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I Corinthians 15-16 continued...

Millions of Christians have died over the past 2,000 years. But in an instant at the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ they will all be resurrected with new Spirit bodies. Verses 35-58, "But someone may ask, 'How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?' How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, birds another, fish another. There are also heavenly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is 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 [i.e. composed of spirit]. [And Spirit is probably more solid than matter. As physics indicates, matter is very hollow, full of empty space, just shimmering energy held together by forces man cannot yet understand.] So it is written: 'The first man Adam become a living being'; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven [cf. I John 3:1-2; Revelation 1:13-18].

I declare to you brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. [The kingdom of God lives in us through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, but we don't inherit the kingdom until we are Spirit]. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed--in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet [cf. Revelation 11:15-18. "The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: 'The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.' And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshipped God, saying: 'We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead [by context with Revelation 20:4-5 this appears to be referring to the righteous dead], and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great--and for destroying those who destroy the earth.'"] For the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: 'Death has been swallowed up in victory [Isaiah 25:8].' 'Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting? [Hosea 13:14]' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."

[As I brought out before, there are several different interpretations on the two resurrections listed in the Bible in John 5:28-29, Daniel 12:1-5 and Revelation 20:4-5, 11-12. One takes the view that the Great White Throne Judgment leads right into the "Lake of Fire" with no chance of redemption for those who are in this resurrection back to physical life. The other interpretation takes the view that the Great White Throne Judgment encompasses a period of time (some think 100 years) and is for the express purpose of bringing all who never had a chance for salvation in their normal lifetimes a real 1st chance to accept Christ. (By the way, there are multiple billions who fit into this category.) Then those who are so foolish as to not accept Christ even then, those whose names are not found in the book of Life, enter into the period of time spoken of as the "Lake of Fire" in Revelation 20:14-15. This interpretation allows for a time/event gap between Revelation verses 13 and 14. Such a precedent for a time/event gap between two consecutive verses does exist. It is found in Genesis 1:1-2, between verses 1 and 2. It is known that a massive amount of time and events occurred between verses 1 and 2 of Genesis 1. The universe was not created "Tohu and Bohu" as the Hebrew reads. "Tohu" and "bohu" translate to "empty" and "void." Genesis 1:1-2. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was [the Hebrew for "was" is really "became"] without form [Tohu] and void [bohu]; and darkness was upon the face of the deep..." The universe was not created originally "tohu and bohu", but became "tohu and bohu". In Job 38:4-7 it talks of how the angels sang with joy at the creation of the heavens and the earth. In Ezekiel 28:13-17 a description of the fall of Lucifer is given. It is repeated in Isaiah 14:12-17. God saw fit to put two descriptions in the Old Testament of the fall of Lucifer who became Satan. In the New Testament Jesus remarked how he saw Lucifer fall like lightning to the earth, and in Revelation 12:3-4 it describes Satan drawing a third of the stars of heaven, referring to a third of the angels, and throwing them to earth. This same Dragon tried to destroy the Christ child, verses 4-5. So between the original creation of the heavens and the earth and the re-creation of plant and animal life accompanying the creation of man a great gap of time and events has occurred. Natural history indicates a great destruction of all life-forms occurred 65,000,000 years ago when all the dinosaurs died. Even the development of baby dinosaurs within their eggs was halted, as if all at once. All the planets whose surfaces we can observe have giant craters on them, as if from some giant cataclysm occurred somewhere in the distant past. Now evidence of a giant asteroid hitting the Yucatan in Mexico is believed to have caused the great dying 65 million years ago. Are we looking at the physical evidence of a giant war that took place between God and his holy angels and Satan and his demons? Then in Genesis 1:2-31 the re-creation of life-forms on the earth occurred. Geology concurs that the life-forms that arose after the dying of dinosaurs was totally different than before, being the life-forms we are most familiar with today. When looking at Revelation 20:11-13 and 14-15 some say one event goes directly into the other without a break in time or events. Others think there is a break in time and events between Revelation 20:11-13 and verses 14-15. The important thing is that we will really find out when we see Jesus in person and ask him. Understand the differences in belief and why some believe as they do and others believe as they do, but let's not let these differences in belief divide us. Let's not condemn each other over these differences either, for that is silly and not in the spirit of Christ which is love for the brethren.

