According To Scripture: Study #1 On The Resurrection

According to Scripture

I said, a few months ago, that I’d begin a Bible Study series on 1 Corinthians 15 in April. Okay, it’s April 30, so I’m technically starting in April. Circumstances just delayed things a bit, and (to be honest) I still question whether or not my readers actually want a Bible Study. Nevertheless, I believe the topic of Christ’s resurrection needs much more attention than it receives, and that belief compels me to walk you through this chapter.

Let’s look at the first section of the chapter today, and get a basic overview of its argument. Next week we can break it down in more detail, but for now I simply want to acquaint you with the passage and stimulate your thinking a bit. I really hope you’ll use the Comments Section or The Outspoken TULIP’s Facebook Page to ask questions and/or share your observations based on the text.

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. ~~1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (ESV)

As you come to this chapter, you need to remember that Paul has just spent 14 chapters addressing a wide variety of problems in the Corinthian church. These problems stemmed from a deplorable lack of unity within the church. Now Paul, in addressing yet another of their factions (namely a group that denies the resurrection), teaches doctrine for the purpose of promoting unity.

Paul draws attention back to the Gospel that he personally preached to them when he founded that church. In verses 3-4, he reiterates that basic Gospel, which includes Christ’s resurrection. These two verses make it clear that the doctrine of the resurrection is necessary in presenting the Gospel.

Yet typical Gospel presentations in today’s evangelical culture virtually ignore the resurrection, instead emphasizing substitutionary atonement.  As vital as it is to understand that Jesus died for our sins, however, it’s just as vital to embrace the fact that He has risen from the dead.

Therefore, Paul spends verses 5-11 enumerating various eyewitnesses to Christ’s bodily resurrection. As we’ll learn when we examine those verses more closely, he names those eyewitnesses to establish that Jesus really did rise from the dead. He proactively refutes those who would relegate the resurrection to mere symbolism by providing verifiable evidence of Christ’s resurrection, and consequently of the resurrection that believers will experience.

As you read 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, what points stand out to you? How do those points further Paul’s argument? Do they change your perspective on the Gospel? Would their teaching on Christ’s resurrection have an effect on how you present the Gospel? Does this section raise any questions that you’d like me to explore as we go through this Bible Study? Again, please use the Comments Section or the Facebook Page to offer your thoughts and questions on this Study. We’ll resume this Bible Study next Monday, Lord willing.

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What I Don’t Know And Who I DO Know

Why me?

People usually ask that question when something bad happens to them, implying that they don’t deserve the calamity. But I’ve been asking that same question in reference to my salvation. Why would the Lord choose me, a stubborn sinner full of pride and self-love, to receive His wonderful gift of salvation? Oh, I suppose I could flatter myself that He knew I’d be faithful to serve Him (or something silly like that), but I kinda know better after 64 years of living with myself. In truth, I haven’t any idea why He saved me.

I don’t know a lot of things, actually. For all my study of God’s Word, I see more and more that the work of the Holy Spirit far exceeds my intellectual abilities. How does the Spirit speak through the pages of Scripture? I can’t explain it.

But I know the Lord Jesus Christ. And because I know Him, I know He’ll keep His promises to me. Again, I don’t know  why He promises me an eternity of worshiping Him in heaven, or why He will grant me His inheritance, but I know I can trust Him to fulfill those glorious promises. And today’s hymn encourages me to rely only in Who He is.

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Saturday Sampler: April 22 — April 28

Spring Sampler

The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood reports on the disturbing Assembly Bill certain to become California law. Colin Smothers’ article, Banning Christian Orthodoxy in California, serves as a sobering warning to those who stand for Biblical principles.

Even though Steven Lawson writes Is It Necessary to Preach Divine Wrath? with his fellow pastors in mind, his article on the Ligonier blog also applies to us in our evangelism efforts. In this era of trying to make the Gospel palatable, we need this reminder to present truth in its entirety.

I always look forward to Mondays and Thursdays because I know Leslie A will be posting on Growing 4 Life. No disappointment this week! Please read How Do I Respond to My Enemies? as another example of her Biblical wisdom.

