Wait On The LORD – I

April 20, 2018

Image result for photo wearing righteous robe

Psalm 130:1-6

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

We probably should have started our Waiting series with this study about what Wait On The LORD means.  For if we do not understand what is involved to Wait On The LORD, how will we learn that important part of Christian faith and acquire the derived benefits (such as couragediscussed in the last two blogs)?  Here is one of the premier Scriptures that directs us to Wait On The LORD – Psalm 130:1 through 6:

      Out of the depths I have cried to You, O LORD…hear my voice!  Let
      Your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.  If you, LORD,
      should mark iniquities, O LORD, who could stand?  But there is for-
      giveness with You, that You may be feared.  I wait for the LORD, my
      soul waits, and in His word I do hope.  My soul waits for the LORD
      more than those who watch for the morning….

In my study of Scriptures that tell us to Wait On The LORD, most passages deal with the benefits derived from such waiting.  But this passage deals with how we are to Wait On The LORD!

      The first four verses put forth the basic idea of salvation!

       ✞      Verse 1 – “Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord….”  To be saved from sin, we must recognize we are flagrant sinners!

               ▸      We can always feel better about ourselves when we find someone who is a worse sinner than we are.  But the apostle Paul tells us in II Corinthians 10:12:  “…they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.  Not being wise is being foolish!  And we are rightly informed in Psalm 14:1:  “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ ”  If you are not wise with the wisdom that comes from knowing God, then you are foolish, in that you are acting like there is no God !

               ▸      By what then should we should be measuring ourselves?  By God’s standard!  And what is His standard?  In Matthew 5:48 Jesus defines God’s standard:  “…you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”  Just be as perfect as God, and you are accepted by Him!  Who can ever meet that standard?  No wonder Paul writes in Romans 3:10 and 23:  “There is none righteous, no not one…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

               ▸      Thank God that there is One who met God’s standard of perfection – Jesus Christ!  As it says in I Peter 2:22, He…committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth.”  And praise Him that He offers us His perfection to wear as a robe! (See Isaiah 61:10; II Corinthians 5:21).  And so we can stand as if we are perfect before God! (See Ephesians 1:6).

               ▸      We are sinners, in the depths of sin!  And we must acknowledge that – to ourselves and to God if we are to be saved and wear that perfect robe of righteousness!

       ✞      Verse 2 – “LORD, hear my voice!  Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.

               ▸      Supplications are generally prayers for oneself.  We need to get ourselves right with God before we can intercede for others!

               ▸      When we realize we are so lost in the depths of sin with no one else and no where else to turn, then there is only one thing left to do – turn to the LORD!

               ▸      This reminds me of Isaiah pleading to the sinner in Isaiah 55:6 and 7 – what he or she should do…

                Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is
                near.  Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his
                thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on
                him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.

       ✞      Verse 3 – “If you, LORD, should mark iniquities, O LORD, who could stand?”  I think this goes along with verse 1:  “Out of the depths….”  When we realize the depths of our depravity, then we begin to understand that the only way out of our spiritual dilemma is for the LORD not to mark [take full notice of] our iniquities!  For no one could stand if He did!

       ✞      Verse 4 – “But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared.”  Thank God that there is forgiveness with Him!  And such forgiveness that…

               ▸      …Psalm 103:12 – “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

               ▸      …Isaiah 1:18 – “Though your sins be like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

               ▸      …Micah 7:19 – “He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities.  You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

               ▸      …Colossians 2:13 and 14 – God forgave…you all trespasses….And He has taken [them]…out of the way, having nailed [them]…to the cross.

               ▸      …Hebrews 10:17 (quoting Jeremiah 31:34) – “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.

       ✞      Verse 4 – “…that You may be feared…” might also be read “…so that we should stand in awe of You….” (Good News Bible).

All this is in preparation for us to Wait On The LORD – which, in verses 5 and 6, we are told how to accomplish this.  We will cover these two verses in Monday’s blog.

Waiting For Courage – I

April 16, 2018

Image result for photo courage

Psalm 27:1, 13, 14

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Waiting on the LORD is mentioned several times in the Bible. And there are a number of qualities that are to added to Waiting – all of them good, and all of them designed to build us up in the LORD! The first quality we will explore is courage. Our featured Scripture is Psalm 27:1, 13, and 14

      The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD
      is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?…I would have lost
      heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD
      in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He
      shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD.

The last verse of the Psalm, verse 14 identifies the quality of courage. But the whole psalm concerns courage! Just consider what is mentioned in these three verses:

      verse 1 – “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” I see here two things of which people are afraid:

       ✞      They are afraid of darkness!

               ▸      It is not only children who are afraid of darkness. Some adults are too. I remember walking along a dark road in the country late one evening. I heard some wildlife nearby in the woods. I turned around and came home! The noises, of which I could not identify, scared me!

The Psalm mentions light. I also need light. My personality is such that I have battled clinical depression all my adult life. I am especially affected in the winters of Pennsylvania when the days are short and the nights long! I am mentally at my best in Spring, Summer, and Fall. There are a lot of people who have ‘light deprivation sensitivity.

               ▸      Darkness is one of the characteristics of Hell! Three times in Matthew – 8:12, 22:13, and 25:30 – the Lord Jesus warned unbelievers that they were in danger of being “…cast out into outer darkness…! One of the sufferings in Hell is forever being in eternal and complete darkness! (See also II Peter 2:4; Jude 1:13).

