|1st Corinthians - Wayne Barber/Part 9|
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1998|
|The next characteristic of the church of God is they live eager for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let me ask you a question. Are you really living this way? People live as if He’s never going to come. They don’t live walking righteously before Him. They don’t live convicted by sin. All of us sometimes drift into that kind of apathy. We say that we look forward to the coming of Jesus. But our live doesn’t show it.|
1 Corinthians 1:7
What Is The Church of God? - Part 6
Have you ever been looking for something and you had it all the time but didn’t know it? Recently I was looking for my glasses. I looked everywhere for them. I looked all over the house. I looked everywhere I could think of: pockets, drawers, anywhere I could find that I might could have placed them. I went into the bathroom thinking I might have left them laying there. When I walked in, I happened to look up in the mirror and I saw something very strange. I had them on all the time. Has that ever happened to you?
You know, it’s strange. You study the book of 1 Corinthians and observe, just simple observation, and you discover that the church of Corinth lived as if God had given them nothing, when in fact He had given them everything. A lot of Christians are that way. They live as if they lack something, not understanding they have everything in Christ Jesus.
The apostle Paul wants the Corinthians to know that they lack nothing in Christ Jesus. They lack nothing in Him because of the grace given to them. Paul wants the church of Corinth to realize that what happened back in the past, salvation, should be affecting them in the present. And it was not doing that. He’s reminding them, recalling them to what they have in Christ Jesus. They didn’t get cheated, folks. Every believer receives the same thing when he receives the Lord Jesus Christ and that’s everything in Him.
I want you to know today we’re no different from that. You have received everything in Christ Jesus. There’s not one ounce of God that you did not get in Christ Jesus. But the key is you’ve got to learn to appropriate that and begin to live in the understanding that you also gave everything to Him, you see. Full surrender is not a goal to work toward. Full surrender is what we come from, and we need to wake up and understand. We’ve already given everything to Him. We just haven’t realized it yet and we need to do that. So, Paul is recalling them to the fact that they have everything in Christ.
Verse 4 says, “I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus.” Now, “was given you in Christ Jesus” is an important phrase. We were in Adam and had all the curse of that transgression, but now that we’re in Christ, it’s a different situation. And because of His grace all things been given to us in Christ Jesus.
Look at verse 5. That thought that we have everything in Christ begins to frame these next several phrases. Verse 5 says, “that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge.” That word “everything” means everything. He said in every area of your life, everything about you has been enriched with Christ Jesus. You don’t need anything outside of Him. As a matter of fact, what he’s saying is, all that you’re required to do in Corinth has already been given to you. You don’t lack anything. This is so important for all of us to understand.
Then he does narrow it down. He says, “in all speech and all knowledge.” Their words were enriched because of their knowledge. But their knowledge was enriched because of their words. It’s sort of a circle that keeps feeding itself. Think about what I’m saying here. The wisdom and the Word of God had been given to them. Now their minds had been enriched with that wisdom and the knowledge of God. You see, it’s something that God adds as a dimension to your life that enriches every dimension of your life. And now since their minds had been enriched, their words had been enriched and they could teach and share and preach the things that their minds now have helped them to understand. But as they do that, that increases the knowledge. And as the knowledge increases and is enriched, that enriches their words. It just keeps going on and on and on because of the dimension that Christ has added to their lives.
In fact, he says to just document the fact that you have everything that you need in Christ. The testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you. Notice that in verse 6, “even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you.” Right now it’s not being confirmed in Corinth, but it has been confirmed in them.
The word “testimony,” marturion, is that which gives proof without a shadow of a doubt. The word for “confirmed” is something that solidifies, that makes it firm. What he’s saying to the Corinthians is, “Folks, listen. It is settled. It’s settled. The moment you put your faith into Jesus Christ, you received Him, the embodiment of all His grace, and you lack nothing. You’ve been enriched with everything and that now is settled. Nobody can shake you from that.” You have everything you need. As Peter said in one of his epistles, “For life and for godliness.” Now, in verse 7 he adds that you are not lacking in any gift.
