Monday, March 21, 2011

The MOST IMPORTANT CHAPTER in the BIBLE - Part 2

(note: this entry is based on a sermon delivered on 3-20-11 by yours truly; not everything mentioned here was preached on during the sermon, and likewise there were some things stated in the sermon that are not included here. LORD permitting, videos of these sermons will be available soon, and a link to it will be added to these entries).
From last time, we finished the study including verse 20 -

vs. 20: "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept."

This phrase, 'first fruits' is very relevant; it refers to the first harvest of fruit that is grown with the promise of an even greater crop in the future. Just as the Bible commanded Israel to render to God their first fruits (in crops, in live stock, our first born children who were especially dedicated to the LORD) we as the church today, offer God the first fruits of our labor (working as unto the LORD and not human beings) and finances (as in tithes), our time in study of His Word, prayer, and fellowship, whatever ministry the LORD has given us, etc.

God offered up His First Born (a title for one who was pre-eminent, or rank #1), the LORD Jesus Christ on our behalf, and He has risen with a promise of even greater fruit, when all the church is likewise risen from the dead!

1 PETER 1:3-5 
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Now we pick it up with vs. 21-23:

1 COR 15:21-23 
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.

Adam represents the human race which has fallen into sin, therefore death is a part of our existence. However, Jesus Christ represents a NEW race with the Divine nature (2 PETER 1:4) as is evident in the true church of born again believers, and so we are inheritors of eternal life in JESUS! (see vs. 45-47 in reference to the first and last Adam).

The first fruits is when Jesus resurrected from the dead with a spiritual, resurrected body. Those who "slept" and are even now 'sleeping' will be raised up at His Return! They're not really dead in the sense that they are gone; just asleep in a sense because when the LORD comes and calls us, we (that is in our bodily consciousness) will wake up! There are some that teach the concept of 'soul sleep', that is, when a person dies they are unaware of anything and entirely unconscious, not sensing any reality of heaven or the presence of the LORD. This teaching is false and disproven quite ably from the scriptures.

There are souls under the altar in the book of Revelation that cry out to God, communicate with God, have memory of their former lives while on Earth, etc. (REV 6:9-11). Paul stated to be absent from tbe body is to be present with the LORD (2 COR 5:8).

No, our consciousness (spirit) will be very much aware of the glories of heaven and the glorious Person of Jesus when we die; its only our bodies that are asleep, but will be awakened to life eternal, albeit in a transformed state (we'll get into this momentarily).

1 COR 15:24-26 
Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

The time is coming when death will die, that is, "this last enemy" will be destroyed, but for who? Those who are in Christ Jesus and the world that they shall inherit (the new Earth!) where death will no longer be a part of our existence!

The LORD Jesus Himself is the victor over death -

HEBREWS 2:14-15 
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he [Jesus] also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

All other enemies at this time will be abased, that is, put down from any power or authority that they once had; this includes human beings (PSALM 2) and angelic beings as well COL 2:15.

Note vs. 25, what it says: "For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet."
The reign of the LORD Jesus Christ shall endure UNTIL He has put all enemies under the subjection of His rule; this will transpire when He physically returns to this rebel Earth, and begins to exercise His rulership over all the nations. Afterwards, He will still be KING of Kings and LORD of Lords, but that He will surrender ultimate rulership and authority to the Father as we see in the following verses:

1 COR 15:27-28 
For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.
And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

Today we still see rebellion and sin in this world; indeed such things are growing at an alarming rate! God's Word is disparaged even among so-called believers and churches; the Bible as the very Word of God is ridiculed in Universities and considered absurd. Prayer is banned from schools, the 10 Commandments are removed from our court rooms and an increasing state of "lawlessness" is evident.

Yet such actions and conduct are in direct rebellion against the KING and RULER of the Universe; in any other kingdom such things done against the command of its king would be considered treason and punishable by death! How much more so shall the Holy and Almighty King of all creation bring justice to those who mock His authority and trample His commandments underfoot!

Indeed, one day all of Christ Jesus' enemies will be brought low, and subjected under Him! As I am fond of saying, "There is no such thing as eternal injustice!"

ROMANS 14:11 
For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

PHILIPPIANS 2:9-11 
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Back to 1 Corinthians:

1 COR 15:29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?

This verse is somewhat obscure in its meaning, and as I consulted with various commentaries, each gave variations of meaning, or even different meanings altogether. Some suggest that this is in reference to those saints who have died, and others who have come to faith and were baptized, taking the place of those departed, filling in the ranks.

