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I Corinthians 14.26-40

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1 Corinthians 15:12-19

12.) Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?

13.) But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.

14.) And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty, and your faith is also empty.

15.) Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—in fact the dead do not rise.

16.) For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen.

17.) And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!

18.) Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.

19.) If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

 

In the message last week (I Cor 15:1-11), Paul began his argument for the resurrection of the dead by stating two points of common ground, two points on which he knew the Corinthians agreed with him:  1) that he didn’t measure up as an apostle and 2) that Jesus was resurrected from the dead.  Remember, there was a group in the Corinthian church who claimed there was no resurrection of the dead for the believers.  Also remember that this thinking stemmed from the Greek mindset of an everlasting soul, but not an everlasting body.  As far as these persons were concerned, the body would be corrupted beyond repair.

 

In today’s Scriptures, Paul begins by asking a question, “If it has been proclaimed that Christ is raised from the dead, how do some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?”  In other words, you say on one hand that you believe that Christ was raised from the dead, but you also say you don’t believe in the resurrection of the believer from the dead.  He goes on to tell them that they can’t have it both ways.  Either there is a resurrection or there is not a resurrection.  If what they said was correct, and there is no resurrection for the believer, then there was no resurrection for Jesus, either.  In these 8 verses, Paul uses the word risen or raised up seven times.  In the Greek, this means to go from death to standing, and it is in the present perfect tense; therefore, it is continual, without interruption or end.

 

Paul then tells them that if Christ is not risen, then “our” preaching (literally, proclamation of the Gospel) is empty. That everything they have heard and seen is a farce, a lie, without meaning or truth of any kind; and their faith (which is used by Paul as saving faith, the belief in Christ’s finished work and our justification) is also a farce, a lie, without meaning or truth of any kind.

 

Notice in verse 14 Paul says “our” and in 15 he uses the word “we”.  He doesn’t say “I” or “me” or “mine”.  Go back and read verse 11, where he reminds those who are causing this division, those who claimed to follow Peter, Apollos or someone else besides Paul, that “we” preached the same Gospel and you believed the same gospel.  In other words, this thought process of no resurrection of the dead did not come from Peter, Apollos, Paul or any other preacher of the Gospel!!  It came from outside the Gospel message, and it was not what they first believed…

 

Paul continues with the idea that if what the Corinthians proclaimed was true, then Peter, Apollos, Paul, and others were false witnesses and were claiming for God something which God did not do; thus, they were breaking one of the commandments found in Deuteronomy.  (In the fourth chapter of that book, God tells Moses to tell the people not to add or take away from the commandments He is leaving with them, that they may dwell long in the land in which they are about to go and possess.)  Now, some in Corinth might have been willing to claim these things regarding false witness by Paul, but not about their favorite leader, the one they claimed to follow.

Paul then tells them that if the dead do not rise, which includes Jesus, then their faith is futile. There is no forgiveness of sins.  They are all living in their sins.  If there is no resurrection, there is no forgiveness, because there is no justification.  And there is no justification because there is no resurrection.  You see, the crucifixion is not complete without the resurrection!

 

It all goes back to an understanding about the Day of Atonement in the Jewish belief system. Even today the Day of Atonement is the holiest day in the Jewish year.  They just celebrated Passover, and that is a major celebration, but the Day of Atonement is the most reverent and solemn.  It is a day of fasting and repentance.  It is not a feast day, but a day of confessing and seeking forgiveness.  Even many non-religious Jews will honor this day.

 

During the times of the Tabernacle and the Temple, the people would bring their sacrifices. Numbers 28:7-11 says,” On the tenth day of the seventh month, you shall have a holy convocation.  You shall afflict your souls.  You shall not do any work.  You shall present a burnt offering to the LORD as a sweet aroma; one young bull, one ram, and seven lambs in their first year.  Be sure they are without blemish.  Their grain offering shall be of fine flour mixed with oil: three tenths of an ephah for the bull, two tenths for the one ram, and one tenth for each of the seven lambs; also one kid of the goats as a sin offering, besides the sin offering for atonement, the regular burnt offering with its grain offering and their drink offerings.”  And Leviticus 16: 30-34 tells us, “For on the day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.  It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls.  It is a statute forever.  And the priest, who is anointed and consecrated to minister as priest in his father’s place, shall make atonement, and put on the linen clothes, the holy garments.  Then he shall make atonement for the most Holy Place (Holy of Holies), and he shall make atonement for the tabernacle of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly.  This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins, once a year.”

 

To make atonement, the High Priest would take some of the blood from the sacrifice of the young bull, place it in a bowl, and enter the Holiest place first.  This was the only time all year that it would be entered sacramentally.  (In the wilderness, it would have to be entered by the Levites in order to take down and reset at their new location).  But when it was set up permanently at Shiloh and then the temple, the High Priest and only the High Priest was allowed to enter, and only on one day, the Day of Atonement.  He would take the blood and with a hyssop branch dip it into the blood seven times and shake it those seven times at the Ark of the covenant.  Then he would do the same inside the tabernacle at the door of the tabernacle and on the priests and the people gathered at the door of the tabernacle and the altar of burnt offerings.  The belief was that the standing of the High Priest was the standing of the nation.  If God saw the High Priest as righteous, He would accept this offering. Then, the High Priest would be allowed to leave, the people would be forgiven, and all would be good for the nation until the next Day of Atonement.  However, if God didn’t see the High Priest as righteous, He would strike him down, and the people would not be forgiven, and all would not be good for the next year.  There were bells sewn along the bottom of the High Priest’s robe so the people could hear him moving.  They also tied a rope around one of the priest’s legs so that if God struck him down, they could pull him out.  Remember, no one was allowed to enter the holiest place except he who consecrated as High Priest.  The High Priest’s exit from the Holiest place meant that God had accepted their sacrifice, and they were forgiven and justified in the sight of God.  In effect, the High Priest carried the sins of the nation in the bowl of blood into the holiest place.  See the connection here?  Jesus bore our sins upon the cross and carried them into the tomb.  The resurrection meant His sacrifice had been accepted!!  With the acceptance of the sacrifice, we have forgiveness and receive justification.  No resurrection = no forgiveness and no justification.

Paul tells us in his letter to the Hebrews that Jesus is our High Priest and that His priesthood is eternal.  He sits at the right hand of the Father, which means not only is His sacrifice accepted, and we are thus justified and forgiven, but also because he paid the price with His own blood and His own life, the work of atonement is done forever.  Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father.  He sits because the work is finished.  And all we have to do is believe and receive.

 

Next, Paul addresses this errant thinking even more sternly.  If there is no resurrection, then those would have died in Christ are lost (Paul says “have perished”).  The Greek here means totally destroyed.  Not only is there no forgiveness or justification for the living, but those who died in the faith died believing in a lie.  Died unsaved – not forgiven and not justified.  If there is no resurrection, then what do we put our hope in?  What hope is found in the cross with no empty tomb?  What hope is found in the cross with no forgiveness available?  What hope is found in the cross with no justification? NONE!  Without the resurrection, there is no power.  Without the resurrection, the finished work on the cross is just a finished life.

 

Paul wants the believers in Corinth to see the foolishness of their argument.

