1Cor 15:20                 The Firstfruits of Them That Slept                       9/26/2010        ßą   

 

 

 

 

 

 

#1.       Events Leading Up to Christ’s Crucifixion (John 10:17-18, 12:23-28, !3:21-30, Luke 22:39-46)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2.       Did the Lord Rise on the First Day of the Week? (Matt 28:1, Mark 16:2, Luke 24:1, John 20:1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3.   How Do We Obtain Our First Resurrection? (Rom 10:9, Matt 7:21-23, Eph 2:8-9, Rom 10:17, 1Cor 16:22)

 

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1Cor 15:12 (2X). We are continuing in this chapter which speaks of the resurrection of the body. This entire chapter deals with only the resurrection of the body, because that was a big issue with the Greeks. The Greeks believed in the resurrection of the soul, but the resurrection of the body they considered impossible, and this was for entirely philosophical reasons. For example, there were many ships in the Mediterranean Sea, and when someone at sea died he was thrown overboard. Then he was eaten by the fish, who were in turn eaten by bigger fish, who were caught and eaten by humans, and a fraction of them died on the sea, and they were eaten by the fish, and so on. Likewise, the people on the land when they died they were buried, they were eaten by worms, who were eaten by birds, who were in turn eaten by bigger animals, who were eaten by humans, who died and were buried, who then were eaten by worms, and so on. We can easily see that over a period of a couple thousand years each molecule, or atom, is being recycled five times or more, and so the Greeks considered it impossible for their gods to resurrect the bodies of people who have died a couple thousand years ago. That is why the apostle Paul made such a big splash when he preached about the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. And that is why the title of this sermon is The Firstfruits of Them That Slept (2X). The Lord Jesus Christ became the Firstfruits of them that have died and whom God has bodily raised from the dead. Our God is much mightier than the Greek gods who could not do it, and our God is not hindered by the fact that a certain atom or molecule belongs to four or five different bodies at the same time. And so, let us now read this passage in 1Cor 15:12-20 concerning the resurrection of Christ and subsequently our resurrection.

1Cor 15:12-20  Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the Firstfruits of them that slept.

Let us now focus on verse 12. What is the connection between Christ’s resurrection and our resurrection? All the Christians know by now the fact that Christ did rise from the dead. We have learned last week from Eph 1:3-5 that we who are God’s elect were in Christ from before the foundation of the world. Therefore we were buried with Christ when He was buried. This means that when Christ was bodily raised from the dead we also were spiritually raised with Him. Therefore, if we were spiritually raised in AD 33, does that not imply that our bodily resurrection must follow, since we physically came into being some time after the entire resurrection of Christ was finished? Therefore all the saints are subject to two resurrections; the first resurrection, which was the regeneration of our soul, and which was spiritually initiated by the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the second resurrection, which is scheduled to occur at the rapture of all the saints at the return of Christ on the Last Day. Likewise, the Bible speaks of two deaths; the first death which was initiated by the sin of Adam, and which clings to us in the form of original sin, and which guarantees that all men must die, and the second death which the Bible describes as being cast into the Lake of Fire. But God has guaranteed us that the saints will not be subject by the second death.

Let us follow the Lord’s reasoning with the philosophers in the church at Corinth. Verse 13: If the resurrection of the dead does not exist, then is Christ also was not risen, for God made us to be like Him, and God made Christ to be like us. And if Christ is not risen then we have absolutely no evidence that Christ paid for our sins to God’s full satisfaction. In fact, if Christ is not risen, then His entire atonement is incomplete, and this means that we are still in our sins. And so, if Christ is not risen then our preaching is in vain, and our faith is also vain. It would mean that the apostles were false witnesses, because we have testified that Christ was risen. And if all this was a lie, then your faith is vain, and you are still in your sins. Moreover, all those who have died have also perished forever. Think about it now; if all this was a hoax, if Christ did not rise from the dead, if the apostles had conjured up this story as if it was real, then we are of all men most miserable in believing this hoax.

But the real story is that Christ did rise from the dead, and God called Him the Firstfruits of them that slept. God says in Col 1:18-19, “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness of the Godhead bodily dwell.” For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things, to whom be glory forever, Amen. Therefore, let us take a brief overview of all the things that led up to the crucifixion and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel According to John, John 10:17 (2X).

