Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

1 Corinthians 15:32-34

In 1 Corinthians 15:32-34 Paul begins by making a rather strange statement about fighting with beasts. “What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Scripture does not record an occasion when Paul faced wild animals in an arena. It may simply be unrecorded, or Paul may mean “beasts” figuratively, in reference to his violent and wild human opponents who were out to kill him. We don’t know for sure which is the case.  But we do know that Paul was keenly aware that death was wished for him by his enemies.

Paul makes another case for the gospel here. If there is no resurrection, we can live however we want. If there is no resurrection, then there is no future judgment to consider. Then life is lived only “under the sun,” as is considered in Ecclesiastes. We have no worry about consequences to how we live. Guzik wrote “The ancient Egyptians, at the end of a big banquet, often escorted a wooden image of a man in a coffin around the tables, telling people to have a good time now, because you’ll be dead sooner than you think. If there is no resurrection, and no future judgment, then we may as well have the best time we can right now – and Paul was a fool for putting himself in such discomfort and danger for the sake of the gospel.”

But the resurrection is real, and how we live matters very much. So Paul warns us to be careful about who we hang out with. “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” Where did the Corinthian Christians get their strange ideas about the resurrection, ideas Paul spent this chapter trying to correct? They got this bad thinking by associating either with Jews who did not believe in the resurrection (such as the Sadducees) or by associating with pagan, Greek philosophical types, who did not believe in the resurrection. In either case, these were bad influences that were deceiving the church about God’s truth.

Paul works to jar the church and get them to realize and accept God’s truth. “Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.” For Christians to resist God’s process of transformation by the renewing of their minds is to neglect the knowledge of God. To remain willfully ignorant of the truth is sin. Paul is calling out the Corinthian church for being ignorant. He has shown the power and truth of the resurrection and for the church to ignore that truth – it is plainly sin. Sin leads to death and separation from God so this is a very important thing to correct. Paul is driving home that point with all he has!

1 Corinthians 15:25-29

In 1 Corinthians 15:25-29 Paul continues to describe the power of Jesus’ resurrection. “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” Paul refers to the one-thousand-year reign of Jesus described in Revelation 20:1-6. After that time, there will be a final, Satan inspired rebellion in  which Jesus will crush and finally and forever put all enemies under His feet. “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” Death will be present during the millennial reign of Jesus but afterward, death will be abolished. It is truly the last enemy that will be destroyed by Jesus that sets up eternity for ever.

Paul reminds us that Jesus the Son will not someday be superior to the Father. The relationship of Father to Son will be eternal: the Son Himself will always be subject to Him. “For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him.” The submission of Jesus to the Father doesn’t come from any inferiority; instead, it comes from the normal order of the Godhead. A son is always in submission to his father, even if both are “equal” in substance. Thus Jesus will always be subject to God the Father.

Paul refers to God the Son’s desire to glorify God the Father through all eternity. “When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.” Each person of the Trinity desires to glorify another person of the Trinity. Throughout scripture the Son glorifies the Father, the Father glorifies the Son, and the Holy Spirit glorifies the Son. This aspect of the nature of God is something God wants us to walk in, having a concern for the glory of others, and not our own. We are told to think of others as more that ourselves.

This next verse is difficult to explain, although there have been many attempts to do so. Mare wrote “Paul simply mentions the superstitious custom without approving it and uses it to fortify his argument that there is a resurrection from the dead.” Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?” Paul’s point is that the pagans even believe in the resurrection because they baptize for the dead. The pagans have the sense to believe in resurrection, but some of the Corinthian Christians did not!

1 Corinthians 15:12-15

In 1 Corinthians 15:12-15 Paul continues to teach about the gospel. The Corinthians didn’t dispute Christ rose from the tomb. “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” The Corinthian Christians denied our resurrection as believers. They believed we lived forever, but not in resurrected bodies. Remember that resurrection is not merely life after death; it is the continuation of life after death in glorified bodies, which are our present bodies in a glorified state. Eternity will not be a place where our feeble earthly bodies will spend forever, but a place where we receive new bodies.

Paul’s argument was that if any believer did not get a new body, then Christ would not have either. “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.” We will experience the same resurrection as Jesus whe that day comes. Paul shows how the resurrection of Jesus not only proves His own resurrection, but it proves the principle of resurrection. If these few Corinthians were right about their definition of the resurrection, then Jesus was still dead! But we know that is not the case, as Paul has proven throughout this chapter. Jesus is alive and so we will be too!

