Today’s selected reading continues in the first epistle of the apostle Paul in the New Testament which was written unto the saints which were at Corinth. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first eleven verses of the fifteenth chapter. When you come to the fifteenth chapter of this first epistle of the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints you will notice that beyond this chapter there is only one more chapter before the epistle concludes and draws to a close. Having just set in order the Lord’s table, and having just explained the gifts of the Spirit, and after describing and explaining the Indi yak placement and place of each of the members of the body of Christ, and after explaining the profound significance and importance of ministry in the gifts absent and apart from love, and having clearly described the difference between tongues and prophecy and the need to exhort those who enter into our midst, the apostle Paul now transitions to the point and place where he is preparing to conclude the epistle. When you are about to conclude an epistle such as this one to the Corinthians, what do you say and how do you close it? What is befitting as closing remarks for such an epistle as this. If you read the fifteenth chapter of this particular epistle you will find the apostle Paul writing and speaking concerning two distinct resurrections—one that already is, and one that is still and is yet to come. As the apostle brings this epistle to a close he does so by first looking to a resurrection that was, and second to a resurrection that has yet to be manifested.
When you come to the fifteenth chapter of the epistle of the apostle Paul unto the saints which are at Corinth, you find the apostle Paul finding it necessary to declare unto them how he neglected not to preach unto them the gospel concerning Jesus Christ. It’s absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand this particular concept and reality, for whenever the apostle Paul would journey to a new city within the province of Asia he determined to preach nothing among them save Christ and Christ crucified. This is particularly interesting when you consider a city such as Ephesus in which the apostle Paul labored for two years preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Imagine an entire year of nothing but the preaching of the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ, and that from the lips and mouth of the apostle Paul. Imagine even further an entire second year with more preaching of the gospel concerning Jesus Christ. Perhaps one of the most intriguing questions I can’t help but ask when I consider this reality is how many men and women could handle an entire year of nothing but the preaching of Jesus the Christ and nothing but the preaching of His crucifixion upon the cross and His subsequent resurrection from the grave. I can’t help but wonder how many men and women could and perhaps would potentially get sick of hearing about Christ and His cross, His tomb and ultimately His resurrection. ARE YOU SICK OF HEARING ABOUT CHRIST? HAVE YOU GROWN TIRED OF HEARING ABOUT CHRIST? ARE YOU TIRED OF THE PREACHING OF THE CROSS? ARE YOU TIRED OF THE PREACHING OF CHRIST’S RESURRECTION FROM GHE GRAVE?
As I am sitting here this morning I can’t help but think how there are countless men and women who have grown tired and weary hearing nothing about the preaching of the cross of Jesus Christ. If you are a minister who preaches the word of God each and every week, I would challenge you to determine to preach nothing among the people save the cross of Jesus Christ and His resurrection for a full year. There are fifty-two weeks in a year, which means there are potentially fifty-two Sundays within any given year. Pause for a moment and consider fifty-two sermons and fifty-two messages concerning Jesus Christ, concerning His death, concerning His burial, concerning His resurrection and subsequent ascension to the right hand of His Father in heaven. How many men and women could handle an entire year worth of sermons concerning nothing save Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The author of the epistle to the Hebrews declares that without faith it is impossible to please God, and the apostle Paul writes unto the Romans concerning faith coming by hearing and hearing by the word of God. If faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God, and if without faith it is impossible to please God, then what is the source and foundation of that faith? It is true that without faith it is impossible to please God, but what is the source of that faith other than believing that God is, that He is a rewarded of those who diligently seek Him. Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen, yet that faith has to have an activating event—something that triggered it within our hearts and souls. What is that activating event, and what is that which triggered faith within your heart and within my heart.
