own fantasy.

A person might be engaged in sin or dancing recklessly close to the edge. They will ask you about what they are doing or want to do and even though you might say it is none of your business they make it your business by demanding your opinion. But, when you call them on their sin they attack you for sticking your nose in their business, judging them, or being a hypocrite. It is impossible to satisfy their perverted need for self-justification.

A consequence of an implacable spirit is the infecting of others with the same. A parent, a spouse, or an employer even for that matter, can be so unreasonable that their victim becomes so suspicious and so wary of their dealings with them that they themselves start to doubt everything that is said or done. Everything begins to have a hidden motive represent an unseen agenda. This is a grave result of being oppressed by an implacable spirit.

Now, how do you deal with this implacable, unappeasable spirit?

Some people simply ignore the implacable person. But, you can’t do that if it’s a parent or an employer and you are dependent on them. And it takes a mighty thick skin to keep being told what you are doing or saying is not good enough, never good enough, or worse an attack on their importance, their dignity, or their authority.

Remember before how I said that in Paul’s letter to the Romans, in chapter 1, that implacable was sandwiched between without natural affection and unmerciful?

A person without natural affection shows contempt for those they should love and cherish, for instance, their own family. We don’t need an explanation of what unmerciful is and I’ve spoken at length about how damaging being unmerciful can be. The implacable person is between those two, lacking in the natural care and love they should feel and being unmerciful.

Now, that we’ve laid the groundwork let’s take this airplane out of the hangar.

Are you possessed of an implacable spirit? Are you possessed by it? What does it take to please you? What do other people have to do to satisfy you that their words or behavior are not threatening, insulting, or filled with contempt?

If it is a matter of just showing decent respect and consideration for you then most people are going to fall short. For instance, I hate surprises; surprise parties, surprise visits, surprise anything. But, a lot of people love surprises. They might want to throw a party to show their affection or stop by unannounced when they are in the neighborhood. It is not meant to be insulting or demeaning or controlling or disrespectful even if it makes you feel dreadful. I don’t handle surprises well but go into fight or flight mode.

We who have an implacable spirit tend to be paranoid, ascribing mean motives to people around us. The implacable employer has contempt for his employees. The implacable mother has contempt for her children, sons and daughters in-law, and husband. The implacable father can never be pleased by any action his children or wife take, any words they say, as they all fall short of his expectations, which are always moving away from them.

The implacable pastor is always telling you that you don’t measure up and that you are a big disappointment to God.

So, the next time you feel righteously indignant because someone didn’t show you what you consider proper respect or even just decent consideration or the next time you feel your spouse didn’t show you the respect that even a roommate deserves think about it. Are your feelings truthful, the true result of a hateful and mean-spirited action by another? Or are they a consequence of your own inability to be pleased, appeased, and satisfied?

The next time your employer makes a decision that impacts you negatively was it an effort directed at making you want to quit? Or was it just something he felt was necessary based on the information he had that you didn’t and wasn’t even thinking about you when he decided it?

The next time your neighbor’s dog relieves himself in your yard was it an expression of contempt by your neighbor through his dog or was it just one of those things that really had nothing to do with you at all?

The next time a child spills a glass of milk in the living room was it them showing their rebellious spirit in defiance of you or was it simply a matter of you allowing things in your home that are a disaster waiting to happen and the child wasn’t even thinking of you or anything else, for that matter.

Examine yourself. Then, plead with God for deliverance from the sin that so easily controls you and hinders your relationship with Christ and with those around you.

If you live with a person possessed of an implacable they need your prayers. But, they do not need your acquiescence. Don’t be an enabler. Don’t encourage them in their sin. You wouldn’t encourage them to lie or commit adultery so why help them in their festering implacable spirit that leads to bitterness, envy, and contempt for others? When that implacable spirit rises up it is imperative that you stand against it.

There are many more things that can be said about the implacable spirit having to do with the sins of envy and wrath and other things that God has condemned in our lives but each of them merit a separate discussion. So, please consider this rough outline. Consider what I’ve said and ask God to deal with it in your life.

1Corinthians 16:1-4 comments: taking up a collection for the suffering church at Jerusalem

16:1 ¶  Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. 2  Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. 3  And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. 4  And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.

