I Corinthians 15:1-11

1.) Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand,

2.) by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you unless you believed in vain.

3.) For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures,

4.) and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures,

5.) and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.

6.) After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.

7.) After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.

8.) Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.

9.) For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy 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; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

11.) Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.


Today we resume our study of 1st Corinthians, beginning with the 15th chapter.  Paul moves from his discussion of what entails proper worship to another issue:  the resurrection.


Last week I shared from Colossians about the resurrection.  There, also, Paul was dealing with a form of Gnosticism that was very Jewish in nature, which was very works oriented.  There Paul tried to reiterate to the Colossians that through their faith and baptism they had died and been resurrected with Christ.  There was no need for all the earning of levels to get to the throne of God.  Through the finished work of Jesus on the cross, His resurrection, and ascension, believers already had access to God freely given.


The situation in Corinth was different because here Paul was dealing with a Greek mindset.  Now, the Gnosticism that Paul was dealing with in 52 A.D. was not the Gnosticism that would plague the church a hundred years later.  The situation in Corinth was a belief prevalent throughout Greek society.  You see, the Greeks believed in the eternity of the soul but not in the eternity of the body.  The body would decay and become corrupted.  So, with a belief in the eternity of the soul, combined with an enthusiastic grasping for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially the gift of tongues, who needed an eternal body?  A belief in a need for a resurrected body was being challenged by some in the Corinthian church.  It did not mean that they didn’t believe in the resurrection of Jesus (that would become more prominent about 100 years later), but some were arguing against the resurrection of believers, or even the need for it.


What is interesting is the strategy Paul used to begin his argument. These first 11 verses were just the beginning, and Paul would carry this argument throughout the whole 15th chapter.  He begins his defense for the resurrection of believers by finding two points on which he and the church can agree.

Point number one is the Gospel of salvation.  In verse 1, Paul says,  “I declare to you the Gospel which I preached to you, which you also received and in which you stand,(vs2) by which also you are saved.”  When we read these words, we can easily see that Paul believes the Corinthians are still living in their salvation.  He didn’t say “were saved” but “ by which also you ARE saved.”  He states,  “I know you believe these three things: 1) Christ died for your sins.  You believe in sin, the presence of sin in the world, the power of sin in the world, the presence of sin in your life.  That you were powerless over that sin, and that Christ’s finished work on the cross washed you from all your sins. 2) Christ was buried.  (Being buried means He was really dead. They believed that Jesus really died.  In the Gospels, Jesus raised three people from the dead.  Jairus’ daughter, the son of the widow of Nain, and Lazarus. Jairus’ daughter was less than a couple of hours , the widow’s son definitely less than a day, probably less than six hours. People could argue that these two were not really dead, just unconscious in some way.  Lazarus, on the other hand, no one could deny.  He had been in the tomb four days before being brought back to life.  The Jews believed that unrecoverable corruption occurred by the third day, so Paul says that the Corinthian church believes with him that Jesus died for their salvation and the salvation of the world, and that He really, truly died.) and 3) Jesus rose again on the third day, and they believed in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.


These are three very important tenants of the faith.  They capture the work of both the Son and the Father: Jesus’s finished work on the cross, His taking away of all our sins, (not just covering up, but the total destruction of all our sins) through His burial, and the Father justifying us through His resurrection of Jesus. This meant the debt was completely paid, once and for all.


Then Paul listed a whole host of witnesses. These are not in chronological order, but first mentioned is Peter, who Luke tells us in Acts Jesus saw.  Then there were the twelve, referring to the original disciples (although we know that the first time there were only 10 because Thomas was absent and Judas was dead).  The 500 brethren are believed to be those who saw Jesus’s ascension in Galilee. Next mentioned was Jesus’ half-brother, James, who became a believer after Jesus’ resurrection, and then the apostles which were those who became part of the church in Jerusalem before Jesus’ ascension.  Last listed is Paul himself.  You see, the church at Corinth could not deny the issue at this time because they had met many of these listed people, and some they even claimed to follow, like Peter.


Paul’s apostleship was the second point on which he knew that he and the Corinthian church could agree.  He had already dealt with this once at the beginning of this letter.  There was a division over Paul’s apostleship, which meant a division over his authority.  Some people preferred Apollos, and others preferred Peter, although it has never been proven Peter had ever been to Corinth.  Even though Paul was the founding father of this church, for all kinds of reasons they didn’t think he was worthy to be called an apostle.


Paul agreed with them, referencing himself as “one born out of due time.”  In literal Greek, he was saying, “I was stillborn, a miscarriage.”  Do you catch his humility here? He said that he was the least of the apostles, inadequate, not good enough.  While he and the Corinthians agreed on the status, I don’t think it was for the same reasons.  Paul carried around the knowledge and the weight of the fact that he had been a persecutor of the church.  The Corinthians believed he didn’t qualify for other reasons, but they both believed Paul just didn’t measure up…


Paul didn’t say, “But I came here, didn’t I?  You would have never heard the gospel if I hadn’t come! You would have been still a bunch of unsaved pagans if I hadn’t come!”  No.  Instead, he gave all the credit to God and His grace.  God’s undeserved favor.   In essence Paul was saying, “I am an apostle not because of anything I have done, but because of God’s undeserved favor. Nothing that I have done makes me worthy, adequate, or good enough.  It is God’s grace that has made my work fruitful.  You are now a church, and there are other churches in Greece and Asia Minor because God’s undeserved favor was with me.”  The word with in the Greek literally means an inseparable relationship.  Paul was literally telling them, “I know what you think of me, but all I have done and will ever do is not based on me, but on the grace of God.”


Then he made reference to the beginning of his letter where he talked about divisions, with some who follow Apollos, some Peter, and some who say they only follow Jesus.  Paul reminded them that they all preached the same message, the same Gospel, and they had all believed the same thing – that Gospel.


Notice that Paul began this crucial presentation by finding common ground. I wonder in our world and our lives how far we might get if instead of immediately pouncing on our differences we focused on the thing we have in common in our world, our country.  I remember hearing and reading stories of President Reagan and Tip O’Neil doing all-nighters at the White House, both pledging not to leave till they had a deal worked out.  Of course I understand whiskey probably played its part as well… But could you imagine President Trump and the Democratic leadership doing that today?…. In the world church of United Methodism, we surely have some things in common.  Imagine if the delegates attended General Conference not focused on their own agendas but finding common ground to work together and still be servants of God!  Who knows – maybe this will be one good thing to come out of the viral pandemic impacting our lives.


The promise of our resurrection is important!  It carries the promise of living and reigning with Jesus.  The promise that we will not only be with Him but also like Him.  And in the next few weeks, Paul will be telling us why.




Remember during this time to read Psalm 91 in the first person and claim it.  Every day.


Blessings and Peace:  Now may the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship and communion of His Holy Spirit, be with you, guide you and keep you unto Him. Amen



Precept 1

On contemplating all that is going on in the world today, and looking at the witness of the church specifically, this question keeps entering my mind: “What are we missing?”  Being a true believer, we know salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ alone, that it is not by works but through grace.  We understand that it is not what we do but Christ’s finished work on the cross that matters. We know that the finished work of Christ showed God’s love for and toward us.  John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  Here’s the answer to that question.  It may be that the word “love” is where we are missing it…


As John’s words tell us, it is about God’s Love, not our love.  Not carnal or worldly love, but God’s love.  Understanding God’s love may be the point to which we need to return.  And to understand God’s love, we will need to remember our basic understanding of God.  Now, our understanding of God comes from our Jewish heritage.  As we examine that heritage, we see many comparisons to the struggles we face today.  Most of the Old Testament books, whether the history or the prophets, deal with the struggle between maintaining the faith of Father Abraham or reverting to the faith of the pagan nations around them.


In some ways, those religions were very much alike.  The altars were built in similar styles and were often in the same location.  The offerings were similar (with the exception being that of human sacrifices), and the celebration time of feasts were mostly the same.  Yet, there is one major difference.  I use the word “is” because we are fighting the same temptation today.


The pagan gods were based on creation itself.  Their powers were based on the experiences of the people and the creation around them.  While the pantheon may have had a god who was Charles-in-Charge, none of them were all powerful.  Thus, you had a god for wind, a god for rain, a god for the sun and moon, etc., etc., etc.  Those who lived in agrarian societies developed gods and goddesses over fertility.  They created their gods in their own image and in the image of the creation around them.  For the most part, those people didn’t want the gods to be a part of their lives, so their offerings were either an appeasement to keep the gods at bay or were used as a bribe to gain something from them.  Hence, the fertility gods and goddesses.


Our heritage is that of one true God who is not derived from creation but actually is the creator of all.  He alone is the Elohim, the God of creation and power; the El Shaddai, the Almighty God; the El Elyon, the Most High God; and the Adonai, the Lord, the master of earth and sky.  Thus, God was not created in the image of humanity.  Rather, humanity (both male and female) was created in His image; and therefore, being created in His image, we were created to be like Him.  And unlike the pagan beliefs, we were created to be in relationship with God.  From the very beginning, it was God’s plan to walk and talk and dwell with us.  It was our desire to be god that ruined the whole mess.  It was our desire to make God like us, trying to be equal with Him, which was played out in the eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.


Our heritage carries with it 8 precepts about God that are held as absolute.  The first precept is that God is Holiness.  The Hebrew word for this is Qadosh.  Translated, it means absolute Otherness from creation, moral perfection.


The words “holy” and “holiness” get thrown around a lot, but somehow, we have lost their meaning. We sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy”, but we relate it to ourselves more often than to God.  We think about living the Holy life and in doing so equate it with a set of rules and regulation we need to strive to live by in order to be Holy.  The problem is there is no set of rules and regulations that can make us Holy.  Rules and regulations are works of the flesh, and in order for them to work, we have to be perfect.  And we can’t be perfect.  There is only One who is perfect, who is Qadosh, and that is God.


When we realize we can’t be perfect, we begin to change the rules of perfection in order to make it where we have a better chance at being Holy.  The problem is that in doing so we exchange the image of a Holy God for the image of ourselves as god.  We begin to tell God, “This is the way it should be.”  We allow ourselves to be conformed to the world around us instead of being transformed by the Holy Spirit.  We look at the tree in the Garden of Eden and say to ourselves, “It’s good to be god.”  We forget that we were created in God’s image instead of the other way around.


God’s plan of salvation is offered to us through the finished work of Jesus on the cross. It is through Jesus that we are called.  It is through Jesus we are redeemed.  It is through Jesus that we are forgiven.  It is through Jesus that we are justified.  It is through Jesus that we even have a clue what the love of God is all about.


