“And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions.”
On the day of Pentecost, God poured His Holy Spirit out upon His people. He sent the Helper promised by Jesus, in John 14:15-18. When the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, they spoke in other tongues and the people visiting Jerusalem for the Feast of Weeks, heard them in their own languages.
When the people heard the disciples speaking in other tongues, they accused them of being drunk at the third hour of the day, which was between 8:00 and 9:00 in the morning.
Peter, being filled with the Holy Spirit, stood and spoke to the crowd and he began with these words from the prophet Joel, who wrote these words at the beginning of King Joash’s reign — 836-797 B.C.
Think about that. Joel wrote about God pouring out His Holy Spirit 800 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. God had given Joel the prophecy to write. He gave the words for Peter to speak on the day of Pentecost.
On Pentecost, the nation of Israel gives thanks to the Lord for the harvest — God’s provision. Today, we can celebrate Pentecost and give thanks to God for the provision of our salvation. It was in Godâ€™s plan from the very beginning. On this day, God established His covenant with those who will believe and walk with His Son, Jesus Christ.
God’s Plan of salvation is not an afterthought; it antedates the work of creation.
-J. A. Motyer-
Armed Forces Day
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:58
Armed Forces Day was established in 1949, as a day to thank the men and women in the military for their service in keeping our country strong and free. On this day, we recognize all the branches of the military: Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard — every person in uniform.
I saw a poster for Armed Forces Day and it said, “Keeping America Strong and Secure: United in Purpose — Steadfast in Service.” When I read it, I thought of Paul’s words to the church in Corinth — be steadfast.
In this verse, the word steadfast means “firm, immovable.” Webster’s Dictionary defines steadfast as “firmly fixed in place” or “firm in belief, determination, or adherence.”
Having served with the United States Marines Corps in the Vietnam War, I can personally tell you our military is steadfast in their service to and protection of the United States. Look at the men and women serving today. They are all volunteers. They have chosen to stand on the front lines and protect this country.
Paul told Christians to be steadfast, immovable, because their labor was not in vain. I say the same thing to the brave men and women serving in our armed forces. Be steadfast and immovable for you do not serve in vain. We love and appreciate your sacrifice and service. Semper Fi!
Take courage. We walk in the wilderness today and in the Promised Land tomorrow.
-D. L. Moody-
Therefore let no one despise him. But send him on his journey in peace, that he may come to me; for I am waiting for him with the brethren.
1 Corinthians 16:11
This verse makes me think of what Paul told Timothy in his first letter, Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity (1 Timothy 4:12). Timothy was getting bummed out, because the people thought he was too young to minister to them and Paul wrote to encourage him. He told Timothy to be an example and let them see his love for them and his faith in the Lord.
In this verse, Paul was exhorting the people of Corinth. He was telling them, “Do not strive with him or make him feel inferior. Let him be freely used by God.” He prepared Timothy and the people. God wanted to use Timothy and the people needed to be open to whatever God wanted to do.
Paul was giving great advice concerning service to the Lord. No one should ever despise one of God’s messengers. We should receive and send God’s ministers on their journeys in peace. It is God who raises up and sets down. It is not up to us to decide who God is going to use.
Then, Paul said he was waiting with the brethren for Timothy to come. Timothy served with Paul in the ministry. He was a great comfort and encouragement to Paul. They were of the same heart and mind.
God is going to use people who have the heart and mind to serve Him. He is not looking at your age. He is looking at your heart. Only God can truly see the heart of man, so we must look at people with open hearts and open minds. Do not judge by the outward man. Look at their hearts. They will be revealed by their fruit.
Our Lord never thought of a relationship to Him that does not issue fruitfulness for Him.
And if Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear; for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do.
1 Corinthians 16:10
In this last chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul talked about stewardship. First, he talked about financial stewardship — giving money for the work of the Lord. Second, he addressed being a good steward of the opportunities and open doors God gives to each one of us. In verse 10, Paul spoke about stewardship with people.
How can we be stewards of people? Well, look at what Paul said about Timothy. Paul was like a father to young Timothy. When Timothy had a heart to serve the Lord, Paul took him under his wing and taught him. Paul did not just teach Timothy and send him out. He sent him letters of encouragement. Paul knew he would not live forever and he sought to raise up the next generation for the work of the ministry.
All Paul did with Timothy, Titus and many other young men and women was being a good steward with the people God brought to minister with him. Paul was not trying to be a superstar. He did not want everyone to remember him and the great work he was doing. He was humble; he knew everything God allowed him to do was of the Lord, not of Paul.
Because Paul was not prideful, trying to hang onto a position or a title, he sought out men and women who had hearts for the Lord and trained them. Part of training them up and sending them out was watching out for them on their journeys. As Paul went to the different cities, he would tell them Timothy was coming, to treat him right. He always paved the way for the ministry to move forward.
If we want to serve the Lord, we have to be humble servants, training up those around us, for the next generation of the church.
Those whom God will employ are first struck with a sense of their unworthiness to be employed.
Opportunities & Opposition
But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.
1 Corinthians 16:8-9
Paul wanted to visit with the Corinthians, but he was going to stay in Ephesus until Pentecost. God had opened a great and effective door. He was given an opportunity to minister and he did not want to miss it.
With this great and effective door God opened came many adversaries. God had provided great opportunity for Paul to minister in Ephesus, but there was great opposition in the opportunity.
There may be many times when God will open great doors for us to minister and it will not be easy. You may face many adversaries. There may be people or situations in opposition to what God is calling you to do.
It is important to remember, just because God is opening a door, does not mean it will be easy or without obstacles. Many times, when God opens a door, the enemy comes in like a flood to stop the work of God. When it gets too hard to walk in the will of God, do we quit? Do we say, “It cannot be God’s will,” because it is not easy?
When I look at the life of Paul, I can honestly say, “No way!” When God calls you and anoints you, there will be many adversaries, but we have to put our trust in the Lord and keep moving forward. We never give in or retreat.
Paul had a great opportunity to minister in Ephesus, and he was willing to face the adversaries, because his trust was in the Lord. I pray you and I would have such desire to serve the Lord in the face of opposition.
By suffering God’s will, we learn to do God’s will.
Israel’s Independence Day
“I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Genesis 12: 2-3
In verse 1 of this chapter, it says, Now the Lord had said to Abram. God was speaking to Abram. This was before God changed his name to Abraham, which means “father of a multitude.” The Lord sent Abram out from his father’s land, in order to establish the nation of Israel.
When God sent him out, He gave him the promise we see in these two verses. God told Abram He would make him a great nation, He would bless Abram and He would make his name great. Abram left with three great promises from the Lord. He had faith in the promises of the Lord.
Later, in verse 7, the Lord spoke to Abram again: Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
The nation of Israel has gone through many trials, ever since the time of Abraham. Their journey has not been without great trials and tremendous persecution, but in the midst of all their enemies, they have held onto the promises of God.
At the very birth of the nation of Israel, God told His people He would bless them. Even when they were unfaithful, and followed after false gods, the God of Israel was faithful to them. We celebrate God’s faithfulness today, as we acknowledge the nation of Israel.
God’s promises are like the stars; the darker the night the brighter they shine.
If the Lord Permits
For I do not wish to see you now on the way; but I hope to stay a while with you, if the Lord permits.
1 Corinthians 16:7
Paul had a great desire to spend time with the Christians in Corinth. He did not want to make it a quick visit, as he was passing through. He wanted to stay with them for a while, for a time of fellowship. Paul desired to stay in Corinth, but look at what he said, if the Lord permits.
Notice the word if. Paul was constantly seeking the will of God. This is an important lesson for each one of us, individually. Every day, we have to say, “If this is God’s will, then I want to do it. It is up to the Lord. I do not want to be out of God’s perfect will.”
Seeking to walk in Godâ€™s perfect will is very important. I want to make sure the Lord has me in the perfect place, at the perfect time, for the perfect situation, and then I will have no regrets in my life. In God’s perfect will, there are no regrets.
I love when God changes my plans for the day. When God puts new opportunities in my path, it is exciting to see what He is going to do. We have to remember God’s plans will always be better than our plans. His ways will keep us on the right track.
When we seek to walk in the will of God, we will have clean hands before God and before man. People can point their fingers but none of their accusations will stick. That is what it means to have clean hands — we are blameless before God and man.
As Christians, if we truly want to be in the perfect will of God, we have to seek Him every day, in everything we do. Whenever we make plans, we must always say, if the Lord permits.
The sin of the world is not that it does not do the will of God but that it does not choose the will of God.
-Arthur C. Custance-
“Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be a deceiver to him; and I shall bring a curse on myself and not a blessing.” But his mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, get them for me.”
In Genesis 27, we have the story of Isaac’s blessing on his son, Jacob. Isaac intended to bless Esau, his firstborn son, but because of deception, Jacob received the blessing from Isaac.
How did this happen? Jacob was favored by his mother, Rebekah, and Esau, being the firstborn, was favored by his father, Isaac. This is where the problem began — parents playing favorites with their children.
In Isaac”s old age, he called Esau in and told him to go out and hunt some wild game to prepare for him. Then, Isaac would eat the food he loved and bless Esau before he died.
What Isaac and Esau did not know was that Rebekah was listening and called to Jacob. She sent him out to take two goats from the flock, so she could prepare the food for Jacob. She sent Jacob in with the food, disguised as Esau, so he could get the blessing from Isaac. Jacob was not sure it was such a good idea, so he tried to talk his mother out of this scheme, but she convinced him to do it instead.
Mothers and fathers — think of the influence you have on your children. Are you teaching them to be godly men and women or are you creating schemers? We have such a great responsibility to raise our children in the ways of the Lord, do not neglect what God has called you to do.
Men are what their mothers made them.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson-
Stewards of Opportunities
Now I will come to you when I pass through Macedonia (for I am passing through Macedonia). And it may be that I will remain, or even spend the winter with you, that you may send me on my journey, wherever I go.
1 Corinthians 16:5-6
Notice Paul’s heart for the people. He wanted to spend time with the Corinthians, not to get something from them but for him to give to them. He was always looking for opportunities to give of himself to the people. He had a heart to see to their spiritual well-being, and he took every opportunity God provided to minister to them.
We have to look at our stewardship of the opportunities God gives to each one of us. Are we responsible with the opportunities or do we waste them and throw them away? How many opportunities has God given to you?
Remember, if you are not faithful in the small things, then God will not open the bigger doors. How can He open greater doors and provide bigger opportunities, if you are not faithful in the smaller opportunities? Think about it. Why would He trust you with something greater if you are not faithful with something small?
Many times in ministry, I hear people say, “Well, God is not using my life. God is not opening doors.” Well, you better look within before you look outside. Why is God not using you? Why are the doors closing or have closed in your life? What kind of a steward are you when the doors are open? Are you really being faithful?
I ask these questions not only to the people working full-time in the ministry. I ask them to every Christian. Are you really being faithful? Are you excited about the open doors God gives you, or are you unhappy, because they are not what you want? Seek the opportunities God has for you, not what you want; what He wants. Then you will be blessed.
The reason some people don’t recognize opportunity is that it usually comes disguised as hard work.
Appearance of Evil
And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me.
1 Corinthians 16:3-4
Paul has continued in his request for an offering for the church in Jerusalem. He knew the people in the churches could help those who were in need, and the churches would be unified with the church in Jerusalem. They would be operating as the body of Christ.
There was just one important issue with the offering. Paul did not want to take the money to the church in Jerusalem. He was not unwilling to go to Jerusalem or to carry the money. He had many enemies and he did not want to provide them with weapons to use against him, to disqualify him.
If people thought he was taking the money for himself, it would cause a scandal and people would no longer trust him. Paul was not doing anything wrong, but there could be no appearance of evil. Paul could not allow even the appearance of wrong doings or the ministry could be lost.
We all have to follow the example Paul has set for us. Even in our courts of law, a man is innocent until proven guilty, right? How many times have you seen something on television and said, “That man is guilty. Why do we have to have a trial? He is obviously guilty?”
That is what can happen to any one of us. We can be tried and convicted in the court of opinion. We may be innocent but, because of appearances, we are found guilty. It is not enough to be innocent. We have to be sure we do not allow any appearance of evil in our lives.
Write nothing, say nothing, think nothing that you cannot believe to be true before God.
Clean Hands, Pure Heart
On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.
1 Corinthians 16:2
Yesterday, we looked at the three points Paul made about tithing. Put something aside on the first day of the week, according to what we have. God is not asking us to give more than we can. He loves a cheerful and hilarious giver, not someone who gives grudgingly.
Paul made some very important points at the beginning of this verse, but now we need to look at how he closed the verse. Notice how Paul wanted to stay away from money, so he would not get accused of being a beggar. He did not want to have money issues when he came to them, so he had them take a collection before he came, not while he was there.
The church really needs to listen to what Paul was saying, because there is too much emphasis on money, today, instead of on God’s Word. It is sad. It is sad to see, because money issues have always separated the church and brought many problems.
At Calvary, we have learned so many amazing lessons from Pastor Chuck, about trusting in the Lord. He taught us where God guides, God provides. He taught us about really believing and trusting in God. He is in control of our finances. If God does not want us to continue forward; He will close the doors, but do not ever become a beggar for bread.
There was a great need in Jerusalem. The people were poor and Paul wanted to help provide, but he wanted to keep clean hands before the Lord. He asked the people to give what they could, so someone else could deliver it to Jerusalem.
I pray we would all have the same heart as Paul, to have hearts for the people, while trusting and waiting upon the Lord.
If you would have the life holy before men, let the heart be pure before God.
Heart of Giving
On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.
1 Corinthians 16:2
Paul revealed a number of things in this verse. First, he told them, On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside. The first day of the week is Sunday. This would indicate the church met on Sundays and no longer on Saturday. This seems like a minor thing, but there are those who would argue the Sabbath. In Paulâ€™s own writings, we see the church met on the first day of the week, Sunday.
Second, Paul told them to lay something aside. Notice, he did not tell them to lay ten percent aside. This is important. I do not think God wants us to lay aside 10%, 20% or 30%. I think you have to give your best to the Lord. If you do not give your best to the Lord, then how can He honor your finances?
The third point Paul made emphasized, was how we should give; storing up as he may prosper. God is not asking for everything or to give until we have nothing. He tells us to give proportionately to how much we have, as he may prosper. That way, we can be hilarious givers and not give grudgingly.
You cannot ever out give God. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10). He is not in need. I think 10% is cool, but remember what Jesus said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’ (Acts 20:35).
It is cool to look back at the early church. They came together every Sunday, the first day of the week, for church, to worship the Lord and give of themselves financially. It is so important to recognize tithing was commanded in the Word of God. It is a form of worship to the Lord, so give as the Lord lays it upon your heart, individually.
God demands the tithe, deserves the offerings, defends the savings and directs the expenses.
Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also:
1 Corinthians 16:1
Paul began 1 Corinthians 16 making sure we understand the word stewardship, which means “the management of a household or of household affairs.” For Christians, a steward is one entrusted by God to manage His household affairs. God trusts you to responsibly manage whatever He gives you.
Many times, when you are in the ministry, you tend to forget it is not your ministry. It is His ministry; we are just the house managers, so we need to treat everything given to us by the Lord with good stewardship. We have to make sure we are using it to its full value, and not taking advantage of what is given to each one of us.
If we are faithful in our stewardship to God, we provide for those in need. Paul was concerned for the church in Jerusalem, so he asked the churches to take up a collection for the believers in Jerusalem. They were poor and struggling. They had nothing and so Paul wanted to be blameless. He did not ask for money for himself, but for those struggling in Jerusalem.
In remaining blameless, Paul did not ask them to give him money for the saints, but to take up a collection. He never took the money. He always had someone else take the money to Jerusalem. This way, no one could accuse him of taking money from them.
I think it was really wise of Paul to keep his hands clean. Think of how many people are in trouble today, financially, not just in the ministry but in business, because they do not have accountability. As Christians, no matter what we do, we must have accountability, so we can have clean hands before the Lord and before man. No accusation should stick to us.
The Christian must recognize that these are no degrees in right and wrong.
-Donald Grey Barnhouse-
But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
Jesus was teaching the multitude many important lessons in Chapters 5 and 6 of Matthew, and this is one lesson we all need to learn. He was not teaching; do not pray in public or with others. He was teaching the people to bring their needs before the Lord in secret. Why? He will provide.
When you go to somebody and tell them your need, and they give you what you need, the Lord is not providing. Do not say, “Thank you God.” Thank the person you told, who provided for your needs.
I know when the Lord provides my needs, because I have been praying and asking God, not other people. Then, God speaks to a person or opens the door and God provides for me. I can give God thanks for the provision, because I asked in secret. That is the way it works.
Many people say, “Oh, look what God did for me,” when it was not the Lord, it was people. One day, an evangelist came to a church and asked for black shoes, size 9E, and a man gave him the shoes. He went up to the pastor and said, “Look how God provides,” and the pastor said, “God did not provide. Thank the person who gave you the shoes.”
It is real important not to tell people your needs. God is in control and knows your needs. You need to pray and wait upon God to do whatever He wants to do in your life. We do not have to bring our petitions before man. Put your trust in the Lord, not man.
Prayer is the key to heaven’s treasures.
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:10
I can just imagine how Paul must have felt when he had the little thorn in his flesh. He asked the Lord to remove it three times, but God would not remove it, and He told Paul not to ask again. God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Think about that.
I think many have thorns in their flesh and God is allowing those thorns, so He can be glorified. Cancer, headaches, stress, whatever you have; remember, God is in control. He has you where He wants you; otherwise, you would not be going through things.
I really believe, if you do not suffer then you really never know God’s will for your life, and you will never know God intimately. I know this personally. I never knew about suffering, so I thought people were babies when they said they were suffering. Then, when I suffered, I began to understand and I repented before God, because I had no compassion.
God uses problems, situations and suffering to open our eyes, but more importantly to open our hearts, so we can really trust in Him. Remember, we are here temporarily, not permanently. No matter what happens, if I get in a car accident or get sick, God is in control. God is allowing this for His purpose and His glory. Christ is our greatest example of suffering and being in the heart of God’s will. I follow Him.
Calvary is God’s great proof that suffering in the will of God always leads to glory.
and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,
1 Corinthians 15:4
We know Christ was buried in the tomb, but there were many things happening as Jesus Christ went to the cross, was put in the tomb and resurrected. There was so much going on around Him but the people could not see it.
The last words Christ said were, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit,’ “ (Luke 23:46), and He departed. When He departed, He went down to hell, Abraham’s bosom, and the saints who had died before Christ had been waiting for a long, long time to be resurrected. When Jesus showed up, they all packed up and ascended to heaven. Abraham’s bosom departed and hell became one great cavern.
When Christ died on the cross, the veil in the Temple, which separated the Holiest of Holies from the people, was torn in two, from top to bottom and there was an earthquake (Matthew 27:51). The saints’ graves were opened and their bodies raised from the dead (Matthew 27:53).