Others suggested that this was a pagan practice (baptism for the dead) that was carried over to the church.

Still others state that this was in reference to washing the dead prior to burial with a view towards the resurrection.

Which ever may be the case, Paul is arguing here that if there is no resurrection from the dead, what would be the need for these practices?

1 COR 15:30-33 
And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?
I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.
Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

If there is no resurrection, Paul states, then why should he and all Christians at this time in history when persecution, suffering and martyrdom were rampant endanger their own lives by remaining faithful to Christ and renouncing the things of this world, if in fact we have no hope for the resurrection unto eternal life?

Remember vs. 19 of this chapter: "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable."

Today its the same, when you examine the persecuted church all over the world; the one singular hope they have, that they cling dearly to, is to remain faithful to the name of JESUS, to not deny His Name, so that they may receive a great reward at the resurrection -

Consider Hebrews chapter 11, what's been popularly called 'The Hall of Faith':

HEBREWS 11:35b-40: 
. . . and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

May I encourage you to be in prayer for the persecuted church, and ask the LORD to grant tremendous grace, peace and strength for these suffering saints to remain steadfast and faithful to the end, even if it costs them their lives? Check out the following web site:

http://www.persecution.org/

and also: http://www.persecution.com/


Paul stated that he "die[d] daily" and we can take this two different ways; on the one hand he often faced peril and the possibility of physical death as a martyr of Jesus Christ (interesting that the word for "witness" in the Greek is "martos" the very word from which we get the word, martyr!), but that he also died daily to himself, denying his sinful nature, crucifying it so that Christ Jesus might live more fully through him (see GAL 2:20).

1 COR 15:34 
Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

In a rebuke towards the worldly outlook on life ("let us eat and drink and be merry for tomorrow we die") Paul exhorts the Corinthian saints to "awake to righteousness" which points out that they were asleep in a sense and living a lax life, not being disciplined in holiness by the power of the Spirit. Such conduct is indeed a shame, and may we all take this admonition (myself included!) to heart!

As we are passing through this world as pilgrims (1 PET 2:11-12) are we doing what we can to share "the knowledge of God" as we are commanded by the LORD? To proclaim His Gospel to a lost, dying world (MARK 16:15)?

1 COR 15:35 
But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?

Two questions are posed here: How does this 'resurrection' work? and What will these new bodies be like?

1 COR 15:36-38 
Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:
And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:
But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.

Paul relates death and resurrection to an agricultural analogy - what is planted gets 'obliterated' - it doesn't remain in seed form. Eventually it sprouts up out of the earth and it's very different looking and functions differently too!

See JOHN 12:24 regarding the "seed of Abraham" Who is Jesus Christ (GAL 3:16) by Whom all the world is being blessed!

1 COR 15:39-41 
All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.
There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.

Likewise in this world, there are various forms of animal life: aquatic, terrain, and aerial, all with 'flesh' of a different kind. Also the heavenlies have different bodies that vary in glory.

So too, there is the glory of this physical body we now have, though since the fall of humanity, this is far more limited than what God designed originally in the first man, Adam; and there will be a greater glory in the bodies we shall inherit!

1 COR 15:42-44 
So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

Note that when we are resurrected we will have a spiritual BODY; we won't be disembodied spirits floating around heaven for all eternity, but will have actual bodies but spiritual, not natural in being.

The LORD Jesus Christ Himself demonstrated this resurrected body in that He could appear instantly in the middle of a room without the use of a doorway; He could appear in a small town and in the next instant be in Jerusalem. He could transport to heaven (there to present the blood of atonement in the Temple of God (see HEB 9:23-24) and return to Earth once again so that He could "breathe" the Holy Spirit upon His followers (see JOHN 20:12).

Yet He could also be touched, handled and could eat food (see LUKE 24:38-43; JOHN 20:27; 1 JOHN 1:1).

Here we understand the distinction from resurrection, and simply being raised from the dead; there is a difference.

The LORD Jesus raised people from the dead such as the widow from Nain's son, Jairus' daughter and most notably Lazarus (LUKE 7:11-6; 8:41-42, 49-56 and JOHN 11:1-44) but all of these died again!

Jesus declared in

JOHN 11:25-26
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? (See also JOHN 8:51-53).

Jesus lives and dies no more!

