"SEEDS, STARS & SPIRITS"
 
First Corinthians 15.35-50
 
INTRODUCTION:
 
1. I suppose one of the earmarks of a spiritual, mature Church is stability. And stability is the ability of a congregation to just keep about the business of serving God no matter what the circumstances happen to be.

2. The circumstances that really throw an immature congregation off kilter, and there will always be elements of immaturity in even the most mature congregations, are of three or four basic varieties.

3. First, when the Church is without leadership. Really, this ought never to happen to a Church since the Bible teaches the idea of multiple Church leaders who step in until a new senior pastor is in place. Should something happen to me, for example, our deacons would implement the Churchís plan to bring a new pastor in. The difficulty, of course, would be to get a pastor who was not a decisionist.

4. Second, facilities. I think this results from just being spoiled. Remember, for hundreds of years believers really didnít have specialized facilities to meet in, yet they turned the world upside down. Though facilities are nice and convenient, they will only throw a Church off kilter if that Church is composed of really immature Christians. Mature Christians will sit close to others and will endure a bit of heat or a bit of chill.

5. The third thing that throws an immature Church off stride is bad talk. Itís either gossip, telling the truth with the intent to do harm, or just plain lying, or being a party to bad talk by allowing people to say things to you that they ought not say.

6. Turn to Proverbs 6.16-19 with me:

16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:

17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,

19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Notice, in particular, verse 19. God just plain does not like bad talk.

7. He dislikes bad talk so much that, I suppose, if the Bible were being written today, God would have an entire chapter dealing with the telephone ad e-mail and how they are used to cause harm.

8. But a mature Church understands James 3.2-10:

2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.

3 Behold, we put bits in the horsesí mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.

4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.

5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!

6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.

7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:

8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.

10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

In good Churches mature members simply will not allow wrong things to be said to them. Amen?

9. There is a final cause of disruption in an immature Church . . . false doctrine. Or even good doctrine thatís out of balance or out of perspective.

10. At Corinth, with this resurrection controversy, the problem was bad doctrine . . . unbiblical teachings related to a major truth.

11. In Titus 1.9-13, Paul draws a blueprint for preachers dealing with teachers of wrong things in the Church:

9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

10 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision:

11 Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucreís sake.

12 One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.

13 This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;

12. I want you to notice something that will surprise you in verse 13. When Paul instructs Titus to "rebuke them sharply" he is directing Titus to rebuke the Church members.

13. "Titus, you rebuke those Church members for listening to that nonsense." And how do I know he wants the Church members rebuked here? Because he has already addressed the problem of the false teachers in verse 9: "Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers."

14. Donít you just love Paul? What tremendously consistent behavior he displays. Heís not like a cigarette smoking father who wonders why his boy smokes dope. And heís not like a rebellious mother who wonders why her daughter has improper relationships with boys.

15. And heís not like the parent who refuses to submit to the will of God and then wonders why the kids are so rebellious. No, the great thing about Paul is that what he asked of others he did himself.

16. He told Titus how to deal with bad doctrine in an immature Church and Titus probably did exactly as he was told. Why? Because Paul was the kind of guy who did what he was told.

17. Turn to First Corinthians 15.33-34 and read with me:

33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

In these two verses Paul is chewing out folks a bit for hanging around the wrong people and listening to their spiritual nonsense about the resurrection . . . exactly what he instructs Titus to do in Titus 1.13.

18. So, can you guess what this consistent man of God tries to do in our text for today? In todayís text he rebukes, but then tries to salvage with good doctrine the false teachers. You see, folks, people must be restored to a right understanding of the resurrection if there is to be any hope of them getting converted.

19. In verse 35 Paul cites their skepticism, their questioning of the legitimacy of the resurrection: "But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?"

20. Now letís watch how Paul employs a two-step method for dealing with false teachers. Itís a method you and I ought to use when dealing with people who attempt to mislead you.

1A. First, PAUL REBUKES "Thou fool" (36)

1B. Donít think Paul is rude for coming on too strong and calling those he rebukes fools, because he isnít. The Holy Spirit of God inspired this response by Paul.

2B. You see, the most important thing Paul must accomplish at this juncture of the retrieval process is to let those in error know in a powerful way that their error is wrong.

3B. He does this by writing "fool," which is a strong word that describes a person who doesnít have any sense. Despite their pretense, Paul is telling those who are skeptical about the doctrine of the resurrection that they do not know what they are talking about.

4B. Iím sure what he wrote startled them, since people who believe false doctrines usually think they are very smart and well-informed. So, he has accomplished the first step of this retrieval process. he told them they were wrong in such a way as to get their attention and perhaps stop them from spreading their bad doctrine throughout the Church.

2A. Second Step In The Process, PAUL RETRIEVES

Here is where he uses sound doctrine to try to win the gainsayers over. And the way in which he does this is by showing that the resurrection, as a doctrine, is a legitimate doctrine. Two lines of argument here:

1B. In Verses 36-42, Paul shows the resurrection to be a parallel to nature

36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:

37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:

38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.

39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.

40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.

41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.

42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:

1C. Now donít make the mistake of thinking that nature proves Bible doctrine, because it doesnít. You never want to try and use nature to interpret the Bible. On the contrary, you use the Bible to teach you things about nature.

2C. What Paul has shown in this paragraph, and the only thing he has attempted to show in this paragraph that Iíve just read, is that nothing in nature argues against the resurrection.

3C. On the contrary, by examining such things as seeds and grain, flesh and stars and planets and such, the resurrection is seen to be possible.

4C. So, with this line of reasoning, which I have not the time to fully develop, Paul has established the parallel, thereby taking away from his opponents the claim that "believing in the resurrection is unscientific."

2B. The second line of argument is in verses 42-50. Here Paul goes on to show the resurrection to be preparation for heaven

1C. We read of what is produced in verses 42-44:

42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:

43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:

44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

1D. What changes occur at the resurrection! From corruption to incorruption. From dishonor to glory. From weakness to power. From natural to spiritual.

2D. Think about it, skeptic. If heaven is life on a higher plane of existence than can be comprehended from our frames of reference, surely changes are going to be needed to exist on that higher plane.

3D. Resurrection is that supernatural alteration which produces the person who is capable of existing on that higher plane.

2C. We read more of the people involved in verses 45-49:

45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.

46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.

47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.

48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.

49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

1D. There are two modes of existence. Adam was of the soul. Sinful. Natural. Earthbound and corruptible. He was the first man.

2D. The second man is Christ. From heaven and spiritual, Christ is not earthbound, not corruptible, not Hell-bound.

3D. When a person receives Christ as his personal Savior he actually passes from the race of Adam to the race of Christ. You didnít feel it happen, Christian, but it did happen.

4D. For such a person, for the Christian, resurrection, wherein he is given a glorified body in the process described in verses 42-44, is the completion of this racial transformation.

5D. You see, brothers and sisters, we already have a soul and a spirit suited for heaven. All that awaits is a resurrection body. That is made possible by Christís resurrection.

3C. What is produced, the people involved, and now the parameter (50)

50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

1D. A parameter is a condition or a requirement we have to work within, the rules if you will.

2D. Let me give you a couple of examples of what parameters are:

In baseball, one of the parameters or requirements for scoring a run is that you first be on base. Unless you have at least touched first, second and third base, you cannot score a run by touching home plate..

In football, a parameter for legally receiving a forward pass is that you be eligible. Either you line up for the snap of the ball on the end of the line of scrimmage or in the backfield. Otherwise you cannot catch a pass.

3D. In much the same way the resurrection is a parameter. You see, you and I may not enter heaven the way we presently are, even though you may be saved.

4D. Solution to the problem? Resurrection. When you are resurrected you can go to heaven and there remain for all eternity.

CONCLUSION:

1. Know of a situation in which someone is teaching members of this Church false doctrine? If so, I have two jobs to do. First, I am to deal with the Church members for listening to the nonsense. Second, I am to deal with the folks who are teaching the nonsense.

2. Implicit in this responsibility assigned to me, of course, is the necessity of you actually informing me when Church members listen to doctrinally unsound nonsense and you informing me when people are teaching doctrinally unsound nonsense.

3. Addressing just the teachers of false doctrine, for a moment, I have a twofold obligation when dealing with them that I need your help in:

4. I am to rebuke them. Make no mistake about that. False teaching cannot go without a strong rebuke. But what do I do after I have rebuked them? I then try to retrieve them. And your help is needed not only so I will know who to rebuke but also to help me retrieve them after I have rebuked them.

5. Some folks in Corinth had a really distorted and twisted view of the resurrection. Others even denied the resurrection. And they attempted to spread their heresy. Someone told Paul what was going on.

6. What did Paul did do? First, he rebuked those who listened to the false doctrine, in verses 33 and 34. Then he turned his attention to the propagators of false doctrine, rebuking them, and then trying to retrieve them.

7. He rebuked them by calling them fools. He tried to retrieve them by pointing out two undeniable facts to them: #1, there is nothing observable in nature, i.e. science, which contradicts the resurrection. #2, you cannot logically expect to get to the heavenly plane without the resurrection. Corruption cannot inherit incorruption.

8. So, there it is. You and I have a practical and workable example of what to do when someone tries to teach you something that is contrary to the Word of God. You tell me and I rebuke him, then I try to retrieve him and you help me retrieve him.

9. Has that kind of situation presented itself in your life of late? Do you need to inform me of something that may lead to me rebuking someone and then retrieving him, or trying to retrieve him? Let me know so we can get to it quickly before serious damage is done to anyone in our Church.

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