Monday, July 31, 2006


Here is a list of the top 50 most influential churches in America. You can't help notice the personality cult aspect of the thing. Before the church or its ranking is a picture of the pastor and his name. Then, the church's name. Most of the pastor's have media presence.

I guess the real question is, who or what do these churches influence? I think they mostly serve as testimonies to the success of their pastors, who are the real influence. If you have a big church, and are on television, people interview you about various subjects, publish your books and invite you to speak at seminars.

I wonder if they have influencial Sunday School Classes? If I could make the top 50, people would PAY me to speak. At least until they found out I'd do it for free.

Here is a list of the top 50 most influential churches in America. You can't help notice the personality cult aspect of the thing. Before the church or its ranking is a picture of the pastor and his name. Then, the church's name. Most of the pastor's have media presence.

I guess the real question is, who or what do these churches influence? I think they mostly serve as testimonies to the success of their pastors, who are the real influence. If you have a big church, and are on television, people interview you about various subjects, publish your books and invite you to speak at seminars.

I wonder if they have influencial Sunday School Classes? If I could make the top 50, people would PAY me to speak. At least until they found out I'd do it for free.

A recently reported case involving the Cleveland Municipal School System arising from an incident where a teacher banged the students head off the blackboard, threw him to the floor and punched him.

Rumor has it that incidents of misbehavior in this guy's class are way, way down.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


Should we apply the standard of Exodus 19:33-34?

"When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

"He Lives" has a thoughtful post on the SBC alcohol resolution.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


The story of Dr. Page's doctoral dissertation supporting the ordination of women was "broken" by Ethics Daily. I read about it at Big Daddy Weave.

It was a pretty interesting piece. After having enjoyed the irony, I now wonder how Ethics Daily got Dr. Page's dissertation. Did ED go research it or did someone send it to ED? I have to admit, I have a copy of R. T. Kendle's master's thesis on Calvinism and Baptist History that I picked up at a friend's bookstore.

I left a comment at ED and asked. Hopefully, he'll respond and satisfy my curiosity.

The second murder trial for Andrea Yates brought a dramatically different result for the mom who drowned her kids in the bathtub. The dury found her not guilty by reason of insanity.

So, it's off to the state mental hospital rather than life in prison.

For the record, Mom Yates drowned 6-month-old Mary, 2-year-old Luke, 3-year-old Paul, 5-year-old John and 7-year-old Noah. Nothing like a little mass murder to signal depression. Her attorney continuously claimed Yates had severe postpartum psychosis. If so, look for lots of men to avoid having children in the future. It just isn't safe to be around those post partum women.

Having to live with the knowledge you killed your kids, 5 of them, will be pretty tough. I'm not sure a mental institution can help you with that, either. I hope the jury is right, because it would be an unspeakable injustice to let a mass murderer to free. Once the psychiatrist says she is no longer a threat, they have to release her.

Rest in peace, Mary, Luke, Paul, John and Noah. has a list of the eight best careers based on employee satisfaction:

Curriculum and instructional coordinators
High-school special-education teachers
Hospital and clinic managers
Management consultants and analysts
Medical researchers
Physical therapists
Sales, marketing and advertising managers
Social workers, counselors and related managers

Jill, did you pick one?
A Black man criticizes Black "preachers" who spend their time talking politics and not preaching the word.

A man was at work one day when he noticed that his co-worker was wearing
an earring. This man knew his co-worker to be a conservative
fellow, so he was curious about his sudden change in fashion.

So, the man walked up to him and said, "I didn't know you were into

"Don't make such a big deal, it's only an earring," he replied.

The man prodded some more and asked "So, how long have you been wearing one?"

The co-worker answered "Ever since my wife found it in my truck."
Interesting blog for Christian men here.


For a really good and interesting analysis of the current state of Southern Baptist Convention politics, read this article by Timothy George.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Judges 1

1 After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the LORD, "Who will be the first to go up and fight for us against the Canaanites?" 2 The LORD answered, "Judah is to go; I have given the land into their hands."

When Moses died, God chose Joshua to be his successor. In contrast, when Joshua died, no successor was chosen. The Israelites are in Canaan, have begun to take possession of it, and are living in the areas allotted to them by God.

The Israelites responded by asking God who would lead them to fight the Canaanites left in the land. Israel had leaders. Joshua 23:2 refers to elders, leaders, judges and officials that were present in every tribe. But, they wanted a leader over all.

God directed the tribe of Judah to take the lead. Jacob’s blessing in Genesis 49:9-12 was a prophesy of Judah’s leadership in Israel, which would lead to the kingship of David and his descendants, and the kingship of Christ. This command was repeated when the tribes went up against Benjamin, and the Lord directed Judah to lead, in Judges 20:18.