               ▸      Satan is called in II Corinthians 4:4, “…the god of this world…” (see Luke 4:5, 6). His kingdom of humankind godless societies, plus his rule over the corrupt spiritual realm – “…principalities…powers…the rulers of the darkness of this age…[and] spiritual hosts of wickedness in high places…” – is called “…the power of darkness…” in Luke 22:53 and Colossians 1:13. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are “…delivered …from the power of darkness and translated…into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” (Colossians 1:13 – see I Peter 2:9).

               ▸      Jesus is…the Light of the world.” (John 8:12; 9:5 – see also John 1:7-9; 3:19). As He said in John 8:12, “He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (see John 11:9, 10; I John 1:7)

       ✞      They are afraid of eternity!The opposite of salvation mentioned in verse 1 above is damnation! If we are not saved by trusting in the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ on our behalf, according to John 3:36 and 5:24, we are living under God’s wrath, and condemnation!Living’ did I say? The Apostle Paul, writing to the Ephesus Christians, says in Ephesians 2:1, “And you He made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins.You may be alive physically, but without Christ, you are spiritually dead! Unsaved one, open your heart to Jesus – Please!

               ▸      If someone has thought seriously about eternity (and if that one is truthful about his or her thinking), I have found that this one is like a lot of people who are scared when they don’t have the assurance of heaven and eternal life!

               ▸      It is tragic that most only have ahope soview of eternity – “I hope I will go to heaven.If that is your case, John wrote this for you – I John 5:11 through 13:

      …this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is
      in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son
      of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe
      in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal
      life….

      Courage comes from having the strength to face whatever comes! Strength is mentioned twice in our featured Scripture:

      ✞      Psalm 27:1 – “The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

               ▸      The writer of Hebrews quotes Psalm 118:6 in Hebrews 13:6: “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?Nothing! Nor can anyone or anything ever separate us from the love of Christ ! (See Romans 8:31-39).

               ▸      Jesus, in Luke 12:5 tells us, “I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” We are told several times in the Bible to fear God (see Deuteronomy 13:4; Psalm 22:23; Ecclesiastes 12:13; Matthew 10:28; II Peter 2:17; Revelation 14:7). Fearing God is holding Him is reverence and awe, knowing that He is utterly supreme and can do anything He decides! Thank God He wants all to be reconciled to Him! And He has made the waythe only way (see John 14:6) through the blood of His Son Jesus!

       ✞      Psalm 27:14 – “Wait on the LORD…and He shall strengthen your heart.” To the Old Testament Jew, the heart is the seat of the mind and soul of man! To have God strengthen your heart is to acquire all you need to face everything in life!

       ✞      This reminds me of what it says in Psalm 119:32: “I will run in the way of Your commandments, for You shall enlarge (strengthen) my heart.May we all ask God for a large heart toward Him!

We will finish Waiting For Courage on Wednesday.

Waiting For Courage – II

April 18, 2018

Image result for photo courage

Psalm 27:1, 13, 14

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

In our last blog, we examined Psalm 27:1, 13, and 14 that shows us about gleaning a valuable prize by Waiting on the LORD – Courage!  Here is our featured Scripture:

      The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The LORD
      is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?…I would have lost
      heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD
      in the land of the living.  Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He
      shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD.

We saw that Waiting For Courage will give us the courage to face fear, and to gain strength.  But there is more that courage will do for us:

      verse 13 – “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”  We need courage to believe!

       ✞      Why does believing take courage?  Life can be hard!

               ▸      In America we have many blessings.  But we still can run into hard circumstances!  I know a Christian family whose daughter has an inoperable brain tumor.  Another daughter struggles with a drug-addicted husband.  Through the years the parents of these two (and four other siblings) have had the challenge of barely enough money with which to survive.  Finally the dad got a good job with decent pay and benefits.  But with extra cash, his old bug-a-boo of drug addiction reemerged, and he is now in a 90-day recovery program – and the family is again facing tough relational and financial times!

               ▸      But these circumstances pale in comparison with the suffering experienced in other countries!  One Muslim man in Somalia converted to Christianity.  His father sought to kill him, and he had to run for his life!  Sometime later he received a package from his father.  The man thought it might be the father’s attempt at reconciliation.  But when he opened it, it was the remains of his mother who had helped him to escape the murderous designs of the father!  She had been skinned – and her husband had sent her skin to hisapostateson!

       ✞      It takes courage to believe that God is still good, and that He will bring goodness and blessing out of horrible circumstances!  But we are told in Romans 8:28 that, “…we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

               ▸      What is the good that God will work together the circumstances of life to bring about?  We are told in Romans 8:29, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son….

               ▸      He is making us more and more like Jesus!  And that is good ! (See also Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4 and the blog When Bad Things Happen! from August 17, 2016).

       ✞      There is another truth I see here in verse 13, one that David most likely did not have in mind when he wrote Psalm 27:  “…I…believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”  Although the land of the living in David’s mind was this life here and now, the ultimate land of the living is when we are fully and perfectly alive in heaven!  And I think it takes courage to hang on to the truths of the life to come when we are facing the severe obstacles this earthly life can bring upon us!

      verse 14 – “Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart….”  God will do it!  It is not up to us to generate either strength of heart or courage in our life!

       ✞      I found this applicable truth in Philippians 2:12 and 13, where Paul writes, “Therefore, my beloved…work our your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”  I write about this more fully in A Little Help Here, Please! from March 13, 2013.  Briefly, here is what these two Philippian verses teach:

               ▸      When we are admonished in verse 12 to…work out…our own salvation with fear and trembling…,” it brings to mind that I tried!  I really tried!  But since I have a compulsive and addictive personality, I found it extremely difficult to live as God would have me!  I wanted to do the things that are sinful, even though I hated them!  And so I struggled! (See Romans 7:14-24).  It is like I would say to myself, “I have the fear and trembling part down really well!  But how do I manage to do what God wants?