If we follow the ministry of Jesus, He reveals Himself as someone who completely understands the Absolute Otherness of God.  We read, “Then cried Jesus in the temple as He taught, saying, ‘You both know me, and you know from where I am: and I am not come of myself, but He who has sent me is true, whom you know not.’” (John 7:28)  We also read, “Then said Jesus to them, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you shall know that I am He, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father has taught me, I speak these things.’ ” (John8:28)  Also, ”Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?  The words that I speak to you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwells in me, He does the Works.’ ” (John 14:10); and last but not least, “ ‘Sanctify them through your truth: Your word is truth.  As you have sent me into the world, even so I have sent them into the world.  And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they might also be sanctified through the truth.’ ” (John 17:17-19)


Nowhere do I read that “the people and I are one” or “the work that I do is the work that the people do through me”  or “the words that I speak are the words that the people speak through me.”  And I definitely don’t read that he is sanctified by the people so that God can know the truth.  God-sent! Not world-sent, not human-sent, not government-sent, not even politically-correct-sent.  God-sent!  Jesus came to us from a Holy God and paid the price for us to be accepted into His Holiness, not His Holiness into our sinfulness.


Today it seems we are determined not to seek the Father’s Holiness, but rather to make our sinfulness holy.  To exchange agape (sacrificial love for other) for phila (you are my good friend), and to abandon agapaeo (love and serve with fidelity) for eros (sexual delight).


Sin is not a sin because it is mentioned a certain number of times in the Scriptures.   Sin  is sin because it separates a Holy God from the people He died to forgive, redeem, and justify.  The problem is not the sinner – Jesus died for the sinner.  The problem is where we are placing our focus.  Our focus is on people.  (What do other people think?  What is politically correct or accepted by society?)  We say to ourselves, “They are so talented, they are such a nice person, they do such good works.”  We substitute phila (brotherly love) for Agape (God’s purest sacrificial love).  We say to the Father, “I want to accept Your offer of salvation, but I want it on my terms.  Accept me where I am and as I am, and don’t expect me to change. I love the fire insurance, but don’t transform me.  Be conformed to me.”


Our focus should be on the One who called us, and on the reason for which we were called.  Our focus should be on the One who died for us so that we should be transformed by His Spirit into his Holiness.  Our job is to lead people to God, not lead God to the people.  God is already among us.  The veil was torn from top to bottom in the Temple when Jesus died, and the Father stepped out, in a mighty way saying, “I AM HOME!”  We are called to have His mind and the mind of His Son.


The problem is not gluttony or abstinence; tea drinker or alcoholic; thief or honest; untruthful or truthful; adulterer or faithful: coveter or generous giver.  It’s not even heterosexual  or homosexual.  It is that we have lost our understanding of a Holy God.  Our number one focus should be on the one who is Qadosh. “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: You shall be Holy for I the Covenant Keeping God your God of Power and Creation is Holy.” (Leviticus 19:2).  A Holy God, even though He loves the sinner, still hates the sin.


Yet we want to say the cross doesn’t matter, that the 3 hours Christ spent on the cross where God turned His back and cast every sin that each and every one of us as well as those who have gone before and will come after have ever or will ever commit.  Where Jesus for the first time in the Scriptures cries out, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’  Notice this 1st time Jesus does not refer to the Almighty as “Father.”…. But God had to forsake Jesus.  God had to turn His back on His Son.  A Holy God cannot be in the presence of sin.  But hey, today that’s OK, because we can just proclaim through our worldly view of love that whatever the sin of our choice is, it is no longer a sin.  We trade God’s love for worldly sympathy and empathy and call it love. What a cheap exchange….


In our selfishness and our self-centered attitudes, we have come to believe that it is all about us.  But CHURCH, I’m here to say IT IS NOT ABOUT US.  It is about a HOLY GOD and a FINISHED WORK on THE CROSS.  We will never be able to understand God’s love apart from the CROSS.  We seem to have forgotten that Jesus came to redeem, not certify.  But when WE decide that sin, any sin, is no longer sin, then who needs redemption?  Like the pagans of long ago, we have created ourselves as gods in our own image.  And we the clay say to the Master Potter, “Who are YOU to mold US?”


We need to repent, that is, to change our minds about God.  We need to remember that, yes, we are in the world, but we are not of the world.  We must always be aware that through Jesus the Christ God has called us to be with Him, not Himself with us. There is a big difference.  As Peter reminds us in his first letter (I Peter), where he quotes Leviticus, “We are to be Holy as the father is Holy.”


Let us not be where Oswald Chambers said the church was over a 100 years ago.  At that time, early in the 20th century,  O.C. said, “The great word we bow down and worship today is PROGRESS; we are progressing and developing, and the consequence is we are blind to the facts of history and blind to moral facts. The Bible revelation about man is that man, as he is, is not as God made him.——It is possible to be so full of love and sympathy for unregenerate man as to be red-handed anarchists against GOD.”  (Reference The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers; Section on Biblical Ethics; page 127)


CHURCH: Pray for God’s Holiness to return.  Not what humanity calls holiness. Not what the world calls holiness.  Not self-holiness.  Pray for GOD’s Holiness.  The God who is Qadosh – Absolute Otherness from His creation.  The one who is Moral Perfection.








1 Corinthians 16:13-24

13.) Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.

14.) Let all that you do be done with love.

15.) I urge you brethren, you know the household of Stephanas; that it is the first-fruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints,

16.) that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us.

17.) I am glad about the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, for what was lacking on your part they supplied.

18.) For they refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore, acknowledge such men.

19.) The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Pricilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.

20.) All the brethren greet you. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

21.) The salutation with my own hand, Paul’s

22.) If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus, let him be accursed. O Lord come!

23.) The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

24.) My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.


This is it. We are completing our study in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.  This will also be the last teaching I will submit for the web-site and Facebook, as Jersey UMC is once again opening for services on June 28th.  My final sermon will be preached in the sanctuary on that date, too, and  I hope to see everyone there.


It is amazing to me how much is communicated by Paul in the final verses where we think he is just saying goodbye.  He starts in verse 13 by exhorting the Corinthians to, “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.”  He is telling them to be vigilant, for deceivers are everywhere. fThose who would like to pervert the faith are all around.  He tells them to stand fast in the faith and to trust in Christ’s finished work.  The Greek for faith is pistis (pronounced pis’-tis), and it means to stand in conviction of the truthfulness of God.  In this case, it is standing in the truthfulness of God’s redemption, forgiveness, and salvation found through the finished work of Christ on the cross.  Paul wants the Corinthian believers to be brave in the face of persecution, to not back down when confronted with opposition, and to not allow themselves to be bullied.


I think in many ways today we as individual Christians and as the church allow ourselves to be bullied.  We back down or go silent when confronted about our stand fast in the faith.  Because of this corona virus so-called pandemic, the detractions within our own denomination have been put on the back burner.  Our own Annual Conference is going to be a very shortened, virtual event.  General Conference has been canceled this year.  Most churches’ focus has been on just getting the doors back open.  In the world around us, a lot of evil acts are being justified in the name of one politically correct organization or another.  Yet if we were to find ourselves in a place where we were to speak out against it, we would be told that we don’t understand, or be called names that do not represent us and label us as something that we are not.  And in some cases, we might even be physically attacked or have our property damaged.  However, in the church, our stand as Christians should not be based on what is perceived as correct by the world but on what that word pistis translates: a conviction based on the truthfulness of God.  Not what is truth from our standpoint, or the way we like to see it, or what we think.  Conviction is to be based on the truthfulness of God.  What God tells us about Himself and ourselves is how we are to relate with Him.  In Romans Paul quotes almost verbatim Isaiah 45:9, where Isaiah says, “Shall the clay say to him who forms it, what are you making?”  Paul says in Romans 9:21, “Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?”


Clearly, God is the potter, and we are the clay.  The world, creating God in its own image, tries to turn this around.  If we watch, if we stand fast in the faith, if we are brave and strong and speak out, we will be called names and attacked.  Paul knew this.  It was already happening to him among some in the Corinthian church.  The interesting thing is that each of these words in the Greek carries with it a quality of male gender.  I know the feminists will not like this, but Paul is telling the Christians at Corinth to man up!! Definitely not politically correct today, but his meaning is correct:  You know the truth – live it! Confess it! Stand upon it and proclaim it forward!


Next, Paul brings up the household of Stephanas, who was the first convert {first fruits) in the Corinthian church.  We have discussed first fruits in the past.  Earlier in his letter, Paul speaks of Jesus as the first fruits from the dead.  We discussed the offering of the first fruits in the Old Testament.  So in speaking of Stephanas as the first fruit, Stephanas does not only represent the first in time but the first of many.  In the Old Testament, the Israelites’ bringing the offering of the first fruits proclaimed a trust in God’s faithfulness that there would be much more where these came from.  This is what Paul is celebrating, that from the conversion of Stephanas has come the church in Corinth.  But there is something else that Paul wants the Corinthian to understand.  Stephanas and his family were not just the first.  He and his household were also devoted workers in the church.  Paul says, “They have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints.”  Paul tells the church that they should submit. The Greek here is hupotas (pronounced hoop-ot-as’-so) which means to make subject to or to be obedient to.


Part of the problem may be that Paul and Stephanas are close, since he was the first convert. Stephanas has a special relationship with Paul because he is the first fruits.  He and two others of the brethren are the ones who have brought the letter with the questions Paul is answering.  They will be the ones to return to Corinth with this letter Paul is writing and that we are studying.  So, Stephanas may be catching some flack from the members of the church who are not as enthralled with Paul as he is…I believe that Paul has a deeper meaning than just submitting.  It comes across very strongly, and Paul intends it to, because it is not necessarily the people Paul wants the Corinthians to submit to but the work.  He wants the Corinthian church to respect the work and all the laborers who are doing the work.  Oftentimes in the church, a position is respected but not so much the people who on an everyday basis make things happen.  Too often there is a great disparity between designated leaders and those who actually do the work.  Paul wants the Corinthians not to just respect Stephanas and his household in their positions as the first believers but to also respect them for their devotion to the work being performed.


There are also a few incidentals found in Paul’s farewell.  He wants the Corinthians to understand the joy of seeing Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus.  It sounds like they brought him material supplies, which they may have, but it was the seeing of them and their presence as members of the Corinthian congregation that refreshed Paul’s spirit.  For him those three being there represented the Corinthian church being there and his being with the Corinthian church.


The final verses include greetings to Corinth from all the churches of Asia Minor, projecting the connectiveness of the churches through the Gospel, as well as greetings from Aquila and Priscilla, two of Paul’s closest friends and co-laborers in the Corinthian church at its beginning.  Then there is Paul’s own personal salutation, but before that he tells them to greet one another with a holy kiss.  Paul has ended several of his other letters with this command.  I have been asked and have asked others, “What in the world is a holy kiss?”  I don’t have a good answer to that question myself, but what I have gleaned is that in some Jewish synagogues, they greeted one another with a kiss.  Men would greet men and women would greet women.  Some scholars claim that Paul must have carried this over to the churches which may have had their beginnings in the synagogue.  Early church fathers in the 2nd century speak of it.  Some have said it was something done after the Lord’s Supper. What is the most interesting to me is not the word “kiss” but the word “holy”.  The Greek word for holy here is hagios (pronounced hag’-ee-os) and means morally clean, without blemish, deserving of respect.  I believe whether they kissed or not, what was truly important to Paul was that that greeted and treated one another as sinners saved by grace, clothed in the righteousness of Christ; and because of those two reasons alone, all should be treated with respect.