3 Then the men of Judah said to the Simeonites their brothers, "Come up with us into the territory allotted to us, to fight against the Canaanites. We in turn will go with you into yours." So the Simeonites went with them. 4 When Judah attacked, the LORD gave the Canaanites and Perizzites into their hands and they struck down ten thousand men at Bezek. 5 It was there that they found Adoni-Bezek and fought against him, putting to rout the Canaanites and Perizzites. 6 Adoni-Bezek fled, but they chased him and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and big toes. 7 Then Adoni-Bezek said, "Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off have picked up scraps under my table. Now God has paid me back for what I did to them." They brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there. 8 The men of Judah attacked Jerusalem also and took it. They put the city to the sword and set it on fire.

Judah recruited Simeon to fight with them, and promised to return the favor. The cities assigned to Simeon were within the land allotted to Judah (Joshua 19:1, 9). (Jacob’s blessing included saying that Simeon would be dispersed within Israel, according to Genesis 49:7.)

Judah was victorious, and the Lord gave them victory initially. This included defeating and capturing Adoni-Bezek, the Lord of the city of Bezek, who was quite the warrior-king, commanding 10,000 men and having a history of cutting off the thumbs and big toes of the kings he conquered, to mark them as defeated and to prevent them from fighting again. God returned the favor to him. See Leviticus 24:19.

Judah went on to attack Jerusalem, although it would be given to the tribe of Benjamin. They succeeded in taking the city, but, according to later verses, did not drive out the Jebusites and occupy the city. They might have left that job for Benjamin. Israel did not occupy Jerusalem until David took it, as a member of the tribe of Judah, as recorded in 2 Samuel 5:6-10.

9 After that, the men of Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites living in the hill country, the Negev and the western foothills. 10 They advanced against the Canaanites living in Hebron (formerly called Kiriath Arba) and defeated Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai. 11 From there they advanced against the people living in Debir (formerly called Kiriath Sepher). 12 And Caleb said, "I will give my daughter Acsah in marriage to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher." 13 Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, took it; so Caleb gave his daughter Acsah to him in marriage. 14 One day when she came to Othniel, she urged him [a] to ask her father for a field. When she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her, "What can I do for you?" 15 She replied, "Do me a special favor. Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs of water." Then Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.

Judah proceeded south from Jerusalem and attacked Hebron, the first city from which David ruled as king. (Hebron was formerly called Kiriath Arba, or town of Arba, after Arba, the father of the Anakites.

Then, they went a little further south to Debir. There, we see Caleb is still in the battle despite his age. Joshua 14 tells us that Moses and then Joshua gave Hebron to Caleb, with the land around it, because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly. He was 85 years old then, and claimed to be just as vigorous to go out to battle as he was when he was 40.

Then there is a little human interest story that Caleb promised his daughter in marriage to whomever would capture Debir. Caleb’s nephew, Othniel, took him up on it. Then his daughter, quite an operator, asked for some additional land to get the springs of water for her land in the Negev, which is a very dry region. Othniel would become the first of the judges.

16 The descendants of Moses' father-in-law, the Kenite, went up from the City of Palms [b] with the men of Judah to live among the people of the Desert of Judah in the Negev near Arad.

Moses’ wife’s family got around. When we see his father-in-law first, Moses has fled Egypt for Midian and met him there. Exodus 2:16 tells us the father-in-law was a priest in Midian. We also know that he joined Moses on part of the Exodus. This verse shows us that the family moved to the City of Palms, which is Jericho, and now moved south the Desert in the Negev to live with the people of Judah. This verse tells you that the family of Moses was important to Israel, even though Moses was long dead.

17 Then the men of Judah went with the Simeonites their brothers and attacked the Canaanites living in Zephath, and they totally destroyed [c] the city. Therefore it was called Hormah. [d] 18 The men of Judah also took [e] Gaza, Ashkelon and Ekron—each city with its territory. 19 The LORD was with the men of Judah. They took possession of the hill country, but they were unable to drive the people from the plains, because they had iron chariots. 20 As Moses had promised, Hebron was given to Caleb, who drove from it the three sons of Anak. 21 The Benjamites, however, failed to dislodge the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem; to this day the Jebusites live there with the Benjamites.

Judah and Simeon continued to carry out the Lord’s command and subdue the land given to them. They attacked and drove out the Anakites.

But, we see the beginnings of trouble. Judah was unable to drive the Canaanites from the plains, being outmatched by chariots. The Benjaminites failed to run the Jebusites out of Jerusalem. Yet we had seen before that the Israelites had won battles when outnumbered and with inferior arms, because the Lord won the battle for them.

22 Now the house of Joseph attacked Bethel, and the LORD was with them. 23 When they sent men to spy out Bethel (formerly called Luz), 24 the spies saw a man coming out of the city and they said to him, "Show us how to get into the city and we will see that you are treated well." 25 So he showed them, and they put the city to the sword but spared the man and his whole family. 26 He then went to the land of the Hittites, where he built a city and called it Luz, which is its name to this day.

