In Which Camp Are You Living?

Studies in First Corinthians – XXVI

1 Corinthians 15:21-22

“It’s good to be alive!” This phrase usually expresses the joy of a moment, some fleeting experience. But what does it really mean to be alive in the spiritual and eternal sense of the word? Paul writes of the real significance of life in Christ.

“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (15:21-22).

Paul points to two camps: in Adam, in Christ. Everyone who has ever lived has chosen to live in one or the other. There is no neutral ground. We are all born into Adam’s camp and most live and die there. However, we can be implanted by the miracle of the second birth into the camp of Christ.

“As in Adam all die.” Adam had been warned that rejection of God’s authority would mean loss of life. But he took the reins in his own hands, defied God’s authority, and promptly died. He didn’t die a physical death at that moment but he died a death much more to be feared. His relationship with God was cut off immediately. The mark of death grew on him in every way.

So begins the story of the tragic breakdown of human life at every level when out of proper relationship with God. Each of us, by the law of heredity, has become involved in this tragedy. As Paul put it, “by the disobedience of one the many were made sinners” (Romans 5:15).

The marks of death are upon each of us today: the stains of sin, of hatred, of all the decaying fruit of the self-life. Unless we move out of the camp in which we were born and into the camp in which we are born again, we will continue in the rebellion, not only in life but in eternity.

“So in Christ shall all be made alive.” Here is the counterattack of heaven. Man, made in the image of God, has chosen the devil as his master and become like him. Now God is made like man in order to rescue him from the rule of Satan. He has come to restore the character of God in man.

It was not necessary. Justice would have been completely satisfied if the entire human race had perished forever. But God is not only just, He is loving! And His love seeks and saves the lost.

The kingdom of death was invaded by a Man who’s life knew no sin. He was tempted in all points like we are, yet without sin. So as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, “by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). He has removed the mark of death and set in its place the mark of life.

In which camp are you living?

Body of Christ, Who’s In?

“R only Acts 2 believers a part of the body of Christ?”

This is the question that was posed on Twitter by a friend of mine. Although the question was not directed to me, my wheels immediately began spinning.

Photo by bemky

I’m not sure that the tweet expressed my friend’s true question. My response to the question as stated would be, Yes, only those who believe Acts 2 are a part of the body of Christ. In fact, I believe that anyone who rejects any portion of Scripture would be exempt from the body of Christ. It makes no difference if it is Acts 2 or Isaiah 48.

However, I don’t believe that this is the question my friend was asking. I believe he was asking if those who do not interpret and apply Acts 2 as Apostolic Pentecostals do are a part of the body of Christ. In order to answer that question, we must answer the question, How does someone become a part of the body of Christ? The Word of God speaks a clear answer.

We are baptized into the body.

“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” – 1 Corinthians 12:13

The Greek preposition translated by is en – the same preposition is used in Acts 1:5 (ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.) We could translate this verse, “With one Spirit are we all baptized into one body…” When we are baptized in the Spirit we receive Christ into our lives and become a part of the body of Christ (read also Ephesians 2:13-22).

This is exactly what happened in Acts 2 when Peter stood up and delivered his sermon. When the people were convicted and had faith to accept the sacrifice of Jesus he commanded them to “Repent and be baptized…and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Spirit)” (Acts 2:38).

That being said, let me add one more thing, and I believe this will get down to the real issue that my friend was concerned about when he posed his question.

Only those who have believed and applied Acts 2 are a part of the body of Christ. However, we must be careful not to have an “us versus them” mentality. What if Peter would have had an “us versus them” mentality concerning Cornelius? What if Aquila and Priscilla would have had an “us versus them” mentality concerning Apollos? This world is full of people like Cornelius and Apollos. They love the LORD and are sincere in their desire to please Him. They need someone to preach the truth to them that they may be a part of the body of Christ.

Extraordinary

In Extraordinary, John Bevere unpacks the truths from God’s Word which show God’s desire for His children to live an abundant life. We are not called to the “status quo.” John shows us exactly what it takes to move beyond an ordinary existence and to take hold of an extraordinary life. Prepare to be challenged and changed if you read this book!