All of these things were happening at the time of Christ’s death and His burial in the tomb, but the people were blind. There were some centurions at the cross who recognized who Christ was at these signs (Matthew 27:54), but most were blind. One thief gave his life to Christ and went to heaven. The other was blind and went to hell.
There are signs of Christ’s coming all around us. Are you blind to the signs or are you anxiously awaiting His return?
A blind eye is worse than a lame foot.
Last Day or Hour
let not your heart be troubled if you believe in Me believe also that I am going to prepare a place for you and if I go, I am coming back to receive you unto myself. So where I am, you also will be with me.
Jesus’ teaching in John refers to the Rapture of the Church. We are going to be in the presence of the Lord. He is coming back in the clouds, between earth and heaven, at the Rapture. We are going to be caught up to the clouds to be with the Lord.
What is the Rapture? The word Rapture is harpazo in the Greek and it means “a snatching away.” It is found in Paul’s first letter to the church in Thessalonica, Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
There are many who do not believe in the Rapture. They say it is a myth and we are stretching the Scriptures. However, you will find mention of the Rapture in 1 Corinthians 15:50-58; Philippians 3:20- 21, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Hebrews 10:36-39, 1 John 3:2- 3 and Revelation 4: 1. You have to understand; there is a generation that is not going to die. They will be taken away in a twinkling of an eye.
In Matthew 24:36, Jesus said, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”‘ This means we have to be ready every day and every hour for the Lord to take us home. Are you ready for your last day and hour?
It ought to be the business of every day to prepare for our last day.
National Day of Prayer
Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.
On this day, we are called to come together in prayer; praying for our families, friends, government, military, churches and whatever the Lord puts on your heart. Think about that. This one day has been set aside for prayer.
I think it is important we understand; prayer is necessary every single day of our lives. We cannot commit a single day of the year to pray. We are followers of Jesus Christ, who continued all night in prayer to God. In everything He did, He went before the Father in prayer.
As a nation, it is great to come together in corporate prayer. It is important to come together as the body of Christ and lift our praise and petitions to the Lord, but it cannot stop there.
Jesus Christ is the Son of God. In the beginning, He was. Before the creation of the world, He was with the Father, and yet, He was compelled to continue in prayer all night to the Father. Think about that.
When we look at the world around us, we see the church has no voice. We are no longer salt and light to a dying world. We have become ineffective. On this National Day of Prayer, I pray Christian brothers and sisters around the world would commit to continue in prayer day and night. I pray we would no longer compromise Godâ€™s Word or be silent. Make that your commitment on this day of prayer.
All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing
Powered by Prayer
Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray.
I was listening to a study by Dr. Alan Redpath and he told a great story about prayer. Back in the 60â€™s, he met with Dr. A. W. Tozer. Dr. Redpath called Dr. Tozer and told him he wanted to get together with him to talk while they were both in Chicago. Dr. Tozer told Dr. Redpath to meet him down at the Great Lakes at 5:00 in the morning, so they could talk. When Dr. Redpath got to the lake Dr. Tozer was on his face at 5:00 in the morning praying. He prayed from 5:00 AM to 8:00 AM every day.
Dr. Redpath went on to say, “Jesus, Himself, went to pray early in the morning.” Jesus prayed at night too, but His strength, His wisdom and His power was given to Him early in the morning during His time spent with the Father. Dr. Tozer was following the example of Christ, just as we should follow His example.
Many times we have no power, because we have not spent time with God. Do not expect to have power from God. Do not expect to have wisdom and knowledge from God, unless you spend time with God. That is the bottom line.
You have to make time for God more than anything else. God has to be first. If He is not first, people will recognize it, because it will be reflected by how you live your life.
Our prayers are only as powerful as our lives. In the long pull we pray only as well as we live.
-A. W. Tozer-
Indulge the Flesh
And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.”
When we look at the city of Corinth, we have to remember, it was a Greek city, and the Greeks did not believe in the resurrection from the dead. They believed in many gods, not the one, true, living God. When Paul went to Athens, he preached and declared to them Christâ€™s resurrection. Some of his listeners mocked him and others were open to hear his reasoning. For those who would listen, he wrote I Corinthians 15.
This chapter is, literally, a seminary course. Paul gave one of the greatest exegeses on the resurrection from the dead. You cannot walk away from Chapter 15 and believe the resurrection is not real. While Paul was speaking about the resurrection, he also spoke of the Rapture of the church. It is amazing how he tied it all together.
Most Greek philosophers considered the human body a prison; and they welcomed death as deliverance from bondage, so they really did not care what they did with their bodies. That is why sexual encounters were common in Athens; to them it was not sin. It was the City of Pleasure. It was the place to go and enjoy your flesh, because the flesh is nothing.
Think about this philosophy. We see it in Las Vegas, Nevada — Sin City. It is our modern day Athens, where people go to indulge their flesh. They have the same philosophy as the ancient Greek philosophers. It is the great deception of Satan, but like Paul, we must fight this deception with the truth of Godâ€™s Word and the resurrection of Christ.
In the last analysis, we sin not because we have to but because we want to.
Accept or Reject
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand,
1 Corinthians 15:1
Look at the emphasis Paul put on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is very important. Paul recognized he had nothing to offer of any worth other than the Gospel. Notice the three actions in this verse: preached, received and stand. Make a note of these three actions regarding the Gospel.
Paul preached the Gospel to the people of Corinth. When the Gospel is preached, it is received or rejected by the people. There is no in between. If you do not receive it, you are rejecting it. Sometimes, when you share the Gospel, people do not accept right away, but the seeds have been planted and they may receive it later.
Then, once we receive the Gospel, we stand firm, by faith, in Jesus Christ. We are immovable; nobody can move us from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we have truly been born again of the Holy Spirit; we cannot be moved. There is no possible way.
What happens if we reject the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? We are movable and we have nothing to stand on, so we fall. We fall because of sin. Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ is strong enough to stand on and keep us from falling in sin. Nothing else has the power to save us from our sinful nature — only the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Gospel reminds all men of an inescapable personal destiny in eternity, based on a conclusive decision in time.
-Carl F. H. Henry-
by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:2
The Gospel brought salvation. Without the Gospel, there is no salvation. Why? The Gospel is about Jesus Christ, Christ Himself. Through Christ, coming, dying and resurrecting, we have this hope of eternal life. Because of what He has done and what He is doing even at this very moment, we have the hope of eternal life with God. It is incredible how the Gospel works.
Listen to what Paul said, this is pretty cool. You are saved if you hold fast to the Gospel, unless you believed without cause — without success. That is what the word vain means in the Greek.
Paul was not only encouraging the church in Corinth to continue in the faith, but also warning them not to fall away. Notice what he was saying. If you continue, you are going to be safe; but if you do not continue, you are going to be in deep trouble.
I like the way Paul said it, hold fast that word which I preached to you. He was telling them to keep a firm grip on the good news he gave to them. Paul knew they had all kinds of weird beliefs, but he was giving them the real, genuine belief in Jesus Christ. He did not want them to forget or fall back into their false gods.
We have to keep the Gospel of Jesus Christ before us at all times, so we do not get fooled by the many false doctrines introduced every day. If we know God’s Word and we hold fast, we will not fall away.
The Gospel is neither a discussion nor a debate. It is an announcement.
–Paul S. Reese-
Witness to Others
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
1 Corinthians 15:3
Paul gave to the church the Good news of Jesus Christ and the hope of salvation, which was given to him first. When? On the road to Damascus, when he saw Jesus.
That is a good way to witness to others. “See, I am giving it to you, because they gave it to me.” It is passing down the Gospel of Jesus Christ from person to person, generation to generation.
Paul did not bring up his personal experience without backing up his words with the Word of God. Look at what he said, that which I received that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. Paul brought them back to the Scriptures. He pointed out his sources. It was not his opinion. It was based upon the Word of God.
That is a real important point. You have to use God’s Words when you speak. You have to know your doctrine. If you do not know Godâ€™s Word and His doctrines, you will be deceived. People will come to you from the Mormon Church or the Jehovah Witnesses and you will believe them. They come with their doctrine, and if you do not know the truth, then how can you defend the Gospel.
They stand fast on false doctrine and, yet, we have the true doctrine. We have received the truth, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and we need to deliver it to others, just as Paul delivered God’s Word to the Corinthians.
The Gospel is nothing but a frozen asset unless it is communicated.
-J. B. Phillips-
and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 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.
1 Corinthians 15:5-6
These verses are so important because they speak of the witnesses to the resurrection of Christ. This is heavy. Look at all the witnesses who saw, first hand, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was not just the Apostles. There were more than 500 witnesses who saw Christ after He died on the cross.
Not only did the people witness the resurrection, but they went out and told the world. They affected the whole world. Through those people, the Gospel of Jesus Christ has spread throughout the world. Think about it. They did not have cars, trains, airplanes, newspapers, radios, television or the internet and yet they reached the world for Jesus Christ.
When I think about the three missionary journeys of Paul and the persecution he endured as he traveled from city to city, I am amazed. Why did he keep going? Why didnâ€™t he quit? He knew the truth of Jesus Christ and it burned in his spirit.
Jesus sent out the eleven in Matthew 28:18-20, and again in Acts 1:3 through 8 He gave the Great Commission. He gave it to not only the eleven or the 500; He gave it to all of us. How can people come to a personal relationship with Christ if we are not giving them the truth of God? We do not have to be ashamed of the Gospel. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation.
Cry the Gospel with your whole life.
-Charles de Foucauld-
Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
1 Corinthians 15:8-9
Notice Paul’s humility. While God forgave him and used his life tremendously, in his heart, Paul was grieved by how he had persecuted the church. Because of his actions, he knew he was not worthy to be an Apostle of the Lord, but it was God who had appointed him Apostle. It was God’s grace.
I think the closer we come to the Lord and the more we read His Word, the more we come to realize how unworthy we all are. It is only when the pure light of Christ shines on our lives; we see the ugliness of what we are without Him.
Remember, when Christ was on the Cross, He took on all of our sins and the Father turned from Him. The righteousness of Christ was imputed to us, so we can stand before God, without sin or blemish. It is not our righteousness. According to Isaiah 64:6, But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.
I think we need to keep humility a priority in our lives, so God can use our lives mightily and powerfully. It is not about somebody tasting the vessel but God is the one to be tasted. God is the one. We are merely unworthy vessels to be used by God, through His grace and mercy.
Humility is the ability to see ourselves as God describes us.
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.
1 Corinthians 15:10
I love this verse. Look at the awesome words Paul spoke. Notice how many times he said grace. It is all about the grace of God. It saved you, and saved me. It has nothing to do with us or how great we think we are. It is Godâ€™s grace with us, which is not in vain, because God has His great work for us, to serve Him.
The grace of God pushed Paul to labor more than anyone else. He recognized the greatness of his sin against God and His church. Realizing how much he had been forgiven, Paul was driven to go out and bring the Gospel to others who were just like he had been.
The grace of God made me zealous for God. It is the reason I go to the streets, go to the gym and I do all these things, because the grace of God was given to me and I want everybody else to have it. That is the bottom line, the grace of God.
How great is the grace of God in your life? How great is it? Do you have a desire to give it to people? God’s grace, His unmerited favor, is free, and all people have to do is take it. Like Paul, we have to go out and give it to them, so they can take God’s free gift of grace and be born again of the Holy Spirit.
If you want your neighbor to know what Christ will do for him, let your neighbor see what Christ has done for you.
-Henry Ward Beecher-
Holocaust Remembrance Day
“Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, And declare it in the isles afar off, and say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, And keep him as a shepherd does his flock.’ For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, And ransomed him from the hand of one stronger than he.”
Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. You may be wondering why we would recognize a memorial day in Israel. Well, it is an international day of remembrance. It is recognized around the world. Why? What happened in Europe during World War II was an atrocity against all mankind. It was an atrocity we should never allow to happen again.
Throughout Israel’s history, the Jewish people have faced enemies time and time again. No other nation has faced total annihilation as often as Israel. How do they survive? How is their nation still in existence after so many dispersions?
Jeremiah the prophet gave the answer in the verses above, “He who scattered Israel will gather him, And keep him as a shepherd does his flock.’ God’s hand has kept the nation of Israel. They have never been rescued by some powerful ally. They have the most powerful ally, the one, true God.
If God is all Israel needs to survive, why should we remember the Holocaust? The world knew what was happening and did nothing. The world sat back and allowed six million human beings to be murdered. By doing nothing, the world consented to the murder of millions of people. That kind of atrocity cannot ever be forgotten or it will happen again.
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
Resurrection of Hope
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?
1 Corinthians 15:12
In this chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul began with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He told the people what Christ had done in his life, though he was unworthy, and how it burned in his soul to take the Gospel to others who were perishing. He stressed the importance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There was and is nothing more important.
In verse 12, we see where Paul was taking the church of Corinth. He established the importance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because there were some who did not believe in the resurrection. Without the resurrection, there is no Gospel and everything we have done has been in vain.
We see the same thing today. People do not believe, especially college students, because they have been brain washed. If they cannot see it, they will not believe it. That is why, in verses 5 and 6, Paul talked about the witnesses — Cephas, the twelve and the 500 who saw Christ after He had died on the Cross.
Think about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If there is no resurrection, we have no hope. That is why people are empty, they have no hope. That is why they drink, take drugs, fornicate, commit adultery and do all these things. That is why they are not happy. The only place we can find hope is in the resurrection of Christ.
Our hope lies not in the man we put on the moon, but in the man we put on the cross.
Hope & Faith
For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
1 Corinthians 15:16-19
Why was Paul spending so much time talking about the resurrection of Christ? Why was he taking the Corinthians step by step through his reasoning? If there was no resurrection then their faith was futile or empty, because they were still in their sins.
Without the resurrection of Christ, we are still in our sins and we are not cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. This means we are not going to heaven and there is no redemption, there is nothing. It is all empty.
Think about that. We are not going to see our brothers and sisters, heaven is not real and it is all a myth. It is not real, so we should eat, drink and live like hell, because when we die, we become non-existent.
That is what we are left with without the resurrection of Christ, and we are of all men the most pitiable. In the King James Bible, Paul said we are of all men most miserable. How true his words are for every one of us. If this world is all we have and there is no hope in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are to be pitied. We are miserable men.
I thank God for the truth of the resurrection of His Son and I thank God for the more than 500 witnesses who saw Christ after the resurrection. Without that hope I would be a miserable man.
The nature of hope is to expect that which faith believes.
Free in Christ!
But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
1 Corinthians 15:20
Paul spoke with certainty and conviction. While some people may not have believed in the resurrection of Christ, Paul knew He had risen from the dead, and with the resurrection we are triumphant in Jesus Christ.
Paul gave assurance Christ was not in the grave, because he knew firsthand the resurrection was not a myth. He knew Christ had risen, because he saw Him on the way to Damascus. He knocked Paul off his horse, and revealed Himself to Paul. Like Peter, James, John and all the other Apostles, Paul was a witness of the resurrection.
Not only had Christ resurrected from the grave, but He was the first fruits of those who had died before Him. He was the perfect first offering to God. This is very important to understand. In the Old Testament, before Christ came, everyone who died went to Hades, either to Abrahamâ€™s bosom or hell.
In the New Testament, the moment Christ died on the cross and resurrected, He set the captives free. All those who were in Abrahamâ€™s Bosom were taken to heaven with Christ and hell became one massive place.
After the resurrection, anyone who died went to heaven immediately; you did not go to hell anymore. When you and I die in Christ, we will go to heaven with Christ. He set us free from hell by going to the Cross and resurrecting three days later. Today, we are free!
The resurrection is the proof of our reconciliation.
-Geoffrey B. Wilson-
Hope & Promise
For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
1 Corinthians 15:21-22
Who is Paul talking about? What man brought death? Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve blew it in the Garden of Eden. They brought sin into the world when they disobeyed God and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That is why we are born sinners. If they would have never sinned, it would be a different world, but they sinned against God and we have sinned against God.
Paul wants us to understand who we are — sinners. The first crime committed in the Garden of Eden was Adam and Eve, in disobedience, partaking of the food God forbid them to eat. They blew it and were cursed and thrown out of the Garden of Eden.
Adam and Eve blew it and we are all born in sin, but we have hope. How? By Man also came the resurrection of the dead.,/em> Jesus Christ came down and died on the Cross, bringing redemption to man, reconciling us to God. It is through His death on the Cross we have eternal life with God. Without it, we would still be bound by sin.
He not only died and took our sins to the Cross with Him, but He resurrected. Death and the grave could not hold Him. Remember, He was the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. Once He resurrected, the righteous who had died before Him and were in Abraham’s bosom went to heaven. That is the hope and the promise we have through Jesus Christ.
The resurrection of Christ is the Amen of all His promises.
Life or Death
But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.
1 Corinthians 15:23-26
In the next few verses, Paul gave the Corinthian church a glimpse of things to come. He began with Christ — the first to resurrect from the dead. Next, those who are in the Lord resurrect with Him. Last, there will be the resurrection of the unrighteousness after the Millennial Reign of Christ, who will be judged and cast into the Lake of Fire.
At the time of judgment, those who rebel against Christ following the Millennial Reign of Christ will be cast into the Lake of Fire with Satan, the Antichrist, the False Prophet and all the demons.
When all these things come to pass, every kingdom, every authority will be turned over to God. When He created this world, it was one kingdom under God. When Satan rebelled against God and took one-third of the angels of heaven with him, the kingdom was split. There was the kingdom of light, life and righteousness and the kingdom of darkness, death and wickedness.
Without the death and resurrection of Christ, our future holds no hope, and for those who choose to walk away from Christ, they have nothing to look forward to but judgment and the Lake of Fire. Think about it.
The wicked have a never-dying worm and the godly a never-fading crown.
Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead?
1 Corinthians 15:29
This verse shows how confused the Christians were in Corinth. They had division, they were carnal and they did not understand doctrine. They did not believe in the resurrection, but they were baptizing living people in the names of dead people. If there was no resurrection, why were they baptizing for the dead? You can see their confusion.
When people are confused about doctrine, they will get into all kinds of strange things. When doctrine is not known, people will take hold of one Scripture and base all their beliefs on the one Scripture. They may even take the Scripture out of context, but they will believe it with all their hearts and minds.
Now, as Christians, we do not baptize people for the dead, but the Mormons do. The Catholics also light candles and pray for the dead. They believe you can pray someone into heaven. It is really important to understand the resurrection, so you will not be confused and led astray by false doctrine. You have to know the full counsel of the Lord, not just a verse here and there.
When we die, we go to heaven or hell. There is no purgatory where we go to wait and see where we will end up. If we go straight to heaven or hell when we die, why are the Mormons baptizing for the dead? Why are the Catholics praying for the dead? Each one of us has to make a decision where we want to spend eternity. No one can do it for us.
