Friday, February 23, 2018

BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
Larrydalexanderbiblestudies.blogspot.com

BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday February 25, 2018

WE ARE LIVING LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION
2 Corinthians 3:1-6

   In the first century Christian Church it was customary that traveling teachers carry “letters of recommendation” that were used to introduce them to the various churches that they may be visiting to apply their calling. Apparently the Apostle Paul’s opposition had been demanding that he show a letter of recommendation to help verify his credibility, and to prove he was what he claimed he was, “an apostle of CHRIST”.
    In 2 Corinthians 3, verses 1-6, Paul once again finds himself defending his own reputation and legitimacy, instead of spending time defending the Gospel as he should be. However, it has always been the goal of the forces of satan to tie up GOD’s anointed with foolishness, so that they may have as little time as possible to teach and spread the saving knowledge of CHRIST JESUS to the world.
    Here in the opening lines of this chapter Paul answers the Luciferic attack by telling the church at Corinth, that, a lifestyle and behavior that adheres to the Word of GOD is the only letter of recommendation that they or anyone else ever needs. It is a letter written on our hearts, that can be seen by everyone through our works and behavior that actually serves as the best recommendation.
    Every “true Christian” aspires to actually live a life that manifests, through their personalities and behavior, that they are believers dedicated to representing GOD before man (being true ambassadors), here on earth. They have actually become living recommendations who testify not only of CHRIST, but also of those who actually won them over to CHRIST, through the work of their ministry.
    Those who do the work of CHRIST represent the “New Covenant” that CHRIST ushered in during HIS first advent, concluding with HIS vicarious sacrifice. This New Covenant is not one that is written, but rather, it is of the SPIRIT. And whereas the old way ended in death, “the new trail of light” that was blazed through this dark world by JESUS CHRIST, leads to eternal life in Heaven (v.6).

