Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Believe in Miracles, Trust in Jesus

Acts 9

[Many miracles of Jesus were recorded in the New Testament. In John 14 Jesus said if you weren't persuaded by his words you should still believe because of his works. Jesus:

  • Turned water to wine
  • Walked on water
  • Calmed the storm
  • Healed – Lepers, lame, blind, bleeding and sick
  • Raised the dead
  • Cast out demons
  • Fed multitudes using little food
  • Caused a great catch of fish when there was none

John 21 tells us that his mighty works were so common that there was no way to right them all down. In fact Jesus didn't even call them miracles, but simply works. These were the works of the son of God. His resurrection and ascension proved he was God. To this day, all of modern science and engineering cannot do what Jesus did. And yet, Jesus said his disciples would do more than he did, after he was ascended. Today we will look at a few of those from Acts 9.]

Aeneas Healed

32 Now it came to pass, as Peter went through all parts of the country, that he also came down to the saints who dwelt in Lydda. 33 There he found a certain man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed.

[Lydda is west of Jerusalem headed toward the coast. Peter tended to stay close to Jerusalem, instead of going on longer journeys like some of the others. I think it was important for the churches, as the gospel spread, for them to always have access to apostolic leadership. If any church had spiritual or doctrinal problems they could always reach out to Jerusalem for help. In Lydda, Peter found Aeneas a man paralyzed for 8 years. Certainly there were others needing healing in Lydda, and maybe other were healed, but Aeneas was chosen as a sign for them and for us.]


 


34 And Peter said to him, "Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed." Then he arose immediately. 35 So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.

[Peter does not make a big show of it, like Jesus (John 5:8) Peter says "get up", "make your bed", "Jesus the Christ heals you" , Jesus the anointed one, another way of saying messiah, he is the one who is healing you. Peter was not there on a medical mission he was there to preach Jesus, and the signs were evidence that the power of God was there. The miracle and the message combined to convince the Jews in Lydda. And the conversions even extended outside of Lydda to the plain of Sharon which reaches toward the Mediterranean Sea. And it says "all", "turned to the Lord", there was no opposition, everyone who knew Aeneas, and saw him healed, was persuaded to trust in Jesus, who else has the power to heal?]

Tabitha Restored to Life

36 At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. 37 But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room.

[A little further west from Joppa on the Mediterranean coast was the seaport of Joppa, the main seaport for Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. There in Joppa was a disciple well known for her charity and good works, named Tabitha or Dorcas, I think choosing between the two I would go with Tabitha, either way her name means gazelle. But Tabitha was suddenly taken sick, and soon died. So they took her and washed her which is the beginning of burial preparations, but for some reason they stopped short of anointing her and wrapping her in the burial clothes. They instead laid her in an upper room.]


 


38 And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them.

[Lydda is very close to Joppa and it seems the disciples of Joppa heard of the healing the Lord had done there through Peter, so they sent messengers to ask Peter to come to Joppa.]


39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them.

[Imagine Peter's feelings, this isn't a hospital visit, this woman is already dead. So they take Peter upstairs and the women lamenting Tabitha tell Peter of her works, apparently her ministry was to make clothing for people in need. So Peter meets these dear widows telling him this woman, and showing him the clothing she has made for them.]


40 But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, "Tabitha, arise." And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41 Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive.

[Peter did not take this power for granted. He cleared the room, and knelt town to humbly seek the Lord. Maybe like Paul he asked "Lord, what would you have me to do"? Whatever his prayer, it seems he was content that the Holy Spirit was leading him to demonstrate this power over death. Perhaps he recalled Jesus raising the young girl from the dead because like Jesus, he just called her by name and said "arise". As quickly as she passed, she is restored to life. When Peter calls the people back into the room, they see the impossible, Tabitha alive!]


42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord. 43 So it was that he stayed many days in Joppa with Simon, a tanner.

[Another notorious miracle draws people to the gospel by demonstrating the power of God. Peter was so encouraged with people turning to Jesus that he stayed a while in Joppa. The thing to remember with a miracle like this is that Tabitha would again experience physical death. But all those who trusted Jesus as the Christ, the son of God, they were regenerated, born again of the Spirit of God, never again to experience spiritual death which is separation from God. The demonstrated power over physical death was a sign and a metaphor for the power of God to rescue us from spiritual death.

