The Defense of the Gospel

August 27, 2013

“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you…  That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”  (I Corinthians 15:1-4)

When Paul wrote to the Corinthians he defended the gospel.  He wrote that when he came to them he determined to know nothing among them but Christ and Him crucified.  He did not use enticing words of man’s wisdom because he did not want their faith to be rooted in the wisdom of man but in the power of God (1Corinthians 2).

When he brought his letter to a conclusion he reminded them of the gospel he had preached in a very clear summary.  It is simply two facts about Jesus Christ: He died, and He was raised from the dead for our sins.  That was what Paul preached, that was what they believed, that was what saved them, and that was the foundation upon which their faith was to stand.  Furthermore, if they believed anything else they were lost (Chapter 15).

We who are preachers often go beyond the gospel Paul proclaimed.  Perhaps we are trying to make it more interesting for ourselves.  We may be preaching to each other.  Whatever our reasons may be we need to return to the simple presentation of the gospel Paul preached in Corinth and all over the world.

I know of no one who did that in my generation like Billy Graham.  He wrote that early in his preaching when a meeting was not right, in prayer the Lord showed him that he was making it too complex.  He then returned to an uncomplicated gospel and never wavered from that clear gospel message.


The Supreme Value

August 2, 2013

“I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me — that Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said.  He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, as the Scriptures said.”  (1 Corinthians 15: 3-4)

I have now shared with you six eternal values that are the hallmark of people who live life in Christ at its deepest level of meaning and then “graduate” into eternal life.  There is another value I must share with you because it is the supreme and absolute value, the “door” that must be opened if we are to find all these eternal values.  This seventh value is the value we place on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Let me explain.

Suppose I asked you to write your answer to this question: “What is the Gospel?”  Imagine that I asked you to accompany your answer with Scripture verse references.   How would you answer my question?

As you search the Scriptures, you will discover the seventh eternal value:  Easter is far more important than Christmas.  When the Apostle John wrote his Gospel, he devoted approximately half his twenty-one chapters to the thirty-three years Jesus lived on earth and half his chapters to just the last week Jesus lived.  Of the eighty-nine combined chapters of the four Gospels, four chapters cover the birth and first thirty years Jesus lived, while twenty-seven chapters cover the last week Jesus lived.  Why is the last week of the life of Jesus so very important, and why is Easter far more important than Christmas?

Easter is when Jesus died and rose again for our salvation. The cry of the church all over the world on Resurrection Sunday is:

He is risen, indeed.   


A Spiritual Body

July 19, 2013

“It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.”  (1 Corinthians 15:44)

Have you ever seen a dragonfly with its double wings moving like a helicopter from one flower to another?  This amazing creature actually begins its life under water.  For about two years it exists as a shellfish with a long narrow body like a knitting needle.

If you did a cross section on that shellfish you would find that it has two respiratory capacities.  With one it can absorb oxygen from passing water through its body like other shellfish; however, it has another respiratory system that will one day breathe air.

When the two years of its underwater life have ended it rises to the surface of the water, moves to where land begins, dries its magnificent wings in the sun and then begins the second dimension of its existence.

The Apostle Paul writes that we are also designed to live our life in two dimensions and God has provided a body for us to live in each place.  He has given us a body so we can live on earth and a body so we can live in heaven.  Paul labels our earthly body “a natural body” and our heavenly body “a spiritual body.”  He then identifies a third spiritual value:  A spiritual body is a greater value than a natural body. 

Since I have spent several decades trapped in a quadriplegic body I really resonate with Paul when he declares that a spiritual body is prepared for me.  How I look forward to that spiritual body that will not have the limitations of my present body.  With great joy I anticipate the spiritual body God has prepared and Christ has made possible for me.

Do you value your spiritual body?


Applied Resurrection

March 29, 2013

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” (1 Corinthians 15:19 NKJV)

A mother of small twin daughters realized her bone marrow transplants were not going to work.  In beautiful handwriting she wrote out The Living Bible Paraphrase of three chapters written by Paul about resurrection.  When she gave them to me she asked me to explain them at her memorial service simply so her daughters would understand them.

The first was the great resurrection chapter of the Bible, the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians.  The other two were the fourth and fifth chapters of Second Corinthians.  I call these last two chapters: “Applied Resurrection.”

The first application of the resurrection of Christ is that just as Jesus was buried and raised from the dead, we are buried in the hope of our own resurrection.  If that is not going to happen we should be pitied because we suffered for Christ in this life.

If you want to have a personal Easter I challenge you to read these three chapters slowly and devotionally in a good translation or paraphrase you can understand like The Living Bible Paraphrase or The Message.

C.S. Lewis told us the clergy are people who have been set aside to remind us that we are creatures who are going to live forever.  They are also to teach us that life is a school in which we are to learn eternal values.

Applied Resurrection teaches us that though our outward man is perishing, it is possible for our inward man to be renewed every day while we’re learning to appreciate the difference between the visible and the invisible, the temporal and eternal values.

May your Easter be a time of reflection on eternal resurrection values.


Resurrection

April 12, 2012

“Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man.”   (1 Corinthians 15: 49)

Have you ever watched a dragonfly move from one plant to another with its two sets of wings making it possible for it to hover like a helicopter?  A dragonfly actually spends the first two years of its existence at the bottom of a large body of water.  When that phase of its existence comes to an end, it rises to the surface of the water, climbs up on the bank and lets it wings dry in the sun.  Then it spreads those magnificent wings and begins the second dimension of its existence when it becomes an aeronautical wonder.

Easter reminded us that like the dragonfly we are meant to live out our existence in two dimensions.  If you did a cross-section of that under-water dragonfly you would see that it has two respiratory systems.  It has one for living under water and one for breathing air in the second dimension of its life.

If you could do a spiritual cross-section on a born again believer you would find that we are also equipped with two systems.  We have an outward man and an inward man.  Our outward man is just a little clay pot in which our eternal inward man lives.

We are told in the great Resurrection Chapter (1 Corinthians 15), that we are given a body for living this life and we will be issued another body for living in the eternal state. According to Paul, that new body will be a spiritual body that will equip us for living throughout all eternity.  I don’t know about you but as a bed fast quadriplegic I’m really looking forward to being issued that new body!


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