Raised from the Dead

“Some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame”

1 Corinthians 15:34

By itself this statement may seem a bit too obvious. It was as obvious to Paul’s readers as it is to us that most people do not have a true knowledge of God, our Creator. The context reveals that he is writing to the church in Corinth saying that some in the church do not have the knowledge of God. That is also just as true today as it was then. I have heard many testimonies of people who had been attending church for years before discovering that they were not born of God. On discovering this they received Him as Lord and Saviour. This is true of me.

The specific truth that some people in the Corinthian church had not accepted was the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul concludes that people who deny Christ’s bodily resurrection do not know the truth and are therefore not born of God, not saved. The fact of Christ’s bodily resurrection is just as much a key element in the Gospel as is Christ’s atoning death (vv 3-4). If He is not raised then neither will we be raised. If that were true, there would be no hope beyond the grave (vv 17-19).

Paul affirms that Christ is risen (v 20) based on the many witnesses who had seen Jesus after His crucifixion and burial, many of whom were still alive at the time of writing and could testify to that fact. This includes Paul himself (vv 5-8). Only two or three witnesses are required to verify a fact but Paul could produce many more than that. Any serious seeker of the truth would be able to find a living witness. Paul’s experience mirrors that of Israel when Jesus returns after the Tribulation. At that time all Israel we see Jesus come in the brightness of His glory and receive Him (Romans 11:26).

Those professing Christians in the Corinthian church may have thought they were true followers of Christ but their own testimony denied that to be so. Those who are truly born of God have the witness of the Holy Spirit in themselves that Jesus is raised bodily from death. From His witness, and that of the Bible, we are able to affirm with Paul that Jesus is raised and is our hope of our own bodily resurrection. Paul queries why he or anyone would risk their lives daily for a gospel that only gives hope in this life (vv 29-30, 19). Christ is raised bodily and all in Him will also be raised bodily (v 20). Those who truly know Him can give a hearty “Amen” to this.

No Chocolate Soldiers, Please!

“You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.2 Timothy 2:3

It might be easy for us to incorrectly apply this verse if we do not take it in context. The previous two verses set the context and the following verse gives us application.

The context is that we are recipients of God’s grace in Christ Jesus (v 1). We have received the gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ but it is not a gift for us only. It is for the whole world (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2). Having received such a gift Paul expects that our reasonable service is to be faithful in telling others that they too may be recipients of the same gift. This will require “hardship.” Jesus expects that we will suffer the hardship of persecution because we go in His name (John 15:20). He has sent us into the world to make disciples of Himself (Matthew 28:19-20) and Paul expresses that in verse two in this passage.

Mature men, faithful to Jesus Christ, will disciple and teach spiritually younger men who demonstrate faithfulness to Christ. In this context Paul writes that such mature faithful men will persevere and endure as a soldier does in the heat of battle. He won’t retreat no matter how great the hardship. Those who retreat in the face of persecution or hardship demonstrate that they are not faithful soldiers of Christ (Luke 14:25-27). They are chocolate soldiers who melt away when the heat comes. That we are chocolate soldiers is perhaps confirmed by the fact that we do not sing songs like “Soldiers of Christ Arise” and Onward, Christian Soldiers” anymore. We are focussed more on self preservation than conquering the enemy.

In verse four Paul gives one reason chocolate soldiers melt away. They have a priority greater than serving Jesus Christ. They are too much in love with this world and seek to please themselves rather than pleasing the Lord Jesus. Paul writes that Christians are “enlisted” in Christ’s army (v 4). When we surrendered to Jesus Christ He enlisted us in His army to serve and please Him. The benefits of citizenship oblige us to protect that citizenship.

We live in a world made up of many spectators and few participants. It is similar on the battle field these days. A few men are fighting but multitudes watch on television and make comments of praise or criticism. This is not how the Lord intended His church to be. All who have received His grace gift of eternal life are enlisted to turn away from the affairs of this life and to serve Him in His affairs; that is, making disciples regardless of the heat of battle. No chocolate soldiers in Christ’s church, please!