According To Scripture: Study #5 On The Resurrection

He Is Risen

Taking a two-week break from our Bible Study on 1 Corinthians 15 couldn’t have been avoided, but I hope my truancy hasn’t caused any of you ladies to lose interest. We’ve still got over 40 verses to work through, and today we can only make it through four. So, rather than prolong this introduction, let’s quote our new section and then discuss verses 12-15.

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. ~~1 Corinthians 1:12-19 (ESV)

As you’ll recall from the studies we’ve done so far, Paul began his defense of the doctrine of resurrection by listing all the eyewitnesses to Christ’s resurrection. Now, in verse 12, he pivots his argument, drawing a connection between His resurrection (which the Corinthian believers affirmed) and the general resurrection of believers (which some of them denied).

In light of the eyewitnesses who proclaimed Christ’s resurrection, Paul in fact finds it strange that some of the Corinthians denied the whole possibility of general resurrection. Indeed, the initial preaching of the apostles centered on the Lord’s resurrection from the dead, as evidenced by Acts 4:2.

As Gentiles, however, the Corinthians depended on human reason, and therefore had trouble believing the concept of the dead being raised (Acts 17:32; Acts 26:8). Greek philosophies that paved the way for Gnosticism, which taught that matter was evil, separate from anything spiritual. For that reason , the idea of physical resurrection would have been repulsive to them.

As a consequence of the Greek philosophies, some Corinthian Christians openly denied that the dead would be resurrected. Though it’s possible that Jews from the Sadducee party may have influenced the Corinthians, I doubt this theory based on 1 Corinthians 1:19-2:8, in which the apostle rebukes their infatuation with human wisdom. Thus Paul began his refutation of their unbelief by appealing to the eyewitnesses, who established Christ’s resurrection as demonstrable fact (1 Corinthians 15:1-11)

Now, in verse 13, Paul moves his defense of the resurrection from the eyewitnesses evidence to the reasoning skills that so enamored the Corinthians in earnest. By reasoning that the impossibility of bodily resurrection leads to the conclusion that Christ couldn’t have been raised, Paul establishes the connection between Christ’s resurrection and general resurrection. He will demonstrate that connection more fully in verses 20-22 (also see John 14:19).

Observe Paul’s method of argumentation: If the dead in general could not be raised, how then did Jesus experience resurrection? Wasn’t His corpse buried and already rotting? Paul challenges the Corinthians to use the very reason that they prided themselves on having, convinced that it would lead them to acknowledge the general resurrection.

Paul intensifies his case in verse 14 by reminding them of the preaching they received from him as an apostle of Christ. The apostles appealed to Christ’s resurrection as validation for Christianity (Acts 4:33). Therefore, teaching Christ’s resurrection would have been teaching falsehood if the dead aren’t raised, making the preaching of the resurrection a false teaching. As a false teaching, the Gospel couldn’t offer any real salvation. Without Christ’s resurrection, the entire Gospel collapses, showing Jesus to be fraudulent and the apostles to be false teachers.

Because of this, if He really wasn’t raised, their preaching had no substance and the Corinthians believed for nothing. Since the Gospel depends on the resurrection, eliminating that element made believing in the Lord useless and absurd. If the foundational premise of Christ’s resurrection was false, how could anything the apostles preached be trusted? What was the point of believing a Gospel based on a fabricated event?

Verse 15 continues this train of thought by demonstrating that proclaiming Christ’s resurrection would have actually dishonored God. If the dead aren’t raised, the apostles lied about God’s actions, claiming He did something that He really didn’t. If they testified falsely that God raised Jesus from the dead, they consequently gave an erroneous representation of God. Doing so would indirectly dishonor Him. It would have been lying about Him, as well as accusing Him of raising up an impostor (Jesus).

If the dead aren’t raised, Paul reasons, Christ certainly wouldn’t have been raised either. Again, Paul emphasizes that the entire Gospel rests on the doctrine of resurrection.

Next Monday we’ll see Paul strengthen the connection between Christ’s resurrection and the resurrection of believers. For now, however, I want to leave you with the thought that the Gospel absolutely depends on the resurrection. Although we tend to focus on Jesus dying for our sin when we proclaim the Gospel, writing this Bible Study has helped me see how foundational the resurrection is to that Gospel.

I’d love hearing what the Study taught you. Please feel free to use the Comments Section or The Outspoken TULIP  Facebook Page to tell me what stands out to you, to ask questions and to interact with each other. Together, we can rejoice that Jesus Christ has indeed risen from the dead. Hallelujah!

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Saturday Sampler: June 10 — June 16

Flower SamplerAnswering a question from one of her readers, Michelle Lesley writes The Mailbag: How can I grow to love Jesus more? As she says, more Christians should ask that question.

