They Enjoy Their Own Cleverness

OpenBible John 1How many times have people ridiculed you for believing the Bible? Have they questioned your sanity or acted surprised that you believe serpents  speak and messiahs rise from the dead? Yeah, and you’re probably already bracing for such uncomfortable conversations at Thanksgiving gatherings. So maybe I can offer a little perspective to help prepare you for conflicts around the adult table.

Ladies, we’ll resume our Monday Bible Studies on 1 Corinthians 15 pretty soon. Before you accuse me of a non sequitur, hear me out. I started working through verse 35 this morning, and I had some immediate thoughts on it that made me think about the ways some non-Christians (particularly those who are openly belligerent) try to derail us when we share the Gospel with them. Look at the verse with me.

But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” (ESV) 

Okay, I didn’t get very far into my study today (I had a stressful situation last night that kept me from getting adequate sleep), so I don’t have as much of a handle on the verse as I will when we actually work through it. But the small amount of study I did reminded me that often people who raise objections to our beliefs honestly think they’re helping us understand why Christianity is intellectually untenable.

You’ll recall that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 15 in response to those who denied the doctrine of bodily resurrection. In the first 34 verses, the apostle provided legal evidence that Christ rose from the dead. Then he argued that Christ’s resurrection ensures the resurrection of believers. Verse 35 transitions to the rather childish challenge to prove the doctrine by giving specific details.

In other words, these skeptics think they’ve poked holes in Paul’s theology. They remind me of neighborhood kids who tried to prove that I was intellectually disabled by peppering me with impossible arithmetic questions that they themselves couldn’t answer.

“What’s 97,043 plus 32,017?” they ask.

I’d admit I didn’t know, and watch their smug grins steal over their little faces. With perhaps a little sadistic pleasure, I’d give them a minute to savor their cleverness before asking, “So what is 97,043 plus 32,017?”

Though I in no way recommend such a smart alec retort to non-Christians who fancy that their arguments blow holes in our Christian faith, I do want you to realize that they trust in their own cleverness. We must pray that the Holy Spirit will open their eyes the truth before they face the Lord in judgment. At that time, they won’t feel quite so clever.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

A Blind Woman With Amazing Vision

“Visions of rapture now burst on my sight,” wrote Fanny Crosby in arguably her most famous and most beloved hymn. Once you realize that Fanny Crosby lost her sight in early childhood, you can’t help but feel startled by this poignant lyric.

Fanny saw what so many of us routinely overlook. She fixed her gaze steadfastly on the Savior and His return. I fear that, even as we sing her words believing that we cherish them, we rarely see their power. We close our eyes to the astonishingly beautiful promise that He will come again and gather us to Himself! We busily focus on temporal matters, willfully blind to the eternal glories that await us in His kingdom.

Listen again to this familiar hymn. Let a simple blind woman open your eyes to the wonders of our Savior and the blessed assurance of His eternal kingdom.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Growing Old Gracefully? Don’t I Wish!

Woman's Head Profile Oval FrameDo you ever find yourself doing exactly what you always promised yourself you’d never do? The classic example, of course, is suddenly hearing your mother’s words (the exact words you vowed you’d never utter) come flying out of your mouth. Yeah,  it horrifies you when it happens, and you mentality kick yourself for days afterwards. What got into you? How humiliating!

I’d decided in my mid-thirties, that I’d age gracefully. I cut my hair to an age-appropriate length soon after turning 40, and traded in my lacy ruffled blouses for more tailored clothing. I even combated my feelings of jealousy when younger women started doing the types of ministry that had once belonged to me, realizing that I’d had my turn.

For quite a while, I was actually doing pretty well at transitioning from middle age to being a <gulp> senior citizen. Actually, I was quite delighted to Continue reading

Saturday Sampler: July 29 — August 4

2006_0719DownTownCrossJuly060010Leslie A definitely hits the bullseye with her Growing 4 Life blog post, What Is Your Litmus Test? Oh boy, do I wish every pastor in the world would read her words from the pulpit!

In How God Speaks To Us Today, Tim Challies draws from the first four chapters of Hebrews to demonstrate God’s chosen method of communication. He doesn’t go with the popular teachings on this subject, but instead lets Scripture inform him. Maybe more of us should follow his example of discernment.

Since John and I are currently reading Revelation together, The Book of Revelation Is Not About the Rapture by Richard Gilbert in Core Christianity caught my attention. You might find this article encouraging if this Biblical book intimidates you.