The first interpretation is the most commonly and widely held view in Christianity. They arrive at their belief by a literal interpretation of the parable about Lazarus and the rich man. Also, there is another Scripture people use to say that Jesus witnessed to these people during the three days he spent in the grave. But are these people truly lost--damned to the "Lake of Fire"?

As I said earlier, the first interpretation is the most common and widely held view in Christianity. This is the speculative end of prophecy where we all should be willing to admit as Paul did, that we're at best only seeing through a darkened glass.]

What other Scriptures complement 1 Corinthians 15? Paul wrote to the Thessalonians and said this to them about the same event in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, "Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep [die in the Lord], or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first [rising out of their graves!]. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words."

Now that we are in the air, the upper atmosphere with Jesus Christ, what then? Jesus shows us through a prophecy that was given by God to the prophet Zechariah. Zechariah 14:1-15. "Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city.

Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. And in that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. [Jesus has come, with us, down from the upper atmosphere, to stand on the Mount of Olives! What next? What occurs as a direct result of his touching down on the top of the Mount of Olives?] And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south. Then you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Thus the Lord my God will come, and all the saints with You. [That's us, folks!--Risen up in the first resurrection with glorious spirit bodies and coming immediately down to the Mount of Olives with Jesus Christ our Lord to rule the nations with a rod of iron, as it talks about in Revelation 2 and 3! As other prophecies point out this is the beginning of the Millennial rule of Jesus Christ and the holy saints over the entire world for a thousand years of peace and prosperity.] It shall come to pass in that day that there will be no light; the lights will diminish. It shall be one day which is known to the Lord--neither day nor night. But at evening time it shall happen that it will be light. And in that day it shall be that living waters shall flow from Jerusalem. Half of them toward the eastern sea and half of them toward the western sea; In both summer and winter it shall occur. [In Ezekiel 47:1-12 God inspired a prophecy about these two rivers which gives Israel it's first major river system to bring life-giving water to Israel and to heal the oceans with! Look it up and read it.] And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be--"The Lord is one" and his name one.

And all the land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be raised up and inhabited in her place from Benjamin's Gate to the place of the First Gate, and from the Tower of Hananeel to the king's winepresses. [This is a description of how Jesus will supernaturally reshape Jerusalem into a ten mile wide by forty mile long plain raised up on top of the mountain chain Jerusalem sits upon. The fact that Jerusalem will be light at night is caused by Jesus and our presence, glowing as the very sun in brilliance, in the dark! (cf. Daniel 12:1-5 and Revelation 1:13-18 and I John 3:1-2.) This reshaping will be brought about as a result of the massive earthquake which will occur, splitting the Mount of Olives in two and making this massive plain on top of the mountain chain Jerusalem sits upon. Jerusalem will become Jesus's capital city which will govern all the nations of the world! And we will be governing with him, right along side of him!] The people shall dwell in it; and no longer shall there be utter destruction. But Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited. [What about the Gentile armies that had surrounded Jerusalem at Jesus's return?]

And this shall be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh shall dissolve while they stand on their feet, their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets, and their tongues shall dissolve in their mouths. [In the book "Hiroshima" by John Hershey, a description is given of a man in an anti-aircraft gun emplacement on the mountain range facing into Hiroshima. He was looking toward the city of Hiroshima when the atomic bomb detonated. His eyes melted in their sockets from the brilliance of the flash of light from the core of the detonation! Looking upon Jesus and the resurrected saints will obviously have a similar effect upon the enemies of our Lord and His resurrected saints!]