 

Unfortunately, there are many in the church today who are willing to accept a Christianity without power.  They accept Jesus, not as Lord and Savior (although those words are used) but as a teacher and example of how to live a good life.  There are those who question the stories of healing and signs and miracles, not believing that they really happened but were just symbols of life.  And always there are those who question the authority of Scripture, picking and choosing what they want to believe, or what they can agree with.  Some even think that serving humanity in Christ’s name is the same as serving Christ and allowing Him to work through us to bless humanity.   One viewpoint is like asking “What would Jesus do?”  The other is like asking, “Lord, what would you have us do?”  The first is based on what we think; the second is based on searching out His will.  The first is based on creating Christ in our own image; the second is based on submission to a holy and righteous God who through His grace allows us to be recreated into His image…

 

The good news is, there is a resurrection!  Jesus was raised from the grave.  It is continual, complete, and eternal.  Because there is a resurrection, we are able to walk in His power.  We are able to believe in the authority and truthfulness of His Word.  Because there is a resurrection, we are able to walk in His forgiveness and justification in this life.  Because there is a resurrection, those who have fallen asleep in their faith will not see destruction or corruption but a new incorruptible body.  Because there is a resurrection, we have hope – confident expectation – not only in this life but also in the life to come.

 

He is Risen!  And so are we!

 

AMEN!

 

Remember to continue to claim Psalm 91in the first person.

 

Blessing:

Now may the God who raised our Lord Jesus Christ from the grave, resurrect you life today. That you may walk in the power of our resurrected Lord and the presence of His Holy Spirit! AMEN

 

 

 

 

Categories
Studies

1 Corinthians 15:12-19

1 Corinthians 15:12-19

12.) Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?

13.) But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.

14.) And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty, and your faith is also empty.

15.) Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—in fact the dead do not rise.

16.) For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen.

17.) And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!

18.) Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.

19.) If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

 

In the message last week (I Cor 15:1-11), Paul began his argument for the resurrection of the dead by stating two points of common ground, two points on which he knew the Corinthians agreed with him:  1) that he didn’t measure up as an apostle and 2) that Jesus was resurrected from the dead.  Remember, there was a group in the Corinthian church who claimed there was no resurrection of the dead for the believers.  Also remember that this thinking stemmed from the Greek mindset of an everlasting soul, but not an everlasting body.  As far as these persons were concerned, the body would be corrupted beyond repair.

 

In today’s Scriptures, Paul begins by asking a question, “If it has been proclaimed that Christ is raised from the dead, how do some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?”  In other words, you say on one hand that you believe that Christ was raised from the dead, but you also say you don’t believe in the resurrection of the believer from the dead.  He goes on to tell them that they can’t have it both ways.  Either there is a resurrection or there is not a resurrection.  If what they said was correct, and there is no resurrection for the believer, then there was no resurrection for Jesus, either.  In these 8 verses, Paul uses the word risen or raised up seven times.  In the Greek, this means to go from death to standing, and it is in the present perfect tense; therefore, it is continual, without interruption or end.

 

Paul then tells them that if Christ is not risen, then “our” preaching (literally, proclamation of the Gospel) is empty. That everything they have heard and seen is a farce, a lie, without meaning or truth of any kind; and their faith (which is used by Paul as saving faith, the belief in Christ’s finished work and our justification) is also a farce, a lie, without meaning or truth of any kind.

 

Notice in verse 14 Paul says “our” and in 15 he uses the word “we”.  He doesn’t say “I” or “me” or “mine”.  Go back and read verse 11, where he reminds those who are causing this division, those who claimed to follow Peter, Apollos or someone else besides Paul, that “we” preached the same Gospel and you believed the same gospel.  In other words, this thought process of no resurrection of the dead did not come from Peter, Apollos, Paul or any other preacher of the Gospel!!  It came from outside the Gospel message, and it was not what they first believed…

 

Paul continues with the idea that if what the Corinthians proclaimed was true, then Peter, Apollos, Paul, and others were false witnesses and were claiming for God something which God did not do; thus, they were breaking one of the commandments found in Deuteronomy.  (In the fourth chapter of that book, God tells Moses to tell the people not to add or take away from the commandments He is leaving with them, that they may dwell long in the land in which they are about to go and possess.)  Now, some in Corinth might have been willing to claim these things regarding false witness by Paul, but not about their favorite leader, the one they claimed to follow.

Paul then tells them that if the dead do not rise, which includes Jesus, then their faith is futile. There is no forgiveness of sins.  They are all living in their sins.  If there is no resurrection, there is no forgiveness, because there is no justification.  And there is no justification because there is no resurrection.  You see, the crucifixion is not complete without the resurrection!

 

It all goes back to an understanding about the Day of Atonement in the Jewish belief system. Even today the Day of Atonement is the holiest day in the Jewish year.  They just celebrated Passover, and that is a major celebration, but the Day of Atonement is the most reverent and solemn.  It is a day of fasting and repentance.  It is not a feast day, but a day of confessing and seeking forgiveness.  Even many non-religious Jews will honor this day.

 

During the times of the Tabernacle and the Temple, the people would bring their sacrifices. Numbers 28:7-11 says,” On the tenth day of the seventh month, you shall have a holy convocation.  You shall afflict your souls.  You shall not do any work.  You shall present a burnt offering to the LORD as a sweet aroma; one young bull, one ram, and seven lambs in their first year.  Be sure they are without blemish.  Their grain offering shall be of fine flour mixed with oil: three tenths of an ephah for the bull, two tenths for the one ram, and one tenth for each of the seven lambs; also one kid of the goats as a sin offering, besides the sin offering for atonement, the regular burnt offering with its grain offering and their drink offerings.”  And Leviticus 16: 30-34 tells us, “For on the day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.  It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls.  It is a statute forever.  And the priest, who is anointed and consecrated to minister as priest in his father’s place, shall make atonement, and put on the linen clothes, the holy garments.  Then he shall make atonement for the most Holy Place (Holy of Holies), and he shall make atonement for the tabernacle of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly.  This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins, once a year.”

 

To make atonement, the High Priest would take some of the blood from the sacrifice of the young bull, place it in a bowl, and enter the Holiest place first.  This was the only time all year that it would be entered sacramentally.  (In the wilderness, it would have to be entered by the Levites in order to take down and reset at their new location).  But when it was set up permanently at Shiloh and then the temple, the High Priest and only the High Priest was allowed to enter, and only on one day, the Day of Atonement.  He would take the blood and with a hyssop branch dip it into the blood seven times and shake it those seven times at the Ark of the covenant.  Then he would do the same inside the tabernacle at the door of the tabernacle and on the priests and the people gathered at the door of the tabernacle and the altar of burnt offerings.  The belief was that the standing of the High Priest was the standing of the nation.  If God saw the High Priest as righteous, He would accept this offering. Then, the High Priest would be allowed to leave, the people would be forgiven, and all would be good for the nation until the next Day of Atonement.  However, if God didn’t see the High Priest as righteous, He would strike him down, and the people would not be forgiven, and all would not be good for the next year.  There were bells sewn along the bottom of the High Priest’s robe so the people could hear him moving.  They also tied a rope around one of the priest’s legs so that if God struck him down, they could pull him out.  Remember, no one was allowed to enter the holiest place except he who consecrated as High Priest.  The High Priest’s exit from the Holiest place meant that God had accepted their sacrifice, and they were forgiven and justified in the sight of God.  In effect, the High Priest carried the sins of the nation in the bowl of blood into the holiest place.  See the connection here?  Jesus bore our sins upon the cross and carried them into the tomb.  The resurrection meant His sacrifice had been accepted!!  With the acceptance of the sacrifice, we have forgiveness and receive justification.  No resurrection = no forgiveness and no justification.

