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But towards the end of the thousand year reign of Christ, Satan will be released out of the abusso and will gather together the nations to war against Jesus, and at that point, Michael the archangel will stand up. Satan will be defeated and will be cast into Gehenna, the judgment of God, the unrighteous cast into Gehenna. And now all creation in obedience unto the authority of Jesus Christ. He has now vanquished every rebel against God. You see, in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, there was only one government in the universe, the government of God, a government of life and light. And all of the created beings in the universe were subject to that government.
But one day a brilliant, beautiful creature of God with a name, "son of the morning," Lucifer, who was perfect in beauty and perfect in wisdom and perfect in all of his ways, until iniquity was found in him, said in his heart, "I'm going to exalt my throne above the stars of God. I'm going to ascend into the mount, into the congregation, the sides of the north. I'm going to be like the Most High.
A kingdom that was opposed to the first kingdom, in rebellion against the first kingdom. A kingdom of death and darkness. One day Jesus Christ will put an end to Satan's rebellion completely. And when every anti-God foe is brought into judgement and disposed, then Jesus will present this perfect kingdom to the Father. So, then will come the end when He shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even to the Father. When He will have put down all of the rule and all of the authorities and the powers that had rebelled against the authority of God.
And so in the beginning God, one government, and in the end, God and the one government of God again throughout the whole universe. All of the creatures of the universe once again in obedience and harmony to the one government of God. Ages without end. And then God, through the endless ages to come, will be revealing unto you what is the exceeding richness of His love and grace towards you through Jesus Christ our Lord. A beautiful future, providing the dead rise. If the dead rise not then you can say that we are miserable. All we've got is this rotten world. For He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet. And the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death 1 Corinthians For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he said, All things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him 1 Corinthians Now this is the work of the Father.
You remember God said to Jesus in Psalm , "Sit thou on my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool. God will put all things in subjection unto Him, but, of course, we understand all things except God, who has put the things under the authority of Jesus. God is excepted in here in that He is the one that has put things under the authority of Jesus.
He Himself does not come under the authority of Jesus. And so it is manifest that He is excepted which did put all things under Him. And when all things shall be subdued under him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all and in all 1 Corinthians One government, the government of God, the government of life and light, and all things now in subjection to Him.
Now Jesus put Himself in subjection to the Father when He took upon Himself the form of a human being. The Bible tells us that He was with God. He thought it not robbery to be equal with God. And yet, He humbled Himself and took on the form of a man and came as a servant and was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. And that is why God highly exalted Him and gave Him this name that is above all names. So Jesus, while He was here on the earth declared, "I came not to do my will, but the will of Him who sent Me. And now God has highly exalted Him.
He said, "Father, glorify Me with the glory that I had with You before the worlds ever existed. But finally, when the final rebellion is put down at the end of His reign, then He will bring to the Father and present to Him that world that has been perfected through the grace and the love and the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. Making it possible that we should be a part of God's eternal kingdom. And at that point, according to Paul's teaching here, He Himself will also once more subject Himself to the Father that God might be all in all.
Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? This is the only place in scripture where baptism for the dead is mentioned. It is mentioned in an argument against the argument that there is no resurrection from the dead. Now, the people in Corinth, as I said, were a mess. They had all kinds of problems: carnality and divisions. They had all kinds of mixed up beliefs and doctrines, and this epistle is known as a corrective epistle in that he was correcting all of the problems that existed in Corinth.
Evidently, in Corinth there were those in the church who were being baptized for the dead. There is no condemnation of the practice here, nor is there any commendation for the practice. It's only brought up that they were doing it, but Paul was pointing out that it is totally inconsistent. If there is no resurrection from the dead. Now, to take this and to make it a ritual within the church would be totally wrong. In the law of scriptural interpretation, or in the laws that have been set out for scriptural interpretation called theologically, the laws of hermeneutics, what do we accept for common church practice today? The law of hermeneutics declares that if it was taught by Jesus Christ, if it was practiced in the book of Acts, and taught in the epistles, then we accept it for general church practice today.
For instance, the Lord's Supper was taught by Jesus Christ. The Lord's Supper was practiced in the book of Acts, as they would gather together breaking bread from house to house. And there is teaching on the Lord's Supper here in the eleventh chapter of I Corinthians. Thus, taught by Christ, practiced by the early church in the book of Acts, taught in the epistles, we accept it for general church practice today.
