As I prepare to teach on the Resurrection of Christ, an even that we are going to celebrate this coming Sunday, I am pondering on how to present this truth to children, ages 6-11 years old. I want to present the importance of the Resurrection and not just the fact that it happened. There were many reasons for the resurrection but the main one was to give sin a death blow. In order to present these concepts, I would like to examine two different passages of Scripture that lead us the conclusion that the resurrection actually took place and the daily importance of it. The first passage that would like to consider is I Corinthians 15:1-8.
I. Evidence of Christ’s resurrection
The first proof of Christ’s resurrection is the fact that one of Christ’s fiercest enemies is now preaching Him to everyone. What happened to Paul, to change him from a persecutor of Christ to becoming a promoter of Christ? He had a face to face encounter with the resurrected Christ, years after His resurrection. Something radical has to happen to a person to change his mind about another person, especially if he hated that person at one time and was converted to loving Him and championing Him. The resurrection of Christ changed Paul’s life. In fact, the Bible teaches that the purpose of the resurrection was to change people’s lives. Each new changed life is evidence for the fact of the resurrection of Christ. My life was changed by the resurrection of Christ. The Scriptures are the second proof of the resurrection of Christ. They spoke of His resurrection long before He was born. Over 500 different people saw the resurrected Christ, most of whom were still alive when I Corinthians 15 was written. No one was able to prove Paul’s testimony wrong. The Corinthian Christians are the third proof of the resurrection of Christ. They all experienced transformed lives. In fact, before coming to Christ, here is a short list of the sins that the Corinthians practiced.
9Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God ? Do not bedeceived ; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,
10nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit thekingdom of God.
11Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justifiedin the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (I Corinthians 6)
Did you notice the list and the phrase “such were some of you”?
- fornicator – those who practice any form of sex outside of marriage, both physical as well as mental. If you have every looked at pornography, you are a fornicator.
- idolator – any person who places something other than God as number 1 in his life. An idol can be sinful things as well as noble things. God wants to be number 1 in your life.
- adulterer – any person who has sexual relations with another person other than his spouse or a person who is not married and has sexual relations with a married person. If you are married and look at porn, you commit adultery.
- effeminate – males who prostitute themselves out to other males.
- homosexual – when a male has sexual relations with another male the way a man has sexual relations with his wife.
- thief – a person who takes something that does not belong to him
- covetous person – a person who desires what another person has, wanting something that does not belong to you
- drunkard – being under the influence of any mind altering drug
- reviler – mischievous, maliciously causing harm
- swindler – one who seizes and carries off by force, to snatch away, to cheat someone out of something
Sounds like a good group of people to be affiliated with, right? That is the way that they used to live but because of the resurrection of Christ, their lives were transformed.
II. Evidence brings about belief
The definition of faith or belief, is being completely convinced of something based on evidence. Once you have examined the evidence of the resurrection of Christ in the Scriptures and hearing the testimonies of changed lives, you accept it, or, as the text says “receive” it. How does the evidence make its way to you? Someone is sent by God to deliver that message, or, as Paul says, preach it. Step one is to examine the evidence and accept it. Step two is to stand on that evidence, or, in other words, put your faith into action. Belief is more than a theoretical concept. Genuine belief is personal application, not once, but day by day, moment by moment living out what you believe. The text tells us that if we examine the evidence, believe, and then put that belief into action, we are saved. In fact, belief opens the door to salvation and then genuine salvation causes us to stand (apply) what we have accepted. The third step is to hold fast to the Word which you have believed. Hold fast literally means that you walk with the Word of God in front of your face as a guide. Practically speaking, it means that you base your life, all of your ideas, dreams, and choices on what the Word of God teaches. If steps two and three do not take place, then God explains that your “faith” or “belief” were in vain. In other words, it was not genuine faith or genuine belief as the Bible teaches. When belief is genuine, steps two and three take place.
III. Belief destroys sin’s death grip on us
Once you begin applying God’s Word to your life and living by Its teachings, something amazing will happen to sin’s grip on you. As people, because of original sin, we are all born shackled by our sin nature. It is our master and we must obey it. How do I know I am shackled by sin? I practice sin, and even if I want to stop I cannot do it. In Romans 7, Paul clearly explains what life is like for a person who is a slave to sin. He cannot stop even when he is aware of his problem and wants to stop. Romans 6 is our second passage that I would like to consider. Because of the resurrection of Christ, the death grip that sin has on us is broken when we believe. Jesus came to set the captives free and we are the captives. We need His freeing power in our lives. I have explained this process in a previous article. You can read it here, the daily importance of the resurrection of Christ.