Jordan Standridge of The Cripplegate takes the pope to task in Five Reasons Why Pope Francis’ Answer Was Demonic. Standridge doesn’t conceal his anger. And he shouldn’t! Assuring anyone that an atheist gained entrance to heaven will lead countess souls to hell, all for the sake of this man’s popularity. We should all be as outraged as Standridge!

Go over to excatholic4christ for Tom’s post, Roman Catholics and Astrology: “Am I a Taurus or an Aries?” To my dismay, I’ve also heard evangelicals talk about horoscopes as if they provide nothing more than harmless entertainment. Let me be clear: astrology is strictly pagan at best, and a possible gateway to demonic activity. Stay away from it!

Why Christian Blogs Aren’t What They Used To Be by Tim Challies examines the growing trend of vanishing Christian blogs. He offers a few intriguing suggestions to explain the movement away from blogging. But his closing paragraph, typed in italics, is worth the whole article for its encouragement to continue blogging.

In her own unique style (which I absolutely love), Michelle Lesley details Scriptural evidence that God’s Not Like “Whatever, Dude,” About The Way He’s Approached in Worship. Michelle addresses some extremely important problems in contemporary church life with this article. For that reason I strongly recommend you read it.

In his most recent blog post for Parking Space 23, Greg Peterson begins his series on Reasons to Study the Book of  Revelation by introducing us to the value of eschatology. I love his perspective that the book of Revelation is essentially about Jesus Christ.

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Flashback Friday: We’ve Been Warned

Martyrs BibleIn light of California’s proposed bill that will illegalize any form of suggesting that sexual orientation should or can be changed, I thought this article from two years ago might remind The Outspoken TULIP readers that we can still trust the Lord in times of persecution.

We’ve all had history teachers that spoke in dry monotones and refused to allow for any class participation. Sadly, those teachers perpetuate  the myth that history is dry, boring and irrelevant to life here and now. On top of that, many people (including evangelicals) consider the Bible to be equally dry, boring and irrelevant. Pardon me, ladies, but we really need to open our eyes to see how both Scripture and history prepare us for a future that is nearer than we think.

For example, let’s take a look at Matthew 10:16-23, which describes Jesus sending the Twelve out to cast out demons, heal the sick and preach the Gospel to the lost sheep of Israel. Although most of His instructions were specific to those twelve men, I believe the last section applies to all Christians. And after last June’s SCOTUS infamous decision to legalize same sex marriage, which obviously goes against the Lord’s true design for marriage, His words take on a more vivid gravity.

 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. ~~Matthew 10:16-23 (ESV)

Do you understand what I’m getting at? Simply put, those of us who take God’s Word seriously will face backlash much like the Reformation martyrs did. If those of us who claim to be Christians remain faithful to Scripture, the world will naturally hate us. We represent a holy God Who refuses to compromise His righteous standards and does not bow to any human cultural invention. Our  courts, influenced by media propaganda and liberal politics, may attempt to redefine marriage and make public bathrooms gender-neutral, but the King of kings and Lord of lords holds fast to His intent and expects His followers to remain loyal to Him.

The LGBTQ community, of course, is only one of many ways humanity rebels against God’s authority. Over the last 2000 years, Biblical Christians have suffered various forms of persecution ranging from mild censure to violent martyrdom. Men like Wycliffe, Hus and Tyndale, for example,  bore the wrath of the Roman Catholic church because they called people back to Scripture and denounced the false doctrines that still overtake that church. In our time, the legalization of same sex marriage just happens to be the issue that will usher in the next wave of persecution. But church history informs us that Christians have always incurred the world’s hatred simply by our fidelity to Christ.

Actually, Scripture itself issues the warning that faithfulness to its teachings will guarantee persecution. Jesus taught clearly that the world would reject His disciples (in all generations) because it rejects Him.

