Corruption Must be Eliminated

January 31, 2018 at 3:51 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, V.I.C.T.O.R.Y. | 6 Comments
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The victory achieved by Christ for His people is sure, but its ultimate fulfillment is yet to be experienced. For that to happen, these things must occur:

V.anity must be expelled.
I.mmortality must be entered into.
and
C.orruption must be eliminated.

Everything physical in this world is corrupt. Because it is subject to the effects of sin, it is decaying. Our bodies are decaying. However, our bodies are important to Christ, so we need to care of them.

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 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.

I Corinthians 15:53-54

If you are a Christian, sin does not terminate your relationship with God. But there is a sense in which it affects your fellowship with Him. It also affects your mental abilities, and it can (and often does) affect your physical health. One day our bodies won’t be subject to sickness, pain, disease, and death, but, in this world, we need to avoid things that lead to corruption and make it so that we can’t serve Christ with energy. Sin is the main thing that does this.

Next time we will see that thankfulness must be expressed.

The Foolishness of God?

January 29, 2018 at 10:41 am | Posted in I Corinthians, Q&A | 2 Comments
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Question: If the Bible is true, how can it mention the terms “foolishness of God” and “weakness of God” in I Corinthians 1:25? God is not foolish or weak.

Answer: I Corinthians 1:25 is part of a type of argument called a rhetorical argument. The Holy Spirit was using the Apostle Paul to point out, from the point of view of the worldly philosophy used by the Greeks of that day, that to preach that Jesus died on the Cross for our salvation would seem “foolish.” The Greeks and the Jews both thought the Christians were “foolish,” and they that they themselves were “wise.” But, if you follow the argument on through Verse 29, you can see that God specifically chose things that seem foolish to people who are proud in their “wisdom” to demonstrate His greatness. Preaching the crucified and resurrected Lord seems silly to people who are proud of their own “wisdom” and works, so God uses this to humble them, so that they will bow down and worship Him alone, admitting that He is wiser than them. That’s one of the failings of the false “works-based” religions, such as Islam, Mormonism, and Roman Catholicism. They do exactly what verse 29 says we must never do: try to “glory” or show off our goodness or our good deeds before God. Any “god” who would accept daily prayers and pilgrimages and fasting and dietary restrictions and so forth as bribes or payments to be placed on the cosmic scales of justice is a false god. Men have invented these false deities, claiming that their gods would accept the “glorying of the flesh (human beings)” in their presence. The real God will not.

The Scandal of Jesus’s Shocking Message and Ministry

January 25, 2018 at 3:39 pm | Posted in Luke | 2 Comments
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Jesus began to teach in the synagogues and to get famous. Then He went back to His home town.

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

Luke 4:16

It was common at the local synagogues for a visiting rabbi to take on the task of teaching the week’s lesson.

And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

Luke 4:17-19

The Gospel is for everyone, but Jesus came to preach it – during His earthly ministry – specifically to the brokenhearted, the captives, the blind, and the bruised.

And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.

Luke 4:20

The Jewish scholars in attendance and even the regular congregants familiar with the writings of the prophets would have recognized the passage that we call Isaiah 61:1-2. You can almost sense their anticipation, as they wait for what comes next: “Okay, Jesus of Nazareth, what are you going to do with that text?”

And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

Luke 4:21

How astonished they must have been! “He’s saying that prophecy is all about him!”

And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?

Luke 4:22

Perhaps they thought, “That’s absurd! We KNOW him! He can’t be the Messiah!”

People who think they’re okay don’t want to hear about a Savior, but those who are hopeless, helpless, and huntedTHEY want to hear about a Savior.

But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.

Luke 4:25-26

To emphasize Jesus’s ministry to the outcasts of Jewish society, He used the example of God’s ministry through the prophet Elijah to someone who was a: (1) woman; (2) gentile; (3) widow. Then, He pointed to Elisha’s healing of a gentile leper.

And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.

Luke 4:27

What was the reaction of the synagogue’s leaders to the kindness and compassion and mercy and goodness of God? They wanted to kill Him!

And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way,

Luke 4:28-30

And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not.