Before we look at verse 7, to put this into perspective, here is a church living as if they lack everything when in fact they have everything in Christ. You’ve got to realize that the testimony that’s been confirmed in them is only going to be manifested through them to the degree they live verses 2-4. In other words, when they start living as if they’ve been bought with a price, when they start living as if they’re set aside for the purposes of God, when they start living under the grace of God which is not putting their confidence in their flesh but into confidence only in Him, when they start living filled and flooded with the peace of God, then that testimony that’s been confirmed in them can be made manifested through them. That’s the whole problem with Corinth. They live as if they’re lacking when they already have everything they need. They live looking for their glasses and they already have them on.
Well, let’s go to verse 7: “so that you are not lacking in any gift.” Now why would they not be lacking any gift? Because they had the giver, who is the Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, if we have Him, we have everything. We don’t lack anything outside of Him. He’s the giver of all things. So they lack in no gift because they have Christ. The word “lacking” is the word hustereo. It means to be behind or fall behind in something. It means to be inferior or as it’s translated here, lacking. So the idea is you don’t lack anything.
Yet there’s another idea. It’s very subtle. It’s built right into it. It’s in the present tense and the passive voice. Present tense means that you consistently do it every day. Passive voice means nothing could be causing you to fall behind in any gift or in anything because you in Christ don’t lack anything. In other words, you have it, but now don’t fall short. Actually, what he’s saying is that if you do fall short, it’s your fault because you already have what you need. Understand that and learn to live out of it. If they’re not going to live according to verses 2 and 3 then they’re not going to experience what he says is truth that’s been confirmed in their heart in verses 4-7.
Well, if you have Christ, He’s the supplier of all the gifts. The word for gift there is the word charisma. It’s an important word. We get the word charismatic from it. Everybody knows that word, but they don’t have a clue where that word comes from. The word charis is the word for grace. God never has charisma. He has grace. He’s the embodiment of grace. He’s the giver of charisma. Charisma is the result of grace.
The little ma at the end of the word means the result. So it’s talking about the gift itself. So God gives charisma. He is the embodiment of charis, which is grace. The word has that understanding. By the way, remember grace is the beautiful, lovely disposition of God to give something that man could never deserve. Whatever gift we have from Him is not deserved.
There is no definite article here. So, therefore, it’s all inclusive. It doesn’t just mean the spiritual gifts of chapters 12-14. It’s amazing how many people never study 1 Corinthians. They just go to chapters 12-14 and study that. Then they go back to chapter 1 and put everything in the light of chapters 12-14. You can’t do that. You’ve got to start in chapter 1 and then when you get to chapter 12 it will make a lot of sense. That’s just so important. When you think of gifts with no definite article, you can’t just zero in on the wonderful charismatic gifts of the church, the body, and how we minister to one another. That’s just a part of it.
The thing I want you to see is anything we receive from God is a gift of His grace. The very fact that I’m breathing right now is a gift of His grace. The fact that I woke up this morning is a gift of His grace. We do not deserve any of it. We’re living in a day when people have lost that awesomeness of the fact that we don’t deserve what God gives to us. We live in a day when society teaches us to expect something from somebody. We deserve, we want something. We even vote in elections for people who can do the best for us. That’s the way we live. But in fact we deserve nothing before God. As sinners we deserve nothing. Everything we have from Him is a gift of His grace.
When I was in seminary I went over to visit Asbury Seminary. That seminary at that time had some wonderful professors, one of which was Dr. Robert Coleman who wrote The Master Plan of Evangelism. I had been going to a seminary that taught the “J EDP” theory. They said the first eleven chapters of Genesis was a myth. They would start their classes by praying, “Our mother which art in heaven.” The statement was made in one of my classes that Browning’s works were just as inspired as most of the Old Testament.