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 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. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ ~~John 15:18-25 (ESV)

As the legalization of same sex marriage brings persecution on Christians who refuse to condone it, we must remember that the Lord warned us of the high cost of following Him. Yes, I grieve over the  loss of religious liberty in this country, and I do feel frightened. But I’ve always understood that following Jesus would most likely have painful implications. Reading passages like Matthew 10:16-23 and studying church history merely reminds me that I’ll be in good company  as I suffer reproach for Him.

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The Forgotten Reason For Salvation

Holiness

Lately I’ve encountered a few unrelated comments about sanctification being God’s will for Christians. The Bible says as much. The first clause of 1 Thessalonians 4:3 reads, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification…”

In context, 1 Thessalonians 4:3 relates to avoiding sexual immorality, and certainly that’s an important aspect of sanctification. But sanctification extends far beyond our sexual behavior, doesn’t it? The Lord calls His people to be holy in all areas of life, and He even supplies the grace we need to do so.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. ~~Titus 2:11-14 (ESV)

Okay,  I realize I quote that passage frequently on this blog. It actually comes up in my prayer time every day as I confess my sins and pray for help in resisting temptation. This passage reminds me that God’s grace in saving me had a greater purpose than merely keeping me out of hell. The Lord gave me His saving grace so that He might purify me as His possession.

21st Century evangelicals have grown accustomed to viewing Christianity as a means to gratify themselves. I have fallen into that deceptive attitude more than once.  So naturally we rarely think about grace having the purpose of glorifying God. Holiness sounds fine in the lyrics of Contemporary Christian Music, but we don’t seriously think He saved us for the purpose of sanctifying us.

Maybe we’d better start thinking seriously.

God’s will isn’t nearly as much about our earthly comfort and happiness as it is about our sanctification.  Why? Because in our sanctification, we increasingly grow to reflect His character. We prepare for an eternity of giving Him the praise, honor and glory that rightfully belongs to Him.

Only as holy vessels, cleansed and purified from the pollutants of sin and worldliness, can we give the Lord the quality of worship that He deserves. He wills our sanctification so that we can properly and freely offer Him pure worship. Consequently, we must follow Him into sanctification, delighting to do His will.

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It Depends On Who Gets The Glory

Old Fashioned Girl

Our first installment of the 1 Corinthians 15 Bible Study is on its way. At present, I’m working through verses 1-11, sticking my nose in some commentaries, taking notes and fishing through cross-references. Don’t worry: my husband advised me against quoting a lot of my sources this time around, and I plan to follow his counsel.

I mention my preparation today because John MacArthur’s notes on verse 2 brought up the topic of false converts, using the parable of the talents as a cross-reference. This parable is obviously too lengthy to quote in a blog post, so I encourage you to click this link or grab your Bible and read it, even if it’s familiar to you.

I had never made the connection that the wicked servant who buried his one talent had never really been saved, but look with me at his interaction with his master:

24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ ~~Matthew 25:24-30 (ESV)

This man honestly thought he served his master, just as false converts honestly think they serve Jesus. But he refused to use the talent because he knew it would profit his master instead of him.

Before I continue, let me remind you that parables shouldn’t be read as strict allegories, with every detail representative of something. Therefore I don’t believe it matters what the talent represents. It could be anything a false convert believes the Lord has given him or her. Jesus’ point is merely that a false convert cares more about selfish gain than about honoring the Lord.

This wicked servant cheated his master because he had a warped idea of his master’s character. Yes, the master would benefit from how his servants invested his money. But as you saw by reading the entire parable, the servants who used their talents wisely received ample rewards. Clearly, the wicked servant didn’t really know his master, and consequently his behavior showed that he had no desire to honor him.

What about us? Do we seek to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, or do we use what He gives us to bring honor to Him? Do we accuse Him of unfairness for accepting the praise for our hard work, or are we filled with wonder and adoration that He promises to reward us for simply obeying Him? Our heart attitudes might reveal whether or not we genuinely belong to Him.