ROMANS 6:9 
Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him

Continuing in 1 CORINTHIANS and getting a 'wrap up' lets look at the following verses:

1 COR 15:45-50 
And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man [is] the Lord from heaven.
As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

The life of Adam was imparted to him by the breath of God; and this life was sustained by God, the Author of all life; he didn't have life in himself that was self sustaining.
However the last Adam (Jesus Christ) does have life in Himself and He can impart this life to others just as God the Father imparts life (see JOHN 5:26; 10:28; 17:2-3).

Each of these two Adams (the original Adam and Christ, the 2nd Adam) produce after their own kind:
The first Adam - his descendents are of the earth, are sinners by nature, and produce a race of sinners.
The second Adam - his 'descendants' are of heaven (though still residing on this Earth for a time) and are a holy people, each of them produced as a new race of humans by direct interaction with God Almighty via the spiritual rebirth (JOHN 1:12; 3:3-5)

We now bear the image of the earthly regarding our physical bodies, but one day we shall bear the image of the heavenly, with out resurrected bodies!

ROMANS 8:29 
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Right now we who are saved are being conformed to the image of the Son in our minds (if we are yielding to Him, letting Him do His work in us) that results in a life like that of Jesus with all of His attributes of love, holiness, etc. This is an ongoing process right now that will continue until we see Him face to Face!

ROMANS 8:30 
Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

When we see Him, then we will be "glorified" as is stated above. We have been called of God to enter into the kingdom He has prepared for all who will receive Jesus Christ and His atonement for our sins. Those who do so are now justified (declared sinless before our Holy God!) and these who are free from the penalty of sin: death and hell, are one day to be glorified so that we will no longer have a sin nature, but only the nature of Jesus' holiness abiding in us! WOW!!
All of this is happening to and for us in accord to God's foreknowledge and predistination; He Who knows all things: past, present and future; He knows those that are His and those who receive His Son (see JOHN 13:20).

"Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" Jesus declared that unless one is born again, he cannot see (perceive, know) it, nor can he enter into it. Neither can we who ARE born again enter into it with these bodies we now have.

1 COR 15:51 "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,"

I once saw this scripture posted on the door of a church nursery! A slightly different application there, huh?

There are some of us that when the LORD returns, will be alive and well on planet Earth, and we along with those who have died as believing Christians will all be "caught up" together with the LORD, meeting Him in the air, and we shall from that point on, forever dwell in the LORD's prescence, never to be parted from Him again! HALLELUJAH!

1 THESS 4:16-17 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

1 COR 15:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

This resurrection/rapture (The rapture involves the living who while yet alive are changed; the resurrection are for those who have died - for the church this is the one and the same event!) was believed by the Old Testament saints such as Abraham (GEN. 22:5; HEB 11:9) as well as Job (JOB 19:25-26).

The Sadducees, religious leaders in Israel in the days of Jesus were very liberal in their theology, and didn't believe in the resurrection from the dead (MATT 22:29). Today its the same among Christian liberals, such as Marcus Borg (referred to in Part 1 of this article) as well as most (if not all) deeply involved in the Emergent Church Movement.

This event will transpire "in a moment" - how many moments are there in a single day? At any one of these moments we can expect to find our LORD returning for us! Are we watching, waiting, working for the LORD until He returns? One of the purposes of prophecy is to clue us in about God's time table, and as we see these various biblical prophecies being fulfilled, we understand His Return is that much sooner (LUKE 21: 28)!

1 COR 15:53-55 
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

Compare this passage with some biblical commentary found in:

2 TIM 1:8-10 
Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

Once again we see the connection between the Gospel and the resurrection and eternal life, with afflictions and testimony working in between the two.

1 COR 15:56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

Law brings order; breaking the law brings consequences. If there were no road signs designating speed limits, no one driving could break the law. But God has ordained Law to be obeyed; the problem is we are powerless to obey these holy Laws because of our sinful nature. Thus, in God revealing His Holy Law to us, we understand our need for salvation (see 1 TIM 1:9; ROM 7:7; GAL 3:24).
Sin is the breaking of the Law, and it brings the consequences of death and hell; there is only one remedy for sin, and that is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (JOHN 1:29).

1 COR 15:57-58 
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Victory is assured for the child of God! See 2 COR 2:14 and 1 JOHN 5:4.