27 But Manasseh did not drive out the people of Beth Shan or Taanach or Dor or Ibleam or Megiddo and their surrounding settlements, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that land. 28 When Israel became strong, they pressed the Canaanites into forced labor but never drove them out completely. 29 Nor did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites living in Gezer, but the Canaanites continued to live there among them. 30 Neither did Zebulun drive out the Canaanites living in Kitron or Nahalol, who remained among them; but they did subject them to forced labor. 31 Nor did Asher drive out those living in Acco or Sidon or Ahlab or Aczib or Helbah or Aphek or Rehob, 32 and because of this the people of Asher lived among the Canaanite inhabitants of the land. 33 Neither did Naphtali drive out those living in Beth Shemesh or Beth Anath; but the Naphtalites too lived among the Canaanite inhabitants of the land, and those living in Beth Shemesh and Beth Anath became forced laborers for them. 34 The Amorites confined the Danites to the hill country, not allowing them to come down into the plain. 35 And the Amorites were determined also to hold out in Mount Heres, Aijalon and Shaalbim, but when the power of the house of Joseph increased, they too were pressed into forced labor. 36 The boundary of the Amorites was from Scorpion [f] Pass to Sela and beyond.

The tribe of Joseph had to go back and attack Bethel, the city next to Ai, which was the second city conquered by Joshua. There is some thought that the city was sealed off and the entrance was not readily apparent, as the Israelites inquired how to get into the city.

Starting in verse 27, you see a pattern of not fulfilling the command of the Lord. The Israelites allowed the Canaanites to remain in the land, even though they made slaves of some of them. The Amorites were not driven out either. Deuteronomy 7:2 said “Make no treaty with them and show them no mercy.” Verse 5 says This is what you are to do to them: Bread down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire. For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Rob Bell also switched, but he went the other way.
Al Mohler would also rather switch than fight.

BIG DADDY WEAVE has more on this issue, including some quotes from Page's dissertation.

Frank Page, newly elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, issued a statement about women in ministry. There has been some controversy since someone discovered that Page advocated ordaining women as pastors in his dissertation he wrote. He has disavowed that position.

Page is now towing a much more conservative line, pretty much in keeping with the majority of SBC leaders, if you exclude those who think women should not do anything but have babies and cook supper. It is also pretty much in line with the Baptist Faith and Message, 2000 version.

I like the fact that Page acknowledges women may have a ministry in the church. He said “I believe also that God calls women to minister in a variety of capacities and roles in His service. Women make up about half of our foreign missionary force, work tirelessly in local churches and serve in key leadership roles as trustees and denominational servants with our SBC entities."

This is an issue we grapple with at our house, since two of my daughters feel called into ministry. There is an interesting phenomenon in SBC life. They gather all the kids, especially teenagers, into a room and preach at them about following God into ministry. The kids are boys and girls. So, of course, some boys and some girls answer the call. After the girls answer the call, men feel obligated to come up to them and tell them they cannot be ministers.

I have their names. And there will be punishment.

My favorite attack recently came from a youth minister. He went straight to the favorite men's hang up, that Paul said he would not let women be in authority over men. I took the liberty of telling him that, if the Baby became a youth minister, she would be under the authority of her pastor, but also, that she would have delegated authority over boys, not men. They really are not the same thing.

The second thing I pointed out was that a youth minister is not one of the Biblically authorized officers of the church, being neither an elder or a deacon. I think that caused a bit of a set back. You have to be careful about this literal interpretation thing.

It can come back to bite you.

But, back to Page, I think I can live with his statement and appreciate his not overstating the Biblical standards.


The book of Judges tells the history of Israel over a period of about 350 years, beginning with the death of Joshua and ending immediately prior to the life and ministry of Samuel. Samson, the last judge, was a contemporary of Samuel.

Judges shows a continual cycle of the Israelites breaking the covenant, God bringing punishment in the form of domination by another country or people, God raising up a judge to lead the people to repentance and victory, then the relapse of the people into disobedience.

What is the covenant? It is the terms of the relationship between God and Israel that was established at Sinai. God set the terms and the people accepted.

Remember that, after God redeemed Israel from Egypt, he brought them to Mount Sinai. Moses went to meet God on the mountain for the people, who remained at a distance. God set forth the covenant, beginning with the ten commandments in Exodus 20, and continuing with the law set forth in the rest of the book and the other books of the law. Exodus 23 tells us God would give them victory over the people in Canaan, and they were to destroy them and avoid adopting their religion. If they kept the covenant, God would establish them in the land.

Exodus 24 tells us that Moses read the whole covenant to the Israelites, and they said “everything the Lord has said we will do”. Moses set up 12 pillars to represent the 12 tribes, offered sacrifices, then sealed the covenant by taking the blood of a bull and sprinkling it on the people. It was called “the blood of the covenant”.