                ▸      But then I discovered the amazing truth in verse 13:  “…for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”  God works in ME to do two things:

                         ➨      Yes, He gives me the wherewithal to do what I am supposed to do as a Christian, but so often I found myself not wanting to obey!

                         ➨      But He also works in me to will for His good pleasure!  He gives me the ‘want to’!  And when I want to do something, it is relatively easy to do it!

       ✞      Do I have the necessary courage and strength to face life victoriously?  No!  But it is not up to me to generate these qualities!

               ▸      Also, I might be hesitant to acquire courage and strength for another reason!  According to II Corinthians 10:13, “…God…will not allow you to be tempted [tested – same Greek word] beyond what you are able….”  So, if we are more able because of added strength and courage, the testings (temptations, trials) may be more severe!

               ▸      If the LORD wants me to have more strength and courage, He will give me the will – the ‘want to’ – to get these qualities by teaching me to wait on the LORD!

Before we move on to other things gained as we wait on the LORD, in our next blog we will examine just what it means to do so.

One Brick Short Of A Full Load!

April 13, 2018

Image result for photo a load of bricks

I Peter 2:4, 5

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

One Brick Short Of A Full Load!  It is supposed to be a humorous way to describe a person who does not seem to be mentally acute concerning some subject or incident.  The situation may be quite obvious to others, but for some reason, this person doesn’t grasp the details!  Perhaps it is an ongoing characteristic of this one.  And so it is said, “He [or she] is one brick short of a full load!”  A couple of other descriptions that are considered humorous by some are…

      “His elevator doesn’t go all the way up!

      “The lights are on, but nobody is home!

But back to our original saying:  One Brick Short Of A Full Load!  It reminds me of a Scriptural truth that is not humorous, and is indeed important!  It is found in I Peter 2:3 and 4:

      Coming to Him [Jesus Christ] as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men,
      but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built
      up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices ac-
      ceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Christ is called in Ephesians 2:20, “…the chief cornerstone….”  Here is the whole passage, Ephesians 2:19 through 22:

      …you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the
      saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the
      foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the
      chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being joined together,
      grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built
      together for a habitation of God in the Spirit.

In the Old Testament, there are described the building of two temples:

      Solomon’s temple – built over seven years (see I Kings 6:38), was a magnificent structure, 90 feet long and 45 feet wide (see I Kings 6:2), built mainly of quarried stone (see I Kings 5:17, 18), where God resided in His Shechinah glory! (See I Kings 8:10, 11).

      Zerubbable’s templeSolomon’s temple was destroyed in 587 BC by the Babylonians.  In about 531 BC the foundation of the second temple was laid (see Ezra 3:11).  Because of local opposition, it was not completed until about 516 BC (see Ezra 6:15).  There is no Biblical record of the Shechinah glory of God ever residing in this second temple!

But God desires to dwell with His people!

      He dwelt among the Israelites in the tabernacle during their desert wanderings.

      He dwelt in the Holy of holies in the first temple for five hundred years.

      He dwelt as a man among His people Israel in the person of His Son Jesus Christ!

      He dwells in His…body the church…” (Colossians 1:18) by His Holy Spirit!

      He will dwell forever in the New Jerusalem!  According to Revelation 21:3: “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.

As said above, now He dwells in the church!  But the church is made up of individual people, and is not the many buildings where the people meet!  Peter and Paul tell us in the Scriptures above – I Peter 2:4 and 5, and Ephesians 2:19 through 22:  “…you [are individual]…living stones…being built up [as] as spiritual house…a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit.”  You might say, we are individual bricks (stones) in the spiritual temple of God!  But now, this spiritual temple is One Brick Short of being completed!  What do I mean?

       ✞      The Church will be completed when the last person is saved in this Church Age!  The Church Age is that length of time between…

               ▸      …Pentecostwhen the Holy Spirit was poured out in power upon believers (for the first time in history) to permanently dwell within the true followers of Christ! (See Acts 2:1-3)…

               ▸      …and the Rapture – when…

                …the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice
                of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.  And the dead in Christ will
                rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain [on the earth] shall be caught
                up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And thus
                we shall always be with the Lord. (I Thessalonians 4:16 and 17).

       ✞      We don’t know when that last person will be saved and added to the Church!  Until then, we will be One Brick Short Of A Full Load!  We will be at least one person shy of the full number of saved the Lord will bring into the Church!

What does this mean for you and me?  If we are Christians, we are commanded to go out and reach the unsaved, bringing them to Jesus Christ so they can make that fateful decision to either accept or reject Him! (See Mark 16:15 and 16).  Who knows?  Maybe the one you lead to Jesus will be that final stone, that final brick in the spiritual templeand we will hear the voice of an archangel, and the trumpet of God, and be caught up in the Rapture!

You Can’t Get Here From There!

April 11, 2018

Image result for photo rich man suffering in hell

Luke 16:22, 23, 25, 26 (English Standard Version)

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

In Luke 16:19 through 31, Jesus told the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.  Here, in verses 22, 23, and 26 (English Standard Version), are some of the highlights of this parable.

      The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side.  The
      rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he
      lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.  And
      he called out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to
      dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish
      in this flame.”  But Abraham said… “…between us and you a great chasm
      has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may
      not be able, and none may cross from there to us.”

