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Showing posts from November, 2014

1 Corinthians 13-16

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio
In this section of I Corinthians, we have two chapters that are among Paul’s most well-remembered and treasured words. I Corinthians 13 has for obvious reasons been called the Love Chapter. I Corinthians 15, though lesser known to some people, has been called the Resurrection Chapter. Here is an excerpt from a sermon I have preached more than once on I Corinthians 15 entitled, Three Reasons to Anticipate a Great Future….
Finally, reason #3 that this passage gives us for anticipating a great future is that God’s grace can change our lives.
Paul writes,
For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
What is grace? I like author Anne Lamott’s definition: “Grace means you’re in a different universe…

1 Corinthians 9-12

There are at least two different ways of examining the material in 1 Corinthians. One is to look at the book in order. The Lifeguide Bible Study provides this outline:
1:1-31 Called in Christ: Saints Made of Clay Not Plaster 2:1-3:4 Mind of Christ: True Wisdom fro the Spirit 3:5-23 Founded on Christ: Indwelt by the Spirit 4:1-21 Servants of Christ: At the End of the Procession 5:1-6:20 Members of Christ: The Body is Meant for the Lord 7:1-40 Devoted to Christ: Marrying When Time Is Short 8:1-9:27 Living for Christ: The Right to Relinquish Rights 10:1-33 Eating with Christ: All for the Glory of God 11:1-34 Headship of Christ: We are Interdependent 12:1-31 Body of Christ: Manifestations of the Spirit 13:1-13 Love of Christ: The Most Excellent Way 14:1-40 Speaking for Christ: Adult Thinking and Orderly Worship 15:1-16:24 Hope in Christ: The Resurrection and the Life
Another way of looking at 1 Corinthians is topic by topic. It is, perhaps, the most topical letter in the New Testament. Michael Green br…

1 Corinthians 5-8

The Ruins of Ancient Corinth
One category of pastoral problem Paul had to deal with in Corinth was sexual in nature. Corinth was known throughout the ancient world for various sexual vices. Here is what William Stacy Johnson had to say about 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 in a paper presented to the Presbyterian Church entitled Same Gender Relationships in the Church: Seven Theological Viewpoints,
Certain same-gender sex acts are also mentioned in two New Testament vice lists. The apostle Paul states the following in 1 Cor. 6:9-10:
Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites [italics added for emphasis], thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.
The term translated by the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) as “sodomites” is more literally, “males who go to bed with males.” The word in Greek, arsenokoitai, appears to have been coined di…

1 Corinthians 1-4

Today, we begin our study of 1 Corinthians, a letter of Paul that is really more a letter than Romans, which was a theological treatise, a statement of faith, of sorts. Often, Paul opens his letters with a word of thanksgiving for his particular readers, and 1 Corinthians is no exception. Here are the words of Paul, from 1 Corinthians 1:4-9, according to N. T. Wright’s translation in the Kingdom New Testament,
I always thank my God for you, for the grace of God that was given to you in King Jesus. You were enriched in him in everything, in every kind of speech and knowledge, just as the messianic message was established among you, so that you aren’t missing out on any spiritual gift as you wait eagerly for our Lord, King Jesus, to be revealed. He will establish you right through to the end, so that you are blameless on the day of our Lord, King Jesus. God is faithful! And it is through God that you have been called into the fellowship of his son, King Jesus, our Lord.
Did you get the id…

Romans 13-16

Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes fromfaith—to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen. In this last chapter of this great letter, Paul mentions some friends to greet(in verses 1 through 16), some foes to avoid(in verses 17 through 20) and some faithful servants to honor(in verses 21-24). Then, he ends with a glorious word of praise to the only wise God who can transform us through his Son Jesus Christ.
What stands out to me about the Apostle Paul is that he must have been the kind of guy, who, if he had his way early on in life, would have spent all his time in his study, writing great thoughts for people to some day read. However, one day he encountered s…

Romans 9-12

Romans 9-11 contains some difficult teaching. Here is what I shared on this subject in a recent sermon on Romans 9….
Why has Israel not believed in Jesus as their Messiah? The first part of Paul’s answer is that: It is not because God is unfaithful. Paul says it is not as though God’s word has failed.Yes, God promised to save a particular people called Israel. However, Paul says, not all physical Israel is the true spiritual Israel. God chose Isaac and not Ishmael. Not only that, Paul says, after God chose Isaac, he did not choose all of Isaac’s children. Isaac and Rebekah had twin boys, Esau and Jacob. However, before the twins were born, God chose Jacob.Paul says God did it this way so that his own purpose in election might stand, so that God’s choice was not based on Jacob or Esau’s works. Then Paul quotes Malachi 1:2-3, some verses that most people have a violent reaction against: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” What does this mean?The love/hate language here is a Hebrew idiom fo…

Romans 5-8

Romans 8 is justifiably a favorite Bible chapter among many Christians. Here is another excerpt from a sermon I gave recently on this chapter….
Finally, the Holy Spirit gives us Freedom from Fear–No Separation. We read about this in verses 31-39.
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who …

Top Ten Interview

Here's a link to an interview about my newest book: C. S. Lewis' Top Ten Interview

Romans 1-4

Paul’s letter to the Church at Rome is one of the most dense, tightly argued, theological statements of all time. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to sum up this epistle in a few brief blog posts. What I propose to do instead is offer a few excerpts from a recent sermon series I gave on this Pauline letter. The first excerpt deals with one of the most misunderstood yet oft-quoted passages in this letter, from Romans 1. If you would like to listen to the whole sermon, click on the link at the end of this post….
How is God’s wrath revealed? God’s wrath is not just something that is going to be revealed in the final judgment. Paul tells us that God’s wrath is being revealed now in God giving people over. God’s wrath is revealed in God letting people run with their sin. God’s wrath is actually revealed in a good thing: free will. God gives us freedom of choice. We can choose to follow God or not. And if we reject God, God is not going to interfere with our freedom.
God’s wrath is r…