1 Corinthians 15:35-41

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, January 29, 2024 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
- 1 Corinthians 15:35-41

In the previous section, Paul established that there is hope for a world beyond this one. Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we too have the opportunity of life after we die a physical death in this world. Here, Paul begins to discuss how our resurrected bodies will be different and a bit about how we get to that point.

The questions that were posed by the first-century Corinthians in verse 35 are ones that we still have today. First, they asked how the dead are raised, and then they asked what kind of body people will have after they are raised from the dead. Paul has made a convincing argument that resurrection will happen, based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and therefore the dead will be raised. But that naturally raises other questions in our minds about the details of how that will occur.

But then in verse 36, Paul calls those questions foolish! He then begins to use a seed analogy to explain how this will all work. The first step for a plant to come to life is that it must die. That plant doesn’t just magically happen; first, something has to die in order for it to exist.

Paul’s explanation in verse 37 may seem obvious, but he needs to state that fact for his point to make sense. If you’re trying to grow a certain plant, you don’t put that plant in the ground for it to create more of itself. No; you put a seed for that plant in the ground. Now, of course, seeds do generally come out of the mature plant, but it won’t work very well to just stick that entire mature plant in the ground. You must first get the seed, which is “dead” in the ground. But then it begins to grow roots and sprout, thus producing new life.

Paul applies the analogy to the resurrection in verse 38, comparing how God has determined what type of plant will come from a seed to how He has determined what kind of bodies we will have after we are resurrected. The new plant looks different from the seed, yet it came from it. It has a new and different “body” to it, but that “new body” is still related to the seed.

Paul introduces another analogy in verse 39: that of people and different types of animals. While people, animals, birds, and fish are all alive, we have different kinds of bodies and different kinds of flesh. While all of these living creatures are made up of similar substances, God is able to make them into different creatures depending on what He wants to do.

Paul brings up one more analogy in verses 40-41: that of heavenly bodies and earthly bodies. These are the nonliving things that God created (see Genesis 1). Paul doesn’t tell us what he means by “earthly bodies,” but we can surmise that he means things like mountains, canyons, forests, etc. – the natural beauties that leave us in awe here on Earth. The heavenly bodies are the sun, the moon, the stars, and the planets. These are all different from one another, yet they are also much the same, all being made of the same general substances. They have different levels of splendor or brilliance to them. The earthly bodies are different from the heavenly bodies, and the heavenly bodies are different from each other.

It is amazing that today’s science has essentially confirmed what Paul stated. We know that everything in all creation is made up of a finite number of elements. Those elements combine in different ways to make up everything that exists in creation. Everything living is made up of its own unique DNA – just 4 chemical building blocks that combine in a myriad of ways but with slight differences between different creatures.

Paul is telling us that God can take similar physical material and organize it differently to accomplish whatever He wants to accomplish with it. But what does that have to do with the resurrection?

While that’s the end of the passage we’re looking at today, we need to take a sneak peek at the first part of the next verse: “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead.” This implies that God will be able to take our human bodies and organize the material differently to accomplish whatever He wants to accomplish with it. God is the almighty God, creator of the universe, so He can make our resurrected bodies to be whatever He wants them to be.

As mere humans, we cannot know the mind of God except whatever He reveals to us. He has revealed to us in His creation that He can create anything and everything. If He can make a seed turn into a plant using the natural processes that He has created, then surely He can resurrect us humans through His supernatural processes! He will give us whatever bodies that He sees fit.

God created us with a sense of wonder and curiosity, but that doesn’t mean we can discover everything, especially about what our resurrected bodies will look like at some point in the future. That is Paul’s point in this passage; our resurrected bodies will be different than our current bodies, just as a plant is different than the seed it came from, but we don’t know in what way they will be different. We simply need to trust God that He will do what is best out of His goodness and love for us.

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Backstory of the Kings 19: Jeroboam II and Uzziah

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, January 26, 2024 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

I wanted to address both of these kings in one go because ultimately, Scripture does not say much about them. Jeroboam II has the longest reign of Israel at 41 years yet is barely given half a chapter of coverage. All he is known for doing is continuing in the sins of Jeroboam and for restoring Israel’s territory that Syria had taken during the reigns of Ahab through Jehoash. Uzziah had the 2nd longest reign of Judah at 52 years, and he gets a bit more attention – a full chapter. I have noted that Scripture is more concerned about each king’s spiritual state and the nation’s spiritual state than any political or social setting. So though it touches on the latter, Scripture emphasizes the former.

Jeroboam II was one of the strongest kings of Israel whom God used to restore its lands because he was not ready to evict them from the land for their idolatry. However, he never followed the Lord. There is no indication of him being an immoral king, just an idolatrous king. He let the idols stick around, and that is all that is said about him.

