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Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Did Christ Rise From the Dead or is Faith Folly

Paul, in answer to the question proposed, would say faith is but folly if Christ did not rise from the dead.  “For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (1 Cor. 15:16-17 NKJV)  

The atheist, the evolutionist, and all non-believers have staked their eternal well-being on their thesis that Christ did not rise from the dead.  Thus the faith of the non-believers and the faith of those who do believe both revolve around the matter of the resurrection (did it or did it not occur).  If it occurred there is a God in heaven and Jesus is his Son, the Son of God, and the Savior of the world. 

The Bible teaches this very thing.  Speaking of Jesus the Bible says that he was, “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” (Rom. 1:4 NKJV)  By what means was he declared the Son of God?  By the resurrection from the dead, that sealed the deal. 

One does not need scientific proof to resolve the question of the resurrection of Jesus.  And, besides, how did we ever come to delude ourselves that science can answer every question?  Can science tell you how many grains of sand there are on all the beaches of the world or where the universe ends or how human language developed and became so diverse? 

If a person is a rational being the question of the resurrection of Jesus is one of the easier questions he or she will ever have to answer.  That there was a man named Jesus that lived on the earth in ancient Israel approximately 2,000 years ago is no longer a debated question among scholars.  None to my knowledge deny he was crucified.  All we have to resolve is this question of the resurrection.  How do we do it? 

The first issue to look at is whether or not the body of Jesus was stolen for that was the claim made by the chief priests and Pharisees.  Fearing that might happen they went to Pilate and requested a Roman guard be placed at the tomb. 

Speaking to Pilate they said, “‘Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise.'  Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead.'  So the last deception will be worse than the first.’  Pilate said to them, ‘You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.’  So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.’” (Matt. 27:63-66 NKJV) 

I am sure you remember the story of the cover-up after the resurrection how some of the guard went into the city and reported to the chief priests those things that had happened and then were given a sum of money to tell the lie that the body of Jesus was stolen while they slept.  A promise was made to them that the chief priests would appease the governor if worse came to worse and it came to his ears that they had been negligent in their duty while on guard. (Matt. 28:11-14) 

What is wrong with that story?  You name it, you got it.  First, it was not only a violation of duty to fall asleep on guard duty, as it also is today, but the punishment in the Roman army was death if the matter was pursued.  You do not fall asleep on guard duty.  

Secondly, it was not a matter of one man alone on the job for then we could imagine one man might fall asleep.  We cannot know how many men had guard duty that night although there has been speculation but we know there were at least a few for only “some of the guard” (Matt. 28:11) go to report the happenings to the priests.  Some means some went and some didn’t.  Did they all sleep at the same time that night without fear of death if caught?  Is there no discipline in the Roman army?  

In the third place the stone by which the tomb entrance was closed was very large (Mark 16:4) and the women who went to the tomb that morning of the resurrection were very concerned about how they were going to move it before arriving on the scene.  This meant it would not be moved easily and would likely take the efforts of more than one man to move.  The same can be said of the body of Jesus unless the perpetrator was going to sling the body across his shoulder and walk off and if so how far was he going to go doing that?  Were the guards not only asleep but in a drunken sleep so sound that all the noise would not awaken them--not awaken even one of them? 

In the fourth place if the body was stolen about everyone knew who would have been in on it.  Why not track down the apostles and beat the truth out of them?  Why was it not done?  Were the Romans, the chief priests, the Pharisees above doing that sort of thing?  What did they do to Christ?  If they themselves believed the story they told publicly, that the body was stolen, why not go after the culprits most likely guilty of the theft?    

In the fifth place, why did the soldiers lie about it?  Was it just the money?  It could have been but it’s very doubtful.  They are in a bind, in a tight spot.  Without help from the chief priests, their lives are in danger for they have done the unthinkable and allowed the body to be stolen on their watch.  Without someone in their corner helping them out they are in danger of losing their own lives so they desperately need the support of the chief priests. 

If they tell the truth about what happened publicly where is their proof?  Who will believe that Jesus rose from the dead and if they are not believed what will become of them?  Will they lose their lives?  From their vantage point, things look pretty hopeless no matter what they do.  Taking the money and lying seems the better way out for who will believe them if they tell the truth and if the governor does not believe them what will become of them?  Will the governor have them put to death? 

So was the body stolen?  You do not believe that if you are a rational person.  The next argument is in my opinion so strong as to completely close the case on the side of the resurrection without another word being spoken about the matter. 

After Jesus was resurrected even his closest disciples did not believe it when it was reported to them.  “Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.” (Mark 16:14 NKJV)  You remember Thomas would not believe unless he could thrust his hand into Jesus’ side. (John 20:25 NKJV) 

And yet, shortly thereafter, they are ready and willing to die for him.  How does one explain that?  Do you sacrifice all for one you know to be dead?  What was there to be gained by such a thing?  Why do you give up everything for a lie unless you know for a fact that what men are calling a lie (Jesus' resurrection) is instead the truth?  