If you’ve ever tried raising questions about certain popular Christian teachers, you’ll quickly learn that they are The Untouchables. Criticism of them is simply not tolerated by their followers, as Leslie A of Growing 4 Life testifies. She also has an important caution for those who follow Biblically sound teachers.

The purveyor of Biblical Beginnings writes Twisted Tuesday – Cosmic Child Abuse in defense of the doctrine of penal substantiation. I love her passion for the Gospel in this piece, and I wish more Christians would exhibit this kind of passion!

Writing for Unlocking the Bible, Brittany suggests 10 Practical Ways to Treasure Christ based on Psalm 119. Since John and I are currently going through this psalm together in our morning devotions, this blog post particularly interests me. Perhaps the Lord will also encourage you through her insights and ideas.

Josh Buice of Delivered By Grace absolutely nails in his piece, Why Electing a Woman as the President of the Southern Baptist Convention is a Bad Idea. It didn’t happen this year. Let’s pray it never does.

I must recommend a second Michelle Lesley post this week. In Basic Training: The Great Commission, Michelle walks us through a familiar Scripture passage to remind us of Christ’s command to His Church after He rose from the dead. Sadly, many 21st Century evangelicals don’t know what The Great Commission is. Take her poll and then refresh your memory by reading the rest of her article.

On the Ligonier blog, Sinclair Ferguson answers the question, What Is Discernment? I believe more people (particularly those who claim to be in discernment ministry) ought to read his words and give serious thought to them. As I’ve said numerous times, Biblical discernment extends far beyond exposing false teachers.

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According To Scripture: Study #4 On The Resurrection

He Is Risen

Okay, sisters in Christ, we lost last week in terms of this Bible Study series, so let’s not waste any more time in our study of 1 Corinthians 15. To refresh our memories and maintain a sense of context, I’ll once again quote the first eleven verses of the chapter in preparation of discussing verses 8-11.

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. (ESV)

Last time, we looked at Paul’s impressive catalogue of eyewitnesses to Christ’s resurrection, but now we turn to a final witness: Paul himself. Immediately in verse 8, the apostle shows his humility by emphasizing that he hadn’t walked with Jesus during His earthly ministry as all the other eyewitnesses had. For this reason, he compares himself to an aborted child.

I’m going to be really honest here and admit that I don’t understand why he uses a word that means an aborted child. Every commentary I read spent time highlighting the definition of the Greek word in this verse, but none of them adequately explained its significance beyond the concept that it demonstrates Paul’s humility. He acknowledges that he didn’t spend time with Jesus in the way the others had, and that fact makes him feel awkward about claiming to be an eyewitness to the resurrected Christ.

He maintains, however, that the risen Lord did in fact appear to him (Acts 9:3-18, 2 Corinthians 12:1-6).  As awkward as he feels in numbering himself among men who followed the Lord throughout His earthly ministry, Paul refuses to waver from his testimony that, just like the others, he qualifies as an eyewitness to Christ’s resurrection.

His awkward feelings become compounded in verse 9 as he confesses that, prior to his conversion, he actually persecuted Christians. He accepts God’s grace in calling him to be an apostle, but he readily admits that he doesn’t deserve such an honor. His humble attitude serves as a powerful example to those of us who might boast about our salvations. Paul remembers his past and therefore has an acute awareness of God’s grace toward him.

His past convinces him of his unworthiness to be called an apostle (one qualification of apostleship was being an eyewitness to the resurrected Christ). He resolutely remembers what he’d done against God’s church before receiving God’s gracious gift of salvation.

In fact, he points directly to the grace God has shown him in verse 10. Having just confessed his unworthiness, he firmly acknowledges that God’s grace has indeed made him an apostle (Ephesians 3:7). His unworthiness doesn’t negate God’s calling on his life. To the contrary, his untimely spiritual birth coupled with his history of persecuting Christians increase his appreciation of God’s grace.

Notice, in verse 10, that Paul has responded to the grace he’s been shown by working more extensively than the other apostles. His youth (relative to theirs) and the broader scope of his missionary journeys naturally resulted in a heftier resume. Therefore, God’s grace had enabled him to work harder. He presents this fact simply.

Yet he quickly adds that his work comes, not from himself, but as a  consequence of God’s grace. He insists that the Corinthians look to Christ rather than to him. Recall, if you please, that Paul opened this passage by emphasizing the primary importance of the Gospel. The last thing he wants is to shift attention back to himself! God’s grace, and only God’s grace, permitted Paul to see the resurrected Christ.

Verse 11 strengthens his resolve to direct attention away from himself and back to the Gospel that he outlines in verses 3 and 4. As helpful as eyewitnesses are, they mustn’t distract us from the Gospel itself. And because the Gospel requires center stage, Paul considers it immaterial to care about the pedigree of who preaches it. Whether the original disciples preach or he does, he wants people to hear the Gospel and believe it.

