Archive for September, 2014
“But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20).
The foundational hope of the Christian faith is an assurance offered by a resurrected Savior, not some religious pioneer that now lays lifeless in a cold grave. It is the bodily resurrection of Christ that distinguishes the Christian faith from all other world religions. The resurrection of Christ, however, isn’t the end of the resurrection story. His is but the first of a much greater harvest that is forthcoming.
“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
In the context from which Paul writes, the bad company is comprised of those within the church that do not believe in the bodily resurrection of the dead. The apostle sees a corresponding relationship between beliefs and behavior. Bad doctrine=bad behavior; good beliefs=good behavior. In a broader context, if you run with dogs you will get fleas.
“For in it (the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written , ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17).
God did not create human kind for the purpose of destroying us. Instead, his design is to see his divine work of redemption accomplished in us. This is realized through the person of Jesus Christ, as we walk in fellowship with him to discover both the will of God and the grace necessary to make true righteousness a possibility to as many as would receive it.
“Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Philippians 4:11).
In their always dissatisfied quest for happiness many miss out on the small joys of life. While sitting in prison, Paul discovered more than momentary happiness could ever offer–contentment in all circumstances. Out of this contented state he would sixteen times use the word joy as an encouragement to the church. It’s only particular circumstances that can bring a moment of happiness, while it is from contentment in any circumstance that joy can be realized.
“‘The fathers eat the sour grapes, but the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ ‘As I live,’ declares the Lord, ‘you are surely not going to use this proverb in Israel anymore’” (Ezekiel 18:2-3).
Heredity, nurturing, social conditioning, and circumstance have their place and, to be certain, have had their day in casting blame on the human condition. None of these, however, negate personal responsibility. At some point, we are forced to look ourselves in the mirror and say, “It’s not everyone else and everything else; it’s me. I’m where I am because of my choices and decisions.” The blame game is but another delusional form of self-righteousness.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
Greater appreciation for these words is realized when recalling that Paul penned them from a prison cell, under the watch of the praetorian guard, and a future that was uncertain. If the heart is the seat of our emotions and the mind our thinking, Paul had much to fear and preoccupy his mind. While this would be natural and understandable, he leaned, instead, on the supernatural and incomprehensible peace of God’s provision.
“But by the grace of God I am what I am…” (1 Corinthians 15:10).
No less than the apostle, Paul, you are what you are. The resurrected Christ becomes an incarnational reality in the particular life of every believer. It is our collective stories of pain, struggles, disappointments, and challenges that become a continuation of the gospel narrative; lighting the way that others might see the grace of God.