Paul tells us in his letter to the Hebrews that Jesus is our High Priest and that His priesthood is eternal.  He sits at the right hand of the Father, which means not only is His sacrifice accepted, and we are thus justified and forgiven, but also because he paid the price with His own blood and His own life, the work of atonement is done forever.  Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father.  He sits because the work is finished.  And all we have to do is believe and receive.

 

Next, Paul addresses this errant thinking even more sternly.  If there is no resurrection, then those would have died in Christ are lost (Paul says “have perished”).  The Greek here means totally destroyed.  Not only is there no forgiveness or justification for the living, but those who died in the faith died believing in a lie.  Died unsaved – not forgiven and not justified.  If there is no resurrection, then what do we put our hope in?  What hope is found in the cross with no empty tomb?  What hope is found in the cross with no forgiveness available?  What hope is found in the cross with no justification? NONE!  Without the resurrection, there is no power.  Without the resurrection, the finished work on the cross is just a finished life.

 

Paul wants the believers in Corinth to see the foolishness of their argument.

 

Unfortunately, there are many in the church today who are willing to accept a Christianity without power.  They accept Jesus, not as Lord and Savior (although those words are used) but as a teacher and example of how to live a good life.  There are those who question the stories of healing and signs and miracles, not believing that they really happened but were just symbols of life.  And always there are those who question the authority of Scripture, picking and choosing what they want to believe, or what they can agree with.  Some even think that serving humanity in Christ’s name is the same as serving Christ and allowing Him to work through us to bless humanity.   One viewpoint is like asking “What would Jesus do?”  The other is like asking, “Lord, what would you have us do?”  The first is based on what we think; the second is based on searching out His will.  The first is based on creating Christ in our own image; the second is based on submission to a holy and righteous God who through His grace allows us to be recreated into His image…

 

The good news is, there is a resurrection!  Jesus was raised from the grave.  It is continual, complete, and eternal.  Because there is a resurrection, we are able to walk in His power.  We are able to believe in the authority and truthfulness of His Word.  Because there is a resurrection, we are able to walk in His forgiveness and justification in this life.  Because there is a resurrection, those who have fallen asleep in their faith will not see destruction or corruption but a new incorruptible body.  Because there is a resurrection, we have hope – confident expectation – not only in this life but also in the life to come.

 

He is Risen!  And so are we!

 

AMEN!

 

Remember to continue to claim Psalm 91in the first person.

 

Blessing:

Now may the God who raised our Lord Jesus Christ from the grave, resurrect you life today. That you may walk in the power of our resurrected Lord and the presence of His Holy Spirit! AMEN

 

 

 

 

Categories
Studies

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.

 

AMEN

 

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

 

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Studies

Colossians 3:1-4

1.) If you then were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God.

2.) Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

3.) For you died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

4.) When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

 

EASTER SUNDAY

 

HAPPY EASTER!  I miss being with you on this most holy of days for the church.  My hope is that it will be for you a great family day as much as is possible.

 

Our text this morning comes from Paul’s letter to the church at Colosse.  Paul did not found this church, nor had he ever visited it.  It was actually founded by Epaphras with help from Timothy; but Paul was good friends with Epaphras, and we know that he considered Timothy a son.  You will see Epaphras mentioned in other letters where he had provided for or helped Paul with something.  As a matter of fact, this letter is an answer to a letter delivered by Epaphras to Paul as he was awaiting trial in Rome.

 

Paul was writing in response to a problem of a form of Gnosticism that was rearing its ugly head in Colosse.  This city was located in the Lycus River valley in central Asia Minor, modern day Turkey.  Along with its sister cities, Laodicea and Hierapolis, Colosse had a very large Jewish population, many of whom had been taken there by the Babylonians.  This population had been there so long that even under the rule of the Greeks and the Romans, they were able to pay the temple tax back in Jerusalem, and it was considered tax exempt by the ruling authorities.  Many of the Jews from this area would travel to Jerusalem for the Passover and the other two major Jewish feasts.  The Gospel was probably heard by pilgrims from this area on the day of Pentecost.

 

The form of Gnosticism encountered in Colosse was different than that confronted in the Greek churches.  Where the Greek form was all about the attainment of knowledge, this form in Colosse was thoroughly Jewish.  There was belief in God and belief in Jesus, but that wasn’t enough.  The thought process was that one must seek enlightenment – by earning it!  One earned it by working to achieve different levels.  It was like an early game of Dungeons and Dragons or most role-playing games today, where after mastering one level there is always another higher level to attain.  For Colosse Gnostics, some levels required the help of angels, some levels required a fight with angels, and yet in other levels there was actual worship of angels. The whole goal was to make it to the throne room of God, to earn a way into God’s presence.

 

Right off the bat we can see what the issue was.  It totally ignored the cross.  It totally ignored the finished work of Christ.  It totally ignored the finished work of the Father, which was the resurrection and the ascension of the Son.  The finished work of Jesus was concluded on the cross.  He shed His blood for our redemption, and He gave His life for our forgiveness.  But God’s finished work occurred when He raised Jesus from the grave and sat Him at His right hand.  The blood and the death opened the doors for salvation, but the resurrection and the ascension made it a done deal.

 

The resurrection of Christ and the restoration of life proves that the debt of sin has been completely paid.  It means justification for the believer.  We are not just forgiven – we are justified in the eyes of God!  As humans, we can forgive a person for something terrible they have done to us, but that doesn’t mean we want to be around them.  Yet when a person is justified, they are not only forgiven but also wanted.  The ascension proves that the work of the cross is complete because Jesus is now sitting at the Father’s right hand.

 

Jesus is also our High Priest.  Before the cross, in the Tabernacle and subsequently in the Temple, there was a table with the show bread on it; but there were no chairs.  No chairs in the court of the holy or the Holy of Holies.  This meant that the priests’ work was never done.  They did not have a place to sit because they did not have time to sit.  Since the resurrection and ascension, the Father sat Jesus at His right hand.  Jesus sitting means that the work of salvation is done.

 

Paul sharing with us in Colossians says, “If you are baptized in Christ, then you died with Christ, then you were raised with Christ.” This means that through professing and possessing our faith in Christ and His finished work, through our baptism, we die His death and we are resurrected in His life.  As professing and possessing Christians, He is living His life through us.  Therefore, since our life is from Him, we should seek the things that are from Him, the things that are from above. We should seek the things of Christ where He is, which is in heaven at the right hand of the Father.

 

Paul then tells us to set our minds on the things above.  The Greek for “mind on” translates to “be devoted to”.  We are to devote ourselves to the living out the life and the treasures from above.  To devote ourselves to God’s word, God’s gift of the Holy Spirit, God’s gifts which come from the Spirit.  To devote ourselves to doing His will, following His direction, allowing Him to do His work through us instead of hoping He will add His name to what we want to do.  We are to devote ourselves to following His will and walking in His power, to being citizens of heaven and strangers in this world.

 

Paul says that since we died and were raised with Christ our eternal life is sure, our eternal salvation is sure.  There are no doubts, for it is hidden with Christ in God.  Remember, Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

(Matthew6:19-21). Our treasure – our eternal salvation, our eternal life – is sure because it is in heaven with Christ IN God the Father.  It is where our true citizenship resides.

 

The promise continues when Paul proclaims that our salvation is so sure that when Jesus comes again, when He appears, we will appear with Him.  The word “appears” in the Greek translates as “to manifest oneself openly.”  Therefore, when Jesus returns, He won’t be hard to find.  The world will see Him, and not only see Him but see him in all His glory!  The Greek for “glory” means “eternal exalted state.” So, Jesus will be seen and made manifest openly to all in His eternal exalted glory.  But not only will the world see Jesus, it will also see us – openly sharing with Him and in His eternal exalted state.