Uzziah came to the throne at a mere 16 years old because his father was assassinated for bowing before Edom’s idols and his foolish battle against Israel. He reigned for 52 years and walked in the ways of the Lord except not actively tearing down the high places of idol worship. But he went to the Temple to worship and did things God’s way for the most part. He sought the Lord, which cannot be said about Joash or Amaziah. Uzziah made Judah likely the strongest they had been since the days of Solomon. He subdued the Philistines and the Ammonites and held off attacks from Arabia. He built up Jerusalem’s defenses and became quite powerful. He didn’t have to fight against Joash or Jeroboam II of Israel. But his strength became his weakness, and he became proud. He went to offer incense in the temple, a job only the priests could do, and God struck him with leprosy of which he would die.

So, what are the backgrounds of these kings? Jeroboam II was the third king following Jehu, and his son Zechariah would finish the promise of God for four generations. Jeroboam’s rule indicates he would have been rather young when he became king to have a 41-year reign. He would have been a child or teenager when Jehoash fought against Amaziah and visited Elisha on his deathbed. Biblical prophets Amos and Hosea were prophesying in Israel, and so Jeroboam would have heard the messages. Again, there is no indication of him heeding them, repenting, or outright rejecting them; no comment is made. We just know that Jeroboam went about his business as a normal ruler who sought the best of for his kingdom, was not blatantly immoral, but never sought after the Lord.

Uzziah was a teenager when he saw his father win over Edom, take the idols, and then stupidly go to war with Jehoash. He knew his grandfather was assassinated, and now his own father was assassinated. He really didn’t want to walk the same path. We don’t know what Biblical prophets were speaking to him, but Uzziah was the first king since Jehoshaphat where Scripture explicitly states that he sought the Lord. His morality was overall about the same as his father Amaziah’s, and he knew that God was indeed real. No indication in Uzziah’s background would show a seed of his going to burn incense. That resulted from his pride that developed while he ruled and gained strength. And it was in that time of Uzziah’s leprosy that Isaiah began his ministry and had his vision of the throne room. Isaiah was in training as a prophet and would soon become the prophet for the king’s court.

One thing I pick up from these two kings, who in a political and social context should receive a large percentage of attention, is that God doesn’t bother with people who seem to cruise in their lives. There is no indication of growth or decline in Jeroboam II. There is only a decline in Uzziah and only at the end of his life. Uzziah sought the Lord and was obedient, but besides a few battles and a giant overview, only his sin is discussed in detail. When we see the Bible dealing with political situations, it refers to how they tie their trust to God or not.

We will soon look at Ahaz and Hezekiah, Uzziah’s grandson and great-grandson, where we get a strong emphasis on the political situation because it is a comparison between two kings who trusted the Lord versus trusting in the foreign nations for help. During Uzziah’s reign, another nation began to grow in power: Assyria. Assyria would be a nation that would wipe out the whole northeast part of the Middle East. Syria was beaten three times by Jehoash, and so both Judah and Israel did not have significant political or military powers threatening them. But they would be regaining their power, and we’ll see Syria, and particularly Assyria, showing their might before long.

Next week, we’ll look at a series of kings of Israel in another political tumult that sets things up for the conquest by Assyria. Then we’ll come back to Judah to look at Jotham and Ahaz.

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1 Corinthians 15:29-34

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, January 22, 2024 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? I face death every day —yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God — I say this to your shame.
- 1 Corinthians 15:29-34

Resurrection is a key focus of Paul’s as he continues to discuss this topic throughout this section of his letter to the church in Corinth. Here, he shares some implications for not believing in the resurrection of the dead.

However, verse 29 starts out with a confusing concept that scholars do not agree on. What is this baptizing for the dead? The verbs are present tense, which implies this was something that the early church was doing and would have understood, which is also why Paul gives no explanation of what that phrase means.

Early church father Chrysostom believed that people would baptize dead bodies in the hope that they would be raised. Other scholars think perhaps it was a superstitious baptism for those who were not part of the church. Still others think that believers may have baptized loved ones’ graves, but there’s no historical evidence for that custom. Some scholars think this refers to living believers being baptized (or rebaptized) for the sake of deceased loved ones, but that does not agree with the gospel message. Another belief is that rather than referring to physical baptism, this verb refers to the concept of identifying: “If there is no resurrection of the dead, why are believers identified as dead men? Why should they be crucified with Christ?” However, the prepositions surrounding this statement do not support that interpretation.

But whatever Paul meant by that phrase, the fact is that it seemed to be understood by the first-century Corinthians and Paul believed it would help them understand and accept the resurrection.

He then brings up another point in verse 30: if the resurrection is not a reality, why are they literally risking their lives every day for the sake of the gospel? Paul knows that the religious authorities are looking to kill Christians; he participated in that practice before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-2). They were risking their lives simply to practice their faith. Why would they do that if there were no point to it if this world was all there is?