Any and all things we do for the LORD's sake and a love for Him and His saints will know great reward; even if after years of service to Him, we may forget the things we have done that have borne good fruit, but He hasn't! It's all recorded and waiting to be acknowledged on that Day when He inspects our lives we lived here in this world, and renders reward for faithful (note: FAITHFUL, not necesarily HUGE, SUCCESSFUL, IMPRESSIVE, WELL KNOWN) service to Him.

Such reward will be a means for us to worship God as we acknowledge with thankful hearts that such deeds we have done would have been impossible if not for His grace, and His Spirit at work in our hearts and lives!

On that Day we shall no more weep, there will be no more sorrow or struggles or pain or weariness; no more injustice, evil, corruption, oppression, or violence; no more tribulation and trouble - these things along with this entire rebel planet will finally come to an end (remember vs. 24-25).

PHILIPPIANS 3:8-10 
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

This concludes this rather exhaustive study of 1 Corinthians chapter Fifteen. In regards to the Gospel being the foundation of our salvation, and in turn the resurrection (and the preceding atonement for our sins by the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ) being the foundation of the Gospel, I thought it would be good to include this rather remarkable insight with thanks to Dr. Chuck Missler where I first learned this:

The GOSPEL In CODE - Genesis chapter 5
May the LORD bless you all in the Name of the LORD JESUS CHRIST, our BLESSED HOPE!

Monday, March 14, 2011

The MOST IMPORTANT CHAPTER in the BIBLE - Part 1

(note: this entry is based on a sermon delivered on 3-13-11 by yours truly; not everything mentioned here was preached on during the sermon, and likewise there were some things stated in the sermon that are not included here. LORD permitting, a video of the sermon will be available soon, and a link to it will be added to this entry)

There are 66 books in our Bible today, each of them with chapters ranging from one or a few to over sixty or more. Which of these would YOU select as the most important chapter in the Bible?

What about GENESIS 1? 'Genesis' means "beginnings" and this chapter lays out the creation account. Did you know that the first 10 chapters of Genesis contains the foundation of all of the Bible's major, fundamental doctrines?

This is why evolution is so destructive to "the faith" because if evolution were true, then we couldn't possibly believe in a literal Adam and Eve (even though the LORD Jesus mentions them as actual people; MATT 19:4). And if they weren't real, how could we believe anything of the creation account? And if this was likewise contrived, the entire first ten chapters would be suspect, and therefore all the doctrines of the Bible would not be trustworthy.

This is also why theistic evolution is not compatible with scripture, for even this declares that death was a part of our reality millions of years prior to what 'evolved' into Adam, and so death wouldn't be such a 'big deal' and thus inconsequential; nor would there be a need for salvation from death or its precursory cause, that is, sin.

What about ISAIAH 53 perhaps? This chapter describes the suffering Messiah and His ministry to bear the sins of His people?

Or PSALM 119 - here is a chapter wholly devoted to the magnification and extolling of God's most Holy and precious Word!

Perhaps you might think of JOHN 3 where our LORD Himself establishes the mandate of the spiritual rebirth as a necessity in order to see and enter into the Kingdom of God?

ROMANS 8 would be a good candidate as well: here is the declaration of the love of God in Christ Jesus from which nothing, NOTHING, NOTHING can separate us!

Or 1 CORINTHIANS 13 where love is again the subject, but as it indwells the believer as the only sole, legitimate motivation for our service to the LORD and His people. We could do marvelous, incredible deeds and service, even allowing ourselves to be martyred and yet without love, scripture says, its all for NOTHING!

Now in reality, we know that ALL scripture is important (2 TIM 3:16)because if God saw it as necessary to get His Word recorded, then its necessary for us to read it. And study it. And know it. And understand it. And believe it. And love it. And Obey it. And live it!

Well here is another candidate for "the most important chapter" and the subject of today's teaching:

1 CORINTHIANS 15 - and why?

1 COR 15:16-17 
For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

"Your faith is in vain"? "yet in your sins"? What does THAT mean?!
We'll get into all of the details in this teaching today:

vs. 1: "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand"

Paul preached the Gospel and the Corinthian saints received it, and stood in it. It was their foundation. Indeed, the Gospel is the foundation of the Christian life! If the foundation is solid, anything built on it is solid, and likewise vice versa: an unstable foundation will mean an unstable structure that's founded on it.