 

Paul is asking, “Why?  Why are you falling for this false doctrine?  Why do you think that you have to jump through all these hoops and levels and seek or fight or worship angels to present yourself to the throne room of God?  Jesus has already done it for you!”  As Bob Hartman writes, “The provision has been made, the foundation has been laid, He paid the ransom due, tore the temple veil in two, and opened up the way for me and you.  IT IS FINISHED!”

 

We may not be like some of the people in Colosse, but there are those who think that grace is not enough.  They come up with new ideas, new concepts to earn our way:  Pray this way, and you’ll get God’s attention.  Read so many chapters a day in your Bible, and God will have to take notice.  Do this job or that mission.  Believe this way versus that other way.  It is as if Jesus was not and is not enough.

 

The GOOD NEWS is, Jesus is MORE THAN ENOUGH!  This morning we celebrate His resurrection.  HE IS RISEN!  Death no longer has any power over Him.  Since as believers we are baptized in His name, we have died and risen with Him.  Death no longer has any power over us.  Our salvation is sure because the One who holds our eternal life in His hands is sitting at the right hand of God Almighty.  All that we should want, need, desire, and be devoted to is sitting at the right hand of God.  And all we have to do is say, “Hey, Daddy! Hey, Lord!”

 

 

BLESSING:

Now may the presence of our resurrected and ascended Lord Jesus Christ, the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, and the unconditional love of our Heavenly Father resurrect your faith to greater faith. Amen

 

Be sure to continue to read Psalm 91 in the first person and claim it each day.

 

 

 

 

Categories
Holy Week Messages

Colossians 3:1-4

 

1.) If you then were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God.

2.) Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

3.) For you died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

4.) When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

 

 

EASTER SUNDAY

 

HAPPY EASTER!  I miss being with you on this most holy of days for the church.  My hope is that it will be for you a great family day as much as is possible.

 

Our text this morning comes from Paul’s letter to the church at Colosse.  Paul did not found this church, nor had he ever visited it.  It was actually founded by Epaphras with help from Timothy; but Paul was good friends with Epaphras, and we know that he considered Timothy a son.  You will see Epaphras mentioned in other letters where he had provided for or helped Paul with something.  As a matter of fact, this letter is an answer to a letter delivered by Epaphras to Paul as he was awaiting trial in Rome.

 

Paul was writing in response to a problem of a form of Gnosticism that was rearing its ugly head in Colosse.  This city was located in the Lycus River valley in central Asia Minor, modern day Turkey.  Along with its sister cities, Laodicea and Hierapolis, Colosse had a very large Jewish population, many of whom had been taken there by the Babylonians.  This population had been there so long that even under the rule of the Greeks and the Romans, they were able to pay the temple tax back in Jerusalem, and it was considered tax exempt by the ruling authorities.  Many of the Jews from this area would travel to Jerusalem for the Passover and the other two major Jewish feasts.  The Gospel was probably heard by pilgrims from this area on the day of Pentecost.

 

The form of Gnosticism encountered in Colosse was different than that confronted in the Greek churches.  Where the Greek form was all about the attainment of knowledge, this form in Colosse was thoroughly Jewish.  There was belief in God and belief in Jesus, but that wasn’t enough.  The thought process was that one must seek enlightenment – by earning it!  One earned it by working to achieve different levels.  It was like an early game of Dungeons and Dragons or most role-playing games today, where after mastering one level there is always another higher level to attain.  For Colosse Gnostics, some levels required the help of angels, some levels required a fight with angels, and yet in other levels there was actual worship of angels. The whole goal was to make it to the throne room of God, to earn a way into God’s presence.

 

Right off the bat we can see what the issue was.  It totally ignored the cross.  It totally ignored the finished work of Christ.  It totally ignored the finished work of the Father, which was the resurrection and the ascension of the Son.  The finished work of Jesus was concluded on the cross.  He shed His blood for our redemption, and He gave His life for our forgiveness.  But God’s finished work occurred when He raised Jesus from the grave and sat Him at His right hand.  The blood and the death opened the doors for salvation, but the resurrection and the ascension made it a done deal.

 

The resurrection of Christ and the restoration of life proves that the debt of sin has been completely paid.  It means justification for the believer.  We are not just forgiven – we are justified in the eyes of God!  As humans, we can forgive a person for something terrible they have done to us, but that doesn’t mean we want to be around them.  Yet when a person is justified, they are not only forgiven but also wanted.  The ascension proves that the work of the cross is complete because Jesus is now sitting at the Father’s right hand.

 

Jesus is also our High Priest.  Before the cross, in the Tabernacle and subsequently in the Temple, there was a table with the show bread on it; but there were no chairs.  No chairs in the court of the holy or the Holy of Holies.  This meant that the priests’ work was never done.  They did not have a place to sit because they did not have time to sit.  Since the resurrection and ascension, the Father sat Jesus at His right hand.  Jesus sitting means that the work of salvation is done.

 

Paul sharing with us in Colossians says, “If you are baptized in Christ, then you died with Christ, then you were raised with Christ.” This means that through professing and possessing our faith in Christ and His finished work, through our baptism, we die His death and we are resurrected in His life.  As professing and possessing Christians, He is living His life through us.  Therefore, since our life is from Him, we should seek the things that are from Him, the things that are from above. We should seek the things of Christ where He is, which is in heaven at the right hand of the Father.

 

Paul then tells us to set our minds on the things above.  The Greek for “mind on” translates to “be devoted to”.  We are to devote ourselves to the living out the life and the treasures from above.  To devote ourselves to God’s word, God’s gift of the Holy Spirit, God’s gifts which come from the Spirit.  To devote ourselves to doing His will, following His direction, allowing Him to do His work through us instead of hoping He will add His name to what we want to do.  We are to devote ourselves to following His will and walking in His power, to being citizens of heaven and strangers in this world.

 

Paul says that since we died and were raised with Christ our eternal life is sure, our eternal salvation is sure.  There are no doubts, for it is hidden with Christ in God.  Remember, Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

(Matthew6:19-21). Our treasure – our eternal salvation, our eternal life – is sure because it is in heaven with Christ IN God the Father.  It is where our true citizenship resides.

 

The promise continues when Paul proclaims that our salvation is so sure that when Jesus comes again, when He appears, we will appear with Him.  The word “appears” in the Greek translates as “to manifest oneself openly.”  Therefore, when Jesus returns, He won’t be hard to find.  The world will see Him, and not only see Him but see him in all His glory!  The Greek for “glory” means “eternal exalted state.” So, Jesus will be seen and made manifest openly to all in His eternal exalted glory.  But not only will the world see Jesus, it will also see us – openly sharing with Him and in His eternal exalted state.

 

Paul is asking, “Why?  Why are you falling for this false doctrine?  Why do you think that you have to jump through all these hoops and levels and seek or fight or worship angels to present yourself to the throne room of God?  Jesus has already done it for you!”  As Bob Hartman writes, “The provision has been made, the foundation has been laid, He paid the ransom due, tore the temple veil in two, and opened up the way for me and you.  IT IS FINISHED!”

 

We may not be like some of the people in Colosse, but there are those who think that grace is not enough.  They come up with new ideas, new concepts to earn our way:  Pray this way, and you’ll get God’s attention.  Read so many chapters a day in your Bible, and God will have to take notice.  Do this job or that mission.  Believe this way versus that other way.  It is as if Jesus was not and is not enough.