Luke 4:33-35

We start to get a picture very early on in Jesus’s ministry of one of the reasons that the Jewish religious leaders were so offended by Him. He advocated helping gentiles, women, widows, lepers, and demon-possessed people. To whom would He minister next? “Before you know it,” they must have thought, “Jesus will want to save gang members, pedophiles, people with different skin colors, serial killers, maybe even liberal politicians and activists!”

Immortality Must be Entered Into

January 22, 2018 at 4:23 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, V.I.C.T.O.R.Y. | 8 Comments
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The victory that Christ has achieved for us means that, as we live for Him in this temporal world:

V.anity must be expelled.
and
I.mmortality must be entered into.

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 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. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 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.

I Corinthians 15:53-58

Christ died to redeem the souls of His people. However, our bodies are important to Him also, so we need to take care of them – while remembering that something supernatural will have to happen to them if they are to be changed from mortal to immortal. Just as our souls have received eternal life, so will our bodies be given an immortal state when they are glorified at the return of Christ. Things that are spiritually empty – lacking true value – not impacting eternity – not advancing the Kingdom of Christ – need to be exchanged. This is one reason why physical exercise (which keeps our bodies healthy and in better condition to serve our Lord) is better than playing video games. It is why reading a book (which strengthens our mortal mind) is better than four hours of snapchatting cat videos.

Next time we will see that corruption must be eliminated.

Vanity Must be Expelled

January 12, 2018 at 3:28 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, V.I.C.T.O.R.Y. | 7 Comments
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For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 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. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 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.

I Corinthians 15:53-58

Victory in this life is never “final.” The winner of the national championship this year will have to start from scratch next year. “All-time world records” eventually get broken. Nations rise, and nations fall. Even in our personal lives, the joy of overcoming problems is a temporary joy, replaced in time by the onset of some new problem. However, as Christians, we are called to live “victorious” Christian lives, winning the battle against our three main enemies: the devil, the world, and our as-yet-unredeemed flesh. One day, Jesus, Who won the victory over these on the Cross and in His Resurrection, will manifest this victory so that we who are in Him will experience that victory fully, and now, in this life, although we can’t achieve a “final” victory, we can live more and more victoriousLY each day.

Recently I studied and taught through the book of I Corinthians, and one thing that surprised me was how much of it is devoted to dealing with our physical bodies. One reason for this is that an early attempt at corrupting Christianity, known as Gnosticism, was prevalent on the scene during the Apostle Paul’s ministry. Gnostics were attracted to Christianity because Christianity does in fact emphasize the spiritual. Gnostics had the idea that spiritual things were good and material things were bad, but they failed (or refused) to see that true Christianity stresses the importance of the physical as well as the spiritual.

A superficial and vain view of the importance of our physical bodies must be expelled in favor of a balanced realization that our physical, material bodies are important to God in this life, and that He has plans for them in the life to come, if we are to truly live victoriously on our way to the ultimate victory which is yet to come.

Next time we will see that the second step to victory is entering into immortality.

Old Testament Prayer

January 5, 2018 at 10:59 am | Posted in Q&A | Leave a comment
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Question: In Exodus Moses talks to God and relays messages back and forth between God and the people. Did people in the Old Testament pray in the way that we do?

Answer: That’s a really good question that forces us to think about the nature of prayer. We know that people prayed in the Old Testament, even before Exodus. Two notable examples are Abraham in Genesis 20:17 and Abraham’s servant in Genesis 24:12-14. After Exodus the Old Testament is replete with all kinds of prayers in all kinds of situations. Many of the Psalms are in the form of prayers, although sin could always serve as a hindrance to prayer (Psalm 66:18).

It is possible that in Exodus 2:24-25 when God heard the “groaning” of the Israelites in their bondage in Egypt that this groaning was a type of call to God for help, but it is also possible that, after hundreds of years in Egypt, the people had forgotten about Abraham’s God and did not practice prayer. It may be that through the ministry of Moses and the priesthood the practice of praying to the one true God was reinstated.

Your reference to Moses, though, is especially astute, because it reminds us that, while Moses interceded with God on behalf of the people, under the New Testament we have a better Intercessor (Romans 8:34) and Mediator (I Timothy 2:5) that allows us to call upon the Lord in His Name freely whenever we want (Hebrews 4:14-16).