I went over to Asbury just looking for something, for that added dimension. In our lives He has enriched us in all things and I wasn’t finding that enrichment where I was going. I remember sitting in the class one day of Dr. Robert Coleman. I had never met him, didn’t know anything about him. There were two to four hundred students in the classroom, a huge class, like an auditorium. I heard a voice singing down the hall and I thought, “Who in the world is that?” It was that song, “Amazing love, how can it be.” I’d never heard that before in all my life. I guess that was their “Amazing Grace.” But ever since I heard it, it’s done something to stir my heart.
He walked into the room and it was my professor. When he walked into the room, everybody in there broke into four-part harmony. I want to tell you something, folks. I thought I had died and gone right into Heaven. When I hear our wonderful choir sing it, it just brings every bit of that back to me. He walked to the front of the room with tears streaming down his face. He said, “Folks, I want you to stand with me right now and raise your hands. We’re going to walk into the throne room of a Holy God who allows us to come into His presence because of the grace that has been shown to us in the Lord Jesus Christ. We don’t deserve it, but it’s God’s grace. Let’s walk in and let’s experience the Holy God who has saved us.” I thought, seriously, “God, don’t ever take me out.” I understand what Peter was talking about on the Mount of Transfiguration. Let’s just build a tabernacle up here and let’s don’t ever leave this place because it was so real. He helped me in just a few phrases to understand what I didn’t deserve. In just in a few words from Scripture lifting up our Lord, he helped me realize the disposition and beautiful character of God. That He would stoop so low that He would send His Son to give all of it to me.
You see, folks, you’ve got to live in light of that. If you think 1 Corinthians is all about spiritual gifts, get a life. Wake up and get real! The book of 1 Corinthians is written to a church that lives as if they lack, but they don’t lack. They have everything in Christ. The apostle Paul is trying to wake them up and shake them up and get them back to living like they ought to live. So he says, “You’ve been given it all in Him and you lack in no gift.”
Let me show you what the word “gift” means. Let’s look in other places where the word’s used because it covers all of this. First of all, it’s the gift of salvation itself. Look over in Romans 5:15. The very gift of salvation is charisma. It’s the gift of [[God]]. You don’t deserve it. That’s what he’s saying. You have all the gifts in [[Christ]] [[Jesus]]. You lack in no gift, even though you live as if you do. “But the free gift [that’s the word] is not like the transgression.” He’s comparing the first Adam. Really, [[Jesus]] is the first one. He’s comparing Adam of Genesis with the Adam of [[Christ]], the [[God]]-man [[Christ]]. He’s comparing the two men who came and what they did for mankind. And he says, “But the free gift [charisma, that which man does not deserve from God] is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.”
So you see the difference in Adam and Jesus. When Adam sinned, all man sinned in him. But when Christ came, He died for us that all men might have life through Him. Through one came death. Through the other comes life. It’s a gift. It’s a free gift to us, but it’s expensive to God, as we studied earlier.
In Romans 6:23 he uses the word again. He says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of [[God]] [I love the way it’s translated. The word “free” is not in there but it’s implied in the word] is eternal life in [[Christ]] [[Jesus]] our Lord.”
Of course over in Romans 11:29 he says, “for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” So the first thing you see in the word “gift” is the salvation experience itself, that which has birthed us into the kingdom of God which we could not in a million years deserve. Now, it does refer to the wonderful grace gifts that God has given to us today. We have spiritual gifts. What are they for? For the building up of the body of Christ. You see, not only is the gift of salvation resident in Christ, but so are the gifts which are distributed by His Spirit. God, the Father, is the initiator of it.
Look over in Romans 12:6. It says, “And since we have gifts [It’s in the plural here but it’s the word charisma] that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly.” And then he begins to give them a list of those gifts in chapter 12 of Romans.
Look in 1 Corinthians 12:4. The same word appears there. “Now there are varieties of gifts [The word is in the plural. It’s the same exact thought of Romans 12] but the same Spirit.” The Spirit of [[God]] distributes them. [[Jesus]] gives them their ministry, and the Father takes care of the effects.