Here is evidence that Christians met on the first day of the week just as the followers of Christ met at the empty tomb on the first day of the week.

Matthew 28:1  In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

Mark 16:2  And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun…9  Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.

Luke 24:1  Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.

John 20:1  The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.

Paul does not want any collections taken while he is there. He plans on taking what the Corinthians have willingly given to support the suffering church at Jerusalem. We know that a famine was predicted in Acts 11.

Acts 11:27 ¶  And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. 28  And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. 29  Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: 30  Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

Paul says that the Corinthians should give as God has prospered them, which he expounds on later in 2Corinthians 9. We will discuss that passage in relation to the idea of tithing then. Here is not weekly collections for parking lots, basketball courts, or remodeling church buildings, which did not exist until the second century, but for assisting other churches in need. They would not be able to send a money order or a bank transfer, as we can today, but they would select men to take the money physically to Jerusalem. Paul would go, as well, if necessary.

Friday, July 20, 2018

1Corinthians 15:51-58 comments: we shall all be changed

15:51 ¶  Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54  So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56  The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here is a passage that has perplexed many a ‘pretribulation rapture’ Christian like myself. Not everyone will die but everyone will be changed, transformed with the spiritual, heavenly body promised. The issue is that when this takes place, from a literal perspective, is at the last trump, a word denoting the sound of a trumpet. When is that specifically? When is the last and seventh trumpet sounded? The Bible says;

Revelation 11:15  And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

I’ll just leave it at that as I am not sure that the literal placement of the last trump in this passage exactly corresponds with the last angel sounding in Revelation 11. In any event the purpose of much prophecy is not to give us exacting knowledge beforehand but so that when something happens we will know that God told us it would.

John 14:29  And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.

John 16:4  But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.

 Here is another confirmation of what Paul mentions in this passage.

1Thessalonians 4:13 ¶  But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16  For the Lord himself shall
descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18  Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

We have the victory over sin and death through Christ alone, who is also the way we are to follow, the truth we are to believe and the life we will have eternally. I’ve already pointed out how the Bible defines words in context sometimes by cross-referencing and word-substitution. This is what God intended, for truth and victory to be synonymous.

Isaiah 42:3  A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.

Matthew 12:20  A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.

Then, there is this all-important verse.

John 14:6  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Christ not only came to conquer sin and vanquish Satan’s work but to deliver us from death.

Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    58 ¶  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Paul closes this part of his letter pleading with the Corinthians to not waiver in their faith and to understand that the things they do for Christ are not done in vain.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

1Corinthians 15:35-50 comments: a spiritual body

    15:35 ¶  But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? 36  Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: 37  And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: 38  But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. 39  All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. 40  There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41  There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42  So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43  It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44  It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45  And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46  Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47  The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48  As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49  And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 50  Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

In this passage Paul begins to give us some detail of the nature of our resurrection body, a spiritual body, which is not just some incorporeal ghost drifting about on a cloud. A spiritual body is a body only of a fundamentally different nature than a physical body of flesh and it cannot die. He finishes by explaining that flesh and blood as we know it cannot inherit in eternity. We must be changed in order to live in eternity with God.

Looking at some of the hints the Bible gives us about the nature of a spiritual body we can see some interesting characteristics.

In the flesh as we know it but powered by the Holy Spirit of God Elijah outran a chariot.

1Kings 18:44  And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not. 45  And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel. 46  And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

Under the power of God Samson, still in the flesh, performed incredible feats of strength.

Judges 14:5  Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him. 6  And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.

And Jesus, after His resurrection and ascension, with a heavenly, spiritual body could pass through walls and yet still have a body that could be touched.
John 20:26 ¶  And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27  Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

Note the phrase image of the heavenly as a reference to a spiritual, heavenly body so fundamentally different from our bodies now as to be inexplainable. Image is often misused by preachers as referring to character traits as in the image of God meaning our ability to discern good from evil. However, image refers to physical appearance. It means that man looks like God, with Adam indistinguishable from Christ Himself.

Genesis 1:26  And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Deuteronomy 4:16  Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female,

But, then with Adam’s fall each generation bore the degeneration of sin’s downward fall.