I am utterly and completely convinced that the substance, the source, the strength of our faith is absolutely nothing, and yet everything surround Jesus Christ and Him crucified. One of the most intriguing and alarming questions I can’t help but find myself wondering and asking is how many men and women could handle an entire year hearing about nothing but Jesus and Him crucified. Permit me to be incredibly bold and brazen right now and ask you if you would personally be sure to attend each and every service if you knew that each and every message was going to be about nothing but Christ and Him crucified. Is it possible that within the very depths of your heart and soul you might find yourself growing disgusted and perhaps even frustrated over so much talk and conversation concerning Jesus who is both Christ and Lord? Is it possible that you might very well find yourself even growing bored with sermon after sermon concerning Jesus the Christ. Could you truly handle an entire year—fifty-two weeks and fifty-two Sundays—of nothing except the message of the gospel concerning Jesus Christ and Him crucified and resurrected from the grave? I can’t help but wonder what it would be like in countless churches and congregations if upon the conclusion of the year the minister stood up behind the pulpit and declared that for the entire following year they were going to preach nothing except Jesus Christ—both His life, as well as His ministry. How many men would truly get excited upon hearing the news that Jesus Christ was going to be preached each and every Sunday for an entire year? How many men and women would find great joy and delight rising up within their hearts and souls upon hearing the knowledge that Christ was going to be preached for an entire year? Please note that this isn’t even considering the potential for and possibility of Sunday evenings and perhaps even Wednesday evenings. Pause for a moment and consider fifty-two Sunday mornings, fifty-two Sunday evenings, and fifty-two Wednesday evenings with nothing but preaching the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ. Take this a step further and consider how this would play out if that church and congregation had neither Sunday evening services or Wednesday evening services. How many men and women would be willing to sacrifice their Sunday evenings, as well as and perhaps even their Wednesday evenings in order to gather together with fellow disciples and followers of Jesus and hear about Jesus Christ and HIM crucified?
I can’t help but be reminded of the words which Luke, the beloved physician wrote concerning the life of the apostle Paul in the nineteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Luke. If you begin reading with the first verse of this particular chapter you will find Luke writing about the life of the apostle Paul and specifically his journey to Ephesus while Apollos was at Corinth. Consider if you will the words and language that is found in this passage of Scripture beginning with the first verse—“And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto Him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on Him which would come after Him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve. And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: so that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them” (Acts 19:1-12).
For the space of two full years the apostle Paul disputed daily in the school of one Tyrannus, and during those two years all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. Please pause for a moment and consider those words very carefully, for during that space of two years all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. This is actually quite interesting for although Jesus who is the Christ was present within and upon the earth for thirty years, He did not publicly manifest Himself among those within Judaea and Samaria and the surrounding regions. For thirty years the Word became flesh was present within the earth, and yet He was not publicly manifested until the appointed time when He turned thirty years of age. After He had been publicly manifested in the earth at the Jordan River upon being baptized by John the Baptist in the waters, and after the Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove, and after the voice of the Father spoke from heaven declaring His pleasure in His Son, Jesus would spend three and a half years engaging in public life and ministry within Judaea, Samaria and the surrounding regions. After emerging from the waters of the Jordan and after being led by the Spirit of God into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil after having fasted forty days and forty nights, Jesus returned full of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. For the next three and a half years Jesus taught in the synagogues, preached in the streets, healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out demons, calmed storms, fed a crowd of five thousand, as well as a crowd of four thousand, and so much more which the gospel accounts record and account. Three and half years—three and a half years was the length of time Jesus spent teaching and preaching the good news concerning the kingdom of God which had come down to earth and was manifested among men.
If you have even a rudimentary knowledge of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will know that He was betrayed by Judas Iscariot into the hands of His enemies in order that He might be crucified. I can’t help but wonder if Judas knew that His betrayal of Jesus into the hands of His enemies would ultimately and inevitably lead to His crucifixion upon the cross at Calvary. Did Judas truly recognize and understand that which happen once he agreed to betray the Son of God into the hands of His enemies? Scripture records how Judas’ betrayal would lead to Jesus’ trial before both Herod and Pilate, and would ultimately lead to His public beating by the Romans, and ultimately His crucifixion. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if during those three and a half years there weren’t a number of men who grew sick and tired of Jesus’ teaching and preaching. There is not a doubt in my mind that the crowds would or could ever grow sick and tired of the healing, and miracles, and their being fed on two separate occasions with loaves of bread and fish. There is not a doubt in my mind that men and women during those days every grew weary and bored with the healing and miracles which Jesus performed. This is actually quite powerful and important for us to recognize and understand, for very rarely do and will men ever grow sick and tired of healing and miracles being manifested among them within their midst. Very rarely will men and women ever find themselves growing bored when healing and miracles are taking place upon the earth among men. When it comes to the teaching and preaching of Jesus the Christ—that which truly required, asked and demanded something of those who gathered themselves around Jesus—there were countless men and women who not only grew bored with Jesus, but who also grew angry and bitter towards Him. It’s worth noting that while the crowds would grow bored with the words which Jesus taught and preached during those three and a half years, the religious community took great offense—not only to the words which Jesus taught and preached, but they also took great offense to Jesus’ healing if it was out of alignment with their laws, their customs, their practices, and most certainly the Sabbath. In fact, there is an entire chapter found within the twenty-third chapter of Matthew’s gospel that contains an indictment towards and against the scribes and Pharisees as Jesus condemned their hypocrisy and legalism.