Look over in 1 Timothy 4:14. Paul uses the word to Timothy, his son. He calls him “his son in the faith.” “Do not neglect the spiritual gift [Where is that spiritual gift? Is it out here? No. He says it’s] within you.” The spiritual gift within you.
Look at 2 Timothy 1:6. It’s saying the same thing in a different way to the same man. He tells him that the gift is within him and then in verse 6 he says, “And for this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” The laying on of his hands did not distribute the gift. The laying on of his hands simply recognized it and, as an apostle, he released him to exercise what God had already given to him. He’s still talking about the gifts God has given us as the body of Christ that are different. They are varied, and they’re there for the building up of the Body. This is part of it. Salvation is used for salvation. It’s used for this.
In 1 Peter 4:10, Peter gets into the act. He says, “As each one has received a special gift [speaking exactly of that], employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold [or the various colored] grace of [[God]].”
Now, that’s two ways in which the word “grace” is used. Let me show you a third way it’s used and the gifts that he’s speaking of here, the grace gift. In Romans 1:11 it’s the gift given when it’s imparted by instruction that somebody gives to somebody else. Did you’ll ever think about that? When I stand up to preach, I want so much for God to make my mind sensitive to what He wants me to say. But at the same time He gives you grace to be able to hear what He wants to say to you. So none of us should walk away enamored with a preacher. We walk away overwhelmed by what God has done as we’ve come together to be in His Word. Paul says in Romans 1:11, “For I long to see you in order that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established.” The word “established” has the idea of when you take a basketball goal and you cement it in the ground. The wind may come and blow that goal over and back and over and back but if it’s cemented properly, it’s not going to break. It’s going to stand there even though the winds may blow it. It’s going to make you more firm and more established where you are. The Apostle Paul was going to instruct them. He was going to bring to them the good news of God. That was going to be a gift of grace that God had given to the people in Rome.
In 1 Corinthians 7:7, Paul is speaking of his celibate lifestyle. He talks about marriage sometimes and it appears he’s down on marriage. He’s not. He just understands that because of what he’s called to do, it wouldn’t be very helpful for him to be married. 1 Corinthians 7:7 talks about the different distinctiveness of individuals and how everybody’s not the same in this. It says, “Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am.” Having the self-control to be able to overcome the desire to be with another of the opposite sex and to live in marriage. “However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.” He’s talking about a different situation altogether than anything we’ve brought up.
Look in 2 Corinthians 1:11. This is the last one I’ll bring up. What I’m trying to show you is when he says that you do not lack in any gift, he’s not just singling out the spiritual gifts of chapters 12-14. He’s singling out the fact that we have everything in Christ and should never live as if we’re lacking. We live being enriched in all things in Christ Jesus, through His grace. Verse 11 reads, “you also joining in helping us through your prayers, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed upon us through the prayers of many.” In other words, the deliverance of the saints. How many times has God interceded and stepped in the area of saints because of somebody else’s intercession, because of somebody else praying? He says, “Hey, these deliverances through which God has taken us out of this situation and spared us through that one are all grace. It’s a gift of God and we don’t deserve any of it.”
You see, this whole first part of 1 Corinthians, to me, is so clear. Paul is trying to say, “Guys, listen. You’re looking for your glasses and you’ve got them on. You’ve been enriched in everything. You don’t need anything outside of the Lord Jesus Christ. And if you come up lacking, it’s your fault because you have these things in your life.”
Well, the church of Corinth was not living this way. We tried to introduce it to you. The church of Corinth lived as if they’re lacking. First of all, he depicts this one. He says, “You’re chasing after men instead of the one God man, the Lord Jesus Christ. Some of you are of Peter. Some of you are of Paul. Some of you are of Apollos.” What he’s saying is, “Hey, when you find people who follow men around other than The Man, the God-Man, you’ve got somebody who doesn’t understand what they already have.” They live as if they’re lacking when they don’t realize they have everything in Christ Jesus.
