Series: Maintaining this Hope
Message – Ready to die but Expecting New Life
Ready to die but Expecting New Life
Let’s start off with our beginning passage in 1Jn. 3:1-3,
“(1) See what marvellous love the Father has bestowed upon us–that we should be called God’s children: and that is what we are.
For this reason the world does not recognize us–because it has not known Him.
(2) Dear friends, we are now God’s children, but what we are to be in the future has not yet been fully revealed. We know that when whenChrist reappears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. (3) And every man who has this hope fixed on Him, purifies himself so as to be as pure as He is.”
We’ve been talking about the return of Jesus FOR THE CHURCH and the resurrection of our bodies at that specific return.
We are seeing in scripture encouragements to fix our hope on seeing Him for Who He really is.
This has several implications but the two foremost are:
- Seeking His face daily in this life. Which is to say seeking to know Him more perfectly and conformity to His will in our every day lives.
- Looking forward to His return when we will finally know as we are known.
Now we left off in verse 29 last week where Paul asked the rhetorical question “what will they do who are being baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, then why are people baptized for them?”
We concluded that at best this was a practice of providing a testimony before the world of a fellow believer who had passed before they could make such a public profession of their faith, as baptism allows.
Another consideration – which would be the worst case scenario – is that this was a pagan practice. If so, it may have been brought into the church OR it may have been a practice of those who had come in teaching against the resurrection and that Christ Jesus had already returned.
In either of those two cases, one key part of the phrase I did not point out last week was Paul’s apparently deliberate use of the words “what will THEY do”?
Though this could mean nearly anything, it “may” support our last suggested idea that those who had come among them and were teaching against the resurrection and teaching Jesus had already returned, also engaged in this practice which worked to Paul’s logical advantage.
If this is true, what this set of verses means is this – “Those who are trying to convince you that Jesus has already returned and that there is NO resurrection from the dead – practice baptism which in itself is a proclamation of raising from the dead…can you not see that this is a contradiction?!”
Now the reason I am bearing down on this a little is because it is a lesson within a lesson.
As Christians we encounter false doctrine. In fact, it is quite possible we are exposed to it now more than ever.
Here, in this series of verses, we are given one classical way in which Paul addresses error and that is by clarifying what the gospel actually teaches (which he stated was his purpose at the beginning of this chapter) and then by applying logic to the false claim in light of the truth put forth in the gospel.
Just this past week, I had made a comment on a post from the Discovery Institute, which is a science based institution supporting Creation from the perspective of Intelligent Design. It is by default, first, an institution of science, but it is one that allows the evidence to lead to any conclusion, including supernatural if that is were the evidence overwhelmingly points.
As such, is NOT inherently Christian or even Biblical, though many who contribute to their efforts are at very least deists.
Anyway, as I said I made a comment, and as usually happens on these types of sites, this comment got me into trouble with evolutionists challenging my statements.
I have often found that armchair evolutionists often frequent these sites and posts in order to stir up trouble and to attempt to make those who believe in any form of creation look stupid. Which, to be fair, they often don’t make it that hard to do.
Anyway, I find these little sparring matches useful, though tedious, since I have to take the high road and stick to facts and be as polite as possible, while they often freely put forth very “scientific sounding” counter claims, the most of which they do not really understand and are therefore easy to combat.
They frequently employ intimidation tactics by claiming that the rest of the world understands and believes evolution as a fact, but Christians are still in the dark ages. Now this is one of the interesting bits – this almost always comes up even when NOBODY has said the first word specifically about the Christian faith.
Most religious belief systems believe in some form of special creation, but Christians are nearly always the one group singled out to pick on. I am conviced that two of the primary reasons for this is…
- The Bible IS truth and is therefore, quite naturally an object of the worlds hatred and scorn.
- Though many religions make claims regarding origins and some form of special creation, only the Bible makes very specific, nearly scientific claims which are not able to be taken allegorically, but MUST be seen as they are – a historical narrative of events which are intended to represent literal facts. Furthermore, the writers fo the New Testament and Jesus Himself quote from and refer to the events in the first 11 chapters of Genesis as a matter of real history. THAT makes Christianity unique! It also makes it a target!
Another tactic which these armchair evolutionists emply is that they virtually NEVER answer questions they only pose them. When you answer their questions, all they do is sidestep and slap you with another insult or misunderstood “scientific claim”. These claims are nearly always from unnamed sources and are used in an attempt to intimidate you.
If all else fails, these “discussions” generally wind down to them just not replying again or launching a barrage of outright insults and name calling.
Now the one I was part of this past week was not so bad as all that… for the most part. Each one of them however, quickly attacked Christianity even though no religious affiliation had been so much as mentioned.
They quickly left attacking Creation and started attacking the Gospel. One man claimed that Jesus never existed but was in fact a fictional character created by the Roman Empire in order to settle uprisings in the Jewish community. To support his argument he linked a YouTube video about a book written by a fringe scholar.
I found this particularly fun since that’s the argument they started with against me, claiming that Intelligent Design is a group of fringe scientists.
So, I looked into this “theory” for about 20 minutes and could tell this “scholar” that was sited, was a very educated and well-spoken crackpot. His thesis did not make any sense – it ran contrary to nearly all historical records of the time period (both Biblical and secular) and it conflicted with known, proven Roman policy.