Let’s go back to verse 14 where Paul says, “Let all that you do be done in love.”  Paul uses words translated love three time in this section.  In verses 14 and 24 he uses the Greek word agape, (pronounced ag-ah’-pay).  This is a word that had been around as long as the Greek language but was used very little in classical or ancient Greek until the letters of Paul and the Gospels.  It was a word in the church meaning a selfless, sacrificial love.  Paul’s word for love in verse 22 is phileo (pronounced fil-eh’-0).  It means to be fond of or be a friend to.  In verse 14 Paul tells the Corinthians to do all that they do in agape, to love one another in a selfless way, to be willing to sacrifice self for the other.  This calls a person to deny what they may want for themselves for the betterment of the other or the body of believers.  This kind of love takes convenience and personal desires and places them very low on the priority list.  Paul is reminding the believers that the labor of the Gospel and being a disciple of Jesus Christ is highest on the priority list.


In verse 22 Paul basically says that if you are not a friend of Jesus, you are accursed.  The actual Greek word here is anathema (pronounced an-ath’-em-ah).  It translates as separated from the favor of God, devoted to destruction.  Paul is really not pronouncing a curse on nonbelievers.  He is simply stating the judgment on those who do not believe in Jesus Christ and His finished work.  One who does not believe is not a friend.  One who is not fond of Jesus is condemned.  In our PC society this sounds harsh, but it is the truth.  In our time, there is a falling away from the church.  Some people think that creating God in our own image will make God more desirable and make more people want to follow Him.  The problem is that they are not following God, but themselves.  Jesus’ name to many has become an anathema.  You can still mention God generically, because that can cover a long list of belief systems.  There are people on the fascist far left that see a practicing Christian as weak, unable to stand on their own.  When it is possible, these folks are more than willing to humiliate a believer.  They view Christians as people who need a crutch to get through life, someone not worth knowing or having as an acquaintance, much less being a colleague or fellow laborer.  They see a believer as ignorant, not having enough sense to get in out of the rain.  Some people, trying to placate the religious, will speak of God and God’s will, God’s love without including the name of Jesus.  But you see, it is impossible to know God’s love or God’s will aside from the finished work of Jesus on the cross.  Paul is saying in today’s lesson that if you are ashamed of the name you are not a friend.  If you are ashamed of the name you are ashamed of the His work.  If you are ashamed of Christ’s work, you definitely don’t believe in His work.  If you don’t believe in His work, then you are anathema – separated from God and destined to destruction. I’m sure Paul knew this oppression personally, as he shouts, “O Lord, come!’


The third time Paul uses the word “love”, he again turns to agape, where he speaks of his love for the Corinthian church and for the Lord Jesus Christ.  Here, no matter how much some in Corinth may disagree with him, they can’t deny his selflessness and his sacrifice for them and for all the other congregations Paul is responsible for founding.  Paul is again sharing with them that the love he wants them to have for themselves and the church is the love that he has lived, shared, given, and exemplified to them.


We live in a world where Paul’s words are as meaningful, valuable, pertinent, and relevant as they were in Corinth 1,970 years ago.  It is still our responsibility to be vigilant, brave, and strong and to stand fast.   Not just for the faith but in the faith – to not be ashamed of the name or the mighty work of Jesus.  As Paul tells us in Romans 1:16-17, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, the just shall live by faith.”


The challenge for us is to be as unashamed of Jesus as our Savior as He was unashamed to be called a friend of sinners.  We are called to love Christ, His work, His church, and one another with the same agape love that Jesus loved us.




Remember to pray and confess Psalm 91 daily in the first person.


BLESSING:  The GRACE of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the LOVE of God the Father, and the COMMUNION of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  Amen. ( II Corinthians 13:14 )






1 Corinthians 16:5-12

5.) Now I will come to you when I pass through Macedonia (for I am passing through Macedonia).

6.) And it may be that I will remain, or even spend the winter with you, that you may send me on my journey, wherever I go.

7.) For I do not wish to see you now on the way; but I hope to stay awhile with you, if the Lord permits.

8.) But I tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost.

9.) For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.

10.) And if Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear; for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do.

11.) Therefore let no one despise him. Bur send him on his journey in peace, that he may come to me; for I am waiting for him with the brethren.

12.) Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to come to you with the brethren, but he was quite unwilling to come at this time; however, he will come when he has a convenient time.


As we move toward the end of our study in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, the first 4 verses are basically about Paul’s travel plans.  These plans are part of Paul’s 3rd and last missionary journey. Basically, Paul is telling the Corinthians that he is going to stay in Ephesus until Pentecost as he has a great work going on.  Paul is using the city of Ephesus as a central headquarters for his work in Asia Minor.  At this place in time, the church is growing very fast in Colosse, Laodicea, and Hierapolis as well as Ephesus; and while he had his opponents in the silver and gold jewelry guilds, still a great work was being done.


Paul then says he will come to Greece, going to Macedonia first and then coming to Corinth. The main reason is that he is planning to be in Jerusalem by the next Passover.  He could spend the late summer and fall with the saints in Macedonia, then winter with the saints in Corinth, then sail to Israel for Passover.  He is doing this for two reasons: First, in hopes that the church in Corinth would help him and provide for him during his stay as well as provide for his further travel to Jerusalem.  From reports in Acts and in some of his other letters, we know that the church in Macedonia is wealth disadvantaged in much the same way as the church in Jerusalem.  The fact that they are not just willing but demanding that they be a part of the collection of funds for Jerusalem is a marvel to Paul.

Second, the Aegean and northern Mediterranean seas are very dangerous to sail during the winter months, so Paul figures that he can winter in Corinth and leave for Jerusalem in early spring.


The problem is that Paul reverses his stated plans.  We can not only see this referenced in Acts but also read all about it in II Corinthians.  In doing so, he stirs up a hornets’ nest.  He ends up coming to Corinth first instead of Macedonia, sort of a drop-by visit, which was earlier than expected and not for the length of time the Corinthians had expected.  The whole church was upset.  They felt they were being trivialized.  (‘Here is Paul, asking for support from us, and he treats us in this manner!’)  Now, the entire time Paul was building the church in Corinth, he never took a dime from them but did much as he had been doing in Ephesus – he made tents and sold them.  Nevertheless, it took Titus 3 trips to Corinth to smooth things over….. By the way, Paul did come back to Corinth and spend the winter with them before he departed for Israel, which also helped mollify the situation.


It is verse 10 where we find something that really pertains to our life today.  Paul tells the church in Corinth that Timothy will be coming to them with some of the brethren.  He is very worried about how Timothy will be received by some in the church.  Paul says, “And if Timothy comes, see that he may with you without fear.”  He continues In verse 11, “Therefore let no one despise him. But send him on his journey in peace.”

In the world we live in today there is not a whole lot of peace.  There is not a whole lot of common courtesy.  There is not a whole lot of respect for the other person or their opinions.  I was listening to an interview with Mike Rowe, the gentleman who hosted the show, “Dirty Jobs”.   He has begun a foundation that provides scholarships to train people for trade labor, for folks to become skilled as plumbers, electricians, welders etc.  The interviewer tried to get him to betray his political leanings.  Being a smart man, Mike didn’t.  Instead, he told a story about the 2016 election.  In raising money for his foundation on his Facebook page, he called out to Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump, noting that if they wanted to help train some people for the 6 million trade jobs available, they could do so by sending him an autographed bathrobe, which he would then auction off with proceeds going to foundation.  The only one who responded to his request was Donald Trump.  So, Mike did what he said he would do.  On his podcast he sat in his chair in the robe and auctioned it off.  The high bid was $18,000!  But Mr. Rowe said he lost half of his Twitter and Facebook followers that night.  You see, on the news feeds and YouTube and the streets (if you dare to venture there), people are yelling, screaming, and bullying others simply because they support a person they don’t like or agree with.  I can remember the first time I watched the movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and saw the yellow journalism and the violence depicted while he was trying to do what he was doing on the Senate floor.  I was thinking, surely not in the United States of America?  We didn’t have the civil disobedience we are having today after the shooting of Martin Luther King.  But we have had it since. People not caring about the worth or feelings or beliefs or history of others.  And truth!  Truth is being trampled underfoot because it disagrees with ignorance and an agenda.  Good people are shouted down and bullied because those doing the shouting don’t agree with what they had to say.  Good people like Drew Brees being forced to apologize because in our politically correct world he is not free to speak. His respect for the flag and what it represents to him is counter to the mindset of the truly intolerant in our nation.


You know what the really sad truth is?  We haven’t learned anything in over 2000 years.  I read daily from Oswald Chambers and Charles Spurgeon, and it is amazing how much of the same stupidity was going on 100 to 150 years ago.  Let’s go back almost 300 years ago to the founders of our denomination, Charles and John Wesley.  I have been reading in Charles Wesley’s journal from before he went to Georgia, before Aldersgate, into the 1740’s.  He was an ordained clergyman forcibly removed from preaching, attending a service, or receiving the sacraments.  He was forced to preach in fields and at the entry of mines and bowling greens.  Men were hired by leaders in the community to cause riots and attempt to remove him and even beat him at times.  He was falsely accused and imprisoned on occasion.  All this was happening to him in addition to the stomach problems he had.  Then there were the folks within their own movement who had been influenced by the Moravians who called themselves the Still Movement.  They believed that all the commandments including those of Jesus and the sacraments were all laws, and if you followed them, you didn’t have faith.  People with whom Charles Wesley had labored and prayed to bring to faith, even people he had held as dear friends, would not talk to him or even allow him into their homes.  All because Charles no longer believed the same way they now believed or the way the person who was now their person of influence believed.


I know you are asking, “Preacher, what does that have to do with today’s text?”  This is what Paul feared would happen to Timothy when he came to Corinth.  He was afraid that Timothy (who was not a forceful person.) would be greeted by those in the Corinthian church who disagreed with Paul, that they would treat Timothy in the same way that the Anglican Bishops and Church treated John and Charles Wesley.  I’m only halfway through this first book of journals, and John and Charles have gone to the Bishop of London or the Archbishop at least 6 times.  The two had stated their theological case and been told by the Bishops that they were in good standing.  Then they would attend an Anglican Church and not be allowed to preach, listen, or receive Sacraments.  Paul asked the Corinthians not to do anything that would make Timothy feel afraid but to give him the respect of one doing the Lord’s work.  The word “work” in the Greek is “ergon” (pronounced er’-gon).  It literally means here, “A work one has been ordained to accomplish.”  In other words, Paul is saying if you can’t respect Timothy because you know he is close to me, respect him because of the work he is performing.  When we look at the news and the world events today, how much respect are you seeing across the great divide in our nation?  One glaring example would be the Speaker of the House or other Democrats not standing during the State of the Union Address.  The only time the Speaker stood was after the speech was done, and she then ripped the pages in half in front of the gathered Congress and Senate.  How much respect was represented in those actions?