By the way, this may not be a parable (a fictional story that teaches an important spiritual truth).  It could very well be an actual eternal incident of which the Lord was aware!  If it is a parable, it is the only one that Jesus told using the name of a contemporary person – Lazarus!

What do we learn from these four verses of this parable in Luke 16?

      You will be a permanent resident in the eternal place you find yourself after you die!

       ✞     The…beggar named Lazarus [who] was full of sores…was laid at…the rich man’s…gate…” (Luke 16:20, 21), where he begged for scraps!

               ▸      Although he had it very rough in his mortal life, he was a firm believer in God!  He must have been familiar with the promises of the coming Messiah, and put his hope of eternal life on such prophecies.

               ▸      His faith was rewarded because, when the “…poor man died…[he] was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side…” (verse 22) – eternal blessings with those righteous ones who had passed before him!  This blessed place is called Paradise by Jesus in Luke 23:43, where He told the repentant thief, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.

It is a matter of faith in the promises of God’s salvation, just like the faith Lazarus had! (See Acts 16:30, 31; Ephesians 2:8, 9; I John 5:13).  According to Jesus’ own words in John 14:6:  “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me…” – we must believe He is the Savior, we are sinners, and we must trust in what He did for us on the cross to completely pay for our sins! (See Isaiah 1:18; John 5:24; I John 1:7).  And for one with such faith, as it says in II Corinthians 5:8, “…absent from the body [is] to be present with the Lord.

Another amazing thing believers can look forward to:  angels will meet us and escort us into the divine presence! (See II Corinthians 5:8).  What a privilege!

       ✞      Dives (pronounced die’-vees) is the traditional name given to the rich man Obviously, if the above parable actually happened, Dives did not have eternal life!  Instead he possessed eternal death! (See John 3:36; Revelation 21:8).  Why?  Because apparently he trusted in his wealth and gave little thought to poor, to eternity, and to the things of God!

      Hades is not the final hell !  It is the ante-room (the waiting place) for hell People are not cast into hell until after the judgment of the damned at the great white throne! (See Revelation 21:11-15).

       ✞      But, according to verse 23, Hades also is a place of torment !  Words matter, and in seven of the 17 Bible versions I have on a computer Bible application, the word torment is translated in the pluraltorments!  There is more than one torment in Hades and hell !

               ▸      There is the torment of being in anguish in this flameHell is described in Revelation 21:8 as…the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”  Apparently it burns, but does not consume!

               ▸      There is the torment of not only suffering the effects of the burning, but also knowing it will never end! (See Mark 9:44, 46, 48; Revelation 14:11).  There is no escape!

▸      There is the torment of intense thirst with no hope of refreshment! (See Luke 16:24).

               ▸      There is the torment of being in total eternal darkness! (See Matthew 8:12; 22:13; 25:30; II Peter 2:4, 17; Jude 1:6).

               ▸      There is the torment of knowing one could have had salvation, but now it is forever out of reach, being eternally cut off from God! (See Matthew 7:23; 25:41; Luke 13:27).

       ✞      Perhaps in hell there is more intense suffering and torments than in Hades!  Hell is designed, according to Matthew 25:41, “…for the devil and his angels [demons]…,not humuan beings! Hell may not even be created yet, since it won’t be needed until much later (see Revelation 21:10, 14, 15).

      Apparently, Dives was used to giving orders in mortal life, especially to people like Lazarus.  For it was not a humble request he gave to Abraham in Luke 16:24:  “…send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

       ✞      But Lazarus could not make the trip!  Nor could Dives go to where Abraham and Lazarus were!  There was…between us and you a great chasm…[that had] been fixed…” (Luke 16:26) – and that chasm could not be crossed!  You Can’t Get Here From There!

       ✞      Since that pre-resurrection time, Paradise has been transferred to where Jesus now is – “…at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2 – see also Romans 8:34).  It is no longer across from the great chasm mentioned in our featured Scripture.  We are told in Ephesians 4:8 (quoting Psalm 68:18):  “When He [Jesus] ascended up on high, He led captivity captive….”  It means, those who were once held captive by sin and Satan (see John 8:34; II Timothy 2:26) are now led captive into freedom by Jesus Christ!

Dear people, gain heaven through faith in Jesus Christ, and avoid Hades and hell at all costs!

Three Options – III

April 9, 2018

Image result for photo lukewarm for JesusRevelation 3:15-17

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

This blog is finishing the series of Three Options, the first two blogs posted on March 30 and April 2.

The third of Three Options in Revelation 3:15 through 17 is being lukewarm concerning the Lord Jesus Christ instead of being hot or cold:

      I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I could wish you
      were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold
      nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth.  Because you say, “I am rich,
      have become wealthy, and have need of nothing” — and do not know
      that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked….

I find it interesting that Jesus said, “I could wish you were cold or hot…[instead of] lukewarm….”  Why?

      If we are hot for the Lord, we will love Him heart, soul, mind, and strength! (See Mark 12:30)!  That means we will obey…the LORD…our God with all… our heart, with all…our soul, with all…our mind, and with all…our strength…” (see John 14:15).

      If we are cold towards Him…

       ✞      …we are not a Christian, and we have little or no interest in the things of God!

       ✞      …at least it is evident where we stand!  We need salvation, and to submit to Jesus’ lordship!

      But if we are lukewarm in the Lord’s eyes, it is the worst condition of the three named in Revelation 3:15 and 16.  Why?  When one is lukewarm, it appears, at least from the initial confession, that one is a Christian!  However, they do not follow through with living a Christ-like life!

