Yesterday Must be Eclipsed

March 20, 2018 at 11:58 am | Posted in I Corinthians, V.I.C.T.O.R.Y. | 2 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;
I.mmortality must be entered into;
C.orruption must be eliminated;
T.hankfulness must be expressed;
O.pportunity must be embraced;
R.eality must be encountered;
and
Yesterday must be eclipsed.

The past should not be ignored, but it must be kept in the shadow of what is to come if we are to be victorious. Past failures and sins can’t be denied, but they can be covered with the light of the Truth about 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 15:58

We must be steadfast, meaning faithful, and unmovable, meaning stubborn about standing on the Word of God. We must be abounding – going further AND farther – challenging ourselves to do more for Christ, and to overcome our fears and the things that make us uncomfortable. We must know that what we are doing for Him is not vain – it does make a difference in eternity.

This is the antidote to the worldly philosophy – especially highlighted in Ecclesiastes – that nothing really, ultimately matters – that what happened before is going to happen again. No, the past is in the past, and it must be eclipsed by our hope in the future victory and in the battle for victory that we are waging right now.

 

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Reality Must be Encountered

February 20, 2018 at 4:01 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, V.I.C.T.O.R.Y. | 3 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;
I.mmortality must be entered into;
C.orruption must be eliminated;
T.hankfulness must be expressed;
O.pportunity must be embraced;
and
Reality must be encountered.

The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

I Corinthians 15:56

Face the facts: Death is in the world. It is coming for every one of us. It is here because of sinOUR sin. And our sin is shown clearly by the Law.

That’s the strongest effect of the Law – it highlights our sin. We need to face that fact, and we need to encounter it – deal with it, talk to our friends and others about it. The opportunities that people have to trust Christ – and the opportunities we have to work for Him – are limited. The Gospel is the Good News, but the Good News isn’t good news without the bad news. You can’t get the victory over something you’re not willing to face.

Next time we will see that yesterday must be eclipsed.

Opportunity Must be Embraced

February 14, 2018 at 2:34 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, V.I.C.T.O.R.Y. | 4 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;
I.mmortality must be entered into;
C.orruption must be eliminated;
T.hankfulness must be expressed;
and
Opportunity must be embraced.

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

I Corinthians 15:55

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 15:57-58

The fear of death, combated by thankfulness to God, gives rise to the opportunity for faithfulness and service. The “work of the Lord” is work that always needs to be done, and not grudgingly – like a kid having to clean up his room – but joyfully, like packing to go on vacation. A child might be “willing” to do his homework, but he will EMBRACE the opportunity to ride a a rollercoaster (even if it means waiting in line for an hour). Knowing that we have the opportunity to win in this life ought to make fighting in the fight joyful.

Next time we will see that reality must be encountered.

Thankfulness Must be Expressed

February 6, 2018 at 4:33 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, V.I.C.T.O.R.Y. | 5 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.
C.orruption must be eliminated.
and
Thankfulness must be expressed.

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 15:57

The quickest way to lose our thankfulness, and to be discontented and dissatisfied, is to stop giving thanks. God does not owe us the victory. It is a gift of His grace, and He is perfectly entitled to our gratitude.

It has become very fashionable recently for famous athletes to thank God after winning a game.

athlete giving thanks to God.png

I won’t pretend to know how sincere they are when doing this, nor what their particular ideas of “God” may be in each case, but I can’t fault them for the idea. It certainly makes sense to give thanks to Him, but, if you are thankful to God (and should we ever be!), then don’t dilute it by saying, “Thank God!” flippantly, or by saying, “Thank God it’s Friday,” when God is the last thing on your mind as you enter the weekend, or by saying, “Thank You, Jesus, I thought that fool would never shut up!” when you are exasperated. Make sure you are sincere, but, being sincere, DO be expressive. Thankfulness reminds us that our victory is not really ours, but His.

Next time we will see that opportunity must be embraced.

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.

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.

Up from the Grave with the Knows!

November 20, 2017 at 4:41 pm | Posted in I Corinthians | 8 Comments
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Some of the church members in Corinth were denying the bodily resurrection of believers. This was the last major problem that Paul addressed in his letter to them, which we know as I Corinthians.

Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?

I Corinthians 15:12

How had this error infiltrated the church? The Greeks did not believe in resurrection, as shown in the teachings of Gnosticism. Other notable groups which rejected the idea of bodily resurrection included pagan religions, the Jewish sect known as the Sadducees, and the followers of the heretic, Marcion. The reason that the Holy Spirit had Paul begin his discussion with Jesus’s Resurrection is that the Corinthian Christians couldn’t have really become Christians without believing that Jesus Himself had risen from the grave. They would still be “Know-Nots” if they did not know this basic tenet of the Gospel message.