Eternity depends upon this moment.
For it is Written
And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour?
1 Corinthians 15:30
Paul the Apostle was constantly exposed to danger. Remember, they hated Paul, they hated Christ and they are going to hate you. We are living in dangerous times — almost every hour we hear of the church being persecuted somewhere in the world, and if things continue to change in our government; we are going to be in more danger.
We are in the most desperate times in America, I have seen in my lifetime. People of my age realize we are going to be with the Lord soon, so we will not have to face too many more changes, but I think of all the young people. They still have a long life. If your life is not cut short; you are going to see major changes in America and the world.
When you read the Scriptures you can see it is all leading to the Antichrist, with a one world government and one monetary system. Is it possible many of you will be killed for the Gospel of Jesus Christ? If you read the Bible and believe what God has written, then you know people are going to die for their faith in Jesus Christ.
Here in America, we have been very spoiled. We have had so many freedoms, for so long, we do not know what real persecution looks like, but things are changing and we all have to be prepared.
It is easy to love the Lord when everything is great. What will you do when the churches are shut down and our Bibles are taken away? Will you say, “Caesar is Lord,” or “Jesus is Lord.”? You really have to think about it.
The fire of God can’t be damped out by the waters of man’s persecution.
-A. W. Tozer-
I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
1 Corinthians 15:31
Paul is teaching us a very important lesson in this verse. He said, I die daily. I believe Paul was referencing two things in this verse. First, as a Christian, a follower of Christ, Paul experienced fierce persecution. Physically, he faced true persecution, to the point of death. Remember, he was stoned.
Second, Paul was talking about dying daily to the flesh. In Christ, he had to put the flesh to death every day. He had to come before the Lord every day and beat down the flesh, so he could walk each day in the Spirit.
Think about Paul’s relationship with the Lord. He suffered greatly, because he loved the Lord greatly, and yet, he struggled with the flesh. He had to spend time in prayer with the Lord, so he could put down the flesh.
If Paul had to spend time daily with the Lord to die to the flesh, why would we think we can walk in the Spirit through our own strength? Why would we think there is not a struggle within us between our flesh and our spirit?
In Galatians 5:17, Paul said, For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
Our flesh will always rise up to be in control, so we must die daily, like Paul, in order to walk according to the Spirit of God — every one of us.
All life should be subject to the kingly rule of God.
Do Not Be Deceived
If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”
1 Corinthians 15:32-33
This is the philosophy of the world. It is not something new. It was the philosophy of carnal men during Paul’s time. They had no thoughts of eternity, so they believed they could eat and drink, with no hope for tomorrow. They thought they were going to die and become non-existent, but they were wrong. Everyone us will face eternity — with or without Christ.
Paul knew the Corinthians had this mentality. They did not believe in eternity, so he had to correct their thinking. Do not be deceived was the warning. I do not think there is one person who has not been told, “Don’t worry about it. It won’t hurt you.” They could be talking about drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, you name it. We have all been enticed and tempted to do things we knew we should not do.
These are the people we need to avoid in our lives. These are the people your kids need to stay away from in school. Why? Paul told us, “Evil company corrupts good habits.”
We need to share the Lord with non-believers, but we should not hang out with them. If you have a problem with alcohol, do not go witnessing in a bar. We have to use wisdom and not open the door to temptation. Avoid evil company.
Keep company with the soundest Christians that have the most experience of Christ.
Shame on You
Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.
1 Corinthians 15:34
I have said this over and over again, but I have to point it out again. Paul was speaking to the church in the city of Corinth. He was speaking to believers. He was instructing, warning and correcting Christians.
When we look at this verse, we see Paul’s heart in his opening command, Awake to righteousness, and do not sin. When we give our lives to Jesus, we cannot continue to live our lives like we did when we were in the world. There should be a difference. We have to live in the righteousness Christ provided for us on the Cross.
Then, Paul said, for some do not have the knowledge of God. These are the non-believers. They do not have the knowledge of God and they do not have the conviction of the Holy Spirit. They are not expected to live by the standards God has set for us in His Word.
Paul finished with an admonition; I speak this to your shame. He said, “Shame on you, because you should have known better, yet you continue in sin. You divide the body of Christ. You are in fornication, adultery and homosexuality.”
What does this verse mean to you and me? If we say we are followers of Christ and yet we willfully choose to walk in sin and not in righteousness, shame on us. We need to count the cost and live our lives according to God’s Word, not the ways of the world.
Holiness is the distinguishing mark of the Christian.
Believe By Faith
But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies.
1 Corinthians 15:35-36
In Corinth, there were many who did not believe in the resurrection, so they were mocking Paul when they asked the questions in this verse. They were not curious or seeking an explanation. They were trying to make Paul look like the fool, but Paul turned their mocking back on them.
He did not get angry and yell at them. He pointed out their ignorance. In teaching about the resurrection, Paul said our physical bodies will die and we will get a new body. There must be death to our mortal bodies, so we can take on immortality. Even those who do not die before Christ comes will be changed (1 Corinthians 15:51).
Now, if you look at nature, we see this same change. When you plant a garden, you put a seed or a bulb in the ground. It dies and a living plant sprouts up. You can see the process every season.
The process of sowing and reaping the crops was given to us by God. He created all things. The resurrection is the work of God. It is not something we could do on our own. We cannot cause a body to resurrect, only God can do it.
When we look at the work of God, there are so many things our minds cannot comprehend, but God clearly shows us how He is going to do it. Our part is to believe, by faith, the things He has revealed to us through His Word.
Faith, to put it simply, is the conviction that
God does not tell lies.
Incorruption, Glory & Power
So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.
1 Corinthians 15:42-43
God made man from the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7). We are made up of seven elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. When our bodies die, we go into the ground and our bodies go back into the earth. We do not have to worry about our physical bodies because we will receive new bodies.
Our bodies are sown in dishonor, in sin, but we will be raised in glory, in our glorified bodies. This is why Christians get so excited about dying. We leave behind this body of corruption and are raised in incorruption.
What else did Paul say? Our bodies are born in weakness, but we will be raised in power. We will not be limited by the frailties of our human bodies. We will have glorified, powerful bodies.
What amazing promises we have from the Lord. When we are young, we are strong and healthy. We do not think about death. We think we are invincible. When we get older, our bodies begin to weaken and we experience health issues. We begin to think about death and what is to come when we leave this earth.
When we take our last breathe, we will leave this weak body behind and our spirits will receive bodies of incorruption, of glory and of power. Wow!
Bless God that there is in us resurrection life, and that there awaits us a resurrection.
-J. J. Bonar-
A Great Hope
And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.
1 Corinthians 15:45-46
The first man was made of the earth, of dust (Genesis 2:7). The second Man is the Lord, sent from heaven by the Father (1 John 4:9). We are just like Adam, the first man made from the dust. We have received the life-giving spirit from the second Man, the Lord Jesus Christ.
God created Adam from the dust of the earth and breathed life into him. It was His desire to have fellowship with Adam and then Eve. They were to live in the Garden of Eden and have intimate fellowship with God. When they ate of the fruit, and sinned against God, the fellowship was broken. They not only had to leave the Garden, but they no longer had the intimate fellowship with God.
In order for God to accomplish His purpose and plan for man, He had to send His Son, Jesus Christ, to take away sin. Before Christ, we were subject to death — eternal death. With Christ, we receive eternal life, in fellowship with the Lord.
Then Paul said, And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man (1 Corinthians 15:49). I love it, a new body. We have a fleshly body like Adam, and in the resurrection, we will be like Jesus, with our heavenly bodies. Wow — what a great hope we have in the Lord. What a great hope we have to share with family, friends and strangers.
Christ is our hope of glory and the glory of our hope.
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.
1 Corinthians 15:50
In verse 50 Paul was changing the subject. He had been talking about the physical resurrection. Now he is going to talk to us about not only the physical but the spiritual resurrection coming through the Rapture of the church. It is pretty cool.
You cannot enter heaven with flesh and blood, so that means you have to die. He talked about transformation. When the sound of the trumpet blows, we are going to be caught up. When we get caught up, our bodies are going to be transformed. We are going to take on a new body. It is a spiritual body. It will happen in a twinkling of an eye. You will not even be able to think about it.
Think about the Rapture. When it does take place, people in the whole world will be blown away, because people say it is a myth. When it does take place, think about how many will stay and how many will be taken.
All the way through the New Testament, the Bible says many are not going to make it. In Matthew 7:13, Jesus said, Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
I think many people are taking advantage of the holiness of God, today. I am convinced of it. With the condition of the church, I believe billions and billions of people would be left behind, if Jesus came today.
The church has no greater need today than to fall in love with Jesus all over again.
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed –
1 Corinthians 15:51
The word used for sleep is koimaÅ in the Greek and it means “to die.” The mystery Paul was revealing was the Rapture of the church. He was telling the church we will not all die, but we will all be changed. The Greek word for changed is allassÅ. When Paul said we will be changed, he was saying we will all be transformed. That is the Rapture of the church. There will be a transformation.
When Christ comes to take His church, we will be caught up with Him in the sky and, on the way up, we are going to be transformed into His image. It is going to be so quick and so powerful you will not even notice it. One moment you will be in the earth; then you will be in heaven.
Imagine what it will be like for the people left behind. Many who knew you but did not accept Christ as their Savior will know what happened. They were not taken, but they were left behind. Imagine the emptiness. Millions of Christians will disappear from the earth, but many more millions of people will not be taken, because of their carnal lives.
You have to mortify the flesh, reckoning the old man to be dead, to be alive in Jesus Christ. That is what Paul was teaching in Philippians 1:21, For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
God has revealed His mystery and we all have to be ready for His coming. There will be no excuses.
There shall be no time for parting words or a change of mind when the Lord appears.
-J. C. Ryle-
Ready in a Twinkling of an Eye
in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
1 Corinthians 15:52
Paul was revealing the actual plan of God. We shall all be changed, allassÅ, “transformed” in the Greek. It will all happen in the twinkling of an eye, which many consider to be a billionth of a second. Can you imagine how fast it will happen? The trumpet will sound and we will be changed.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:16, Paul said, For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
Again, Paul mentioned the trumpet of God sounding just before the Rapture of the church. Notice, he was talking about two people. Those who have already died and have gone on to be with the Lord. In 1 Thessalonians 4:15, Paul said, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. The soul and the spirit do not remain in the body, waiting for Christ to come. The moment you die, you are in the presence of the Lord.
Those who are alive will be transformed, Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
If we are still here when the Rapture comes, we are going to be immediately transformed and in the presence of the Lord. Amazing!
Since He may come any day, it is well to be ready every day.
-J. Hudson Taylor-
Do Not Play with God
So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”
1 Corinthians 15:54-55
In this body, we are corruptible or perishable. Our bodies begin to die the moment we are born. We are mortal, as our bodies are perishing day by day. When the Rapture takes place, we will be transformed and we will exchange our corruptible, mortal bodies for incorruptible, immortal bodies. Our outer man must perish.
When the corruptible is exchanged for the incorruptible, we will take on immortality and death will not be able to touch us. Why? Paul was quoting Isaiah 25:8. Notice, death has been overcome. We now have victory over death, because of Jesus Christ.
The Rapture could take place at any time but it has not happened because God does not want anyone to perish. It is His desire for all to come to Christ and defeat death, but the day will come, the trumpet will sound and there will be no second chances.
Think of the church today. It is very carnal. If the Lord would return today, think of how many people would be surprised and not taken in the Rapture of the church. Imagine the devastation, when people realize they have been left behind. Do not play with God. He has a plan and He is waiting for you to get with His plan.
Precisely because we cannot predict the moment, we must be ready at all moments.
-C. S. Lewis-
The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:56-57
Look at what Paul was saying. Through sin came death. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, they brought death upon man. Man brought sin upon himself and then we have the law which does not save man but condemns sinners.
In order to be set free from sin by the law, we would have to follow the law perfectly, without exception. We know there is only One who is sinless and He is Christ. To us, the law is the school master which causes us to see our sinful condition and look to Jesus Christ in repentance. The law makes us realize we are in need of a Savior — Jesus Christ.
We would be very depressed if all we had was sin and the law, but look at what else Paul said, But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
We have victory through Jesus Christ. It is not just victory over sin, but victory over death. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we all have victory. Now, do you see the importance of Paul’s teaching on the resurrection? Without the resurrection of Christ, we have no hope. Without the resurrection, the sting of death is not overcome.
Remember, we are overcomers because of Christ. In us alone, our future holds nothing but death.
Christâ€™s resurrection is not only the best proof of immortality, but we have no certain evidence of immortality without it.
-Augustus H. Strong-
Abound in the Lord
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:58
If you are really serving Christ, you are not wasting one of your days, weeks, months or years. When you remain steadfast and immovable in the Lord, you have peace with God, because you are in the right place, where God has called you.
If you are going to be a Christian, you need to be abounding in the work of the Lord. You need to have a prayer life and a time of Bible study: reading and studying Godâ€™s Word. If you are going to be in the Lord, you need to be loving, kind and sensitive to people, spiritually. Remember, one day, you and I will stand before the Lord, and everything we have done will be put into the fire to see if it is wood, hay, stubble, gold or silver. Only what you did for Christ will survive the fire, nothing else.
We get so side-tracked with this world and all the technology surrounding us. Everyone carries a phone and they are constantly calling, texting or searching the internet. Then you go home and you get on your computer, so you can go back on the internet, or you turn on the television.
If you wrote down how you spend your time for just one week, you would be shocked. Compare how much time you spend on your phone, on the computer or watching television to the time you spend with the Lord, praying, reading your Bible or listening to Bible studies. Remember, God wants to speak to you and through you, He is just waiting for you to abound in the work of the Lord, not the work of the flesh.
The business of our lives is not to please ourselves but to please God.
And I will bring him to judgment with pestilence and bloodshed; I will rain down on him, on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.
The question many people have concerning the Rapture is whether it is going to take place before or after Ezekiel 38 and 39. That is a good question. Will the church be here to witness the hand of God delivering Israel from their enemy?
Many believe the Rapture of the church will take place after the battle in Ezekiel 38 and 39. That means the church will see the battle of Magog and Gog against Israel. We will see the Lord intervene and do a miracle by slaughtering the invading armies. Five-sixths of Israel’s enemies will be wiped out, 80 percent of the people will be killed.
If you believe the Rapture will take place before the battle in Ezekiel 38 and 39, then you must believe the battle will be in the seven years of Tribulation, which begins immediately after the Rapture of the church.
As I study Godâ€™s Word, I believe Ezekiel 38 and 39 is going to happen right before the Rapture of the church. I believe this because the church is going to see this great miracle God does for Israel. When this happens, Israel will recognize the hand of God in the miracle.
Today, Israel does not believe. They say there are 10,000 Jews in Israel who believe in Christ as their Lord and Savior, out of 5.4 million. While they have turned from the Lord, He has not turned from them. We must always stand with Israel and see His deliverance.
They are well kept whom God keeps.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
We can find everything we need to know about prayer in the Book of Acts. Look at what happened on the Day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came and everybody heard them speaking in their own dialect, praising God. Then, through the empowering of the Holy Spirit Peter got up and preached. Three thousand people were saved. Why? There was power behind his preaching. It was the power of the Holy Spirit; it was not Peter.
Before Pentecost, Peter denied the Lord, but he was a different person once he was baptized by the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit came upon Peter, he was empowered, just as you and I will be empowered by the Holy Spirit when we spend time with God and submit to His will.
What were the disciples doing in the Upper Room before being filled with the Holy Spirit? They were waiting on God, just as Jesus had told them to do. They were in prayer, as they submitted to Christ.
I think we have a problem in the church today. Many people do not have the patience to wait upon God. We want everything instantly, and yet, there is a time of waiting, a time of praying and a time of fasting, so we can submit our lives to the will of God. Jesus is our example. Because He lived a life in constant communion with the Father and submitted to His will, He was able to withstand the temptations of Satan. It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit we can withstand the enemy.
Before Christ sent the church into the world, He sent the Spirit into the church. The same order must be observed today.
-John R. W. Stott-
Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.
When God poured out His Holy Spirit on the Apostles, their lives were transformed. Peter spoke the Gospel with power after receiving the Holy Spirit. That is the difference between someone playing religion and someone who has a true relationship with the Lord — empowerment from the Holy Spirit.
When I think of men I have known who had mighty prayerful lives and were empowered by the Holy Spirit, I think of men like Alan Redpath. His teaching blew me away. Dr. Redpath once told a story about A. W. Tozer, who actually wrote his books on his knees.
He was a great man of prayer, empowered by the Holy Spirit, but during his lifetime, he was criticized. Everyone thought he was weird until he died and then all his writings became so famous, people loved him.
They hated Tozer, because they thought he was just a super spiritual person. They did not see the depth of the man. All of his writings are deep and convicting, but I think his life was even more convicting. When you spend real time with God, you do not have to say anything, the Holy Spirit brings conviction to people. I think people were just convicted by his life and that is why they did not like him.
Is the work of the Holy Spirit apparent in your life? Are people convicted by the way you live your life? Think about it.
They tell me I rub the fur the wrong way. I don’t. Let the cat turn around!
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;
God has given spiritual gifts to each one of us individually, but I think many people do not use their gifts. They are dormant, just like when you hurt your arm. If you put it in a sling for two weeks, six weeks or a year, what is going to happen? You are not going to be able to use the arm.
I think, many times in the church, we are very dormant, and we really do not take advantage of what God has given to us. We always murmur and complain about having no power. God has given us power, but we do not use the power of God.
That is something we need to really look at, because there are so many things God wants to do in our lives, fully and completely, but we cannot do them without His empowering. We cannot do them in our power.
I get blown away every time I think about how God has used this ministry and the doors He has opened for us. I give God all the glory, because I know none of it has been done by my power or my vision. It is all of God. He gets all the honor and all the glory. It is incredible what God has been doing in this church and in this ministry.
If it seems like God is not working in your life or in your ministry, step back and take a close examination. You may be the problem. Many times we are so blinded by our own circumstances, our own problems and our little issues; we forget we are called by God.
God is the one who does whatever He wants to do in my life and in your lives. Look beyond your circumstances and be open to what God is calling you to do. He has given you the gifts, you just have to trust Him, by faith, and use them.
Faith will not always get for us what we want, but it will get what God wants us to have.
Lord of Your Life
Will You not revive us again, That Your people may rejoice in You?
This is what you really need and what I need. We need to be revived to the place we were when we first came to know the Lord. When we first gave our lives to the Lord, we were so excited. We trusted in the Lord fully and completely. There were no doubts.
What happened to that excitement? What happened to the excitement you had when you first came to Christ? You wanted to save the whole world. You wanted to give everybody what you had — the joy of the Lord — salvation.