In verse 31, Paul states that he faces death every day. It is believed that Paul wrote this letter from Ephesus, where we know from Acts 19 that while Paul did great ministry work there and many believed in the gospel, he was also in physical danger because of it. Then in the first part of verse 32, he specifically mentions fighting wild beasts. This may have been literal, referring to specific punishment by the Roman authorities, but it may also have been figurative, meaning that the human enemies he fought with were like fighting wild animals.

He continues in the second half of verse 32 sharing that there is nothing to be gained if the dead are not raised and this world is all we have. Why go through all that suffering for the sake of the gospel if there is no resurrection after this life? He then quotes Isaiah 22:13, and the context of that passage is God condemning reckless living. If there is no hope for a life beyond this world, we might as well gratify our desires for the pleasures of this world rather than risking our lives for the gospel message that brings hope for a world beyond this one.

While Paul quoted from the Old Testament potentially for the benefit of the Jews in Corinth, he quotes in verse 33 from a Greek poet of the day for the benefit of the Greeks. The saying “Bad company corrupts good character” was from a comedy called Thais by the Greek poet Menander. Those who were in the church who did not believe in the resurrection were a threat to those who did believe in the resurrection. Those who did not believe may have enticed the others through the desires for worldly pleasures rather than the desire for a better life in eternity through being obedient to the gospel message.

Paul delivers a harsh rebuke to them in verse 34. Paul calls it out as a sin to deny the resurrection of the dead; if they deny the resurrection, then they deny Christ. This denial lead to them living in immoral ways as they were living for temporary pleasures rather than the eternal glory of Christ. Those who deny the resurrection deny the truth and are ignorant of God, and Paul says they should be shamed for that.

We see this in our modern culture as well. Those who do not embrace the Christian faith and follow the ways of Jesus generally live more immoral lives and they deny the gospel of Jesus Christ. The resurrection of Jesus, and therefore the resurrection of all the dead one day, is a key tenant to the Christian faith. While we in the United States are not (yet) facing death every day for our faith, there may come a day when that will be our reality, as it is for Christians in other countries around the world. Why would we risk our lives for a faith that does not bring hope for the world beyond this one? We must be certain in the resurrection in order to face whatever trials we experience in this life, even including the threat of death.

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Backstory of the Kings 18: Amaziah

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, January 19, 2024 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Amaziah was the second of four consecutive semi-good kings of Judah. They were moral for the most part though they never bothered to tear down the high places. But they had problems. Of these four kings, only Jotham does not have a sin recorded against him and that is only because his reign, and the coverage of it, was short. Amaziah ruled for 29 years and began his reign when he was 25 years old. This put Amaziah being born 15 years into Joash’s reign, making Joash 22 years old when Amaziah was born. Amaziah would be succeeded by Uzziah who was 16 when he became king, thus putting Uzziah’s birth 13 years into Amaziah’s reign, with Amaziah being 38 when Uzziah was born.

Amaziah had two notable events in his reign, and both were battles: one against Edom in which he won and then brought back their idols, and the other against Jehoash of Israel in which he got spanked. Amaziah, like his father Joash, was assassinated to end his reign. In the first battle, Amaziah initially hired 100k troops from Israel, and God told him through a prophet to send them back and to trust Him for victory. But after the victory, Amaziah brought back the idols of Edom and worshiped them. Why would one worship the gods of the very people you just beat? Amaziah was rebuked and didn’t want to hear it.

Amaziah got on a power trip and decided to do a skirmish battle against Jehoash. This wasn’t a political battle, or a need for resources, or a conquering battle. It was merely an arrogant, “I want to show off my strength” battle. Jehoash warned him against doing it and Amaziah did not listen. He lost badly, and Jehoash entered Jerusalem and took his choice of spoils. This was all directed by God to punish Amaziah for his idolatry and the people knew it too. Amaziah fled Jerusalem for his life, was hunted down, and was assassinated. The officials then put Uzziah on the throne at the mere age of 16.

What set this up? What drove Amaziah’s thinking? Amaziah was still a youth when Joash had the temple repaired, but he watched his father turn to idolatry after Jehoiada passed. He saw how evil his father had turned and that led him to be assassinated. Amaziah clearly did not fall far from the tree. He did the same thing. He turned to idolatry and was assassinated for it as well.

During Amaziah’s reign, it is believed that Jonah, Amos, and Hosea had their ministries, however, none of them directly witnessed in Judah. They primarily focused on Israel where Jehoash and Jeroboam II were ruling. There were plenty of unnamed prophets, including the two who rebuked Amaziah for seeking Israel’s aid for the battle with Edom and then for taking Edom’s idols and bowing before them. So it was not like Amaziah did not get a message from God. He did; he listened to the first but not the second. And in the rejection of the second, his doom was decided. He would lose a battle he instigated, and following the battle, he would be assassinated.

