Sometimes that ‘what if?” question of thought just passes through your mind. “What if I’d married someone else?” “What if I’d been born in another country?” So many options to think on like these! In 1 Corinthians 15;12-34, Paul asks the question ‘What if Christ was not raised?” and comes up with some devastating answers. The resurrection of Jesus is so crucial to the Scriptures that without it, everything else falls. Paul even says that we may as well live the the rest of the world and adopt their philosophy ‘eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die!’. But he doesn’t leave it there. One of the great ‘buts’ of the Bible puts things into their proper perspective!
On what basis are we accepted before God? In Luke 17:1-10, Jesus says his followers are unworthy servants. God owes us nothing and we owe him everything because he has accepted us by grace through faith alone. Hearing him, the disciples ask Jesus to increase their faith but they – and we – don’t need more faith so much as true faith. Having been forgiven, we forgive others – not to impress anyone but merely having “done what was our duty” (v10).
Prayer is something that should be fundamental to every Christian, yet we often neglect prayer while also taking prayer for granted (1 John 1:5-2:2). In this message, Ryan Smith reminds us again of the amazing provision that enables us, sinners, to come before a holy and righteous God, with confidence, and call on him as our Father (Mark 14:32-42). The good news transforms our understanding of prayer!
When you compare the leaders of world religions, it’s clearly a no-contest. Only Jesus lives. The rest are dead. And the evidence for this resruuection of Jesus is something that the Apostle Paul was keen to share with the church at Corinth. So in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, Paul did just that, reminded his readers of not only the information that had been passed down to him personally, but also of his own experience (not to mention that of at least 500 others) of the risen Christ. But this message of the resruuection is not just fact, it is fact that leads to a changed life and a living hope in the face of death.
There’s no doubt that the death of Jesus was one of the world’s greatest events for all the wrong reasons. Not only was He inncocent of all charges laid against Him and not only did the situation show itself to be one fuelled by anger and hatred, it was also true that it was possibly the greatest injustice ever handed out to a man. It’s telling that when the Son of God appeared on earth, mankind rejected Him and put Him on the cross. But that’s not the whole story and in Mark 15:1-15, the other side of the coin is made clear. Jesus went through with all this in obedience to God’s plan and in the madness of it all, we can trace the love and mercy of God.
There’s something about love that means that thousands of songs are written about it and everyone seems to want it! In 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, the Apostle Paul speaks about love quite extensively in a well-known text that has been used at many a wedding, but what he has to say really applies in the first instance to the church at Corinth, who had forgotten that the grace of love is better than any spiritual gift. And what he wrote was really for the church to put into practise – in loving each other – and loving in the way that Jesus loved the church, by laying down His life for her. Ultimately, our lack of love or lovelessness, is because we have moved far away from the cross – where we learn what love really is.
There’s no doubt that the human body is a wonderful invention. The fact that we can move, breathe, talk, eat sleep, is so often taken for granted. So much has to happen for everything to work together. If the church is the ‘body of Christ’ as 1 Corinthians 12:14-31 indicates, then it’s likely that the same holds true. Every part of the body not only has its own place but its own purpose and function. And every part of the body, each individual in the body is linked to the One who is the Head of the body for His purposes. That’s the wonder of being part of ‘the Church’, which exists for His glory and not that of the individual parts!
The Old Testament book of Joshua tells the story of the people of Israel taking possession of the land of Canaan according to God’s promise and instruction. By the time Joshua 9:1-27 comes around, not all has gone according to plan for God’s people – mainly through their own disobedience and failure to keep in touch with the Lord and His plans. This message of the chapter preached by Chris, tells us of a similar story, but ends up with a striking parallel for the those who are saved by His grace and included in the number of His people today.
The Church. What is it? Some say a building. This is true, but only one aspect of the answer. The idea of the Church being a ‘body’ is found in the New Testament, especially in 1 Corinthians 12:1-13. The church is made up of individuals, all saved by grace, and all united to the one Head (Jesus) who brings us together and makes us part of His body. It’s this that unites us and this unity should be evident to the whole world throughout all generations as witness to the the one truth, ‘Jesus is Lord’.
There’s little doubt that 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 is a difficult text that over the years has been interpreted and applied in many ways. But, as difficult as it is to grasp at first glance, the text must be and is there for a good reason. It seems there was a fair bit of confusion in Corinth about gender roles (is anything new?) and this seems to be at the heart of Paul’s words – which apply to us today in the realm of what you have in your heart, rather than what you do or don’t wear on your head.