And so we gather at the Lord's table and partake together of the Lord's Supper. Water Baptism: taught by Jesus Christ, practiced in the book of Acts, and taught in Romans, chapter 6. Thus, we accept water baptism as a legitimate ritual within the church today. Foot washing: taught by Jesus Christ, we do not find any practice in the book of Acts of the church gathering and washing each other's feet, except that Dorcas was commended because she washed the disciples' feet. But there is no teaching of it in a doctrinal way in the epistles.
Foot washing is practiced by some groups today, but from the general church practice it has been dropped, because it doesn't pass the full criteria. There are groups here and there who have foot-washing services. Now I suppose that if you're out in the woods in Oregon or something, it might be very appropriate to have foot-washing services. We almost had them here at Calvary during the hippie period.
Only for a different reason--we were trying to protect our carpets. We actually did consider foot-washing services during the hippie period when everybody was going barefooted. It would have been appropriate at that time. But now that we've all become formal again, no need for it. So, following this same criteria, here is a mention of it; it isn't taught as a doctrine. It isn't commended. It isn't taught as something that should be done. It is just an off-handed argument here showing that their practice was not consistent with their belief.
And yet, the Mormons have made a very big thing over baptizing for the dead, and that is why they have the archives of the genealogies that you can go and find out all of your relatives that have died. And you can go in and be baptized for them, and of course, if you are baptized for your dead relatives, then you can save them out of hell and they can be saved if you'll be baptized for them. And thus, it's very important that you baptize for your dead relatives, to save them from the destruction.
I could blow your mind, but I won't. There are many Mormons who actually seek to contact, then, their relatives to ask them for permission to be baptized for them. And so they do get into spiritism, in seeking to contact the dead. This is not common knowledge. It isn't done by all of the Mormons, but it is done by many of the Mormons. And this practice of baptizing for the dead, the next step is the getting their permission to be baptized for them. But it's sort of far out, and so I didn't want to mention it, but. And why do we put our life in jeopardy everyday if there is no resurrection?
Sort of dumb that I've gone through all of the persecution and everything that I've gone through. Why would I do that if there is no resurrection? Why stand we in jeopardy every hour? I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, because I'm facing death everyday. If after the manner of men I fought with the beast at Ephesus, but what advantage is it to me, if the dead do not rise? Don't be deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Therefore awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: and I speak this to your shame 1 Corinthians Now some man will say, How are the dead raised up? So when the Lord comes to get His church, those, our loved ones who have already gone before will be coming with the Lord to meet us.
The Lord will bring with Him with His coming. So what body will they have when He comes? When the Lord comes for us, and those our loved ones who have died, what kind of a body will they have? Will we recognize them? Will we know them? And Paul said, and he said this because they were saying it in sort of a mocking way, you know, "Oh, how are the dead raised and what kind of a body will they have will they have when they come? I mean, you want to make fun of the idea of the resurrection from the dead? You want to mock at the idea? Those who were affirming that it doesn't happen. And now he's saying,. You fools 1 Corinthians ,. That which you plant in the ground does not come forth into new life until it first of all dies.
And that which you sow, you do not sow the body that is going to be, but all you sow is bare grain, and it may be by chance be wheat, or some other grain. But God gives it a body as pleases him, and to every seed its own body 1 Corinthians You say you can't believe in the resurrection of the dead? Nature demonstrates it. Plant life. You take a seed, you put it in the ground, it germinates, it dies. You don't plant the body that it's going to be, all you plant is just a bare seed. And now God gives it a body that pleases Him. I might hold before you an old, ugly looking bulb and I ask you, "What in the world is that ugly, scaly looking thing?
You've got to be kidding. It dies, germinates. But as it dies, it splits in two, and from that cleft there comes a little white shoot. Roots go down, the little white shoot comes up. As soon as it hits the air, it turns green. It grows up into a stalk, buds come out on it, and then they begin to open into the most beautiful colored blossoms. Purple, white, variegated red-white, red, pink. I say to you, "What is that beautiful white flower with the beautiful variegated red in it? What do you take me for? What do you mean that's a gladiolus? You told me that ugly, scaly old thing was a gladiolus. Now you're trying to tell me this beautiful flower is a gladiolus?
You didn't plant the beautiful blossom. You didn't take the beautiful flower blossom and put it in the ground and cover it with earth. All you planted was a bare bulb that died but has now come forth in a new body given to it by God, a body that pleases God. So you didn't plant the body that was going to be, all you planted was a bare grain. God has now given it a new body that pleases Him, and Paul said, "So is the resurrection from the dead. You're putting me on.