Remember the LORD's admonition in -

MATT 7:24-27 
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

Note that 'hearing' (and in the Greek, this word can mean to perceive, to understand; not only to merely hear) is not enough. There are those who are granted understanding of the Word of God by His Spirit, but they don't obey or "do" the Word of God.Even though they hear and understand, their house is not founded on the Rock (the LORD Jesus Christ Himself) but on the sand - a VERY unstable foundation! When any storm in life comes their way, their 'house' - representing their lives - will not stand up to it, but collapse and fall to ruin!

Those that both "hear" and "do" can be assured that when storms come, no matter how powerfully fierce and destructive they may be (and I believe we here in America will see more and more of these!) we have God's promise in His Word, that we will survive them, and remain standing!

The LORD desires that we become and maintain a good, solid, unshakable "house of God" (1 TIM 3:15). So, a solid understanding and obedience to the Gospel is absolutely important and is foundational for salvation.

But what is foundational to the Gospel? This, we will examine today!

vs. 2: "By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain."
There is that word again, "vain"! What is this talking about, "believing in vain"? This word 'vain' is used six times in chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians, and in the Greek they are not all the same word. In this verse, the word in the Greek is eike and it means "without a reason, or cause, to be in essence a failure"

Back to Matthew ch. 7 -

MATT 7:21-23 
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
"Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
"And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

On that Day of Judgment, the scripture says "MANY"! "MANY will say to Me on that day, LORD, LORD" and will list all the wonderful works that they have done in His Name, professing a personal knowledge of the LORD, yet He will declare to them, "I NEVER knew you, you that work iniquity (that word 'iniquity' means "lawlessness" not being subject to authority, which in this case means that Jesus was not truly their LORD Whom they SHOULD HAVE been subject to!). Their belief in the LORD was vain.

Note that in vs. 21 it says that the only ones who will enter into the Kingdom are those that do the Father's will; the obedient, the ones who truly have Jesus as their Lord! There are no exceptions!

In JOHN 8:28-36 we have another example of vain belief in the LORD. In this passage it says that the Jews "believed on Him" twice (vs. 30 and 31)! Yet if you read this passage in its entirety, its plain to see that these Jews were likewise believing "in vain".

We must ask ourselves the question: Are we living a life of obedience (but not perfection necessarily) to God? How can we tell if our belief and faith in the LORD is genuine?

Do we have a new and different relationship with God now than before we made a profession of faith in Christ Jesus? I know for myself as a Roman Catholic for nearly 18 years, my image of God was one of a fierce and judgmental God Who was up in heaven, scrutinizing my every move, waiting for me to mess up so He could send down his condemning bolts of lightening!

It wasn't until after I received Jesus as LORD and SAVIOR - after I surrendered my life into His nail-pierced hands, that I came to know God as a loving, tender hearted, heavenly Father (Abba meaning "daddy" Who loved me enough to send His Son to die for my sins in my place. INCREDIBLE but TRUE!

Do we have a new and different relationship with sin now than before we made a profession of faith in Christ Jesus? Before I came to know the LORD, sin was no big deal; every one does it is the motto that's heard from any one who commits sin. Sin was fun - momentarily. Yet after I came to a saving knowledge of God's grace through Jesus, I developed a hatred for sin; it started to become repulsive to me. A good measure of one's spirituality is to ask oneself: Do I hate sin as much as God does?

And why does God hate sin so much?

Not only because He is a holy God and is offended at such rebellion against His Eternal Holy Commandments, against His Eternal Holy Kingdom and His Eternal Holy Heart; but also because sin separates God from those that He loves so, so dearly - you! (See Isaiah 59:2; Romans 5:8).

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

Knowing exactly what the Gospel is, and receiving it personally is essential; the apostle Paul received it, and so did the Corinthian saints. So must we all to be saved and become a child of God. Remember this, God has no grandchildren!
We cannot think of ourselves in right standing before God because our parents are Christian, or even if our family has been Christian for generations! Or even if our Dad is an elder or a pastor of the church! God has NO grandchildren, and not every one in this world is a "child of God" as is so commonly believed.

JOHN 1:12-13 is very clear on this point -
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Nor are we children of God because we know and understand the Gospel.
We must individually receive the Gospel, and how do we receive it?

Let me give you a couple of analogies to illustrate this point:

Let's say you're at a railroad station; you want to take a trip, but you suddenly discover that you don't have nearly enough money to purchase a ticket! Yet someone out of a gracious, generous heart purchases one for you!
Now, with ticket in hand, you read the point of destination on it and understand that this is a valid ticket that will get you where you want to go. Obviously you know the place you're going to travel to is a real place, even though you've never been there before. You look over the train and the railroad tracks and see that they are in excellent condition and well suited for travel.