In Mark 14:24, Mark recorded Jesus’ words at the last supper: “this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many”.

Leviticus 26 sets out plainly the rewards for obedience and the punishment for disobedience, which included defeat by their enemies and having them rule over Israel. Moses reiterated these in Deuteronomy 30. Joshua led Israel to re-commit to the covenant before his death, as recorded in Joshua 8 and 24. The book of Judges will show the Israelites living with the consequences of disobedience, just as God promised.

This is the cycle of some of your lives. You live day to day with little thought to God, but you cry for help when trouble comes. You repent in hopes God will intervene. God does intervene, but you relapse to your old state rather than live in obedience.

Despite the fickleness of Israel, we see that God keeps his promises and that he was, and is, continually working to accomplish his purposes in mankind. His word to the serpent in the Garden of Eden is still valid at the time of the judges, and is he was working to produce the seed of woman who would have enmity with the offspring of the serpent, and who would crush his head (Genesis 3:15). He was also working to fulfill his promise to Abraham to bless all the peoples of the earth through him (Genesis 12:3).

It turns out Hurricane Katrina might not have been the most dangerous thing in New Orleans last year. the doctors and nurses were.

Police arrested a doctor and two nurses for murdering patients at Memorial Medical Center during the hurricane.

The doctor is Anna M. Pou, an ENT. The nurses are Lori Budo and Cheri Landry. They are accused of giving lethal doses of morphine and midazolam (Versed)to four patients. All the patients were elderly. Maybe the doctor and nurses were Dutch. They seem to have an aversion to old people and favor killing them off when they outstay their welcome.

Evidently the conditions at the hospital were very bad after the hurricane. Power was out. The patients were deteriorating. So, instead of keeping them as comfortable as possible, or keeping them alive at all costs while awaitng rescue, the medical professionals decided to hasten the outcome.

As life becomes cheaper in America, more and more of this will happen. Abortion and Euthanasia laws tell people life is cheap and can be measured in terms of convenience. These medicos found insufficient value in four lives and so they killed them.

This is a mass murder in the prosecutor's book.

In general terms, in spite of our specialist callings,
every Christian is sent into the world as both a witness
and a servant. Whenever we see someone in need, whether
that need is spiritual or physical or social, if we have
the wherewithal to meet it, we must do so; otherwise we
cannot claim to have God's love dwelling in us (1 Jn.
3:16). Often people have more than one need, and if we
love them with God's love we shall do our utmost to relieve
their needs. It is then, too, that they are most likely to
believe. Verbal witness is not enough. As Jesus said, it
is when people 'see our good works' that our light shines
most brightly and will give glory to our heavenly father
(Mt. 5:16). John Stott, 'Saving Souls and Serving Bread', "Christianity
Today" (7 November 1980).


1. Go to a second-hand store and buy a pair of men's used size 14-16 work boots.

2. Place them on your front porch, along with a copy of Guns and Ammo and your NRA magazines.

3. Put a giant dog dish next to the boots and magazine.

4. Leave a note on your door that reads; "Hey Bubba - Big Mike , Slim, Tiny and I went for more ammunition. Back in an hour. Don't mess with the Pitbulls. They attacked the mailman this morning and messed him up pretty bad. I don't think Killer took part in it but I locked all four of them in the house. Better wait outside."


Sunday, July 16, 2006

Tomorrow we begin a study of the book of Judges.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Denny Burk links to a great article in the LA Times called Liberal Christianity is Paying For Its Sins. The money line: if the church does not take itself seriously, how can it expect its members to?

Liberalism equals death in the church business. There is no way around it.

Because I Said So has an interesting post on the growing house church movement in America.

One of the interesting criticizisms of house churches is the possibility of erroneous doctrine and teaching, to which George Barna responded that we already have that in our traditional churches today.

I guess the guy who made that comment did not watch tv, or he wouldn't have had the nerve to bring it up.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The greatest difference between present day Christianity and that of which we read in these letters is that to us it is primarily a performance, to them it was a real experience. We are apt to reduce the Christian religion to a code, or at best a rule of heart and life. To these men it is quite plainly the invasion of their lives by a new quality of life altogether. They do not hesitate to describe this as Christ "living in" them. Mere moral reformation will hardly explain the transformation adnd the exuberant vitality of these men's lives - even if we could prove a motive for such reformation, and certainly the world around offered little encouragement to the early Christians! We are practically driven to accept their own explanantion, which is that their little human lives had, through Christ, been linked up with the very Life of God.

J. B. Phillips, in Letters to Young Churches: A Translation of the New Testament Epistles.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Calvinist Gadfly has a post of Thomas Boston's sermon on our inability to rescue ourselves that is worth reading.