Now, all flesh is not the same flesh: there is a flesh of men, flesh of beast, another of fish, and another of birds 1 Corinthians There are also celestial bodies [or heavenly bodies], and there are terrestrial [or earthly bodies]: and the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, you see the stars: and the planets are different 1 Corinthians The one has its own energy and life-giving force going forth from it. The other is just a planet depending on the energy that's coming. But different bodies, different forms in the heavens, different celestial bodies. And one star differs from another star in glory. Now so also is the resurrection of the dead 1 Corinthians It is sown in dishonor; it will be raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.
And there is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body 1 Corinthians I am living now in a natural body. The real me is not this body. The real me is spirit. But the body is an instrument that God has given to me by which I might express me. So what I am, what I feel, what I think, I can relate to you because of my body and you in turn can relate to me what you are and what you feel through the medium of your body. And so, through the medium of our bodies we come into relationships with each other. I get to know you. I get to understand you. I come to appreciate you. I come to admire you. I come to love you.
That's what God intended, that we come into meaningful loving relationships by the medium of our body. But the body isn't me, just the medium by which I express myself. And one day this old corruptible body is going to be planted in the ground. This weak body is going to be planted in the ground. This dishonorable body is going to be planted in the ground. But I'm going to be raised in glory, in incorruption, and in honor. For there is a natural body; it will be planted in the ground. But there is also a spiritual body, and I have a new body waiting for me. Now, in a couple of weeks we will be getting to II Corinthians, chapter 5. Paul goes on with this very same lesson.
And he said, "We know that when this earthly tent, the body in which we presently live is dissolved, that we then have a building of God that is not made with hands, that is eternal in the heavens. God has prepared a new body for me, a building of God, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Not that I would be an unembodied spirit, but I want to move into that new building, that new body. I want to be clothed upon with that new body which is from heaven. For I know that as long as I am living in this body," as long as Chuck is living in this old body, "I am absent from the Lord, but I would choose rather to be absent from this body and to be present with the Lord," in that new body.
Jesus said, "In my Father's house are many mansions, I'm going to prepare one for you. Glorious new mansion, my spirit's going to move in. Now, I am always interested in the capacities of this body. I've sought to find the limits of the capacities of this body. And it's always interesting to find out just how high this body can jump, how fast it can run, and things of that nature, as you test your body to its limits. It'll be very interesting to discover the limits of our new bodies, which I'm sure are vastly superior to these.
Now, there's the natural body, there's the spiritual body. And so it is written, [verse 1 Corinthians ,] The first man Adam was made a living soul; but the last Adam [Jesus Christ] was made a quickening spirit 1 Corinthians And the Greek there is hard to translate. Is made a "making alive spirit," a spirit that makes alive. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual 1 Corinthians ,.
So the first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man [Jesus] is the Lord from heaven 1 Corinthians So I received a body from Adam. One of these days I'm going to receive a new body from Jesus. Fashioned into His image, into His likeness. The second is from the Lord, the spiritual, the heavenly. And as is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, so shall we also bear the image of the heavenly 1 Corinthians But flesh and blood can't inherit the kingdom of heaven, so I've got to have a new body. A new body that will be fashioned like to the body of Jesus Christ, His spiritual heavenly body.
That's what my new body will be like. Now, when God made the body in which you presently live, He made it out of the earth. It came out of the earth. And the same seventeen elements that make up the dirt outside are the same seventeen elements that make up your body. One little kid, when his mom told him that we were made out of dust, came running into the kitchen all excited a few days later, and he said, "Momma, come quick.
I just looked under the bed and someone's coming or going. Not of the spirit. This body was not only made out of the earth, but it was made for the earth, of the earth, earthy. So God designed your body to exist in the environmental conditions of the planet Earth. Your body is designed to withstand fourteen pounds of pressure per square inch. Your body is designed to take the oxygen out of the 1Co nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere in which we live. One per cent neon, freon, and some other gases.
Designed for the earth. The body wasn't designed for space; it wasn't designed for the stratosphere. It wasn't designed for the moon or Mars or Venus or Jupiter. It was designed only for the earth. Now, to take your body out of the earth, you've got to take artificial environment with you or you can't survive. Those men who went to the moon had to take artificial environment with them. You saw the pressure suits, the space suits to maintain the fourteen pounds of pressure per square inch.