It shall come to pass in that day that a great panic from the Lord will be among them. Everyone will seize the hand of his neighbor, and raise his hand against his neighbor's hand; [utter panic and confusion as a result of Jesus Christ's supernatural warfare.] Judah also will fight at Jerusalem [on the side of the Lord, obviously, when you put this in context with Zechariah 12 and 13.] And the wealth of all the surrounding nations shall be gathered together: Gold, silver, and apparel in great abundance. Such also shall be the plague on the horse and the mule, on the camel and the donkey, and on all the cattle that will be in those camps. So shall this plague be." What happens next? Read Ezekiel 36:1-38, which describes the beginning of our Millennial rule with Jesus over the entire world, starting with the regathered nation of Israel.

1 Corinthians 16

1 Corinthians 15:58. "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." As Paul says about the information in 1 Corinthians 15, we have a great motivation--the promise of being in the first resurrection to immortality! Also, as he just said, not one effort of ours will be in vain in our service to the Lord. Everything we do for God is simply not in vain, so abound in the work of the Lord. This verse is an introduction into 1 Corinthians 16. The timing of this letter, and what Paul refers to now, is a time of great famine in the known world. We find that God prophecied this famine in Acts 11:27-30, which states, "And in those days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar [41-54 A.D.]. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul [Paul is Saul]." This puts 1 Corinthians 16 in perspective in the historic time-line, somewhere between 41 and 54 A.D. The Church at Jerusalem was still struggling. Paul goes on to say in chapter 16, 'Give according to what you have every week.' There are people today who use guilt to get people to give but Paul brings out in II Corinthians that God loves a cheerful giver. There are also those who try to fleece the sheep, but Paul said that they should chose out some people from amongst themselves to accompany him in taking the money to Jerusalem. This brought accountability so they would know he wasn't just running off with the money.

Our particular fellowship gives about two thirds of their total income to missions which serve people. Abounding in the work of the Lord includes giving. Pauls says 'Give for the kingdom.' As a church our philosophy is not to ask for money. God isn't broke. Begging for money for the Church is an insult to God. God desires a cheerful giver because it is good for the giver. Christianity is the Way of Give, while man's way is the Way of Get. God states through David in Psalm 50:9-12, "I will not take a bull from your house, nor goats out of your folds. For every beast of the forest in Mine and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine, and all its fullness." We very seldom teach on tithing because so many groups beat people over the head on the subject of tithing. But the truth of the matter is that you can't outgive God. There is no legalistic requirement for tithing in the New Testament, as there was in the Old. But the right of the Church, the ministry of Melchisedec, to receive the tithes and offerings the Levites originally received was transferred over at the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The biggest reason the Jews wanted Paul dead after he wrote the book of Hebrews was probably because of what he said in chapter 7:1-12. In verse 12 which law is Paul speaking of being changed? The law of who receives tithes of course! By the law of Moses the Levites were supposed to receive the tithes of the people, and Paul here is saying that upon Christ's sacrifice, the priesthood of Melchizedek has superseded the Levitical priesthood of Aaron. When you read the context of chapter 7, verse 12 is pretty clear. It's about tithing. Why would Paul's statement here in chapter 7 of Hebrews be so offensive to the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem? It is estimated that 'the sect of the Nazarenes' (early Jewish Christians) in Jerusalem could have been over 100,000 strong in number. Before 70 A.D. many of these Christians in Jerusalem still went to the temple and worshipped there, and many probably still tithed to the temple. Paul was showing that the right to levy tithes had been taken from the Levitical priesthood and now resided with the priesthood of Melchizedek, i.e. the apostolic Church of God. For the temple in Jerusalem to lose the ability to levy tithes on a hundred thousand individuals because of the letter of one man, Paul, must have angered the High Priest like poking a stick into a hornet's nest. Remember the motive of the High Priest who conspired to have Jesus killed. He was stirred to anger and action when Jesus turned over the tables of the money changers the week before he was killed. The High Priest and Annas, his father-in-law had a big side business going on right on temple grounds. All these concessions were rented out by the High Priest. Nothing had changed in Paul's day. Why would it have? So back to the import of Hebrews 7. Any minister of Jesus Christ who truly is of Christ is under and part of the priesthood of Melchizedek. Sounds pretty awesome doesn't it? And being in this priesthood carries a big responsibility and accountability to the Lord when all is said and done. But tithing is an act of worship, and should be looked upon that way. Remember, you can't outgive God. Paul is saying, abound in the work of the Lord, your labor is not in vain. How many of us can abound in the work of the Lord is to support the Christian churches and fellowships we belong to financially as well as in our prayers and service. This financial support then goes out to the world in Christian service and outreach programs. God says this type of labor is not in vain. The whole context of chapter 16 is about financial giving, and is set by verse 58 of chapter 15, where Paul says our giving, our service, our labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, "Now about the collection for God's people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me."