In reality Peter performed no miracles. When he spoke to Aeneas he said "Jesus the Christ heals you". The miracles were done by God, not man. The glory should always go to God, instead of man. And the Great Commission is taking the gift of God to men. Make disciples, of all nations, building up the church were Christ is the head.

There is no doubt that God is all powerful, and in prayer we ask for many things. But Peter didn't stay in Joppa waiting for people to die, so he could heal them, he did not open a Miracles R US store. Peter stayed in Joppa to reconcile the lost to a loving God. Of all the things that God can do for people, all the signs, wonders and miracles that are possible, the ability to know the God of creation is the greatest wonder of all.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Discipleship of Saul – Part 2

Acts 9

Saul Preaches Christ

20 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.
21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, "Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?"
22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

[As we saw at the end of last week Saul the Destroyer had become Saul the Preacher. Like many new disciples Saul had 3 obstacles to his success as a witness for Jesus Christ:

  1. His prior unbelief
  2. His present inexperience
  3. His future uncertainty

Satan the accuser loves to remind new Christians of their past unbelief and behavior. His goal is to shame them into inactivity by the deception of guilt for past sins. But God knows everything you ever did and he has chosen to forgive you and give you the righteousness of Christ. Accepting this forgiveness and trusting the complete redemption of salvation, means there is no more debt to pay because Christ has made you free. "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free
indeed." – John 8:36


 

Satan's second deception is inexperience. In this idea he is often assisted by other Christians. They tell you to just sit and learn, don't' be in a hurry to get in the fight, because you might get hurt. Besides doesn't complete redemption mean you don't have to add anything to your salvation? This idea ignores two realities. 1) That you have the most important experience of all and that is your personal encounter with the Lord. How you met Jesus has instant validity, and power. You need to tell your story, and others need to hear it. 2) The second reality is that there is a sovereign God who deserves your service, and there others still lost in unbelief who need your help. Don't wait to get involved. "Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works." – James 2:18


 

The 3rd obstacle is uncertainty. Some will discourage getting too involved until God's complete will is revealed to you. But we see God's will like we are entering a dark room. Our vision is never completely adjusted to the darkness until we commit to staying in the dark room, so it is with God's will. The more committed we are to obeying it, the more it is revealed to us. "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known." – 1 Corinthians 13:12


 

As Saul discovered the solution to these 3 obstacles is discipleship. The companionship of other active disciples provides the reassurance, support, and opportunity to serve the Lord as you learn.]

Saul Escapes Death

23 Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him.

[I Galatians 1:17 Paul says he went to Arabia an area south and east of Damascus, later returning to Damascus this period of time covered about 3 years, and we know very little about this part of Saul's life. But we have to assume the he was some sort of witness during this time because as soon as he had returned to the Jews of Damascus, his life was in danger.]


 


24 But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him. 25 Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.

[As Saul tells of these events later he explains that the Jews of Damascus stirred up the civil authorities to arrest Saul probably warning of some sort of insurrection to be led by Saul. "In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me; 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands." – 2 Corinthians 11:32-33


 

Saul's escape also reminds us of the Story of Rahab (in Joshua 2) who hid two spies sent by Joshua into Jericho. She saved her own life by helping the spied escape out of her window in the city wall. Later when Israel took the city they spared Rahab who's window was marked by a scarlet cord. Like Joshua's spies, Saul needed help to escape. Saul's help came from the disciples of Damascus.]

Saul at Jerusalem

26 And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple.

[Though Saul was accepted and helped by the disciples of Damascus, his life was in danger there, so he decided to return to Jerusalem. Back in Jerusalem, Saul experienced isolation. He was shunned by the disciples of Jerusalem because of fear. They remembered Saul the Destroyer. They remembered the death of Stephen, and the persecution of many of their friends. His past was once again an obstacle to his Christian life.]


 


27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28 So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out.