The Bottom of the Ninth

January 3, 2018 at 3:54 pm | Posted in Common Expressions | 2 Comments
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Today is the 9th anniversary of The Deep End. One thing that brought me a great deal of joy during this past year (2017) was seeing the Houston Astros win the World Series for the first time. As a lifelong fan, this was very satisfying. Watching, talking about, and reading about baseball has caused me to realize how many baseball expressions or sayings have made their way into our daily vocabulary where they apply to situations which don’t necessarily have anything to do with the sport. For example, when someone does a great job successfully completing a project, we might say that “he hit that one out of the park.” A gentleman approaching a young lady in order to try to get to know her better and perhaps get her phone number, only to find himself rebuffed, is said to have “struck out” with her. Someone sacrificially and willingly enduring a hard time for the benefit of his friends, family, or company might be applauded for “taking one for the team” (just as a batter who leans into, instead of away from, an inside pitch so that the ball smacks him in the shoulder, allowing him to take first base and extend the inning, embodies the same phrase).

The reason I bring this up, is that when I first started teaching adult Sunday School, in addition to teaching chapter by chapter through books of the Bible, I would include a “common expression” from the Bible as a bonus lesson each Sunday morning. Some of these, such as “a fly in the ointment” and “the handwriting on the wall” originated in Scripture and became common idioms. Others, such as “a little bird told me” and “you can’t get blood from a turnip” originated elsewhere, but came to mind as I saw something similar in the Bible. I also began taking requests from the class to see if anybody had a suggestion for a colloquialism that might come up in conversation which could then be steered into an opportunity to share God’s Word. This produced posts like “Get a Life” and “Over a Barrel.”

In honor of the beginning of the 10th year that the Lord has allowed me to write about the Bible here on The Deep End, I have listed links to the posts under the category “Common Expressions:”

1. Don’t Get Caught Up the Creek Without Your Oars (Acts 17:1-3; I Thessalonians 1:8-9)
2. Birds of a Feather (Psalm 84:3-4)
3. As Good as Dead (Genesis 20-21)
4. Getting Your Goat (Daniel 8:5-8; Zechariah 10:3; Matthew 25:31-46)
5. Don’t Beat around the Bush (Exodus 3-4)
6. Forget-Me-Nots (I Corinthians 11:24; Jeremiah 2:32)
7. Thrown to the Wolves (Ezekiel 22:27; Habakkuk 1:8; Zephaniah 3:3; Matthew 7:15, 10:16; Luke 10:3; Acts 20:29)
8. The Handwriting on the Wall (Daniel 5)
9. A Leopard Can’t Change His Spots (Jeremiah 13:23; Acts 8)
10. Kick the Bucket (Acts 26:14)
11. Stand Your Ground (II Samuel 23:11-12)
12. He Was Beside Himself (Mark 3:21; II Corinthians 5:13; Acts 26:24-25)
13. Prepare to Meet Your Maker (Amos 4-5)
14. Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
15. Pining Away (Ezekiel 33:9-10)
16. Over a Barrel (I Kings 17)
17. Beware of Dog (Philippians 3:2)
18. Eye to Eye (Isaiah 52:7-8)
19. Made a Scapegoat (Leviticus 16:7-22; Isaiah 53:11; John 1:29, 11:25-26, 19:16; I John 2:2)
20. Get a Life (John 14:6; Romans 6:23, 8:6; Ephesians 2:1-2; Matthew 10:39; I John 5:11-13)
21. You Can’t Get Blood from a Turnip (Genesis 4:1-5) *
22. Lord Willing (James 4:13-15; II Peter 3:9)
23. Face to Face (Ezekiel 18-20)
24. Show and Tell (Deuteronomy 32:7)
25. Nothing New Under the Sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10)
26. You the Man! (II Samuel 12:1-7; Psalm 51:1-7)
27. Innocent Bystanders (Acts 22:17-21; II Timothy 1:9)
28. The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men (Ecclesiastes 8:13, 9:3-12; Genesis 2:17, 3:5-6; I Corinthians 15:26-26)
29. A Fly in the Ointment (Ecclesiastes 10:1)
30. His Heart Was in the Right Place (Ecclesiastes 10:2)
31. A Little Bird Told Me (Ecclesiastes 10:11, 20)
32. Throw Down (Jeremiah 1:4-10)
33. Hard-Headed (Proverbs 21:29; Ephesians 6:17; Psalm 119:5; Ecclesiastes 8:1)
34. Sticks and Stones (Numbers 15:30-36; I Kings 17:8-12; James 3:6-8; Proverbs 12:18, 13:2, 18:21, 25:18, 26:21)
35. Won’t Hold Water (Jeremiah 2:13)
36. Don’t Let ’em Give You the Slip (Hebrews 1:13-14, 2:1; Titus 1:9)
37. When Pigs Fly (a.k.a. Deviled Ham) (Matthew 8:28-34)
38. Flesh and Blood (Hebrews 2:14; Ephesians 6:12; I Corinthians 15:50; Galatians 1:16; Matthew 16:17; Leviticus 17:11)
39. Think Again (II Corinthians 10:7)
40. Hindsight is 20/20 (Jeremiah 29:11; Nahum 2:8; John 16:33; Luke 7:19, 9:59-62; II Timothy 4:10)
41. All Dressed up and Nowhere to Go (Ephesians 4:1, 6:10-15; Genesis 5:24)
42. Cross-Eyed (Mark 15:29-32)
43. Up to Spec (Exodus 35-38)
44. This Is Going to Hurt Me More than It’s Going to Hurt You (Hebrews 12:11, 15; Ephesians 4:30; Deuteronomy 23:13)
45. The Powers that Be (Romans 13:1)
46. Take the Good with the Bad (II Corinthians 10:5)