KNOWING and UNDERSTANDING all of these facts, will you be assured of arriving at your destination? No, and why not? One more thing is yet necessary:

You have to leave the railroad station and actually get on the train and trust that its going to get you there! If you don't commit your belief by actually getting on the train, all of your knowledge and understanding is worthless.

Another analogy: An acrobat fixed a high wire across Niagra Falls, and then began to traverse its length while thousands of tons of water thundered over the edge of the Falls, crashing down onto the river below, sending plumes of steam skyward. A crowd soon drew together and as the acrobat safely navigated his way back, they broke out into applause!

He then took a wheel barrel and walked it across the high wire, and again he returned safely to the other side! The crowd went wild! He then asked,
"How many of you believe I could put a person in this wheel barrel and walk them back and forth across this high wire?" The crowd cheered in affirmation! The acrobat then pointed to one particular young man, and said, "You sir, what about you? Do you believe I could carry a person safely across this high wire in the wheel barrel?"
The young man confidently affirmed this belief.
"Alright then," said the acrobat, "hop in; we're going across the Falls!"
The young man paled as he looked at the powerful Falls that suddenly looked so very dangerous! He fell silent, and his feet remained frozen on the solid, stable and safe ground!
While professing a belief in the acrobat's abilities, the young man failed to make a commitment and trust his life to another!
Just as he needed to get 'in the wheel barrel' and entrust his life to the acrobat, proving his profession and belief to be valid, we also must entrust Jesus with our very lives, though it will mean forsaking our old life and live a new life "in Christ".

vs. 3-4: "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures"

This is the Gospel, plain and simple: Jesus died on the cross for our sins, He was buried and rose again from the dead on the third day. Note that in both His death and His resurrection it says "according to the scriptures".

There are some that would suggest that the Gospel message is a Christian invention, and has nothing to do with the Old Testament. Yet the Old Testament scriptures were all that were around at the time of Paul's writing (except for some of the Gospels, and an epistle or two). Thus when Paul mentions that these things were accomplished by the Messiah, they were indeed fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies!

Jesus, after His resurrection taught His disciples that "Christ must needs to have suffered all these things" and showed from the Old Testament all things "concerning Himself" (ACTS 17:3; LUKE 24:27).

vs. 5-8: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
"After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
"After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
"And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

Many suggest that the visitations of the resurrected Jesus were merely illusions, hallucinations or even delusional episodes brought on by extreme emotions and grief. Yet five hundred people saw Him at one time, small groups saw Him, individuals saw Him - all over a span of 40 days. They reached out and touched Him; He ate food in their midst, demonstrating He was no ghost or figment of their imagination. He really did rise from the dead!

A good book to read about the Gospel accounts, and how their details prove that Jesus genuinely did rise from the dead was written by a lawyer who studied the scriptures and determined that the facts as presented in these accounts are legally viable and would be accepted in any (unbiased) court room as evidence of the Resurrection.

Testimony of the Evangelists - The Gospels Examined by the Rule of Evidence by Simon Greenleaf


vs.9-11: For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
"But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which [was bestowed] upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
"Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed."
vs. 12: "Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?

There were some teachers, even in the early church who were very influential and didn't believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ! These were either Gnostics or influenced by Gnostic teachings.

To learn more about what Gnostics believed (contrary to biblical truth) see the following from C.A.R.M. ministries (http://carm.org/):

What is Gnosticism?


Today its no different; there are still those, even among the church that claim to be true followers of Jesus, that deny the resurrection. One such person is a prominent figure in what's known as the Emergent Church Movement; he is a liberal theologian named Marcus Borg. He said:

"Were the skeletal remains of Jesus to be indisputably identified, it would not matter to me. To think that the central meaning of Easter depends upon something spectacular happening to Jesus’ corpse misses the point of the Easter message and risks trivializing the story (huh??!! [emph. mine]). To link Easter primarily to our hope for an afterlife, as if our post-death existence depends upon God having transformed the corpse of Jesus, is to reduce the story to a politically-domesticated yearning for our survival beyond death."