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Jehovah’s Witnesses, Speech Defects And The Appropriate Expression Of Anger

TypingHow do you respond to false doctrine?  I get angry! Perhaps that’s why God gave me a speech defect that pretty much prevents me from talking to people face-to-face. Writing seems a better way to harness my outrage when I see people perverting truth.

I admit that when John and I wheel around Boston, I want to engage the Jehovah’s Witnesses who swarm all over heavily populated areas in conversation, if only to hinder them from spreading their lies to those who might believe them. John, knowing my explosive temper, wisely steers me past them before I can discredit the Gospel. He frustrates me by doing so, but he’s right.

Anger at false doctrine isn’t wrong, but it can be expressed in very wrong ways. So for me, blogging best gives me opportunity to condemn false teaching without dishonoring the very Christ that I seek to honor. It doesn’t reach the Jehovah’s Witnesses that overrun Downtown Crossing, the Boston Common or South Station, but apparently they’re not my mission field. My anger should drive me to pray for others to witness to them, and to write articles addressing their heresies.

The Watchtower Society teaches that Jesus is a god, and maybe the Archangel Michael, thereby denying His deity. Yeah, this blasphemy infuriates me! When someone blatantly denies that Jesus is fully God and fully Man, any true Christian should feel indignant. Jehovah’s Witnesses grossly distort the essential nature of our precious Lord and Savior.

Of course, they also teach salvation by works, just like every other false religion. If you read Galatians, you’ll notice Paul’s fury toward anyone who teaches that sort of doctrine. If we feel no anger at Jehovah’s Witnesses for propagating this damning counterfeit gospel, we need to examine how seriously we take the true Gospel.

Beneath our righteous anger at the lies of Watchtower, we must have compassion for the people trapped in it. Many of them sincerely want to serve the Lord, but their leaders lock them into an evil system that deceives them. We should grieve over their imprisonment.

As John and I wheel around Boston, I pray for the Jehovah’s Witnesses mounted in their strategic places. I pray that knowledgeable Christians who master their tempers better than I do will show them Who Jesus is and how He brings salvation to all who believe in Him. Perhaps I should also pray that I can write articles to equip my readers to proclaim the Gospel to Jehovah’s Witnesses. My speech defect and unbridled anger doesn’t have to render me mute.

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The False Comfort Of Pope Francis

Thoughtful BoyIf you haven’t yet seen the video of Pope Francis assuring a grieving child that his atheist father went to heaven (because said dad allowed all four of his children to be baptized), I suggest that you Google it. Not because it should soften your stance on either the Roman Catholic Church or on Christ’s claim to be the only means of salvation (John 14:6), but because it puts forth a question that Bible-believing Christians absolutely must face as we console the bereaved.

Obviously, the pope failed to give the little boy either a Catholic answer or a Biblical one. I’d guess that many bloggers (both Christian and Catholic) are burning up their keyboards explaining why this pope erred in his response to the boy. As well they ought! But I want to explore an angle of this situation that probably hasn’t received the attention it requires.

As I watched the video, I cried. Since my dad died when I was 10 and my sister was 7, I understand some of that little boy’s heartache and confusion. He loved his daddy, and he desperately needs some way of coping with a loss that he can’t understand. Although I care passionately about sound theology, I also passionately believe that heartbroken children must be treated with compassion, and in age-appropriate ways. So despite my manifold disagreements with the Catholic Church in general and Pope Francis in particular, I appreciate the man’s tenderness toward a hurting child.

Alas, compassion never excuses perverting truth. And the truth is that good works don’t admit anyone into heaven. Pope Francis offered that poor little boy a false assurance about his father’s eternal state. Far worse, he reinforced the erroneous notion that salvation rewards human goodness. As a result, he inoculated the child (as well as everyone else in the audience) against the truth that salvation comes through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Pope Francis should have allowed for the slight possibility of a deathbed conversion, but then he should have moved the focus to God’s perfect justice. As a just Judge, the Lord deals with each person justly, and according to His eternal purposes. Although we lack the prerogative to make a definitive declaration about anyone’s eternal destiny,  we can encourage those who grieve to trust God’s authority to make the right decision.