One would wonder if Amaziah learned his lesson from his father, but hindsight is 20/20. Amaziah walked in the same path as Joash did from fearing God to idolatry to being assassinated. It is not much different than children of sinning fathers, whether it be drunkenness, adultery, pornography, abuse, drugs, or whatever. The kid will have a choice: seeing his dad and walking the same way he did or seeing his dad and walking away from that. The same can be true about the believing father. A believer’s child will see his father and either walk in the same path or walk away. In every case, the kid is still responsible for his own choices. Amaziah could not blame Joash for making him like he was. He can only blame himself for following the sins of his father.

Joash departed the faith he was raised in. Amaziah walked in the same faith his father did: a nominal one that turned when the opportunity presented itself. Just raising your kid in Biblical ways is no guarantee he will walk in them. It helps greatly, but he still has to make his own decisions. Letting the world raise your kids is worse. That is what I pointed out last week with Jehoahaz and Jehoash walking in Jehu’s footsteps, only half-hearted before God at best. One thing I have noticed is that only those who intentionally continue in a godly man’s footsteps remain walking that way. Any other direction will go to another destination.

Amaziah was killed for his idolatry; in a way, it was God’s mercy to not let it continue. Following them would be Uzziah, the king with the second longest reign of all the kings in part due to his youth upon ascension, but he too had his own problems. We’ll examine those and look at Jeroboam II, the longest-reigning monarch of Israel and the last one who would have a chance at turning things around but didn’t. After Jeroboam II, the bottom would fall out for Israel before God would send Assyria to wipe them off the map. Uzziah would contrast with Jeroboam II, but not by a lot. We’ll examine both kings together next week.

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1 Corinthians 15:20-28

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, January 15, 2024 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
- 1 Corinthians 15:20-28

Paul has presented the case of Jesus Christ being raised from the dead in this chapter. Now he affirms that fact and explains what that means for believers – that Jesus Christ is the guarantee that we, too, will be raised from the dead one day.

The Greek phrase translated as “But… indeed” at the start of verse 20 is a common one for Paul. He uses it in his letters multiple times when he makes a conclusive point about something. We don’t always see it translated that same way in English, but he uses this in 1 Corinthians 13:13, Romans 3:21, Romans 6:22, and Colossians 1:22 just to name a few. It is a certain fact that Christ has been raised from the dead, and Paul has proven that through his discussion earlier in this chapter.

But then we see the phrase “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” in the second half of verse 20. What does that mean? In the Old Testament, the firstfruits are the first part of a harvest that would be offered to God as an offering (see Leviticus 23:9-14). This offering was to happen before they worked on the main harvest, and it was a promise that the rest of the harvest was coming. So in that way, Jesus’ death and resurrection happened before the full “harvest” of all the believers in Christ who were going to die and be raised again. Christ’s resurrection came first before the believers, and it was also a promise of the resurrection that all believers will experience one day.

Verses 21-22 sound very similar to the points Paul made in Romans 5:12-21 about the first and second Adam. Adam brought death to all mankind by introducing sin into the world, and Jesus Christ was the second Adam who brought life to all mankind through His death and resurrection. One man brought sin and death, and one man brought resurrection and life. The entire human race experiences sin because of Adam, but those who have faith in Jesus Christ will experience life through Him.

Then, Paul gets into some concepts that are a bit harder to work through. In verses 23-24, Paul presents a timeline of sorts. First, Jesus Christ was resurrected as the firstfruits, which is like that offering that happens before the main harvest. Next, those who belong to Christ will be resurrected; that phrase can be translated more literally as, “Then the ones of Christ in the second coming of him.” The Greek word for “second coming” is parousia. This term can simply mean a person being present, but when used to refer to Christ, it means His second coming. The next event is handing over the kingdom of God. This is a total conquest of the entire world by Jesus Christ, including everything that is visible and invisible, all earthly and spiritual powers and authorities.

Everything will be under Christ’s feet (verse 25 and verse 27), meaning that He is the one true ruler and authority over everything because of His resurrection. This verse alludes to Psalm 110:1, which says, “The Lord says to my lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’”

The final enemy that needs to be destroyed is death (verse 26). We know that Jesus has already conquered death because He died and then was raised again. He was not simply resuscitated to live longer and then die a second death like humans who were raised (Lazarus, for example) but Jesus is permanently alive and will never die. Death has no power over Him because He already defeated it! He will never again experience death.

There is a caveat mentioned in verse 27, that “everything” being under Jesus’ feet does not mean that God is under Jesus’ authority, because God is the one who gave that authority to Jesus in the first place. This is where the doctrine of the Trinity comes into play, that Jesus and the Father (and the Spirit) are all the same God yet separate persons within God.