Stephen was martyred, then James.  We know Peter later was also for Jesus said to him, “'Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.'  This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God.  And when He had spoken this, He said to him, 'Follow Me.'" (John 21:18-19 NKJV)  No one doubts that Paul also lost his life because he was a Christian, and died for Christ. 

How does one explain this?  What gets men to go to the extremes they were willing to go to?  There was no money in it (in being a Christian), there was no power to be had in it, there was only hardship and sacrifice, danger and death. 

Paul said, “Are they ministers of Christ?--I speak as a fool--I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.  From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” (2 Cor. 11:23-27 NKJV) 

Why would a man like Paul was before his conversion with all the advantages he had in the religious system he was in (Judaism) become a Christian and place upon himself all these things he endured if he had no certain proof that Jesus had risen from the dead?  What was his advantage in doing so? 

All reason, all common sense, tells us Christ arose from the grave, was resurrected, and that the only reason men do not believe it today is they are willingly blind and desire to remain so for personal reasons that most are not willing to admit.  They prefer to live their lives the way they choose rather than the way Christ would have them live. 

Are men not afraid of God?  Paul quotes the Psalmist and says, “'There is no fear of God before their eyes.'” (Rom. 3:18 NKJV)  But, the Bible also says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Cor. 5:10 NKJV)  All men and women will fear God in due time but it will be too late to make a difference with most.  If you are reading this it is not too late to turn to God today but the time will come when it will be for, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6:2 NKJV) 

To deny the resurrection is to deny Christ.  “Whoever denies Me Before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 10:33 NKJV, Jesus speaking)  “If we deny Him, He also will deny us.” (2 Tim. 2:12 NKJV)

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Tuesday, October 18, 2022

No Inheritance in The Kingdom of God – Part IV

This article will conclude a series on the nature of the sins listed by the apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 6:9-10, Gal. 5:19-21, and Eph. 5:5-7 which Paul says will deprive a person of any inheritance in the kingdom of God if practiced and not repented of.  In Part 1 the sins of adultery and fornication were covered; Part II covered the sins of homosexuality, sodomy, uncleanness, and lewdness; Part III dealt with the sins of idolatry, covetousness, thievery, extortion, sorcery, hatred, and drunkenness.

In this article, the last article in the series, we will cover every sin listed that remains from the three text passages.  The sins to be covered are revilers, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, and revelries.  Here are texts we have been working from using the New King James Version:

1 Cor. 6:9-10

Gal. 5:19-21

Eph. 5:5-7


“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1Cor.  6:9-10 NKJV)


“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,

idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal. 5:19-21 NKJV)


“For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.” (Eph. 5:5-7 NKJV)

Who is a “reviler”?  A reviler is one who is “verbally abusive.”  The Christian Standard Bible and the NET Bible translate the Greek term with that very phrase.  It is abusive language directed at another.  It is one who scolds, who angrily finds fault and reproves another with loud and angry or abusive speech.  This is a way of life with the reviler, who he or she is.  We are commanded to rebuke at times (Luke 17:3, 2 Tim. 4:2 for example) but it is how we do it that makes the difference.

What does “outbursts of wrath” refer to?  There are people who become so angry they cannot contain themselves and have what we might call a meltdown.  They become so overwhelmed with anger they cannot contain themselves, seemingly lose all control, and explode with a vitriol of abusive language directed at their target.   One writer had this to say about it, There are persons in which these tempests of wrath take a demoniac form. ‘The face grows livid, the limbs move convulsively, the nervous organ­ism is seized by a storm of frenzy, and until it is passed, the individual is completely beside himself.’” It is a frightful thing to observe.  Such a one must repent and learn to control himself if he or she is to have any inheritance in the kingdom of God.

“Dissensions” is a reference to a lack of concord or harmony between persons. defines dissension as, “strong disagreement; a contention or quarrel; discord.”  Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words says “an insurrection, uproar” and gives Mark 15:7, Luke 23:19, 25, and Acts 19:40,  24:5 as references.  Most of the references listed refer to insurrection but not always.  You can have dissension without outright insurrection.  Under this idea Vine lists Acts 15:2 and Acts 23:7, 10.  To summarize the idea seems to be of a person who sows discord, a person hard to please or satisfy, one who wants to argue and fight.

“Contentions,” another of our sins that keeps one out of an inheritance, as found in the New King James Version is in other versions called strife (CSB, ESV, NAS, NET, NRSV, RV, and YLT).  The NLT uses the word quarreling which according to Strong’s Dictionary is correct.  It says, a quarrel, that is, (by implication) wrangling.”  It seems to refer to a person who wants to quarrel or fight rather than live with others in peace.  Paul says, in speaking to Christians, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” (1 Cor. 1:10 NKJV)  Again, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” (Rom. 12:18 NKJV)  This the contentious person is not doing.  A person has a choice about whether or not to start or engage in a quarrel, to be contentious or not.