I remember experiencing true joy in the Lord, and I really do not want to lose it from my life until the day I die. If we do not have that kind of excitement, then we are not going to be doing the work of the Lord for 40 years. We will not do it for even one year, without true joy in the Lord and excitement for all He has done in our lives.
When you lose the passion, you lose the zeal for God, then other things will take His place in your life and you will get sidetracked — you will get your eyes off the Cross of Jesus Christ and what He intends to do in your life. Remember what He has already done in the past, what He is doing right now in the present and what He wants to do in your future.
It is just amazing what God does. Only He can truly revive us, so we can rejoice in Him. Only He can put the fire in our hearts to serve Him. How does He do it? When we open our hearts and minds to Him, read His Word and spend intimate time with Him, He will revive us and put the joy of the Lord in our hearts. It is not about our circumstances. It is all about our attitude toward God. Is He the Lord of your life? Think about it!
God is more concerned with the state of people’s hearts than with the state of their feelings.
-A. W. Tozer-
Desire Spiritual Gifts
Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
1 Corinthians 14:1
If you do not desire the things of God, you are not going to get them. The desire has to be based upon aligning yourself with God Himself, so He can give you what you need in your life. It is not what you want, but what He is going to give to you. He sees what you need, and He will do what is best for you, which is not always what we desire.
As Christians, we need to pursue love, because we will be known as children of God by our love. Then, we must desire spiritual gifts from God, based upon what God wants for our lives. We should desire these gifts, But specially that you may prophesy.
Paul made a doctrinal statement. While so many people pursue the gift of tongues, Paul said, “It is not about tongues, it is about prophecy.” Why? Prophecy is the most important thing, because it edifies, it comforts, it builds up and it exhorts. It is incredible when you think about prophecy.
When I was a young Christian, I remember going to Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa every Thursday night. We would be in the fellowship hall, with the elders praying for the baptism of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. It was packed out, every Thursday night.
That zealousness and excitement is not here today. People would rather be entertained than sit at the feet of Jesus and wait for the Holy Spirit to do something supernaturally. I am telling you this because I have been there. When we grew up in the Lord, we saw God move in full power, and in the ’80s it ceased, in the ’90s we moved even further away from the Holy Spirit and today we are so far away from those gifts.
We no longer desire spiritual gifts and the church is messed up. There is no power, no conviction and no leading of the Holy Spirit. It is time to turn back and pursue the spiritual gifts of God.
For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.
1 Corinthians 14:2
Paul clearly explained speaking in tongues, in this verse, so there would be no confusion. When somebody speaks in tongues, they are speaking to the Lord, not to man, in a language we do not understand.
Does everybody speak in tongues? No. In Romans 8, Paul said, if you do not speak in tongues you can groan. How many of us will groan? Not many. We worry about what people will think, but we can do it privately, in the car or in our prayer closet. We can groan in the Spirit.
When you groan, you do not understand, but God understands. When you have a real need, God understands. Many times, people are groaning before God on the inside and God is listening. He has compassion for them. It is in secret God sees your hearts.
Look at what else Paul said: however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.
An important thing to remember about speaking in tongues is where they come from. Paul said it is in the Spirit. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to speak in our secret language to the Lord. It is not of us. It is of God. Speaking in tongues is a beautiful gift from God.
What does the Holy Spirit enable us to speak to God? Mysteries — in the Greek the word is mysterion. It means “beautiful, religious secrets.” When we speak in tongues, we are speaking beautiful secrets to God. It is not important for you to understand. What is important is God understand and it is between you and Him.
If you have not been baptized with the Holy Spirit, I pray you take time with the Lord in prayer and ask for Him to baptize you. You will be blessed.
A More Excellent Way
For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.
1 Corinthians 14:2
Yesterday, we looked at this verse and we saw how Paul the Apostle clearly explained the gift of speaking in tongues. When we speak in tongues, we are speaking beautiful mysteries to God, not to man. There is no interpretation of tongues beginning with “Thus saith the Lord.”
This is important to understand because so many churches put the emphasis on speaking in tongues. They believe if you do not speak in tongues, you are not really baptized with the Holy Spirit. Is that what the Bible tells us? Is that what Paul taught the Corinthian church? No.
I am not telling stories or making this up. I saw it with my own eyes. When we were young in the Lord, we used to go to these churches. People would be sitting, speaking in tongues, and then they would get up and give this weird interpretation. At some churches, every Sunday, the same person would get up and run around the pews, and then come back and prophesy.
As a new believer, it really turned me off. We were attending Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, but we could not find a church like Calvary in the area. When we went visiting the area churches, we found these churches with chaos. Nothing was done in order.
When a church or a Christian moves away from the true teaching in the Word of God, there is no order. They become carnal, just like the Corinthian church. We have to look at all the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Remember, in 1 Corinthians 12:31, Paul said, But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way. That more excellent way is love. Ask God to baptize you with the Holy Spirit and seek the gift of love more earnestly.
He who is not filled with love is necessarily small, withered, shriveled in his outlook on life and things.
-Benjamin B. Warfield-
Build Up, Exhort & Comfort
But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.
1 Corinthians 14:3
While so much emphasis had been put on speaking in tongues, Paul explained the importance and greater need for prophecy. Prophecy provides three necessary things for the church: edification, exhortation and comfort. These three things build up the church and the believers.
Let’s look at each one. First, Paul said the person who prophesies speaks edification. When you speak edification, you build up and encourage people. If a person is edified by the Word of God, their wisdom and knowledge of the Lord grows and they grow closer to God.
The second benefit of prophecy is exhortation. While edification builds up, exhortation is an entreaty or urging. When a person is going astray, a pastor or friend may exhort and urge them to draw closer to the Lord.
Third, the person who prophesies brings comfort to men, which means they console a person when they have experienced something troubling.
All three of these things are important for healthy spiritual growth. That is why we have Proverb 27:17, As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.
When I exhort people, I do not want to get down on them. I am exhorting them because I see what is going on. God has gifted me with the gift of exhortation. I am not speaking my opinion. I am speaking in accordance with Godâ€™s wisdom and knowledge.
You do not have to listen to me or to anyone else. If the words they give you are from the Lord, get into the Word and see what God reveals to you. He will confirm. It is important we do not hide from the truth of God. Be open and allow God to build up, exhort and comfort you.
A man in touch with God has access to unimagined divine energies and is able to bend them to earth in blessing to men.
Build Up the Body of Christ
He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.
1 Corinthians 14:4
Here it is again, Paul had to really exhort the Corinthian church about their selfishness. That is what he was talking about in this verse. Are we more concerned with building ourselves up or the church, the body of Christ?
Many times, we get so caught up with what we want and how we want to hear from the Lord or be blessed by the Lord, we forget about others. It is not bad to seek Godâ€™s blessings, but we have to think of others, too.
In Matthew 7:7-8, Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”
There is no sin in asking, seeking and knocking. The sin comes when we only ask, seek and knock for ourselves and we forget about the needs of others. It is so important to be open to minister to others. It is important to minister to the church and seek how you may serve others.
That is why Paul told the Corinthians it was better to prophesy, in order to edify the church, than to speak in tongues, which only builds up the individual. You can do both, but many seek the gift of speaking in tongues more than any other gift.
As members of the body of Christ, we need to remember, when the church is edified, we are all edified. Because we are all individual parts of the body, we all benefit when the body is healthy and strong. When even one part of the body is weak, we all suffer, so it is always better to build up the church, the body of Christ, for it builds up and benefits all.
The church is one body — you cannot tough a toe without affecting the whole body.
Always Build Up
I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.
1 Corinthians 14:5
This is an important verse, because many churches believe if you speak in tongues and there is interpretation, then you have prophesied. That is not what Paul was saying. Notice, he said the person who prophesied is greater than the person who speaks in tongues, so they cannot be the same thing and they cannot be equal.
When a person speaks in tongues, they are praising God. They are not receiving a message from the Lord. The interpreter will not say, “Thus saith the Lord.” It is edification to the body of Christ, because it is praise and worship to God, like a psalm.
The Psalms praise and worship the Lord. They bring us great comfort as we meditate upon the words the psalmists wrote in times of great joy and great tragedy. In all, we see the faithfulness of God.
Look at the Book of Acts, Chapter 2. When they were baptized with the Holy Spirit, it was Pentecost, a pilgrimage feast, so there were people in the city of Jerusalem from many nations and they heard the men speak in their own language or dialecta. It was not a message from the Lord. They were glorifying and praising God.
When a person speaks in tongue and it is interpreted, it builds up the body of Christ as it declares God’s glory, power and majesty in words of praise and adoration. No matter what we do, whether we speak in tongues, prophesy, speak a word of wisdom or knowledge, all needs to be done to edify and build up the church. That should always be our motive.
Praising and adoring God is the noblest part of the saint’s work on earth, as it will be his chief employ in heaven.
-A. W. Pink-
But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you unless I speak to you either by revelation, by knowledge, by prophesying, or by teaching?. . . So likewise you, unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air.
1 Corinthians 14:6, 9
Notice this very important point Paul was making. Everything we do has to be done with understanding. The purpose of speaking in tongues is very clear. It is done to honor, worship and glorify God. It is also to be done in an orderly manner. Since tongues are a language known only to God, it should be done between you and God.
The purpose of the church, the ministry, leaders, elders, pastors and all who serve the Lord is to edify the body of Christ. That is why Paul said to speak by prophesy, revelation and knowledge. All these gifts are given to us to edify and build up the body of Christ.
If our purpose, as Christians, is to minister and evangelize the world, what gifts should we seek more? We should ask God for the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, prophecy and revelation. We should seek the gifts God can use to speak to others about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul did not say the gift of tongues was not important, but many Christians believe you have to have the gift of tongues to really be baptized with the Holy Spirit. When you study the writings of Paul, you can clearly see that is not the truth. Paul has never said speaking in tongues is the evidence of a Christian.
Jesus told us how we will be identified as one of His followers in John 13:35, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Can people identify you as a follower of Christ?
Brotherly love is the badge of Christ’s disciples.
Even things without life, whether flute or harp, when they make a sound, unless they make a distinction in the sounds, how will it be known what is piped or played? For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?
1 Corinthians 14:7-8
In these two verses, Paul the Apostle made two very important comparisons to help the people understand why speaking in tongues was for personal use and not for edification or building up the church.
When you go to a concert, sometimes you arrive early and you hear the musicians warming up. Everyone is playing their own thing, some are not tuned up yet, and it sounds like a loud noise, without any rhythm or harmony.
You would be disappointed if that was what you heard for the concert. You want to hear beautiful music with all the instruments and voices blending together to make a distinctive sound.
Instruments were not just for music, they used the shofar, which is a ram’s horn, to call the people to battle. Imagine what would happen if the person blowing the shofar did not know what he was doing. The people would not receive the warning and they would be overcome by the enemy.
Think of how many people in the church are out of tune, out of tune with God, out of tune with the Holy Spirit. How many people are not hearing the warning sound of the shofar, because they are distracted by the things of the world?
They do not even know what is going on, so they strive. They are not in the spirit. They are in the flesh fully and completely. When you stay in tune with the Holy Spirit, you will live by the spirit, not the flesh.
The filling of the Holy Spirit brings a sharp sensation between the believer and the world.
-A. W. Tozer-
Edify the Church
For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.
1 Corinthians 14:14-15
You may be thinking, Why was Paul so hung up with speaking in tongues? And why are we spending so much time talking about tongues? For many people, this seems like a useless conversation. They do not speak in tongues and cannot imagine what it has to do with them. Speaking in tongues is just not a part of their lives.
Let’s look at the Corinthian church. Paul was addressing this issue, because the church had placed too much importance on speaking in tongues. They made this gift greater than the other gifts of the Holy Spirit and God did not teach this. It was all done in the flesh, not the spirit. This was just one more issue causing carnality in the church.
Look at the church today. I am talking about the whole body of Christ. There are many churches and pastors who teach the same as the Corinthian church. They believe the true evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues. If you do not speak in tongues, you have not been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Again, this is not what the Word of God teaches.
Paul did not say speaking in tongues is of the flesh or a sin. He said it was not the true evidence of being baptized with the Holy Spirit. He said, “All things need to be done with understanding. All things need to be done to edify the church.”
Praise God if you speak in tongues, I speak in tongues, but do not lift that gift above others, for it only edifies self, as it glorifies God. Seek what gifts God has for you to build up and edify the body of Christ.
The most significant gifts in the church’s life in every era are ordinarily natural abilities sanctified.
-J. I. Packer-
Share with Understanding
I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all; yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.
1 Corinthians 14: 18-19
Paul was very clear here. He did not just speak in tongues, he spoke in tongues more than any of the people in Corinth and yet, it was not the most important gift in his life. The priority in Paul’s life was the souls of others. He would rather be able to speak five understandable words about Jesus Christ than 10,000 words in tongues.
By Paul’s admission, he spoke in tongues, but it was done in his prayer closet. He did not go into the synagogue to teach the people and start speaking in tongues. It was a special time meant to be spent with God alone.
In all my years teaching at the pulpit, I have never spoken in tongues, yet I am blessed to be able to speak in tongues. I am blessed to be able to praise and worship God in the special language He gave to me. I love my private time spent with the Lord, and when I cannot express myself in words, I cry out to the Lord in tongues.
While I love my private time with the Lord, I am most blessed when the Lord uses me to teach and preach His Word. It is such an incredible honor and privilege to be allowed to teach the Word of God to God’s people. That is the greatest gift I have from the Lord.
Every one of us has opportunities each day to speak to people about the Lord. When we talk to someone at the gym, in the check-out line at the grocery store or stop to get gas, God gives us opportunities to share the love of God with others.
As Christians, we need to take advantage of every opportunity God gives us to share with understanding. It is the greatest gift we have for people.
The Christian’s task is to make the Lord Jesus visible, intelligible and desirable.
Hear & Accept Godâ€™s Word
In the law it is written: “With men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people; And yet, for all that, they will not hear Me,” says the Lord.
1 Corinthians 14:21
In this verse, Paul went back to the Old Testament, to Isaiah 28:10-11. Isaiah the prophet was speaking to the children of God and they would not listen. They would not turn from their wickedness. The people made fun of him.
In verse 9, they questioned who his teaching was directed to. Isaiah was teaching line by line, precept upon precept and yet the people did not hear. They did not understand. They thought he was teaching to babies in the Lord. Look at Isaiah 28:9:
“Whom will he teach knowledge? And whom will he make to understand the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just drawn from the breasts?”
To the people, Isaiah was speaking to them in a foreign tongue. He was speaking to them without understanding, but in verse 12, God said it was not Isaiah who was speaking without understanding. It was the people who would not hear. Isaiah was speaking clearly, but they did not want to hear the message God had given to him for the people.
Isaiah was speaking clearly to the children of God and yet they would not listen. They did not hear what God was saying to them through the prophet Isaiah. God was clearly warning the people to repent or face judgment, but to the people, Isaiah was speaking in a foreign tongue.
This is a lesson to every one of us. We have to keep our hearts and minds open to the Word of God. We have to be willing to hear and accept what God has to say to us, even if we do not like it.
Seeking the face of God turns us in a definite direction which cannot be confused with entertainment or superficiality.
All things In Order
Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe.
1 Corinthians 14:22
After everything Paul has said about not speaking in tongues in the church, so you do not confuse or scare the non-believer, Paul said this; tongues are a sign for the unbelievers. How can this be so? Is Paul contradicting himself?
No, Paul was not contradicting himself. He was teaching God’s order. During a church service or a message, there needs to be order, allowing the Holy Spirit to work in the lives of both the believer and the non-believer. People should never jump up in the middle of a service and just start speaking in tongues, bringing attention to themselves and causing confusion.
In this verse, Paul was going back to the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. When the Holy Spirit came upon the men, they spoke in many languages, languages they did not know, but there were people in Jerusalem from many nations. They heard the men of Jerusalem speaking in their language. It was a sign of the power of God, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
After the people heard the men speak in the many languages or in tongues, they thought the men were drunk, so Peter got up and shared the Gospel message. In Acts 2:41, it says, Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
In this instance, God used the speaking in tongues as a sign to the non-believers, and He can do it whenever it is appropriate and things are done in order. That is the message in this verse. Everything we do must be done in order, not chaos, so people will see Jesus Christ.
Spiritual gifts are not toys with which to play; they are tools of the Spirit with which to do the Lord’s work effectively.
-G. Raymond Carlson-
But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.
1 Corinthians 14:24-25
Wow! In verse 22, Paul said prophesying was not for the unbeliever, but in this verse, he seems to be contradicting himself again. He is not. Again, he is speaking of the work of the Holy Spirit and all things being done in order. When God does a work, it is done in order, without confusion. When man does a work, it is all chaos and confusion.
Prophesying, which is the teaching of the Word of God, is a gift of the Holy Spirit. It is done through the power of the Holy Spirit, so it is done according to the will and knowledge of God. It is done in the Spirit and not the flesh.
When God’s Word goes out, it comforts, convicts and builds up the believers. When non-believers are visiting the church, many times, the Holy Spirit does a work in their lives and the Word of God brings conviction, leading to salvation.
Look at what the Lord said in Isaiah 55:11: So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
When the Word of God goes out, God has a purpose and a plan and He will accomplish what He pleases. We should never say, “God cannot do this or do that.” God can and will do whatever He pleases, to accomplish His plan. When we try to put God, who is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent in the same category as mortal men, we will never understand His ways, His plans or His purposes.
Once and for all, let us rid our minds of the idea that things are as they are because God cannot help it.
-J. I. Packer-
Man is Imperfect
How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.
1 Corinthians 14:26
As you can imagine after reading this chapter, the gift of speaking in tongues was abused greatly in the church of Corinth. It was just another sign of the spiritual immaturity of the Christians in Corinth. Because the abuse was so great, Paul was laying out a complete outline on the correct use of this gift. He did not want to forbid it, but all things had to be done for edification. Their gatherings were not to be a time of entertainment but a time of exhortation for the church.
In this verse, there was an error in punctuation. In the Greek, there is no punctuation, so English punctuation was added during the translation of the Word. The question mark should be moved after the word interpretation.
When you move the question mark, the second sentence becomes a question instead of a statement. Paul was asking, “How come, when you all come together, someone has a psalm, a teaching, a tongue, a revelation and an interpretation?” Their gatherings had become a time of entertainment, instead of a time of edification.
Today, many people read this verse and think it is a command for the correct order of a service. All around the church, people get up and give a psalm, speak in tongues, prophesy and give a revelation. God can give all of these things, but if it is done in disorder and the church is not edified, it is not the work of God, it is the work of man. Godâ€™s work is perfect and eternal. The work of man is temporal and imperfect. It will not edify a single person
The real trouble about fallen man is not the strength of his pleasure but the weakness of his reason.