You saw the tanks of nitrogen and oxygen on their backs so that they could have that same balance of atmosphere. They had to take all of the artificial environment to recreate the earth's environment in order to survive on the moon, because the body wasn't made for the moon. Your body wasn't made for heaven. Your body was made for the earth, so God wants to bring you into His glorious presence in the heavens. In order to do that, rather than outfit you with a space suit and give you nitrogen and oxygen tanks, heavy shoes to clomp around in, He's just made a new body for you that is designed for the environmental conditions of heaven.
So, for the child of God, death is called sleep, because all you do is move out of the old body, the tent, into the new house that God's prepared for you. Just that simple. Notice again, the body that comes out of the ground is not the body that you planted. All you planted was a bare grain. God gives it a body that pleases Him. I will have a new body. I don't know that it will look anything at all like this body, and I really don't care. It's going to please God, and I know it'll please me.
I expect improvements. Now behold, I show you a mystery; We're not going to all sleep, [we're not all going to die,] but we're all going to be changed, in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality 1 Corinthians So Paul here is now bringing them a new revelation, a mystery.
Something that hasn't been revealed by the Lord up until this point, and this, that there's going to be one day a glorious transformation of the children of God. We're not going to all sleep, or die, but we're all going to be changed, in a moment in a twinkling of an eye. This is the event called the rapture, when all of us will be changed and this corruption will put on incorruption; this mortal will put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? For the sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, who has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ 1 Corinthians We will be changed; we will receive a new body adapted for the heavenly environment. One more illustration, and then we must move on. A caterpillar has an interesting little body that is designed to crawl on the earth. And that little caterpillar crawls through the fields. And I've watched them as they've crossed the highways on hot summer days. And I've walked across the road on hot summer days and that black asphalt can get awfully hot. And I can imagine that little caterpillar with all of those feet walking across the highway, having crossed through the fields, could probably be saying, "Oh, I'm so tired of hot dirty feet.
I wish I could fly. It might climb up a tree and out on a twig and jump and wiggle as fast as it can, but the body is not designed aerodynamically. It is designed only to crawl on the ground or up the side of the wall. And so the body falls. But one day that little caterpillar crawls up the wall of your house and exudes a little glue and sticks itself under your windowsill and spins a chrysalis around itself. And after a period of time, you watch that chrysalis hanging there, you'll see it begin to jerk, convulsive kinds of jerks. If you continue to watch it, soon you will see it burst open and beautiful gold and black wings will unfurl.
And it will perch there for a moment on the chrysalis, and then that tiger swallow tailed butterfly will begin flying around the yard. Over the fence and away. What's happened? A metamorphosis, a change of body that has allowed it to exist in a totally new environment. No more hot, dirty feet. It can now fly. As I look around this world in which we live and I see the mess, I sometimes say, "God, I'm so tired of hot, dirty feet. We're not gonna all sleep. But we're all gonna be changed in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet.
And this corruption will put on incorruption. And this mortal will put on immortality. When He comes back to reign on the earth, I'll come back, but I'll have my new body then. The new capacities. And who knows what it is gonna be. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord 1 Corinthians One glorious thing about what you do for the Lord, it's never in vain. You know, I've put time and energy and all into projects, and worked hard, only to see them just.
All of that energy, all of that time, down the tubes. And you think, "Wow, what a waste of time and energy! Your labor for the Lord is never in vain. Never in vain. You say, "But, they didn't believe, or they didn't receive. God doesn't pay commissions, only salaries. He pays you for that labor that you did, not for the results of the labor. Just for the fact that you labored for Him. Therefore, abound in the work of the Lord, because it's never in vain. Now Paul writes to them. He wants to go to Jerusalem and he wants to take money with him from the Gentile churches as a gesture of goodwill, because the saints in Jerusalem have gone through some real heavy times.
And there's a real financial need in the church in Jerusalem and they have sort of a standoffish thing with the Gentiles. So Paul is hoping that this will break down that attitude when he can come with a very generous offering from the Gentile churches to show the Jews there that, "Hey, they are brothers. They love you. Because we are all part of the body of Christ. The assurance of victory over death Paul brought his revelation of the resurrection to a climax in this paragraph by clarifying what all this means for the believer in Christ.
Transformation is absolutely necessary to enter the spiritual mode of future existence. This transformation will happen when Christ comes. Paul concluded his discussion of the resurrection with an exhortation to be faithful in the present cf. Thus, eschatological salvation, the great concern of the epistle, includes proper behavior or it simply is not the gospel Paul preaches. This chapter began with a review of the gospel message from which some in the Corinthian church were in danger of departing by denying the resurrection.