“Selfish ambitions” is a work of the flesh Paul lists that he says will deny one an inheritance in the kingdom of God.  What the NKJV calls “selfish ambitions” other translations call rivalries (ESV, YLT), selfish rivalries (NET), strife (KJV), disputes (NAS), and factions (RV).  The Greek word is “eris” and Vine says it “is the expression of enmity.”  It would seem to be then one who is opposed to another to the extent he is determined to get the best of his opponent lacking any charity for him or her, a person who must have his way.

Admittedly, the sins of dissensions, contentions, and selfish ambitions are closely related and a little difficult, on occasion, to distinguish one from the other.  Add to that there may be overlap in that one can be guilty of more than just one of these sins.  There is also the fact that what one translation calls this another translation may call that based on the similarity of the words.  Regardless, I think we all get the general idea of what these terms in the aggregate are teaching.

This brings us to two more terms closely related, sins that keep one out of heaven – “jealousies” and “envy.”  With regards to jealousy here is a case where nearly every translation uses that singular word other than the very oldest translations like the KJV which uses the outdated word emulations.  A jealous person is not happy with the position, success, influence, or wealth of another.  It seems to make him miserable.  Perhaps he feels the other person’s success makes him smaller but whatever the case he cannot be happy.  He is unable to “rejoice with those who rejoice” (Rom. 12:15 NKJV) nor does he find it easy to be content even though “godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Tim. 6:6 NKJV)

In talking about envy versus jealousy Vine makes this distinction, “Envy desires to deprive another of what he has; jealousy desires to have the same or the same sort of thing for itself.” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, page 367, under Envy)  The Daily Study Bible says, “The essence of it is that it does not describe the spirit which desires, nobly or ignobly, to have what someone else has: it describes the spirit which grudges the fact that the other person has these things at all.  It does not so much want the things for itself; it merely wants to take them from the other.  The Stoics defined it as ‘grief at someone else’s good.’  Basil called it ‘grief at your neighbours good fortune.’  It is the quality, not so much of the jealous, but rather of the embittered mind.”

This brings us to “heresies.”  Here we have a word that can mislead one.  The first thought to mind may be that heresy is some kind of unscriptural false doctrine.  While that may be involved that is not really the meaning of the word.  Here is how it is translated in other versions: factions (CSB, NAS, NET, NIV, NRSV), the NLT and ESV have division and divisions respectively, and the Good News Bible simply says, using its dynamic equivalent form of translation where meaning is preferred over literalness, “they separate into parties and groups.”

Paul condemned this in the church at Corinth when he said, “It has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, ‘I am of Paul,’ or ‘I am of Apollos,’ or ‘I am of Cephas,’ or ‘I am of Christ.’ Is Christ divided?” (1 Cor. 1:11-13a NKJV)

Factions may be over doctrine as is the case in 2 Peter 2:1 but may just as well be over personal preferences.  We are not to be forming parties among God’s people but rather to be united in one mind (1 Cor. 1:10).  “Be of one mind, live in peace.” (2 Cor. 13:11 NKJV)  All of this is not to say one should not take a stand for the truth.  Paul was not creating another factious party in 1 Corinthians 1 and throughout that book when he set about rebuking that church’s sins.  One must not, however, be raising a fuss over peripheral matters.

“Murderers” shall not inherit the kingdom of God.  This sin is easily enough understood.   We know, however, this sin goes beyond the physical act for John says, “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” (1 John 3:15 NKJV)  Jesus taught that “out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders ….” (Matt. 15:19 NKJV)  “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (Prov. 4:23 NLT)

“Revelries” is the last sin to be discussed in this four-part series on Paul’s statements that there would no inheritance in the kingdom of God for those continuing on in these sins.  Many translations use the word “carousing” here instead of the word revelries (see CSB, NAS, NET, and the NRSV).  The ESV, the GNB, and the NIV use the word “orgies.”  The ALT translation says “drunken orgies” and the ERV says “having wild parties.”  We get the idea.  Unfortunately, this is a relatively common sin among many of the younger college-age set.  Once one reaches the age of accountability he can die and go to perdition without living into old age.  We are all accountable for how we live and there is no sowing of your wild oats with God.

Paul adds to his long list of sins in Gal. 5:19-21 this closing, “and such like.”  It is left up to you and me to have enough common sense about us to figure out what else there is.  The list is not finished.  We have in the scriptures enough information about God’s will to take it from here.  We are taught how to live and the nature of things to flee from.  After our initial conversion (the new birth) given a little time on the milk of the word we are to move on to the meat of the word (Heb. 5:12-14).  We are to learn and grow and come to “understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Eph. 5:17 NKJV)

There are other lists of sins in the New Testament.  Any sin engaged in and never repented of will keep one out of heaven.  It was obviously not Paul’s intent to say here is the all-inclusive list that will do that.  May we all continue to read and study and grow in the scriptures and flee from sin.

(I add this closing note.  There are a number of good free web sites online that will allow you to compare translations.  When doubtful on what a word you come across means it is good to take advantage of those sites as they will be a great help to you in discerning and understanding your Bible.  The same goes for difficult passages as well as individual words.)

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Link to Part I

Link to Part II

Link to Part III