#1.       Events Leading Up to Christ’s Crucifixion (John 10:17-18, 12:23-28, !3:21-30, Luke 22:39-46)

What were the events that were leading up to the crucifixion and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus said very plainly in John 10:17-18, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” In other words, the Lord Jesus was not a victim of the hatred by the scribes and Pharisees. He received authority from the Father to lay down His life as a ransom for many, and He had authority to take up His life again. And thus He prophesied that He would rise from the dead. This was God’s plan. And God used the sins of man to accomplish His goals. Let us look at seven steps leading to the resurrection of Christ

  1. Monday, the 10th of Nisan: God selected His Lamb (John 12:20-36)
  2. Thursday evening, the 14th of Nisan: The last Passover meal between the evenings (John 13:1-30).
  3. Thursday evening, the 14th of Nisan: Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-46) The beginning of the atonement.
  4. Friday morning, the 14th of Nisan: Jesus crucified (John 19:17-24)
  5. Friday afternoon, the 14th of Nisan: Jesus died; His human soul went to heaven (John 19:28-37).
  6. Friday afternoon, the 14th of Nisan: Jesus buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea (John 19:38-42).
  7. Sunday morning, the 16th of Nisan: Jesus rose the third day (John 20:1-10)/

We will look at the first three steps leading to the crucifixion of Christ in this section, and we will look at the last four steps in the next section. Please turn a few pages down in this Gospel of John to chapter 12, John 12:20 (2X). Here, at this point in time, the Greeks came to see Jesus. It was remarkable that the Lord waited until this moment to make this declaration concerning the selection of the Lamb of God. In Ex 12 Moses commanded that on the 10th day of the first month each family had to select the lamb that they were going to offer to the Lord on their first Passover celebration. That was on the 10th day of Nisan. And here on the 10th day of Nisan God declared personally that He had selected the Lord Jesus as His Passover Lamb that should take away the sin of the world. This last Passover would not be just a memorial of the Passover, but this last Passover would accomplish what the first Passover was only a picture of. “The blood of the lamb shall make you free.” This was what the first Passover accomplished by freeing 2 million slaves out the house of bondage. But that was only a picture of what God will do. Most of those children of Israel actually remained unsaved, as we can conclude from their unbelief and from their hardened heart against the Lord. Now, at the last Passover we see again that “The blood of the lamb shall make you free”, but now many millions of people from all over the world would actually be saved from the guilt of their sins, because Christ actually purchased their delivery from the house of bondage to sin and Satan. Christ did not purchase the possibility of salvation, but He actually purchased their salvation, which became effective at the moment that God the Holy Spirit regenerated their soul. This was the moment when they experienced their first resurrection. We read in John 12:23-28,

Joh 12:23-28  And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.

The people thought that it thundered, but Jesus told them that this voice did not come for Him but for them. Next we move to the upper room where the Lord Jesus and His disciples ate the last Passover meal. Please turn one page over to John 13:21 (2X). Why do I say that this was the last Passover? When Christ died on the cross all the signs and symbols that the ceremonial law looked forward to were at that moment fulfilled and thus the ceremonial law was abolished on Friday afternoon at about 3 O’clock, April 3, in the year AD33. Anyone trying to celebrate some aspect of the ceremonial law after AD 33 was in fact insulting God by declaring by his actions that the Messiah had not yet come. We read in John 13:21-30 (2X)

Joh 13:21-30  When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake. Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake. He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it? Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor. He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.

And it was night. Judas was a son of the night. Judas was also the son of perdition, meaning the son of Hell. Judas was now discovered as the betrayer, and he went immediately to the Pharisees to offer his services that night. The result was that the scribes and Pharisees were forced to arrest Jesus that night and were forced to have Him be crucified on the day of Passover, something they did not plan to do. But God orchestrated all the events leading up to this crucifixion on the day of Passover, because Christ was the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, as was prophesied in John 1:29. Please turn now to the Gospel According to Luke, Luke 22:39 (2X). Jesus and the eleven disciples moved away from the upper room to the Garden of Gethsemane. There is where His sufferings begin. The entire process of the atonement must take three days and three nights, and beginning at Thursday evening till Sunday morning is indeed three days and three nights. We read in Luke 22:39-46,

Lu 22:39-46  And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.

Then came Judas with a band of temple soldiers, they bound Him and led Him to the palace of the high priest.

Please turn again to the Gospel of John, John 19:17 (2X). The Lord Jesus was brought before the ruling council of Pharisees, and Sadducees, and elders, and scribes, and chief priests, and brought many false witnesses. But none could find any crime worthy of death. But then Jesus helped them out, and He Himself volunteered information that would convict Him of such a crime unto death, for it is recorded in Mark 14:62, “And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” This was enough to convict Him of blasphemy. Then He was brought before Pilate, Pilate sent him to Herod, Herod sent Him back to Pilate, and Pilate approved the sentence of crucifixion. Then we read in John 19:17-24,

Joh 19:17-24  And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written. Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.  They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.