The charge to remain steadfast 1 Corinthians therefore probably means to remain steadfast in the gospel as the Lord and the apostles had handed it down. They should also increase their efforts to serve the Lord even as Paul had done 1 Corinthians Rather than living for the present 1 Corinthians believers should live in the present with the future clearly in view cf. One day we will have to give an account of our stewardship 1 Corinthians No one except Jesus Christ has come back from the dead to tell us what is on the other side.
However, His testimony through His apostles is sufficient to give us confidence that there is life and bodily resurrection after death. We will live that life in a changed body that will be incapable of perishing. It is therefore imperative that we make sure that we and all around us enter that phase of our existence with our sins covered by the sacrifice of Christ.
Therefore my beloved brethren , This is the conclusion of the whole, and contains the use the apostle makes of the above doctrine, addressing the saints at Corinth in the most tender and affectionate manner; owning the spiritual relation they stood in to him, and expressing the great love he had for them, which filled him with a concern for them, that they might be both sound in principle, and right in practice, and continue so:. In this verse we have the improvement of the whole argument, in an exhortation, enforced by a motive resulting plainly from it.
An exhortation, and this threefold 1. That they should be stedfast-- hedraioi, firm, fixed in the faith of the gospel, that gospel which he had preached and they had received, namely, That Christ died for our sins, and arose again the third day, according to the scriptures 1 Corinthians ; 1 Corinthians , and fixed in the faith of the glorious resurrection of the dead, which, as he had shown, had so near and necessary a connection with the former.
They are most certain, and of the last importance. It is evidently founded on the death of Christ. Because he lives, his servants shall live also, John And it is of the last importance; a disbelief of a future life will open a way to all manner of licentiousness, and corrupt men's morals to the last degree. It will be easy and natural to infer hence that we may live like beasts, and eat and drink, for to-morrow we die. He exhorts them to be immovable, namely, in their expectation of this great privilege of being raised incorruptible and immortal. Christians should not be moved away from this hope of this gospel Colossians , this glorious and blessed hope; they should not renounce nor resign their comfortable expectations.
They are not vain, but solid hopes, built upon sure foundations, the purchase and power of their risen Saviour, and the promise of God, to whom it is impossible to lie--hopes that shall be their most powerful supports under all the pressures of life, the most effectual antidotes against the fears of death, and the most quickening motives to diligence and perseverance in Christian duty. Should they part with these hopes? Should they suffer them to be shaken?
Note, Christians should live in the most firm expectation of a blessed resurrection. This hope should be an anchor to their souls, firm and sure, Hebrews He exhorts them to abound in the work of the Lord, and that always, in the Lord's service, in obeying the Lord's commands. They should be diligent and persevering herein, and going on towards perfection; they should be continually making advances in true piety, and ready and apt for every good work.
The most cheerful duty, the greatest diligence, the most constant perseverance, become those who have such glorious hopes. Can we too much abound in zeal and diligence in the Lord's work, when we are assured of such abundant recompences in a future life? What vigour and resolution, what constancy and patience, should those hopes inspire! Note, Christians should not stint themselves as to their growth in holiness, but be always improving in sound religion, and abounding in the work of the Lord. The motive resulting from the former discourse is that their labour shall not be in vain in the Lord; nay, they know it shall not. They have the best grounds in the world to build upon: they have all the assurance that can rationally be expected: as surely as Christ is risen, they shall rise; and Christ is as surely risen as the scriptures are true, and the word of God.
The apostles saw him after his death, testified this truth to the world in the face of a thousand deaths and dangers, and confirmed it by miraculous powers received from him. Is there any room to doubt a fact so well attested? Note, True Christians have undoubted evidence that their labour will not be in vain in the Lord; not their most diligent services, nor their most painful sufferings; they will not be in vain, not be vain and unprofitable.
Note, The labour of Christians will not be lost labour; they may lose for God, but they will lose nothing by him; nay, there is more implied than is expressed in this phrase: it means that they shall be abundantly rewarded. He will never be found unjust to forget their labour of love, Hebrews Nay, he will do exceedingly abundantly above what they can now ask or think. Neither the services they do for him, nor the sufferings they endure for him here, are worthy to be compared with the joy hereafter to be revealed in them, Romans Note, Those who serve God have good wages; they cannot do too much nor suffer too much for so good a Master. If they serve him now, they shall see him hereafter; if they suffer for him on earth, they shall reign with him in heaven; if they die for his sake, they shall rise again from the dead, be crowned with glory, honour, and immortality, and inherit eternal life.