To read the entire article, go here:
Marcus Borg article Denies the Resurrection
Reading Simon Greenleaf's book would prove quite useful in refuting Borg's false claims. Another would be material from Josh McDowell, particularly information that can be viewed here:

A READY DEFENSE by Josh McDowell


(Note: There are some issues with which I don't agree with McDowell therefore I can't endorse everything he states, but the material here seems very good to me!).

vs. 13-14 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:

"And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

Once again we have this word "vain" appear, and this time a different Greek word is used - kenos, which means "empty, devoid of content, hollow".

1) The Foundation of Who the MESSIAH is and what He would accomplish in His ministry are the OLD TESTAMENT Messianic prophecies.
2) The Foundation of the Gospel is the MESSIAH Himself Who shed His blood for our sins.
3) The Foundation of our faith in the Gospel is in the death, burial and resurrection of the LORD JESUS CHRIST Who shed His blood for us!

Here is some excellent commentary on this passage from another epistle written by Paul the Apostle (remember, your best commentary on the Bible, is the Bible itself! Let scripture interpret related scripture. This is the best way for any student of the Bible to really learn the truth of God's Word):

ROMANS 6:5-13 
For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
For he that is dead is freed from sin.
Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

There is a LOT of spiritual meat here that could be used for a sermon on its own! The point I want to make here is that EVERYTHING in our Christian faith, our daily living, and our hope for the future depends 100% on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

For our sins to be forgiven, He must be risen!
For His Spirit to indwell us, bring us Life Eternal and empower us to follow after Jesus, He must be risen! (see JOHN 20:22)
For a victorious Christian life, He Must Be Risen!
For a hope and a future after this life is over, and when He returns to establish His kingdom, HE MUST BE RISEN!

Other verses that deal with the atonement for our sins, accomplished by Jesus death on the cross and resurrection from the dead are found in:

1 COR 5:21; ROMANS 8:3; ISAIAH 53: 5-6, 10-11; as well as PSALM 16:10; (ROMANS 6:9 as mentioned already); and 1 PETER 3:18.

"By the death of Jesus our sins were slain,
By the Risen LORD, eternal life we claim!"


vs. 15-18: "Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
"For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
"And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

"Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished."

ROMANS 6:23 states that "the wages of sin is death". Why is this so?

Take a gold fish out of its fish bowl and toss it on the floor.
Uproot a flower from the soil and throw it on the sidewalk.
Snip the umbilical cord of an astronaut that's free floating outside of his spaceshuttle, in outer space.

What will happen to each of them? They will die, because they are removed from their source of life.
Cemeteries and their grave stones stand as testimonies that sin has done its destructive work!

God told Adam, that in the day he ate of the forbidden fruit, he would surely die (In the Hebrew, its even clearer: God told Adam that "in dying, you shall die", that is, once Adam sinned for the first time, he would spiritually die then and there; the process of sin would then take effect and he would begin to die slowly physically until finally, it too would be dead).

God is the only source of Eternal life; knowledge of God in a genuine, spiritual way of true belief is itself eternal life according to JOHN 17:3. Sin separates us from God, and so its because of sin, we 'pay for it' ("wages" as in a penalty) by our death.

Yet we also know that in Jesus Christ there is no sin (2 COR 5:21) so He should have never died, because He never sinned; but He did die! How is that? Because He took upon Himself our own sins!

Yet as He is the author of eternal life, He overcame sin and death, and in victory rose from the dead!

Getting back to vs. 15-18, if its true that Jesus did not rise from the dead, then everything just stated above is a lie! Any that would support these statements would be a false witness!

We can see even more so now, the vital importance and necessity for the resurrection, can't we?

 vs. 19: If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (see Ecclesiastes 1:14)
vs. 20: But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

This phrase, 'first fruits' is very relevant; it refers to the first harvest of fruit that is grown with the promise of an even greater crop in the future. Just as the Bible commanded Israel to render to God their first fruits (in crops, in live stock, our first born children who were especially dedicated to the LORD) we as the church today, offer God the first fruits of our labor (working as unto the LORD and not human beings) and finances (as in tithes), our time in study of His Word, prayer, and fellowship, whatever ministry the LORD has given us, etc.

God offered up His First Born (a title for one who was pre-eminent, or rank #1), the LORD Jesus Christ on our behalf, and He has risen with a promise of even greater fruit, when all the church is likewise risen from the dead!

1 PETER 1:3-5 
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.



~~ This concludes the first half of this teaching. The second half will be posted at a later time (hopefully soon!) for the prayerfully hopeful blessing of the saints!~~