Verse 28 continues this thought by explaining that Jesus (the Son) will be subject to God the Father (the one who put everything under Him). This is part of the interaction of the Trinity, but this verse also reinforces that God is one God – “so that God may be all in all.” But there is a process to it. The world was created by God, it fell into sin because of man, then was restored to order through Jesus’ death and resurrection and then His second coming, which we are still waiting for today. One day, God will truly be recognized by all as the sovereign one (see Revelation 22:3-5).

Essentially, the main idea is that Jesus’ resurrection was a really big deal. Not only does it grant us as believers eternal life forever in Him, but it will bring the whole world into restoration and under Jesus’ power and authority. That idea of authority can either be a comfort if you’re on the “good side” of that authority, or it can be terrifying if you’re on the “wrong side.” While we are all on the wrong side because of our sin, we have the opportunity through the love of God to have faith in Jesus Christ and live our lives for Him. We can experience God’s forgiveness for all our sins through Jesus’ righteous death, which then puts us on the “good side.” Which side are you on?

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Backstory of the Kings 17: Jehoahaz and Jehoash

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, January 12, 2024 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

When Jehu died, his son Jehoahaz and grandson Jehoash followed. Both were alive when Jehu reigned, deduced by their relative short reigns of 17 and 16 years respectively. Their reigns combined are given just one chapter indicating there really was not much to talk about from a Biblical perspective. Both kings did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, and both worshiped at those golden calf idols. Both kings were at war with Syria (Aram), namely Hazael the very king that Elisha anointed with tears, knowing what he’d do to Israel. During their conflicts, both kings did seek the Lord rather than the Baals. Both kings knew of the ministry of Elisha and Jehoash in particular sought him out directly. So, what is the backstory of these two kings? Let’s explore.

Jehu had been ruling for 28 years and he was noted primarily for his purging of Ahab’s household and all those who were loyal to him and to the idol worship of Baal. Little is said otherwise besides that he only gave lip service to the Lord and still followed the idolatrous practices of the worship of Jeroboam at the golden calves. It could be that growing up, that is what he was taught that the worship of God was to be like. Don’t forget that Jeroboam called those golden calves “Jehovah,” the gods who brought Israel out of Egypt. But none of Jehu’s line departed from the idol worship there but rather engaged in it.

Both kings had war with Syria, just as Ahab and his line did. During Jehoahaz’s reign, Hazael reduced Israel’s territory and Syria kept control over Israel with brutal pressure. Jehoahaz finally sought the Lord and God relented and pulled Syria away from them, but not without leaving Israel with only an army of 50 horsemen, 10 chariots, and 10,000 foot soldiers. This army would not be able to do anything.

Then Jehoash inherited this army and had to deal with Hazael and his son Ben-Hadad (not the same Ben-Hadad whom Ahab called his ‘brother’). Jehoash turned to Elisha upon hearing he was old, sick, and dying. Elisha had him shoot an arrow out of the window and then to strike the ground with the remaining arrows. Jehoash only struck the ground three times, instead of five or six or even seven, a number of completion. Elisha then promised three victories, one for each strike. Jehoash got the victories over Syria but did not completely take them out. Jehoash had another battle to deal with and that was with Amaziah, son of Joash of Judah, and won soundly.

Beyond that, little is said other than a focus on their idolatry and not walking in the ways of the Lord. They knew God existed and they knew He was the True God, but they only came to Him in their most desperate hour and departed from Him otherwise. If you follow the remaining kings of Israel, the attention on them gets shorter and shorter, and I believe one reason why is because it just repeats more of the same. Jeroboam II’s reign is the longest reign and yet Zimri, who ruled only for seven days, is given more attention.

The only two factors I can think of that influenced Jehoahaz and Jehoash to seek the Lord was the influence of Elisha. Unlike Ahab who would listen to Elijah or Micaiah and outright rejected them, these two at least respected Elisha enough to know to seek the Lord. We have a 40-year period of silence of Elisha’s ministry; he was active, we just don’t have a record of it. These kings knew that Elisha’s word was true but still wanted to go the way they wanted to go. It was only when all their other ways failed that they turned to God.

But they also knew what their father and grandfather did in purging Baal worship, but because Jehu only purged Baal and not ALL idolatry, they would have seen Jehu justify idol worship, just not Baal worship. Both were held responsible for not departing from Jeroboam’s sin but for walking in those sins. They didn’t just allow that sin to continue; they engaged in it.

What can we learn from these two kings? They weren’t your typical “immoral” or “corrupt” kings like Ahab was. They were your standard, everyday king, seeking the best for their country. They knew of God but did not honor or respect Him enough as THE God. They knew of Elisha as a true prophet of the True God and in their most desperate hour sought the Lord. But they did not continue following the Lord. There is no evidence these men were true believers. Jehu was a half-believer because he was obedient to his initial calling, but he was not loyal to the Lord.