There were people in the Apostles' days who had an idea that there was no resurrection. Paul endeavours torefute the idea, and teaches the Corinthians that there was a resurrection from the dead. From the 1st to the 11th verse he proves the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and upon that grounds the doctrine of the resurrection of the just. Now, we expect to hear a whole list of doctrines when the apostle says "I declare unto you the gospel;" but instead of that, he simply tells us of the resurrection of Jesus, for that is the very marrow of the gospel, the foundation of it that Jesus Christ died and rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures.
That is the whole of the gospel. He who perfectly understands that, understands the first principles; he has commenced aright. This is the starting point if we wish to learn the truth, "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. After that he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is one of the best attested facts on record. There were so many witnesses to behold it, that if we do in the least degree receive the credibility of men's testimonies, we cannot and we dare not doubt that Jesus rose from the dead.
It is all very easy for infidels to say that these persons were deceived, but it is equally foolish, for these persons could not every one of them have been so positively deceived as to say that they had seen this man, whom they knew to have been dead, afterwards alive; they could not all, surely, have agreed together to help on this imposture: if they did, it is the most marvellous thing we have on record, that not one of them ever broke faith with the others, but that the whole mass of them remained firm.
We believe it to be quite impossible that so many rogues should have agreed for ever. They were men who had nothing to gain by it; they subjected themselves to persecution by affirming the very fact; they were ready to die for it, and did die for it. Five hundred or a thousand persons who had seen him at different times, declared that they did see him, and that he rose from the dead; the fact of his death having been attested beforehand. How, then, dare any man say that the Christian religion is not true, when we know for a certainty that Christ died and rose again from the dead? And knowing that, who shall deny the divinity of the Saviour?
Who shall say that he is not mighty to save? Our faith hath a solid basis, for it hath all these witnesses on which to rest, and the more sure witness of the Holy Spirit witnessing in our hearts. There was not one who could exceed Paul, or even come near him in his arduous labours; yet he says,. When he looked upon the mercies that God gave to him he always recollected how little he deserved; and when he found himself preaching, oh! Let him know that his sin is a most damnable sin that will sink him lower into hell than any other; but even for him there is mercy, and abundant pardon; for Paul says he obtained mercy even though he persecuted the church of God.
If we once get putting the crown on our own heads we shall soon have heavy heads for our trouble; but if we put them all on the head of Jesus, he will honour us if we honour him. Perhaps it does not strike you at first sight that there is an indissoluble connection between the resurrection of Christ and that of all his people; perhaps you do not see the marrow of the argument. The apostle says, "If the dead do not rise, then Christ did not rise; and if Christ did rise, then all the dead will rise. Why, because Christ and human nature are now so linked together that what Christ did, he did as the representative of all his people. When Adam sinned, the world sinned, and the world died.
This brings another argument. For they were then persecuted, cast to the wild beasts, shut up in prison; and if this life were all, what would be the value of the Christian religion? If would only make men miserable. It is no use for the Arminian to strain this, and say that it proves that every one receives grace through Christ. It says no such thing; it simply says, "die" and "live. Here the great proof flashes out if death is to be destroyed, then there must be a resurrection, for death cannot be destroyed until the very bones of the saints are delivered from the strongholds of the enemy.
But when he saith, All things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. We are not to suppose, when we read that Jesus Christ will deliver up his kingdom to God, even to his Father, that he will therefore cease to be God or cease to be a King. Understand this; God the Father gave to the Son a Mediatorial Kingdom as Man-God; but the Father was just as much God when he had given him that kingdom; it was his own special kingdom which he, as the Man-God Mediator was to take, and God the Father lost no glory by giving it to him. When Christ shall have worked out all his Mediatorial purposes, when he shall have finished the salvation of all his elect, he will lay the crown of his Mediatorial Kingdom at the feet of God, and, as the Man-Mediator, he too will be subject unto the great Jehovah, the Three-one; then there will be no Mediator any longer, since there will be no necessity for any mediation, but we shall all be gathered in one, even the things that are on earth and the things that are in heaven one in Christ Jesus.
Then Christ will have his kingdom as God, but as Mediator he will have no kingdom. It is a destruction of office, not of person, nor yet of honor; it is a laying aside of his official capacity, not in any degree a diminution of his glory and honor. This text has had thirty or forty explanations. Doddridge and a great many more think it refers to the practice, when a martyr died, for another person to come forward and fill the offices which he held, and so to be "baptized for the dead;" but the meaning I like best is: What shall they do who are baptized with the certainty that they are not baptized to live a long while, but that immediately after baptism they will be dragged away to die baptized in the very teeth of death?