Paul also asked that Timothy not be despised.  The Greek word here for “despised” is “exoutheneo” (pronounced ex-oo-then-eh’-o), meaning to treat one with contempt.  Paul asked that they not treat Timothy with contempt.  Today, there seems to be contempt everywhere we look:  Contempt for the values of others’ property; contempt for benefits of life for which other people have worked, sacrificed and earned; contempt for the value of other beliefs, thoughts, and reasoning; contempt for a truth based on facts and documentation; contempt against life itself.  Did you know that during these so-called peaceful protests that 18 other people of color have been killed by people of color?  Did you know that in 2019 over 6000 people of color were killed by other people of color?  And what about abortion? There is so much contempt toward basic decency and respect for life – it is heartbreaking and demoralizing.


Paul also asked that Timothy be sent on the remainder of his journey in peace.  The Greek for peace is “eirene” (pronounced, i-rah’-nay) and carries with it the same meaning of the Hebrew word shalom – which is health, welfare, prosperity, every kind of good, and mercy.  Paul asked the Corinthian Christians to have that kind of peace for Timothy.


What do you think could happen if both sides of the divide in this country, and even in this world, would reach out to one another and offer this kind of peace?


In my 20 years as your pastor, I’ve always tried to end my sermons with the promise of the Good News of the Cross of Jesus Christ.  Today I didn’t speak a lot about Good News.  But the fact is, the Cross of Christ is the only Good News.  It alone is our only hope.  Until we as the Church are willing to stand in the face of the real hatred, the lies, the disrespect, and the contempt we face today and proclaim the real truth of God’s love, the words found in John 3:16&17, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”  


We cannot and will not have that peace until we proclaim the finished work of Jesus and understand that the only person who can break the hearts on both side of the divide is not a presidential candidate, but the Holy Spirit.  We must realize that what we need is not the right outcome of an election but a great awakening of the power of the Cross., a great awakening of the power of the Holy Spirit, a revival of such enormity that brings us all to our knees with the understanding of the Prodigal Son –  I have nothing, I am nothing, all that I have is You, Lord, all that I can receive, all that I want to receive is You and from You.  When the Church comes to that point, then we will be able to exemplify the love of God through Christ to the world, to confess and profess that Love to the world.  Then we will see the Holy Spirit work that same work in the world that He has worked in us.  Only then will we see respect instead of contempt, truth instead of lies, mercy instead of callousness, real love instead of systematic hatred, peace instead of conflict.


I am now asking you to join with me in something special.  I know that I have only a few weeks left as your pastor, and then the responsibility of leading at Jersey UMC will fall to someone else.  But what I am asking is simple, and it is something you can continue to do with me after June 30th.  I’m asking you to join with me daily and pray for a Great Awakening, that Enormous Spiritual Revival, that the Holy Spirit will come down and manifest the Gospel of Christ’s work and God’s love.  First to the Church to restore it  – and then to restore our country.  You see, The Father doesn’t believe in ballot boxes, but He does answer prayer.




Remember to claim Psalm 91 daily in the first person.


BLESSING:  May The Father who raises the dead, gives life to dead bone, and breathes life into the lifeless, breathe His life into us as believers, His Church, as his Son’s body, that we might be the ones He uses to breathe life into a dead and weary world.  AMEN


1 Corinthians 16:1-4

1.) Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also:

2.) On the first day of the week let each of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collection when I come.

3.) And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem.

4.) But if it be fitting that I go also, they will go with me.


We are coming close to the completion of our study on Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians as we move into this final 16th chapter.  It will not present us with any deep theological issues but will mostly deal with measures of housekeeping and letter closure.  Nonetheless, if we are not careful, we can miss some valuable teaching.


Paul starts off the chapter answering a question that must have been poised to him by the letter he had received from the church earlier:  How should they go about collecting the offering for the church in Jerusalem?  This offering was an important focal point during Paul’s third missionary journey.  It is mentioned here and really dwelt upon in II Corinthians in chapters 8 & 9.  In his letter to the Romans, it is confirmed that it was completed.


Many scholars have proposed various reasons why this offering was so important to Paul.  Luke mentions it often in Acts.  Paul also writes in many of his letters, especially in the letter to the Hebrews, his desire for the conversion of his fellow Jews.  The church in Jerusalem was primarily Hebrew, but they were also saved.  I believe that Paul’s desire for this offering was for two major reasons. The first was that there was a real need. Acts tells us that very early in the church’s existence the Jerusalem church had taken on the responsibility for the care of the displaced in the city.  These were represented in Acts by the term “widows”.  Also, in 49 A.D. there was a severe famine in Judea and Palestine which put even more pressure on the church’s resources to care for the displaced.  Paul’s second reason was that he knew he was considered the Apostle to the Gentiles.  While he was deeply respected and, I believe, loved by Peter, there were many in the Jerusalem church who had a difficult time letting go of the law and especially the requirement of circumcision.  The fact that the Gentile believers were not being held to this standard made them view the Gentile churches as separate/different.  Paul saw this offering from the Gentile churches to the church in Jerusalem as a chance to show in a material and beneficial way the unity of all believers.  I can just picture in Paul’s mind the image of a delegation of believers from all the churches in Asia Minor and Greece coming to Jerusalem and presenting this unsolicited offering to their Christian brethren in Jerusalem…


Okay, preacher, thank you for the history lesson.  How is this important today?  Well, I believe it is important because it tells us some facts that we Christians should know about ourselves:  1) We should be generous people.  What I mean by that is that we should be people who are looking for opportunities to give.  Christians should be givers.  As one author puts it, every day we are the blessing of God going somewhere to happen.  Paul is not talking to the Corinthians or to us about tithing.  He is talking about giving beyond the tithe.  He is talking about being generous.  In Jewish thought, and also in the Scriptures, one’s generosity or lack thereof was symbolized by the eyes.  If you had a good eye, you were a generous person.  If you had an evil eye, you were not a generous person but a selfish one.   Examples of this can be found in Deuteronomy 15:9, Proverbs 22:9, Proverbs 28:22, and Matthew 20:15.   Paul wants us to have a good eye, a generous eye, looking for ways to give and be generous.  2) Generous people pllan to be generous.  Giving people do not always share at the spur of the moment, but sometimes we do.  An unknown need may present itself quite suddenly, and yet usually in those situations we wish we had been better prepared. Normally, we are not able to give as much as we would like or what we sense the real need may be.  I heard a story about Danny Thomas the other day.  He was early in his career and didn’t have a lot of money but was very faithful to the church.  He was at Mass one Sunday and was so impressed with what the priest had to say that he put all the money he had in the world in the collection box.  It was $7. On the way home, he realized all his funds were gone.  He thought his wife was going to be furious because their first child was to be born that week, and now how was he going to pay for the hospital bill?  He he prayed to St. Jude, whom he said nobody prays to because he is the Saint of Lost Causes; but he prayed anyway.  On the following Monday, he got an offer to do a voice-over on a radio show. They were scheduled for Wednesday, and he would get paid on Friday – in the sum of $75.00.  He did the work on Wednesday, got paid on Friday, and his daughter, Marlo, was born on Saturday.  The hospital bill came to $74.96… I share this as an example of giving at the spur of the moment.  Danny Thomas often said he wished he had more than $7 to give.


Paul didn’t want the Corinthians or the Galatians (or us!) to be only spur-of-the-moment givers. He asks believers to be prayerful, thoughtful, continuous givers.  He told the Corinthians not to wait until he arrived to make a collection.  He told them to do exactly what he had told the churches in Galatia to do.  The English here is translated, “I have given orders.”  The Greek makes it very clear that THIS WAS NOT A SUGGESTION, but that each member on the first day of each week was to take an amount in relation to their personal prosperity and set it aside.  Then when he came, it would all be collected and sent with a representative from their congregation to present it to the church in Jerusalem.  Paul knew that when people actually looked forward and planned to give, they were able to give far more!


When I was serving a small church in my early ministry, one of the missions that church supported was known as the Heifer Project.  It is an organization that works in Third World countries and takes the money given to it to provide cows and goats to people to help them provide for their families in different ways – milk for themselves and maybe even milk to sell.  It is a very worthwhile ministry.  We would announce it in the bulletin a month in advance and collect the offering on the appointed Sunday.  We never raised more than $80-90 that way.  Then one year I asked the church to join me in a Lenten offering.  I simply asked the congregation to match any extra expense to a project.  By extra I meant something that they did not absolutely have to do or have.  If they went out to eat and it cost them $20, they were then to match that same amount for the project.  If they went to a game or a movie, same thing.  You get the idea.  I also asked them to deny themselves that extra privilege if they did not have funds for both the expense and the matching donation.  The church decided to donate the Lenten offering to the Heifer Project.  It was funny – as Lent progressed, they got more and more excited.  We planned to bring the offering and place it on the altar at the 11:00am worship service Easter Sunday.  The UMW decided that everyone should bring their offering in a box that they had decorated especially for the occasion.  During Easter morning’s closing hymn, the congregation members brought their offering (mostly in decorated coffee cans) and placed them on the altar.  The total that Sunday was just $15 short of being $1000……When that was announced the next Sunday, a gentleman in the church got up immediately, walked over to the treasurer, and handed him $15.   And that year the church was able to send $1,000 to the Heifer Project!  This was repeated for the next two years that I served there, and it got bigger each year.


I shared this because it points to what Paul is trying to tell us.  When we think about our giving, when we focus on our giving, when we decide that we are going to be generous people and begin to look for ways to be a blessing to others, when giving becomes part of our plan.  To do what the people of that little church did years ago meant they had to stop and think and plan.  They had to ask themselves, “If I go to McDonald’s or Burger King or the new Mexican place uptown, do I have the money to match?  If I go see “The Empire Strikes Back” or “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, do I have the matching funds for the tickets and the concessions?”  They had to think and make choices.  And through the 40 days of Lent, they ended up giving 11 times more than they had ever given before…


We are coming up on the end of a long drought as a congregation.  We haven’t met in the sanctuary since March 15th.  The Bishop and Cabinet haven’t given any new directions, so as of now, we will not meet again until June 28th.  That’s fourteen weeks without a service or collection.  The church still has financial needs and obligation.  We thank Ginger for the hard work she has put into the website that has allowed us to get our message out.  We thank God for the telephone which has allowed us to keep in touch with one another.  We thank God that when this pandemic came, He had provided a buffer that enabled us to proceed.  And we thank God that this gives us three weeks to thoughtfully, prayerfully, and intentionally plan how we are going to use the resources God has given each of us to be the generous givers Christ has called us to be.  Oh, yes – the word “gifts” in verse three in the Greek is charis, and it is pronounced khar’-ece, and it means a gift of grace given in response to the grace received.




Remember to confess Psalm 91 each day in the first person.


BLESSING:  Now may the God of grace, the Son of peace and the Spirit of power bless you and keep you in their loving presence. Amen!