We can learn that God is merciful, and He will keep His promises. God did not want to destroy Israel due to their sin because of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God was even merciful to Ahab for genuine remorse over his sin of murdering Naboth and saved the judgment for Ahab’s sons. But God also speaks in terms of generations, not just individuals; nations, not just individuals. God blessed Jehu for his obedience and granted four generations to follow him, but because Jehu did not walk in the ways of the Lord, that was all he would get. If he had followed in the ways of the Lord, Jehu may have been offered the promises given to David and Jeroboam for a lasting dynasty. Jehoahaz and Jehoash merely followed Jehu’s footsteps and did little differently.

Just seeking the Lord once is not enough. While God may bless you for that one moment of obedience, God is much more interested in the lifestyle, not just one time obedience. These kings obeyed the Lord once, but their lives were marked as idolatrous and doing evil in the sight of God. We must obey the Lord as our way of life, not merely one time. We as evangelicals as a whole need to learn this. When we evangelize, we need to teach people that Christianity is a lifestyle of denying self and walking with Christ, not a one-time decision to plead for help and repent then live how we want to live otherwise. These two kings showcase that seeking the Lord once will not give you a good report with the Lord, unless it is a mark of a lifestyle. Choose wisely.

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1 Corinthians 15:12-19

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, January 8, 2024 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your 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. 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. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
- 1 Corinthians 15:12-19

Last week when we started looking at 1 Corinthians 15, we saw that Paul began his discussion on the resurrection by looking at how both Scripture and eyewitnesses testify that it happened. This included Paul’s personal testimony of how Jesus appeared to him, even though he was persecuting the early church. Here, Paul looks at how our faith as believers is impacted by the resurrection of all believers.

It is apparent from verse 12 that some in the first-century Corinthian church did not believe that people would be resurrected after dying in this life. Paul has just shown that Christ has been raised from the dead so that refutes the people’s belief that there is no resurrection for anyone. The verb tense used there in Greek emphasizes the present reality along with the completed action. It is a completed action that Jesus Christ was resurrected, and it is an ongoing reality that He is still alive.

The other side of the argument is that if resurrection never happens, then even Jesus could not have been resurrected (verse 13). Paul is trying to show them that because he proved that Jesus rose from the dead, then there is hope that people will also continue to live beyond this life. Paul is appealing to their sense of logic, laying out the facts about why Jesus’ resurrection is so key to their faith.

How does this impact our faith? Well, it’s useless if Jesus has not been resurrected (verse 14). If Jesus had died and stayed dead, then there would be no hope for those who believe in Him. There is no use believing in a God who is dead. The Greek word translated as “useless” by the NIV can also mean empty, foolish, meaningless, or ineffective. Why spread a message that is foolish and meaningless, especially at the risk of persecution?

Not only is preaching and faith useless if the resurrection is not true, but then Paul and the other apostles would all be false witnesses (verse 15). Paul has not only made it his life’s mission but he risked his life to spread this message; he would not do that if he did not believe with his whole being that this message was true and valuable to everyone.

Paul takes it one step further and connects Jesus’ resurrection to the fact that all of the dead will be raised. If no one will be raised, then surely Jesus was also not raised, which Paul has shown cannot be true (verse 16). This reiterates Paul’s thoughts in this section, concluding that resurrection happened for Jesus and it also happens for all people.

In the last few verses of this section, Paul brings up some more concluding points. Not only is faith useless and meaningless, but it is also futile and the people will be stuck in their sins if there is no resurrection (verse 17). The Greek word for “futile” has similar meanings to the word for “useless”; it can mean worthless, useless, empty, etc. Paul is driving the point home that their faith has no value if Jesus Christ was not raised from the dead. If their faith is futile, then there is no forgiveness of their sins, and they will forever reap the punishment for them.

Without the resurrection, believers have no hope for those who have already died, even if they had faith in Christ (verse 18). One of the most comforting things for believers who have lost loved ones is knowing that if they had faith in Jesus, we will see them again one day and they are able to live on in eternal life with Jesus Christ. If there is no resurrection, then we no longer have that hope and comfort.

If this life is all there is, then there is really no hope (verse 19). We should be pitied in this life if there is no hope for a life beyond this one. If the resurrection is not true, then none of this matters! But as Paul has done his best to prove that the resurrection of Jesus and of all who die is true, then this truth should change everything in how we live on this earth. Paul will talk more about this in 2 Corinthians 5; in verse 1, he says, “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”

As believers in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we know that this life is not all there is. Our earthly bodies will be destroyed by death, but we will be able to live forever in heaven with God. It is only because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ that we too, as those who have faith in Him, can also experience resurrection one day. We have a continual hope throughout this earthly life that this is not all there is. Whether we are enjoying our time on earth or if it’s a daily struggle, we know that because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, one day we will experience eternal glory with God!