At that point, it would have been best to acknowledge the pain of the very real likelihood that the loved one won’t be in heaven. When my mom died, many people suggested a deathbed conversion, and I admit that possibility. But the most comforting comment I received came from a man at church who said, “I’m so sorry. That must be hard.” Rather than offering a comfort that may or may not be true, this man acknowledged that I faced Mom’s death Biblically, despite the sadness involved. His words affirmed that my pain over her probable rejection of the Gospel is legitimate. Pope Francis should have given the little boy that sort of validation.

From there, we should gently remind the grieving person of his or her own responsibility to repent of sin and believe that Jesus died to bear the punishment for the sins of all who believe in Him. We can’t do anything about our departed loved ones other that trust that God will glorify Himself in how He judges them, but we certainly can make our own election sure by believing in Him.

In situations such as the one with this sweet little boy, of course we must extend compassion. But true compassion never sugarcoats truth with a false gospel. That little boy deserved so much better.

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Jesus Doeth All Things Well

This past week, I struggled with the sin of worry. Disability forces me to be dependent on government programs (never a good thing) and one of those programs didn’t seem to be operating properly. Thankfully everything got sorted out Friday, but until then I battled to trust God’s sovereignty.

In the midst of the struggle, I came across a lesser known Fanny Crosby hymn that the Lord used to both convict me of my sinful anxiety and assure me of the Father’s care for me. I share it here as a reminder to myself, but also as an encouragement to you. Whatever befalls us, we need to trust that Jesus really does all things well.

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Saturday Sampler: April 15 — April 21

Critter Sampler 02

Personally, I enjoy reading the Old Testament prophets, though I must admit that I didn’t really understand them until recent years. Ryan Higginbottom sees that many Christians often neglect these books of the Bible. Write for Knowable Word, he outlines What We Miss When We Skip the Prophets in an effort to keep us from a lopsided intake of Scripture. He even coaches us on ways to approach these books.

In The Chains of “Cool”, appearing in Growing 4 Life, Leslie A has no difficulty speaking the truth boldly! Toward the end, you’ll possibly feel a bit breathless, but only because you’ll know she’s right in standing against evangelical compromise.

Reflecting on a recent diagnosis, Doug Wilson muses on The Obedience of Cancer in Blog & Mablog by directs attention back to God’s sovereignty. He exhibits true faith in his trial — faith that convicts me of sin concerning my own reactions to adversity. Please do pray for Doug and his family as they walk through this time of trusting God’s wisdom.

Standing firm for the Lord means we must Buck the current. Elizabeth Prata draws from her personal experiences of living on a boat to demonstrate this spiritual principle in her blog, The End Time.

Responding to a comment he overheard in a restaurant, Scott Slayton of One Degree to Another informs us Why You Should Study Theology. Now, before you decide that this article is probably full of mothballs, why don’t you give it a try? It might surprise you!

Diana Severance, in her essay for Biblical Woman, asks us to seriously consider The Cost of Saying “I Am A Christian” in a culture that hates the Gospel. We might not think we’ll ever endure physical torture for the Lord. Perhaps we should think a little harder, and then remember His grace that carries believers through even the most extreme persecution.

Drawing from this week’s airline tragedy, Stephen McAlpine shares a powerful illustration of our urgent need to constantly keep the Gospel in view. Paying Attention Is On The Nose is important reading for those of us who feel so familiar with the Gospel that we fumble to apply it properly during times of crisis.

If women shouldn’t preach or teach in mixed company, what can we do to serve the Lord and our churches? Michelle Lesley offers great insight in Unforbidden Fruit: 3 Ways Women MUST Lead and Teach The Church on Discipleship for Christian Women.

I’m generally not a fan of The Christian Post (it’s hardly a bastion of discernment), but John MacArthur: Evangelical Christians Today ‘Tolerate False Gospel,’ Avoid Sanctification for ‘Relevance’ by Leah MarieAnn Klett epitomizes so much of why 21st Century evangelicals miss the boat that I believe you need to read it.

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