The point to make from Scripture about our calling or our vocation is that when God calls us he is not calling us primarily to do something but to be something. Our
calling, according to Scripture, concerns much more our character and what kind of person we are than simply what our job is. 'The Whole Christian', "Proceedings of the International Conference of Christian Medical Students", ed. Lee Moy Ng (London: ICCMS and Christian Medical
Fellowship, 1980), p. 13.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


Bishop Leslie Newbigin, a long-time Christian missionary in India and author of "Foolishness to the Greeks", maintains that the culture most impervious to the Christian Gospel is not Africa or Asia, but rather is the industrialized West (Western Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand).


Christianity Today has an interview with the now famous pastor of Mars Hill in Seattle. I love the introduction: Mark Driscoll praises Jesus, blasts mega-churches, and extols Reformed theology. That's about perfect.

You can read the interview here.

Mark is a living testimony to the falsity of the accusation leveled by fearful Arminians that Calvinism inhibits evangelism. He build a church from nothing to thousands in an unchurched area with a Calvinistic outlook.

So there.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

A man decided to write a book about churches around the country. He started by flying to San Francisco, and started working east from there. Going to a very large church, he began taking photographs and making notes. He spotted a golden telephone on the vestibule wall, and was intrigued with a sign which read, "$10,000 per minute."

Seeking out the pastor, he asked about the phone and the sign. The pastor answered that the golden phone is, in fact, a direct line to Heaven, and if he pays the price, he can talk directly to God.

The man thanked the pastor and continued on his way. As he continued to visit churches in Seattle, Salt Lake City, Denver, Chicago, Milwaukee, and around the United States, he found more such phones, with the same sign, and the same explanation from each pastor.

Finally, the man arrived in the lovely state of Georgia. Upon entering a church, behold: he saw the usual golden telephone. But THIS time, the sign read: "Calls: 25 cents"! Fascinated, the man asked to speak with the pastor.

"Reverend, I have been in cities all across the country and in each
church I have found this golden telephone, and have been told it
is a direct line to Heaven, and that I could use it to talk to God.. But in 20 other churches, the cost was $10,000 per minute. Your sign
says 25 cents per call Why is that?

The pastor smiled and said:
"Son, you're in the South now, and it's a local call."

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

North Korea has launched 4 missles. Three are mid range, which were aimed at Japan but landed short. One was an ICBM, an intercontinental ballistic missle, but which misfired on take off.

This is obviously a stunt to get attention.

Someone should give it to them.


Monday, July 03, 2006

Taking advantage of your celebrity is nothing new.


Did you ever watch Wyatt Earp as a kid? Hugh O'Brien played Wyatt in the series. Well, Hugh has tied the knot for the first time. He is 81 years old. I guess he needed some time to think about it.

The wedding was a little on the macabe side. It was called "a wedding to die for." The ceremony was held at Forest Lawn Memorial Park. I'm not sure I'd want that if I were 81 years old.

You do have to wonder: why now? He has been seeing this woman for 18 years. Why tie the knot now?

Better late than never, I guess. I wonder if they said "'til death do us part?"

Sunday, July 02, 2006


Here is a chilling example of your tax dollars at work. Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski wrote an opinion last week denying the suit of a citizen who claimed to have been drugged with LSD as part of a CIA experiment.

The Plaintiff filed his lawsuit claiming that, in 1957, the CIA drugged him without his permission, by putting LSD in his bourbon and soda. The CIA admits it carried on drug experiments, but denied that this guy was one of them. Next time someone from the government says "I'm from the Government, I'm here to help you", don't let him buy you a drink.

Thanks to Law Blog for the story.


Queen Elizabeth cost British taxpayers $67.3 million last year. That includes salaries for 310 royal staff members, catering and royal visits. One of these visits was a trip by staff to plan Prince Charles's and Camilla's tour of the United States last fall, which cost $79,000, slightly more than my vacation. They also racked up a $509,000 bill for an eight day trip to New York, Washington, New Orleans and San Francisco.

You could buy a lot of fish and chips for $67 million. You could even buy a few more soccer players.

Still, I'm sure it's worth it. What else would the tabloids write about in London if not for the affairs and mysterious deaths of the Windors.


I got this in an email.

