Sun, Jul 18, 2004

AIDS IN THE CHURCH I CORINTHIANS 15:29-34

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
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AIDS IN THE CHURCH!

I CORINTHIANS 15:29-34

            Please turn in your Bibles this morning to I Corinthians chapter 15 as we look at a deadly virus that has affected and infected many churches today – AIDS!  Now before we move on, I want to share with you a new Bible translation by John Henson called Good as New – A Radical Retelling of the Scriptures.  Here is a description of the book:

            “A radical new translation of the early Christian scriptures for the new century which conveys the kind of impact they would have had in the idiom of today.”

            Sounds like a good idea, but it is not!  Listen to what Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury said in the forward of this book:

            What would Christianity look like, what would Christian language sound like, if we really tried to screen out the stale, the technical, the unconsciously exclusive words and policies and to hear as if for the first time what the Christian scriptures were saying?  John Henson has devoted much of his life to wrestling with this challenge, and has for many people made those scriptures speak as never before – indeed, as for the first time.  Patiently and boldly, he has teased out implications, gone back to roots, linguistic and theological, and re-imagined the process in which a genuinely new language was brought to birth by those who had listened to Jesus because they knew they were in a genuinely new world.

            John’s presentation of the Christian gospel is of extraordinary power simply because it is so close to the prose and poetry of ordinary life.  Instead of being taken into a specialized religious frame of reference – as happens even with the most conscientious of formal modern translations – and being given a gospel addressed to specialized concerns – as happens with even the most careful of modern “devotional” books – we have here a vehicle for thinking and worshiping that is fully earthed, recognizably about our humanity.  Here are sensitive meditations, blunt and beautiful prayers, familiar hymns made fresh (polished and re-set as John likes to say). The Gospels tell us that Jesus’ unprofessional and unreligious audiences heard him gladly; if they are to hear him gladly today, they will need something like John’s renderings for this to be plausible. His work is for a large part of the “religious” reading public a well-kept secret; I hope that this book will help the secret to be shared, and to spread in epidemic profusion through religious and irreligious alike.

            Isn’t that wonderful, a new translation of the Scriptures to help us understand them?  Like I have said this is not good!  Listen to this article from World Net Daily from June 24, 2004.  The article is called: New Bible Translation Promotes Fornication, Archbishop of Canterbury praises version for “extraordinary power.’  We are told:

            A brand-new translation of the Bible – praised by Britain’s archbishop of Canterbury, that nation’s senior Christian voice – flatly contradicts traditional core Christian beliefs on sex and morality.

            Titled “God as New,” the new Bible is translated by former Baptist minister John Henson for the “One” organization, to produce what the group calls a “new, fresh and adventurous” translation of the Christian scriptures.

            The 104th archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams – leader of the Church of England – describes it is a book of “extraordinary power,” but admitted many would be startled by its content.

            “Instead of condemning fornicators, adulterers and ‘abusers of themselves with mankind,’” says Ruth Gledhill, the London Times religious affairs correspondent, “the new version of his first letter to Corinth has St. Paul advising Christians not to go without sex for too long in case they get ‘frustrated.’”

            “The new version, which Dr. Williams says he hopes will spread ‘in epidemic profusion through religious and irreligious alike’, turns St. Paul’s strictures against fornication on their head,” adds the Times.

            The One organization that produced the new Bible translation is dedicated to “establish[ing] peace, justice, dignity and rights for all.”  It is also focused on “sustainable use of the earth’s resources,” challenging “oppression, injustice, exclusion and discrimination” as well as accepting “one another, valuing their diversity and experience.”

            According to Ekklesia, a London-based “theological think tank” that supports the “one” translation: The translation is pioneering in its accessibility, and changes the original Greek and Hebrew nomenclature into modern nicknames. St. Peter becomes “Rocky,” Mary Magdalene becomes “Maggie,” Aaron becomes “Ron,” Andronicus becomes “Andy” and Barabbas becomes “Barry.”

            In keeping with the times, translator Henson translates “demon possession” as “mental illness” and “Son of Man,” the expression Jesus frequently used to describe himself, as “the Complete Person.”  In addition, parables are rendered as “riddles,” baptize is to “dip” in water, salvation becomes “healing” or “completeness” and Heaven becomes “the world beyond time and space.” . . .

            . . . Here, according to the London Times, are a few sample passages:

Mark 1:4

            Authorized version: “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.”