Genesis 5:3  And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:

In fact, this devolution has gotten so bad that scientists have commented on it with one even pleading for government action, believe it or not. With each cell division and in each generation mankind passes on more and more deleterious mutations, so much so that some researchers into genetics have been alarmed at the accumulated damage and amazed that human beings have not become extinct because of it. So much for Darwin’s onward and upward evolution, huh. (5)

So, we await that time when our bodies will be transformed, changed into something that will live in eternity.

Romans 8:23  And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

(5)Alexey S. Kondrashov, “Contamination of the Genome by Very Slightly Deleterious Mutations: Why Have We Not Died 100 Times Over?” Journal of Theoretical Biology, (1995) vol. 175, pp. 583-594.  James F. Crow, “The High Spontaneous Mutation Rate: Is it a Health Risk?” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, (Aug 1997) vol. 94, pp. 8380-8386.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

1Corinthians 15:20-34 comments: every man in his order

15:20 ¶  But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21  For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23  But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. 24  Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25  For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26  The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27  For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28  And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. 29  Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead? 30  And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? 31  I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32  If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die. 33  Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. 34  Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

Paul affirms that Christ rose from the dead and is the firstfruits, the first of the harvest of those that have died to be reborn, never to die again. Sleep is a euphemism for death. See here how Jesus used it.

John 11:11  These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. 12  Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13  Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. 14  Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.

Others in the Bible who were raised from the dead would die again. But, Jesus represents our resurrection to eternal life. In another place Paul refers to Him as the firstborn from the dead.

Colossians 1:18  And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Verse 21 shows the logic of God coming as a man to earth. By a man was death and by a man was death defeated. We know who had power over death, who the killer is.

Hebrews 2:14  Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

But, we have the victory in Christ. We die in Adam but live in Christ. There is an order to the resurrection. First, there was Christ, to be resurrected from the dead never to die again. Then, those that are His when He returns to rule the earth physically from Jerusalem. Then, comes eternity, history’s end.

Something is going on in verse 28. There is something about eternity and God’s nature that escapes us and we are clearly not told the whole story for a reason. Christ’s role as the mediator between God and man and as head over the church will no longer be necessary, or so Matthew Henry seems to say, and although the Bible talks about Him reigning forever and ever and of His kingdom having no end that specific role of mediator will be surrendered.

Verse 29 is peculiar. Who are the they? Is Paul justifying the ritual of being baptized for the dead as I have heard the Mormons do? It must have been some custom of some early groups of Christians, perhaps, to be baptized for the martyred dead who believed but had no opportunity to experience baptism. But, he does not say we but they so we should keep that in mind.

Paul goes on to ask why do Christians, himself included, in a reference to persecution where Christians were thrown to be torn apart by animals for the amusement of the pagan Romans and Greeks, endanger their lives constantly if there is no resurrection?

Verse 33 has a well-known quote by the pagan playwright Menander, evil communications corrupt good manners, or for our purposes in context, bad teaching can hurt the church. Anyone who denies the resurrection is poisoning the soup, so to speak. It is the foundation of our Christian belief. Paul uses commonly known pagan quotes because the people would have understood them like when we say a phrase that is common in our culture today like a movie quote that most people have heard. You might jokingly say, “go ahead, make my day,” quoting Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry, for instance. He did this quoting Aratus in Acts 17 and Epimenides in Titus.

He ends this passage by shaming those who deny the resurrection.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

1Corinthians 15:12-19 comments: the necessity of the resurrection

    15:12 ¶  Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13  But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14  And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15  Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16  For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17  And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18  Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19  If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

If you remember the Sadducees sect of Judaism did not believe in the world of the spirit or in the resurrection of the dead.

Acts 23:8  For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.

For a Christian not to believe in a physical resurrection was an absurdity. Without the risen Christ there could be no promise of the resurrection for us all. The Cross where the man who was also fully God offered Himself up as a sacrifice for our sins against God and a propitiation to Himself as God the Father to satisfy His own wrath for those sins would have lacked any meaning if death was the end for mankind. The empty tomb, not a philosophy of doing good, is the foundation on which Christianity rests. Those who call themselves Christians merely because they believe that Christ was a great teacher and the Golden Rule is a great thing to live by are not really Christians, but simply follow a philosophy for living that justifies their behavior in their own minds.

In addition, a key element of the Christian faith is a belief in a physical, not merely a spiritual, resurrection. If Christ did not rise from the dead then our faith is in vain and we are all lost forever.