For as soon as any one was baptised, the Romans would be looking after him, to drag him away to death. Thus they were many of them baptised as if they were being washed for their burial, and dedicating themselves to the grave. They came forward and said, "O Lord, I give myself unto thy service not to serve thee here below, for that the enemy will not let me do, but since I must die, I will be baptized and brave it all; I will be baptized even for death itself. It does not say that Paul did fight with beasts at Ephesus; but a great many others did. It was a common practice to put Christians to the lions, giving them a short sword, and bidding them fight for their lives; and sometimes, strengthened by God, they fought manfully, and come off alive.
But "if," says Paul, "I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? How disgraceful. If I were to repeat a verse, and it looked as if Shakespere or any profane author ever wrote such a thing, how criminal! But I like good things wherever I find them. I have often quoted from the devil, and I dare say I shall often quote from his people. Paul quoted this from Meander, and another heathen poet, who wrote far worse things than have been written by modern poets, and if any of us who may have stored our minds with the contents of books we wish we had never read, and if there be some choice gems in them which may be used for the service of God, by his help we will so use them.
Christ is coming, and he will find some alive on the earth, and those who are alive will not die. Paul was so full of the Second Coming, that he says: "We shall not all sleep. And we are so earnestly looking for Christ, that we too are constrained to say, "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
What a shame it is, when we sometimes attend a funeral and hear that magnificent portion of Scripture read over by a chaplain without heart, or soul, or life the quicker he can get through the service the better. Oh that such noble words should be so awfully spoiled by men who know nothing about them! THE apostle had been putting forth all his strength to prove the doctrine of the resurrection, yet he was not diverted from his habitual custom of making practical use of the doctrine which he established. He proves his point, and then he goes on to his "therefore," which is always an inference of godliness. He is the great master of doctrine: if you want the Christian creed elaborated, and its details laid out in order, you must turn to the epistles of Paul; but at the same time he is always a practical teacher.
Paul was not like those who hew down trees and square them by rule and system, but forget to build the house therewith. True, he lifteth up a goodly axe upon the thick trees, but he always makes use of that which he hews down, he lays the beams of his chambers, and forgets not the carved work thereof. He brings to light the great stones of truth, and cuts them out of the live rock of mystery; but he is not content with being a mere quarryman, he labors to be a wise master builder, and with the stones of truth to erect the temple of Christian holiness. If I shift the figure I may say that our apostle does not grope among the lower strata of truth, hunting out the deep things and spending all his force upon them, but he ploughs the rich upper soil, he sows, he reaps, he gathers in a harvest, and feeds many.
Thus should the practical ever flow from the doctrinal like wine from the clusters of the grape. The Puritans were wont to call the end of the sermon, in which they enforced the practical lessons, the "improvement" of the subject; and, truly, the apostle Paul was a master in the way of "improvement. My brethren, this is a lesson for us; let us never reckon that we have learned a doctrine till we have seen its bearing upon our lives.
Whatever we discover in God's word, let us pray the Holy Spirit to make us feel the sanctifying influence of it. You know not a man because you recognize his features, you must also know his spirit, and so the mere acquaintance with the letter of truth is of small account you must feel its influence and know its tendency. There are some brethren who are so enamored of doctrine that no preacher will content them unless he gives them over and over again clear statements of certain favourite truths: but the moment you come to speak of practice they fight shy of it at once, and either denounce the preacher as being legal, or they grow weary of that which they dare not contradict. Let it never be so with us.
Let us follow up truth to its practical "therefore. Let everyone here who knoweth aught, now pray God to teach him float he would have him to do, as the consequence of that knowledge. This morning our subject will be the practical outflow of the resurrection, the great inference which should be drawn from the fact that death is swallowed up in victory. There should be fine flour from the grinding of such choice wheat. The text has in it two things: first, it mentions two great points of Christian character "stedfast, unmoveable," and "always abounding in the work of the Lord;" and, secondly, it gives us a grand motive for the cultivation of these two characteristics inasmuch as the doctrine of the resurrection being true, "ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
The first one is "be ye stedfast, unmoveable. The first is the more essential in most battles, for victory often depends upon the power of endurance which makes a battalion of men into a wall of brass. We want the dashing courage which can carry a position by storm that will be used up in the second characteristic "always abounding in the work of the Lord;" but in the commencement of the attack, and at critical points all through the campaign, the most essential virtue for victory is for a soldier to know how to keep his place, and "having done all to stand. The apostle has given us two words descriptive of godly firmness, and we may be sure that as Holy Scripture never uses a superfluity of words, each word has a distinct meaning.