THE GLORY OF THE NEW COVENANT
2 Corinthians 3:7-18

   JESUS ministers on the basis of a better covenant. HE is GOD’s superior priest and our ultimate representative in the presence of the FATHER in Heaven. A superior priest could never operate on the basis of an inferior covenant. Here in 2 Corinthians chapter 3, verses 7-18, Paul begins to move toward the conclusion of his discussion regarding the superiority of the New Covenant which was ushered in by CHRIST JESUS as our HIGH PRIEST.
    Aaronic priests ministered on earth in a sanctuary that was a mere copy of the Heavenly Sanctuary. It was only a shadow of the true sanctuary in Heaven that was built by the hand of GOD, and where CHRIST now ministers. The superiority of JESUS’ ministry is also reflected in the superiority of the New Covenant, which HE ushered in to us, during HIS three-year ministry here on earth.
    Unlike the earthly high priest who was required to offer gifts and sacrifices for, first, their own sins, and then ours, JESUS has no need to offer sacrifices for HIMSELF because HE, quite frankly, has never sinned. The sacrifice HE offers for our sins, past, present, and future, is HIS OWN life, which was offered up on the cross at Golgotha, where HE spilled HIS blood, some 2000 years ago.
    Back in Exodus 24, verses 1-8, the Israelites accepted GOD’s covenant as it had been given to Moses on Mount Sinai. However, man would not then, and quite frankly, will not now, abide by such a covenant, because we let our sins continuously interrupt our relationship with GOD. It took the life of CHRIST to restore our lost relationship of friendship with GOD. If we, as a people, would have abided by the first covenant, there would have been no need for the, more superior covenant that was ushered in by CHRIST JESUS to replace it.
    The first covenant was offered by GOD to show us how much we need HIM in our lives to survive, and, how far we were from living according to HIS OWN glorious standards. Therefore, the old Covenant, in essence, could only condemn us. The New Covenant, by contrast, brings forgiveness through CHRIST JESUS, and thereby, can only save us. However, this salvation can only be given to those who voluntarily accept GOD, in all HIS fullness.
    In the Greek, the word used for “covenant”, in all normal secular applications, is “suntheke” (soon-tha-kay), and it is “an agreement between two equal parties or entities, on equal terms”, i.e. a marriage, or a business deal or partnership. However, in the New Testament Scriptures, the Greek word that is always used for “covenant” is “diatheke” (dee-ath-ay-kay), and it is “an agreement that is actually along the terms of a “devised Will”. In other words, only one party draws up the terms, and the other party can either accept or reject the terms, or inheritance, that is offered. They cannot change or alter any of the contents within that Will.
    The choice of this word, “diatheke”, in regards to the word “covenant” is understandable, because we, as human beings, cannot enter into an equal partnership with GOD, and cannot be on equal terms with GOD for obvious reasons. We are only able to make a voluntary decision to accept, or reject HIS covenant offer, and cannot alter, or change HIS terms in any way.
    Even in the secular world, we know that a Will does not go into effect until the person who wrote it has been proven dead. JESUS, WHO is our HIGH PRIEST, first died on the cross for our sins, then, re-entered into Heaven itself, bearing HIS OWN blood to present as a sacrificial atonement for all of our sins, past, present, and future. And with HIS sacrifice, HE purchased eternal salvation for all mankind in general, and all Christians in particular, once, and for all time. In short, JESUS is the mediator of the New Covenant that was activated by HIS OWN death.
    In the Greek, there are two words that are used for “new”. One is “neos” (neh-os), which is “new in respects to time”. It can be a regeneration, or “exact copy” of something already existing, such as a new piece of clothing, or a new pair of shoes. The other word used for new is “kainos” (kahee-nos), which means, not only new in relation to time, but also new in quality and expression. It is something that is a new creation altogether, or a new product that has been introduced into the world for the first time. “Kainos” is the word used here by Paul to describe the covenant ushered in by JESUS CHRIST, and this New Covenant can never be improved upon, or copied.
    There is one other essential that we should accentuate regarding the New Covenant and that is that, the New Covenant is one that calls for “internal”, rather than “external” adaptations. This means that people would no longer want to obey GOD simply because the law compels them to, or they fear punishment, but rather, because the desire to obey HIM will be written on their hearts and minds.
    Under the old Covenant, man could only hope to keep a right relationship with GOD by obeying HIS laws, through their own efforts. Here, in the New Covenant Age, everything is dependent, not on, what we can do, but rather, everything rests solely on the grace of GOD, and what JESUS CHRIST has done, by way of HIS vicarious sacrifice. JESUS, both, removes our guilt, and, mediates our New Covenant with GOD.
    With the coming of the New Covenant, GOD wishes to place HIS laws for living on our hearts, not just in writing on stone or, even paper, for that matter. HE wants us to understand HIM in our innermost being, so that we can obey HIM more completely. HE wants to be our GOD, and HE wants us to be HIS people. HE wants us to teach of HIM, not just with the words of our mouths, but more importantly, with our behavior as professed Christians. We, as Christians, must make our old selves obsolete, just as GOD made the Old Covenant Law obsolete when HE sent us HIS only begotten SON to save us from ourselves.
    In the New Testament Greek, the word used for “old”, or “obsolete”, which is “palaioumenon” (pal-ah-yo-o-me-non), describes “something that is out of date” and “ready to be set aside”. Over in Hebrews chapter 9, the writer shares his thoughts concerning the superiority of the New Covenant that was ushered in by CHRIST JESUS.
