December 3, 2007
I Corinthians 15-16
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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.
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:
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.
For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet 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 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.
Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.
Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.
And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.
Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia.
And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go.
For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit.
But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.
For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.
Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do.
Let no man therefore despise him: but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren.
As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time.
Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.
Let all your things be done with charity.
I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)
That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.
I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied.
For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.
The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.
All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss.
The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand.
If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.
(The first epistle to the Corinthians was written from Philippi by Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus and Timotheus.)
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Thought for the day:
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I Corinthians 16:5-9 is a passage of motivation and encouragement to all believers who are attempting to do a work for God. Paul is writing to the Corinthian church and telling them that he would like to come and see them soon. He doesn't just want to visit, but he wants to stay for a while, undoubtedly to give them some much-needed instruction in areas of doctrine and practice. There was an obvious need in Corinth, and Paul would have been able to be a great help to them. However, he tells them that he will not be coming right away, but rather was going to stay in Ephesus for a while. He gives the following reason for his decision:
"For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries."
God is in the business of opening doors for His children. Normally when we think of God opening a door, we think of an open door to get married, or to go to a certain school, or take a certain job. God indeed does all this, but He also opens door of ministry, and that is the focus of this particular verse. God has a plan for each of our lives, not just in the future, but for today. He has given me an open door of ministry to pastor Ambassador Baptist Church, but he has given every one of you an equally open door. It may be that he has opened to you the door of teaching Sunday School, or working in children's ministries. He may have opened the door for you to evangelize your neighbors and co-workers. He may be opening the door of full-time Christian service to you. Whatever it is, God has some area of labor that He has for you to do right now, and that door is currently open.
It is important to note first of all that we had better go through the door that God has opened for us while we still can. Down through the years doors of opportunity for service have opened, and then closed. The chances for ministry that God is giving you today may not exist next year. People that you can witness to today may not be around a month from now. Mission fields that are open today may deny entrance to missionaries within the next five years. If God has placed you in a particular area, He has done it so that you will serve Him there. He has opened a door - walk through it.
Second, Paul states that the door was both "great" and "effectual". It was a "mega" door, one that held tremendous potential. It was also effectual, which meant that if he would walk through it he would impact someone's life for Christ. Sometimes we underestimate what God can and will do through us if we simply follow His leading. We think that no one will listen, or that we really can't accomplish much. That is not what Paul thought. He knew that it was God's plan for him to be in Ephesus, he knew that there was an entire city that needed to hear his message, and he knew that some would respond if he would be willing to stay and work. Thus, rather than go on to another area of ministry, he determined to allow God to use him to make a difference in the place where he already was.
Finally, Paul states that there were "many adversaries". This is very important, because I believe that this was one of his motivations for staying. Anyone can minister in a place where people are responding and the work is going well. However, there are few who will stay in a place where there is great opposition. Paul perhaps knew that if he didn't work with the Ephesians then no one would. After all, that church had numerous problems also. In Acts 20:29-30 Paul warned the Ephesians church leaders that after he was gone there would not only be people from outside the church who would attempt to destroy it, but even people from inside the congregation would attempt to draw the believers away from the truth. In I Timothy 1:3 Paul had to ask Timothy to stay in Ephesus and keep the church members from teaching false doctrine. Apparently Timothy had seen the problems and was thinking about finding a "better" ministry. In our text, Paul knew that there were tough times ahead, but he knew that God had called him, and that God would allow him to be productive if he would remain faithful.
What is the open door that God has placed in front of you? It may not be an easy task, but if you will follow His leading, there are great opportunities there for service and fruitfulness.
Pastor Mark J Montgomery