       ✞      It is like the Jews whom Paul speaks of in Romans 2:24 where he says, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you…” (See also Isaiah 52:5; Ezekiel 36:20, 22).

               ▸      The Jews were so disobedient concerning the LORD’s commands, others with whom they came in contact were turned off from the God of Israel!

               ▸      It brings to mind a man whom I tried to encourage to come to the first church I pastored.  He told me the names of several people who were regular attendees – even in positions of leadership – but their reputation was not very Godly!  Then he vehemently stated, “If that is what a Christian is, I don’t want any part of it!

       ✞      The New Testament gives us examples of lukewarmness.  Here are four:

               ▸      Luke 6:46 – “…why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say? ”  Calling Him Lord, Lord is one thing; but obeying Him in all things is quite another! (See John 14:15; Acts 5:29; Hebrews 5:9).  These two should never be separated!

               ▸      Matthew 6:24 – “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon.”  Apparently, there were those who tried to serve both God and mammonMammon is money and the things money can buy.

                        ➨      Paul addresses this problem in I Timothy 6:9 and 10:

                 …those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into
                 many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and
                 perdition.  For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, for which
                 some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced them-
                 selves through with many sorrows.

                        ➨      In the prosperity and blessings of America (and much of the western world) today, this lack of all-out obedience is far too often a problem among those who name the name of Jesus Christ!

               ▸      Verse 17 of our featured Scripture shows the mammon attitude of these Laodician Christians:  “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing.”  But they were lacking true riches only available from the Lord:

                …buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white   
                garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness
                may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may
                see. (Revelation 3:18).

The tragedy is these lukewarm believers didn’t even know they were
…wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked…! (Revelation 3:17).

               ▸      II Timothy 4:10 – “…Demas has forsaken me [Paul], having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica….

                        ➨      Demas is mentioned in Colossians 4:14 and Philemon 1:24 as apparently a faithful follower of Jesus!  But according to Paul’s mention of him in II Timothy 4, he was a lukewarm Christian who loved this present world !

                        ➨      The Apostle John tells us in I John 2:15 through 17 (Bible in Basic English):

                 Have no love for the world or for the things which are in the world.  If
                 any man has love for the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 
                 Because everything in the world, the desire of the flesh, the desire of the
                 eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but of the world.  And the
                 world and its desires is coming to an end:  but he who does God’s pleas-
                 ure is living for ever. (See also Romans 12:2; II Peter 3:10, 11).

      Being lukewarm in the mouth of the Lord Jesus makes Him sick!  He says in Revelation 3:16, “…because you are lukewarm…I will spew you out of My mouth.”  The Greek word for spew is ἐμέω (pronounced em-eh’-o).  According to Strong’s Greek Dictionary, it means, “…to vomit.”  A lukewarm Christian makes Jesus sick – sick enough to throw up!

       ✞      He would have us be hot for loving and obeying Him – first choice!

       ✞      He would have us be cold, total unbelievers, and acknowledge ourselves thus – second choice!

       ✞      He does not want us to be lukewarm – last choice!  For the world cannot tell where we stand!  And we will give the Lord God a bad reputation through our wishy-washy lives!

Chose to be hot for Him!

Fools for Christ

April 6, 2018

Image result for photo fools for Jesus

I Corinthians 4:9, 10

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Five days ago was April Fools’ Day.  (This is so late for that particular day because I had to finish Without The Resurrection series as close to Easter as possible, and it took two more blogs than originally planned).  It is a day to play foolish tricks upon others.  Here are a couple of classic examples from the website hoaxes.org/aprilfool :

      April 1, 1957: The respected BBC news show Panorama announced that thanks
      to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil,
      Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop.  It accompanied this an-
      nouncement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down
      from trees.  Huge numbers of viewers…called the BBC wanting to know how they
      could grow their own spaghetti tree.  To this the BBC diplomatically replied,
      “Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.” …The
      broadcast remains…the most popular and widely acclaimed April Fool’s Day
      hoax ever….

      April 1, 1974: The residents of Sitka, Alaska woke to a disturbing sight. 
      Clouds of black smoke were rising from the crater of Mount Edgecumbe, the
      long-dormant volcano neighboring them.  People spilled…onto the streets to
      gaze up at the volcano, terrified that it was active again and might soon erupt. 
      Luckily it turned out that man, not nature, was responsible for the smoke.  A
      local practical joker named Porky Bickar had flown hundreds of old tires into
      the volcano’s crater and then lit them on fire, all in a (successful) attempt to
      fool the city dwellers into believing that the volcano was stirring to life.  Ac-
      cording to local legend, when Mount St. Helens erupted six years later, a Sitka
      resident wrote to Bickar to tell him, “This time you’ve gone too far!”

Saint Paul in I Corinthians 4:9 and 10, has a different take on what could be emphasized on April Fools’ Day!

      …I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned
      to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels
      and to men.  We are fools for Christ’s sake….

Why would he…think…God has displayed…the apostles…as…fools for Christ’s sake…?  He gives several reasons that seems to label apostles (and any serious Christian) as fools for Christ’s sake:

      I Corinthians 4:8 – He told the Corinthian believers, “You are already full!  You are already rich!  You have reigned as kings without us…I could wish you did reign, that we also might reign with you.”  In verse 18 of the same chapter, Paul tells them, “Now some of you are puffed up….”  The Greek word is φυσιόω (pronounced foo-see-o’-o).  According to Strong in his Greek Dictionary, it means, “…in the primary sense of blowing; to inflate, that is, (figuratively) make proud, haughty….”