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Backstory of the Kings 16: Joash

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, January 5, 2024 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Joash was a king of Judah whom I have written about in one of my most important blog posts, Do Not Ride Your Parents’ Faith. Joash was the youngest person to become king at a mere seven years old. He ruled for 40 years. He started out as a righteous king who was the first to make repairs to the temple after about 100 years since Solomon built it. But he is also noted for starting well but falling into complete and total apostasy. His fall was so great that he was assassinated and not given a king’s burial. So what set up this situation? Wy did Joash fall?

Joash was an infant when the purge of Athaliah began. Athaliah, daughter of Ahab, took the throne when her husband and son, Jehoash and Ahaziah respectively, died in God’s judgments, and she sought to make Judah into a place of Baal worship too. She did not reign long enough to succeed, and Jehoiada the priest (not identified as a high priest but could have had that position) was there to confront her every step of the way. He was a godly man who died partway through Joash’s reign at age 130. This means that he would have been alive as a young man during the time of Solomon. He would not have seen the Temple built, but he would have seen it in its full glory. Jehoiada raised Joash in the temple, keeping him hidden and away from Athaliah’s reach.

When Joash had been in the temple for six years, Jehoiada could not wait any longer. The boy was seven at this point and somehow there was a need to throw a coup against this wicked queen and put the rightful king, Joash, on the throne. We don’t know if Athaliah was going to discover him, if she was about ready to pass legislature that would be very difficult to undo, or if he simply believed Joash was old enough to be able to be guided and directed while also making good decisions. Regardless, action needed to be taken. Jehoiada set up Joash’s coronation and had Athaliah executed outside the temple.

Joash walked in the ways of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest, the man who raised him. His most notable action was to repair the temple, and he made it his personal project once he was old enough to exercise authority directly. Keep in mind that Joash lived in the temple, likely raised as a potential priest and not as an heir to the throne to keep his identity hidden. As a little boy, he would have known many of the nooks and crannies of the temple, and so to repair the temple was in part fixing up his childhood home. When the repair process was delayed, Joash, during his 23rd year, called upon Jehoiada to finish the job.

But when Jehoiada died, Joash lost his anchor, and he followed his peers’ advice and turned to idolatry. One thing Joash never did was tear down the high places. Unlike Asa and Jehoshaphat who tore them down and yet the people kept rebuilding them, Joash made no effort to tear them down. This would have played a role in why he went apostate. But the idolatry was not the biggest issue Joash had.

Joash never had real respect for his surrogate father, Jehoiada. When he went apostate, Jehoiada’s son Zechariah confronted him about it, and Joash put him to death for daring to speak against the king. All these factors made me realize several years ago that Joash’s faithfulness was never his. It was Jehoiada’s faith that Joash only walked in as a child. We don’t know when in Joash’s reign that Jehoiada died, but it was between the 23rd year when he pressed the temple repair and his 40th year when he was assassinated due to his apostasy. So that leaves us a 17-year window for Joash to go from a fa├žade of godly living to total apostasy.

I do not know what caused Joash to go apostate other than the faith not being his own. He never owned it himself. There is no evidence that he walked personally with God as David did, as Asa did, and as Jehoshaphat did. He was trained to believe and trust in God. He knew the language, he knew the morality, and he knew the system, but he never owned it himself. This is something I see quite frequently by those who profess to be “ex-Christians.” They were in the church, but they never were of it. And you can tell very quickly by how little they know of what they grew up being taught. They never learned anything other than some basic Bible stories and can’t remember a thing about what the Bible actually says. Joash showed this behavior in how he went apostate in total rejection of what Jehoiada did for him, literally saving his life from his grandmother.

When I teach on this passage and the theme of not riding your parents’ faith, these are all points I bring up. And before anyone thinks I’m just blasting people, I’m not. I personally understand what Joash went through growing up. I was raised in the church, on the mission field no less. I have had to examine myself as an adult to see if the faith I have professed is truly mine. This teaching and this warning is aimed at me and I still have to be watchful and careful about whether the doctrines I believe are simply a sucking in of what I am hearing and what church culture I am being around or not. Is what I believe because I, Charlie Wolcott, believes it or because those I read and listen to and hang around believe it? If the latter, the moment that support goes away, such a person will depart with it and join the faith of the new group they found. That’s precisely what happens to the current atheists who are ex-Christians. They simply exchanged which groups would feed them and support them and in what I hear from them, they are just as clueless about their current faith as they are about their former faith. They believe simply that which makes them feel good and do not care what it is. It is a deadly way of living.