            New: “John, nicknamed ‘The Dipper,’ was ‘The Voice.’  He was in the desert, inviting people to be dipped, to show they were determined to change their ways and wanted to be forgiven.”

Mark 1:10-11

            Authorized version: “And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him. And there came a voice from the heaven saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

            New: “As he was climbing up the bank again, the sun shone through a gap in the clouds. At the same time a pigeon flew down and perched on him.  Jesus took this as a sign that God’s spirit was with him. A voice from overhead was heard saying, ‘That’s my boy!  You’re doing fine!’”

Matthew 23:25

            Authorized version: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!”

            New: “Take a running jump, Holy Joes, humbugs!”

Matthew 26:69-70

            Authorized version: “Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came to him, saying, ‘Thou also was with Jesus in Galilee,’  But he denied before them all, saying: ‘I know not what thou sayest.’”

            New: “Meanwhile Rocky was still sitting in the courtyard.  A woman came up to him and said: ‘Haven’t I seen you with Jesus, the hero from Galilee?’  Rocky shook his head and said: ‘I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about!’”

I Corinthians 7:1-2

            KJV: “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: [it is] good for a man not to touch a woman.  Nevertheless, [to avoid] fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.”

            New: “Some of you think the best way to cope with sex is for men and women to keep right away from each other. That is more likely to lead to sexual offences.  My advice is for everyone to have a regular partner.”

I Corinthians 7:8-9

            KJV: “I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.”

            New: “If you know you have strong needs, get yourself a partner. Better than being frustrated.”

            For many, this is just wonderful, making the Scriptures fit the days we are living in, they see no problem with this at all.  That clearly tells me that AIDS has affected and infected the church today.  Not the physical AIDS, Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, which destroys the bodies defense system and the body finally succumbs to a massive infection that it can no longer fight off and dies!  Something it should have been able to fight off, but the defensive system is destroyed now!

            Here I am talking about Spiritual AIDS or Acquired Ignorance of the Doctrines of Scripture and it is just as deadly!  You see, like physical AIDS, Spiritual AIDS destroys our defense system, what we believe, the truths found in the Word of God and in the end, Spiritual AIDS brings about spiritual death because the infection overpowers them, they can no longer fight against it!

Here in I Corinthians chapter 15 Paul is dealing with doctrine, the truths of God from the Word of God. For the Corinthian believers, they believed in the resurrection of Jesus but they didn’t believe, at least some of them, in the resurrection of their own bodies, life just ended!  So in I Corinthians 15:1-11 Paul shows us that Christ rose from the dead according to the Scriptures. Then in I Corinthians 15:12-19 Paul tells us why the resurrection of Christ is important, for if He didn’t rise from the dead, neither will we.  If He didn’t rise from the dead our hope is empty, we are still lost in our sins!  Then in

I Corinthians15:20-28 Paul talks about the order of the resurrection; Christ being the Firstfruits illustrating the coming bountiful harvest of souls, some at the rapture, some at the end of the tribulation period, some at the end of the kingdom age when the last enemy, death is destroyed!

            Now, as we move into I Corinthians 15:29-34 Paul is going to deal with the moral implications of Christ’s resurrection.  So with that said, and I realize that this was a long introduction, but it was needed, let’s begin reading in I Corinthians chapter 15, starting in verse 29 and see what the Lord has for us regarding this very important subject – AIDS IN THE CHURCH!

I CORINTHIANS 15:29-34

 

            This baptizing of the dead that Paul is speaking of here was a pagan practice and Paul is using it to illustrate a point.  He is saying “If the unsaved believe in resurrection life and it affects them, it affects their life, the things they do; why don’t you believe in resurrection life, why don’t you let that affect your life in the things that you are doing?”

            Paul then wants them to think abut this foolishness that they believe – that the dead do not rise. His first point is the many who have risked their life for the Gospel of Jesus Christ – putting their life in jeopardy, putting themselves in danger and how foolish that would be if the dead do not rise!

            During the first and second centuries, millions of Christians lost their lives because they refused to bow their knee to Caesar and call him “Lord!”  In our present day more Christians are being martyred for their faith than at any other time in history, of course going back some 2,000 years now!  Why would men, women and children put their lives in jeopardy for nothing?  They wouldn’t!  They knew the Scriptures, they believed the Scriptures were the Words of God, not just containing the words of God and you pick and choose what you like and dislike, what you want and don’t want, and because they believed the Scriptures it affected their lives in a powerful and dramatic way.  They were willing to give their life for the Gospel’s sake, to see people saved!