       ✞      Yes, some of the Corinthian Christians were proud and haughty!  In I Corinthians 5:1 (Contemporary English Version), Paul calls them out because one of their own…is even sleeping with his own stepmother.”  And he accuses them in verse 2, “And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.

               ▸      They should have exercised church discipline – and excluded the man from their fellowship – until he repented!  By the way, we know from II Corinthians 2:6 through 8 that because of Paul’s urging, they did obey God and practiced church discipline!  They did excommunicate the man, and he did repent!  And he was then received back into fellowship!  This is what church discipline should do! (See Matthew 18:15-17, and read the blogs from August 5th and 7th, 2015, This Four-Step Plan Works!I and II).

               ▸      They were initially puffed up!  “After all,” these church members were saying, “…isn’t this commonly done in our Corinthian society?

               ▸     After all, we too often say today,…isn’t sex before marriage – isn’t a sexual relationship with whomever you find attractive – isn’t that done and accepted in our society in this modern day and age?

       ✞      The Christians in Corinth were acting like they had already received perfection – as will happen in the Kingdom that is set up upon the earth when Christ returns.  And we…shall reign with Him…[as] kings and priests….” (Revelation 1:6; 5:10; 20:6).  Paul would have loved to also reign with them, experiencing such victory!  But now he was just alowlyapostle!

      I Corinthians 4:9-13 – “…God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.  We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ!  We are weak, but you are strong!  You are distinguished, but we are dishonored!  Even to this present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless.  And we labor, working with our own hands.  Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure it; being defamed, we entreat.  We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.

       ✞      Here are some Biblical facts concerning Paul’s life:  …whipped by the Jews five times; three times beaten with Roman rods (see II Corinthians 11:24, 25); stoned at Lystra (see Acts 14:19); three times experiencing shipwreck (see for example Acts 27:39-44)…

              …in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils
              of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city,
              in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false
              brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessnes often, in hunger and
              thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness… (II Corinthians 11:
              26 and 27).

       ✞      Truly, he (and all the apostles) were poorly treated!

               ▸      All of them (except the Apostle John) experienced martyrdom!

               ▸      All of them suffered at the hands of unbelievers (as will anyone who strives to live godly in Christ Jesussee II Timothy 3:12).  Remember also what the Lord said in John 15:18 through 20:

               If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 
               If you were of the world, the world would love its own.  Yet because you
               are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the
               world hates you.  Remember the word that I said to you, “A servant is
               not greater than his master.”  If they persecuted Me, they will also
               persecute you….

So the apostles were fools for Christ !  May I be the same no matter what the world thinks!

Without The Resurrection – III

April 4, 2018

Image result for Photo resurrection of believers

I Corinthians 15:12-19 (Modern King James Version)

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Today we will finish studying Paul’s logical argument concerning the resurrection found in I Corinthians 15:12 through 19 (Modern King James Version).

      But if Christ is proclaimed…that He was 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, neither has Christ been raised.  And if Christ has
      not been raised, then our proclamation is worthless, and your faith is also
      worthless.  And we are also found to be false witnesses of God, because we
      testified of God that He raised Christ; whom He did not raise if the dead are
      not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, then Christ is not raised.  And if
      Christ is not raised, your faith is foolish; you are yet in your sins.  Then also
      those that fell asleep in Christ were lost.  If in this life only we have hope in
      Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

The Apostle Paul in this Scripture is presenting what would follow if the claim some were making was true:  “…there is no resurrection from the dead…! (I Corinthians 15:12).  What would that logically mean to our Christian faith?  We already looked at…

      I Corinthians 15:13 and 16 – “If there is no resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ been raised….For if the dead are not raised, then Christ is not raised.

Let’s go on to the next four steps in Paul’s logical argument:

      I Corinthians 15:14 and 15 – “And if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is worthless….And we are also found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified of God that He raised Christ; whom He did not raise if the dead are not raised.

       ✞      One thing Paul was careful to do was to tell the truth!  He had found the truth on the Damascus Road when the One who is called the Truth appeared unto him! (see John 14:6).   He was totally convinced of that truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ!  He said so in…

               ▸      …Philippians 1:6 – “…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you [Philippians] will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

               ▸     …II Timothy 1:12 – “…I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

       ✞      According to I Corinthians 4:1 and 2, Paul considered himself, and his fellow apostles, “…as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.  Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.”  A steward was someone put in charge of managing what belonged to another.  It all belongs to God! (See Psalm 50:10-12).  And Paul, above all else, desired to be found faithful!  So he was not about to be considered a false witness concerning the resurrection!

       ✞      He lays it all on the line in I Corinthians 15:14 and 15:  If Christ has not been raised…

               ▸      …our proclamation of the Lord being raised from the dead is worthless!

               ▸      …And we are also found to be false witnessesfound to be believing and spreading a lie…

                                                …Without The Resurrection!

      I Corinthians 15:14 and 17 – “…and your faith is also worthless….And if Christ is not raised, your faith is foolish; you are yet in your sins.

       ✞      One’s faith is what one really believes is true!  Something claimed by faith cannot be proven by the five senses – sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch.  Because “…faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen….By faith we…please…God…believ[ing]…that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:1, 6).

       ✞      The person with strong faith will direct his or her whole life by what he or she believes!  But can you imagine your strong faith being worthless and foolish?

       ✞      The hope of our sins being forgiven rests not only of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross, but also on the resurrection!  It was the Father’s stamp of approval on what the Son did!  It was as if the Father said, “I accept! ”  But there would be no forgiveness, no payment for sins, no eternal life…

                                             …Without The Resurrection!

