According To Scripture: Study #2 On The Resurrection

According to Scripture

Ladies, today I want to start getting into our study of Christ’s resurrection by taking you through 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Those of you who have been through my Bible Studies on Ephesians 2:1-10, Jude and Titus know that I always emphasize context when studying Scripture, and therefore I insist on looking at the entire first section of 1 Corinthians 15 before we discuss today’s verses:

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)

In verses 1-2, Paul brings attention back to the Gospel, which he had personally preached to the Corinthians when he first established their church. Notice that he tells them that they stand in the Gospel they have received as a result of his preaching. Only the Gospel enables us to stand before God. In verse 2 he elaborates that, by standing in the Gospel, they are being saved.

I don’t want to spend much time analyzing these two verses, but I believe it’s important to think just a little about standing in the Gospel. Salvation comes only through placing our trust completely in the Gospel message, so any failure to cling to that message would indicate a false conversion.

From there, Paul reiterates the basic Gospel, clarifying that it has primary importance over everything else. He has just written 14 chapters dealing with serious issues within the church in Corinth that caused injurious division, and now he seeks to unify them under the primary tenets of the Gospel.

The first point he makes (in verse 3) is that Christ died as a substitute for us, bearing the full penalty for our sins. Implicit in this statement is that we no longer bear responsibility to atone for our sins through sacraments, purgatory or good works. According to Scripture, specifically Isaiah 53:4-6, Jesus took the punishment for our rebellion against God.

Next (in verse 4), Paul recounts that Christ was buried (Isaiah 53:9), and that He rose again (Isaiah 53:11; Psalm 16:10). As in verse 3, he ties the events to Scripture. Although he proceeds, in the verses we’ll examine next week, to enumerate eyewitnesses who could verify the Lord’s resurrection, it’s important to note that he appeals to Scripture as his foremost authority. Certainly, he sets an example that we must follow.

Christ’s burial proves His resurrection because only the truly dead  require burial. Paul deliberately builds his case, even in reminding his readers of the the basic Gospel, for the resurrection. Verses 3-4 demonstrate that the doctrine of Christ’s resurrection is just as essential to the Gospel as His atoning death on the cross. As we progress through 1 Corinthians 15, we’ll learn why this doctrine is so vital to believe in order to stand firmly in the Gospel.

Please use the Comments Section below or The Outspoken TULIP  Facebook page to ask questions and/or share insights about the passage we’ve studied today. I’d appreciate hearing how this study has ministered to you, or how I might approach the text more effectively. Feel free to bring in other Scriptures that apply to this passage, and to interact with each other in the comments. Next week we’ll talk about Paul’s eyewitnesses.

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Saturday Sampler: April 29 — May 5

IMG_1982In the bizarre atmosphere of 21st Century culture, commonsense essays can refresh the spirit.  Garbage In… Garbage Out by SharaC of Into the Foolishness of God looks at a postmodern contradiction and its Biblical solution.

Offering encouragement though  How Do We Overcome the Fear of Evangelism in Unlocking the Bible, Denise (no surname given) directs our attention to Scriptural attitudes concerning witnessing. Her article challenges us, but it also reassures us of the Lord’s commitment to help us carry out the Great Commission.

An Unpleasant and Unpopular Truth appears in Leslie A’s blog, Growing 4 Life as a challenge to examine our lives. A mere profession of Christ, remember, doesn’t necessarily mean that genuine conversion has taken place.

IMG_2004As a lesson in discernment, Elizabeth Prata of The End Time writes a thought-provoking Book Review: America’s beloved novel, “Christy” to examine the theology inherent in the popular book. Kudos to Elizabeth for daring to review such a well-loved book with such candor and balance.

Clint Archer, in his contribution to The Cripplegate, reinforces what is Of First Importance: What will be on the test when we die? Those of you participating in my new Monday Bible Study series on 1 Corinthians 15 should especially appreciate this article.

As long as you’re reading The Cripplegate, check out What Pope Francis Should Have Said to Emanuele. I always enjoy Jordan Standridge’s writing; this piece may help you understand why I’m such a huge fan of his work.

IMG_1992As Christians, we must make careful distinctions in our language, and we must hold our critics to those distinctions. In Dear Media: Please Distinguish Conversion from Conversion Therapy, Denny Burk demonstrates the importance of defining terms by  citing the conversion of a gentleman who survived the terror attack on the Pulse nightclub.

Religious OCD or Scrupulosity by Fred DeRuvo at Study – Grow – Know juxtaposes the troubling methods of psychology against Biblical counseling.  Please, if you still can’t see the dangers of psychology, read Fred’s piece and seriously consider the points he raises.

Would I recommend a blog post simply because the illustration favors the Boston Red Sox? No. Peter Krol’s Context Matters: the Faith Hall of Fame in Knowable Word merits recognition for its skilled handling of Hebrews 11 in and of itself. But I admit that the homage to the Boston Red Sox doesn’t bother me a bit!

All photos taken May 2, 2018 at Boston Public Garden by John Kespert

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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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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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Worthiness: Ours Or His?

Rich In Mercy

The logic goes that Jesus died for us because He saw something in us worth saving.  That perspective certainly sounds reasonable, and I’d venture to say that every one of us would love to believe it. Doesn’t it thrill you to think that the Lord saw something special and valuable in you? That you were worth saving?

Once again,  however, this interpretation of Christ’s death subtly shifts attention from Christ’s mercy and grace to us. It neglects the wretched condition of our souls by insinuating that we actually deserved God’s notice.  In fact, it pretty much implies that He had an obligation to save us. Could we even say that He is lucky to have such magnificent people in His kingdom?

As much as the idea that we possess something of intrinsic value appeals to us, nothing in the Bible supports it. On the contrary, God’s Word repeatedly emphasizes our unworthiness as a backdrop to His wondrous grace.Let me take you back to Ephesians 2:1-10 for a moment.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. ~~Ephesians 2:1-10 (ESV)

Verses 1-3 paint a particularly nasty picture of us, don’t  they? By  nature, it says, we were children of wrath. What value could a child of wrath, dead in sin and ruled by fleshly passions, possibly have? Why would a holy God have any compelling reason for shedding His innocent blood for any of us?

Verses 4-7 answer that question. The Lord lavished His salvation on us in order to display the riches of His grace and kindness. Our salvation points, not to any imaginary worth on our part, but to His generosity in saving such undeserving sinners.

The purpose of our salvation, then, is to showcase the Lord’s character. What a wonderful God He is to extend that degree of compassion on worthless sinners who merit nothing but His wrath. Although nothing about us commends us to Him, Jesus willingly went to the cross to accept the Father’s wrath — wrath that we deserved! His atoning sacrifice highlights His graciousness and compassion, revealing what a loving God He is!

He is the worthy one, not any of us. Worship (which means the ascribing of worth) goes totally to Him. How utterly magnificent that He would choose to love vile creatures like us! The more we understand that we had no value in and of ourselves, the more we want to worship Him for His inexplicable mercy and grace.

Verse 10 completes the beautiful picture of God’s grace in saving us, declaring that He regenerates us into His workmanship. Though we have no worth of our own, Christ gives us His worth, graciously using us as His agents of good works. At this mercy, we can only praise Him.

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At The Cross

What makes you valuable? Is it your skilled understanding of the Bible? Perhaps the number of followers you have on social media? How about your connections with well-known Christian personalities?

The hymn I’ve chosen to present today humbles me. As much as I feel tempted to boast in all the things listed in the paragraph above, I must realize that only Christ gives me worth. Nothing I do either enhances or diminishes my worth precisely because I derive my worth exclusively from Him. And He assigned that worth to me at the cross.

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