> >Signs of a Heart Attack.
> >Be aware of intense pain in the jaw line. You may never have the first
> >chest pain
> >during the course of a heart attack. Nausea and intense sweating are also
> >common symptoms.
> >60% of people who have a heart attack while they are asleep do not wake up.
> >The pain in the jaw can wake you from a sound sleep.
> >It's pain unlike anything you've ever experienced before.
> >Given a choice between natural child birth and a heart attack, pain-wise;
> >it's much easier to have a baby. Let's be careful and be aware.
> >The more we know.......... A cardiologist says if everyone who gets this
> >mail sends it to 10 people, you can be sure that we'll save at least one
> >life.
> >Read this... It could save your life!! Let's say it's 6.15pm and you're
> >driving home (alone of course), after an unusually hard day on the job.
> >You're tired, upset and frustrated. ! Suddenly you start experiencing
> >severe pain in your chest that starts to radiate out into your arm and up
> >into your jaw.
> >You are only about five miles from the hospital nearest your home.
> >Unfortunately you don't know if you'll be able to make it that far. You
> >have been trained in CPR, but the guy that taught the course did not tell
> >you how to perform it on yourself.
> >Since many people are alone when they suffer a heart attack, without help,
> >the person whose heart is beating improperly and who begins to feel faint,
> >has only about 10 seconds left before losing consciousness. However, these
> >victims can help themselves by coughing repeatedly and very vigorously.
> >A deep breath should be taken before each cough, and the cough must be deep
> >and prolonged, as when producing sputum from deep inside the chest. A
> >breath and a cough must be repeated about every two seconds without letup
> >until help arrives, or until the heart is felt to be beating normally
> >again.
> >Deep breaths get oxygen into the lungs and coughing movements squeeze the
> >heart and keep the blood circulating. The squeezing pressure on the heart
> >also helps it regain normal rhythm.
> >In this way, heart attack victims can get to a hospital.

So, I'm trying to image myself driving to the hospital coughing all the way. But, at least it's better than having to lie on the ground and do chest compressions on yourself.

I hope this is not another Nigerian scam.

15:1-2 Remember The Gospel

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

These 2 verses are a transition to the topic of the resurrection. There must have been some who denied the resurrection of Christ, and Paul needed to correct that idea.

Notice that he calls it the gospel. He is saying the resurrection is part of the gospel and must be believed.

It is the holding fast to the gospel, or continuing to believe that is the sign of the true believer.
-We know from Matthew 13 that some will appear to believe, but will fall away, and that some will never believe, but will continue to associate with the church.

-First, the parable of the soils in Matthew 13:1-9. The word came to many, but only a few persevered in the faith. Jesus explained it in verses 13-23.

-Next is the parable of the weeds in verses 24-30. Jesus explained that parable in verses 36 through 43.

-Matthew 7:21-23 tells us that not everyone who said they were followers were.

-1 John 2:19 also addresses this issue.

-But, those who believe and are saved will be preserved for eternal life. In John 10:27-30, Jesus concludes a long analogy of the sheep and the shepherd when he says “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hands. I and the Father are one.”

-Paul said, in Romans 8:28-30, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first born among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

-Hebrews 10:12-14 says “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”
-BF&M says “All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.“

Here, “believed in vain” means, if they denied the resurrection of Christ, their faith was useless.

15:3-4 Defining The Gospel

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

Paul gives a neat summary here of the Gospel in 3 points:
1. Christ died for our sins.
2. Christ was buried.
3. Christ was raised on the third day.

This was the gospel Paul preached, he delivered it to them of first importance. The gospel message has to be first, before any other message.

It was also the message of Christ and of the church. It was the message Paul received.
Paul also told us this was according to the scriptures, that is, it was the fulfillment of the Old Testament scriptures.

What does “for our sins” mean? It means he died to pay the penalty of our sins. Romans 6:23 tells us the wages or sin is death. Christ paid that price so that we who believe in him would not have to, but would be declared righteous by his death.

1 Peter 2:24 says He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

Romans 8:3-4 says for God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh in order that the righteous requirement of the law might e fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

15:5-11 Further Proof

5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy 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. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Paul offered proof of the resurrection by citing witnesses:

The 12
500 believers, most of whom were still alive when Paul wrote
James, Jesus’ half brother
All the apostles (In Acts 2:32, Peter preached that the apostles were all witnesses)

He uses the word “appeared” 4 times, or “was seen”, to emphasize it. This is a real historical fact for Paul, not just religious theory or philosophy. This is an early example of apologetics.

15:12-18 The Importance of Resurrection

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

Paul now confronts those who do not believe in the resurrection of believers. He ties the resurrection of the believer and the resurrection of Christ inexorably. There either is resurrection or there is not.

The doctrine of resurrection is an essential part of the gospel. If he is not raised, our preaching is in vain and our faith is in vain. If there is no resurrection, there is no Christian faith. These people contemplated that death was the end, that the dead had perished.

Verse 19 has a special application today. If we only have Christ for this life, we are pitiful. It was true in Paul’s time, for many had lost their property, gone to prison, been beaten and suffered. If this was all they had, it was a sorry lot.

But, many today preach Christ as for this life, for health and wealth. If that is all you have, you still have nothing. That is why the message of the gospel is about eternal life, not just life on earth.

