1 Corinthians 2:1-14 (Spiritual things discerned by the spiritual)


(1Co 2:1-2 ESV) And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

QUESTION: How well does this passage characterize our preaching? What would happen if this were a fair description of our own preaching today?

QUESTION: What does Paul mean by “Jesus Christ and him crucified”? How might such a sermon sound today?

(1Co 2:3-5 ESV) 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

QUESTION: Why weakness, fear, and trembling? Read the account of Paul’s stay in Corinth in Acts 18. Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 1:18-31 (the Wisdom of the World)


(1Co 1:18-21 ESV) 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.

The cross makes no sense to those with a secular worldview. The Greeks knew that the cross was for rebels and criminals. And yet the early church reveled in the shame of the cross. They found the irony compelling. After all, if the Son of God could lower himself to be among the most contemptible, he could surely understand them in their poverty and low social station. Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 1:11-17 (the Gospel)


(1Co 1:11-13 ESV) 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

Evidently, Paul had received a visit from a member in Corinth, Chloe, who reported on division within the congregation. And this leads to a four-chapter discussion on congregational unity — a theme that Paul returns to at least in chapter 12 (with respect to gifts). And it may be that other passages are also about the disputes that led to the divisions, but we have no way of knowing for sure. Continue reading

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Apologetics: July 13, 2014 Class: Introduction to Science and the Bible

lapelmicSunday morning’s class.

You can download the file to play as a Podcast or on an MP3 player —

Download m4a sound file (28 MB)

or as an MP3 —

Download mp3 sound file (51 MB)

or you can stream the audio here:

Posted in Apologetics, Christian Evidences/Apologetics, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Gospel Advocate: “That Liberalism Among Us”


Not the July 2014 issue, which actually has a typewriter on the cover. Young readers: We used typewriters back before computers were invented. They were made out of T Rex bones.

I subscribe to the Gospel Advocate. I just like keeping up with the more conservative wing of the Churches of Christ, and the Gospel Advocate is pretty typical of the “mainstream” conservative Churches.

In a very interesting turn, the July 2014 issue includes a reprint of a 1968 article by Batsell Barrett Baxter. Baxter was the face of the Churches of Christ in the “Herald of Truth” TV broadcasts of the 1960s and chairman of the Lipscomb Bible department. That is, he was as prominent as one could get in Church of Christ circles.

At the top of the page, this text is quoted in a large font–

Real liberalism is a denial of the existence of God or the denial of the inspiration of the authority of the Bible.

Continue reading

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Atonement: In Reply to Hank

workforsalvationMy last post regarding the eternal fate of Gentiles before the time of Jesus was overly long, and Hank — whose questions and comments prompted that post — has responded in detail. The quoted materials are from his response in the comments. (I’ve corrected typos.) And this is going to run long, too.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I must admit, I don’t believe I had ever heard of the position that argued that the pre Christ Gentiles all just died, never to be raised again. No resurrection, no judgment, no reward, no condemnation. Is that what you really believe?

Since the late Second Century, Greek Platonic thought entered into Christian thought. Contrary to the Scriptures, Plato taught that each human has a soul that is innately immortal. If this is so, then we must find a place for the soul of every deceased person, either heaven or hell. The Catholic Church later modified this to add Limbo and Purgatory. Continue reading

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Atonement: The Fate of Ancient Gentiles (and a Few Other Things)

workforsalvation[This is a little long. Anyway, it all leads to a question at the end and, I hope, demonstrates the importance of remembering the historical narrative of the Scriptures as we seek to interpret them.]

In comments, long-time reader Hank and I have been trading theories about the salvation of the Gentiles before Jesus. Hank’s theory is agreed with by a few commenters, including one of my favorites — Continue reading

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Baptism: On the Covenant with Abraham

JESUS BAPTISMI’m going to leave baptism as a topic with this one last thought. And it’s all about God’s covenant with Abraham (Abram at the time) —

(Gen 15:3–6 ESV) 3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” 4 And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” 5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

Recall that this is the text that Paul uses in Rom 4 and Gal 3 to argue that God saves Gentiles by faith because of this very covenant. That’s good, solid narrative, covenant theology. This parallels our own faith in Jesus.

So what happens next? Continue reading

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Baptism: Stray Thoughts



It’s time to pick up some stray thoughts from prior posts and the comments.

Col 2:11-14

A few posts ago, I argued that the “circumcision not made with hands” is the receipt of the Holy Spirit when we’re saved. But I left open v. 12 —

(Col 2:11-12 NET) 11 In him you also were circumcised – not, however, with a circumcision performed by human hands, but by the removal of the fleshly body, that is, through the circumcision done by Christ. 12 Having been buried with him in baptism, you also have been raised with him through your faith in the power of God who raised him from the dead.

Paul associates baptism with the burial of Jesus, as he also does in Rom 6. And I agree with the nearly universal view of commentators that this is not a reference to Holy Spirit baptism. After all, that was the subject of v. 11. Here he is adding to that thought. Continue reading

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Baptism: The Need for a Ritual, Part 2


Imagine that two devout Christians get married, with the preacher, bridesmaids, the whole works. They later have two children. Ten years later, the husband discovers that the preacher forgot to sign the wedding certificate. A lawyer tells him that his marriage is legally invalid (wouldn’t be true in Alabama, but assume it’s true wherever you live). Would it be sin for the man to abandon his “wife” and children, and then go marry a pretty young thing?

Well, to a heartless legalist, the man would be leaving a relationship of fornication and entering into the holy estate of matrimony. But most people would see it as God surely would — as sin. He made a commitment and he needs to keep it. Even though the ceremony was done wrong, he’s bound to his commitment. Continue reading

Posted in Baptism, Uncategorized | 15 Comments