Numbers 11:24-30

24.) So Moses went out and told the people the words of the LORD, and he gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people and placed them around the tabernacle.

25.) Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and placed the same upon the seventy elders; and it happened, when the Spirit rested upon them, that they prophesied, although they never did so again.

26.) But two men remained in the camp: the name of one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad. And the Spirit rested upon them. Now they were among those listed, but who had not gone out to the tabernacle; yet they prophesied in the camp.

27.) And a young man ran and told Moses, and said, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.”

28.) So Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, one of his choice men, answered and said, “Moses my lord, forbid them!”

29.) Then Moses said to him, “Are you zealous for my sake? Oh, that all the LORD’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!”

30.) And Moses returned to the camp, both he and the elders of Israel.


It’s Pentecost Sunday.  The season of Easter has ended, and the celebration of Jesus’ promise of the Comforter begins.  Pentecost is the day we celebrate the giving of the Holy Spirit to the church.  The Jews celebrate Pentecost also.  For them, it marks 50 days after the Passover and the giving of the law at Mount Sinai.  For the church, Pentecost falls 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus; and instead of the law, the church, which was made up of the disciples, received the Holy Spirit.  On the Jewish Pentecost, Moses had been on the mountain for 40 days, so the Israelites had decided to build a golden calf and worship it as their god.  When Moses came down off the mountain, he broke the tablets with the law written by the hand of God.  If he hadn’t, the outcome would have been a lot worse, but as it was, over 3000 people died.  In the church’s Pentecost, the disciples were baptized with the Holy Spirit and over 3000 people were saved.


On the day of Pentecost, Peter, who had denied Jesus before His crucifixion, preached, and over 3000 people were saved.  Acts 2 tells us that there was a mighty wind that all the people who were in Jerusalem that day experienced.  Acts tells us that in the same way the dove lighted on Jesus at His baptism in the Jordan, tongues of fire were upon the heads of the disciples.  The disciples began to speak in other tongues, but these tongues were not indiscernible to the pilgrims from other countries who had come to Jerusalem for the feast. In fact, Acts tells us that many heard the Gospel preached in their home language, and many were added to the church that day.


Much too often we like to focus on the Tongues.  Modern charismatics like to focus on the gift of Tongues.  Today, I would like for us to focus on the real message of the day.  The scripture text this morning may seem unusual for this important Christian day, but it speaks to the real sustenance of the Holy Spirit.  The children of Israel had not been in the wilderness too long at the telling of this story, but they were already complaining.  This wasn’t the first time they had complained, and it wouldn’t be the last; but they were already tired of the manna and were wanting meat.  Moses had brought that and other priorities before the LORD.  Besides the meat, how was he to dispense justice, since he was just one person and the demands were too great for him.  God tells him what to do and to go back and tell the people what He, the LORD, was going to do.  Let’s zero in on what God told Moses to do about the justice part.  He told Moses to choose 70 elders (known leaders of the tribes) and bring them to the tabernacle.  This is what Moses does.  He gathers the 70 elders and brings them before the tabernacle. When this is done God comes down on a cloud.  Literally in the Hebrew. God came down on His pedestal and spoke to Moses – not to Moses and the elders but just to Moses.  Then the Scripture tells us that God “took of the Spirit that was upon him (upon Moses) and placed the same upon the seventy elders.”  Not some or a part of the Spirit, but the same Spirit that was with Moses and upon Moses was given to the 70 elders.  Moses did not have less of the Holy Spirit.  Rather, the Holy Spirit was given to the seventy elders also.  Upon receiving the Holy Spirit, what do the seventy elders begin to do?  They begin to prophesy.  Like the disciples on that first Christian Pentecost Sunday, they began telling of the goodness of God, the mighty works of God, the promises of God, and the power of God.  And because two of the seventy elders decided not to follow Moses to the tabernacle, but stayed in the camp, the people heard the prophecies also.  The point is that the seventy elders were being called to do a great task:  to help Moses with the governing of Israel.  In order to do that. they had to be empowered.  How did God empower them for this work? He gave them the Holy Spirit!


All of you know that I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer.  It takes me awhile to figure some things out.  For example, early in my ministry, I had a difficult time understanding Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River.  The Scripture plainly tells us that John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance.  So why did Jesus have to be baptized?  After all, He was sinless.  I always focused on the baptism and the voice from Heaven which said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  I even recognized the dove that descended, but I always equated it with the voice from Heaven.  The Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit descended like a dove.  I have known since confirmation that the dove and fire were the church’s symbols for the Holy Spirit.  Yet in my struggle to settle in my mind the reason for Jesus’ baptism, it took me a long time to realize that Jesus did not go to the Jordan for sin.  He went to the Jordan and into the water out of obedience.  Everyone else went for repentance, promising to be obedient afterward.  Jesus went out of obedience, and from that act of obedience, He received the missing piece to His ministry – the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Where did this baptism come from?  It came from God the Father.  Where did the baptism of the Holy Spirit for the elders in our text come from?  It came from the LORD.  Where did the disciples’ baptism of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost come from?  God the Father.


This tells us that the Holy Spirit is a gift.  It is not something we can get for ourselves.  It is not something we can earn.  The Holy Spirit can only be received.  The elders in our text only knew what Moses had told them.  He had repeated God’s message.   But they had to receive.  Likewise, Jesus’ disciples had been told to wait in Jerusalem for the power.  They had to be at a point where they could receive.  The disciples had watched Jesus ascend into heaven.  The forty days of Jesus’ appearing to the believers after His resurrection were over.  Acts tells us that they went back to the upper room, and Acts 1:14 says, “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.”  They prepared themselves through prayer.  They united themselves together in belief.  They were in one accord.  They replaced Judas with Mattias, thus there was 12 once again. Like Jesus, the disciples through their obedience prepared themselves to receive.


This also tells us that not only is the Holy Spirit a gift from God but it is also the power of God to do His work.  The elders of our text were being called to help Moses in ruling the children of Israel. It was a job they could not do within their own wisdom, knowledge, strength, or power.  God didn’t just tell Moses to choose 70 leaders and appoint them to their position.  God told him to choose the 70 and bring them to the tabernacle where He would give them the same Spirit that Moses had.  The disciples were given the great commission by Jesus, but he also told them to tarry in Jerusalem until the power had come upon them.  Once that happened, they made 3000 new disciples in one day!  Jesus did not begin His ministry until He received the Holy Spirit.  Without the Holy Spirit. He could not have withstood the temptations in the wilderness.  Without the Holy Spirit, He could not have turned the water into wine, healed the man from Capernaum’s son from Cana, healed the sick, raised the dead, given sight back to the blind, or suffered the indignations of the Passion.  This leads me to question – if Jesus couldn’t do the Father’s will and work without the Holy Spirit, why do we think we can?……


There is a real misunderstanding in the church today, a misunderstanding about the Holy Spirit. We give Him lip service. There are doves and flames of fire on our banners and in our stained-glass windows.  He is part of the blessings, the benedictions, and the Apostles’ Creed.  But how much is He a part of the life of our church?  How much is He a part of our personal lives?  Do we rely on His wisdom to make right decisions?  Do we rely on His knowledge to know the difference between our will and God’s will, our work and God’s work?  Do we rely on His power to do the work we think we can’t or really don’t want to do  –  to be where we really don’t want to be, to sacrifice what we really don’t want to sacrifice?  Do we trust in the Holy Spirit to give us the strength to truly take up our cross and follow Jesus, to really be a disciple and not just play one in the church pew or the world?  God the Father has called us to be His and to do His work.  Yet He has not just called us.  If we will recognize it, He has also empowered us for that work by that gift of the Holy Spirit!!


I believe that is where our biggest misunderstanding lies.  The Father has given, but we have not received?  The elders received.  The apostles received.  Even our Lord, Jesus Christ, received.  The Holy Spirit is given to us with our profession of faith, when we confess our belief in Jesus as God’s only Son, sent to redeem us from our sins.  When we confess our belief that through the finished work of Christ on the cross, we receive eternal redemption through His blood and unconditional forgiveness of sins through His death.  When we confess that through His resurrection we are eternally justified, that in His ascension the work is complete.  The Holy Spirit is given to us right then.  But have we received?  Do we want to receive?  Have we regulated the Holy Spirit or compartmentalized Him so that we are not led by Him except when we deem it appropriate?  There are people who are scared of the Holy Spirit, afraid of what they think He might make them do.  They fear where He might ask them to go or what He might ask them to give up or change about their life.  So, they try to determine God’s will and work in their own wisdom and knowledge.  Or worse, they try to determine God’s will and work according to the world’s wisdom and knowledge.  They are afraid of their cross because they want to be a disciple just by following what they believe is right.  In doing this, they ignore the POWER that enables trust completely and freely.  They ignore the POWER that the Father has placed right there for a walk in victory.  The POWER to be what we are called to be by the Father is right there in front of us.  All we have to do is RECEIVE.


The main reason many do not receive is fear of the unknown, but the Holy Spirit is not unknown.  As we read Scripture, Jesus tells us all about Him.  The Holy Spirit is our comforter.  He comes to give us assurance of the Father’s love for us, assurance of our salvation found in the finished work of Jesus on the cross, assurance of our relationship with a living, resurrected, and ascended Savior.  He comes to give us wisdom, knowledge, and understanding about the Father’s calling upon our life.  He comes to lift up Jesus in us that we may walk in the way Jesus wants us to walk and the power to be what Christ has called us to be.  The Holy Spirit comes to give us the peace of Christ, the peace that passes all understanding.  The Holy Spirit comes so that we may be the disciples and makers of disciples Christ has called us to be.


Another fear which causes people not to receive the Holy Spirit is the fear of what He might make them do.  Church, the Holy Spirit is not going to make you do anything.  That is totally and completely against God’s will.  Rather, Holy Spirit will lead you if you are willing to be led…. He will teach you if you are willing to be taught.  He will strengthen you if you are willing to be the Father’s worker and follower of the Father’s will.  He will give you the wisdom and knowledge of God if you are willing to ask, seek, and knock for it in God’s word.  He will give you all you need to be a faithful follower of Christ.  He will do it freely and gladly.  But the Holy Spirit will not make you do anything.


What is interesting again in our text for today about Moses is that two elders did not go to the tabernacle, yet they also received the Holy Spirit.  These two elders were still in the camp among the people, but they received the Holy Spirit and were prophesying.  Their names were Eldad and Medad. The Scripture tells us a young man ran to boldly declare to Moses what was going on back in the camp.  It also tells us that Moses’ most trusted assistant, Joshua, wanted Moses to shut them up, but Moses would not.  Instead, he said, “Oh that all the LORD’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!”


Church, that is exactly what God did on the day of the Christian Pentecost.  He gave His Holy Spirit to all who were ready to receive.  He gave the power to proclaim the good news of His Son’s finished work.  He gave power to endure and victoriously overcome persecution.  He gave power to go out to the highways and byways and compel not just the Jew but also the Gentile to come in.  He gave the power to heal in places where simply the shadow of the apostles fell upon a person.  God gave the promise of our salvation and our resurrection.  God gave the internal presence of the eternal God and an internal witness to our eternal life.  God gave His Holy Spirit.