    In the first covenant between GOD and Israel (the Mosaic Covenant), there were many regulations concerning worship, and, there was a sacred place, a tent, in which to do it. Every element of the Mosaic Covenant had special significance because it reflected realities that are found only in Heaven. Inside this sacred tent were two rooms. In the first room there was a lamp stand, a table, and loaves of holy bread on the table, and it was called, the “Holy Place”. There was a curtain that separated this first room from a second room. This second room was called the “Most Holy Place”. Inside this second room, were a gold incense altar and a wooden chest called the “Ark of the Covenant”.
    The Ark of the Covenant was covered with gold on all sides, and inside it were three items, a gold jar, which contained the two quarts of manna that were placed there by Aaron at the command of GOD, through Moses (Exodus 16:32-34). There was also Aaron’s blooming staff, which GOD commanded to be put there as a warning to those who try to rebel against HIM (Numbers 17:10-11). And, there were the tablets upon which the Ten Commandments were written (Exodus 40:20).
    Above the ark were angels whose wings were stretched out over the Ark’s cover, the place of atonement. Any of the priests were able to go in and out of the first room on a regular basis, as they performed their religious duties to man and GOD. However, only the high priest was allowed to enter into the second room, the Most Holy Place, and then, he could enter it only once a year, always with blood that would be offered up to GOD to cover, first, his own sins, and then, the sins of the people.
    By these regulations, the HOLY SPIRIT was communicating that the Most Holy Place was not open to everyone, as long as the first room, the Holy Place, and all that it represents, was still in use. This was also an illustration of how the gifts and sacrifices that the priests were offering were not able to cleanse the consciences of the people that brought them. This old system only dealt with food, drink, ritual washing, and other external regulations that were, in effect, only until their limitations could be corrected by the introduction of the New Covenant, that was ushered in by JESUS CHRIST.
    All of the old system’s Levitical arrangements were designed to convey the idea that the true way to GOD did not lie in them, but rather, would lie in CHRIST. What this tells us in this day and age, is that, the old covenant sacrificial system never met our human needs on their most profound level, and could not, by any means, clear the spiritual consciences of the people who seek to worship GOD.
    JESUS CHRIST has now entered into the perfect sanctuary that was not made by human hands, but rather, by the hand of GOD. There HE has become high priest over all that is good. Once and for all time HE has carried HIS OWN blood into the Most Holy Place in Heaven, and with it, HE has secured our salvation forever.
    Under the old law, the blood of goats, bulls, or rams could be used to cleanse the defilement of human sins. How much more effective then, must the blood of CHRIST be in purifying the human heart from deeds that had long led man to death, and is now allowing man to re-establish a relationship of friendship with GOD.
    The Old Testament sacrifices had an external effectiveness, but JESUS’ sacrifice at Golgotha has an internal effect that cleanses the conscience that bounds us to the guilt of our past. We are no longer overcome with a past that renders us inadequate to function in the present, and keeps us from moving forward to a brighter future with GOD.
    When a person dies and leaves a will, no one can collect on the benefits of that will until there is proof that the person who wrote that will is actually dead. Likewise, under the old covenant, GOD required the blood of certain animals as proof of death, and the blood confirmed man’s obedience to the covenant. Afterwards, man was able to collect on the benefits of GOD’s will, which was found in HIS forgiveness, instead of the death of the sinner.
    The blood of animals was sufficient to purify things here on earth, and by the sprinkling of animal blood, man was allowed to continue to live here on earth. However, the real things, which are only found in Heaven, had to be purified with a far better sacrifice than the blood of unblemished animals. It took the blood of an unblemished man to meet the requirement of GOD to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, and that perfect sacrifice could only come in the person of JESUS CHRIST. But first, JESUS had to become a man, born into the world like all other men, so that HE could suffer through everything man has to suffer through, overcome it, and then, present HIMSELF faultless before HIS FATHER GOD as the perfect sacrifice for the sin atonement of all persons, past, present, and future, once and for all time.
    And just as it is appointed by GOD that each person dies only once, and after which comes judgment, so too, CHRIST died only once as a sacrifice that took away the sins of the people who choose to believe in HIM. JESUS will come again, but not to deal with our sins again. This time HE will bring with HIM, the salvation that is promised to all those who believe, and eagerly await HIS return.
    Before we come to believe in CHRIST, our minds are veiled to the truth of GOD’s Word. A spiritual veil actually covers our minds so that we can’t understand GOD’s written Word. This veil can only be removed by one’s belief in JESUS CHRIST, our LORD and SAVIOR (v.14-16), and this removal frees us from the dominion of sin in our lives forever. And so the LORD JESUS is the SPIRIT, and wherever the SPIRIT of the LORD is, there, we will find freedom. All true believers have had that veil removed, and as a result, they become mirrors that reflect brightly, through their behavior, the glory of GOD.


