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Studies in 1 Cor. 12-15, Power From On High:
Study #7: Steadfast, Immovable, Always Abounding
In our studies in 1 Corinthians chapters 12-15, we have seen that the essence of these chapters is dealing with spiritual things, with spiritual matters.
Furthermore, we have seen that these matters deal with different spiritual gifts, different spiritual administrations, and different spiritual operations. But the spirit God is put within each of us. We have seen that there are only nine ways this spirit is manifested, that is, evident, in the natural realm.
Chapters 12 and 14 we have seen deal with the way this spirit is to be manifested in individual and in collective worship. This is by speaking in tongues, which is private prayer, and by praying in with interpretation of tongues and by prophesy among the congregation. Most of chapters 12 and 14 deal with these three ways of manifesting the gift of God, holy spirit.
In service to the Body we have seen that there is faith, miracles and gifts of healings which are directly manifested as the spirit is operated. We have seen that in fellowship and communication with God Himself there are manifestations involving revelation. These are word of wisdom, word of knowledge, and discerning of spirit.
Chapter 13 is the meat on the manifestation sandwich, for it is our reason and motivation: the love of God. God loved that He gave, we love and so we serve.
In no way are the spiritual things we have from God or are the things we can do because God enabled us worthless, useless or bad. But we are unprofitable to ourselves if we do not do our works by being motivated by love.
To this end we are told how to behave in order to bless the Body when gathering together, summed by 1 Cor. 14:37-40:
"If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.
"But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.
"Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.
"Let all things be done decently and in order."
All this is part of walking in love and acting according to spiritual realities.
Now that we have these things established, chapter 15 of Corinthians continues:
1 Cor. 15:1-2: "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
"By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain."
When we are judged by Christ, our works if based on truth shall be rewarded or we will suffer loss, but we ourselves will be saved. But in this life, turning back becomes wholly unprofitable, it becomes empty for us now and at judgment.
1 Cor. 15:3-4: "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how 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:"
The crucifixion and and subsequent resurrection and glory of our Lord is the foundation of our faith. We saw it was what Peter first preached on Pentecost, when the Church of the Body began. Now we see Paul also began with the resurrection.
1 Cor. 15:5-9: "And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
"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.
"After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
"And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time."
Paul knew these people. They had seen the man they all knew as Jesus alive after he had been buried lifeless in the earth. To them, the resurrection was not a matter of faith. It was fact. Now Paul new it as well, and he was telling others.
1 Cor. 15:9: "For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God."
If anybody did not deserve salvation, it may have been Paul. But salvation is complete, with no ties to the past save that which we may try to cling to. Why? Because of God's grace and forgiveness.
1 Cor 15:10-11: "But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
"Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed."
Paul received and believed, and so did these Corinthians, and so have we that are in the Church today. We believe the spiritual reality today by word and by faith, just as Paul and the others knew by experience.
1 Cor. 15:12: "Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?"
If the Bible, and therefore the people who wrote it in error, why bother? But there were when Paul wrote this hundreds of living witnesses.
1 Cor. 15:13-17: "But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
"And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
"Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
"For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
"And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins."
You see, then, just as today, people want to pick and choose what they want to accept from the Scriptures. They might say, "Jesus was a holy man, a prophet, but he never rose from the dead. Or even if he did, we won't."
So people were saying that there is no day in which we as Christians will be raised incorruptible, or will be changed to immortality. But either the whole Bible is the truth, or it is packed with lies.
He had met the Master.
1 Cor. 15:18-20: "Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
"If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
"But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept."
You see, when Christ was raised from the dead, all others were granted life in him. Christ is but the firstfruits, the first of the rest of us who will be resurrected. This too is one of these "spiritual matters" that we are indeed not to be ignorant of!
1 Cor. 15:21-23: "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
"But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming."