As Paul closes his letter he says he intends to come through southern Greece and Corinth again--God willing. James brings out in James 4:13-15, "Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. [Pretty accurate as physicists have come to know about matter, that it is in fact shimmering energy in a different form, very hollow, mostly empty space.] Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.' As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil." If you take the attitude of letting God lead you, planning to be disrupted by God through circumstances, this is God's way of guiding your steps. Proverbs 16:9. "A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." Verses 5-9, "After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you--for I will be going through Macedonia. Perhaps I will stay with you awhile, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me." We also have an open door before us, just as Paul did. But just like Paul, we also face opposition. Revelation 3:7-8. "To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut." [There is a strong indication that these letters are actually addressed to seven church era's that go from the early church to the 2nd coming. Philadelphia, in such case would be right about where we are in history. It may be we--in the Christian Church today--that have been given this open door.] There is a battle raging and there is adversity. We are living in the final days of man's age. We are far closer to the coming kingdom age of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will usher in that age when he returns. What is Satan's attitude just before that event? Revelation 12:12. "Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short." Why is his time short? Read Revelation 20:1-3 which occurs in time order just after the description of Jesus Christ's 2nd coming in Revelation 19. This event where Satan is cast back down to earth for the 2nd time (the first time occurred way back before the age of man described in Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14) occurs just before the tribulation starts. The tribulation starts in the end time, which we live in right now. Satan must be getting a little nervous right now, a little angrier as time grows shorter. So we have opposition, don't kid yourselves. Peter says Satan is a roaring lion, lurking about, seeing who he may devour. Stand fast in your faith. Think of Noah, he stood fast in faith for 120 years, constructing an ark as people laughed at him. We may be in the times of Noah that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24. So be brave and strong, there may be tough times coming. Do everything with agape love. Read 1 Corinthians 13 once a week. Pray that Jesus puts this love in you richly. Verses 13-14, "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love."

Our mission as a fellowship is to be a hospital--a spiritual hospital--to teach people the Word and love them. True love comes from God--agape love. [And it is the mission of this work and Website to be an extension of that hospital out to the other Christian fellowships and denominations, promoting spiritual health and thus spiritual unity throughout the various parts of the body of Christ. That is why I take a somewhat neutral stance on the secondary issues and doctrines, being willing to briefly explain some of the various beliefs and stances different groups may take in explaining the same set of verses, while leaving the final judgment on these issues up to the reader, for the various beliefs and views we have on the secondary doctrines of salvation do not effect our salvation in Jesus one single bit.]

Next Paul commends the family of Stephanas who are addicted to serving the Lord. This family was being looked down upon by the Corinthians. Paul is telling them to honor those who serve you in the Lord. Verses 15-18, "You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints. I urge you, brothers, to submit to such as these and to everyone who joins in the work, and labors at it. I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition."

If anyone does not love the Lord, Paul says, "a curse on him." Christianity is the way to salvation. Jesus is the "door", "the Way." He said this himself. John 10:1-11. "'I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact they will run away from him because they do not know his voice.' Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand him. Therefore Jesus said again, 'I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."

Without Jesus Christ there is no other way to salvation. Apart from Jesus there is no hope. Verses 19-24, "The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house. All the brothers here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss. I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. If anyone does not love the Lord--a curse be on him. Come, O Lord! [Aramaic: Maranatha] The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen."


content Editor Peter Benson -- no copyright, except where noted.  Please feel free to use this material for instruction and edification
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