      I Corinthians 15:18 – “Then also those that fell asleep in Christ were lost.”  Being asleep is a Christian euphemism for death, since for the Christian, physical death is not final, and we will be awakened at the resurrection! (See Daniel 12:2; Mark 5:39-42; John 11:11-14; 25, 26).

       ✞      One of the great hopes for the Christian is to be united again with believing loved ones at the resurrection of the righteous! (See II Samuel 12:23;         I Thessalonians 4:13-18).

       ✞      But since Christ is…the firstfruits [of the resurrection] of those who have fallen asleep…” (I Corinthians 15:20) – if He didn’t rise from the dead, no one else will!  They are eternally dead and lost, because they died still bearing their sins…

                                             …Without The Resurrection!

      I Corinthians 15:19 – “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”  Most miserable?  Why?  Because we have hoped in a lie, we have staked our lives on a falsehood, we are all going to hell, and we have wasted the opportunity of earthly enjoyment in this life to…eat, drink, and be merry…for tomorrow we die.” (Luke 12:19; I Corinthians 15:32)…

                                             …Without The Resurrection!

I Corinthians 15:20 – “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”  He is alive!  And He lives forever! (See Hebrews 7:25; Revelation 1:18).

       ✞      And because He lives, we shall live also! (See John 14:19).

       ✞      The resurrection also has procured for us the power to die to self and live for God in this life! (See Romans 6:1-14).

       ✞      Is it any wonder that Paul exclaims in I Corinthians 15:57:  “…thanks be to God, who has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ…!  We can say the same…

                                              …With The Resurrection!

Without The Resurrection – II

April 2, 2018

Image result for Photo resurrection of believers

I Corinthians 15:12-19 (Modern King James Version)

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Today is the day after Resurrection Sunday (Easter), and we are examining Paul’s logical argument concerning the resurrection found in I Corinthians 15:12 through 19 (Modern King James Version).

      But if Christ is proclaimed…that He was 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, neither has Christ been raised.  And if Christ has
      not been raised, then our proclamation is worthless, and your faith is also
      worthless.  And we are also found to be false witnesses of God, because we
      testified of God that He raised Christ; whom He did not raise if the dead are
      not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, then Christ is not raised.  And if
      Christ is not raised, your faith is foolish; you are yet in your sins.  Then also
      those that fell asleep in Christ were lost.  If in this life only we have hope in
      Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (Modern King James Version).

I believe the reason why the Corinthian Christians were arguing concerning the resurrection was because they had suffered persecution!  And the resurrection pointed toward a future blessed and free eternal life! (See I Corinthians 15:53, 54; Philippians 3:21; Revelation 21:4, 5).

      One source of early persecution was the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem (priests, Pharisees, and Sadducees).  They…had agreed already that if anyone confessed that…[Jesus] was the Christ, he would be put out of [excommunicated from] the synagogue.” (John 9:22).

       ✞      Excommunication meant no one was to interact with the banned person – employ him, buy from him, or sell to him!

       ✞      This is why the early Christians in Jerusalem…

               ▸      “…had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.” (Acts 2:44 and 45).

               ▸      …were sent a financial gift “…from [believers in] Macedonia and Achaia…for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem.” (Romans 15:26 – see also Galatians 2:10).

      Saul of Tarsus (who later became Paul, the apostle) led a Jewish sanctioned severe persecution againsthereticChristians! (See Acts 8:1; 9:1, 2; Acts 22:4; 26:11; I Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13, 23).

•      More specifically, the persecution affecting the Corinthian Jews and Christians was “…because [the Roman emperor] Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome.”  By the way, early in Church history, pagan Gentiles often did not differentiate between Jews and Christians.

And so, experiencing persecution may have directed Corinthian believers’ thoughts toward the resurrection!

But…some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead…”! (I Corinth-ians 15:12).  Paul’s logical argument in the next verses of our featured Scripture, tells us what would it mean if…if there is no resurrection of the dead….” (I Corinthians 15:13).  I have combined some of the apostle’s logical thoughts when he is writing about the same point in different verses.

      I Corinthians 15:13 and 16 – “If there is no resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ been raised….For if the dead are not raised, then Christ is not raised.

       ✞      Without faith to believe, Scriptures about the resurrection read much like a fairy tale!  “Raised to life after you have died?  You’ve got to be kidding!”  Although it had happened a number of times in the Bible record, it seems the majority of people – especially the Gentiles – reacted to the idea of the dead being resurrected much as did some of the Athenians in Acts 17:32:  “And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said [to Paul] ‘We will hear you again on this matter.’ ”  But that the dead were raised is recorded…

               ▸      …three times in the Old Testament…

                        ➨      The widow of Zarephath’s son whom Elijah raised (see I Kings
                                  17:17-23).

                        ➨      The Shunammite woman’s son whom Elisha raised (see II
                                  Kings 4:18 – 25, 32 – 37).

                        ➨      An Israelite man whose dead body touched Elisha’s bones (see
                                  II Kings 13:21).

               ▸      …several times in the New Testament – by Jesus and His disciples…

                        ➨      The widow of Nain’s son (see Luke 7:11-15).

                        ➨      Jairus’ daughter (see Luke 8:48-55).

                        ➨      Lazarus of Bethany (see John 11:14, 38-44).

                        ➨      The saints in Jerusalem at Jesus’ death (see Matthew 27:50-54).

                        ➨      Tabitha (also known as Dorcas) whom Peter raised (see Acts
                                  9:36-41).