15:20-22 Death & Life by Representative

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

Christ was raised from the dead and he was the “firstfruits” of those who have died. The firstfruit is the first portion of something. The Israelites took the first portion of harvested grain and gave it to the Lord. It was the firstfruits. This is required in Exodus 23:19 and Leviticus 23:19, among others. Christ was the first one raised in bodily resurrection, so he is the firstfruits, and is the promise that the rest of the harvest of believers will follow in resurrection. As the firstfruits were the first grain of many, Christ is the first of many to be resurrected.

[slide: Christ: The Firstfruits]

In addition to being the first of many, Christ became our representative in resurrection. Through Christ, and his resurrection, we obtain resurrection, we are made alive in him. So he was raised as our representative, which makes it a guarantee of our resurrection.

[slide: Comparing Christ to Adam]

To help explain this concept of representation, Paul used an analogy of Adam. In verses 21 and 22, Paul tells us Adam brought death into the world, not only for himself, but as our representative.

[slide: Brought to You by Adam]

Adam broke God’s commandment not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Read Genesis 2:15-17. God also imposed a penalty, some say made a covenant with Adam. He said “…when you eat of it you will surely die.”

Romans 5:12 said sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin.

As death came to all who are in Adam as a result of Adam’s sin, resurrection came to all who are in Christ through our union with Christ.

[slide: Brought to you by Christ]
Verse 22 says that in Christ all will be made alive. 1 Thessalonians 4:14 says “God will bring…those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.”

15:23-28 The Order of Last Things

23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God [2] has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

Paul gives us an order to the end of time. First, Christ is resurrected. We know he has been. This is in the past.

Then, Christ begins to reign. He destroys all opposition. Then, Christ returns, believers are resurrected, and the end comes. Christ will hand over the kingdom to the Father.

[slide: Christ reigns]

You may not think of Christ reigning at this point, but he is. He was resurrected to the right hand of the Father, a picture of reigning in heaven with God the Father. We see that in several places in the Bible.

Psalm 110:1 is a prophecy by David of Jesus being seated at the right hand of the Father. Read it. Jesus applied this passage to himself in Matthew 22:41-46.

Matthew 28:18 speaks of his authority to reign. Daniel 7:13-14 is a prophecy of this.

Also, see Ephesians 1:19-20, Hebrews 1:3, and Philippians 2:9-11.

Paul tells us Christ will reign until he has put all enemies under his feet. This is necessary so he can hand the kingdom over to his father.

[slide: Christ destroys all opposition]

Paul also tells us that, during this reign, Christ will destroy all opposition to the kingdom of God. By the end, he will have destroyed all dominion, authority and power. (This has a postmillennial ring to it, doesn’t it?)

The last enemy to be destroyed is death, which will be destroyed by the resurrection. Isaiah 25:8 says the Lord will “swallow up death forever”. In Revelation 1:18, Jesus says “I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” The, John gives us a picture of this truth in chapter 20, verse14, when he says “then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.”

[slide: Christ returns for us]

The next step is that Christ returns (this is verse 23) and believers are raised. Jesus told his disciples, in John 14:2, “In my father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

While the disciples watched Jesus ascend to heaven, an angel told them “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” This is in Acts 1:11.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 gives us an account of his return. Read it.

15:29-34 Live For the Resurrection

29 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? 30 Why am I in danger every hour? 31 I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! 32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” [3] 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

The first 28 verses of this chapter dealt primarily with the resurrection of Christ and how that is the guarantee of the resurrection of believers. Now he is moving on to answer questions about the bodily resurrection of believers.

First, Paul deals with the practical importance of the resurrection of the believer. Paul here argues 2 reasons why it is absurd to deny the resurrection of believers. First, people are baptized for the dead and second, he risks his life for the gospel. I think this is a resumption of the argument of verses 12 through 19, and that verses 20-28 are a parenthesis. So, verse 19 says “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. Then comes the parenthesis, then comes verse 29, which says “Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized for the dead?”

It is hard to know what Paul meant by his reference to the baptism for the dead. There are 30 some odd interpretations of this verse.

Some believe the Corinthians practiced the baptism for those who died in unbelief, such as the Mormons do now, and so Paul used it in his argument, even though he did not endorse it. The problem with that idea is that it is hard to believe Paul would have referred to such an unbiblical practice without condemning it.

Darby says it mean that you took your place with dead believers who had gone before by being baptized, so that it is similar to 1 Thessalonians 4:13 et seq and concern over those who died before Christ returned and what would happen to them.

Gill thinks it was that those baptized had to confess their belief in the resurrection of the dead so, in some sense, the baptism was for the dead.

Others say it refers to people who knew they were dying.

Curtis Vaughn says it refers to those who were lost when believing loved ones died and were converted and baptized in hope of a reunion with the loved one. For example, a believing mother on her deathbed exhorts her unbelieving son to be saved and join her in heaven. That plea brings him to salvation. He looks forward to meeting her in heaven. If there is no resurrection, his motivation would have been in vain.

