In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came into being through Him,
and apart from Him nothing came into being
that has come into being.
In Him was life,
and the life was the Light of men.
The Light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not comprehend it.
There was the true Light
which, coming into the world,
enlightens every man.
He was in the world,
and the world was made through Him,
and the world did not know Him.
He came to His own,
and those who were His own did not receive Him.
BORN OF GOD
Butas many as received Him,
to them He gave the right
to become children of God,
even to those who believe in His name,
who were born,
not of blood
nor of the will of the flesh
nor of the will of man,
but of God.
GLORY, GRACE, AND TRUTH
And the Word became flesh,
and dwelt among us,
and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father,
For of His fullness we have all received,
and grace upon grace.
For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.
No one has seen God at any time;
the only begotten God
who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.
…and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions. - Galatians 1:14 NASB
Have you ever notice how serious Paul is about living in the New Covenant.
Often we live in a hybrid system of law + grace.
We look at our roots in Judaism as a compatible companion to Christianity, a sort of ‘stepping stone’ religion.
This phrase ‘ancestral traditions’ strikes me. It demonstrates just how serious Paul is distancing himself from Judaism. The keeping of the law is what Paul calls ancestral traditions. It’s a phrase we might use for some tribal religions of “uncivilized” people groups.
He did not call it the law or the old covenant, or Hebrew tradition, or the faith or our fathers. He spoke of it as if he was called out of some heathen superstition.
Sadly we model much of our lives after the Old Covenant, in fact many Christians can’t even see the difference.
I can remember making the argument myself about Jesus. Saying He was full of grace and truth, and truth is law – so our covenant is one of grace and law. But Jesus did not model grace and law, he modeled grace and – well – grace.
When he spoke of the law, or gave rules, they were impossible laws and unkeepable rules.
I recently heard a speaker (Bill Vanderbush) talking about where Jesus says:
If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. - Luke 14:26
Forever I have explained this as it being a matter of degrees – love them so much less than you love God that it feels a little like hate.
But does Jesus really expect us to be a movement marked by hate? (When I read my facebook feed I see that we easily lean that way.)
Didn’t He say…
But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, - Luke 6:27
The commands Jesus gave were to demonstrate that the keeping of the law was impossible.
An unkeepable law can only drive us to grace and call us to His great mercy.
Lord, save us from our love for the Old and fear of the New Covenant.
For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. - John 1:17 NASB
God gave the law to Moses as the opening gambit of a plan to reconcile man to Himself, but it was never the whole plan.
Paul tells us the law was weak because man’s flesh was weak.
For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, - Romans 8:3 NASB
As I read this verse in John this morning I was struck by the word “realized.” Verse 14 tells us that Jesus was the Word and He was “full of grace and truth.”
Wasn’t the law the word too?
It was only a part of the word!
The word “realized” in the NASB which is more often translated “came” – “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” – has a much stronger meaning. It’s not that grace and truth just arrived, or showed up.
It might be better to say grace and truth culminated in Jesus Christ.
The law made the way for grace by showing us how far we were from the Father.
The law is a fragment of truth, but left us with an incomplete understanding of God.
If we only look at the law, we will never see the true nature of God in all His fullness.
Only by looking at Jesus can we see and comprehend God. God is full of grace and truth – the law is not.
Jesus came to fulfill the law – not to keep it – but to complete its representation of God.
The law is like an abstract line drawing of God, where you can get a sense of His character, but Jesus is a photograph – no – a high-definition holographic – no – He is God in the Flesh. He is the fulfillment of grace and truth.
Jesus is grace and truthACCOMPLISHED. [Tweet This]
We are looking at how Paul answers the heresy that had cropped up in the Church of Corinth.
Today we look at 5 problems he poses that would militate against a Christianity without the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, and by extension the bodily resurrection of His followers.
Difficulty # 1
If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:13
It seems that this heresy simply stated was that Christ had been raised from the dead, but we will not be. That our future was in spirit only, so physical appetites would never be experienced once we pass into eternity.
It seems to me that Paul is saying, if Christ can be raised, clearly God could manage to raise us as well. It is not as if God does not have the power to raise us, and clearly He has demonstrated this by raising Christ.
The verse that jumps to mind is Romans 8:11
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.
…and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:14
I talked about this a bit last Friday, so I am going to let you peak back there for a discussion of vain faith.
More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:15
Speaking to a mostly Jewish community of believers, the next part of his argument is that if all this is a lie, then he, Paul, and all who preach the Gospel, Peter, Apollos, they are all liars, which in a culture where you are preaching about a man called Truth – could not be worse. There is just about nothing worse in Hebrew culture than a liar.
That culture of Truth is even stronger (or should be) in a Christian culture. After all we call our selves by the name of Christ, and He called himself The Truth. He is the Word made flesh, and David said “Thy Word is truth.” The Word of God is the ultimate source of Truth, and Jesus is the express image of that very Word from the mouth of God.
For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:16-17
There was a real eye opener for me.
These Christians who had come out of the Jewish religion, knew all about the Messianic prophecies. Hundreds of them. I am told there are over 300 prophecies that Jesus fulfilled during His life among us.
Can you see how clearly fulfilling 300 specific detailed prophecies would identify a person.
For example, to prove I am who I am to a bank web site, I need to specify my SS#, and answer a few specific questions that only I would know the answer to.
Perhaps a better example would be that if I want to get a piece of mail to my daughter across the country, I only need a few specific details to get it directly into her hands, and there will be no doubt if she is the right recipient either.
With a name and address made up of a few details like street, city, state, country, zip, etc, I can ID almost anyone in the world.
Ok – so these Corinthian Christians know that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, and was the sacrifice that God supplied for their sins.
If He did not rise from the dead, not only are they still in their sins, because they have abandoned their Jewish ways (perhaps) but even the Jews, who are looking for a Messiah are out of luck.
You see if Christ did not rise, then the hopes of every Jew were done. There was no other Messiah forthcoming. Jesus was it, and if it did not work, every lamb sacrificed for thousands of years was for naught.
Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:18
Clearly there is no hope for those who have died with their trust in a dead Christ.
Paul sums it up pretty well here with this final statement.
If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:19
But don’t despair! Come back tomorrow for some really (I mean REALLY) good news.