[As I told you earlier, the answer to the problem of Saul's past, was discipleship. God gave Saul another mentor. Like Ananias in Damascus, Barnabas took Saul into his trust, brought him to the apostles, presented the evidence of his testimony and his changed life, and Saul was accepted by the apostles in Jerusalem.

Barnabas was one of those great disciples, who would take people that others were rejecting, and love them for Jesus. If you ever needed a mentor or a friend you could ask for no one better than Barnabas. Barnabas was the one who made the great offering of land in Acts 4, he was the one who gave John Mark a second chance after he had abandoned Paul, he traveled with Paul on some of his missionary Journeys. And we don't even know his real name because Barnabas was the name given to him by the apostles and it meant "Son of Encouragement". More is written about his ministry than many of the apostles, and because of him, Saul was established in Jerusalem.]


29 And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. 30 When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus.

[Do you see what happening here? It was the Hellenist that disputed with Stephen then stoned him while Saul watched. Now here is Saul standing in Stephen's place, witnessing for Jesus. Apparently these Hellenist (Greek speaking Jews) has a real bad temper because they tried to kill Saul also. But the disciples or brethren found out, and helped Saul to escape again, this time to his home town which was Tarsus.]

The Church Prospers

31 Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.

[I call this the fruit of discipleship. As these churches were obedient to the great commission they were edified or built up. They walked in the "fear of the Lord" that means reverence. They always remembered that Christ, not man, is the head of the church. Every work of the church needs to be Christ centered. They also walked in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. The Greek word for comfort is "parakl├ęsis" which is also translated as encouragement, and exhortation, literally meaning "a calling to ones aid". In other words they walked with the help and assistance of the Holy Spirit, not just in the power of men. The result of their reverence for Jesus, and help of the Holy Spirit, is that they were multiplied. This clearly teaches us that discipleship is a self replicating practice. When we fulfill the great commission by making disciples as Jesus instructed, we also grow the church, both in the number of believers, and in the strength and maturity of each believer.

Those who were filled with the Holy Spirit were also obedient to the Great Commission in making disciples. As always God's power was for fulfilling God's purpose.]

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Discipling Saul

Acts 9

Ananias Baptizes Saul

[Last week we interrupted our study in Acts, to talk about the resurrection. If you remember the first part of Acts 9 Saul had seen the resurrected Lord, was knocked down by a great light, and talked to Jesus. He arose from that experience converted, shaken and blind. His group took him to Damascus where he enjoyed a little time-out. He sat for 3 days fasting, waiting for God to show him what he should do.]


10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord."

[So the Lord decides Saul has been in time-out long enough and he gives a vision to one of his disciples, named Ananias. This is not the Ananias who God killed for lying to the Holy Spirit; this is a loyal follow of Jesus. In Acts 22 it says Ananias was "a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there". So when he hears the voice of the Lord in a dream or vision he answers "here I am Lord", which is the correct way to answer when God speaks to you.]


11 So the Lord said to him, "Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. 12 And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight."

[In old Damascus the street called Straight is basically main street that runs all the way through town. God tells Ananias to go there to the house of Judas, and find Saul who has already seen his own vision of Ananias coming to him to heal his blindness.]


13 Then Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name."

[Ananias suddenly becomes a reluctant servant, saying wait a minute Lord, Saul of Tarsus, is an enemy of the church, persecuting those in Jerusalem, and he has come to Damascus to do the same thing here. Now I don't know how news of Saul's mission had traveled to Damascus so fast, but Ananias was clearly fearful of trouble, and he does not know about Saul's conversion.]


15 But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake."

[God commands Ananias to "Go", because Saul he has chosen Saul to be a witness. Now we all know about the later life of Paul, all these churches he started, the sermons he preached, the letters he wrote to the churches. Paul would lead and extraordinary life. But Paul's life as an apostle would begin with the obedience of Ananias. With Saul's miraculous conversion it's easy to think he could just be instantly transformed into some super missionary, without the help of anyone. But God has chosen to work through the church, which means Saul needed to be incorporated into the church. Saul needed to be discipled, and God chose Ananias, to start that process.]
17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."