If you have ever asked the question, “Is it possible to live a life free from sin?” this book is for you. If you find yourself constantly battling the same sinful habits, this book is for you. If you want to live life in the power that God has given and not through your own effort and ability, this book is for you. If you are looking to live a life fully immersed in the extraordinary, then this book is for you.

The truth is, as John points out, “many of us have been taught that grace is an unmerited gift and by it we were given eternal life in heaven. However, what’s been neglected in many evangelical circles is the understanding of how grace provides the power to live – extraordinarily – a successful life that pleases God before eternity.”

How is this possible? Grace. “Grace gives us the ability to exceed our own ability. It gives us the ability to live extraordinarily!” In fact, God’s expectations of those filled with His Spirit are greater than His expectations were of those who lived under the law because of His empowering grace.

Where does this grace come from? Faith. “We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand” (Romans 5:2). “Faith deeply believes God will do what He says, and it subsequently produces (both) words of agreement and actions of obedience.” Genuine faith speaks and acts on what it believes. “Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Without faith and grace, we live in the ordinary, not the extraordinary.”

How do we have access to this faith through which we receive grace? The Holy Spirit. “We resist carnality through the power imparted by the Holy Spirit into our spirit.” Even our mortal bodies are restored to (overcoming) life by the power of the His Spirit dwelling in us (Romans 8:10-11).

Live in the power of the Holy Spirit; live Extraordinarily!

Did Zacchaeus Know His Name?

Zacchaeus: meaning “Pure and Righteous.”

When I review his life I have to wonder; did Zacchaeus know his name? His parents named him in hope that his lifestyle would match his name. However, Zacchaeus had long forgotten what it was to be pure and righteous in his dealings with his fellow-man.

Photo by uempe

A tax collector by trade, Zacchaeus had compromised his integrity until he became calloused to the virtues that comprised the meaning of his name. Gathering from the poor, enriching the enemy; his habit was to take more than was owed that he might line his pockets with the silver of his own people. Certainly, Zacchaeus did not know his own name!

Being small of stature and few of friends, he was relegated to perching in a sycamore tree if he was to see what all the fuss was about in Jericho. As Jesus passed under the tree he looked up and called, “Zaccheaus, come quickly! I must eat at your house today.”

“What is this? He knows my name?”

Yes, Zacchaeus, he knows your name; even when you have forgotten. He looks beyond the person that you have become as a result of the decisions you have made. He sees beyond your faults and failures. He looks past the outward man, hated by your neighbors. His gaze is fixed on that which is beyond the blood; the man who He has called you to be and He says, “I must come into your house today.”

And when He comes in, he will help you remember your name.

A Good Confession

by Frederic Faber

The chains that have bound me are flung to the wind,
By the mercy of God the poor slave is set free;
And the strong grace of heaven breathes fresh o’er the mind,
Like the bright winds of summer that gladden the sea.

There was nought in God‘s world half so dark or so vile
As the sin and bondage that fettered my soul;
There was nought half so base as the malice and guile
Of my own sordid passions, or Satan‘s control.

For years I have borne about hell in my breast;
When I thought of my God it was nothing but gloom;
Day brought me no pleasure, night gave me no rest,
There was still the grim shadow of horrible doom.

It seemed as if nothing les likely could be
Than that light should break in on dungeon so deep;
To create a new world were less hard than to free
The slave from his bondage, the soul from its sleep.

But the Word had gone forth, and said, Let there be light,
And it flashed through my soul like a sharp passing smart;
One look to my Savior, and all the dark night,
Like a dream scarce remembered, was gone from my heart.

I cried out for mercy, and fell on my knees,
And confessed, while my heart with keen sorrow wrung;
‘Twas the labor of minutes, and years of disease
Fell fast from my soul as the words from my tongue.

And now, blest be God and the sweet Lord who died!
No deer on the mountain, no bird in the sky,
No bright wave that leaps on the dark bounding tide,
Is a creature so free or happy as I.

All hail, then, all hail, to the dear Precious Blood,
That hath worked these sweet wonders of mercy in me;
May each day countless numbers throng down to its flood,
And God have His glory, and sinners go free.