* most-viewed post in category

The Temptation of the Last Adam

January 2, 2018 at 2:20 pm | Posted in Luke | Leave a comment
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The first Adam (Adam from Genesis, the first human being) failed to obey God. When he was tempted by Satan, and tested, he failed the test. The “last Adam” (Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God) was tempted by Satan also, but He passed the test with flying colors. The contrast is even more striking when we list the advantages that the first Adam had alongside the disadvantages that the last Adam had.

The first Adam’s temptation occurred in a garden paradise. He had access to the unmediated presence of God and ultimate security and safety. The last’s Adam’s temptation took place in a stark and daunting wilderness, a land ravaged by 2000 years of the effects of sin, a land of rocky crags, treacherous pits and ravines, venomous serpents and scorpions, and wild untamed beasts.

The first Adam’s temptation occurred in a place of plentiful nourishment, where both food and water were easily accessible. The last Adam’s temptation occurred after 40 days of fasting and desperate thirst.

The first Adam had the benefit of a helper. Admittedly, Eve proved more of a hindrance than a help, but she still provided human companionship. The last Adam was utterly deprived of human friendship and succor when His temptation began.

Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

Luke 4:2-4 (emphasis added)

I sincerely hope that you are regularly reading the Word of God – especially if you are a Christian – but here Jesus reminded us that, beyond merely reading it, we are supposed to be LIVING by it.

And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.

Luke 4:5-6 (emphasis added)

Here, Satan tempted Jesus with a shortcut to glory. We must soberly ask ourselves: What brings more glory to God – quick blessings or perseverance through suffering?

If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

Luke 4:7-8 (emphasis added)

Many celebrity preachers like to make themselves out to be big bad devil-fighters, blustering about how much they hate him and how he won’t intimidate them and how they’ll trounce him in spiritual battle, but Jesus rebuked Satan with a simple command to, “Get thee behind me.” The way to defeat the devil is to stay close to God. Satan isn’t afraid of the sheep. He’s afraid of the Shepherd. Jesus reminded him that God shall not receive a second-rate worship. He demands our complete and total allegiance and service. Satan is prideful, deceitful, and divisive. He is the one who loves impure mixtures.

And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

Luke 4:9-12 (emphasis added)

Satan partially quoted Psalm 91:11-12 when tempting Christ, but he left out the phrase “in all thy ways.” Our ways are not to fly through the air – at least not without a plane or a parachute!


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