-C. S. Lewis-
St. Patrick’s Day
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Today, all around the world, people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, commemorating the death of Saint Patrick in 461 AD. While the tradition began in Ireland, he was not from Ireland. He was a missionary from England, called by God to minister to the people of Ireland.
As with many missionaries, Saint Patrick saw many people come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ throughout his time in Ireland. Among those he ministered to were the royal families. His influence with the leaders of the country helped him establish monasteries, churches and schools.
Prior to his work in Ireland, traditions and history were passed down from generation to generation through story tellers. Through the schools started by St. Patrick, the written word was established in Ireland, and the people began to write the history of the people of Ireland.
While St. Patrick had the support of the royals in Ireland, he faced great opposition from the Celtic Druids. They were the religious leaders of Ireland and they sought to imprison and even kill him, but they could not turn him from the call God had put in his life.
God has called each one of us to His great work. We each have our part in God’s plan, but we must trust fully in the Lord to accomplish His work. We must be like St. Patrick and not give in to the opposition.
Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.
If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God.
1 Corinthians 14:27-28
This is very important. Look at what Paul said in this verse. If there is no one to interpret tongues, you keep silent. You do not speak in tongues at church or in a group unless there is an interpreter. What does this mean? You have control whether you speak in tongues or not.
I have heard so many people say, “I could not help it. The Holy Spirit made me speak in tongues.” That is not true. Right here, in this verse, Paul is telling us we have control. We are to keep silent and speak to ourselves and to God, not speak out. You can control it.
When people say God or the Holy Spirit made them do something to bring attention to themselves and they could not control it, they are not telling the truth. All through the Book of 1 Corinthians, Paul has talked about control and order. God is not the God of chaos; He is the God of order. Everything must be done in order, to bring glory and honor to the Lord, not to self.
That should always be the standard we measure our actions by. Is what I am doing bringing glory to God or am I just showing off? We never want to stop the move of the Holy Spirit, but we must have order in the church, so the body of Christ will be edified and built up.
As we have studied this book, we have seen the many issues they had in the Corinthian church, and they all go back to spiritual immaturity and carnality. Because the people were not growing in their walks with the Lord, they were carnal Christians. When we allow God to be greater in our lives, we will see growth and spiritual maturity. We will naturally act according to the work of the Holy Spirit and not the flesh.
No man can really at one and the same time call attention to himself and glorify God.
Wait on the Lord
Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.
1 Corinthians 14:29
In this verse, Paul has gone from speaking in tongues to prophecy. He was not talking about an interpretation of tongues. When someone prophesies, we have to wait on the Lord and see if it is really of the Lord. We wait to confirm if it is a real prophecy and if God is really speaking. If it is of the Lord, then it has to be verified by the Word of God.
Sometimes, God will give you a prophecy to write down and put away for the perfect time, when it can be shared. At that perfect time, God will verify it is His Word.
That has happened to me. God has spoken to me in the past and I kept my mouth closed to wait on the Lord. When it comes to pass, then I shared it, because God had confirmed it. I still have my old Bibles, with all these dates written in it, when God would speak to me. Then, there is the date when God brought it to pass. It is funny to go back to my old Bible and look at all the prophecies God gave to us about this ministry. This was back when there was nothing. There were only a few of us meeting for a Bible study.
When I was a new Christian, God spoke to me from the Book of Isaiah, Chapters 42, 43, 44 and 45. Now, I look back and I can see the hand of God and all He promised has come to pass. I look forward to even more things coming to pass, because God has spoken. It is not because of me, it is all based on the promises of God. If He has said it will come to pass, it will happen, or it was not God. That is the bottom line.
That is what is so cool about the Word of God. When we read and study God’s Word, He is going to speak to us and He is going to share His promises for our lives. When God has spoken to you, wait upon Him to confirm it through His Word. Write it down and wait for the Lord to bring it to pass. He will blow you away.
Prophecy is not given to make men prophets, but as a witness to God when it is fulfilled.
Glory and Honor to God
For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
1 Corinthians 14:31-33
Notice the emphasis Paul the Apostle put on the importance of prophecy done in an orderly way, without confusion. If God gives prophecy to many, they can all speak, but one at a time. In this way, everyone present can learn and be encouraged. If everyone spoke at one time, no one would learn anything. You would have confusion and God is not the author of confusion.
In verse 28, Paul told us we can control whether we speak in tongues or not. Here, he said the same thing about prophecy. God can speak to you but He is not going to force you to stand up in a crowd and shout out the prophecy. He clearly said the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. This means the prophet is fully in control of the gift of prophecy.
This is such an important lesson Paul is teaching us today. God has made all these gifts available to the believer, through His Holy Spirit, and they are there for the church and the believer to be built up and edified. God has given them to His church, so He can be glorified. Every gift points to the power and authority of God.
When we exercise our gifts in a manner unworthy of the Lord, we are no longer bringing glory to the Lord. When we act out of order, we are bringing dishonor to the Lord. We are telling the non-believer God causes us to act foolishly and out of order.
Remember, in all we do, we should bring honor and glory to the Lord. In order to glorify God, we have to act according to His will and not our own.
Nothing lies beyond the power of man if it is within
the will of God.
-James E. Crowther-
Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says
1 Corinthians 14:34
This is one of those verses men love to quote to their wives. Every time the pastor reads this verse, all the men say, “Praise God. Amen. There it is. Amen. Hallelujah.”
This verse has also caused many feminists to say Paul was a chauvinist. Many say Jesus was a chauvinist and He did not respect women. This is a false accusation.
In order to understand this verse, you have to look at the church culture during Paul’s time. In the synagogue, women sat on one side of the building and men sat on the other side. When the rabbi said something the women did not understand, they would say, “Hey, honey, what does he mean by that?” They would ask their husbands right in the middle of the message. They were bringing chaos in the church.
What was Paul’s solution? He gave it to us in the next verse, And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church (1 Corinthians 14:35).
The wives could ask their husbands questions at home, where they were not interrupting the message. Husbands were to teach their wives at home, so they would not act shameful at church by bringing attention to themselves.
Today, we would not think of yelling across the church to ask someone a question during the message, but I have seen wives and husbands talking during the message. They may not be disturbing the people around them but how can the Holy Spirit minister to them if they cannot stop talking to hear the message? We must be silent and wait upon the Lord.
How rare it is to find a soul quiet enough to hear God speak!
Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached? If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.
1 Corinthians 14:36-37
Spiritual immaturity, pride and carnality were all evident in the Corinthian church. That was the reason Paul the Apostle asked these questions. First, he asked if the Word of God came from them. Then he asked if they were the only ones God spoke to through His Word. Why had he asked these two questions? They had gotten puffed up. They thought they were these spiritual giants and they were really acting in the flesh, not the spirit.
Whenever we talk about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we have to acknowledge where they come from. They are from the Holy Spirit, who is part of the trinity of God. Whether you speak in tongues, prophesy, have words of wisdom, words of knowledge, preach, teach, it does not matter which gifts you have, every single gift is empowered by God. None of it comes from us. We have to remember this important lesson.
If we get puffed up and start thinking we are important or we are more spiritual than others, God is going to set us on the shelf. He will not use us if we are prideful. He is looking for willing, humble servants, not prideful, arrogant leaders.
When you read your Bibles, look at the people God used. He used the common man, the shepherds, the tax collectors and fishermen. Look at Moses or Paul the Apostle. They were both great men in their communities. Moses had been taught in the house of Pharaoh and Paul was a Pharisee of Pharisees. What did God have to do with them before He used them? He humbled them. Moses became a shepherd in the desert and Paul was blinded and then went to Egypt to hear from God.
Come to the Lord as humble servants or God will humble you to use you.
Let us be humble that we may not need to be humbled, but may be exalted by the grace of God.
-C. H. Spurgeon-
Let all things be done decently and in order.
1 Corinthians 14:40
We can really see the heart of Paul the Apostle and what God called him to do in this chapter of 1 Corinthians. He began the chapter exhorting us to pursue love and he ends the chapter with honesty and order. These characteristics come directly from God, and He calls us to reflect His love, living our lives in honesty and order.
Twice in the Book of 1 Corinthians, Paul said imitate me (1 Corinthians 4:16, 11:1). In Chapter 11, the verse says, Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.
When Paul told the Corinthians to do all things decently and in order, he was again telling them to imitate Christ, to reflect the character of Christ. Paul walked so closely with the Lord, he was able to say, imitate me, without pride and boasting, because he lived his life as a reflection of Christ.
As we read 1 Corinthians and the other epistles of Paul, we see a clear picture of the character of God. We can know Him intimately, just by reading His Word. Once we know Him, we can be a reflection of Him.
There are things we can do in our lives every day in order to reflect Christ. We can show the love of Christ to those around us and we can do all things decently, or honestly, and in order.
When we allow people to see Christ in us, we are fulfilling God’s call for our lives. We are decreasing and He is increasing (John 3:30). When we decrease, then God gets the glory. When God increases in our lives, we reflect His godly characteristics.
I think we all want God to accomplish His will in our lives; we just have to get out of His way and allow Him to do His work in us.
The most deeply felt obligation on earth is that which the Christian feels to imitate the Redeemer.
Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant.
Today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Easter week and the day Jesus entered Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, fulfilling the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9.
When Jesus entered the city, the people rejoiced, crying out, “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9).
Jesus went straight to the Temple of God to clean out the money changers and set things straight in the house of God. That is when the people came to Him, the blind and lame, to be healed. They recognized the power and authority in Jesus.
While Jesus was doing a good work — a great work — the chief priests and scribes were indignant. The King James Bible says they were sore displeased. They did not like Jesus getting all the attention. Even though He was ministering to the people, healing them from lifelong afflictions, the religious leaders were displeased. Why? Jealousy!
God has a great work and a great plan for His people. He has a plan for each one of us to participate in His work. Instead of being jealous of what God has called someone else to do, seek what God has called you to do. He has given each one of us individual talents, to serve in His kingdom.
We are born into permanent service.
-David H. Chilton-
“And it shall be, when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ that you shall say, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice of the LORD, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.’ ” So the people bowed their heads and worshiped.
In the Book of Exodus, when the children of Israel were slaves in Egypt, God instituted the Passover, Pesach in the Hebrew. On this day, God delivered His people from slavery and defeated Pharaoh when He passed over the houses marked with the blood of the lamb and delivered judgment on the houses of the Egyptians. The firstborn males in the entire kingdom were killed.
What God did was not a small thing. The children of Israel had called out and God heard their pleas for deliverance. In His grace and mercy, He delivered them from bondage.
Today, in remembrance of God’s deliverance and His mercy on His people, the Jewish people celebrate the Passover. During the time of Passover, the people will participate in activities and meals, which will remind them of God’s command. They prepare the unleavened bread (Exodus 12:15). They will have bitter herbs on the Passover table (Exodus 12:8), along with the shank bone of a lamb, representing the sacrificial lamb (Exodus 12:3-10).
Look at how obedient the children of Israel are to the commands of God, and yet they missed the greatest sign — the Lamb of God who brought deliverance to the children of Israel pointed to Christ. How important it is for us to not be blinded to the work of God.
All is loss that comes between us and Christ.
The Lamb of God
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
In the Old Testament, God instituted the feasts of Israel. They all were in remembrance and celebration of God and all He did for the children of Israel. The seven feasts are Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Firstfruits, the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles. These seven feasts all point to three main things: Godâ€™s protection, Godâ€™s provision and Godâ€™s promise.
Look at the verse above. John the Baptist saw Jesus and he announced to the people, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” He was pointing to the Passover Lamb, Jesus, who would deliver Godâ€™s people from the bondage of sin. It was Jesus who would be the fulfillment of God’s protection, God’s provision and God’s promise.
Remember, yesterday, we looked at some of the things the Jewish people would have in remembrance of the first Passover and yet they missed the greatest sign. They missed God’s hand pointing to the coming Messiah, and God made it easy. He gave John the Baptist the perfect words. He said, “Look, it is Jesus, the Lamb of God. He takes away the sin of the world.”
When God told the people to celebrate the Passover and the other six feasts, He wanted them to remember, so they would recognize The Messiah when He came. Today, we must read God’s Word, so our eyes will be open to the great work of God.
The blood of Christ is the seal of the testament.
After two days it was the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take Him by trickery and put Him to death.
It was the Passover, when the children of God celebrated God’s deliverance from Pharaoh. Everything they did and ate was a reminder of God’s faithfulness and provision. The Passover lamb was a sign pointing to the coming Messiah, and this is the time the religious leaders connived to put Jesus to death.
Remember, John the Baptist had called Him, the Lamb of God, in John 1:36, but they could not see it. Why were they blinded to the truth right before their eyes? Fear. In all the Gospels, the writers spoke of their fear of Jesus. Look at Luke 22:2: And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might kill Him, for they feared the people.
Why did they fear Jesus? They were jealous. And the scribes and chief priests heard it and sought how they might destroy Him; for they feared Him, because all the people were astonished at His teaching (Mark 11:18).
While the priests should have been leading the people in the Passover, they were actually plotting to kill the Savior. They were not protecting the people. They were trying to protect their positions. Jesus called them out and revealed their hypocritical ways. That is why they connived among themselves to put Him to death. They believed they were in control.
There is no honor among men who plot against the innocent. We should never allow blind ambition to dictate our actions.
Ambition is like hunger; it obeys no law but its appetite.
Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death,
At this time, the religious leaders had arrested Jesus, but they had to provide the evidence to convict Him. Jesus was innocent of any crime, so they continued in their conniving and plotting to bring Him to death. They sought to bring more people into their lies and deception, as they persuaded people to bring false testimony against Jesus.
Since the beginning of His ministry, the Pharisees plotted to destroy Jesus. Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him (Matthew 12:14). In this verse, the reason they began to plot against Jesus was because He healed a man on the Sabbath. Was that a bad thing to do? No, it was the right thing to do, but they were jealous. They feared losing their status with the people.
I find it interesting that while there are many verses about how they plotted to kill Jesus: Matthew 22:15, 26:4, 27:1; Mark 3:6, 14:1; Luke 22:1-2; 11:53; nowhere do you find them seeking the Lord, saying, “Lord, how do we take care of this blasphemous man? Lord help us to reveal this deceitful man.” They did not seek the Lord like Moses, David and the prophets. They sought to take care of things in their own way. They sought to kill an innocent man.
Do you think they did not seek the Lord because they knew they were wrong? Do you think they knew they were in sin, so they avoided asking the Lord for guidance? In everything we do, we must seek the Lord and His will. In our own will, we will never accomplish God’s will — never!
The sinner in his sinful nature could never have a will according to God.
-J. Denham Smith-
It Was God’s Plan
Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ ” Having said this, He breathed His last.
Today is Good Friday, the day Christ was crucified on the Cross for the sins of the world. The priests, scribes and Pharisees believed they put Him on the Cross. They thought they had connived and plotted their way to freedom from the man who threatened their status in the community, but they were wrong.
Look at what Luke said in this verse. Jesus said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ “ They did not kill Jesus. He gave His life freely. Remember what Jesus said on the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).
What happened to Jesus at Golgotha was not the result of the plotting religious leaders. It was God’s plan. From the very beginning, it was all God’s plan. Jesus had to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) and He had to suffer exactly as it was prophesied in Isaiah 53.
If Christ had not come, if He had not gone to the Cross, we would still be separated from God. We would not be redeemed. We would still be kept out of the Holiest of Holies, and the Holy Spirit would not have come as the Comforter.
Look at the obedience of Christ. He suffered for you. He suffered for me. Are we as obedient to God and He was? Check your heart today.
God was the master of ceremonies at the Cross.
On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ “
It is the day after Christ was crucified and they are still plotting. They are still fearful and jealous of a man they did not recognize as the Messiah — God’s plan for redemption.
In Matthew 27:51-54, right after Christ died, there was an earthquake, the temple was crushed and the veil was torn in two, from top to bottom. There were two soldiers guarding Jesus and when this happened they said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” They recognized the Messiah, but the Pharisees, scribes and priests missed it.
As you read the full story of the crucifixion of Christ, it is amazing to see the hearts and minds of the religious leaders. They were appointed by God to lead the children of God in praise and worship to Him. They were appointed to be the examples for the nation of Israel. Yet, what do we see when we look at their example? They were connivers. They were jealous. They plotted to have an innocent man killed.
As the religious leaders of the nation, they knew the Word of God better than the average person, but they missed God’s plan. They did not recognize the Messiah — their Savior. They no longer pointed people to God. They took the glory for themselves.
We have to know God’s Word and we have to live it. We should be examples to the world of who Jesus Christ is in our lives.
The light of a holy example is the Gospel’s main argument.
-R. L. Dabney-
Thus It Was Written
Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
Happy Resurrection Day! Today is a day of celebration. Today, we can celebrate as the psalmist declared in Psalms 118:23-24, This was the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Jesus declared the same thing to the disciples. His dying on the Cross was the Lordâ€™s doing: Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary. . . . It was God’s plan for redemption. Christ had to suffer and innocent blood had to be shed to atone for our sins.
Knowing this was exactly what God planned, we can say, “This is the day the Lord has made and we will rejoice.” Everything God promised in His Word, He has done. He sent His Son to atone for you and for me. He made the greatest sacrifice, so we could have fellowship with Him.
Isn’t that amazing? He loves us so much, He allowed the religious leaders to plot, scheme and crucify His Son, but not for their reasons. God had this planned the whole time.
We celebrate today because it does not end with the death of Christ. Not only did Christ rise from the dead, but we are no longer separated from God. We now have fellowship with God through Christ, our Savior.
The Cross was not a tragic failure; it was a triumphant rescue.
The Voice of God
and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
God chose 40 authors to write His book, the Bible, and He spoke to them. When they sat down to write, they were inspired by God. He spoke through them.
Later, there were those who came along in the second and third century, who were liberals, and they tried to say the Bible is not the Word of God. Imagine that.
They did not heed the warnings John wrote in the Book of Revelation, and liberal theologians are still ignoring God’s warning today. They are still denying the inspired Word of God in theological seminaries. They have seminary conferences to determine what is of Jesus and what is not of Jesus; what is of Paul, and what is not of Paul. It is crazy.
John warned us, if you mess with one little word in the Bible, and you take it out, woe unto you. You have to believe the whole counsel of God, the whole Bible. It is the Word of the Lord. I do not touch it.
Remember Revelation, He wants us to keep our hands off His little book. Let the book speak for itself. Let people hear the voice of God, so He can do a tremendous work in the hearts of the people.
The Word of God is perfect; it is precious and pure;
it is truth itself.
Spend Time with God
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.”
Christ is our greatest example of what our devotional life should be. He met with the Father early in the morning, for guidance, before He began His day, and in the evenings, He prayed to God and spent time with the Father.
If we really want to be spiritual, then we need to spend time with God — not just five minutes reading a devotional. We need to be on our faces before God, spending time in the Word every morning, before we begin our day.