But not only did they follow men and divide everything and everybody, they sought after the gift and not the giver. I want to tell you something, folks. When we do get to that area, you’re going to find a group of people who live as if they’re lacking, who do not live in the sufficiency of God in their lives, and they’re chasing after gifts rather than holding on to the giver.
I was in a leading sign gift church in El Paso, Texas. I started talking about Ephesians and what you have in Jesus Christ. Folks, in every session that’s all I talked about. We have everything in Christ Jesus. The same thing Paul was telling the Corinthians, I was telling them. You’ve been enriched in everything in Christ Jesus. Quit looking for something as if you lacking. Live out of that which you have.
Well, Saturday morning came, and they hadn’t run me off. There was about four hundred or so people there. When I finished, they gave me a standing ovation. I had no idea until later on what this meant. These people were finally coming to understand you don’t live chasing a gift. You don’t live chasing people. Live in the sufficiency of what you already have in Jesus Christ.
One little lady chased me down in the parking lot and got hold of me. She had tears streaming down her face. She said, “Thank you! Thank you!” I said, “What for?” She said, “All of my life I’ve been praying for the gift. I’ve prayed for it. I’ve gone to people trying to give it to me. Thank God! It finally dawned on me. I don’t need the gift. I have the Giver in my life.”
Now, folks, this may make you sad, mad, or glad, but that’s exactly what Paul’s trying to tell the church at Corinth. Wake up! Grow up and live out of what you have. Quit living as if you lack. You do not lack. You’ve been enriched in everything and this testimony has been confirmed in you from the day that you got saved. It’s been confirmed. It’s settled, put into concrete. You never change what has been done in a person’s life.
Well, let’s make our list again. Okay? Are you with me? The characteristics of the church of God are:
- They’re fully possessed by God. It’s the church of God, not of man. They’re bought with a price as we’ve already seen.
- They’re set apart for His purpose. They’re sanctified, that’s what it means. The only purpose a Christian has is to live for the purposes of God.
- They consistently call upon His name. They’re constantly, dependent upon Him, not putting any confidence in their flesh.
- They live desperate for the grace of God.
- They live desperate for the peace of God. You’ve got to have the two of those. You can’t have peace before you have grace. You’ve got to have grace before you have peace. Living up under the grace of God means you live in His power, not in your power. And the peace of God is what God gives.
- They lack nothing in Christ.
The Church of God Lives Eager for the Return of Christ
Well, we’ve finally come to the seventh characteristic. The seventh one is they live eager for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh boy! Look at verse 7 again: “so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Let me ask you a question. Are you really living this way? People love those songs, “The King is coming. The King is coming.” They sing all these songs and then they live as if He’s never going to come. They don’t live walking righteously before Him. They don’t live convicted by sin. All of us sometimes drift into that kind of apathy. We say that we look forward to the coming of Jesus. Has it dawned on you yet what that’s going to mean in your life when you stand before Him one day, the eyes of Him who knows all and has seen all? Has it dawned on you what you’re saying when you say, “I’m living expectantly waiting the return of Christ.” I dare say to you that a lot of people aren’t living that way though they say they are.
The church at Corinth wasn’t living that way. This wouldn’t have been in their life had they been living that way. He says, “so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly.” The word “awaiting eagerly” comes from two Greek words. One is apo and the other one is dechomai, which has the idea of it’s just that eagerness of doing something. Remember back when Paul went to the church of Berea and found those Berean believers who searched the Scriptures. It says, “They eagerly received the Word of God.” The Scripture says that they were more noble-minded. They were of a higher class than the ones he had been to. They at least listened to him. And with eagerness they received. The word dechomai is used there.