If there is no resurrection, then Jesus is not risen, and Paul and the other apostles have preached in vain. There is no real, resurrected Jesus whom they serve. “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” But it goes much further. If Jesus (and ultimately us) are not resurrected, the apostles are liars and preaching fake news. “We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.” They weren’t, because Jesus did in fact raise from the tomb and we will do likewise.

Guzik walks through Paul’s logic point-by-point:

  • If there is no principle of resurrection, then Jesus did not rise from the dead
  • If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then death has power over Him and defeated Him
  • If death has power over Jesus, He is not God
  • If Jesus is not God, He cannot offer a complete sacrifice for sins
  • If Jesus cannot offer a complete sacrifice for sins, our sins are not completely paid for before God
  • If my sins are not completely paid for before God, then I am still in my sins
  • Therefore, if Jesus is not risen, He is unable to save

If there is no principle of resurrection, then the dead in Christ are gone forever.

1 Corinthians 15:6-8

In 1 Corinthians 15:6-8 Paul is telling the church what happened as part of the gospel story. Just to be sure we understand the gospel, it is not insightful teaching or good advice. At the core of the gospel are things that happened – actual, real, historical events. The gospel isn’t a matter of religious opinions, stories, or fairy tales; it is about real historical events. The most important event of all is that Jesus died on the Cross. Dead. Real dead. And his body was removed from that Cross and put into a tomb where it stayed for three days before being resurrected and returning to life.

It is important to remember that our sins were responsible for the death of Jesus. He did not die for a political cause, or as an enemy of the state, or for someone’s envy. Jesus died for our sins. Jesus did not die as a mere martyr for a cause. He took our sin and carried it into death that we might be able to be set free from the penalty of sin which is eternal separation from God. So this is a big deal and the very foundation of our salvation through Christ. Jesus took our punishment for sin on the cross, and remained a perfect Savior through the whole ordeal – proven by His resurrection. That is the foundation of the gospel. His death, burial and resurrection created a way for you and me to be set free from our sin.

Yesterday we saw that Jesus appeared to a few, primarily His Apostles. That would have been plenty to validate His resurrection. But it wasn’t a small group that experienced the risen Christ. “Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.” Jesus’ work for us didn’t just come out of thin air; it was planned from all eternity and described prophetically in the Scriptures. The resurrection fulfilled what had been prophesied long before.

No one saw the actual resurrection of Jesus. No one was present in the tomb with Him when His body transformed into a resurrection body. However, many people saw the resurrected Jesus. And after Peter and then the Twelve, Jesus shows up in front of over 500 people to validate the gospel story. This wasn’t something made up. Jesus rose from the grave and showed Himself to over five hundred folks. And it went further as he appeared to all the apostles. Jesus met with many groups of apostles after the resurrection. These meetings were important in proving to the disciples that Jesus was who He said He was. And finally Paul gives his own testimony to the gospel and Jesus resurrection. Lots of people experienced the risen Christ!

1 Corinthians 14:18-21

In 1 Corinthians 14:18-21 Paul again teaches us about the gifts of the Spirit. Paul is completely consistent in his emphasis on tongues being directed to God. Just in this chapter alone, he points out what we do with the gift of tongues: we pray, we sing, we bless, and we give thanks. All of these we do unto the Lord, not unto man, with the gift of tongues. But he also balances the impact on the church with that of the individual. He makes sure we know that the gift of tongues is an important gift for an individual and one that he not only uses, but highly appreciates. “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.”

Paul saw great value in the gift of tongues for his own devotional life before the Lord but when he gathered with other Christians, his concern was to be a blessing, not with getting a blessing. “Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue. In the presence of the church, the focus is not on self and what the individual impact might be of speaking in tongues, but rather on the ability to build up and edify the body of Christ. Speaking in tongues for one’s self is not how the Spirit intends that gift to be used. In the church, it should only be heard if it is interpreted.

The Corinthian church us misusing the gift of tongues. It was more about showing off how spiritual they were in front of each other than anything else. Paul calls them to account. “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.” They were demonstrating their selfish desire to edify themselves at the expense of others in the meeting, so the Corinthians showed themselves to be children, and selfishly immature. Paul points them to a higher call. He tells them that tongues are not to be used that way in the church. It’s not a measure of anything spiritually.