How can we dare to speak to people when we have not first heard from God? It is really important to have a great devotional life, so we can be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. He wants to speak to us and through our lives. Then, when we open our mouths, we have something solid to say, and it is not bringing glory to us, but bringing glory to Him. Jesus Christ our Master and Savior deserves all the glory.
If you do not have a devotional life, or you only read the Bible from time to time, today is the day to start over. Read your Bible every day. God wants to speak to you. He wants to refresh and encourage you.
Ignorance of the Scriptures is the root of all evil.
-J. C. Ryle-
One with Christ
Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In Romans, Paul speaks to us concerning the unity of the body of Christ, with an emphasis on the oneness of the church. He knew the importance of unity in the church for spiritual growth and sound doctrine.
Do we really want to be one with Christ and one with the body of Jesus Christ? I believe the reason people have problems, not only in the flesh, but with unity is because they want their own way. They are not team players. If you are not a team player, you will never get to the playoffs. You will never get to the World Series.
I think so many people in the church are like that. They think they are superstars, and yet we are nothing. I realize, if it was not for Pastor Chuck Smith, giving all of us an opportunity, we would not be pastors today. Our lives would have been very different. God used Pastor Chuck to groom us and to mature us in God’s Word, so we could go out and do what God called us to do.
It is not about working at a church. It is about being one with Christ, in unity with the body of Christ.
The Christian is a part of Christ, a member of His body.
-J. B. Lightfoot-
Care for Souls
Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,
Look at the heart of Paul the Apostle. He cared for the souls of the people. He prayed for the people and ministered to them, because he loved them.
Do you care for somebody else’s soul? Or are you just isolated, doing your own thing, and you never really have time for people? These are important questions for Christians.
God has a purpose and a plan for our lives and it does not include selfishness. God uses people who are selfless, people who care more for others than for themselves. Look at the examples in the Bible. It was not only Paul but all the Apostles. They had hearts for the people. They cared for souls.
At the end of your life, you can write down all your accomplishments, everything you have done to prosper financially or professionally. Then, look at everything you have done for Jesus Christ. That is all that matters. In the end, when you stand before God, He is not going to praise you for your degrees and your prosperity. He will look at what you did for others. Did you care for souls?
Christian life consists in faith and charity.
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.
When Paul wrote many of his epistles, he had to address issues and problems in the church. Some of the problems occurred because of the worldly attitude of the people, but he also brought up the presence of spiritual immaturity. In Hebrews, this was a big problem — spiritual immaturity.
When Christians do not grow in the Word of God, the church is damaged. That is why churches divide and often close down. Without mature Christians, churches cannot grow. There is no spirituality. They are carnal, and immaturity wipes out churches.
For the body of Christ to grow and mature, a church must choose their leadership very carefully. You have to choose people who are nobodies, so God can make them God conscience. Then, God can use them for His glory, in serving the body.
Remember in the Old Testament, when the priests were godly, the people followed the Lord. When the priests were worldly, the people fell into idolatry — like priests, like people. We all have to be spiritually mature leaders.
Holiness is the distinguishing mark of the Christian.
Walk in the Spirit
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
Paul the Apostle really knew people and the great struggle we have with our flesh and sin. He always exhorted the people of God to walk according to the Spirit, not the flesh. What an important reminder this is for every one of us, today.
Billy Graham said there are three main sins that can bring the believer down; money, power and sex. I believe there are many sins but they all come back to those three sins. There are many sins and they will take you down. They will disqualify you from serving the Lord.
With all the temptations and technology available to us today, how do we resist the lusts of the flesh? It is simple. Look at what Paul said, walk in the Spirit. There is nothing new under the sun. We may have new temptations but the answer is still the same. We have to deny our flesh and feed our spirit.
If we are reading God’s Word, praying and spending time in fellowship at church, the Holy Spirit will speak to us. He will convict us when we enter into sin, so feed the spirit and starve the flesh!
Intemperance is odious to God.
Love for Others
But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.
1 John 2:5
Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver’s Travel, said: “We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.”
He was speaking a tremendous truth. Look what John the Beloved said in the verse above. If we keep the Word of God, His love is perfected in us. This is something we all struggle with — love. It is not perfected in each one of us, because we do not keep His Word, fully and completely — not one of us. We all fall short.
We are going through the Book of 1 Corinthians and we are entering Chapter 13, the chapter of love. Even in the early church, the Christians had a problem with love. They fell short. God’s love was not perfected in them. They were focused on the gifts of the Holy Spirit and they forgot about loving one another. They became religious.
What did Paul teach? Spiritual gifts, no matter how exciting and wonderful they are, if they are not ministered in love, they are nothing. Spiritual gifts without love are a clanging cymbal. Paul said this in 1 Corinthians 13:1.
The main evidence of maturity in the Christian life is growing in love for God, God’s people and also for His Word. We need to know His Word intimately, to really fall in love with God and have His love for others.
If a man says he is a Christian but has no love he is simply deluding himself.
Operate in Love
But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.
1 Corinthians 12:31
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul spoke to the believers in Corinth about spiritual gifts. These gifts are given to the believers and we are empowered by the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us. No two people have the same spiritual gifts, and the only way for the spiritual gifts to be used is by love.
Because the church of Corinth was struggling with carnality, they were allowing pride to creep into the church. After telling them all about the spiritual gifts, Paul ended Chapter 12 with this verse, pointing them to Christ.
He told them to seek the best gifts, but do not be consumed by gifts, because there is something greater — love. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul explained the three characteristics of the Christian love. We are to have love for one another, the church and the ministry.
It seems simple, but you have to remember he was speaking to a totally carnal church. There was nothing spiritual about the Corinthian church, nothing. Paul was teaching spiritual things to people struggling with carnality.
We need to pay attention to this lesson from Paul. It is so important for each one of us, individually. We cannot operate in the Spirit when we are allowing carnality to rule our lives. God will not empower us with spiritual gifts, if we do not have love for one another. You just cannot have the one without the other.
Love is the binding power which holds the body of the Christian church together.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
1 Corinthians 13:1
It is interesting, because Paul the Apostle began Chapter 13 pointing out how the gifts of the Holy Spirit have no value at all, unless there is love behind them. Not only are they of no value, they are sounding brass or a clanging symbol. In the original language of Greek, the word sounding means “roaring, like the sea;” and the word clanging is literally “a hard, harsh, loud noise.” Without love, the gifts are an annoying sound, not a blessing.
What kind of love was Paul referring to? There are literally four types of love in the Greek; eros, phileo, agape and storgeo. Eros love is the physical love. Phileo is the soulish love; the love we have for a friend. Storgeo is affectionate love, like what we have for our family. In this verse, Paul used agape, which is a divine love. Eros, phileo and storgeo are not as important as the agape love, the divine love of God. God wants us to have divine love for one another. He wants us to exercise our gifts with His love, not physical, friendship or family love.
That is why Paul introduced the chapter with this warning. We can speak with tongues, interpret tongues, have the gift of prophecy and all the other gifts but they are of no value if there is no true agape love in a personâ€™s life. Without the love of God, it is all in vain.
If you want to really bless others and be a blessing to God, seek His love.
Whatever of outward service or obedience we render to God or man, if love is withheld, the law is not fulfilled.
-F. B. Meyer-
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:2
Wow, Paul really laid out the truth to the church of Corinth. He is also speaking to each one of us today. It is important for us to understand the gifts he listed in this verse. They all require supernatural revelation. The gift of prophecy is first. It means “divine inspiration, declaring the purposes of God.” In the Old Testament, the prophets would say, “Thus says the Lord.” Prophecy comes directly from God.
The second gift is to understand mysteries. In this verse, the word mystery literally means “truths which cannot be known by human reason; they are given by divine revelation.”
Understanding all knowledge is the third gift. In the Greek, the word is gnosis and means, “the deeper more perfect and enlarged knowledge of this religion, such as belongs to the more advanced.” How do we understand the deeper things of God? We need to read and study God’s Word and then, through the work of the Holy Spirit, these things will be revealed to us.
It is important to understand. It is the supernatural work of God. You cannot do it, and I cannot do it, without the supernatural work of God. Without divine inspiration, revelation and illumination, we cannot know God and we cannot exercise these gifts, and again without love, we have nothing.
Love should be the silver thread that runs through all your conduct.
-J. C. Ryle-
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:3
Paul’s overall meaning here is very clear. Love is more important than self-sacrifice. Sacrifice is nothing apart from the love of God, nothing. It is in vain. You can give your life, but if there is no love, it is in vain, it does not count for anything.
Think about it. It is easy to sacrifice for the people we love. Most of us do it every day. We give of our time, our possessions and our money, to the people we love, but do we give sacrificially? Do we give to the stranger? Are we willing to give to our enemies?
That is what God wants from us. He desires unconditional love — for Him and for others. When we love unconditionally, with the love of God, we are able to give to those who do not love us, those who may hate us. Why? The love of God compels us.
As Christians, we need to learn how to love people. The only way to truly love others is to die to yourself. Usually we expect other people to die to themselves. We cannot change other people; we can only change ourselves, in obedience to God.
It is good to give to others, to give sacrificially, but make sure it is done with the right motive. Make sure you have true love in your heart — not just for your family or friends, but for strangers and enemies. That is true love.
If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.
-C. T. Studd-
Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday
“Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.”
Today, we celebrate the life and service of our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, who was elected in 1861 and served until his assassination in 1865. In those four years of service, President Lincoln faced tremendous trials as the leader of our nation.
While many presidents have served during times of war, Lincoln was faced with a division between the people of this nation. We were not united in a fight against a common enemy. The enemy was a brother, a sister, a father and a neighbor. We were not united, we were divided.
Moses was the leader of the nation of Israel. God raised him up to lead His people into the Promised Land, but they were a mixed multitude, and they were murmurers and complainers. With the dissension among the people, Moses sought the Lord. God had raised him up, and only He could help Moses be the leader he needed to be for God’s people.
Just as God raised up Moses, He raised up Abraham Lincoln to lead the nation during a time of great turmoil. Following the example of Moses, Lincoln went to the Lord many times for guidance and direction in leading this nation.
Today, we need to pray for our leaders to seek God, as they lead this great nation.
I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.
How Love Operates
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
1 Corinthians 13:4
In the next 4 verses, Paul described how love operates. He taught how love builds up. It does not tear down. This is the operation of love. This is the how we are supposed to operate. God demonstrates these aspects of His love toward all of us all the time.
To begin with, love suffers long, which means love “perseveres patiently while enduring misfortunes and troubles.” We know God suffers long with each one of us. His love perseveres when we are far from Him.
There are three things love does not do. First, love does not envy. The word envy means “to be zealous for or against any person or thing.” Second, love does not parade itself. It does not brag or boast in itself.
Then Paul said it is not puffed up. Love not only does not brag, but it does not think it is above others. There is not pride in love. When a person is puffed up, there is no humility in their life concerning the love of God.
Now, we know the love of God fits perfectly in the operation of the love Paul was describing, but how do we fit in this definition? Can we substitute our names where Paul used the word love?
Raul suffers long and is kind. Raul does not envy; Raul does not parade himself and is not puffed up. Wow! I do not think I can say these things all the time. Can you?
Perfect love knows no because.
-A. W. Tozer-
The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.”
On Valentine’s Day, people celebrate romantic love — the love between a man and a woman, but if you really want to celebrate love, look at the true love of God. God told Jeremiah the prophet His love was everlasting. Can you imagine a love that is everlasting? It is amazing.
Not only is Godâ€™s love everlasting, it is sacrificial. Look at John 3:16, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
God loved us so much, He sent His only Son into the world to die. He would not only die, He would suffer. He would be tortured and He would take all our sins upon Himself, so we could have eternal life with God.
Wow, that is truly a great love. I have never known another person to love the way God loves, and yet we would take a day every year to celebrate the love between a man and a woman.
I am not condemning celebrating your love for one another. I think we should cherish and care for those who love us and we love, every day. We should never take our loved ones for granted.
If we want to really celebrate love, we need to look at true love — everlasting and sacrificial love. The love of God should be our standard, what we are measured by, not the mere love of man.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
-Paul the Apostle (Romans 5:8)-
does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;
1 Corinthians 13:5
When I study this chapter in 1 Corinthians, I find it interesting that Paul listed what love is not, what it does not do. I think he knew we all struggle with these issues, and they all come back to pride. There is a lack of humility in our lives.
Look at the characteristics of pride Paul listed in this verse. Number one, it does not behave rudely against people. Love has compassion for people. Second, it does not seek its own desires; it thinks of others first. Third, it is not provoked. Love does not follow emotions but thinks clearly and remains in control. Last, loves does not think any evil about any person. Love gives people the benefit of the doubt.
It is kind of neat because Paul said the same thing in Philippians 2:3, Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.He said love leads us to consider others better than ourselves — never to consider ourselves better than anyone else. That is pride, and it is sin before God. God cannot really bless you when you are prideful. He calls us to humility.
Remember the warning Christ gave in Matthew 23:12: And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
They that know God will be humble; they that know themselves cannot be proud.
Put on Humility
does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
1 Corinthians 13:6
In this verse, Paul contrasts iniquity and truth. He said love does not rejoice in iniquity. What does that mean? The word iniquity means “injustice, unrighteousness or deeds violating law and justice.” If we have the love of God, we should never rejoice when someone has fallen. We should never praise someone practicing unrighteousness.
On the other side, we should rejoice in the truth. In this verse, truth refers to “what is true in things appertaining to God and the duties of man, moral and religious truth.” Paul was talking about rejoicing in the truth of Jesus Christ.
As in verse 5 of 1 Corinthians 13, Christians need to be humble in order to fulfill these characteristics of love. When we are prideful, we want to see our enemies stumble and fall. We rejoice when they fall in sin. That is rejoicing in iniquity. We need to love and pray for those we love and those who do not love us. Remember, love thinks no evil.
As we have been going through the characteristics of love, how love operates, I think we have all seen things we do and things we do not do. We can all point out areas where we need work. I do not think any one of us can put our names in this verse and say in honesty we portray all of these characteristics of love. Paul knew the church in Corinth struggled with Christian love, so he wrote this chapter for them, and he wrote it for us. The best thing to do is recognize what you struggle with and then ask God to help you put away pride and put on humility.
For those who would learn God’s ways, humility is the first thing, humility is the second, humility is the third.
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:7
Notice, all these characteristics are foundational to a relationship. For a relationship to exist and last, the love a person feels for another must: bear all things, believe, hope and endure. These are the four characteristics of real love — agape love.
Let’s look at what each one of these words mean to each one of us. First, love bears all things. The word bears means “to keep secret or hide the errors or faults of others.” If you love someone, you do not tell your friends or family their flaws or faults. You protect them from ridicule.
The second characteristic of love is it believes all things. In this verse, believes means “to be committed in trust.” This loves is committed to a relationship, forsaking all others. There is a confidence in the relationship.
Love hopes in all things is the third characteristic and it follows very closely to believes. The word hopes means “to hopefully trust in.” When you hope all things, you are putting your trust in another person and the love they have for you.
Fourth, love endures all things. The word endures means “to endure, bear bravely and calmly.” This kind of love does not run away from a problem. This love stands and fights.
Agape love is selfless. Are you able to put others before yourself? That is what agape love does.
All great virtues bear the imprint of self-denial.
-William E. Charming-
Love Never Fails
Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
1 Corinthians 13:8
This is such an important verse in 1 Corinthians 13. Remember, when Paul was speaking about the gifts in 1 Corinthians 12, at the end of the chapter, he said, But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way (1 Corinthians 12:31).
Paul was telling the church to seek the best gifts God has for each one of us, individually, but to keep in mind, there was something greater, a more excellent way. What was more excellent? Love, because love never fails — it never fails. This is very important.
Now, verse 8 is one of the verses dispensationalists use when they teach how the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not for today. They believe there are no tongues, prophecies, wisdom or any of the 21 gifts operating today. In their theology, when the apostles ended, the gifts of the Holy Spirit ended.
That is not what this verse is saying. The time will come when we go to be with the Lord, when there will be no need for prophecies, tongues or knowledge. What will we prophesy in heaven? Who will we praise and worship in tongues? And what heavenly knowledge will we seek? We will be in the presence of the Lord, and we will know all things. We will worship Him face to face.
When we enter into the presence of the Lord, we will have no need for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but our love for God will be greater. We will truly know the love of God, when we stand in His presence.
Even the heart of God thirsts after love.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
1 Corinthians 13:9-10
What is perfect? Jesus Christ. Paul was talking about the Second Coming. When Jesus Christ comes, Who is perfection, then all these things we only know in part will be done away with, because then I shall know just as I also am known (1 Corinthians 13:12).
All things we know in part will be gone. What do we know in part? There are a number of gifts we have where we only know in part, things are not fully revealed in prophecy, knowledge, wisdom and tongues. We only get a brief glimpse, but not the full picture.
When Christ comes, we will not need prophesy and we will not need tongues. We will not need anything; we will be perfect when Christ is here, but not before. We will not need any of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, because we are going to have a perfect body; we are going to be in the presence of Jesus Christ.
Until the Second Coming of Christ, we are to seek the gifts of the Holy Spirit and seek the empowering of the Holy Spirit, as we read and study the Word of God. At this time, we will only see in part, as God reveals His plan through the gifts of prophecy, the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge.
What amazing promises God gives us in His Word. I look forward to being in the presence of Christ and knowing fully His plans for me.
When Christ comes again, the remains of ignorance shall be rolled away.
-J. C. Ryle-
Invest the Time
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
1 Corinthians 13:11
In verse 11, Paul was putting the gifts of the Holy Spirit into an eternal perspective for the Corinthian believers. They were fighting about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and it all started back in Chapter 1. They never corrected the real problem in the church — carnality. So, what happened to the church? They remained carnal. They never became spiritual.
Now, Paul again wanted to set the record straight. He outlined what is intended for a person to be spiritual and mature in Jesus Christ. They were not developing or growing. They really did not know God intimately, so they were not becoming mature. They had to put away childish things. They could not remain children forever.
Think of the church today and the many babies we have; those who are not mature in the things of God. They do not understand God’s Word, so they are in the flesh, all the time. The Holy Spirit is speaking, but they do not know what He is saying. They are eating oatmeal, not meat, because they do not desire to learn and to study. It takes time to read, study and allow God to speak to you, but they do not want to invest the time.
If you do not know the Word of God, then you will be a baby the rest of your life. If you remain a baby in the Lord, you will always be carnal and not spiritual. Invest the time today to become mature Christians. Then, you will be able to hear and understand when the Holy Spirit speaks to you through God’s Word.
The maturing believer is a searching believer.
All Things Revealed
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
1 Corinthians 13:12
Think about a biologist. Does he know everything about biology? No, of course not. No one knows everything in their field of study. Our brains cannot contain it all. Do I know everything about the Bible? Of course not, I only know in part. There are some things in the Bible, I cannot explain. I just know God said it, so it is true.