Have you ever gone from a person who was shackled by sin’s death grip to a person who can now say no to temptation and sin? This is the changed life that the Bible teaches about. This is what happened to Paul. This is what happened to the sinners in Corinth. This is what Jesus calls being born again. Have you ever been born again? Have you examined the evidence of Christ’s resurrection in the Scriptures and witnessed testimonies of changed lives? Do you realize that sin’s grip has already been dealt a death blow? Why do you continue to live as a slave to sin and temptation? Believe the Gospel, apply It, and live by It day by day and watch what God will do in your life and through your life. May the Lord help us understand the practical implications of Christ’s resurrection.
I think Erik’s readers should realize that the word “homosexuals” is a modern interpretation of the original Greek text word arsenokoites, commonly transliterated by Greek historians and Biblical scholars literally to “man bed(s).”
Moanti has given an overview of the word here: http://moanti.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/gaychristians/
The “Westcott and Hort Greek New Testament – Literal Translation” translates the word as “male-situaters.”
The entire 1 Corinthians 6:9 verse in the original Greek is:
ἢ οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ἄδικοι θεοῦ βασιλείαν οὐ κληρονομήσουσιν; Μὴ πλανᾶσθε: οὔτε πόρνοι οὔτε εἰδωλολάτραι οὔτε μοιχοὶ οὔτε μαλακοὶ οὔτε ἀρσενοκοῖται
Transliterated into English:
Or not ye-had-come-to-see to-which-a-one un-coursed of-a-Deity to-a-ruling-of not they-shall-lot-parcelee-unto? Lest ye-should-be-wandered-unto, not-also harlots not-also image-servers not-also adulterers not-also softed not-also male-situaters.
As you can see, going from the ancient Greek to modern English takes quite a bit of interpretation and creativity. The original cultural context and textural analysis must be considered looking back 2000 years..
Over 400 hundred years ago, the King James Bible interpreted the word “arsenokoites” as “abusers of themselves with mankind.” Quite a creative interpretation of the original “man beds. or “male-situaters”
The word “homosexual” didn’t come into biblical use until the 1940’s.
But I wondered, why did Paul write arsenokiotes? Most Biblical and Greek scholars agree that the word was created by him. He was highly educated and fluent in Greek. But why didn’t he use one of the popular Greek words of his time for a concept that was very well known in 1st century Corinth, one of the largest Greek cities of that time?
The most commonly used word in Paul’s time was ἀρρενομανής , which meant “mad after males, of men.” Other words commonly used were ἀνδροβάτης, which meant “man-coverer,” or he could have used μαίνανδρος, which meant “mad after men.” Also, he could have used ἀνδροκοιτέω, which meant “sleeping with a man,” or ἀνδρομανέω, which meant “lust after men.” All these words loosely translated meant men who had sexual relations with men.
Why didn’t Paul use these commonly used Greek words? That will always be a mystery. But I think it’s clear that if he had condemnation of homosexuality in mind, if that was his intention in the first place, he wouldn’t have made up his own word since there were many existing words he could have used that would have been better known to his less educated followers.
That same Paul, in Romans 1, does not choose a single word, but like God in the Old Testament, chooses to describe the sin of homosexuality.
Oops, I guess you missed that one 😉
We’ll get to Romans 1 in a minute. First let’s finish discussing Paul’s new word “arsenokiotes.”
Since Paul uses the word only twice in his letters, once in 1 Corinthians and once in 1 Timothy, and without defining the meaning of the word, I think we need to look elsewhere to see where and how this word was subsequently used.
We find the word used in the Penitential by John the Faster, the Patriarch of Constantinople from 582 to 595.
The full Greek text is in the Patrologiae Cursus, pages 1893 – 1896: http://books.google.com/books?id=55TYAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_atb#v=onepage&q&f=false
Translation: “One must also ask about the perplexing, beguiling , and shadowy sin of incest, of which there are not just one or two varieties but a great many very different ones. One type is committed with two sisters of the same father or mother (or both). Another involves a cousin; another the daughter of a cousin; another the wife of one’s son; another the wife of one’s brother. It is one thing with a mother-in-law or the sister of a mother-in-law, another with a stepmother or a father’s concubine. Some even do it with their own mothers, and others with foster sisters or goddaughters. In fact, many men even commit the sin of arsenokoitia with their wives.”
Clearly, if arsenokoitia means homosexuality, then the last sentence becomes “men even commit the sin of homosexuality with their wives.”
So arsenokoites clearly did not mean homosexuality or homosexuals.
As far as 1 Romans is concerned, Erik’s quote starts with “for this reason.” For what reason? What is Paul talking about? If we look at the preceding verses we find out the reason:
From God’s Word Translation: “They knew God but did not praise and thank him for being God. Instead, their thoughts were pointless, and their misguided minds were plunged into darkness. While claiming to be wise, they became fools. They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for statues that looked like mortal humans, birds, animals, and snakes. For this reason….”
So we see the reason for God’s wrath: “They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for statues that looked like mortal humans, birds, animals, and snakes.”