Arthur Fedlier BustI’m not a fan of either Pope Francis or the World Council of Churches. Leonardo De Chirico’s August post in Vatican Files, 152. “Either Ecumenical or Proselytizer”? No. There is a Better Option exposes the joint attempt to keep Christians from proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I’d hoped Albert Mohler would comment on last weekend’s Revoice Conference, so I was glad to see Torn Between Two Cultures? Revoice, LGBR Identity, and Biblical Christianity appear in my inbox. He certainly presents an insightful analysis of the conference and its ramifications.

My Charismatic friends won’t like Why There is No Such Thing as the Gift of Tongues in The Cripplegate, but I think they ought to consider the arguments that Eric Davis FAO Shwartz Bearmakes.

You’ve got to admire Michelle Lesley for courageously writing Women Preaching: It’s Not a Secondary Doctrinal Issue. She’ll undoubtedly get flack for her firm stand on this matter. The thing is, she’s absolutely right!

Thankfully, Denny Burk weighs in on last weekend’s infamous conference in St. Louis with Revoice is over. Now what? I have a few minor reservations about his article, but I include it here because of his extensive work on the topic of human sexuality.

Todd Pruitt, in his post for Mortification of Spin, adds to the analysis of the Revoice Sacred CodConference by writing Same Sex Attraction, Temptation, and Jesus. He’s watched more of the conference videos than I have, and therefore can address one disturbing aspect that I didn’t know about.

Elizabeth Prata leaves us with An Encouragement befitting her blog’s title, The End Time. With all the garbage going on within evangelicalism, essays like this offer sweet comfort.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

According To Scripture: Study #9 On The Resurrection

According to Scripture

You’ll probably think I’m off my rocker (if you haven’t thought so already), but I can’t decide whether this week’s study of 1 Corinthians 15:25-20 was difficult and demanding or exhilarating and fun. I can tell you, however, that the Lord used it to give me greater clarity into eschatology. Even better: He left me with a sense of wonder as I anticipate an eternity of worshiping Him!

To give some context, I want to quote today’s verses within their passage. Anyway, a reminder of what we studied last Monday wouldn’t hurt, right?

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. ~~1 Corinthians 15:20-20 (ESV)

As we approach verse 25, we discover that Jesus must reign as mediator of God’s kingdom in accordance with Scripture. Psalm 2:6-10 and Psalm 110:1 clearly show that God commissioned the Messiah with the task of destroying His enemies. Jesus, in fact, quoted the latter in reference to Himself in Matthew 22:44-45. This reign reaches its completion, as Paul just explained in verse 24, when Christ fully dominates His enemies (Ephesians 1:22).

MacArthur explains that conquering kings often put their feet on the necks of enemies they subdued as a symbolic gesture of victory. Paul means, then, that Christ will ultimately show Himself to be victorious over all entities — human and demonic — that dared to rebel against Him. See Hebrews 10:12-13.

Although verse 26 is pretty straightforward, let’s unpack it just a bit. The resurrection of Jesus Christ shows that, although death exercises power over all creation, the Lord has power over death itself. Therefore, our own resurrection defeats death. In the case of believers, death loses its power because we will enjoy eternal life in His presence, gladly worshiping Him. In that sense, death has, even now, lost its sting (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).

Christ will conquer even death itself. In other words, He will do away with it (Revelation 20:14). This final defeat of defeat will take place at the end of Christ’s Millennial reign, as Paul already demonstrated in verse 24.

Commentators offer some fairly complex explanations of verse 27, much of which goes well beyond the limitations of this blog post. But let me offer a couple observations I’ve made from studying this verse.

In declaring that “God has put all things in subjection under His feet,” Paul indicates that its as good as done (see Matthew 28:18, John 17:2 and Ephesians 1:22).

Barnes suggests three possible reasons that Paul might clarify that God the Father will not be in subjection to the Son. Firstly, to distinguish Christian truth from pagan myths of gods overthrowing their fathers. Secondly, to dispel any notions that Jesus is greater than the Father. And thirdly, to exalt God’s absolute dominion. We must remember that the Son has authority because the Father gave it to Him (John 5:26-27).

I love the way Paul ties this passage together in verse 28! The Son, unlike created beings who will bow the knee at that time (Philippians 2:10), voluntarily subjects Himself to the Father. Jamieson, Fausset and Brown correctly point out that in His subjection Christ retains equal honor to the Father (John 5:22-23, Hebrews 1:6). Notice Paul’s reciprocal writing in saying that “the Son Himself will be subjected to Him Who put all things in subjection to Him.”

