Thank God It’s Over!

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This Sunday marked the very last sermon in Rich’s 1 Corinthians series. You who have been following the blog have endured it for the last three months, we the last six or more. We have a brief respite for a week or so as guest speakers take over, but then it’s back to another series that doesn’t end until September.

Ugh. Why can’t Rich be like other pastors and only spend a week or two lightly skimming a passage? What is all this going deeper nonsense anyway?

Ben TrubeI should hope that the date if nothing else should be an indication that my tongue is very much in my cheek as I write this. In truth I’ve enjoyed journeying through 1 Corinthians together with you and with our congregation, even on the weeks when we had to cover some of the most well known passages of scripture. Hopefully this blog has been helpful to you, hypothetical readers, in wherever God has been meeting you.

For some of us, as Rich observed, this will be the last time we look at Corinthians for quite some time. Maybe one particular thought will stay with us, or possibly nothing at all. It’s easy to have a very light engagement with the Bible, maybe think about something for an hour or even a few days after we hear it, but not to engage with it afterward.

Truth is, many of us, myself included, haven’t even read large swaths of the Bible once. We’ve covered all of the “important” books, the gospels, some of the Psalms, Romans. We’ve tried to read from cover to cover and fell down somewhere in Lamentations (an aptly named book if ever there was one).

It’s important for what we’ve read to work on us, and us to work on it. The Bible is the easiest thing in the world to carry around with us. There’s apps, multiple free translations, and even cheap paid ebooks. And if you’re like me you’ve probably got enough physical copies to keep one at your office, one at home, and one in your car and still have a few leftover.

It’s good that the Bible is ubiquitous and available, as long as we read it, as long as we learn from what we’ve read, and as long as we come back to it from time to time as life changes. Rich will be soon be moving into a more topical study on the Christian life, and this can be just as engaging. But these deep cuts, these semester or more long studies of a single book have value as well. Read the Bible in spurts, savor it in long quiet times. However you read it, read it!

The “You” In Resurrection

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Jesus died. He returned to life in an event called The Resurrection. His return was witnessed by lots of his contemporaries. This evidences heaven’s validation of Jesus’ words, his works, and his being. The Resurrection event is a cornerstone of Christian faith. And The Resurrection supplies the context for this portion of Paul’s letter to the Christians living in Corinth, too.

JeffWhitesideThe Resurrection is huge. It’s pivotal. It is vital. And essential. Paul supplies the link between the Resurrection and the Corinthian believers. As he does, he embeds an often overlooked point.

There’s a ‘u’ in the Resurrection. Perhaps it would be better to spell out the word. There’s a “you” in the Resurrection. Yes, yes, there is a future resurrection promised to all believers- you might want to read about it in Revelation 22. But this is not the “you” I’m referencing. It’s found in the initial sentences of this chapter, and the term is used repeatedly. A lot.

Notice these phrases –“…remind you … preached to you, … you received … you have taken your stand. you are saved, … if you hold … preached to you. …, you have believed in vain. …passed on to you.”

When the Holy Spirit inspires a writer to repeat a word or phrase over and over, it jumps out of the text, or it should. That’s what attracted my focus over the opening words in this text. Apparently, between the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and an enduring faith lies ‘you’. Paul emphasized this point, as did Pastor Rich in last Sunday’s sermon at Smoky Row Brethren Church. I’d like to go a bit farther.

That Jesus returned from death is a singularly special. It happened without human agency. No person made it happen. It’s all God. It’s not possible to recreate this in a laboratory setting. It stands alone as a focal point of God’s work on behalf of his creation.

His Resurrection is not dependent on my belief. It does not require your belief, either. That said, it means that he returned to life aware of how I’d benefit from the event. He knew what it would do for you, too. But it’s effective when ‘you’ make the connection between your belief and his work. Books, wordy books, long books, even volumes of books have been written on the topic of you and The Resurrection. I really don’t intend to be the final voice on the topic.

Contemplate that the work of the creator, in the person of Jesus Christ, accomplished a feat on your behalf. It has lots of implications. Perhaps receiving and holding, believing and standing are concepts Christian people need to incorporate into their faith. What might that do for the individual, their church family, and the unconnected?

~Post written by Jeff Whiteside