While we are here, we only know in part. We see things dimly, like in an old, antique mirror. They were just polished metal and the image you saw was not clear. There were distortions from the bend in the metal. That is how we view things today, through a distorted mirror.
When we get to heaven, all of a sudden, we are going know the full meaning of everything. We will also know all the people in heaven. We will know their names and they will know ours. Imagine, we will be known as He is known. It is crazy.
God knows everything. He has been in all eternity, In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis1:1). When we get to heaven, we will have full knowledge. We will see Jesus face to face and all things will be revealed.
As we look at the times we are living in, this is exciting news. Remember, keep looking up. Our hope and trust is only found in Christ, no one else.
They that enter heaven will find that they are neither unknown nor unexpected.
-J. C. Ryle-
George Washington’s Birthday
But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
George Washington was the first President of the United States. He was the first man God raised up to lead this nation at its birth. Before he became president, Washington was the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.
As the commander-in-chief, he led the people to victory over the British, establishing a new, self-governing nation, with religious freedom. Remember, the people originally came to the New World to get away from religious persecution throughout England and Europe.
Washington proved to be a great military leader and a great political leader. He brought our nation together and established a strong central government with the cabinet system we still use today. With all he did as the leader of our country, Washington is considered the “father of his country.”
I believe George Washington was a great leader because he was a man of honor and integrity. He stood for what was right and just. He did not hate. He was not a man of malice towards others.
We can all learn from the great leaders, who have godly values. To truly be a great leader, we must love and seek the best for all people, even our enemies.
Be not glad at the misfortune of another, though he may be your enemy.
“I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Today at sundown, the Jewish nation will begin to celebrate the Feast of Purim, also known as the Feast of Esther. This is a true feast of celebration. The people of God recognize God’s hand of protection upon their nation. They rejoice in the promise God made to Abraham back in the Book of Genesis.
Long before the children of Israel were taken captive to Persia, God had made a promise to His people. He would bless those who blessed Israel, and curse those who cursed Israel. In the Book of Esther, we see the fulfillment of Godâ€™s promise to His people.
During this feast, the Book of Esther, which is called the megillah, or scroll in Hebrew, is read in the synagogue. When their enemy Haman is mentioned, the people yell out “cursed be Haman,” and when Mordicai is mentioned, the people cry out, “blessed be Mordicai.” The people stamp their feet on Haman to symbolize wiping out their enemy.
What is important to remember is Haman was a descendent of the Amalekites, who were enemies of the Jews. God had told King Saul to wipe out every Amalekite man, women and child. He knew they would always be a curse to the children of Israel. That is why we must always look to the promises of God. He knows the beginning and the end, and He is our promise and providence.
God Our Protection
And the letters were sent by couriers into all the king’s provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their possessions.
On this day, the Jewish people around the world are celebrating the Feast of Purim — celebrating God’s deliverance from their enemy. In the Book of Esther, which tells the story of the events leading to the children of Israel instituting this festival, we see their enemy was not just Haman. He was the instrument Satan used to stir up the Persian people against the Jewish people living among them.
I think it is important to understand, the same thing is happening to the Jewish people today. The leaders of the land of Persia, modern Iran, are stirring up the Muslim nations to come against God’s people. Their leaders are calling to wipe Israel off the map — push them into the sea.
On this very day, as they celebrate Purim, the people of Iran, could be casting lots, or pur, to determine when they are going to strike at the heart of God, through His chosen people.
We have to remember God’s promise. In Genesis 12:3, He said, I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; These are the very words the people of Israel live by. They stand firm in the promises of God.
When the enemy is at the door, we must stand firm upon the promises of God. We have no need to fear man, because we have His promises.
My future is as bright as the promises of God.
Faith, Hope & Love
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13
Paul made a great statement in this verse. We have these three characteristics and they are enduring. They abide, which means “these characteristics do not go away, they are enduring.”
Let’s look at these enduring characteristics. The first is faith. This word is defined as “having complete trust in something of someone.” I have complete faith, or belief, in the Word of God. Why? God said it, so it must be true. My faith is in God and in His Word. They are the same yesterday, today and forever.
The second characteristic is hope, which is defined as “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” There are two key things for hope to exist — expectation and desire. It is not enough to desire something, there must also be the expectation it can and will happen. My hope is in the Lord, because I desire His will for my life and I know He will guide and direct me when I put my faith and trust in Him.
The third characteristic is love. The world defines love as “an intense feeling of deep affection”. I like how John defined love in 1 John 4:8, He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
As Christians, we need to have these three characteristics in order to live our lives righteously, but Paul said the greatest is love. Look again at what John said. If we do not love, we do not know God. Wow, that is heavy. We need to pray for the love of God.
Love is the queen of all the Christian graces.
-A. W. Pink-
Obedience of Christ
He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
Can you imagine if Christ had never come, if He had not been obedient to the Father? We would be dust, because of Adam and Eve. We would have no hope. We would all perish, without any hope of being with the Father for eternity.
I still have a problem when I think about why God would send His Son to die for us. I cannot believe He would make such a great sacrifice for us. As a human, would you give up your son? Of course not. That would be the hardest thing to do. God had to give up His Son and Christ had to be obedient to the will of the Father.
Jesus knew what He was going to face. God was going to send Him to this world that was going to reject Him. They were going to hate Him. There would be only a few people who would actually trust and love Him. That is the Gospel. Do you think the heart of the Father was broken when He told His Son what had to be done?
He had a chance to reject His call when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane, but He submitted to the Father. Then, when Christ was on the cross, He called out to the Father and He turned His back on Jesus. Christ had taken all of our sins upon Himself, so we could be free and be redeemed by His love. The Father could not even talk to Him. The obedience of Christ is an example to us of what the Father would like from us — selfless obedience.
Jesus Christ left us an example for our daily conduct and from it there can be no appeal.
-A. W. Tozer-
Test of Faithfulness
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
The Garden of Gethsemane was a place where Jesus submitted Himself to the Cross, but we see His obedience to the Father back in the wilderness experience. If He had submitted to the temptations of Satan, where would we be today?
All the way through the Gospel of Matthew, we see Satan was working Jesus, trying to trip Him up, but He kept moving forward. In Matthew 4, Satan tempted Him physically, emotionally and spiritually. Satan came to Jesus after 40 days of fasting and praying. He tried to strike when Jesus was weak, but He denied the temptations and the angels came to minister to Him and fed Him. All through the ministry of Christ; Satan tried to hinder Him, but he could not do it.
Through these experiences, Jesus was teaching the disciples how hard it was to be in the ministry. It was not easy, and He is God. It is even harder for man, because the nature of man is to be hateful and sinful. We are each going to be tempted throughout our lives. What are we going to do? Some people blame God — most people blame God, but if God is in control, you can stand against the temptation. It is going to be hard, but there is light on the other side. You have to be able to submit yourself to the truth of Jesus Christ, and by faith, trust Him.
God is building your character and He is testing you, by faith, to see if you are faithful in the little things, and then the bigger things will come to you. That is the way God works. He wants to see our faithfulness.
How can there be great faith where there is little faithfulness?
The Day and the Hour
And as it is appointed for men to die once,
but after this the judgment,
Can you imagine being face to face with Jesus Christ? Every person, believer and non-believer will stand before Christ. Not one of us will escape death or the judgment. For the believer, this is a great promise. For the non-believer, it is a threat. Either way, it is inevitable for everyone to face Christ.
I have seen so many Christians on their deathbeds and they are looking forward to seeing Jesus. They are ready to meet the Lord. You have to have real faith to submit to the will of the Father and accept death. There is no other way to face death then to realize the Lord is in charge.
There are so many people who try to cheat death. They think they can control when they die. I do not care what you do; you are going to die when God has appointed you to die. He already has a date. You can fight it or try to hide, but God has the date. You cannot do anything about it.
As we get older, we can see and feel the deterioration of our bodies and we have to remind ourselves, if God is in charge and knows exactly the day and the hour of my death, then I need to have peace in my life. When you have the peace of the Lord, you can talk to people and minister to them. Nothing compares to the place we are going, so we should rejoice and share the good news of salvation with others.
We are but tenants, and â€¦ shortly the great Landlord will give us notice that our lease has expired.
New Year’s Day
I applied my heart to know, To search and seek out wisdom and the reason of things, To know the wickedness of folly, Even of foolishness and madness.
The Book of Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon, King David’s son. He was a man of great wisdom, and he was a man of great sin. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines, women who worshipped all the heathen gods. He allowed the women in his life to steal his heart away from God. Even in his sin, he wrote the words above. WOW!
When I read about the life of Solomon, I do not think he made an examination of his ways. He failed to fully turn back to the Lord and lift his hands to the Lord.
As the New Year begins, it is time for each of us to search out and examine our ways. While many people choose to make their New Year’s resolution on the first of every year, I think we have to examine ourselves daily.
It is important to search our hearts every day, to see if there is anything that will separate us from the Lord. If we do not, we give sin a chance to take root and, before long, a seed of bitterness will grow in our hearts.
Do not allow bitterness to take root in your hearts. It will cause division among the body of Christ and it will stumble your walk with the Lord. Use this day to really meditate on God’s Word. Take an honest examination of your ways and ask the Lord to reveal any sin in your life. Then, turn back to the Lord and lift your hands to God in praise and worship.
A frequent reckoning with ourselves will pluck up sin before it is rooted in the soul.
Know the Savior
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
1 Corinthians 11:23-24
Paul was speaking of the importance of the Lord’s Supper. Notice, he gave them a new memorial, their deliverance through the blood of Jesus Christ. The first memorial of communion was in Exodus. In Exodus 12, the first Passover was established, and from that point on, it went until Christ came in the New Testament, and He became the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
The Passover was a type of Jesus Christ. It pointed to the coming Messiah. When they killed the lambs, and put the blood on both sides of the door and on top, it was the sign of the cross — redemption. It is pretty amazing when you study the Bible.
They should have known the memorial, instead of doing their own thing with Communion. They set their own rules. They moved away from the truth of God to do their own thing, so Paul was going to rebuke them in a few verses.
It is written as a warning to you and me today. We have to know God’s Word, because if we do not, we will not know theology and we will not know our Savior the way we should know Him. We cannot make the Bible fit into our lifestyles. We have to make our lives fit with God’s Word. He has to be number one in our lives.
The business of our lives is not to please ourselves but to please God.
Fear of God
In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
1 Corinthians 11:25-26
Communion is done in remembrance of Jesus Christ, Himself. Notice, it is an ordinance. Think of how many people take Communion on Sunday morning, and by Sunday afternoon or Sunday evening they are back drinking, partying and doing bad things.
They are in danger. They have no fear of God, so they take the bread and they take the cup like it is no big deal. It is a big deal. It speaks of the covenant we have with God.
Paul was leading up to an exhortation for the Corinthian church, because of their selfishness concerning the love feast. He was clearly explaining the purpose behind the Lord’s Supper, so he could point out where they went wrong.
It is so important to know God’s Word and partake in the Lord’s Supper with understanding. We should know why we are partaking in the Lord’s Supper and what it symbolizes. When we are ignorant of God’s ordinances, we put ourselves in a position where we can be deceived.
Because the people were not aware of, or had forgotten, the significance of the bread and the cup, they were in danger of sinning against the Lord. Ignorance of God’s Word is never an excuse.
The learning of the Christian man ought to begin with the fear of God.
Repent and Be Worthy
Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of
the body and blood of the Lord.
1 Corinthians 11:27
Yesterday, we looked at I Corinthians 11:25-26 where Paul said, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. . . .” When the people came together for the Lord’s Supper and partook of the bread and the cup, they were partaking in the new covenant, established with the blood of Christ.
Communion is done in remembrance of Christ, and what He did for you and me. He gave His life as a blood sacrifice for us, so we could enter into communion with God. Think about it. That is really heavy.
Now, look at what Paul said. If you eat the bread and drink the cup in an unworthy manner, you will be guilty. Guilty of what? You will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord! Wow!
What did it mean to be unworthy? If you came to take communion and you had unrepentant sin, you were unworthy. If you had a grudge against a brother or sister, you were unworthy. If you did not recognize what the bread and blood represented, you were unworthy.
When Paul saw what was happening, he was angry, so he really exhorted the people.
I think Paul is exhorting us. His warning is very clear. We cannot take our time of communion lightly. We have to recognize what the bread and the cup represent — Christ — His broken body, given for you and me.
A Heart Problem
But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lordâ€™s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.
1 Corinthians 11:28-30
This is Paulâ€™s exhortation to the Corinthian church, “Take an examination of your lives. Should you take communion or should you not take communion? Is your heart right before the Lord?”
This is important, because Jeremiah 17:9-10 says: “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.”
Jeremiah clearly tells us the problem with man. We all have a heart problem. Our hearts deceive us. We think we are doing the right thing and our motives are pure when we are really not right before the Lord.
Paul not only exhorted the church but he gave the warning. He could not speak any clearer when he said, “You will be judged!” Not only would they be judged, but they brought it on themselves. There were warned.
Look how these verses end. The judgment included sickness and even death. When Paul said sleep, he was talking about death, eternal sleep.
It is still happening today. People who partake of the Lord’s bread and His cup in an unworthy manner are bringing judgment on themselves.
With the same heart that men die, with that heart they will rise again.
-J. C. Ryle-
For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
1 Corinthians 11:31-32
Who has the responsibility to judge? Is it you or me? We can only judge ourselves, but Paul said we do not do it. We are blind to our sin, because we do not want to judge ourselves.
If we will not judge ourselves, and take a self-examination of our lives, God will have to judge. Then, He will have to chastise us. Why? God chastens us because He loves us. He sees the deepest part of our hearts and examines our motives. He knows whether we have good intentions or evil. Once He examines our hearts, He sets us straight.
In 1 Corinthians 11:30, Paul told us how God chastens people who have taken the bread and the cup in an unworthy manner: For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. He uses those three things: weakness, sickness and death. He does not mess around.
If God did not chasten us, we would be condemned by the world. When we sin without repentance, it brings shame to the Lord. God does not want to be embarrassed of you and me. Your neighbors and co-workers watch you. They know you are a Christian.
Unrepentant sin is not a good witness in the church or to your neighbors who are non-believers. You are misrepresenting God. In everything we do, we have to be aware of how we are reflecting Christ to the world.
Do not give fair names to foul sins. Call them what you will, they will smell no sweeter.
-C. H. Spurgeon-
Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.
1 Corinthians 11:33-34
In closing Chapter 11 of 1 Corinthians, Paul told the church to have manners and be gracious to those they were eating with. When you come together, do not sit down to eat unless everyone is there. It seems like they should have known this, but Paul had to tell them to be polite.
It was not only the polite thing to do. Paul told them to wait for each other lest you come together for judgment. There was more to this command than just teaching them manners. Go back to the word judgment. In the King James Version, the word is condemnation, which means to be pronounced guilty. They were bringing judgment on themselves.
I believe we bring judgment upon ourselves, all the time. Think about it. We have the Word of God and it gives us instruction on how we are to live our lives as Christians. The Bible does not just tell us how to live righteously, it also tells us what to avoid — what we should not do. God could not have made it any easier for us.
If we have all the instructions on what we should and should not do, why do we sin? I will tell you, it is our will. We want to do our own thing, even if it is not good for us. Remember, God chastens us because He loves us. He has given us clear instructions for our lives, because He wants us to be blessed. Choose Godâ€™s blessings for your life, not condemnation.
The Lord has a golden scepter and an iron rod. Those who will not bow to the one shall be broken by the other.
Do Not Be Deceived
Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea.
In the Kingdom Age, the thousand years of Christ’s reign and rule, there will be people living here on earth and the population is going to grow tremendously. People will be married and have children.
During this time, Satan will be in the bottomless pit, until the end of the thousand years. At the end of the Kingdom Age, when Satan is finally let out one more time, there are going to be billions of people who will rebel against God, even though they had lived under the reign of Christ. They will be thrown into the lake of fire.
What does that tell you about the power of Satan? If you are not really in the Word and in prayer, you are not really putting up your defenses. It is just a matter of time before you are deceived and you fall, and it will be a big fall. There are those who recover and recommit their lives to the Lord but there are also those who will never recover.
There are so many Christians who say, “Oh, I will never fall. I am strong.” You should never say that. None of us are strong, only in Jesus Christ. He is the only one who can make us strong. When you think you are strong in yourself, Satan has a way to get you. He will keep you away from the Word of God, from prayer and from fellowship. Then you will fall.
As the first step heaven-ward is humility, the first step hell-ward is pride.
Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.
1 Thessalonians 5:14-15
Paul always encourages me, because he did not mess around. Paul rebuked the church for being schemers, connivers and division makers. He held them accountable, when they did not do what God called them to do, because of their compromising. Many of the Christians were compromisers, and, because of compromising, they brought division into the church. They could not see God face to face.
Paul the Apostle gave us 14 epistles, because the churches needed the 14 letters, and we need Paulâ€™s letters. God knew we would need the epistles written in the Bibles, because they are nothing but doctrine. They exhort, they rebuke and they bring you to a place of self-examination, when you read and study your Bible.
From the very beginning, if you go back to the prophets Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, they exhorted the people of God. Why? We forget and we stray away. God gave His prophets the words to speak, to get us back on the path He has for us.
When you read your Bible, you will find the heart of God, and the heart of man is different than the heart of God. It is really important to trust in the Lord, not yourself. He will never lead you astray, but your own heart will.
Sin and the devil will always find helpers in our hearts.
-J. C. Ryle-
Pass It On
And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
2 Timothy 2:2
Notice what Paul told Timothy. As men and women of God, we need to pass the Word of God on to the next generation. As leaders, we need to pass it on. We cannot keep it for ourselves. We must pass it on, so God can use our lives and the lives of those who will come after us.
Paul is a great example to every one of us. He did not study God’s Word and keep it to himself. He went out and found other men and women who were like-minded to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
When Paul went out, he did not just go down the street. Paul went on three missionary journeys. He traveled by foot and by boat for thousands of miles. In every city he stopped, Paul went into the synagogue to share the Good News of Christ. As people got saved, God would raise up leaders, so Paul could go to the next town. He was able to commit the work of the Lord to the faithful men God raised up.
Each one of us has been called to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others. We may not be called to travel the world, but we can share with our neighbors and the people we meet at the grocery store, the gym and everywhere we go.
God not only wants us to share the Gospel, He desires we raise up Timothy’s, Titus’s, Priscilla’s and Aquilla’s — men and women who will commit to the things of the Lord and teach them to others.
Teach the tractable, command the obstinate, lay God’s charge upon all.
“Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment
of God because of your tradition?â€”
In these verses, the Pharisees were upset and they confronted Jesus because they believed Jesus and the Apostles did not respect the Jewish traditions. For the Pharisees, tradition had become more important than the Word of God. Can you imagine? Man-made traditions were held higher than the commands of God. Wow!