A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website




Friday, February 16, 2018

BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
Larrydalexanderbiblestudies.blogspot.com

BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday February 18, 2018

FORGIVENESS OF SIN
2 Corinthians 2:1-11

   It was not so much, Paul’s desire to try and tell the Corinthians exactly how to put their faith into practice, but rather, he wanted to work together with them so that their joy would be full as they strived to stand firmly behind the teachings of CHRIST JESUS, while living out their lives, in this world. And so Paul decided that it would be best not to dishearten the people of Corinth with yet another emotionally painful visit because, to cause them emotional pain, would not only discourage them, but it would also sadden him deeply on a personal level. He did not wish to be made sad by his brothers and sisters in CHRIST, who were suppose to give him the most joy (2 Corinthians 2:1-4).
    In 2 Corinthians 2, verses 5-11, perhaps Paul is writing about the man whom he had urged the Church at Corinth to excommunicate from fellowship a year earlier (1 Corinthians 5:1-7). The man had been involved in an ongoing adulterous relationship with his father’s wife, living in sin (shacking up) with her. Paul had strongly rebuked the Church, who were very much aware of the couple’s sexual immorality, but had taken no action to address this unacceptable behavior.
    After Paul’s strong and decisive rebuke, the Corinthians followed Paul’s advice and instructions, and removed the man from church fellowship (apparently the woman was not a member of the Christian congregation at that time). However, now Paul was strongly urging the church to show “compassion” and welcome the man back into fellowship, as he felt that he had been punished enough for his indiscretions. Apparently the man had been in deep repent and suffering in the time since his excommunication from the Church, and now, Paul felt it was time to forgive him, comfort him, and show him love, so that he would not become so discouraged that he would not be able to recover emotionally.
    Furthermore, Paul knew how satan would seek to take advantage of the situation, seizing upon a person who might be having an “incorrect emotional response to GOD” (see Nehemiah 8:9-12), and using it to do even greater harm to the man, and to the Church, as a whole. Being thoroughly familiar with the evil tactics of satan, here Paul uses the only effective weapon he had, the ways and wisdom of CHRIST.
    Through his wisdom (authority from CHRIST on high), Paul was forever mindful of  our human need for “repent” and “forgiveness”, and, it was time to apply this wisdom, (forgiveness and encouragement) to the situation now at hand in the Church at Corinth. Forgiveness completes the healing process and restores our relationships with our fellow man in the same way that all mankind receives forgiveness through JESUS CHRIST, our SAVIOR and LORD.
    JESUS’ vicarious sacrifice provides us with a vehicle to “spiritual recovery and healing”, so that we can be forgiven by GOD the FATHER, whenever, and if ever, we decide to repent. GOD then restores us back into “a personal relationship of friendship” with HIM, and HE also lends us the help and guidance of the HOLY SPIRIT, to assist us as we move forward in the ways of CHRIST, for the remainder of our lives, here on earth.

MINISTERS OF THE NEW COVENANT
2 Corinthians 2:12-17

    When Paul came to the city of Troas to meet up with Titus to preach the Good News of CHRIST, he felt that GOD had given them a tremendous opportunity and power to do so. However, Titus was not there when he arrived and so, Paul instead, decided to go on from there to Macedonia to try and find him. He was afraid that Titus may have met with some trouble along the way, perhaps from bandits, since he knew that Titus would be carrying a large sum of money that had been collected from the churches in Macedonia, that they had intended to use for the famine relief in Jerusalem.
     Paul’s concern for Titus was not that he had been taken captive, or, had met his death, because, in his mind, he knew that GOD had already taken them captive and put them under HIS protection and guidance along CHRIST’s triumphal path to glory. Wherever they went GOD was using them to spread the Good News of the Gospel like a sweet perfume to those who received them as HIS messengers.
    Like the sweet perfume that went up to GOD in the Old Testament days whenever sacrifices were burned on the altar, so does a sweet fragrance go up to GOD whenever New Testament and Church Age saints go out and sacrifice their lives to spread the Gospel of JESUS CHRIST, with dignity and respect, throughout the world.
    However, the fragrant odor of the saint’s teachings attracts some, and yet, repels others, as the scent is perceived differently by those who are seeking answers through salvation, than it is by those who prefer to take their lives into their own hands. Those who are on the road to destruction and blinded by satan, perceive the Gospel as the fearful smell of death and doom (v.16a) , while those who are being “saved” perceive the odor as being life-saving perfume (v.16b).
     Paul points out to the Corinthians, in defense of his ministry, that, they are not like the “huskers” who preach only for the money. He tells them that he and those who travel with him, preach GOD’s message with all sincerity, and, with the power and authority of CHRIST JESUS HIMSELF. And they fully understand that GOD is always watching, guiding, and protecting them every step of the way.   
     