[Clearly Ananias was convinced that Saul's conversion was genuine. He walks right up to Saul, puts his hands on him and calls him brother. It's hard to know all the emotions Saul felt during those 3 days of darkness. But I imagine human touch and being called "brother" would be a welcome experience. But if in those days he had doubted what really happened on the road to Damascus, the words of Ananias would chase away his doubts. Ananias showed that he knew what had happened to Saul, and would end his exile of darkness, plus bring him the gift of the Holy Spirit. Interesting the word translated "saints" in verse 13 is the word "holy" in Holy Spirit. The Greek word "Hagios" means holy or sacred. How ironic that the persecutor of the "holy" saints became the recipient of the same "Holy" Spirit, Jesus promised to all who trust him. But Ananias was no apostle, yet Saul received the Holy Spirit at his touch. So why in Samaria did believers need to be filled with the Holy Spirit from the Apostles, but here Saul is filled by the Spirit at the touch of a regular disciple? Remember Samaritans had not previously been received into the church, until their conversion was confirmed by the apostles. But since the day of Pentecost, Jews had been a part of the church, so Saul was already accepted and could be baptized and Spirit filled at the hands of any saint.]


 


18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.

[Back in verse 12 the Lord told Ananias that Saul had a vision seeing a man come and lay hands on him, so he could receive his sight. And just as the Lord said, when this crust like fish scales fell from his eyes, he was able to see, and his first sight is Ananias laying hands on him. Saul was then immediately baptized by Ananias.]


19 So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.

[Even though he had not eaten in 3 days, the baptism was a higher priority than food. And Saul remained there in Damascus being discipled by Ananias and the other disciples. An instrument of great persecution was helped to become an instrument of great faith.]

Saul Preaches Christ

20 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.

[While the vision of Christ was fresh in his mind, he quickly became a witness of the resurrected Lord. As Saul was a well trained Pharisee it would be easy for the disciples to show, him how Jesus had fulfilled the prophesies in scripture. He took this information added it to his personal experience and used it to preach Jesus in the synagogues.]


21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, "Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?"
22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

[Two things about Saul's preaching were amazing to the Jews of Damascus. 1) That he was the destroyer of Jesus' disciples, and now he was preaching Jesus. 2) His reasoning and handling of scripture were indisputable, proving that Jesus is the Christ.

I know Saul was somewhat unique but you can see how effective a witness can be when properly discipled. The last few years we have seen scores of people trust Jesus and be baptized, but many times we fail to effectively disciple our new converts. The church has the 101 and 201 classes taught by the church staff, but corporate teaching alone is not enough. The people need someone to spend time with, to pray with, to study with, and share life with as a community of believers. This type of discipleship should be done one on one. Our church has started a discipleship training program where mature Christians can take newer members through a 26 week course, meeting once a week to discuss the lessons, pray for one another and incorporate sharing faith, into their daily lives. The goal for this program would be for members like many of you, to get involved with these newer people to help them grow in the Lord, and in doing so would strengthen us as individuals, and the church as a whole. So let me give you some quick keys to discipleship, to encourage you to get involved in this ministry.]

  1. Accept that God will be using you in a new way
  2. Equip yourself through regular Bible study, not just reading, study
  3. Use your backup, your church Pastors and teachers will be there to help you
  4. Think long term, discipleship and mentoring usually builds lasting relationships
  5. Expect and encourage change, with patience, knowing some habits, good and bad take a while to improve.
  6. Open your house to new people; we are supposed to be a community of faith, living life together.
  7. Pray
  8. Be open and honest about things that are still difficult for you. This will encourage new members in their own struggles.

Why is this important?

Ephesians 1:22-23 

22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

[Christ is the head of the church. The majesty and fullness of Christ, all that he is, is revealed to the world through the church, his people. We disciple people, to fill this world, with the full knowledge of the risen Lord. That was Saul's purpose, and that is knowledge that this world desperately needs.]