There is not a doubt in my mind that men and women grew bored with the words which Jesus taught and preached among them during those days, for such an account is found within the sixth chapter of the gospel of John concerning the turning back and the departing of countless men and women who perhaps walked with and followed Jesus. Consider if you will the account of this great falling away and turning back as the apostle John records and recounts it within the sixth chapter of his gospel account:
“Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. NO man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father cometh unto me. Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say not you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living greats which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. These things said He in the synagogue, as He taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of His disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples murmured at it, He said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him. And He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with Him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered Him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray Him, being one of the twelve” (John 6:43-71).
There is not a doubt in my mind that it is absolutely possible for men and women to grow sick and tired of the words which Jesus both teaches and preaches. The gospels are replete with examples of men and women who grew bored and dissatisfied with the words which Jesus Himself spoke—even though they were fully and completely engaged in the healing, signs, wonders, and miracles which He performed among them. There is not a doubt in my mind that even Judas who was one of the twelve grew tired and bored with Jesus—especially when he realized and recognized that Jesus was not the type of Messiah he had hoped for and expected. There came a point during those three and a half years when Judas had finally had enough of Jesus’ teaching and preaching—especially when he began recognizing and learning that which Jesus truly asked for, demanded and required. I am convinced that it was from this particular place that Judas Iscariot found himself seeking to betray Jesus into the hands of His enemies in order that He might be removed from the equation. I do not believe that Judas betrayed Jesus simply to have Him flogged, and perhaps even tortured, and then released once more. When Judas betrayed Jesus into the hands of His enemies, I am convinced that he did so with the full desire and intention of Jesus being condemned to death by those into whose hands He had been betrayed into. Oh, I can’t help but wonder how many men and women have perhaps already grown bored and dissatisfied with the teaching and preaching of Jesus—that which Jesus has demanded and required of them. Oh, they don’t have any issue, nor do they take any offense with Jesus when it comes to healing, signs, wonders, miracles, the calming of storms, and even their belly’s being filled, but when it comes to that which is beyond the healing and miracles, they take great offense. LIVING FOR WHAT’S BEYOND THE MIRACLES! LIVING FOR WHAT’S ON THE OTHER SIDE OF HEALING! MOVING BEYOND THE SIGNS, WONDERS AND MIRACLES! There are a number of men and women who live only for the signs, only for the wonders, only for the miracles, only for the healing, and only for temporary satisfaction and gratification, and they have absolutely no space or room for that which lies beyond such manifestations—namely, that which Jesus’ teaching and preaching both demands and requires of them.
If you read this particular epistle found within the fifteenth chapter of this first epistle unto the Corinthians, you get the strong sense that the apostle Paul had never, could never, and would never grow sick and tired, bored and dissatisfied, worn out and wearied with Christ. In fact, there is a strong indication and sense found within this particular epistle that the apostle Paul enjoyed spending time with Jesus who had appeared to Him on the road to Damascus. In verses one through four of this specific chapter we find the following words written by the apostle Paul—“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scripture” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). A similar reality is expressed and revealed in the eleventh chapter of the same epistle when the apostle Paul began speaking concerning the Lord’s table. Beginning with the twenty-third verse of the eleventh chapter we find the following words written by the apostle—“For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread: and when he had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till He come” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). The question then becomes when and at one point did the apostle Paul receive that which he delivered unto the various churches within the province of Asia. Where did this gospel which he faithfully preached day and night for a span of thirty plus years originate and come from? The answer to this question is found in the first chapter of the epistle which was written unto the Galatians beginning with the eleventh verse:
“But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jew’s religion, how that beyond measure I Persecuteed the church of God, and wasted it: and profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; and was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: but they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past not preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me” (Galatians 1:11-24).
Though the apostle Paul did not walk with Christ for three and a half years as the disciples did, I am convinced that during this space of three years prior to the apostle’s journey to Jerusalem, he engaged himself in separation unto Christ in order that He might learn from Christ Himself. I am convinced that during these three years—these three years when the apostle went into Arabia—the apostle Paul received and learned from Christ in quiet times of prayer, meditation, reflection, intercession, study and the like. I am convinced that during these three years in Arabia before Paul returned to Damascus , he walked closely with Christ as He learned from Christ who had appeared to him on the road to Damascus. IN the eleventh verse of this chapter the apostle Paul declared that the gospel which was preached of him was not after man, for he neither received it of man, neither was he taught it, but by the revelation of Christ. Stop right there and consider that reality—BUT BY THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST! Verses eleven and twelve of this passage confirm the reality that absolutely everything the apostle Paul preached came not from men, nor was it taught to the apostle by men, but he received it by the revelation of Jesus Christ. In other words, it was Jesus Himself who taught the apostle Paul concerning His life, His ministry, His death, His resurrection, His ascension, and so much more. I believe that for three years the apostle learned of Christ by revelation directly from Christ, and it was absolutely everything he learned directly from Christ during those three years in Arabia the apostle Paul preached among the Gentiles as he traveled throughout the province of Asia through the various cities he came to. It is true the apostle Paul did not walk with Christ for three and a half years as did the apostles, but he did spend three and a half years learning from Christ by direct revelation from Christ, as Christ not only appeared to him while traveling on the road to Damascus, but also revealed Himself unto the apostle Paul in an even greater measure during those three years in Arabia.