Suppose I had a gift to give you and you knew about it. You were at home expectantly awaiting that gift to come because you saw me in the store. You didn’t know what it was because you got there too late and it was in a box. You went home waiting on me to bring it by your house. You would be waiting eagerly to receive it. That’s different than if you didn’t know I was going to give you a gift. I dropped by your house and gave it to you. You’d receive it but not with the same eagerness. That’s what he’s talking about here. It’s, “awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
If the church of God is walking in the realization that Christ may come at any time, they live eagerly expecting that, trusting Him to have enriched them in anything, depending upon His grace and peace, and living with purposes that are only His as people who are His full possession. Now listen to me, they’re not going to live as if they lack anything. When you find a person who lives as if he lacks, it’s a person who’s not yet lined up with what he’s supposed to be. If a person’s not living and walking under the grace of God, living a life that’s for Him to use and trusting only Him and His Word, then that person lives as if he lacks and he is not eagerly awaiting for the return of Christ.
The return of the Lord Jesus Christ is associated with something we need to understand and that’s our adoption as sons. You know, it’s interesting to me. We’ve been adopted. We know that from Ephesians. We’re enjoying the process of that adoption now, but one day the final chapter’s going to be written because Romans 8 says, “We look forward to the adoption as sons.” That’s a strange thing. Isn’t it? I’ve been saved. I’m being saved. I shall be saved. It all fits in the same kind of understanding.
Look at Romans 8:19. It uses the same word. Look at what it attaches it to. What is the revelation of our Lord [[Jesus]] [[Christ]], His coming, when He comes for His church, associated with? It talks here about [[creation]], not necessarily humankind, but the animal life, the trees, the plants, everything’s awaiting something here. It has to do with this coming of the Lord. It has to do with our adoption, the final act of our adoption. It says, “For the anxious longing of the [[creation]] waits eagerly [the same exact word we’re looking at over in 1 Corinthians] for the revealing of the sons of [[God]].” Do you realize one day when [[Jesus]] comes for His church, we’re going to look at Him and we’re going to look at ourselves and we’re going to look back at Him and back at ourselves and say, “This is what it was all about.” Because [[God]]’s going to give us a glorified body when He comes again for His church. That’s when we get our glorified body. That’s the final act of our adoption that we haven’t experienced yet. It’s guaranteed because Scripture says, “Those whom He called, He justified. Those whom He justified, He also glorified.” He’s already seen it happen. We haven’t. He has. It’s guaranteed one day in that final act.
So the coming, the appearing of the Lord Jesus has to do with the final act of our adoption when we finally get our glorified body, when redemption has been made complete and then we can go on being about the purposes of God and live with Him forever.
Look over in 1 Thessalonians 4:13. This is really illustrated here, I think, as clearly as anywhere in Scripture. They’re having a real dilemma. They didn’t know what happened to the righteous dead. They knew Christ was coming. They believed in the eminent return of Christ. I totally disagree with those who say, “There is no imminence to the return of Christ.” Are you kidding? They lived with this fear that maybe He’ll come. What happens to those who have already died? They didn’t understand. What happened to their bodies? Paul says in verse 13, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep.” The word “asleep” always deals with death and the physical body. Some people say there’s a soul sleep. Are you kidding? It says in Corinthians, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” There’s not soul sleep. Your spirit goes right up to be with the Lord Jesus Christ. The word “asleep” here has to do with the body and death.
You see, when you go to sleep, what do you do? You lay down, right? But what do you do after you’ve slept long enough? You get up. Every time you see that, remember what’s going to happen to the body. A preacher one time said, “I’m going to plant a body.” I thought that was kind of callous until I studied 1 Corinthians 15 and found out that’s exactly what he did. The spirit went to be with the Lord. What did he do? He took the body out and planted it in the ground. What do you do when you plant something? You expect it to come up one day. That’s exactly what’s going to happen here. He said, “those who are asleep.” He’s talking about their bodies. They’re in the ground. He says, “that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.”
I thought they were in the ground. No, their spirit is with Him. Their body is in the ground. There’s been a separation here. In death the spirit goes to be with the Lord. The body goes into the ground. Then he says in verse 15, “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep.” Paul seems to suggest that he thought he was going to be one of them. You talk about imminence, “we who are alive.” He thought he was going to be living when Jesus came again. What he’s saying is some people are going to be living when this happens. Most, perhaps, are going to be dead. There are going to be many who are going to be alive. He said that we’ll not precede those.