In addition, the ideas put forth would have been offensive to the Jews so it would not have elicited the response they claimed Rome was aiming at and finally, his own theory disagreed with some of its own statements.
What does this have to do with 1 Corinthians 15…
Well, all of these are things which will crop up in discussions regarding differing beliefs regarding scripture and specifically, it is this last point I put forth which happens most frequently when confronting false doctrine.
When you follow it far enough, it not only fails to make sense – it often contradicts itself!
This is the same thing I am suggesting Paul may have discovered here with the false doctrine which was creeping into the Corinthian church.
So my encouragement to you is this – KNOW the scriptures!
STUDY, LOOK things up, meditate on them, give your mind over to them and in the time of conflict or defense of the faith you will be ready with a reason for the hope that is within you!
I especially encourage you to meditate on them – that is to turn them over and over in your mind. Think about the individual words and all the words as a whole. The scriptures tell us that the meditation of our hearts will bring us the understanding. This is NOT just limited to scripture either! Mulling over things, turning them over in your mind, even putting the thoughts to song will uncover their truths to your mind. David said, “I will disclose a dark saying upon the harp…”. This is what Jesus often did when He retreated from the crowds to seek solace in the presence of the Father. He didn’t have a leather bound bible or a pocket proverbs…all He had was the scriptures He had committed to memory and His heart devoted to meditating on them. It is one of the ways in which He grew in wisdom.
Now, regarding “defending the faith”, let me provide one caveat – DO NOT ARGUE!
There is a fine line between debating a point, defending the faith and arguing with someone. The scriptures are very clear that nothing should be done through strife, rivalry or prideful conceit. It isn’t just what you do it is how you do it! That is why I mentioned earlier that my discussions on those posts and sites are sometimes difficult because I have to restrict my comments to facts conveyed with decorum and respect to others, regardless of how they may address me.
In the end, it was my desire, since we were in this passage anyway, to encourage you to look at a passage for all you can learn from it.
On the surface Paul is clearly addressing the topic of the resurrection from the dead and the redemption of our bodies. However, he is doing this in order to combat false doctrine, so using passages like this to teach and train ourselves how to both recognize and address false doctrine is an important part of learning from scripture. It helps combat not only outright false doctrine, but also simple mistakes…like the one I’ve traditionally made with these next few verses.
“(30) Why are we in danger every hour?
(31) I affirm by the pride in you that I have in Christ Jesus our Lord: I die every day!”
When considering these verses in the past I’ve always thought of it in a spiritual context, meaning that Paul was saying that he died to the sin tendencies in his flesh daily.
Now, some people would have argued with this anyway because Paul had also said in Romans 6 that we are supposed to reckon ourselves to be dead to sin in the same way as Christ Jesus and He died to sin once for all – not daily.
Nevertheless I believe that the premise is sound because even though we did die to sin with Christ, the decision not to walk in sin and therefore to die to the sin which is still in our flesh – IS IN FACT a daily, if not Moment by moment, decision to bow the knee to the lordship of Jesus Christ and the inward strength of the Holy Spirit conforming us to our new nature in Him.
However, in context, these words are to be taken physically… they mean that as a Christian first and secondarily as an apostle, Paul’s life stood in jeopardy all the time.
This phrase in the Greek could literally be taken to mean that Paul, upon waking up each day, not only reconciled himself afresh to the fact that he may have to give his life for the gospelTHAT very day, but that he daily lived with such an expectation. He did,however, inthe power afforded him by his Hope of a resurrection – a prize or reward!
So he goes on to say…
“(32) If I fought wild animals in Ephesus with only human hope, what good does that do me?
If the dead are not raised, Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
A logical conclusion!
If all of this is for nothing more than an unconscious eternity of physical decay in a grave – then we’d better party now – ‘cause now is all we have…
…and so claims the world…
which is why Paul goes on to challenge us regarding those with whom we allow ourselves to have koinonia (fellowship).
“(33) Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”
In other words, the world thinks and lives for the enjoyment of the flesh with no view to eternity because they reason that “NOW is all we know for sure that we have, so we will live it up now and deal with the future when it comes”.
Such thinking, even when not verbalized, produces a lifestyle which has an eroding effect upon the life and conscience of the believer and so Paul said – don’t commit yourselves to people of the world!
“(34) Become right-minded and stop sinning, because some people are ignorant about God. I say this to your shame.”
So rather than being influenced by the world, be the influencer!
How are we to do this without fellowshiping with them? Well we talked about that at length a few years ago in a message entitled, Koinonia: Walking in the Light of Life.
Paul, when writing the Corinthians said that, if an unbeliever asks you to dinner and you want to go – do so…and then he gave a few stipulations.
- I have been invited to eat with unbelievers who were honestly curious about my faith and I went, with a free conscience.
- Other times I was invited to eat with those who were simply looking to have some fun at my expense. They knew that their lifestyle would make me uncomfortable and rather than masking it with a view to not offending me, they flaunted it on purpose. This is deliberate! In such cases, you ought rather to refuse to go with them again. Why would you purposefully place yourself in a situation where both you and God are mocked?
We will continue from here next week.