If you are reading this today and have not received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I hope you will take steps to do that right now.  Thank Jesus for His great gift of salvation through His death,  tell Him you want His authority in your life, and accept His love for you as you give your love to Him.   Then prepare yourself to receive Jesus’ presence in your life through the Holy Spirit.  It’s that simple and that awesome…..


If for some reason you have already received Jesus but for fear or lack of knowledge have not received the Holy Spirit – or if you have received the Holy Spirit but have relegated Him to a back seat in your life so that you can be in control instead of Him – I pray that you will freely reach for and accept the Holy Spirit today.  I pray that you will release Him in your life today so that you can enjoy what the Father wants you to have and be what the Father has created you to be.




Remember to read Psalm 91 in the first person – every day.


BLESSING:  Now may the God of peace which passes all understanding, the Son who makes that peace available to all who are willing to receive, and the Spirit that bring that peace into the center of our very being, be in you and keep you.  Amen.


1 Corinthians 15:50-58

50.) Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.

51.) Behold I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we all shall be changed

52.) in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

53.) For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

54.) So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

55.) “O Death , where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”

56.) The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.

57.) But thanks be to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58.) Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.


As we continue our study in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, Paul completes his argument for the resurrection of the dead and the spiritual body.  He tells us that the carnal, the things of this world, cannot inherit the kingdom of God.  What does he mean by this?  First of all, the kingdom of God is not of this world.  I think that there is a mistaken belief that just because Jesus said the kingdom of God is near you, that the kingdom of God is of this world.  It is not.  It is the heavenly kingdom which became present on this earth in the presence of the heavenly Man, Jesus.  It remains present through the power of the Holy Spirit in those of us who are His disciples.  Thus, the only influence the kingdom of God  has in the affairs of this world is through the body of believers, the church.  Secondly, the kingdom of God is eternal.  Revelations chapter 21 lets us know that this world is not eternal, and that there will be a new Heaven and a new Earth.  There will be a new, eternal Jerusalem which will come down from Heaven.  So those that are to inhabit this new world must be as eternal as it is.  As Paul says, corruption cannot inherit incorruption.

Paul further states, “Behold, I tell you a mystery.”  The Greek word there is musterion, pronounced, moos-tay’-ree-on.  It means a learned secret into which one must be initiated or instructed before it can be known.  Paul uses this same word in the 3rd chapter of Ephesians where he talks about his calling from Christ to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles.  In that passage, he is saying that Jesus personally instructed or initiated him in the gospel of grace and faith.  Here in Corinthians, Paul is telling us that he is ready to instruct us in the mystery of eternity.  When Jesus comes back, not all believers will be alive; some will be asleep.  (Remember Paul does not use the word dead or death for the believer, rather, they have fallen asleep.)  Yet whether dead or alive, when Jesus comes back, we will all be changed. I love the Greek word used here for ‘changed’.  It is allasso, pronounced al-las’-so, and means to be transformed from one nature to a different nature.  Thus, we as believers will be transformed from that which is subject to ruin and decay to that which has everlasting existence!!  We as believers will be transformed from that which is subject to the power of death to that over which death has no power.  Also, when the trumpet sounds, this will all happen in a mere moment, in the twinkling of an eye.  To modernize it, we could say ‘in an atomic second’.   This is a must: To inherit the kingdom, the corruptible must put on incorruption, and the mortal must put on immortality.


Now, Paul really gets excited, because once the trumpet blows and the transforming of natures occurs, the final the greatest promise of God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ happens.  Death is totally defeated!  Paul quotes (actually, paraphrases) from two texts, Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14:  the victory over Death.  Notice that ‘Death’ is capitalized.  In the Greek, this means the extinction of life. The extinction of life has been swallowed up by resurrection life.  Death no longer has any power. Death no longer has any power because sin no longer has any power.  Sin no longer has any power because its strength, the law, has been fulfilled.


The word Paul usually uses for sin translates as “missing the mark”, but here sin translates as “straying from right teaching”.  So how has Death lost its sting if its sting is sin, and sin here translates as straying from right teaching?  And how has Death lost its sting if the power of the sting, the power of the sin, is found in the Mosaic Law?

Paul returns to a major theme he carries throughout all of his letters, but especially in Romans and Hebrews.  First is his belief that the law is perfect, but that it can’t make us perfect.  The law is holy, but it can’t make us holy.  The law is righteous, but it can’t make us righteous.  The law tells us what we must do to be all these things, but it can’t make us or help us to do the works it takes to be holy, perfect, and righteous.  Second is his belief that the law gives strength to the power of sin.  Paul said that he would not have known what sin was if it wasn’t for the law.  The law told him he shouldn’t covet, but he didn’t know what coveting was and wasn’t tempted to do it until he was told not to…..We are powerless to fulfill the law.  We might be able to keep some for awhile but never all ten; and if we break even one, we have broken them all.  I mean – how often do we truly love the Lord our God with all our heart, our soul, our mind, and our strength?  And do we keep EVERY sabbath holy?  We may desire to keep the law, but we can’t; it is not humanly possible.  And if this is something that we are really striving for, it creates guilt.  Guilt brings condemnation, and condemnation causes us to focus on our sins, our shortcomings, and our failures.  These come about because we have been focused on the wrong teaching.  The major theme is that we are saved by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. 


Jesus came, and He fulfilled the law.  By the life He lived in total submission to the will of the Father, He fulfilled the law.  By the suffering of His passion, He purchased our healing.  By His death on the cross, He secured our eternal, unconditional forgiveness.  By the shedding of His precious blood, the provision was made, and the ransom was paid for our sins.  His resurrection proves our justification, and His ascension to the right hand of the Father means that all the work that needs to be done is complete!  When we believe that God has taken all our sins, shortcomings, and failures and placed them with Jesus on the cross; when we believe that God has taken all Jesus’ perfection, holiness, and righteousness and imputed it on us; when we believe, trust, and place our faith in grace, the unmerited favor of God through the finished work of Christ on the cross; when we believe that through that finished work on the cross, Jesus fulfilled the law for us, then sin has no sting, because it has no strength.  It has no strength because it can no longer create in us guilt and condemnation.  It can no longer create in us guilt and condemnation because we are no longer straying from the right teaching. Because we believe these truths, when the trumpet sounds, our corruption will become incorruption, and our mortal will become immortal – and the extinction of life will become extinct through the power of resurrection life.


Paul, still excited, wants us to continue to walk in that resurrection power.  He wants us to understand that the promise is sure.  Because the promise is sure, we should remain steadfast and immovable in the work to which the Lord has called us.  And what is the work that Christ has called us to do?  Well, there are many positions in the modern church, many offices to be filled, just as there were many positions in the early church.  Remember, Paul talks about them in chapter 12.  But positions and the work that goes into them, I believe, is different than the work Paul is mentioning here in verse 58 – because the word translated “work” here in the Greek literally means, a “work one has been called to do”.  So, what work have all of us who are followers of Jesus Christ been called to do?  We’ve been called to make disciples!!  Paul tells us that because we know our promise is sure, we should be strengthened to share the good news to anyone and everyone we can.  And just as God’s promise to us is not empty, neither will our labor in making disciples and sharing the Good News of God’s love and Christ’s grace be empty.


The good news of the resurrection – the power of the resurrection – is that the only places that are empty are the tombs, Christ’s and ours!





Remember to read daily Psalm 91 in the first person and continue to claim for yourself its great assurances about your relationship with Almighty God, your loving heavenly Father….


BLESSSING – May the love of the Father, the grace of the Son, and the presence of the Holy Spirit equip you to do the work you have been called to do.  Amen.




1 Corinthians 15:35-49

1 Corinthians 15:35-49


35.) But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?”

36.) Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies.

37.) And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain, perhaps wheat or some other grain.

38.) But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.

39.) All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds.

40.) There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.

41.) There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory.

42.) So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.

43.) It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.

44.) It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

45.) And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

46.) However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.

47.) The first man was of the earth, made of dust, the second man is the Lord from Heaven.

48.) As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly.

49.) And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.


Paul is finally answering the question that the Corinthians were asking, “How can there be a resurrection of the body?”  First, we need to remember the differences in the line of thought between the Jewish and Greek believers. The Jews, except the Sadducees, believed in the resurrection of the dead in a bodily form.  The Greeks believed the soul would live on but not the body.  The reason for this failure to believe is pretty straight forward.  What happens when a person dies and is buried?  Over time, their body decomposes.  Thus, the Greek believers couldn’t wrap their heads around being resurrected in a body that had been in the ground a few days, much less a few weeks, months or years.


Paul basically calls them idiots. The Scripture is translated as foolish ones, but the Greek is much harsher….Paul tells them to look around, to learn from the everyday events happening in the world.  Paul tells them to look at agriculture and observe what happens when a seed is planted.  He uses this analogy because for a seed to grow, it has to be planted in the ground.  Likewise, when a person dies, they are buried in the ground.  What is put into the ground is only a seed, a bare, naked piece of grain.  Yet what comes up?  God creates from that seed a whole new body, a body that is totally different in appearance from the seed that was buried in the ground.


The Corinthians were focused on the flesh. Paul tells them to look around the animal world.  All creatures have flesh.  People, birds, fish, and animals all have flesh.  In verse 39, the word for one and another are the same Greek word.  It literally means the same but different.  We all have flesh, but the kinds of flesh we have differs.  Even as individuals our flesh will differ.  Some of us have lighter or darker pigmentation.  Some of us because of our age have smoother or softer skin.  Some of us have a few more wrinkles.  For some our skin is tight, and for some of us it hangs kind of loose. Even as human beings, we differ.

Are we seeing a theme here? Paul continues. He tells the Corinthians that there are celestial bodies, and there are terrestrial bodies.  But their external appearance is not the same.  In verses 40 and 41, this is what the word “glory” means – one’s external appearance.  In the heavens the sun and the moon and the stars are all celestial bodies, but they are different in appearance.  The sun gives us light and heat in the world during the day.  The moon gives us light at night, but not nearly as bright as the sun, and it also changes shapes and sizes in the sky.  Even the stars have different sizes and brightness. Then there are the terrestrial bodies.  A mountain is different than a hill or a valley.  A river is different from a creek or an ocean.  A tree is different from a vine.  A grass is different from an herb.  Paul is trying to get his Gentile believers to understand that the resurrection of the believer is the completion of what was begun at conversion.  Just as we became new people when we placed our faith in Jesus Christ for our salvation, at the resurrection we receive our new bodies. One given to us by God, eternal in nature, so that we can dwell with him forever.