The first thing that’s going to happen is that the dead in Christ will rise first. Their bodies shall be raised up first. Verse 16 reads, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.” Now, they’re going to come up first. Their bodies will rise. They’ll be changed, glorified, and wrap themselves around their immortal spirit. Verse 17 continues, “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.” That word “caught up” is where you get the word “rapture,” harpazo. It’s never in Scripture as a noun. It’s in Scripture as a verb. People say, “There’s no rapture in Scripture.” Well, which do you want it to be, a noun or a verb? I’d much rather be a verb. I’d much rather go up with Him in the air. That’s what he’s talking about.
The word in secular Greek was used of a wolf coming in amongst a flock of sheep and grabbing and snatching one out of there. We’re going to be snatched up, taken up one day to meet Him in the air. That’s what it says. Then it says, “Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
Over in 1 Corinthians 15 it gives you the order. We’ll get to this. I can’t wait to get to chapter 15. If you’ve ever feared death, you won’t after chapter 15. 1 Corinthians 15:20 reads, “But now [[Christ]] has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.” He set the pattern for all those that are coming after Him. “For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in [[Christ]] all shall be made alive. But each in his own order: [Here’s the order] [[Christ]] the first fruits [He’s already gone through it. What He did will happen to us? He raised from the dead, physically, not just spiritually as some people say. If He didn’t raise physically then our bodies will stay in the ground because there’s no hope for them], after that those who are [[Christ]]’s at His coming, then comes the end.”
Look what Paul’s doing. Oh, my goodness! He’s covered the past. He’s given you all things. He’s covered the present. Now live out of these. He’s enriched your life in everything. And now he covers the future that one day Christ is coming for you. Let me ask you a question. You’ve got the past. You’ve got the present today. One day out in the future you’ve got Christ coming. What about from right now to then? What about that part? What about that mean time period? Does it cover that? Oh, yes. Look at verse 8.
The Church of God Is Being Confirmed to the End
The eighth characteristic of the church of God is the church of God is being confirmed until the end. I want to tell you something, folks. If you’ve ever struggled with eternal security, you’re going to really wrestle with this one. If you don’t want to hear it, just close your ears, because this Scripture will not fit that doctrine. Once saved, always saved. Saved to the uttermost. He’s going to nail it right here. Look at verse 8: “who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Now, the One who saved you will confirm you until the end. You say, “Well, what about tomorrow? What about next week?” Don’t worry about. He’ll confirm you until the end. Now, what does the word “confirm” mean? Well, when referring to person, it has the idea of strengthening. Now listen to this. It keeps us standing like we ought to stand. This is beautiful. This grace that we have received, we also stand in it. That’s what Romans 5:2 said. That which you receive by faith in which you stand. Perfect tense means you’re in the state of standing and nothing can stop you from standing in that grace.
What that says is God’s going to keep us in that grace until the day He appears because it’s all tied into verse 7. He who saved us, keeps us. Have you ever been around those people who talk about you better hold on to God or if you don’t He’ll get away from you? Over in the Eastern European countries you have that a lot. I had a man in a conference come to me and say, “Oh, you guys, you come over here and preach about everything Jesus has done. Not me. I preach on everything man better do because it’s up to us to hold on.” Then he quoted out of Hebrews 6. I said, “Excuse me. Have you ever studied Hebrews 1-5?” That’s amazing to me. It’s amazing. The next time somebody takes a Scripture and nails you with it, ask them to hold it right there. Before you say another word give me the context of chapter 1 to where you just came to. Because if you had studied chapters 1-5 in Hebrews, it’s already settled the issue. We’re not anchored to Him. He’s anchored to us and He’s the anchor. He’s holding on to us. How are you going to lose something when you didn’t do anything to get it to start with? I want to tell you something.