First Christ was made alive. Then, at his coming, those that are his, those that are saved in him, shall also be raised or changed. This is that which is spoken of when it says in 1 Thessalonians:
1 Thes. 4:14-17: "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
"Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
So the dead in Christ and those who are alive in him shall be gathered upon Christ's coming, to meet him in the air.
When Christ returns, we do not have to worry about following a fake.
If he's the real Jesus, we'll notice a change in us we've never noticed before: a new body that has the ability to fly.
Hard for a false Jesus to fake that one.
1 Cor. 15:24-16: "Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
"For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
"The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death."
Christ shall reign until the end. When the end comes, he will take the kingdom God gave him and give it back to God.
At that time, a last enemy shall be destroyed: death.
People call death "the way back to God."
Baloney. Death is an enemy. It is the scourge by he who has the power of death, the devil.
The devil is a bad one, and so is death.
It is an enemy.
1 Cor. 15:27: "For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him."
God put all things under Jesus' feet except Himself. That is obvious, or as phrased here, "manifest."
1 Cor. 15:28: "And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all."
This is the true "returning to God," when death is defeated and God is given back the dominion He gave to Adam that was re-won by Jesus. All things will then be as they should be.
1 Cor. 15:29: "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?"
But if the dead do not raise, then it is all baloney.
1 Cor. 15:30: "And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?"
If Christ is not raised, if we will not be raised in him, it is all for nought. Why bother? Those claiming to stand as Christians but who do not preach the resurrection are preaching nonsense.
1 Cor. 15:31-32: "I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
"If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die."
The Young's Literal Translation of these verses make more sense:
1 Cor. 15:29-32: "Seeing what shall they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? why also are they baptized for the dead?
"why also do we stand in peril every hour?
"Every day do I die, by the glorying of you that I have in Christ Jesus our Lord:
"if after the manner of a man with wild beasts I fought in Ephesus, what the advantage to me if the dead do not rise? let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die!"
If the dead do not rise, why do we sacrifice so much to fight for a doctrine that is not based in reality? Better to bother about the things of this life, for then tomorrow we die!
We do these things because we know God's word are true! Of the spiritual matters revealed to us, they all pivot on the reality that God raised Jesus from the dead. If we reject the resurrection, then in reality, we reject the truth entirely.
1 Cor. 15:33-34: "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
"Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame."
To deny the resurrection is to communicate with evil, it is to sin.
2 Tim 2:18: "Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some."
To pretend Christian faith while denying the resurrection is to err, it is to communicate with corruption, it is to overthrow the faith of some.
1 Cor. 15:35-39: "But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?
"Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:
"And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:
"But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.
"All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds."
You see, similarities and differences of animal and vegetative life is not the result of some evolutionary lottery. These variations are by godly design, that each creature serves the purposes of God.
1 Cor. 15:40-42: "There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but 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, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
"So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:"
Heavenly bodies also vary. The sun, the stars, the moon, are all glorious in different ways.
The stars dazzle the night sky, while the moon, less than the least of these stars, rules it above all the stars by reflecting the sun.
And the sun rules the day directly just as the moon rules the night, and does not the sun rule the night as well, by reflecting its light on the moon? Just like God rules the darkness of these ages by reflecting His light through Jesus.
So it is that each body differs in what it is and what its for. God did not alter this pattern creating spiritual bodies. Or as should be said, the pattern used in creating spiritual life continued when He created physical life.
1 Cor. 15:42-45: "So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
"It is sown in dishonour; 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. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
"And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit."
Adam was made a living soul. Jesus was made a quickening, a living, spirit.
1 Cor. 15:46-48: "Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
"The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven."
"As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly."
As Adam was natural, dead spiritually in trespasses and sin, so are men born of women. As Jesus is spiritual, those born of God's spirit, those with the gift of the holy spirit, are created spiritual.
1 Cor. 15:49: "And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly."
We also started dead in trespasses and sin, carnal, without spiritual life. God put His seed, His spiritual image in us when we accepted the risen Jesus as Lord and were born again. Therefore:
1 Cor. 15:50: "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption."
That's so true. Our dead carnal life could not inherit spiritual rewards, our carnal bodies could not inherit life eternal.