In this case, “the dead” would be the “dead in Christ”, not those who died in unbelief. So, the thought is that the resurrection imparts hope, not only in the individuals eternal state, but in the reunion with others. (“Will the circle, be unbroken, by and by Lord, by and by”) The Mormon practice, in contrast, is a vicarious baptism that saves the unbeliever.

The second argument is, why would Paul put himself in danger all the time if the dead are not raised? If there is no eternal life, someone like Paul would have spent his life in vain. He would have taken needless risks. You might as well party your life away. That is why some people do so today: they think this life is all they have. This is also why people in our age think death is the worst thing that can happen to you. This drives much opposition to war. It is not that the other side is not dangerous, it is that the death of people in war is the ultimate tragedy. The same happens in the capital punishment debate.

Rejection of the resurrection is a rejection of God, for it rejects his power to raise us and give us eternal life, and rejects his plan for his people. Rejection of the resurrection leads to Nihilism. Nihilism is a philosophy which argues that the world, and especially human existence, is without objective meaning, purpose, comprehensible truth, or essential value. Nihilists generally believe all of the following: There is no reasonable proof of the existence of a higher ruler or creator, a "true morality" is unknown, and secular ethics are impossible; therefore, life has no truth, and no action is known to be preferable to any other.

I think Nihilism is the reasonable alternative to resurrection based Christianity. If this is all there is, and there is no God of absolute value, there is no essential truth or value. Postmodernism is a take off on this very idea, although it tries to avoid the fatalism that accompanies nihilism. In that way it mirrors the thinking of Nietzche. We just cannot get away from this guy.

So, you could call many Post Modern churches Nihilists. They deny the resurrection, and therefore God as we know him in the Bible, but try to apply the values of Christianity to their lives, inherently knowing that they need such values, but often failing because there is no motivation without belief.

But, Paul rejected that idea and exhorted the Corinthians to come to their senses and stop sinning as if there would never be a time to account for their actions. He also said to avoid association with such people, because it corrupts good character.

In contrast, 1 John 3:3 says “Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.”

15:35-41 The Resurrection Body

35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

So, the next question is, since there is a resurrection of the dead, how are we raised? What kind of body will we have? That is a good question. Some people feel that we will just be spirits, but that is not what the Bible says. Some, of course, think we will be angels, as in A Wonderful Life, but that is not it either. Angels are a separate type of being.

Paul’s first point is that the resurrection body will be different than the earthly body. He uses an analogy to a seed which is planted and becomes a plant, such as wheat or some other grain. The wheat seed does not look like the stalk of wheat. A kernel of corn does not look like the corn stalk. The acorn does not look like the oak tree. Planting is an illustration of the resurrection. The apparently dead seed is placed in the ground, but later a living plant springs forth. God can “quicken” or bring to life, seeds, and he can quicken human bodies.

God is also capable of creating different kinds of bodies. There is quite an array. There are birds, fish, animals and people. There is earth, the stars, the planets and all kinds of things in space. So, we should not be surprised that our earthly bodies will be changed into a different kind of body. It does not have to be exactly like this body. He can create a glorious body for us to inhabit for eternity.

15:42-49 Comparing the Bodies

42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 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. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; [4] the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall [5] also bear the image of the man of heaven.

Here are the differences given by Paul:

Perishable imperishable
Dishonor glory
Weakness power
Natural spiritual

Paul tells us that, if there is a natural body, there must be a spiritual body. He explains this by referring again to the contrast between Adam and Christ. As humans, children of Adam, we bear his likeness. We are flesh, in effect, made from dust. But, as believers, we also bear the image of Christ. He is a life giving spirit, so we have this eternal, spiritual life.

15:50-56 A Changed Man

50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 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 imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

We cannot inherit the kingdom in the body we have. So, even those of us who do not die before the resurrection, must be changed. It will happen in a moment. First, the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and the living will be changed. This is similar to 1 Thessalonians 4:16, that says the dead in Christ will rise first.

When we are all changed, and have the imperishable and immortal body, Christ will have the final victory over death. The quote is from Hosea 13:14. Verse 26 already told us the last enemy to be conquered is death.

The sting of death is sin. Sin brought death into the world. The power of sin is the law. The law defined sin for us and set the standard. It also brought out the sin nature, making us want to sin and break the law.

But, we will have victory over all this in the resurrection. There will be no more death and no more sin.

15:58 Live For the Resurrection

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Since we know we will be resurrected and inherit an imperishable and immortal body, we should be steadfast and immovable in our faith. We do not focus on the pleasures or the trials of earthly life, but rather focus on the work of the Lord. That work is not in vain. Eternity will last far longer and be of far greater consequence that this earthly life.

Certainly, God gives us strength and help to get through our earthly life, but our great hope and consolation is the resurrection.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Blogging has been light, I know. Actually, non-existent. Too many places to go recently, but I'll try to do better.