                        ➨      Eutychus whom Paul raised (see Acts 20:7-12).

       ✞      Since it says that “…Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (I Corinthians 15:20 – see also verse 23), that is, He is the first to be resurrected with a glorified body; His resurrection gives us an anticipation of a great harvest of believers also being resurrected in the future! (See Daniel 12:2, 3; Luke 20:35; John 5:29; Romans 6:5; 8:22, 23; I Corinthians 15:22; Philippians 3:21; I Peter 1:3; Revelation 20:4-6).  So, in that sense, Jesus is the resurrection pattern!  And if the dead are not raised, then Christ is not raised – and we are in trouble!…as it says in verses 14 and 15.

We will cover the next four points in Paul’s logical argument in our next blog.

Without The Resurrection – I

March 30, 2018

Image result for photo resurrection

I Corinthians 15:12-19 (Modern King James Version)

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

The Apostle Paul loved to use logic! (See, for example, Romans 5:8, 9; 8:31-39).  He used it very effectively in I Corinthians 15:12 through 19 (Modern King James Version) – our rather lengthy featured Scripture.  But I wanted to present the whole of Paul’s argument concerning the resurrection!  And it is certainly an appropriate passage since Easter (the celebration of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ) is but two days away!

      But if Christ is proclaimed…that He was 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, neither has Christ been raised.  And if Christ has
      not been raised, then our proclamation is worthless, and your faith is also
      worthless.  And we are also found to be false witnesses of God, because we
      testified of God that He raised Christ; whom He did not raise if the dead are
      not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, then Christ is not raised.  And if
      Christ is not raised, your faith is foolish; you are yet in your sins.  Then also
      those that fell asleep in Christ were lost.  If in this life only we have hope in
      Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (Modern King James Version).

Bible scholars generally agree that the epistle to the Romans was written around 55 to 57 AD.  At that time (until toward the end of the reign of Emperor Nero – 54 to 68 AD) Roman persecution was rather rare and sporadic.  But the leading Jews (priests, Pharisees, and Sadducees) were more the instigators of this early persecution against Christians! (See John 9:22; Acts 8:1; 9:1, 2).

      However, we do have the record of the Roman historian Suetonius (c. 69 -122 AD).  He wrote in The Lives of the Twelve Ceasars – “The Life of Claudius” (25.4), “Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome.

       ✞      Some say Chrestus is a Roman misspelling of Christus, a designation for Christ.  Others say it refers to an unknown person living in Rome.  In Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Chrestos (or Chrestus) in the Greek is χρηστός (pronounced khrase-tos’ ) the meaning is, “…fit for use, useful…of persons, kind, benevolent; of God…gracious….

       ✞      Paulus Orosius (345-420 AD) in his Seven Books of History against the Pagans, (7.6), quoted Suetonius, writing:

      In the ninth year of his reign, Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome.  Both
      Josephus and Suetonius record this event, but I prefer, however, the account
      of the latter, who speaks as follows:  “Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome
      because in their resentment against Christ they were continually creating
      disturbances.” (emphasis added).

      Luke gives corroborative testimony in Acts 18:1 and 2:  “…Paul…went to Corinth.  And he found a certain Jew named Aquilla…who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome)….”  Most likely, many other Jews fleeing from Rome had settled in this southern Grecian city (located on the isthmus connecting the Peloponnese with mainland Greece).  It was also in Corinth, that “…the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him to the judgment seat…[of the] proconsul…Gallio…” (Acts 18:12).  So apparently, there was persecution against Jews and Christians at that time and in this area!

Why did I go into this early persecution history?  And what does it have to do with the resurrection of Jesus Christ?  When believers experience hard times in their lives, they often think ahead to the resurrection and dwelling in glory with the Savior forever!  Revelation 21:4 gives us a glimpse of what life in glory will be like:  “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”  But all the promises of the future life are based on the resurrection – Christ’s resurrection as well as ours!

•      The resurrection of believers will effect a great change in Christians!

       ✞      I Corinthians 15:53 – “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  So when this [happens at the resurrection of the righteous – see Revelation 20:4, 5]… ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ” (I Corinthians 15:54).

       ✞      Why is such a dramatic change needed?  I Corinthians 15:50 – “…flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.”  The corruption spoken of here refers to…

               ▸      …the corruption of sin in the pure and holy human life God originally created! (See Genesis 1:27, 31; Ecclesiastes 7:29).

               ▸      …the corruption of spiritual and physical life!  Man was designed to live forever in fellowship with his Creator.  But “…the soul who sins shall die…” (Ezekiel 18:4, 20), spiritually and eternally, as well as physically! (See Genesis 2:17; John 8:24; I Corinthians 15:23; Ephesians 2:1, 12; I John 3;14; Revelation 21:8).

•      I Corinthians 15:22 and 23 – “…in Christ all [believers] shall be made alive [resurrected].  But each in his own order:  Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.

       ✞      The firstfruits were the first of the crops to ripen.  These were harvested and presented to the Lord as a thank offering in anticipation of an abundant harvest to follow!

       ✞      Christ was the first to be resurrected having a glorified body!  His resurrection body was physical (see Luke 24:39), but it was perfectly adapted to eternal spiritual living!

                ▸      He will live forever, never to die again! (See Romans 6:9; Hebrews 7:25).

                ▸      He was not limited as we are in our mortal bodies! (See Luke 24:30, 31: John 20:19, 26; Acts 1:9).

We have not even gotten to our theme – Without The Resurrection!  But in our next blog we’ll examine Paul’s logic in I Corinthians 15:12 through 19.