Paul here quotes from Isaiah 28:11-12. In Isaiah 28, the prophet Isaiah announces judgment to the people of Israel. They did not receive the word of the prophets who spoke to them in Hebrew, so now they will hear the voice of men with other tongues and other lips. The Assyrian invaders spoke a language the Israelites could not understand, and it was an example of judgment to the Israelites. “In the Law it is written, “By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.” So God uses tongues in many different ways. But in all cases, He alone is in control of who, what, when, where, how and why. They are never to be something we force or attempt to manufacture.

1 Corinthians 11:30-34

In 1 Corinthians 11:30-34, Paul wraps up his teaching about the Lord’s Supper. He had just warned the Corinthian church that they needed to take this ordinance of communion very seriously as there were consequences for those that did not. “That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.” And the consequences are severe. Paul does not refer to eternal judgment in this case, but to God’s corrective judgment. There is no word  “the” before “judgment,” so it is not the judgment. This correction is not a judge condemning a criminal; it is a father correcting disobedient children.

Paul reminds us that we can avoid correction merely by doing things the way we have been instructed. We need to stop and examine ourselves honestly and determine what sin needs to be confessed and repented of. We will be judged, if not by ourselves on our own, then by God who will take corrective action to bring us in line with His requirements. It’s that simple. “But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.” And it is that easily avoidable. Of course, if we live a sinless life, we don’t need much judgment of our own. But when we look in the mirror and are honest, there is plenty that needs to be addressed.

Paul makes it clear that he knew none of the Corinthian Christians, even those who died as a result of God’s corrective judgment, who had lost their salvation. That does not happen because of sin. They were given God’s correction so that they would not be condemned with the world. “But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.” Our salvation is not at risk because of how we approach the Lord’s Table. But the potential for corrective punishment is at risk – God will not allow His Son to be mocked by us if we approach the Table in a way that is unworthy of taking communion with Christ.

Paul wraps up the chapter by giving some simple rules about how to partake. Be patient and wait for one another – this isn’t a race to the finish and certainly does not mean partaking with poor manners. “So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another – if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home – so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.” It also isn’t a meal to fill your stomach – it is a symbolic ordinance representing the body and blood of our Savior. Paul knows he isn’t dealing with the whole issue here. There is more to say, but Paul will leave it for another time.

1 Corinthians 11:10-12

In 1 Corinthians 11:10-12 Paul continues his teaching on God’s plan for the home and church. He has made it clear that there are distinct roles for man and woman and Christ. Paul gave us two statements on the structure of God’s plan in earlier verses:

  1. The head of the woman is man
  2. Adam first, and gave Him responsibility over Eve

Adam was not created for Eve, but Eve was created for Adam – and this principle applies to every “Adam” and every “Eve” through history. Adam was not brought to Eve, but Eve was brought to Adam – her head. It is an idea that causes some to cringe in our society today, but the Bible in this passage clearly teaches that (in the church and in the home) man was not made for the benefit of woman, but woman for the benefit of man.

A third reason God has established male headship in the church is the presence of angels in corporate worship. “That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.” Angels are present at any assembly of Christians for worship and they note any departure from reverent order. Apparently, angels are offended by any violation of God’s plan and structure. None of these three reasons are culture-dependent. The order and manner of creation and the presence of angels do not depend on culture. We cannot say, “Paul said this just because of the thinking of the Corinthian culture or the place of women in that culture.” The principles are eternal, but the out-working of the principles may differ according to culture.

God has established a clear chain of authority in both the home and in the church, and in those spheres, God has ordained that men are the “head,” that is, that they have the place of authority and responsibility. Our culture, having rejected the idea in a difference in role between men and women, now rejects the idea of any difference between men and women. The Bible is just as specific that there is no general submission of women unto men commanded in society, only in the spheres of the home and in the church. God has not commanded in His word that men have exclusive authority in politics, business, education, and so on.

But here is the kicker that men much accept in the role God has given them – they must lead. The failure of men to lead in the home and in the church, and to lead in the way Jesus would lead, has been a chief cause of the rejection of male authority, and is inexcusable. God will hold man accountable for their failure to lead and fulfill their God given role. And the result of that failure presents itself in many of the societal issues we face today. “Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.” It’s God’s plan, and when either man or woman chooses not to fulfill their role, chaos and havoc result. Remember that all this is from God!

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