What statues of mortal humans was Paul talking about? The statues of the Earth Goddess Cybele with her two lions and the practice of idol worship by the Galli, the effeminate shrine eunuch officiants: From Wikipedia:
“As eunuchs, incapable of reproduction, the Galli were forbidden Roman citizenship and rights of inheritance; like their eastern counterparts, they were technically mendicants whose living depended on the pious generosity of others. For a few days of the year, during the Megalesia, Cybele’s laws allowed them to leave their quarters, located within the goddess’ temple complex, and roam the streets to beg for money. They were outsiders, marked out as Galli by their regalia, and their notoriously effeminate dress and demeanour, but as priests of a state cult, they were sacred and inviolate. From the start, they were objects of Roman fascination, scorn and religious awe.”
On specific days of the year, the celebrants would climb the Palatine Hill, across from the Circus Maximus, to Cybele’s Temple and perform the rituals of worship: From Monmouth College Classics Department:
“At the annual celebration of the death and return of Attis, processions of joyful worshipers danced through the streets and then attended ceremonies at Cybele’s temple. The rites were orgiastic, designed to increase human fertility; and ritual prostitution was considered a gift to the goddess. The priests of Cybele, called Galli, were all eunuchs and practiced flagellation and self-mutilation (gashes on arms, etc.) during the climactic ceremonies. Young men who wished to serve the goddess full-time, carried away by the frenzy of the ritual, leaped into the center of the procession, castrated themselves with the sacred swords in imitation of Attis, and dressed themselves in women’s clothes (identification with Cybele).”
Shrine prostitution, both male and female, during pagan idol worship, is a recurring issue of Moses’ laws, Jesus’ sermons, and Paul’s letters, all stern lectures to wean the Jews and subsequently the Christians away from shrine prostitution and idol worship, The Israelites, even after settling in the Promised Land, still found it hard to stop their idol worship, which is evidenced in warnings in Leviticus and 8 other verses in the Bible against worshipping Molech, the Canaanite fire god:
“I will cut off from the midst of their people both him and all who follow after him in spiritual prostitution, to commit prostitution by worshiping Molech.” Leviticus 20:5.
They just didn’t get it. Paul has the same problem, which constantly frustrates him, as seen in his letters.
Aside from all that, as I said before, if Paul really wanted to condemn what we today call homosexuality, there existed at least 20 Greek equivalent words. He certainly would have used them if he felt that it was something to lecture against. It was certainly quite common in the Greek and Roman world of his time. I think it speaks volumes that he never mentions one word. I think Erik has a problem differentiating between shrine prostitution, male or female, and homosexuality. Certainly Paul did not.
In the Old Testament, God does not use a simple word to define the sin of homosexuality. He defines the act itself. When a male has sexual relations with another male (the definition of homosexuality), they have committed an abomination/detestable act. In both the Old and New Testament, the act is defined and not just a word because of people’s ability to try and redefine terms by changing the meaning of words, which is what you are doing.
In Erik’s never ending attempt to re-intrepret passages and meaning in the Bible to validate his prejudices, I thought of some of his fundamentalist Christian ancestors.
On January 27, 1861, three months before the start of the American Civil War, Ebenezer Warren, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Macon, Georgia, delivered a sermon titled “Scriptural Vindication of Slavery:”
“Slavery forms a vital element of the Divine Revelation to man. Its institution, regulation, and perpetuity, constitute a part of many of the books of the Bible …. The public mind needs enlightening from the sacred teachings of inspiration on this subject …. We of the South have been passive, hoping the storm would subside …. Our passiveness has been our sin. We have not come to the vindication of God and of truth, as duty demanded …. it is necessary for ministers of the gospel … to teach slavery from the pulpit, as it was taught by the holy men of old, who spake as moved by the holy Spirit …. Both Christianity and Slavery are from heaven; both are blessings to humanity; both are to be perpetuated to the end of time …. Because Slavery is right…and, too, because their Maker has decreed their bondage.”
Richard Furman, while president of the South Carolina State Convention of Baptists in 1823, wrote on behalf of South Carolina Baptists to the governor of South Carolina about slavery:
“… because certain writers on politics, morals and religion, and some of them highly respectable, have advanced positions, and inculcated sentiments, very unfriendly to the principle and practice of holding slaves;.…These sentiments, the Convention, on whose behalf I address your Excellency, cannot think just, or well founded; for the right of holding slaves is clearly established in the Holy Scriptures, both by precept and example.”
Slavery was Biblical, abolition was sinful.
What I find most interesting is just not just the obvious prejudices, driven by the economic needs of the South. The issue of slavery drove a wedge in the Baptist Convention, ultimately causing, by 1845, the Southern Baptists to split off from their Northern anti-slavery counterparts and form the Southern Baptist Convention. What I find interesting is that the Northern Baptists and the Southern Baptists used the same Bible to argue both for and against slavery with equal conviction.
The Bible is not the absolute truth, it’s the truth you want to make.
The Bible is very clear, slavery is wrong. Slavery has existed since the fall of mankind into sin. Why blame God for man’s sin?
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