Joash had a solid backstory but a horrible ending. He is a hero who turned anti-hero and became the villain of his own story. While there is the concept of the preservation of the saints, Joash is evidence of being someone raised in the faith but never was of the faith. Joash was held responsible for going apostate and he killed his surrogate brother, a priest many years older than him, for daring to confront him. I warn parents that just raising their kids in the faith is no guarantee they will stay in the faith. Proverbs 22:6 is not talking about this but rather about training a child according to how God designed them. There still must be responsibility and choices, and we still should teach our children the ways of the Lord, but they are responsible for walking in it. And I tell parents if their kid leaves the faith and they tried to teach them correctly, that’s on the kid, not them. It’s given them a great relief. But I also say that God can still bring back a wayward child. Take the warning of Joash seriously, but rest in Christ because He will secure those who are truly His.

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1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, January 1, 2024 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them —yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.
- 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

As we begin this new year of 2024, we’re continuing going through the book of 1 Corinthians, but we start a new section here. Paul spent the last few chapters discussing the body of Christ and how we should interact in worship services. While those things are important to the lives of Christians, both in first-century Corinth and the world today, he now turns back to a very key topic for our faith: the resurrection of the dead in general and of Jesus Christ.

After all that discussion on gifts, worship, etc., Paul brings them back to what’s really important in verses 1-2. The gospel that he preached to them and the gospel that gives them salvation is what truly matters and why they even gather as believers and the body of Christ at all. It is all about the gospel message! They have made the decision to follow Jesus Christ, and that needed to be a firm decision that they would stick to. In the first century, there was much persecution for the Christian faith; there could not be a wishy-washy Christian, an occasional Christian, or a Christian in name only. They must hold firmly to that gospel message that Paul shared with them; that is the only way to be assured of salvation and make their faith and potential persecution in this world worthwhile.

In verses 3-4, Paul gives them the highlights of that gospel message. Jesus died, was buried (to show that He really died), and He was raised. Paul says “according to the Scriptures” twice to show that Jesus is the Messiah that was prophesied in the Old Testament. The Scriptures said that Jesus would come, and He did. The Scriptures said that Jesus would die for our sins and that He would be raised again, and He did.

But what the Scriptures say is just half of the proof that Paul provides. In verses 5-8, Paul lists many people and groups to whom Jesus appeared in His resurrected form. Paul lists Cephas (who we commonly know as Peter), the twelve disciples, more than 500 others, James, all the apostles, and then Paul himself. Paul shares that he was “one abnormally born,” referring to his unique conversion to the faith, as recorded in Acts 9.

Note that in verse 6 when Paul mentioned the 500 brothers and sisters to whom Jesus appeared, he says that most of them are still alive, though some of them have died. If the Corinthians needed further proof of Jesus’ resurrection, they could ask actual eyewitnesses to it! They could actually track down people who saw Jesus on earth in His resurrected form to further corroborate what Paul is telling them.

Paul gives the early people of Corinth multiple ways to prove that the gospel message is true. They could see it throughout the Scriptures, they could ask these people he named to them specifically, or they could find any of the more than 500 others who would testify to the risen Jesus. The resurrection of Jesus is a key point of the Christian faith, and Paul knew that all of the early believers would need to be completely certain in the faith if it was to spread and be sustained.

To build on the concept of Paul’s “abnormal birth” into being a follower of Jesus Christ, he shares with his readers how he persecuted the church of God (verse 9). Paul knows that because of his actions, he is not worthy to be the one God chose to spread this supremely important message of the gospel. While he calls himself an apostle, he realizes that he is not as worthy of that title as the other apostles are. He did not follow Jesus while He was on earth, and he actively sought to kill those who did.

But in verse 10, Paul shares how God was the one who brought him to faith and gave him this calling. Paul has his identity only by the grace of God! While Paul did his part to be obedient to that calling God placed on his life, he acknowledges that it was only through God’s power that he is what he is – an apostle who is called to preach the gospel message.

Paul gets back to the point in verse 11: it does not matter who God calls to share the gospel message but simply that it is shared. Whether Paul shared that message with them or someone else, whether they believe because of what Paul says or what another witness says, the key fact is the gospel message itself and how the people believed it. God can and does work through different people and different circumstances for that message to be proclaimed.

As we begin this new year, be reminded of the gospel message that Jesus Christ came to earth, died for our sins, and was raised to life again. There are so many other things in this world that we can focus on, but that truth should be central to our lives as believers. While we are not able to physically locate and ask eyewitnesses to the risen Jesus to share their experience with us, we have the entire history of the Church to prove that Jesus was a real person who died and was resurrected. Jesus was not simply resuscitated and brought back to life to die again later on, but He continues to live today.

I pray that we would all keep this gospel message as our focus in 2024 and beyond!

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