 

The GOOD NEWS is, Jesus is MORE THAN ENOUGH!  This morning we celebrate His resurrection.  HE IS RISEN!  Death no longer has any power over Him.  Since as believers we are baptized in His name, we have died and risen with Him.  Death no longer has any power over us.  Our salvation is sure because the One who holds our eternal life in His hands is sitting at the right hand of God Almighty.  All that we should want, need, desire, and be devoted to is sitting at the right hand of God.  And all we have to do is say, “Hey, Daddy! Hey, Lord!”

 

 

BLESSING:

Now may the presence of our resurrected and ascended Lord Jesus Christ, the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, and the unconditional love of our Heavenly Father resurrect your faith to greater faith. Amen

 

 

Be sure to continue to read Psalm 91 in the first person and claim it each day.

 

 

 

 

Categories
Studies

Easter Sunday

Colossians 3:1-4

1.) If you then were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God.

2.) Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

3.) For you died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

4.) When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

 

EASTER SUNDAY

 

HAPPY EASTER!  I miss being with you on this most holy of days for the church.  My hope is that it will be for you a great family day as much as is possible.

 

Our text this morning comes from Paul’s letter to the church at Colosse.  Paul did not found this church, nor had he ever visited it.  It was actually founded by Epaphras with help from Timothy; but Paul was good friends with Epaphras, and we know that he considered Timothy a son.  You will see Epaphras mentioned in other letters where he had provided for or helped Paul with something.  As a matter of fact, this letter is an answer to a letter delivered by Epaphras to Paul as he was awaiting trial in Rome.

 

Paul was writing in response to a problem of a form of Gnosticism that was rearing its ugly head in Colosse.  This city was located in the Lycus River valley in central Asia Minor, modern day Turkey.  Along with its sister cities, Laodicea and Hierapolis, Colosse had a very large Jewish population, many of whom had been taken there by the Babylonians.  This population had been there so long that even under the rule of the Greeks and the Romans, they were able to pay the temple tax back in Jerusalem, and it was considered tax exempt by the ruling authorities.  Many of the Jews from this area would travel to Jerusalem for the Passover and the other two major Jewish feasts.  The Gospel was probably heard by pilgrims from this area on the day of Pentecost.

 

The form of Gnosticism encountered in Colosse was different than that confronted in the Greek churches.  Where the Greek form was all about the attainment of knowledge, this form in Colosse was thoroughly Jewish.  There was belief in God and belief in Jesus, but that wasn’t enough.  The thought process was that one must seek enlightenment – by earning it!  One earned it by working to achieve different levels.  It was like an early game of Dungeons and Dragons or most role-playing games today, where after mastering one level there is always another higher level to attain.  For Colosse Gnostics, some levels required the help of angels, some levels required a fight with angels, and yet in other levels there was actual worship of angels. The whole goal was to make it to the throne room of God, to earn a way into God’s presence.

 

Right off the bat we can see what the issue was.  It totally ignored the cross.  It totally ignored the finished work of Christ.  It totally ignored the finished work of the Father, which was the resurrection and the ascension of the Son.  The finished work of Jesus was concluded on the cross.  He shed His blood for our redemption, and He gave His life for our forgiveness.  But God’s finished work occurred when He raised Jesus from the grave and sat Him at His right hand.  The blood and the death opened the doors for salvation, but the resurrection and the ascension made it a done deal.

 

The resurrection of Christ and the restoration of life proves that the debt of sin has been completely paid.  It means justification for the believer.  We are not just forgiven – we are justified in the eyes of God!  As humans, we can forgive a person for something terrible they have done to us, but that doesn’t mean we want to be around them.  Yet when a person is justified, they are not only forgiven but also wanted.  The ascension proves that the work of the cross is complete because Jesus is now sitting at the Father’s right hand.

 

Jesus is also our High Priest.  Before the cross, in the Tabernacle and subsequently in the Temple, there was a table with the show bread on it; but there were no chairs.  No chairs in the court of the holy or the Holy of Holies.  This meant that the priests’ work was never done.  They did not have a place to sit because they did not have time to sit.  Since the resurrection and ascension, the Father sat Jesus at His right hand.  Jesus sitting means that the work of salvation is done.

 

Paul sharing with us in Colossians says, “If you are baptized in Christ, then you died with Christ, then you were raised with Christ.” This means that through professing and possessing our faith in Christ and His finished work, through our baptism, we die His death and we are resurrected in His life.  As professing and possessing Christians, He is living His life through us.  Therefore, since our life is from Him, we should seek the things that are from Him, the things that are from above. We should seek the things of Christ where He is, which is in heaven at the right hand of the Father.

 

Paul then tells us to set our minds on the things above.  The Greek for “mind on” translates to “be devoted to”.  We are to devote ourselves to the living out the life and the treasures from above.  To devote ourselves to God’s word, God’s gift of the Holy Spirit, God’s gifts which come from the Spirit.  To devote ourselves to doing His will, following His direction, allowing Him to do His work through us instead of hoping He will add His name to what we want to do.  We are to devote ourselves to following His will and walking in His power, to being citizens of heaven and strangers in this world.

 

Paul says that since we died and were raised with Christ our eternal life is sure, our eternal salvation is sure.  There are no doubts, for it is hidden with Christ in God.  Remember, Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

(Matthew6:19-21). Our treasure – our eternal salvation, our eternal life – is sure because it is in heaven with Christ IN God the Father.  It is where our true citizenship resides.

 

The promise continues when Paul proclaims that our salvation is so sure that when Jesus comes again, when He appears, we will appear with Him.  The word “appears” in the Greek translates as “to manifest oneself openly.”  Therefore, when Jesus returns, He won’t be hard to find.  The world will see Him, and not only see Him but see him in all His glory!  The Greek for “glory” means “eternal exalted state.” So, Jesus will be seen and made manifest openly to all in His eternal exalted glory.  But not only will the world see Jesus, it will also see us – openly sharing with Him and in His eternal exalted state.

 

Paul is asking, “Why?  Why are you falling for this false doctrine?  Why do you think that you have to jump through all these hoops and levels and seek or fight or worship angels to present yourself to the throne room of God?  Jesus has already done it for you!”  As Bob Hartman writes, “The provision has been made, the foundation has been laid, He paid the ransom due, tore the temple veil in two, and opened up the way for me and you.  IT IS FINISHED!”

 

We may not be like some of the people in Colosse, but there are those who think that grace is not enough.  They come up with new ideas, new concepts to earn our way:  Pray this way, and you’ll get God’s attention.  Read so many chapters a day in your Bible, and God will have to take notice.  Do this job or that mission.  Believe this way versus that other way.  It is as if Jesus was not and is not enough.

 

The GOOD NEWS is, Jesus is MORE THAN ENOUGH!  This morning we celebrate His resurrection.  HE IS RISEN!  Death no longer has any power over Him.  Since as believers we are baptized in His name, we have died and risen with Him.  Death no longer has any power over us.  Our salvation is sure because the One who holds our eternal life in His hands is sitting at the right hand of God Almighty.  All that we should want, need, desire, and be devoted to is sitting at the right hand of God.  And all we have to do is say, “Hey, Daddy! Hey, Lord!”

 

 

BLESSING:

Now may the presence of our resurrected and ascended Lord Jesus Christ, the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, and the unconditional love of our Heavenly Father resurrect your faith to greater faith. Amen

 

Be sure to continue to read Psalm 91 in the first person and claim it each day.

 

 

 

 

Categories
Holy Week Messages

HOLY SATURDAY

Luke 23:55&56

55.) And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after and observed the tomb and how His body was laid.

56.) Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils.  And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.