They gambled for His coat that was woven without seam. They asked God to make the decision who would inherit the robe of Jesus. Since God orchestrated all the events of this day, God showed us here how He operates concerning salvation. God made the decision who would receive the robe of Christ’s righteousness, and God made that decision all by Himself, without regard for the goodness or the character of the person who would receive this most valuable gift. It was a Roman soldier who received it. They crucified Jesus at about 9 O’clock in the morning, and He died at about 3 O’clock in the afternoon. Please drop down now to verses 28-37. Jesus died.

Joh 19:28-42  After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath day was an high day,)besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.

Who are they who shall look on Him whom they pierced? We find in Zech 12:10 that it is the saints who shall look on Him whom they pierced. We are responsible for piercing Christ, for He was pierced for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities. He suffered because we liked our sins too much. Now we continue with the burial of the Lord Jesus, which we find in John 19:38-42,

Joh 19:38-42    And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

Then they rolled a great stone in front of the cave where the body of Jesus rested, and He rested on the Sabbath which followed. Let us now continue in John 20:1 (2X). We find in John 20:1-10,

Joh 20:1-10 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.

Verse 8 says, “And he saw and believed.” What did John see that it caused him to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead? He saw the cocoon of strips of linen cloths lying as if Jesus had evaporated out of it without disturbing the cocoon. It was impossible for people to have stolen the body of Jesus without disturbing the cocoon of linen strips. Now we can legitimately ask:

#2.       Did the Lord Rise on the First Day of the Week? (Matt 28:1, Mark 16:2, Luke 24:1, John 20:1)

Unfortunately, the word “week” does not exist in the Greek text. We know that it was Sunday morning, and we know that Christ was crucified and died on Friday. But the translators have imposed their opinions on words such as Sabbaths, plural, and Sabbath, singular, and have caused the word “week” to appear when they actually should have left the words Sabbaths or Sabbath in the text without translating it. We read in Matt 28:1,

Mt 28:1 ¶  In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

But actually the Greek text says it differently. Literally the Greek text says,

Mt 28:1 ¶  But after the Sabbaths, at the dawning into the first of the Sabbaths, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

In other words, after a series of Sabbaths (plural) had ended, at the beginning of a new series of Sabbaths (plural), came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. All the other Gospel writers completely agree with the literal translation of Matt 28:1. For example we read in Mark 16:2,

Mr 16:2  And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.

But in the literal translation of Mark 16:2 the Greek text says,

Mr 16:2  And very early on the first of the Sabbaths, the sun having risen, they came upon the sepulchre.

In other words, it was on the first of a new series of Sabbaths (plural) that they came to the sepulchre.

In the Gospel of Luke we read in our Bible in Luke 24:1,

Lu 24:1 ¶  Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.

But the literal translation of Luke 24:1 the Greek text says,

Lu 24:1 ¶  And the first of the Sabbaths, while still very early, they came unto the sepulchre, carrying spices which they had prepared, and some were with them.

In other words, on the first of a new series of Sabbaths (plural) they came to the sepulchre. We read in the Gospel of John a similar statement. We read in John 20:1

Joh 20:1 ¶  The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.

But the literal translation of the Greek text says in John 20:1,

Joh 20:1 ¶  And on the first of the Sabbaths Mary Magdalene came early to the sepulchre, darkness yet being (on it) , and seeth the stone being removed from the sepulchre.

In other words, it was on a new series of Sabbaths that Mary Magdalene came early to the sepulchre. All the Gospel writers agree that it was the first of a series of Sabbaths, and if it was the first then it must have been a new series of Sabbaths. But it was Sunday morning. And thus God announced a change in the old series of Sabbaths, which actually belonged to the ceremonial law since it was pointing to the rest we have in Christ, and since it was also pointing to the passive rest we have when God pours His grace upon us. But the change that God introduced here in the Gospels after the death of Christ is totally harmonious with all the other changes God made in His terminology after the death of Christ. For example:

The former Jews are no longer called Jews, but the ones who have been circumcised in their heart are now called Jews (Rom 2:28-29). The former Israel is no longer called Israel, but the children of the promise are counted for the seed (Rom 9:6-8). The former Jerusalem is no longer the holy city, but the New Jerusalem is called the holy city (Gal 4:26). The unbelieving children of Jacob are no longer children of Sarah, but are children of Hagar and children of the devil (Gal 4:25). The former Sabbath is no longer the symbol pointing to the rest we have in Lord Jesus Christ, but a new Sabbath has come in its place (Matt 28:1). The former people of God are no longer the people of God (Rom 9:24-26). The twelve tribes of Israel are no longer twelve, but thirteen, and refers to people who are not the children of Jacob (Rev 7:4-8). The millennium is not a future millennium, but is a past millennium, beginning at the cross (Rev 20:1-3). Babylon is no longer a city of the past, but is the church of the future (Rev 17:1-18). And so on. These are changes which we must include in our understanding of the Bible, both in the OT as well as in the NT. And thus it is quite possible that we try to understand the Bible, but if God the Holy Spirit does not give us wisdom we may arrive at a false gospel, a gospel of works. Therefore we should ask:

#3.   How Do We Obtain Our First Resurrection? (Rom 10:9, Matt 7:21-23, Eph 2:8-9, Rom 10:17, 1Cor 16:22)

Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Romans, Rom 10:9 (2X). Here is a clear example how a works gospel can be generated in a church which believes that salvation comes by grace. They not only hold on to “Sola Gracia”, by grace alone, but also they adhere to “Sola Fide”, by faith alone. As a result, they will look at Rom 10:9

Ro 10:9  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

And they will hold that the work of proclaiming that Christ was raised from the dead, and believe that Christ was raised from the dead, gives a person the certainty that he or she is saved. This is a works gospel. In fact, the group of soldiers who stood guard at the sepulchre where the body of Jesus lay were absolutely convinced that He was raised from the dead, for they saw the Angel of the Lord roll the stone away and sit on it. They told their story in full to the scribes and Pharisees, they witnessed of Christ’s resurrection with absolute conviction, but yet they were not saved, for they loved their bribe money more than they loved Christ. Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel of According to Matthew, Matt 7:21 (2X). The Lord Jesus has given us many examples of those who knew the Gospel, but had no intention of obeying it. For example, look at Judas Iscariot. He had all the evidence of the true Gospel in front of him for three and a half years. In fact we can say that Judas was once enlightened, he had tasted of the heavenly gift, he was made a partaker of the Holy Ghost, he was invited to perform miracles like the other apostles did, he has tasted the good word of God, and he has tasted the powers of the world to come, and yet he fell away, because he had no intention to keep following Jesus, and he had no love for the Lord Jesus. Matt 7:21

Mt 7:21-23  Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

What was their problem? They did many wonderful works, they prophesied in the name of Jesus, and they have cast out devils in the name of the resurrected Jesus. But the Lord Jesus said to them “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” You see, we are not saved by the good works we do, and we are not rejected by the bad works we do. We are rejected when we serve other gods than the God of the Bible. We are accepted by the doctrine we hold, which is a doctrine that is given to us by God the Holy Spirit. God says to us in Eph 2:8-9,

Eph 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Eph 2:9  Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Not of works. Let us drill this into our memory: We are not saved by works, not our good works, and not our bad works, but we are saved by God the Holy Spirit who gave us an understanding of who the God of the Bible is. Faith must be a gift from God, or else it is not true faith. Always people want to hear: How can we know if we are saved. How can we know if we are on the right track? But let us first understand God’s declaration in Rom 10:17,

Ro 10:17  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Our true faith, or our salvation, comes by hearing the true Gospel preached, and then by a spoken word from God the miracle of our hearing, or our understanding, is given to us by God the Holy Spirit. And with this miracle of hearing the true Gospel God is also giving us “agape”, the love of God that is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is a love that we have for our fellow man and a fervent love that we have for the God who saved us from going to Hell for our sins. This love that we have for God, because He loved us first, is expressed in 1Cor 16:22, where we read, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.” What is God saying in this verse? Not only is God saying that all those who do not love Him are accursed when the Lord comes, but also He is saying that all those who love Him are among the blessed ones who have been loved by God from everlasting past. God said to Jeremiah in Jer 31:3, “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love”; therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” It is true that we are saved by grace alone, not by a faith that we conjured up when we wanted to obey the command, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”.

So, how is it that Christ is called the Firstfruits of them that slept? It means that Jeremiah also belongs to those that slept. And when Christ comes again He will raise up Jeremiah, and Christ will be his Master and Redeemer whom he will know and love in person, because Christ will show Himself to Jeremiah as He really is, and Christ will show Himself to us also, if we truly know Him. But that means that we love Him, and that we love Him now. And how do we know if we love Him? Ask yourselves this question: If you would be put in jail for loving Christ, would there be any evidence to convict you.

AMEN.                 Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.