            Paul then moves on to his own personal life as an example for them to follow. When did Paul fight with the beasts at Ephesus?  We don’t know for the Scriptures don’t tell us, they couldn’t tell us everything that took place, the libraries couldn’t contain the volumes of books that would be needed.  Now let me say this, Paul may not be referring to physical animals like lions, but men, who were acting like wild animals, who acted like wild beasts and wanted to destroy him just as a wild animal would!

            When we think of ministry, we think things just go smoothly, and you will only think that if you have never been in ministry.  Look at Paul’s life and what he went through to bring the Gospel message to a lost and dying world and how he was not moved from the course that was set before him and then see where you are at, see what has moved you.  In II Corinthians 11:22-33 we are told, and this is from The Living Bible, They brag that they are Hebrews, do they? Well, so am I. And they say that they are Israelites, God's chosen people? So am I. And they are descendants of Abraham? Well, I am too.  They say they serve Christ? But I have served him far more! (Have I gone mad to boast like this?) I have worked harder, been put in jail more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again and again.  Five different times the Jews gave me their terrible thirty-nine lashes.  Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I was in the open sea all night and the whole next day.  I have traveled many weary miles and have been often in great danger from flooded rivers and from robbers and from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the hands of the Gentiles. I have faced grave dangers from mobs in the cities and from death in the deserts and in the stormy seas and from men who claim to be brothers in Christ but are not.  I have lived with weariness and pain and sleepless nights. Often I have been hungry and thirsty and have gone without food; often I have shivered with cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm . . .

. . . Then, besides all this, I have the constant worry of how the churches are getting along: Who makes a mistake and I do not feel his sadness? Who falls without my longing to help him? Who is spiritually hurt without my fury rising against the one who hurt him?  But if I must brag, I would rather brag about the things that show how weak I am.  God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is to be praised forever and ever, knows I tell the truth.  For instance, in Damascus the governor under King Aretas kept guards at the city gates to catch me; but I was let down by rope and basket from a hole in the city wall, and so I got away! [What popularity!]

            Think about all that Paul went through and for what?  You see, if the dead don’t rise all those labors, all that work, all that persecution is for nothing!  You might as well grab for all the gusto you can in this life – eat, drink and be merry because tomorrow you die and it is all over! But Paul’s point is that his labor is not in vain, the dead do rise and thus, live what you believe and believe the truths of God’s Word or you will be deceived! You see, false teachers, false doctrine will never lead you to a life of holiness, only God’s Word empowered by God’s Spirit can!

            Paul’s rebuke of the Corinthian church is they are sleeping, spiritually speaking, which has caused them to sin.  You see, they fell into that philosophy of eating, drinking and being merry because tomorrow you die and thus, what’s the point of dying to self, to destroy those fleshly desires, you might as well live it up now!  That is the mentality of the world and it has been brought right into the church today!

            Think about it, why do people come to church? Why are you here today?  Many times people come to church to feel good about themselves.  Sometimes they want to laugh.  Sometimes they want to be entertained. So the church, in trying to meet the needs of the people has done just that.  There is no challenge to live holy lives, in fact in some churches “sin” is a four-letter word! You will never hear it spoken.  So the church makes people feel good about living in sin!  We make them laugh, which there is nothing wrong with laughing, I love to laugh and I think God has a great sense of humor, look at me!  The problem is there is no real point to it many times.  We entertain with music, and skits, and other activities and make the teaching of God’s Word only last some 15 minutes because that is all the time that is left!  The result, according to George Barna, the morality of Christians and non-Christians is no different, the sins of the saved are done just as often as the unsaved!  There is no difference because people are not interested in doctrine, in righteousness, but feeling good, but there are times when you are not to feel good, when the conviction of God comes upon your life so you will change, so you will get right with God!

            We see today Christians living together who are not married, Christians having sex outside of marriage, adultery, abortion and-so-on because we don’t believe that God says what He means and means what He says!  AIDS has entered the church and it is destroying peoples lives!  Thus, Paul’s rebuke to the Corinthians is a rebuke to the church of God today and Paul’s call is for us to wake-up and do not sin!

            Let me show you what I mean in a report from George Barna from May 24, 2004.  We are told:

            Jesus taught that Christians would be recognizable by their distinctive behavior – specifically, by the way they love others and how their lives reflect their spiritual values and beliefs (i.e., the “fruit” of their transformation).  A new report from the Barna Group, a cultural analysis company in southern California, presents research indicating that people’s faith does not make as much of a difference as might be expected – especially among non-evangelical born again Christians . . .