This point brings us to our next section: a detailed discussion on why the doctrine of resurrection matters. As I mentioned last week, we’ll take a two-week break before tackling that section, but I wouldn’t mind if you read the whole of Chapter 15 between now and then, paying particular heed to verses 12-19. Please use the Comments Section here or on The Outspoken TULIP  Facebook page to ask questions or raise issues in these eight verses that you’d like me to address.

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Saturday Sampler: May 20 — May 26

Boston July 26 2010 005

Custom Tower & Old State House

Did you watch the Royal Wedding? What did you think of Bishop Curry’s sermon? Garrett Kell, in All Things for Good, asks a more accurate question with What Would Jesus Say About Bishop Curry’s Royal Wedding Sermon? I heartily agree.

Unbelievers sure love discounting the veracity of the Bible, don’t they? SlimJim, who blogs at The Domain for Truth, writes Bible Contradiction? Did Jesus perform many signs and wonders? He has a running series responding to alleged contradictions in Scripture; this is the first installment I’ve read, and it’s an excellent example of why context matters.

The apostle Paul, says Jordan Standridge, was Obsessed with the Gospel. His piece, appearing in The Cripplegate, draws from Paul’s letter to the Philippians to challenge us in our response to persecution.

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Swan Boat at Boston’s Public Garden

The sister in Christ who blogs at Biblical  Beginnings takes on the popular false teaching associated with John 10:10 in her essay, Twisted Tuesday — The Abundant Life. I appreciate her encouragement to study God’s Word carefully and with discernment.

How could the doctrine of total depravity possibly encourage Christians?  In his post for Parking Space 23, Zach Putthoff answers that question. You might find yourself rejoicing as you read Total Depravity & the Christian Life.

Boston Adventure July 25 2012 013

Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

I never expected to read The Master’s Seminary Blog, but The Wretched Art of Loveless Discernment by Reagan Rose caught my eye. His points convict me to continue discernment blogging, but to make sure I do so from right motives and with a godly attitude. Anyone interested in discernment ministry needs to take this article to heart.

Like Michelle Lesley, I belong to a church within the Southern Baptist Convention. And like her  church, the church I belong to has strong leanings toward Reformed Theology, for which I praise God! Yet, as I read about the denomination as a whole, I must agree with her that It’s Time for a Reformation in the SBC – 3 Issues We Need to Set Right.

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Massachusetts State House

Praise the Lord that Phil Johnson has revived Pyromaniacs, one of the blogs God used to bring me to Reformed Theology a decade ago. His post, The Root of the Matter, identifies the serious problems creeping into Reformed circles lately. Again, praise the Lord for Johnson’s faithfulness to stand against worldly compromise for the sake of the Gospel.

Photos of downtown Boston sites taken by John Kespert

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Saturday Sampler: May 13 — May 19

IMG_2187Andy Stanley continues to undermine the authority of Scripture, this time by teaching that Jesus and the apostles “unhitched” Christianity from the Old Testament. David Prince of Prince on Preaching refutes this ridiculous notion by writing A Response to Andy Stanley: Jesus and the Old Testament, What God has joined together, let man not separate.

For a more subtle response to Andy Stanley, wander over to The Cripplegate  to read Clint Archer’s post, Why Preach the Older Testament? Without mentioning Stanley directly, Archer clarifies why neither Testament should be “unhitched” from the other.

To demonstrate that Obedience Is Better than Sacrifice, Michelle Lesley draws from two instances in the life of King Saul to illustrate how churches in the 21st Century can disobey God even while thinking they worship Him. She makes a point worth considering.

Now I understand why the standard evangelical quip about God giving second chances rubs me the wrong way. Scott Slayton of One Degree To Another argues that God Doesn’t Give Second Chances by appealing to the Gospel and to God’s grace.

Refering to a Spurgeon quote that he saw on Twitter, Denny Burk has A word about criticism from anonymous sources that applies well in this age of social media. I’d been considering changing the name on my Twitter account from DebbieLynne Kespert to The Outspoken TULIP. Although The Outspoken TULIP is linked to my name, Burk’s article leads me to keep my real name, lest anyone think I’m leveling anonymous criticism when I confront worldly ideas.

I like Eric Davis’ post, Should I Stay Home from Church When Life Gets Hard? in The Cripplegate. It addresses the latest notion that emotional pain excuses people from corporate worship. It also admonishes pastors and elders to order church services around the Lord, explaining how doing so effectively ministers to all members of Christ’s body.

Leslie A admits it. It’s Not Just a Book! probably won’t be her most popular article on Growing 4 Life. But I agree with her that it’s probably one of the most important things she’s ever written. Therefore it saddens me that it won’t be popular.

Adding to my article on journaling (which I published Wednesday), Elizabeth Prata shares Thoughts on introspection and journaling in The End Time. She brings interesting insight into the discussion, causing me to wonder if more needs to be written about this topic.

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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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