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Christ our Risen Hope

1 Corinthians 15

The Risen Christ, Faith's Reality

 1 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,

[1 Corinthians 15 verses 3 and 4 were very familiar because they were Awana memory verses. But for years as I read those verses to help the kids remember them, I always assumed that by the "scriptures" they meant the Gospels. But this letter was written to the Corinthian church in AD 56 and probably pre-dated most if not all of the 4 gospels. The scripture he is referring to is Psalm 22 in verse 3, and Psalm 16 in verse 4. Which also answers the question I always asked myself when memorizing these two verses, why did he say "according to the scriptures twice"? The answer is, the death and resurrection were predicted in two different Psalms. If you wonder how we could be sure Psalm 22 foretold the death of Jesus, the answer is Jesus himself told us as he hung on the cross. When He said "MyGod, My God, why have you forsaken me", he was quoting from Psalm 22:1. So the gospel those at Corinth heard came by word of mouth from Paul himself, using the references to the Old Testament.]


 


5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.

[Paul is dwelling on the resurrection of Christ, because he is writing to correct a misunderstanding in the church, whereby some had decided there was no resurrection of the dead. He hints that he is refuting this notion by referring to dead saints as "fallen asleep", as though fully expecting them to awaken in time.]


 


7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.
9 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11 Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

[You can imagine Paul's displeasure that any follower of Jesus would deny the resurrection of the dead, after all the only Jesus Paul knew personally was the resurrected Lord. He still self deprecates as the last chosen apostle, since Jesus found him persecuting the church.]

The Risen Christ, Our Hope

12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

[Paul uses an argument where you take the premise you want to refute, and follow it to the logical conclusion to let it invalidate itself.

  1. If the dead do not rise, then Jesus is still dead.
  2. If Jesus is still dead, then he is not God, and you are not saved.
  3. If we cannot be saved, then the witness is false, and the preaching is vain.]

The Last Enemy Destroyed

20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

[Jesus is risen (remember 500 saw him alive), and his resurrection is the evidence of a larger resurrection of those who "sleep" in the Lord.]


 


21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 27 For "He has put all things under His feet."[a] But when He says "all things are put under Him," it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.

[There is an order to the resurrection of the dead. First Jesus, then the saints, then all the dead are resurrected for the final judgment. So as all die because of Adam, likewise all will rise because of Jesus, since he has even conquered death.]

Effects of Denying the Resurrection

29 Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead? 30 And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour? 31 I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!"[b]
33 Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits." 34 Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.

A Glorious Body

35 But someone will say, "How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?" 36 Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. 37 And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain.
38 But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.

[Some had reasoned that since the body decays, how can it be resurrected? Paul answers, the seed looks nothing like the plant it grows into. But when the seed breaks apart in the ground, then is makes a new body. So God will give us a new body as it pleases him.]


39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind
of flesh[c] of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds.
40
There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41
There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory.

[Paul further explains there will be a great variety of resurrected bodies. As fish, birds, animals and men are different so will our resurrected bodies. Further he contrasts the brightness of the planets, moon, and stars as another indicator of our uniqueness in glory.]


42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being."[d] The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

[Do you see the beautiful picture of baptism is this description? We bury the man who knows sin, and raise the new man who knows God. If you read Genesis 2 Adam was formed from dust and made alive when God breathed into him the breath of life. The last Adam, born under the law, is Jesus and we are made spiritually alive through him. The Greek word for spirit is "pnauma" from which we get the word pneumatic, or air powered. Adam was born by the breath of God; we are born again by the Spirit of God. ]


46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord[e] from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear[f] the image of the heavenly Man.

[Man was created in the image of God, but was corrupted when we chose to know sin (good and evil), rather than God. Jesus restores us to spiritual life, so we can once again know the living God. In the resurrection the physical will fall away, and in our heavenly bodies will achieve our full Christ-likeness.

Our Final Victory

50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."
       55 "Death, where
is
your sting?
          Grave, where
is
your victory?"

[Today as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus let our joy be the confidence in our own resurrection, by the grace of God, and faith in his Son. The resurrection proves the deity of Christ, so we know our faith in not in vain, and our own resurrection is secure in him. Even death and the grave fall away when faced with the resurrection power of the Lord.

Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, yet he shall live. – John 11:25]