As you continue reading the words which are recorded in these eleven verses you will find the apostle Paul speaking of the revelation of Jesus Christ, yet not the revelation of Jesus Christ prior to His resurrection, but after His resurrection. It was prior to His death, burial and resurrection that Jesus the Christ was manifested in the form of human flesh among men as the Word became flesh. It was after He was resurrected that we begin speaking of Christ as being revealed unto men, and these eleven verses speak of this reality. What’s more, is that if you read these eleven verses you not only read of the revelation of Jesus who is both Christ and Lord, but you also find something that appears to be incredibly tragic. If you begin reading with the fourth verse of this chapter you will find the following words: “And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures: and that He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, He was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all He was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time” (1 Corinthians 15:4-8). What we find within this particular set of verses is actually quite remarkable and powerful, for within these verses we do read of Jesus Christ being seen of Cephas, seen of the twelve, seen of James, and seen of the apostle Paul, but we also read how Christ was seen by above five hundred brethren at once. Pause for a moment and consider the reality that after He had been raised from the dead Jesus appeared to and was seen by upwards of five hundred men. This is absolutely astounding when you consider and think about it—especially when you transition to the first chapter of the New Testament book of Acts and read of the number of those who were gathered together in one accord in prayer in the upper room—“And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) Men and brethren, this Scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus; For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry” (Acts 1:15-17). When you come to the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will read concerning the day of Pentecost, and how all those which were found in the upper room were together with one accord in one place. Please don’t miss the significance of the number of those which were present there in the upper room after Jesus had been raised from the dead, and after He had instructed them to tarry in Jerusalem until they be endued with power from on High with and through the person of the Holy Spirit.
If after He had been raised from the dead Jesus who is the Christ was seen by upwards of five hundred men, why were there only one hundred and twenty who were present in the upper room? Where were the other three-hundred and eighty whom Jesus appeared to after He had been raised from the dead, and even after He had ascended unto the right hand of the Father? If Jesus instructed His disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until they be endued with power from on high, and if He was seen by upwards of five hundred men, why were there only one hundred and twenty present in the upper room? This is a serious lack and a serious deficit if you take the time to think about it. Is it possible that although Jesus Christ was seen by upwards of five hundred men, and although Jesus had been raised from the dead, and ascended unto the right hand of the Father, there were three-hundred and eighty who chose not to be present within the upper room on the day of Pentecost. The the apostle Paul speaks of some of those five hundred whom Christ was seen by were still alive until the day when he wrote the epistle unto the Corinthians. Imagine that reality for a moment—you witness and experience the resurrected Jesus Christ, and you are perhaps there when He ascended unto the right hand of His Father in heaven, and yet you are absent on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out. It might have been true that many of those five hundred saw Christ after He had been raised from the dead, but not only did they still not believe, but they might also have purposed and determined that after His departure there was nothing more. Is it possible that after Christ was ascended unto the right hand of the Father many of those five hundred whom Christ was seen by grew bored and grew tired of waiting for the promise of the Father.
GROWING BORED WITH THE CHRIST AND GETTING TIRED WAITING FOR THE PROMISE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT! There is not a doubt in my mind that many of those five-hundred men who saw Christ after He had been raised from the dead perhaps grew tired of waiting for the promise of the Holy Spirit which Christ promised to send. If there is one thing I am convinced of when reading the words of the apostle Paul within this chapter, it’s that there there are a number of men and women who are not only bored and dissatisfied with Jesus Christ, but there are also a number of men and women who have grown tired of waiting for the promise of the Father. I am convinced that what we witness in the absence of the three-hundred and eighty is a powerful warning and word of caution there is within this passage—not only concerning growing bored with Christ, but also concerning growing impatient with the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit. The question you must ask yourself is whether or not you have grown bored and dissatisfied with Christ. The question you must ask yourself is whether or not you have grown tired of waiting for the work and ministry of the Spirit within your life at this very moment.