 

HOLY SATURDAY:

 

In the flow of Holy week, as we move from Palm Sunday to Easter, not a lot of thought is given to Holy Saturday.  It doesn’t get very much mention in the Scriptures.  It was the day between the crucifixion and the resurrection.  We are simply told it was the Sabbath and that it was a day of rest, so according to the Scriptures, the women rested.

 

The Sabbath in Israel is different from what we are familiar with here.  If you have spent a good bit of time around Hasidic or ultra-orthodox Jews, you may have a better understanding.  For them the Sabbath is taken very seriously.  In Israel today there is not a complete shut down, but certain compromises are made to appease.  The Sabbath is a family day.  It begins at 6 p.m. Friday night and ends at 6 p.m. Saturday night.  Many families come home for the Sabbath.  I was talking to a gentleman in Jerusalem on a Saturday night after 6 p.m.  He has three sisters.  The typical house in the country has maybe two bedrooms.  Each sibling takes a turn at the parents’ house while the rest stay in a hotel. They alternate each week, throughout the year.

 

In the cities and larger towns, people tend to eat out on Friday night while Momma has cooked all day Friday for the Sabbath meal, which is eaten at home.  I saw great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, and children of all ages gathered together on that Friday night. They blocked off the streets in the Hasidic and ultra-orthodox parts of town because if you go into those areas during Sabbath, the residents will throw rocks at you and try to stop your car in order to burn it.  For them, starting a car is striking a fire, and that is against the commandments.  I haven’t been able to wrap my head around where it is OK to throw rocks and stop a car to burn it on the Sabbath, but not OK to crank it.  Maybe some of you can help shed a little light on this for me….

One of the common compromises is that if you are in a building with elevators, all are shut down except one.  And that one elevator is programmed to stop at every floor both going up and coming down – because this prevents your breaking a Sabbath law by pushing a button.  Imagine the enjoyment of being in a 24-floor hotel, filled with tourist on a Sabbath day.  Your room is on the 20th floor, the elevator is on the 23rd floor, and for some reason it has remained there for awhile.  You have a choice:  You can camp out on a couch in the lobby or climb 18 sets of steps.  Again, how is climbing 18 sets of steps less work than pushing a button?  But I digress….

 

The important point is the Sabbath is supposed to be a day of rest.  That is what the Scripture said these women did – they rested.  I have always wondered – did they go to the Synagogue?  Did they hear the liturgical readings from the law, the prophets, and the Psalms for that day?  Were they able to take their minds off the events that had just transpired?  Were they able to take their mind off the work that had to be done Sunday morning, which had been left undone from Friday?  I’m sure physically they didn’t have to crank the car or push the elevator button. But were they able mentally to let go and let God?  I doubt it.

 

I am positive the disciples were not able to.  They were not resting.  They were hiding.  Jesus was dead, and they could be next.  Their thinking was, “Where do I go from here?  I gave three years to this.  I was going to be the prime minister, or the secretary of state. Now, I’m hiding for my life.  When will it be safe to go outside again?  Can I get through the city gate without being seen?  I wonder if I can get my old job back as a tax collector.”  The disciples were not physically cranking the engine or pushing the elevator buttons, but they weren’t resting either.

 

We know exactly what that is like.  Like myself, I suspect you have experienced lying down at night, physically exhausted, only to have your eyes remain wide open as your brain churns 90 to nothing.   And once sleep finally does come, it is not restful, as on awakening you feel like you’ve pulled a loaded barge up the Mississippi River all night long….

 

The word rest has a different meaning for the church than it has for the secular world.  In the Old Testament, the word rest means to be living in the provision that God has provided.  In the first 5 books of the Bible, it literally meant the promised land.  Later, as with David, it meant dwelling in God’s goodness, presence, power, and grace. Working in God and through His power in order to accomplish His will.  It meant a life of not trusting in oneself but in the power of God working through one.  Paul carried this over into his thoughts in his epistles.  For the Christian to be resting is to be trusting.  Through trust we live by faith that our God is in control.  His word and His promises are sure. What has happened and what is going to happen is not a problem.  Through the Holy Spirit, our God is with us – and we are in Him!

 

One of my favorite old hymns is “Blessed Assurance”.  The third verse starts out, “Perfect submission, all is at rest, I in my Savior am happy and blessed”.  Did you catch that?  Not I AND my Savior but I IN my Savior.  It is when we are IN Him, when we are IN His Spirit, IN His word, IN His presence through prayer and praise, that we can have perfect rest.  Then it is no longer about us, but it becomes all about Him.  It is no longer about what He is going to help us do, it becomes about what He through His power is going to do through us.

 

Back to our story.  It would seem no one was resting that day. The religious leaders were not resting – they were afraid Jesus would do what He said He was going to do and rise from the dead. Pilate wasn’t resting – he had no clue what political repercussions might come out of this.  The poor soldiers on guard duty couldn’t rest – the darn angels kept waking them up. Jesus wasn’t resting – His earthly body was still in the tomb, but He was in Hell jingling keys, rattling doors, and driving Satan nuts.

 

I believe there was only one Being resting on that Sabbath.  It was God the Father.  His Son’s work was finished.  His love for His creation and His plan for the salvation of His creation had been paid in full the day before.  The next day would start the new beginning, and He could rest in the fact that He through the work of His Son and the power of His Holy Spirit had truly made all things new.

 

BLESSINGS AND PEACE

 

Remember to read Psalm 91 in the first person each day and claim it for yourself.

Categories
Holy Week Messages

GOOD FRIDAY

John 19:17-19

17.) And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha,

18.) where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center.

19.) Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was:

JESUS OF NAZARETH

THE KING OF THE JEWS.

 

GOOD FRIDAY:

 

It’s very early Friday, what most people would call the wee hours of the morning.  Jesus and His disciples had celebrated the Passover, where Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper.  He had tried to teach them a little more, hoping that they would gain some insight into the happenings they were about to experience.  They had left the Upper Room and gone back to the Garden of Gethsemane, located at the foot of the Mount of Olives on the eastern side of the Kidron Valley.

The immanence of the moment was felt by Jesus.  Judas had left during the meal to fulfill his obligation in the upcoming events.  Jesus knew it wouldn’t be long before the temple guards would come to retrieve Him.  He separated Peter, James, and John and then went deeper into the olive grove Himself.  He asked them to stay awake and pray with Him, but they couldn’t – they fell asleep even though He asked them twice.  Jesus then asked the Father to take this cup away.  In our humanness, we focus on the terrible mistreatment and abuse He is about to undergo, but I have shared with you in the past, I believe the beatings, the pit, the scourging, and the cross were the least of His worries.  Jesus knew that for at least 3 hours on that cross He would be totally alone.  For the first time, His heavenly Father would be forced to turn His back on the Son, as the wrath of all the sins of the whole world – past, present, and future – were poured out on His body on the cross.  It would be the first time He, Jesus, the sinless one, would be separated from the presence of His heavenly Father.

 

He was arrested, and while being taken to Caiaphas’ house was beaten and mistreated.  After arriving, He was thrown into a pit to await the rest of the kangaroo court which was being hurriedly arranged.  The goal was to get this done before the city really began to wake up and the pilgrims, who would be sympathetic to Jesus, started entering the city.  The pit was about 9’ across and about 30’ deep, making it necessary to lower or pull out any prisoner via a rope.  It was not uncommon for those at ground level to spit, urinate, and defecate into that pit during a person’s detainment.