Paul tells us that in death the old body is sown in corruption.  The old body is sown in dishonor. The old body is sown in weakness.  The old body is sown a natural body.  Paul tells the Corinthians (and us)that he’s not talking about the earthly body being restored.  Because of sin, one can’t restore the earthly body.  Because of sin, the earthly body suffers corruption.  Because of sin, the earthly body has been dishonored – by the sins we have committed, the unholy acts we have performed before and after our conversion.  We may be saved, but we are not perfect.  We may strive to be perfect through God’s love, but we are not perfect in our actions, thoughts, or habits.  None of us is an over-comer in every aspect of our lives, and through this weakness, we not only dishonor God but also our own bodies.


The next idea is the one Paul hopes will catch the Corinthians’ attention.  The old body is sown a natural body.  You see the word translated natural is the Greek word psuchikos (pronounced psoo-khee-kos’).  It means a sensual body governed by the soul.  Remember what we said earlier?  The Greeks believed that the soul was what was eternal.  The Hebrews believed that the soul was what made humanity different from the rest of the animal creation.  It was what made humanity able to communicate with God.  The Hebrews did believe that the soul was eternal, but not outside of a body.  By using the word “psuchikos”,  Paul was telling the Corinthians that for the soul to exist eternally, it had to be connected to a body eternally.


Then Paul gives us the good news.  The body that is sown in corruption, dishonor, weakness, and natural will be raised.  The body will be raised in incorruption.  The body will be raised in glory. The body will be raised in power.  The body will be a spiritual body.  Because of the finished work of Jesus on the cross, sin no longer has dominion.  And because sin no longer has dominion, we will be resurrected to live with Him in our new incorruptible body.  Because of the finished work of Jesus on the cross, our new body will be surrounded, immersed, and saturated with His glory.  This is not the same word as before that meant external appearance. It means the eternal radiance of the Father and the Son!  Because of the finished work of Jesus on the cross, our new body will be raised in power.  It will be mighty, miraculous, abundant, and will carry with it the almighty power and energy of God the Father.  Last but not least, through the finished work of Jesus on the cross, it will be a spiritual body. The Greek word here is pneumatikos, (phyoo-mat-ik-os)  and is a body that is non-carnal, which means not from this world but ethereal, extremely delicate, and light in a way that is too perfect for this world.  A body dominated by the Spirit of God, not the things of this world…


Paul reemphasizes to them there is a spiritual body.  A body created to last for eternity, created for those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ and His finished work.  And it is as different from our earthly body as the seed of grain is from the plant it produces. Paul wanted them to see the differences so they could receive the promises. 


Paul returns to a theological theme to which he often refers – that of the first Adam and the second Adam.  The first Adam is the Adam of Genesis, created by God from the dust of the earth, created to be in fellowship with God.  The first Adam was not created to die but to live in perpetuity with God.  Yet we know what happened – sin got in the way, and things didn’t work out.  God gave Adam and Eve free will, and they chose poorly.  That was when corruption, dishonor, weakness, and the natural or carnal came into play.  But John’s Gospel tells us that God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, that through Him humanity would not perish but have everlasting life.  We know the Son is Jesus, and that makes Him the second Adam.  As John puts it, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  Jesus chose righteously and fulfilled the will of the Father.  Through that fulfillment and Christ’s finished work on the cross, He was resurrected as the first fruit, our guarantee. But before Jesus could be our Savior, He had to empty himself and become a human person.  He had to take on the natural body.  He had to live and be faithful in the carnal, natural world.


What Paul wants the Corinthians and us to understand is the difference between the two Adams. The first Adam was created in this world from the dust of this world.  He chose to be equal with God rather than to be in fellowship with God.  The second Adam was not from this world.  Paul tells us that He is Lord, which means supreme in authority, master of all.  He was the creator of this world, but He saw equality with God as something not to be grasped.  Instead, He emptied Himself and took upon Himself the natural body, the corruptible body of this world.  At His resurrection, He received His spiritual body.  You see, Jesus didn’t go from spirit to carnal to spirit.  At His resurrection, He received the same spiritual body promised to us. The same body that could walk with two disciples down the Emmaus road, break bread with them, and then disappear from their sight.  The same body that walked through the door of the upper room yet ate fish to prove He wasn’t a ghost.  The same body that was held by Mary at the tomb and commanded Thomas to place his fingers in his nail holes and his fist into his side.  The same body that prepared breakfast by the Sea of Galilee and met Paul on the road to Damascus.  But before He could receive His spiritual body, Jesus had to receive His natural or worldly body.


What Paul wanted the Corinthians to see is the same thing he want you and me to see.  That which is promised to us is incredible, eternal, not of this world.  The resurrection body is made after the heavenly Man, Jesus, incorruptible.  That is the promise for us who have placed our faith in Jesus and His finished work.  While on this earth and in this life, we are bearing the image of the man of dust. We have aches and pains. Perhaps we can’t move as fast or with as much agility as we once did.  We may be dealing with illnesses or handicaps that make this life a little harder than we would like it to be.  That is because we are living in a fallen world.  All those things are part of this world, but Jesus said, “I have overcome the world.”  Both Isaiah and Matthew tell us that by His stripes we have healing.  Paul tells us we may be in the world, but we are not of the world. And through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can have victory in this world, a victory is forever.  We will only die once.  Like a mere seed of grain, we may be placed in the ground.  But the promise is this – there is a resurrection, and at our own resurrection we will bear the image of the heavenly Man:  JESUS!




Remember to pray and claim Psalm 91 in the first person.


BLESSING – May the Father envelop you with His resurrection power. May the Christ envelop you in His grace.  May the Holy Spirit strengthen and empower you to victory in this world. Amen




1 Corinthians 15:29-34

1 Corinthians 15:29-34


29.) Otherwise, what would they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead?

30.) And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour?

31.) I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.

32.) If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beast at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”

33.) Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”

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


Continuing our study in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, Paul returns to his argument for the resurrection of the dead.  In verses 20 to 28 he took a brief departure to share about the ultimate victory through Christ’s resurrection, but here in verse 29 he pushes his resurrection argument further.  This is begun by referring to an action that in its very nature is heretical: being baptized for the dead.  This action was one that many scholars cannot agree on regarding what Paul may have been talking about. Through the centuries many articles and even books have been written on this verse alone.  Gordon D. Fee, whose commentary may be the most comprehensive study on I Corinthians, offers almost 16 different takes with twice as many proponents.


One of the biggest drawbacks to trying to explain this away is the Greek language itself.  The translation of this 29th verse is spot on.  One cannot say,  “Well, this word means this, and that word really means that, and this preposition can be used in a different way.”  Paul is really saying the words we read as is.  The translation of verse 29 is truly what verse 29 is saying, i.e., it is really talking about people baptizing other people for those who have died.


Now, because this is truly heretical theology, it makes one wonder why Paul doesn’t go off on a tangent, why doesn’t he devote a couple of chapters to it as he did for Tongues and the Lord’s Supper.  The reason it is heretical is that it assumes the belief of the one who is being baptized for, without a personal profession of that person’s faith.  Christianity is not a religion.  It is a personal relationship with the living and resurrected Lord Jesus Christ.  A person has to receive this relationship and the salvation that comes with it through faith.  I cannot receive it for you, and you cannot receive it for me.  The same is true for baptism.  Through the sacrament of baptism, you and I proclaim both His and our death and His and our resurrection.  I cannot be baptized for you, and you cannot be baptized for me.


Interestingly, this subject is not mentioned anywhere else in  the  New Testament, not  even  in II Corinthians.  The only other places it is mentioned in church history is in two heretical sects from the second and third century known as the Marcionites and the Montanists.  What they practiced is:  If a person had accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, but for some reason had died before they were baptized, someone in their family could be baptized in their place.  Of course, they were considered heretics and not part of the church.  This practice was not the only reason they were considered heretics, just one of many.  This practice never was and is not part of church canon today. Today, this is a practice adopted from the Marcionites by the cult of Mormon.


Yet Paul lets it slide and actually uses it as part of his argument. This leads me to believe two things: 1) this practice was not very prevalent in the church at this time, and 2) the same few practicing it were part of the few proclaiming there was no resurrection from the dead for the believer!  Thus, Paul is asking them that if they don’t believe in the resurrection of the dead, why were they baptizing for the dead. What good does that do the dead?


But Paul does not stop asking questions there. The next three verses he basically asks in different ways, “Why would I continue to do what I am doing if there is no resurrection of the dead?” In a backdoor way, he asks the Corinthians why they are dealing with the persecution and trials they are undergoing if there is no resurrection of the dead.  In verse 30 he asks, “And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour?”  While persecution of the church is not a factor in this letter, he recognizes and want them to recognize that it is a part of their lives.  While not all of them do appreciate Paul as much as they should, they know about all the trials, tribulations, and persecutions he has endured.  (Look for yourselves and read in II Corithians 11: 22-28.  You will marvel that Paul ever made it to Rome to be beheaded.)  Paul tells them in verse 30 that he dies daily because of their lack of faith, because of the spiritual responsibility Christ has given him as their church father to mentor, lead, and teach.


Understand, Paul is writing this letter to them from Ephesus.  He suffered much in his 1-1/2 years dwelling there.  Acts 19:23-40 tells about the craftsmen of the city causing a riot over the temple of Dianna.  II Corinthians 1:8 tells us that he was threatened with death almost the whole time in Asia, where the center of his ministry in Asia was Ephesus.  He metaphorically referred to his enemies there as beasts.  Paul faced death but not from beasts.  It would be much later that Christians were thrown among the beasts in the coliseum games, and Paul, being a Roman citizen, would have faced what he faced, beheading.

He again asks the question, “What is the advantage to me if the dead do not rise?”  What is the advantage to Paul or the Corinthians if there is no resurrection of the dead? Paul answers this question by quoting Isaiah 22:13, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”  In other words, NONE!  NO ADVANTAGE AT ALL/  And then for the Greeks, he quotes a line from a popular Greek play written by Menander which had become so popular it was a proverb, “Do not be deceived, evil companions corrupt good habits.” Basically, Paul was calling those who reject the resurrection of the dead corrupters of the promises of God.  You see, the resurrection is a promise of God the Father, first fulfilled in Christ and promised to all believers.


Paul challenges them to WAKE UP!  Wake up not to the righteousness of humanity but to the strict justice and the proper right of God the Father; to do away with their Hellenistic unbelief in the resurrection of the body and grasp the proper right belief in God the Father’s promised bodily resurrection.  Paul challenges them to STOP SINNING!  Do away with their Greek bias against the resurrection of the body, because if they continue, they will not only miss the mark (which is literally what the Greek word translated sin means.), but they will also fail to share in the promised prize.  The last part of verse 34, unlike verse 29, is completely mis-translated.  It should read, “For some of you are ignorant of God’s breathed word and this is to your shame.” The word shame in the Greek is entropay. This is the basis of the English word entropy which means lack of order or predictability, gradual decline into disorder.  Paul rebukes their unbelief in the resurrection by telling them that they are not as smart as they think they are. Their willfulness in their unbelief and rebellion about the bodily resurrection shows their ignorance and failure to understand God’s breathed word.  Their shame is that by their unbelief they bring disorder out of order.