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

I Corinthians 15:1-4

After addressing their denial of resurrection, Paul went on to give a demonstration of the evidence for resurrection. Jesus had appeared after His death in His own body to Peter and the 12 Apostles (v. 5), and had even appeared to over 500 brethren at one time, most of whom were still alive when Paul wrote this (v. 6). Jesus had appeared to James (v. 7) and even to Paul himself, and nobody had been more changed by Christ’s Resurrection than Paul.

But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:

I Corinthians 15:13

For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:

I Corinthians 15:16

After dealing with the denial and the demonstration of resurrection, Paul addressed the drama of resurrection.

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

I Corinthians 15:20

“Firstfruits” is both an agricultural reference, and a reference to the Old Testament practice of giving to God the first part of a crop as a dedicatory sacrifice. Christ came from the grave (the ground) first, and we who are in Him shall be the “crop” which God has promised to bless with growth and harvest afterwards.

For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

I Corinthians 15:21-22

Here we see the principle of “federal headship.” Just as Adam was our accurate representative as a disobedient sinner, so shall Christ be the accurate representative of obedience and righteousness for all who are in Him.

But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.

I Corinthians 15:23

Christ’s Resurrection was a dramatic victory over sin, death, and the grave, and it has eschatological consequences, too.

The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

I Corinthians 15:26-28

This is our victory over death in Christ. Nothing shall be lost for the victorious God – even our decayed and sin-sick and death-sleeping bodies – shall be redeemed and regenerated.

In addition to the denial, demonstration, and drama of resurrection, Paul had to make sure and emphasize the demands of resurrection. First of all, the knowledge of our future resurrection should motivate us to be baptized.

Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?

I Corinthians 15:29

Second, the knowledge of our future resurrection should motivate us to endure persecution.

And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.

I Corinthians 15:30-32

Third, future bodily resurrection demands that we live a holy life and avoid sin.

Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

I Corinthians 15:34

Fourth, it demands that we be prepared for Christ to come back.

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

I Corinthians 15:51-52

Fifth, it forces us to remember that a life spent serving Christ is not in vain.

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 15:58

Children Need to Know that Death Is Real

March 8, 2017 at 2:20 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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Last time we talked about a key Bible theme that must not be ignored by parents when teaching the Bible to our children. In fact, it must be emphasized. Here is another:

2. Death is real.

It is also scary.

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Hebrews 9:27

Death should be scary because it is a result of sin, and God absolutely hates sin.

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Genesis 2:17

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Romans 5:12

Sadly, when we teach the standard “children’s” Bible stories – baby Moses in the Nile, the parting of the Red Sea, Jonah and the big fish/whale, Daniel in the lions’ den – we tend sanitize them and gloss over their fuller meanings, when, if we look at them faithfully, the fact of death comes up organically and realistically.

Look at the story of Noah’s ark, for example. What must we do to make this a happy children’s fairy tale? Well, to start with, you have to skip the prologue.

And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

Genesis 6:7

And most of the actual story, for that matter.

And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in.

Genesis 7:16

All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.

Genesis 7:22

To make it what our modern culture thinks of as “child-friendly,” you have to limit it mainly to just talking about a few animals, and cut straight to the rainbow.

I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:

Genesis 9:13-14

And even then you have to be careful about reading too far!

And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

Genesis 9:15

The story of Noah’s ark is not a Disney story. It’s not like the man who tied balloons to his house so he could float away from death to a magical place.

Noah and his family were not in there petting kitty cats and singing rain rain go away, little Japheth wants to play. They were probably covering their ears against the screams of terror outside… and they were resting wholly in one thing and one thing only for their salvation: God and His Word.

Have you ever told the children that God has entrusted into your care that the only reason Dad and Mom can laugh and smile and play with them – the only reason that they are looking forward to getting older instead of dreading it – is because Jesus has defeated death for all – BUT ONLY FOR ALL – those who have trusted Him?

Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

I Corinthians 15:24-26

Next time I will discuss another difficult truth that we must teach our kids.

Flesh and Blood

May 11, 2015 at 2:05 pm | Posted in Common Expressions, Hebrews | 3 Comments
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Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

Hebrews 2:14

It was important for Jesus to become flesh and blood, so He could die and break the power of death and the power of the devil. Angels aren’t flesh and blood; they’re spirit beings.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Ephesians 6:12

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

I Corinthians 15:50

For this reason, if we are to inherit eternal life, we must be “born again,” and, in this second birth, we must be “born of the Spirit.”

To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:

Galatians 1:16

The Apostle Paul always tried to remember not to be proud even though He was elected by God to do great things. He did not want to glory in his flesh.

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 16:17

Jesus told Peter that he was blessed because his confession of faith was based on listening to God, not just on what he had seen with his flesh-and-blood eyes.

For the life of the flesh [is] in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.

Leviticus 17:11

The Bible tells us that that thousands of years ago God told people that the life is in the blood. George Washington died after being “bled” as a means of healing, even though there was a Bible right there on his bedside table that would have refuted this so-called “science.”

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