Let us look at the word "stedfast" first. Beloved, be ye stedfast. By this the apostle means, first, be ye stedfast in the doctrines of the gospel. Know what you know, and, knowing it cling to it. Hold fast the form of sound doctrine. Do not be as some are, of doubtful mind, who know nothing, and even dare to say that nothing can be known. To such the highest wisdom is to suspect the truth of everything they once knew, and to hang in doubt as to whether there are any fundamentals at all. I should like an answer from the Broad Church divines to one short and plain question. What truth is so certain and important as to justify a man in sacrificing his life to maintain it? Is there any doctrine for which a wise man should yield his body to be burned?
According to all that I can understand of modern liberalism, religion is a mere matter of opinion, and no opinion is of sufficient importance to be worth contending for. The martyrs might have saved themselves a world of loss and pain if they had been of this school, and the Reformers might have spared the world all this din about Popery and Protestantism. I deplore the spread of this infidel spirit, it will eat as doth a canker. Where is the strength of a church when its faith is held in such low esteem?
Where is conscience? Where is love of truth? Where soon will be common honesty? In these days with some men, in religious matters, black is white, and all things are whichever color may happen to be in your own eye, the color being nowhere but in your eye, theology being only a set of opinions, a bundle of views and persuasions. The Bible to these gentry is a nose of wax which everybody may shape just as he pleases. Beloved, beware of falling into this state of mind; for if you do so I boldly assert that you are not Christian at all, for the Spirit which dwells in believers hates falsehood, and clings firmly to the truth.
Our great Lord and Master taught mankind certain great truths plainly and definitely, stamping them with his "Verily, verily;" and as to the marrow of them he did not hesitate to say, "He that believeth shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned;" a sentence very abhorrent to modern charity, but infallible nevertheless. Jesus never gave countenance to the baseborn charity which teaches that it is no injury to a man's nature to believe a lie.
Beloved, be firm, be stedfast, be positive. There are certain things which are true; find them out, grapple them to you as with hooks of steel. Buy the truth at any price and sell it at no price. Be ye stedfast also in the sense of not being changeable. Some have one creed to-day and another creed to-morrow, variable as a lady's fashions. Indeed, we once heard a notable divine assert that he had to alter his creed every week, he was unable to tell on Monday what he would believe on Wednesday, for so much fresh light broke in upon his receptive intellect.
There are crowds of persons nowadays of that kind described by Mr. Whitfield when he said you might as well try to measure the moon for a suit of clothes as to tell what they believed. Ever learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth. Shifting as sandbanks are their teachings and as full of danger. The apostle says to us, "Be ye stedfast. How can a tree grow when perpetually shifted?
How can a soul make progress if it is evermore changing its course? Do not sow in Beersheba and then rush off to reap in Dan. Jesus Christ is not yea and nay; he is not to-day one thing and tomorrow another, but the "same to-day, yesterday, and for ever. Skin for skin, yea, all that a man has, will he give for his life, and to us the holding of the truth is essential to our life. The Holy Ghost has given his unction unto the people of God, and they know the truth, and moreover they know that no lie is of the truth. Were it not for this anointing the very elect would have been deceived in this age of falsehood. Brethren, be ye stedfast. But the apostle meant much more, he intended to urge us to be stedfast in character.
Right in the middle of the chapter upon the resurrection he speaks about character. He shows that a change of view upon the doctrine of the resurrection would legitimately lead to a change of action; for if the dead rise not, then it is clearly wisdom to say, "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die:" but inasmuch as the resurrection doctrine is true, he urges us to keep to that holy living which is the natural inference from belief in eternal life and the judgment to come. As ye have looked to the recompense of the reward hereafter, and have sought to order your conversation by a sense of the coming judgment, so do ye still, and be ye stedfast.
Alas, we might preach tearful discourses to many Christians upon stedfastness of behavior, for they have started aside as a deceitful bow. There was a time when their integrity was unquestioned, but now they have learned the ways of a faithless world; truth was on their lip, but now they have learned to flatter. They have lost the pure speech of the New Jerusalem, and speak in the Babylonian tongue. How many professors were once exceeding zealous, but are now careless! Prayer was their delight, but now it wearies them.
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