You see, the problem with not believing in the bodily resurrection of the believer is that it is also a denial of God’s word and God’s promises.  Some people may say that good works and moral lifestyle should not be based on rewards.  The Sadducee in Jesus’ and Paul’s day believed that.  The Sadducee believed in the law and in the keeping of the law. Yet if we go back to the books of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, there was always a reward for keeping the law.  (i.e., if Israel did this, then God promised to do that. In Deuteronomy it was usually stated as, “that you may prosper in the land that you go into possess.”)


Paul’s point was that even if the Corinthians did believe in Christ’s resurrection and His resurrection alone (already previously established that they did), they missed out on many promises, for many of Christ’s promises are eternal in nature.  Reference Matthew 10:39, “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it” or Luke 1:32-33, “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end” or Luke 18:29-30, “Assuredly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, who shall not receive many time more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life” or Luke 23:43,”Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” or John 3:15-16,”…that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” or John 4:14, “But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give will never thirst.  But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” or John 14:2-3, “In My Father’s house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” All of these promises and many more are eternal in nature.  For the believer to receive them,  there must be a resurrection of the dead for the believer.


But it not just a reward conscientiousness.  No.  This goes all the way back to Genesis and why humanity was created in the first place.  Why God choose Abraham and his seed.  Why God delivered the nation of Israel from the Egyptians.  Why God set the tabernacle in the midst of their camp.  Why God choose Zion for His messianic covenant.  Why God sent His Son to die on the cross and at the point of death split the veil separating the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place.  Why God raised Jesus from the dead for our justification.  It is because God created us to be in relationship with Him.  Not just in this world or this age but throughout eternity.  Paul saw those Christians in Corinth who did not believe in the resurrection for the believer as not only missing the mark but missing the true prize: an eternal relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit which is why They, the Three In One, did their work through the cross in the first place.


Brothers and sisters, doesn’t that get you excited?  I know none of us has this particular problem that some in the Corinthian church had.  Isn’t it comforting to know that the God of all creation loved you and me so much that He sent His Son to die for us on the cross!  That in the blood of that that cross we have been redeemed from all our sins – past, present and future!  Purchased from our sins by the precious blood of Jesus!  That by Jesus’s death on the cross, we are eternally forgiven!  That through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have been justified forever, not just in this life but throughout eternity!  That the empty tomb is not just a symbol for us, but a promise to us of the Father’s desire to always have us with Him!




Remember to read Psalm 91 in the first person every day. Claim those wonderful promises.


Now may God the Father who raised His Son Jesus Christ from the dead, through His resurrection power resurrect your life, your joy, your strength, and your faith. May you walk with Him through your faith in His Son and His finished work, and through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Amen

PSALM 91  

 1st Person


 I have written this Psalm out in the first person in hopes that it will help you to stand on His Word during this season of unknowns.  The one thing we do know is the power and faithfulness of our Lord Jesus Christ and that of God the Father.


{The first 13 verses are what I call a Statement of Faith.}


1)  I, who dwell in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

2)  I will say of the Covenant-keeping God, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God of Power and Creation; in Him I will trust.”

3)  Surely, He shall deliver me from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence.

4)  He shall cover me with His feathers, and under His wings I shall take refuge; His truth shall be my shield and buckler.

5)  I shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day,

6)  Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

7)  A thousand may fall at my side, and ten thousand at my right hand; but it shall not come near me.

8)  Only with my eyes shall I look and see the reward of the wicked.

9)  Because I have made the Covenant-keeping God, who is my refuge, even the Most High, my dwelling place,

10)  No evil shall befall me, nor shall any plague come near my dwelling;

11)  For He shall give His angels charge over me, to keep me in all my ways.

12)  In their hands they shall bear me up, lest I dash my foot against a stone.

13)  I shall tread upon the lion and the cobra; the young lion and the serpent I shall trample underfoot.


 {Verses 14-16 change from a Statement of Faith to a PromiseGod’s response to David’s statement of faith.   In these final verses, where you see an underlined space, insert your own name.}


14)  Because _____ has set their love upon Me, therefore I, God, will deliver _____; I will set _____ on high because _____ has known My name.

15)  _____ shall call upon Me, and I, God, will answer _____; I will be with _____in trouble; I will deliver _____ and honor _____.

16) With long life I, God, will satisfy _____ and show _____ My salvation.




I pray this helps you claim and proclaim His health, wholeness, and protection during these days.







1 Corinthians 15:20-28

1 Corinthians 15:20-28

20.) But now Christ is risen from the dead and has become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

21.) For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.

22.) For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.

23.) But each one in his own order: Christ the first-fruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.

24.) Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.

25.) For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.

26.) The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.

27.) For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says, “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted.

28.) Noe when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.


As we further our study of Pail’s first letter to the Corinthians, Paul continues his discussion of the importance of the resurrection.  If you will remember from last week, Paul had a scorched earth policy about if there is no resurrection of the dead, there is no salvation, there is no forgiveness, there is no hope whatsoever, for the living or the dead. The Gospel, as he and the other apostles had preached it, would be just one big lie.


In today’s verses, though, Paul reverts back to the major point that he believes he and the church at Corinth share – that point being the faith, hope and trust the Corinthians have that Jesus did rise from the grave.  Paul proclaims that Jesus was the FIRST FRUITS.  The Greek here literally means the beginning.  He hearkens back to the Jewish traditional offerings of the first fruits at the time of harvest. Leviticus 23:10 begins the statute of the Feast of First-Fruits.  Each year at the beginning of the harvest the farmers would bring the first sheaf of grain as a wave offering before the LORD. (The Covenant Keeping God, Yahweh). This would be followed by the sacrifice of a lamb of the first year with a grain and oil offering.  This offering was a perpetual statute, to be done each year by each farmer at the beginning of each harvest.  This offering was an act of trust in the faithfulness of God that there would be a good harvest.


Paul shares with the Corinthians that the resurrection of Jesus was the proof, the earnest money so to speak, for their own resurrection.  Jesus had died and been resurrected.  The same was true for those who had placed their hope in Him.  Jesus’ resurrection was the proof of God’s faithfulness to them.  Paul makes a powerful theological statement, “Since by man came death (Paul’s term here meaning eternal spiritual separation from God), by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.”  Death began with Adam’s sin. In Christ, all who believe and trust in Him will be quickened back to life.


As we saw in chapter12, order is important to Paul.  Here Paul places the order, Christ first and then those who belong to Him at His second coming.  Paul begins to get pretty eschatological (dealing with last things, end of things).  “Then will come the end.”   The Greek here means the completed time.  Paul is saying that when Jesus comes back, when we are called up into the air with Him, and when we have received our eternal incorruptible bodies, this will be at the end of time.


To try and understand this, we have to understand parts of two Psalms which Paul quotes – Psalm110 and Psalm 8 – as well as Revelations 20 and 21:4.  Revelations 20 tells us that when Jesus comes back, there will be a 1000-year reign, and His saints will reign with Him.  This will happen because Satan has been bound and cast into the bottomless pit.  Until this time, Jesus has been sitting at the right hand of the Father.  He is sitting because His work of salvation, His work of forgiveness, His work of justification is done and complete. Thus. the time of grace and the proclamation of the Gospel is offered to the world.  But when Jesus comes back. He begins His second work.  This work is not the saving of souls, but the return of all creation to the Father.  John says in Rev. 20:6, “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection.  Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God, and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”  This brings us back to

I Corinthians 15:24-25, “Then comes the end when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and all power.  For He must reign until he has put all enemies under His feet.”


This takes us to the Psalms. First, let us look at Psalm 110, verse 2, “The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion, Rule in the midst of your enemies!”  What is the psalmist saying here? The LORD (Yahweh) is sending a ruler whose strength is out of Zion, whose strength is based on His covenant with David (Jesus), who will rule, which in the Hebrew means to overpower, subjugate, violently take dominion over all enemies by being in the middle of them.  Which is exactly what is to happen in the 1000-year reign!  But wait, it gets better.  Verses 5 & 6, “The Adonai is at Your right hand; He shall execute kings in the day of His wrath.  He shall judge among the nations.  He shall fill the places with dead bodies.  He shall execute the heads of many countries.”  This brings us right back to I Corinthians 15:24 (literal translation) “when He delivers the realm of the world to God the Father, when He puts an end to the dominion, the authority, and the power of the adversary.”  Verse 25 tells us that he must reign until this second work is complete, until all the enemies of the Father are defeated. Some may want to say that this is Psalm 110:1, but it is not. It is not in quotation marks, which means it is not a quote.  Paul is simply stating that Christ must reign until this second work is done.


Paul then tells us in verse 26 that when this second work is done, earthly death will be destroyed, and all God’s enemies will be subdued.  John confirms this later in Revelations 21:4-5a, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.  Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold I make all things new.’”


I Corinthians 15:27 restates in quotes, “He has put all things under His feet.”  Here again Paul is not quoting Psalm 110:1.  He is quoting Psalm 8:6 which says, “You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet.”  This is almost a direct quote, which is unusual for Paul, except he capitalizes the word ‘His’.   This means that God the Father has placed all things under the feet of Jesus. Psalm 8:6 does not carry with it the Christology of 110.  As a matter of fact, David is marveling at the glory of God’s power and creation.  He is in wonder that God has placed humanity in such a high position.  Yet Paul’s wonder is not David’s wonder.  Paul’s wonder is not about the first creation but about the relationship between the Son, the Father and the believers, and how together they will make all things new…


In verses 27 & 27, Paul wants us to understand is that the Son (translated as the one who has intimate union with the Father), does not claim nor desire the Father’s (translated the one who has begotten you) position. That is, as the Son returns God’s creation to the Father, the Father then places that creation under the feet of the Son.  God is still the all in all, because He is not the creation – He is the creator.  He is not the begotten – He is the one who does the begetting.


Paul wants the Corinthians to rejoice in the understanding of their status as believers. Because Christ has been resurrected, there is forgiveness and justification.  Because there is forgiveness and justification, there is no eternal spiritual separation from God.  And even if they fall asleep (Paul does not use death for a believer, he says they have fallen asleep. He does not believe in death for the believer), they will be resurrected at His second coming and share with Him the ending of the old and the eternity of the new.


Paul’s message is the same to us today.  Because Christ has been resurrected, death has been destroyed.  Because we have believed in Him as OUR Lord and Savior, we can walk in that resurrection power.  We can live our lives knowing we are forgiven.  We can live our lives knowing that in the Fathers eyes we are justified; and when God looks at us, He does not see our sins or our shortcomings.  He sees the finished work of the Son.  So, whether Christ’s return to earth is tomorrow or 1000 years from now, He will resurrect us to Himself; and you and I. too. will share with Him the ending of the old and the eternity of the new.





Remember to continue to read and claim Psalm 91 in the first person each day.


Now may the God who makes all things new, the Son whose redemption and resurrection have secured for you your eternal salvation, and the Holy Spirit who leads and teaches and empowers you in this life, keep and sustain you in the power of His love.   Amen.