 

The actors all being assembled, Jesus was eventually pulled from the pit.  He bore the false accusations, endured more physical abuse, and suffered Peter’s denial.  Then He was taken to Pilate because the religious leaders wanted Him dead; but they didn’t just want Jesus dead, they wanted it to be a public spectacle – and they could not pull that off without Pilate’s approval.  Pilate really did not want to deal with this.  He found out that Jesus was from Galilee and proceeded to defer the decision making to King Herod.  Jesus didn’t play Herod’s game, however, and was sent back to Pilate.

 

Pilate has been made to look a whole lot better in this than he should.  He would have put Jesus to death in a split second if it had only been about Jesus.  He despised the priests and the elders, and he was aware that the priests and the elders wanted this man dead for no good reason.  Pilate would have liked nothing better than to let Jesus go free just to spite the Sanhedrin.  Thus, this all became a game of politics – back and forth – as Pilate tried to do what he could to punish Jesus and still let Him go.  Success here would have been the only way to have victory over the religious elders.  So Pilate had Jesus beaten and scourged, during which time He was humiliated and beaten by the Roman troops with a crown of Judean thorns also being pressed upon His head.  I’ve seen them, these thorns, and they are all of 3-4 inches long.  Jesus was then brought back to Pilate.  He tried to release Jesus as the prisoner set free at Passover, but the Sanhedrin weren’t  having any of that.  They cried out for Barabbas, a known criminal.  Pilate asked, “You want me to crucify your king?” and they answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” This was where the political game really became clear.  Pilate had already been told to stand down several times by his father-in-law.  The family of King Herod was very close to the emperor, and the religious leaders also had influence at the Roman court.  If Pilate’s releasing of Jesus got back to the court in Rome, it would have been interpreted as having chosen a kingship over Caesar. The religious leaders played their trump card, and Jesus was sent to be crucified…

 

When I was in Jerusalem last year, I walked the Via Crucis, which starts at the praetorium and goes through the old city.  The road is rough and uneven, being about 10 feet wide at its most narrow points and 30 feet at its widest.  It is also uphill all the way.  About halfway along, there is a little prayer chapel where the only piece of the old Jerusalem city gate is still standing.  On the far side of this point, there is still city but newer buildings and pathway (only about 1600-1700 years old, being built 250-to 350 years after Jesus’ time.) That part of the road now is a little smoother and wider, it is still uphill all the way.  On the day Jesus was crucified, once that gate was passed, there was nothing but rocky road and barren ground all the way to Calvary.  As one walks along the street in the old city, one looks at the building on either side, all of which now are two-story or more; but there comes the realization that although these structures were not present at Jesus’ crucifixion, they are still built on the very foundations of the original buildings that were there!  The road hasn’t changed because the foundations of those buildings hasn’t changed for 3000 years.

 

For me, climbing the hill was difficult.  (This trip took place before my knee replacement surgery).  But then I started thinking about Jesus.  For five or six hours, He had been beaten several times and whipped.  The movie, “The Passion”, shows Him being caned before he was scourged.  After the scourging, the Roman soldiers put a robe on Him, pressed a crown of thorns on His head, beat Him again, and then removed the robe, opening up all His wounds once more.  On my trip, I had enjoyed my breakfast and hot tea first – Jesus was undernourished and dehydrated.  The abuse and loss of blood, plus the burden of carrying the cross up the crowded street while being continuously beaten by the soldiers is unimaginable.  No wonder Jesus needed help.  Simon of Cyrene was conscripted by the Romans to assist in carrying His cross.  From my experience, it was hard to tell how far the walk actually was from the praetorium to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre – I didn’t ask and I couldn’t find it on Google – but I would guess around a mile to a mile and a quarter.  Again, uphill all the way.

 

On that long-ago day, the group finally got to Calvary, where the soldiers again ripped off the robe so that wounds were once more reopened to bleed.  They laid Him out to nail Him to the cross, using spikes through His hands and ankles, and then they turned it over so they could hammer down the spikes on the back side. Next, they lifted the cross up and dropped it into a hole in the ground.  Jesus hung there between Heaven and Earth, between a righteous God and a sinful humanity.  He was suffocating (that’s how you die on a cross, hanging in such a position that breathing is impossible except for intermittently pushing up on the ankle spike to gasp a breath).

 

What did Jesus see from there?  He saw none of the disciples except John.  He saw His mother and a few of the other faithful women.  He saw that He was hanging between two thieves.  He saw the soldiers gambling over His robe.  He saw the angry mob shaking their fists and ridiculing Him.  He saw the religious leaders doing the same with sanctimonious attitudes.  

 

What did Jesus hear?  He heard words like, “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross so we can believe in you. (Satan in his appointed time) He saved others – let Him save Himself.” He did hear one good word, when one of the thieves declared his personal guilt, Jesus’s complete innocence and kingship, and was asked to be remembered when Jesus came into His kingdom.

 

What did Jesus say?  “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do!”  “Today you will be with me in paradise.”  “Woman, behold thy son! Son, behold thy mother!”   “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”  “I thirst.”   “It is finished.”   “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.”

At 12 noon the sky turned dark.  When Jesus was born, the glory of God shown so bright that midnight became midday.  At the cross, God removed Himself from the situation so that midday became midnight.  Jesus was totally alone, and He quoted the Psalms.  He said, “I thirst”, but it was not for something wet to drink.  He thirsted for the presence of the Father back in His life….Then, after all of our sin and the sin of the world had been poured out on His body, after the total wrath of God had been exhausted upon His person, He said, “It is finished!”   At about 3 p.m., He sensed the presence of His Father once again, and He said, “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.”  His work on earth was altogether and finally done…

 

What wondrous grace this is.  He took what you and I deserved so that from that point forward, we could have what He deserved.  With His stripes He gave us our healing.  By hanging on the tree, He bore our curse.  With His blood He bought our redemption, and through His death He made unconditional forgiveness a reality.  With His resurrection…..well, we will talk about that on Sunday.

 

BLESSINGS AND PEACE

 

I conclude with the words of two songs:

 

It Is Finished” by Petra, written by Bob Hartman

 

In the heat of the early morning,

On a hill they call the skull,

The roaring of the angry mob had settled to a lull.

All eyes were cast upon the man whose hands and feet were bound –

They heard Him cry in anguish when they heard the hammer pound.

They saw the bloody woven thorns with which His head was crowned,

They watched the bloody cross of wood be dropped into the ground,

The soldiers gambled for His clothes, He watched them win and lose,

They saw the sign above His head that said, “King of the Jews”

 

It is finished, and the sky grew black as the night.

It is finished, and the people scattered in fright.

The work has been done, redemption had been won,

The war was over without a fight.

It is finished!

 

They searched His face for anger, for vengeance in His stare.

Instead of eyes that burned with hate a look of love was there.

He prayed for their forgiveness and bowed His battered head,

And no one knew the meaning of the final words He said.

 

It is finished, and the sky grew black as the night.

It is finished, and the people scattered in fright.

The work has been done, redemption has been won,

The war was over without a fight.

It is finished!

 

The provision has been made,

The foundation has been laid,

He paid the ransom due and tore the temple veil in two

And opened up the way for me and you.

IT IS FINISHED

 

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Via Dolorosa”  by Sandy Patty

 

Down the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem that day

The soldiers tried to clear the narrow street,

But the crowd pressed in to see

A man condemned to die on Calvary.

 

He was bleeding from a beating, there were stripes upon His back,

And He wore a crown of thorns upon His head.

And He bore with every step

The scorn of those who cried out for His death.

 

Down the Via Dolorosa, called the way of suffering,

Like a lamb came the Messiah, Christ the King.