1 Cor. 15:51-53: "Behold, I shew you a mystery; 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.
"For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality."
Remember what we looked at from 1 Thessalonians? It is not a secret THAT it should happen, but HOW God will bring it to pass is definitely a secret. But rest assured: It will happen just like it says here and in 1 Thessalonians.
1 Cor. 15:54: "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.'
Death is an enemy, remember? God doesn't kill someone "so he can have another rose petal in Heaven," as is read in many a eulogy. Rather, we are comforted that Jesus will come and those we love will be raised from death.
Psalm 6:5: "For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?"
We will need to be resurrected if we die because we are dead. We will not be in Heaven with our Lord, waiting for him to come back with us. We will be dead, with no conscious thought, awaiting his return for us. The dead are dead.
So the dead in Christ, like everybody else, will need to be resurrected.
To teach the resurrection has already happened or that there will be no resurrection is to err, it is to teach evil communication, it is to overthrow the faith of those that believe the lie.
Our victory is when we are raised to meet the Lord in the air. The final defeat of the enemy death will be when all things are brought back into obedience to God at the end.
"O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
"The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
"But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Cor. 15:55-57
See? It is through this resurrection, through this victory we have courtesy of Jesus Christ our Lord, that God gives us the victory over our enemy Death.
1 Cor. 15:58: "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."
No, brothers and sisters, our labors are not wasted.
As we walk in newness of life, mindful of spiritual realities, and walking in godliness through obedience to God's Word and to our Lord Jesus Christ, our treasures are laid in waiting for the victory of the resurrection.
Because we have eternal life, let us be steadfast, always abounding in the work of the Lord.
What work is this?
It is spiritual work, done in the love of God.
It is ministering work, bringing spiritual wholeness to those who receive our word.
It is faith to bring faith to the weak, healing to the hurt, life to the spiritually dead.
It is to minister miracles to the helpless, it is to have faith in that which is beyond carnal comprehension, it is to minister healing to those who have been broken.
It is to receive at God's discretion but by our willing and ready minds God's wisdom, His knowledge, and God's awareness of the presence and identity of spirit so that we can free the oppressed and act according to spiritual realities.
These are the labors that we are told to abound in, so that God Who is Spirit is glorified now and in the ages to come, and so that the world can truly know that God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son so that we can shine as lights, as spiritual beings, in the dead and needy world.
These are the labors we are told we can undertake, because brethren, now, right now we are the children of the Most High, brothers of the Lord Christ who is with us and who strengthens our hands to the task.
We are born to live, we are born again to serve.
These abilities are not given to make us proud or superior to our fellow man. They are given so that, like our Lord before us and in whose name we speak, we can better serve.
These are the clear truths of this section of 1 Corinthians 12 through 15.
In concluding this series of studies we will have a final study on the manifestation of spirit in the senses realm as outlined in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11.
After all, the manifestation of spirit is simply the how or the way spirit is made evident by the effect it has on the material, physical world it effects.
As we have seen, this section we have studied deals in depth with the way the Church is to come together.
So the emphasis here in chapters twelve and fourteen has been on the manifestations that are conducive to worship in the Church.
Chapter fourteen concentrates on speaking and interpreting tongues and prophesy. The former is prayer to God in the spirit among the faithful which builds faith, the latter is the inspired messages to the gathered believers from the spirit that can edify, comfort and exhort the Church to stand on what it has seen to do.
But the gathering of the faithful is only one context in which the spiritual reality of the operation of spirit can be found in. So our final study of this exploration of this section of 1 Corinthians will concentrate on the nine ways the working of spirit is made manifest or evident to us.
It is then hoped that, armed with this information, we may be more mature children for the God Who called us to His household. That we may be more dutiful servants to the Lord who redeemed us. That we may be more effective ministers to the men and women within and without the Church who need us to be at our very best representing the name of Christ.
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