MacArthur clarifies that Christ will continue His eternal reign (Revelation 11:15) in His place within the Trinity. He will not eclipse either the Father or the Holy Spirit as He will (from our perspective) in the Millennial kingdom. Thus, His subjection to the Father by no means should be conflated as meaning that His reign will end.

Paul reaches the climax of this passage with the idea of God being all in all. Zechariah 14:9 intimates that the Lord has always purposed to reign as one King. I don’t know about you, but this absolutely thrills me! Although my limited human mind can’t quite comprehend an environment totally given over to the undistracted worship of God, I long for that blessing. Don’t you?

Next Monday we’ll attempt to tackle one of the toughest verses in the Bible.  I’ve been dreading this verse until recently, when I bought a commentary that shed light on Paul’s writing. Now I actually look forward to taking you ladies through it. Who would have thought?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

According To Scripture: Study #8 On The Resurrection

According to Scripture

I’ll let you in on a secret.  Don’t tell anyone, but I had real trouble preparing today’s Bible Study, and only managed to get through two verses.  Maybe, if you don’t say anything, people won’t notice and they’ll think I deliberately limited this week’s discussion to verses 23 and 24 of 1 Corinthians 15 for dramatic emphasis. I’m sure my secret is safe with you!

Despite my struggles preparing today’s Bible Study, I’m excited by the connection the apostle Paul makes between the doctrine of Christ’s resurrection and His Second Corning. Although eschatology isn’t my strongest area, studying verses 23 and 24 over the last seven days has sparked my interest in the subject. So, ladies, let’s get some context and then see how these two verses bridge the gap between Christ’s resurrection and the last things.

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. ~~1 Corinthians 15:20-28 (ESV)

Please bear in mind that I believe verses 23 and (especially) 24 support  the teaching of Christ’s 1,000 year reign on earth before His final destruction of Satan (Revelation 20:7-10). So I will approach this study with that presupposition, apologizing that time doesn’t permit me to go into an explanation of the Millennial kingdom.

Verse 23 tells us that resurrection occurs in a specific order. The Greek word translated as “order” denotes the idea of ranks, as in the military. Each rank, therefore, experiences resurrection at its appointed time. Jamieson, Fausset and Brown believe those ranks are as follows:

In this chapter, of course, Paul confines the discussion to Christ and those who belong to Him. Christ rose three days after His crucifixion, and believers will be resurrected when He returns. You’ll remember from our discussion of verse 12 (Study #5) that a faction of the Corinthian church, while apparently confessing that Christ rose from the dead, denied that anybody else would experience physical resurrection. Verse 23 reinforces Paul’s assurances that Christians will  indeed share His resurrection.

The phrase, “at His coming,” must not be overlooked. Christ’s Second Coming completes the Gospel message as it points to His eternal kingdom. The resurrection assures believers that life extends beyond the grave; Christ’s Second Corning ensures the full realization of that life.

Moving to verse 24, Paul gives us a glimpse into eschatology. After the resurrection of believers, the end will come. This “end” includes the general resurrection, the final judgment, and the consummation of God’s kingdom. Barnes explains that this “end” completes Christ’s work of redeeming His Church. I hasten to add that we mustn’t confuse this idea of completion with Christ’s finished work of atoning for sin (John 19:30). Rather, redemption will be fully realized when He returns and our physical bodies become reunited with our spirits.

Paul goes on to say that Christ will deliver the kingdom to God the Father. Commentators give very complex explanations of this clause, which I think is best understood by comparing it with Matthew 11:27. As the Father handed authority to His Son, so at the end the Son will present His Kingdom back to His Father.

Christ will deliver the kingdom to the Father after He destroys the rule of His enemies. By this, according to Barnes, Paul means anything opposed to God. “They include, of course, the kingdoms of this world; the sins, pride, and corruption of the human heart; the powers of darkness – the spiritual dominions that oppose God on earth, and in hell; and death and the grave.”

Again, Revelation 20:7-10 describes the destruction of Christ’s enemies, and I highly recommend reading that passage. Next Monday, we’ll look at the final enemy to be destroyed, as well as the reason Christ will hand the kingdom over to the Father. In the meantime, I’d love to receive your comments and/or questions in the Comments Section, on The Outspoken TULIP Facebook page or even on Twitter.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin