1 Corinthians 15:19 is the THEME -
- “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19).
“Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead? And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die. Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame” (1 Cor. 15:29-34).
Romans 8:29 is the THEME -
- “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29)
“Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:33-39).
Many say of my soul – “there is no help for him in God” – but why? Many do now say– “behold!” They all shout the exhale – “aha!” They, with the drunkards, do parade under the banner: “the Church of Wells is ‘killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter’” (Rom. 8:36). But my reader, PLEASE! Will you let me plead with you?
Will you now disregard all possibility that the present circumstances are namely, “For [God’s] sake” (Rom. 8:36)?! It is true! This is to mean: the waters of overflowing affliction are not for my sake! These fires of the furnace are not heated seven times because of my foolishness! These slanders as swords are not surrounding on account of all my unrighteousness! Could it be that this situation is, just as the saying of old declared: “They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I took not away” (Psalm 69:4). This is the case indeed, even though I have much “wretchedness!” And oh! My heart so often cries the prayer, “let me not see my wretchedness” (Num. 11:25)! Truly, we do often confess to God – “O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee” (Psalm 69:5)! – but if God took away my sins, if God took away my foolishness, I am assured, on the contrary as mine accusers, that the reproach of which I now bear, and the suffering, and the danger, and the infamy, would not decrease but INCREASE! There is an unfathomable weight of reproach upon the 1st century Christ, the biblical Christ, and what?!? Shall no one join with Him and bear it? “Is there not a cause” (1 Sam. 17:29)? The crowds of religious veterans definitively denounce us, saying, “it is UNGODLY ZEAL”… and many are emboldened to scorn. The scorners hide behind the judgments of another, but we are hiding behind yet another (the apostle Paul), and he has a contradicting judgment. Yes my reader, the apostle Paul had another shout! He had another CRY! He had another religiously-peculiar ZEAL! And what was it?
It was not to denounce those who are in danger every hour, but to upbraid those who slander its cause! He said, “And why stand we in jeopardy every hour” (1 Cor. 15:30)? The carnal Christians answered wrongly, and they have heretofore chided, but this is because they have been corrupted from “good manners”, the “ways which be in Christ” (1 Cor. 4:17), and their corruption from these ways was because of “evil communications” (1 Cor. 15:33). They have been “deceived”, and Paul brings them to memory with the warning: “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Cor. 15:33). Paul argues that they are fast asleep in carnality – if indeed – they are not in such “jeopardy every hour”, being “baptized for the dead”, and following the ways of Christ which were in Paul’s confession: “I die daily” (1 Cor. 15:29-34). To this sleeping multitude Paul did make a noisome upbraid – “Awake to righteousness!” Paul declared the cause of this suffering – RIGHTEOUSNESS. But carnal Christianity has left off its pursuit…they have broadened its way...and oh! Oh carnal Christianity, when will you ever join Christ? When will you ever, with Christ, be enabled to pray the prayer – “Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us: for we are exceedingly filled with contempt. Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud” (Psalm 123:3-4)! Paul WAS NOT “at ease”, he was “in jeopardy”, but the sleeping backsliders were at ease…thus they chided Paul. Paul would have them wake up! They are slumbering their days away unredeemed, thus their community, their city, their family, their neighbors, their state, they all remain unto this day without “the knowledge of God” (1 Cor. 15:34).
Paul’s zeal was not an UNGODLY ZEAL. His persecutors can see, at least, that it is a ZEAL that he has, but the scriptures spoke of a godly zeal in this wise: “the reproaches of them that reproached [God]” have “fallen upon [us]” (Psalm 69:9)! Surely now “the proud waters [are] gone over our soul”, but take note – they are “PROUD waters”! These are billowing waves of men who “hate me without a cause”, all the while, even still, God knows my foolishness and wretchedness…may God have mercy.
The world shouts, "Where is thy God" (Psalm 42:10)?!
Paul would argue that He is right here! Look reader, look at "the Image of His Son" (Rom. 8:29), namely: "tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword," or being "killed" and made ready for the "slaughter" (Rom. 8:35-36).
Our Prayers to God
- Disclaimer: not in every line. Look at the heart of what is said.
“A Song of degrees. Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens. Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us. Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us: for we are exceedingly filled with contempt. Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud.” (Psalms 123:1-4)