But He chose to walk that road out of His love for you and me –

Down the Via Dolorosa all the way to Calvary.

 

The blood that would cleanse the souls of men

Made its way through the heart of Jerusalem

 

Down the Via Dolorosa, called the way of suffering,

Like a lamb came the Messiah, Christ the King.

But He chose to walk that road out of His love for you and me –

Down the Via Dolorosa all the way to Calvary……

 

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

       

Categories
Holy Week Messages

MAUNDY THURSDAY

John 13 1-5

1.) Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

2.) And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son to betray Him,

3.) Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God,

4.) rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.

5.) After that He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.

 

Luke 21:15-20

15.) Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;

16.) for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.”

17.) Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves;

18.) for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes.”

19.) And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

20.) Likewise, He took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.

 

Luke 21:24

24.) Now there was a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest.

 

MAUNDY THURSDAY:

 

Earlier in the day, Jesus had sent Peter and John to prepare for the Passover feast. Jesus had been in the temple all day teaching His last to the pilgrims.  He arrived at the place where the feast was to be held.  It is known in Christian circles as the upper room. It was located in the lower section of the city of Zion.  Today it is a mosque, but Christians are allowed to go inside.  It is one of the places I want to revisit.  Our group was supposed to go, but because of time constraints we just got to view it from a distance.  I was told by a member of another group that there are no Christian symbols inside the building, only Islamic.  Yet compared to many older buildings we had seen, it was relatively large.  Well, it had to be large enough to handle 12 men comfortably!  The tables would be about 18” tall and set up in a U shape.  The attendees would have gathered around the outside edge of the U with space enough to stretch out on cots, lying on their left side so as to be able to reach food with the right hand.  I was told the real reason for this, and you really don’t want to know the real reason for this. Trust me, you really don’t.

Anyway, according to the law, the children of Israel were supposed to eat the Passover standing up, in recognition and celebration of the very first Passover.  The Romans, however, claimed that the Jews were slaves when they did this because in Roman society only slaves stood up to eat.  The Jews, in stubborn opposition to this, declared, “We are not slaves!” and began celebrating their feasts in a reclining position

 

In verse 15, Luke expresses Jesus’ desire to celebrate Passover one last time with His disciples.   He knows that tonight is the last night He will be able to be with them before His resurrection.  He imparts to them and to us the Lord’s Supper.  The loaf that He took was Elijah’s loaf.  At the beginning of the feast, the loaf would have been split, with half would remaining for the Seder and the feast.  By tradition the other half would have been given to a child to take and hide.  It would not be eaten that night.  The scripture does not tell us what was done with Elijah’s half and there were no children, so your guess is as good as mine.  We westerners tend to think of a regular loaf of bread, but this was unleavened bread, and it could be very flat and very large in diameter, being baked according to the size of the crowd.

 

The wine Jesus used was Elijah’s wine.  By tradition, before the feast, the master of the feast would take a container of wine and place it outside of the place of celebration.  For most people, this was outside the door of their home.  It was not used but was there as an invitation for Elijah to come. For you see if Elijah did come, that would mean the coming of the Messiah was near!  During this particular Passover, Jesus issued one of His few commandments: “Do this in remembrance of Me.”  The establishment of the New Covenant.  As you read on past verse 20 you can sense the tension in Christ’s Spirit.  And what do our future church leaders do?  Verse 24 say they started to argue about who was the greatest among them….

 

In Luke’s writing, Jesus verbalizes what is true greatness. In the Gospel of John, He exemplifies it.  You see, Jesus had sent Peter and John to prepare the feast.  This they did.  They did it themselves. When everyone arrived, there were no servants, so there was no one to wash anyone’s feet.  They didn’t stand on ceremony and went ahead with the supper.  But if proper etiquette had been followed, Peter and John should have washed everyone’s feet when they arrived.  The disciples began to argue over who was to be the greatest – even as the One who was the greatest got up, took off His outer garment, wrapped a towel around His waist, got a jar of water, and began to wash all their feet, even the feet of Judas.

Have you ever been faced with an ordeal that to you was going to be a real test, a moment of truth, a time when you really needed the support and help of your family and friends to survive?  And those closest to you didn’t seem to understand or weren’t taking it as seriously as you thought they should?  We’ve all been there, except as Christians we know we are not alone.  Through the presence of the Holy Spirit, we know that our loving Heavenly Father is with us.  He fully understands where we are and what we are about to go through.  But Jesus knew there was going to be a point where the Father was going to have to turn His back on the Son, when God would have to cease being His Father because of the world’s sins which Jesus would have to bear on the cross.  Because a holy, righteous, and just God cannot look upon sin.

 

Jesus handled this all so much better and differently than I would have….

 

Now let us recall that promise found in Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”  Even on the night Jesus was betrayed, His disciples didn’t understand; but we can live with the confidence of faith that in our times of trial, if those around us don’t understand, our Lord and Savior does.

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I want to share the lyrics of two songs with you.  They both come from an anointed singer and songwriter from the 90’s.  His name is Michael Card.

 

How Much More Servant Could He Be?

 

On this final night, they bicker and they fight

Still they are slaves to men, but not yet slaves to Christ.

He would give up on words, too tired to speak,

So He took up the towel and washed their filthy feet

 

The arguments just melt away,

And there was nothing more that they could say;

A wordless lesson that would set them free.

Tell me, how much more a servant could He be?

He took a loaf of bread, He broke it and He said,

“Take this my body, and remember Me.”

He took the final cup and as He raised it up,

“This covenant is new, My blood poured out for you.”

 

The arguments just melt away,

And there is nothing more that they could say;

A wordless lesson that would set them free.

Tell me, how much more a servant could He be?

 

He is the slave that always serves Himself

And makes of Himself the final meal,

Lived out in flesh so we could see.

Tell me, how much more a servant could He be?

 

He is the wine and bread, too much to comprehend!

He leads from His knees and serves us as a friend.

In time they’d finally hear the message made so clear.

Who is the greatest One? It is God’s Servant Son!

 

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This second song comes from Michael’s third album of his trilogy about the life of Christ.

 

Come to the Table

 

Come to the table and savor the sight,

The wine and the bread that was broken.

And all have been welcomed to come if they might

Accept as their own these two tokens.

 

The bread is His body, the wine is the blood,

And the one who provides them is true.

He freely offers, we freely receive,

To accept and believe Him is all we must do.

 

Come to the table and taste of the glory

And savor the sorrow, He’s dying tomorrow!

The hand that is breaking the bread

Soon will be broken.

 

And here at the table sit all those who have loved You,

One is a traitor and one will deny;

But He lives His life for them all

And for all be crucified

 

Come to the table He’s prepared for you:

The bread of forgiveness, the wine of release!

Come to the table and sit down beside Him –

The savior wants you to join in the feast

 

Come to the table and see in His eyes

The love that the Father has spoken,

And you are welcome, whatever your crime,

For every commandment you’ve broken.

 

For He comes to love you and not to condemn,

And He offers a pardon of peace;

If you come to the table, you’ll feel in your heart

The greatest forgiveness, the greatest release!

 

Come to the table and taste of the glory

And savor the sorrow: He’s dying tomorrow!

The hand that is breaking the bread

Soon will be broken.

 

And here at the table sit those who have loved you,

One is a traitor and one will deny;

But He lives His life for them all

And for all be crucified.

 

Come to the table He’s prepared for you:

The bread of forgiveness, the wine of release!

Come to the table and sit down beside Him –

The Savior wants you to join in the feast

 

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