 A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander






Friday, February 9, 2018

BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
larrydalexanderbiblestudies.blogspot.com

BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday February 11, 2018

GOD OFFERS COMFORT TO ALL
2 Corinthians 1:1-11

   In A.D. 57, while visiting in Ephesus on his third missionary journey, which was put together to raise money for the financially ailing central Church at Jerusalem, the Apostle Paul sat down and penned a second letter to the Church at Corinth.
    Paul’s earlier letter to the Church had not quite settled all of the issues and problems that the Church had been faced with during the difficult days of its infancy. Then too, for reasons not all explained in this letter, the Corinthian Church had apparently developed deep suspicions about Paul, regarding the true legitimacy of his proclaimed authority in CHRIST as a chosen apostle.
    And so, it was with much grief and anguish that Paul wrote this second letter, which he also intended to use to try and re-establish his authority as one chosen to lead others to CHRIST, and to also, lead them in the faith, as Christians. In this doctrinal letter, Paul also covers some of the more practical matters, such as supporting believers in other parts of the world who may have fallen on hard times, and then, reviving them to a state of being viable, fruit-producing branches in the newly formed Christian network.
    The motif of this letter is “triumph over adversity”, as Paul can clearly be viewed as one who loves his people. However, at one and the same time, we can also see him as being one who is hurt by the Corinthian’s unwarranted suspicions of him. As Paul makes a list of his life experiences, and the intricacies, or nature of Christian service, we can see GOD assisting him in his efforts, bringing good from the opposition of satan, that had been originally intended for evil.
    GOD is the source of all mercy and comfort. When HE lifted up CHRIST JESUS to complete HIS suffering on the cross, HE also lifted mankind up from the permanency of the grave. GOD comforts us in all of our troubles, so that when we receive the opportunity, we can take great joy in comforting someone else. The more we suffer for CHRIST, the more GOD showers us with HIS comfort through CHRIST (v.5). And so, when we as Christians are weighed down with troubles for the sake of CHRIST, it can be seen as being to the benefit and salvation of those who would otherwise be lost (v.6). When GOD comforts us, it is always so that we can, in turn, be of encouragement to someone else. 
    In the biblical Greek, the word used for “comfort” is “parakaleo” (par-ak-al-eh-o), and it means “to call near for the purpose of consoling, or encouraging”. It is a word that the Apostle Paul uses 8 times here in 2 Corinthians chapter 1, verses 3-7. The point that he is trying to make in this passage is that, our own suffering enables us to identify with the sufferings of others, and vice versa. We can also sense the comfort of GOD, and at one and the same time, find our own comfort in HIM. In other words, whenever our weaknesses are exposed, the strength of GOD is revealed as HE helps us to overcome those weaknesses.
    In verses 8-11, Paul makes reference to his second missionary journey (Acts 16-18) when he reflects back on their hard struggles;

We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it.  In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.  And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.  And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety” (NLT).

    It’s always easy for any of us to point to our own strengths as a way to defend ourselves against negative attacks and criticism. But here, we see Paul freely and openly sharing his “weaknesses”, as he often did. To be in pressure situations that take us beyond our ability to endure, or extricate ourselves, is when we realize most earnestly that we need GOD in our lives to sustain us.
    Paul already knew full well that he could not force people to respond positively to his authority in CHRIST (you can’t make grown folks do nothing), and he has to be patient and wait on the power of GOD to change hearts. We as Christian are all involved in a ministry that ultimately leads to changes in the hearts of men. However, those changes don’t occur through anything that we do in our own personal strengths. GOD gives us assignments that only HE can complete, as we are just vessels that HE uses to carry HIS message to someone else.
    We must be able to know, through spiritual discernment and communication with GOD, just how far HE wants us to go, before we pause to let HIM finish the transforming work that will ultimately save a person’s soul from condemnation in the last days. It is not the duty of a Christian to show others how important they are, but rather, it is the duty of a Christian to show the world, through their behavior, that Christianity produces the best men and women, and, to ultimately expose to the world, the importance of GOD, to the lives that HE created, here on earth.

RESTORED RELATIONSHIPS
2 Corinthians 1:12-24

   After the Apostle Paul changed his plans for a re-visit to Corinth during his third missionary journey in A.D. 57, his opponents in the church took advantage of the opportunity to charge Paul as being untrustworthy. They also contended that Paul was “just another tyrant” who cared nothing for the people he sought to rule over. It was a charge that deeply hurt Paul, because he knew in his own heart, his commitment to the work GOD had called him to do.
    In reality, Paul changed his plans, because he had let his “emotions” get away from him, and a visit to Corinth at that time, would have been too painful to both he and the people at the Church at Corinth. Whenever we let our emotions get the better of us, or control us, that is the time when we leave ourselves most vulnerable to satan.
    Second Corinthians, chapters 1:12-7:16 represent a rather passionate defense, by the Apostle Paul, of his sincere commitment to his Christian ministry in general, and, to the Church at Corinth in particular. Paul met the questions concerning his commitment head on, and he affirmed with confidence that his moral conscience and his intensified knowledge of GOD’s Word were without censure, and were exemplified in his own day to day conduct, both publicly and privately.
    As a leader and a person who closely followed CHRIST, Paul always strived to be simple, sincere, and straight-forward, and he was the same way in his letters. Here in 2 Corinthians 1, taking up at verse 23, Paul, very honestly and straight-forwardly tells the Church at Corinth, that, the reason he didn’t return to Corinth was because he wanted to spare them from the “severe emotional rebuke” that he was prepared to give them. As a powerful man of GOD should, he knew that he needed to first get his emotions in check before coming to visit the church at Corinth.
    Paul, like all Christians who desire to share the mind of CHRIST, must come to understand that “emotions” are the origin of most sins, be it adultery, murder, etc. and whenever we lose our “self control” (egrathia) to our emotions, we are rendered powerless to perform the work of GOD. Satan can then, take over, and get us to do virtually anything he wants us to do.
    In the biblical Greek the word used for “compassion”, when it is applied to JESUS, is “metriopatheo”, and it is “a midpoint between two extremes”. JESUS wants us to show and use “compassion” in our dealings with others, which will automatically keep us in the middle, where “virtue” is. To lose control of one’s “emotions”, going from one extreme to the other, can only lead to sinful results in most cases. Our emotions should never go unchecked if we are to remain firmly in the Christian Faith.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander






    





Friday, February 2, 2018

BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
larrydalexanderbiblestudies.blogspot.com

BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday February 4, 2018

THE COLLECTION FOR JERUSALEM
1 Corinthians 16:1-4

   First Corinthians 16, verses 1-4 is one of the key passages in Scripture regarding “organized regular weekly giving” in the Christian Church. Here the Apostle Paul speaks of his efforts to raise money for the Mother Church at Jerusalem who were struggling through a famine during the time of his third missionary journey, and of having an ongoing collection of funds, which would be collected on each Sabbath by the churches, and earmarked for GOD’s people in case of emergencies that were sure to crop up during the course of life and ministry.
    Every Christian church, Paul felt, should have an organized “relief fund” that would be established by a pooling of money from individual Christians who would set aside a proportioned amount of their income, above their regular tithes, that would be donated to be used by their respective church branches to help other churches along the Christian Network to survive in times of great financial stress (v.2).
    It is still a good idea that Christians follow this concept and principal today in their own homes, as well as in their churches, so that they might be able to help individuals, relatives, and friends, who may be in need of temporary assistance from time to time, as we all do. Those monies should also be given to those who may not necessarily be able to pay you back. However, those who can repay should do so as promised, and remember, Christians should not charge other Christians and family interest, as it is written, according to the Word of GOD (Leviticus 25:36-37).

PAUL’S FINAL INSTRUCTIONS AND GREETINGS
1 Corinthians 16:5-24

   In verses 5-12 Paul tells the Church at Corinth of his travel plans and how he desired to visit them after spending some time traveling, to and through, Macedonia. He wished then to spend some valuable time with them in Corinth, perhaps all winter, before traveling on to his next destination.
    In the meantime Paul says that he would be staying in Ephesus, the place from where he is writing this letter to them. He would remain there until after the Pentecost, as the door was now wide open, in Ephesus, for a great work to done there. Paul wanted to siege upon a golden opportunity to cut into the stronghold of the worship of the idol god Artemis (Diana) in Ephesus. He had been receiving a very positive response from many in the city, and many had already converted over to Christianity, including many who came to the city from around the world to visit and worship Artemis at her magnificent shine, which was considered to be one of the great wonders of the world at that time.
    In verses 10-18 Paul puts in a good word for his fellow workers in CHRIST, including his protégé, Timothy, whom Paul said would be coming to visit the Christians at Corinth very soon, and Apollos, the gifted orator who had been converted over to Christianity by Priscilla and Aquilla while they were living in Corinth, would visit them at a later date. He urged them to “stay alert” and to “stand true” to what they believe in (CHRIST JESUS) and let everything they do be done in love.
    Paul also speaks of Stephanas and his household, who were the first Christian converts in Greece, and who were now spending their lives in Christian service to others abroad. Paul urged the church at Corinth to treat them all with the utmost respect.
    In closing, Paul says that Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus were also helping him do the work needed there in Ephesus as well (Vs.15-17). They had been a wonderful encouragement and support to him, just as they had been uplifting to the people of Corinth, and they should all be respected for their great work in the army of CHRIST.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander




 




Friday, January 26, 2018

BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
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BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday January 28, 2018

THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST
1 Corinthians 15:1-11

   In the biblical Greek the word used for “resurrection” is “anastasis”, and it is “a moral recovery of spirit truth”, and in the physical sense, it means, “to stand up again”. The sins of Adam and Eve ushered physical death into the world, and by contrast, the resurrection of CHRIST JESUS brought spiritual life. Adam, the first man, came from the dust of the earth, while JESUS, the second man, came from Heaven (1 Corinthians 15:47).
    It was William Barclay who wrote, “Cleverness can never be the basis of true religion, and true religion can never be the product of a man’s mind”. The resurrection of CHRIST is the essence of the Christian Faith, and is the core of all of the apostle’s teachings, and mine.
    No man is capable of producing or concocting a “True Religion”, or Faith. Only GOD, the CREATOR of Heaven and Earth is capable of meeting the qualifications necessary, and setting the examples, that every man can benefit from, 100% of the time. Man, through his imperfections, will never be able to spiritually rule over another man, and so, “Christianity” remains as the only true religion, simply because, it is the only religion that is a product of GOD’s mind. 
    In 1 Corinthians 15 the Apostle Paul offers us an indebt understanding of the subject of the resurrection of CHRIST JESUS, and the powerful impact that that resurrection has on those who choose to believe on HIM in this world. The resurrection is guaranteed through the sacrifice of CHRIST JESUS, the author and finisher of the only true faith, Christianity.
    He begins by reminding the Corinthians, in particular, and the world in general, of the important teaching that he had passed on to them in a previous time, regarding the resurrection of CHRIST. He then tells them of the many witnesses to that resurrection, which included himself, Peter, James, and many more, including all of the other apostles.

THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD
1 Corinthians 15:12-33

    In verses 12-19 Paul embarks upon a logical argument explaining the centrality of the resurrection of CHRIST to the Christian Faith, and the belief that because of that resurrection, all who die believing in HIM will also be raised from the dead, and into eternal life with GOD, just as HE was.
    Our hope in CHRIST, “the Christian Hope”, is not just for this life, but rather, it is for the eternal life yet to come in Heaven. That is why true Christians are not “miserable people”, but rather, to the contrary, we are people who retain unshakable joy while still living here on earth.
    It is a true fact that JESUS has been raised from the dead, and HE became the first fruit of a great harvest of believers who will be raised to life again, after HIM. And just as death came into the world through Adam, resurrection from the dead into eternal life with GOD has been ushered in by JESUS CHRIST.
    Everyone dies because of their relationship to Adam, but everyone can live again, eternally, through their relationship with CHRIST JESUS. Death will be the last enemy of man to be destroyed, or nullified, and so, we must not be fooled by unbelievers. Remember, bad company corrupts good character, and so we have to come to our senses and quit living in sin, by coming to know GOD on a personal and experiential, “life saving” level (Vs.20-34).

THE RESURRECTION BODY
1 Corinthians 15:35-56

    Paul concludes this chapter with the analogy of the “dead seed” that is planted and then, through nourishments from GOD, once again becomes “a living thing”, full of life and growth, producing life-giving food, and even more seeds for future growth. However, the dead seed (lost person) had to first fall into the hands of a sewer (a witness) who could introduce it to “new life” (JESUS) by planting it firmly into the nourishment of GOD (The Word). Death is then swallowed up by victory, and its sting (sin) is taken away (Vs.35-58).   
    The person who has met and accepted the “Risen LORD” will be able to live forever in the joy of HIS presence. They will be able to come to rest in the knowledge that nothing can ever again separate them from HIS saving grace. And so, we should be able to see quite clearly now how no man can give another man that kind of religion. It is something that only GOD is capable of doing. That is why the Christian can “believe”, “share”, and “rejoice” in the saving power of GOD.
    Through the birth, ministry, passion, death, and resurrection of JESUS CHRIST, GOD is saying to us, as only HE can, that HE loves us with an everlasting love that can withstand all of the suffering that this world has to offer. With GOD, it is possible for us to make “a moral recovery of a spiritual truth” found only in HIM, and when we accept that TRUTH, we become fully able “to stand up again” and live forever in the presence of the ALMIGHTY GOD in Heaven.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander 





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website