            That, of course should not be for if God has not impacted our lives, how are we going to impact the lives of others for Jesus Christ?  In some circles it seems that Jesus is the in thing to do, but that is meaningless if your life has not changed, you faith is empty.  What can we do about this?  What is the solution to the problem?  We need to WAKE-UP!  Yes, there is no cure for physical AIDS only a slowing down of the process but eventually all who have AIDS will die, and the reality is, all of us one day will die!  The thing is there is a cure for Spiritual AIDS and that is the Word of God.  You see, your spiritual defense system is down, it is weak and the only way to re-energize it is by getting a healthy and daily dose of the Word of God into your life!

What happens to many Christians who are feeling weak, sick is they go to therapy, they take anti-depressants to try and make themselves feel better which is like taking an aspirin for a headache when the real problem is you have a brain tumor!  It may help the headache but you are going to die from the brain tumor if you don’t do something about it.  You need to build up your defense system so you will not succumb to the lies of the enemy and remain in a spiritual sleep, living in sin!

Listen to God’s rebuke of His people in Jeremiah 2:13, For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns -- broken cisterns that can hold no water.  In other words, they have moved away from that which is pure, God, and they have turned away from His Word and have made for themselves cisterns to hold water which is old, polluted and infected with all kinds of bugs and organisms and in the end, these cisterns will leak because their doctrines are empty, they can’t hold water.  How foolish right?  You see, you can have the refreshing, life giving waters of Jesus that is found in Him and His Word and isn’t that better than what the world has to offer?  Of course it is!

In fact Paul tells us in Hebrews 4:12-13, For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a Discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.  And this is from The Amplified Bible, For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart. And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, naked and defenseless to the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do.

Let me give you a few verses that give to us some insight on morality, how we should live now that we are in Christ.  Paul tells us in II Corinthians 5:17 that our morality is based on the new life we have in Christ.  He says, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  When we are saved the old things are put aside, they passed away, and we have such a love for the Lord that you no longer desire that old life.  But what can happen over time is you can allow those things back into your life and that is not good, it is not helpful, it is not edifying but it can destroy you!  Are you in Christ? If you are then walk accordingly!

In Galatians 5:22-26 Paul tells us that this life is promised to us by the Spirit. He tells us,But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.  And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.  You see, if you have AGAPE love flowing from your life it will be manifested with joy in your heart, peace in your life, longsuffering towards others, kindness to people, goodness towards those around you, you are faithful or can be counted on, there is a gentleness to your life, there is power that is under control, you don’t lose your temper. You see, the flesh is crucified with all its desires and you can walk in the Spirit!

Also, if God has given you a new heart than morality will flow from our heart as Paul tells us in Hebrews 8:10, For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  You see, whoever is on the throne of your heart will be manifested in your life.  If it is Jesus; then His nature, His love, His life will be manifested!  If it is self; then the ugliness of self will be manifested in the works of the flesh, no fruit in this as we are told in Galatians 5:19-21, Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  Who is on the throne of your heart?

And lastly, as we are in Christ there is no room for boasting about what we have done, how spiritual we are, how superior we are to others, we can only boast in Christ and what He has done for us by His grace and thus, I am what I am!  In Philippians 3:7-9 Paul makes this point, But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.  Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.

Get rid of the garbage in your life and put on the Lord Jesus Christ, crucify the flesh and make no room for it but fill yourself with the things of God!  You see, if we truly believe God’s Word, we believe doctrine then those translations of the Bible that are nothing more than doctrines of demons will fade away!  If we don’t, then our defenses are down and this infection will eventually destroy us!  Sadly, many people and churches will embrace this garbage for it justifies their behavior.  In Jeremiah 5:30-31 listen to what is said, An astonishing and horrible thing Has been committed in the land: The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule by their own power; And My people love to have it so.  But what will you do in the end?

What will the end be if we let our defenses down? Death, spiritual death!  Thus, don’t support these evil things but stand strong in the Lord and the power of His might for we do not preach the Gospel in vain, these are not empty words or words that need to be updated to fit the days we are living in, these are timeless truths from the mouth of God and thus, we need to believe them and speak them forth to others.  And no matter what may come your way, no matter what persecution may come upon you, because Jesus rose from the dead we can be assured that one day these bodies of flesh will be raised up to glory with Him!  Don’t let Spiritual AIDS, Acquired Ignorance of the Doctrines of Scripture destroy your life!

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