Jesus made no excuses for the Apostles. He did not try to defend them. Instead, He rebuked the Pharisees for their sin. When they asked him a question, Jesus always turned it right back on them. He did not answer their question but asked them a question. “Why do you disregard the commandment of God because of your tradition?”
People can get so caught up with legalism, they forget about the grace of God, and focus on the law. Remember what Paul said in Colossians 2:8: Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
The problem is the world and the traditions of the world. The problem is law instead of the Word of God and His grace. Know God’s Word, so you will not be in bondage to the traditions of the world. Obey God, not man.
Legalism is self-righteousness. It is the belief that God is satisfied with our attempt to obey a moral code.
-Erwin W. Lutzer-
Do Not Be Ignorant
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant:
1 Corinthians 12:1
Paul the Apostle began Chapter 12 addressing spiritual ignorance. He was concerned that many people were ignorant about spiritual things. The word spiritual is not correct. In the original Greek, the word used is pneumatikos, which means spiritual things. The word gift is not used in the original text. It will be used in verses to come, but in this verse, in the original language, it is not here. The word is spiritual things, not gifts.
Paul did not want the saints at Corinth to be ignorant in the matters of the spiritual manifestation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. That is one of the reasons he wrote the letter.
We see the same problem in the church today. There is ignorance in spiritual matters. What causes that? There is a lack of growth and maturity in the Word of God. People do not take the time to really know the Scriptures, studying the Word of God.
As a Christian, if you have never read from Genesis to Malachi, then you truly have no business reading the New Testament. The Old Testament verifies everything in the New Testament. If you never read the Old Testament, you are not going to fully understand the New Testament. That is how people get into false teaching — ignorance of the full counsel of God.
If you wish to know God you must know His Word.
-C. H. Spurgeon-
Idolatry & Demons
You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led.
1 Corinthians 12:2
Paul was speaking to the Christians in Corinth. They were not converted Jews. They were converted Gentiles. They had worshipped the many gods of the heathen nations.
Paul reminded them of their background. They were heathens, carried away by these idols made of wood and metal. They had eyes, but could not see, and ears, but could not hear. They followed dead idols that had no power and were leading them to hell.
In the culture of Corinth, they not only worshipped idols but were also involved in evil spirits and spiritism. They opened the doors for demon possession. The Corinthians were not only idolaters, but they were involved in the occult.
There are so many people today who like to play with the occult. Some do it because they think they will have power. Others think it is just for fun. Both of them are wrong — dead wrong.
God is greater and stronger than any idol or demon, but we have to be careful not to open the door and invite Satan and his demons into our lives. Do not be ignorant and led away by evil things. They are very real and not something you want to play with.
We are not here to commune with darkness but to conquer it.
Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:3
Paul was speaking to the church about a very important issue. Because the people of Corinth came out of a heathen culture, with idols and demons, they had to recognize the work of the Holy Spirit.
How many times have you heard someone say they heard a Christian speaking with a demonâ€™s voice? I have heard it many times. Paul said it is impossible. If you are really a child of God, you can never speak against Christ. Also, no one can call Jesus Lord; except by the Holy Spirit of God. This is really important.
In the ’70s, we had many people teaching the false doctrine of Christian demon possession. A pastor from Florida said Christians could be demon-possessed. There were demons for every sin or vice: the demon of smoking, the demon of gluttony. There were also those who taught on positive confession.
Sin is sin. Whatever happened in the past comes to pass in the present and will come around again in the future. They were the same false doctrines, just disguised in a different name. Do not be deceived by false doctrine.
Every doctrine that is not embedded in the cross of Jesus will lead astray.
Unity of the Spirit
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:4
In this chapter, Paul has told the Corinthians not to be ignorant. He had important information for them, but he needed to get them in the right direction first. They had to recognize idols were foolishness and true power was found in the work of the Holy Spirit.
Once Paul established the foundation, he was ready to introduce the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He said, “There are a number of different gifts, given to each one of us individually, but they are all operated under the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit.”
What does that speak of? It is the unity of the body of Christ. There has to be unity in the body, in order for the gifts of the Holy Spirit to be used and operated in the body of Christ. Otherwise, you have carnality, because people will be operating in the flesh instead of the Spirit.
God gives each one of us gifts and talents. No two people are the same, as God gives every gift and talent to serve His plan and purpose in the body of Christ.
It is so important for us to recognize our gifts and talents come from the Lord and they are to be used to serve and glorify Him. When we work together, in unity, with the gifts God has given us, we serve in building the Kingdom of God.
The Spirit is the source of all our natural gifts.
Recognize Your Gifts
There are differences of ministries,
but the same Lord.
1 Corinthians 12:5
In verse 4, Paul said there are different gifts, but they are all given by the same Spirit. In this verse, he used the word ministries, but in the original text it is administrations. He said there are also differences of administrative gifts, but the same Lord.
So, what is the difference between gifts and administrations? Strongâ€™s Concordance defines administrations as “service, ministering, especially of those who execute the commands of others,” and the office of Moses, apostles and deacons are listed as examples. Gifts are defined as “a favor with which one receives without any merit of his own,” and the examples of gifts are faith, knowledge, virtue and holiness.
By definition, gifts and administrations are different but more importantly, they both come from the Lord and they are both given to each one of us individually, to serve and glorify God. They are both used to build the Kingdom of God.
There are a variety of gifts and administrations, but God wants us to be blessed with what He has given us. Do not look at the gifts of other people and covet them. Search yourself and recognize what gifts you have, develop them and use them by faith.
There is a great deal of unmapped country within us.
Member of the Body
And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.
1 Corinthians 12:6
Paul has talked about a diversity of gifts, administrations and now activities, in the last three verses of 1 Corinthians 12. He made sure he addressed every situation.
Every person has their own gifts and talents and no two people are exactly the same. God made us all individually, so we can serve in His perfect plan, according to His purposes.
Notice, God blesses each one of us with gifts and talents, but nothing is done in our strength or power. God supplies all of the power. All the gifts, talents, administrations and activities work together by the power given to us by God.
We can see our total dependency on God. Without Him, we can do nothing. We cannot boast in our gifts and talents. We have nothing to do with them. They all come from God and are all empowered by God.
Remember, in the body of Christians, Christ is the head. We are all supporting members of the Body of Christ. We all need to work together in unity as the body of Christ.
The Christian is a part of Christ, a member of His body.
-J. B. Lightfoot-
Called to be a Toe
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:
1 Corinthians 12:7
Underline, for the profit of all. The Spirit manifests Himself in the life of each believer, by imparting some gift, not the same gift, some gift needed in the body of Christ.
We are all members of the Body of Christ. Some of us are fingers and some are toes, but are we all content where God has put us? Some people do not want to be toes. They want to be in the light, so everybody can see them.
What if God calls you to be a toe, in darkness? You do not get any attention, but the toe is a very important part of the body. We need it for balance. Without the toes, we do not have balance, and the body cannot walk correctly. Do you see how important every part is for the well-being of the entire body?
In the Old Testament, in the Book of Judges, when Israel came into the land, they would cut off the thumbs of their enemies, so they could not shoot their bow. They would cripple them, by cutting off one finger.
God knows what the body needs and He places each one of us in the place He needs us to be. Then, He equips us to serve in the place He has put us. If we love and desire to serve God, we have to be willing to be who God has called us to be, even if it is a toe.
He is only a Christian who lives for Christ.
for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit,
1 Corinthians 12:8-9
Now, Paul began to list the gifts. In these two verses we see the first four gifts — given to each person individually — remember, for the profit of all.
The first gift is the word of wisdom, which speaks of a supernatural power to speak with divine insight whether solving difficult problems, resolving differences or any situation demanding godly insight.
The word of knowledge is the second gift. This is the power to communicate information divinely revealed to a person who has the word of knowledge and the word of wisdom. The word of wisdom, the word of knowledge and prophecy are also used by every teacher. When they are teaching from the pulpit, they will have these three gifts in operation.
The third gift is faith, the special ability God gives to certain members of the body of Christ to discern with extraordinary confidence the will and purposes of God for his work. It also speaks of faithfulness. Those who are followers of Christ believe in the truth of His resurrection and are faithful. The last gift listed is the gift of healings.
If you have one of these gifts, seek how God would want to use you.
The supernatural is the native air of Christianity.
to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to
another the interpretation of tongues.
1 Corinthians 12:10
Today, we will continue to look at the great gifts God has for each one of us. First, we see the working of miracles, not one miracle, but miracles. This could include casting out demons or raising the dead. It is whatever God wants to do.
Then, to another He gives the gift of prophecy. This is signified by a person revealing a divine revelation, and it is primarily seen today in the teaching of God’s Word.
Next is the discerning of spirits. In this verse, discernment means the power to detect whether a prophet or person is speaking by the Holy Spirit, speaking truth, or speaking through Satan or himself.
The last two are closely related, the ability to speak in tongues and interpret tongues. Speaking in tongues is the ability to speak a foreign language, unknown to the speaker, supernaturally, through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. An interpreter of tongues has the miraculous power to understand the language spoken. The true interpretation will always be worshipping and glorifying God.
Every gift is needed in the life of the church.
All Christ’s gifts are like Himself, spiritual and heavenly.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7
On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King gave his most memorable “I Have a Dream” Speech, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. He was introduced as the moral leader of our nation. With this title, is it any surprise, this man was a Christian? He was the pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.
It is evident, from his life and the many speeches he gave, Dr. King was a man who knew God’s Word and he lived it. When he spoke to the people, he did not just give them his opinion, he used the Word of God to back up what he had to say.
In this famous speech, he was borrowing from the words of 1 Samuel. He “had a dream” of a time when his children would not be judged by their color but by their character. Isn’t that what God does?
In 1 Samuel 16:7, it was the LORD who spoke to Samuel, telling him not to look at the outward appearance of a man but to look at his heart. Why? God knew the outward man could hide many things but the true character of a man was revealed by his heart.
Today, almost 50 years after Dr. King gave this speech, we still judge people by their outward appearances. We still overlook the evidence of a heart lacking character. Search your heart, and see if you are the kind of person who judges by appearance or really searches the heart of man.
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.-
But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
1 Corinthians 12:11
In the previous three verses, Paul listed nine spiritual gifts, given to each one of us individually. Now, in verse 11, Paul brought all the gifts under one Leader. We each are given gifts individually, but they are not exercised by our power or strength. They are all directed by the Holy Spirit.
Not only are the gifts empowered by the Holy Spirit, but they are given according to His will. They are distributed to each one as He wills, capital “H.” It is not as you will. Whatever God wants to do, He will do, because He wants to continue to manifest Himself in us and through our lives, fully and completely.
If the gifts are given according to His will, we cannot look at others and desire their gifts. When we do, we are trying to live according to our will, not His will. We have stepped out in sin.
When we cannot accept the gifts God has given to us, we are saying we know better than God. We are saying we have a better plan for our lives than the plan God has for us. Is that possible? Do we know more than God? I do not think we do. Seek God’s will and the gifts He has for you individually. How does He want to use your life and your gifts to glorify Him?
Opposition to the Divine will is the very essence of sin.
Unity in the Body
For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free — and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:12-13
In these two verses, Paul was emphasizing the importance of the body of Christ working together in unity. This entire chapter of 1 Corinthians is about unity — being effective in the Kingdom of God.
Notice, Paul said we were all baptized into one body, which is the body of Christ. We have all become members of the body of Christ, when we give our lives over to the Lord and recognize our need for a Savior, Jesus Christ. That means, we are all the same — sinners sanctified by the blood of Jesus Christ.
It is so important we recognize our calling and our gifts, so we can serve in the body of Christ in unity. When we realize we are all the same, just different body parts, we can begin to work together.
Remember, we are all called, as Paul said, into one Spirit. We are each given different gifts and talents in order to serve and glorify God. Seek to serve Him with the gifts and talents He has given you.
Unity is of the essence of the body of Christ.
-R. B. Kuiper-
If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body?
1 Corinthians 12:15-16
Look at the members of the body Paul listed. Would a human body be complete without a foot, a hand or an ear? No. It could function but it would not be complete. I need my ears, my eyes, my nose, my mouth, my toes and my fingers. I need every part of my body, without one of my members, I would have a defect.
In the Book of Leviticus, a person could not be in the priesthood if they had a defect. If you had a limp you could not be a priest. If you had a finger missing or a crushed finger, they did not accept defects in the priesthood. They could not enter into the presence of the Lord with a defect, just as every sacrifice had to be without blemish or defect.
Today, we see all the defects in the body of Christ, spiritually speaking, when we do not work together as a united body. How can God really use the body of Christ to bring true worship and glory to Him with all of the defects?
He does not expect us to be perfect, but if we each serve in the body as the member He has called us to be, He would be able to do great things through the body of Christ.
The church is one body — you cannot touch a toe without affecting the whole body.
Members of His Body
If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.
1 Corinthians 12:17-18
Paul was listing all these body parts, the eyes, the foot, the hand and the ears. Notice, all five senses are needed. They are all equally important and needed. One is not greater than another. We need every part God has given to us to function properly, without being impaired. Paul brought out the whole anatomy of the body, and used it to show the importance of every member of the church or the ministry.
Many people want to be a pastor. That seems like the most important position in the church. You have to have a senior pastor to have a church. You do need a pastor for a church, but you also need ushers, children’s teachers, technical people, greeters, prayer warriors, maintenance people, secretaries and all the other people it takes to run the ministry. How would the pastor ever study to teach, if he did not have all the other members?
Notice, God set all the members as He pleased. He knows what is needed and who is best in what position. The only one really needed for the ministry is God. We are all just members of His body. When we make Him first, we remember our place.
There are no insignificant members in the church.
-Herbert M. Carson-
Content with God
And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty,
1 Corinthians 12:21-23
Paul has come to the key point of this chapter, unity of the body of Christ. He was calling the church in Corinth to come together and work in unity to further the Kingdom of God.
It is not for us to tell someone they are not needed in the body of Christ. We have all been set in the body to fulfill one purpose. God wants to use His church to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In order to do that, we have to each do our part.
Every member of the body is not the strongest member. We have each been made individually, so no two are exactly alike, but we each have gifts and talents necessary for the body to work together, without defect.
Do not look at others and try to find their weakness or covet their gifts. Be content where God has you and be faithful to what God has called you to be in the body of Christ.
Contentment is an embracing of the providence of God.
Schisms, Divisions & Dissension
that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.
1 Corinthians 12:25
Put a circle around the word schisms. Paul was telling the believers there should be no division or dissension among them. They were to work together in unity and not allow schisms in the body of Jesus Christ.
This is so important in the ministry today. There is a great work to be done in the world today and God needs His people to work together in unity to get the Gospel of Christ out to those who are perishing. That is what we should be focused on, not division and dissension.
When there is division in the body, God cannot use us, because we have lost our testimony to the non-believers. How can we be effective in the ministry, if we do not have love? In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul is going to tell us, if we do not have love, we have nothing.
When we cause division, we not only hurt our testimony with non-believers, but we no longer show love and care for the members of the body of Christ. Paul said to have care for one another.
When we cause schisms, we are thinking only of ourselves. We do not have care for others. We are selfish.
He who loves only for himself is truly dead to others.
And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
1 Corinthians 12:26
In 1 Corinthians 12:25, Paul said we should have no schisms in the body and we should have the same care for one another. Now, in verse 26, Paul explained why, our actions affect others. If one member suffers, we all suffer. If one is honored, we all rejoice.
Again, Paul emphasized the unity of the body. If you hit your thumb with a hammer, it hurts. Your whole body suffers, not just your thumb. When you are in pain, it affects your entire body.
In the same way, when your body is strong and healthy, you can rejoice, because you are able to do all the things you like to do. Everything is great.
I learned this lesson when I got sick. I did not really have compassion on others when they told me they were sick, because I had always been healthy. I would pray with them, but I was not compassionate.
Think of how many people are not compassionate to others, because they are self-centered. We must mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice.
Selfishness is the enemy of all true affection.
And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.
1 Corinthians 12:28
Paul began with those appointed in the church. First there are apostles, the 12 Apostles. Second, there were the prophets, who spoke for God in the Old Testament. Third, there are teachers, who explain the Word of God, in simplicity, so the people can grow.
Paul went on to list specific gifts given to the believer. He began with miracles, which include the casting out of demons, praying for people, raising people from the dead, all the miraculous. Another miraculous gift is the gifts of healings.
Then he went on to give the gifts of leadership. The deacons have the gift of helps. The gift of administration is found in the bishops and elders administrating the church. There is also the gift of tongues, used to praise and worship God.
There are a diversity of gifts, given to the members of the body of Christ, but before we get puffed with pride in what we can do and who we are, Paul reminds us God is the one who lifts a person up and appoints. Do not forget, God is the one who puts you up, and He is the one who will knock you down.
Pride of gifts robs us of God’s blessing in the use of them.
Gifts or Love
Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.
1 Corinthians 12:29-31
What Paul said in this verse is amazing. All these gifts are there for us, but if we do not have love, we are zero, nothing. We are crippled, spiritually. We cannot do anything. We are hindering ourselves, because we are not listening to God.
There are 21 gifts of the Holy Spirit. The rest of the gifts are found in Ephesians 4:11-12 and Romans 12. With all these gifts, Paul said there is a more excellent way. Wow! What is greater than the gifts?
In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul told the Corinthian church, “You can have all the gifts of the Holy Spirit but if you do not have love, you have nothing. You are a loud noise in God’s ears.”
Jesus said, in John 13:35: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
God blesses us with spiritual gifts, but we will not be known as Christians by our gifts. We are identified by our love for others. Think about that.
If a man says he is a Christian but has no love, he is simply deluding himself.
All Glory to God
for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,
1 Corinthians 12:8
When you become a pastor/teacher, these are two gifts you receive from the Holy Spirit. Then, when you are teaching from the pulpit or ministering to people one on one, three additional gifts are manifested: the word of knowledge, the word of wisdom and prophecy. These are important gifts for a pastor/teacher, but they are not limited to the pastor/teacher. Anyone can receive these gifts.
That is the reason, after a service, people come by at times and say, “Did my wife talk to you?” No, it was the word of knowledge, the word of wisdom and prophecy working. It is the Holy Spirit speaking, not me. I am surprised when they come to me. I have no idea I am speaking to a certain person.
You never know when you open your mouth what you are going to say, really what God is going to say through you. It will only happen if you keep yourself down, not puffed up. You have to make sure you remain in humility and holiness. Make sure you are walking with God, in fellowship with Him, and you have the love of Jesus Christ.
You have to always remember, all the gifts come from God. He is the one who empowers each one of us. When you give the glory to God, He will blow you away. He wants to be the main source, the One on the throne. Not you and I. He wants all the credit — all the glory.
God’s overriding goal is to glorify Himself.
-J. I. Packer-