The fear tactic in Communism kept people doing that they wanted them to do. That was their tactic. I want to tell you something, folks, the fear tactic in legalism is also a thumb that preachers will put on people to get them to do what they want them to do. It’s the same thing. Buildings are built because of the guilt put on people to make them feel like their idiots if they don’t to what God says to do. There are preachers who are gifted in preaching that way. That’s what they use. It’s a fear tactic. Put your thumb on somebody. Make them do what they’re doing.
But I want to tell you something. In Scripture grace is overwhelming, folks. And grace does not have anything to do with you holding on to God. It has everything to do with God’s choice to hold on to you. He will confirm you until the end. Now, you’re going to have to wrestle with that if you don’t like it. I didn’t write it. He wrote it. He will confirm you until the end. Dwight L. Moody made a statement, “Trust in yourself and you’re doomed to disappointment. Trust in your friends and they’ll die and leave you. Trust in your money and it will be taken away from you. Trust in your reputation and some slanderous tongue may blast it. But trust in God and you never will be confounded either in time or in eternity.” Martin Luther said, “I have held many things in my hands and lost them all but whatever I placed into God’s hands, I still have.”
How long is He going to confirm you? Until the end. The end of what? Hey folks, the context does have something to do with this. The end means the goal. It is the word telos. I ran track when I was in prep school. I played football and basketball and I could have played on the state championship basketball team but I decided I wanted to go out for track and the field events. Field events meant I could get a suntan, watch all the runners sweat and have fun. That’s what I was going to do. The coach knew what we were doing. We were goofing off over there and we didn’t care if we won or lost. We just had an enjoyable time. We got out of drills so we could go over here for track practice.
One day we were in a meet and the mile relay came up. Each runner had to run a 440 yard section. Do you know what running a 440 is like? It’s suicide. If you want to kill yourself, go out and run a 440 as hard as you can. You won’t make it 200 yards. You’ll die. It’s amazing. It’s a 100 yard sprint for 440 yards. A mile relay means there are four of those. The coach came over to me and said, “Wayne, something’s wrong with the guy who’s supposed to run the anchor. He pulled a muscle, and I want you to run the anchor.” He did this on purpose. I know because he knew we weren’t in shape. He was just going to show us how out of shape we were. I said, “Me?” I had never even taken a baton. You know, you hand those things off in a relay. We went over and practiced a little bit. I’m thinking, “I’m going to die. I’m going to die.” My life passed by me. It just flashed by me real quickly.
I remember getting out there and my turn finally came around. We were doing pretty good in the race until I got the baton. I got the baton. The first 220 yards, if I had finished that way, I would have broken ever world record that had ever existed. Man, I mean I came out of there and passed everybody 40 feet. Man, I was going. Somewhere around the 300 yard mark an 800 pound gorilla jumped on me. Do you know what I’m talking about? It’s awful. All of a sudden I couldn’t do anything. It was like, “I know I can!” They had the ambulance ready and all that. I know I can finish this race. I finished it.
The word telos means to accomplish a goal. What goal is it that He wants accomplished and confirmed in me? That’s the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. When He comes, then He will change me and glorify. I’ll live with Him forever and He will confirm me.
You say, “Well, wait a minute. Those Corinthians weren’t living right. They had sin in their lives. How could God confirm them until the end?” Remember, He said, “I’ll confirm you blameless,” not sinless. That’s where I’ll pick up the next time. Nobody can bring an accusation against me. Well in one sense they can, but not in the sense of my eternal salvation. That’s what Romans 8:33-34 is talking about. “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?... Christ Jesus is He who died.” Folks, nothing can alter you from the course of grace God has set you on when you received Christ. He’ll confirm you until the end.
Looking for your glasses? Then look in a mirror. You might have them on. What’s the mirror we look into? It’s God’s Word. If you’ll look in it, you may realize you already have what you’ve been looking for. That’s the whole key of what Paul’s saying. I’ll tell you, pay attention because from verse 10 on he’s going to skin them alive for living as if they’re lacking when they absolutely are totally complete in the Lord Jesus Christ, enriched in everything.