……Dr Cooper waked up really early and had quiet time together with his wife, Cheryl, at the breakfast table. While he was reading the newspaper, his wife passed him a letter and said, “Joe, I almost forgot, you have a mail from MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières) yesterday. See what they want from you this time.” After reading the letter, Joe told his wife, “Call my office and ask Becky to reschedule all my appointments for next month, I am leaving for Congo next week.” “Why is there such a rush?” Cheryl was shocked. “This is an emergency. They just resumed their activities in Congo, Africa, after the brutal civil war. Dr Meghan Sylvester from Bristol was the only qualified doctor in the remote town of Kinkala, in the south of the country. She just graduated from Med School and this is her first assignment from MSF. Also, her French is not fluent enough for daily communication. Since I am good in French and experienced in setting up training hospital, they want me to help out Meghan to get the hospital back up and running again.” “But it’s so chaotic in Congo Brazzaville; the aftermath of civil wars, AIDS, TB, malaria, malnutrition…do you think you really want to go at this time?” Cheryl was very concerned about her husband. “Cheryl, you know this is my calling and my mission. You have been very supportive in my ministry and service to God and man, and I hope you will keep trusting the Lord and stand by me. Like Frank said before he died for me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. I am serving with the same eternal hope, no matter what happens, we are always in a win-win situation.”
2 weeks later in a little church in Kinkala, Congo, “Buna mono zitisa Nge Nzambi Nge ikele nene mingi…..” Rev. Karl Smith was leading the Sunday worship and was singing the song “How Great Thou Art” in Kituba Dialect. At the end of the worship, Dr Cooper had a chance to talk to Rev. Smith, “Rev. Smith, you have been serving as a missionary in Congo for ages, I am really amazed. You have retired but are still working fervently for the Lord, what is the driving force?” “I am almost eighty years old and have been serving here for half of my life. I was sent by the African Inland Mission to Congo fifty years ago, right after I graduated from the Wheaton College. The renowned evangelist Gary Broughton was my classmate. He led millions of millions to Christ every year through his crusades, and I was here, in the remote village serving the Lord….At times, I would envy him, thinking why God did not pick me to do the grand things in the spotlight; however, I know we all have different roles in God’s Kingdom and everyone will play our best part in this game so that the ultimate glory will go to our Lord in Heaven. I am old and will see God soon. I just want to remain faithful to my calling until the very end. Many have begun well, and less has finished well. For me, I am determined to follow through. I don’t care about the results; I only care about the effort. This all springs out of our love for the Lord. God’s love motivates us to glorify Christ to our death. Just like Paul said in Acts 26:19, ‘…I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision.’ I want to be a man in Christ and I know my labor will not in vain!”
Dr Cooper nodded heartily and prayed silently to the Lord to continue to use him for the rest of his life, despite the adverse circumstances; and he determined to serve the Lord to his last breath! (THE END, Thanks for hanging there and reading!)
Your Initial Response
What is your attitude in serving the Lord?
1 Corinthians 15:50–58
50I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
51Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—
52in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
53For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
54When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
57But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:50–58 NIV)
1) “Eye” (“i=Eye”)
iEXP Bible Study Method
1 Draw a question mark at the place where you have difficulty of understanding.
2 Underline all “the perishable” and “the imperishable.”
3 Underline all the phrases “will all be changed” and “will be changed.”
4 Circle all the words that are related with time.
5 Underline all the words regarding “death” and “sting.”
6 Underline all the words regarding “Lord” and “in the Lord.”
7 Fill in the blanks: 50 What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that _______ and _______ cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These perishable bodies of ours are not able to live forever.
2) “Expound” (E)
iEXP Bible Study Method
Chronologically speaking, the resurrection of Jesus Christ has past, present and future influences on the believers. Although the resurrection of Jesus Christ was a past event, the Risen Lord has continued to change millions of people. As for the people who trusted Jesus Christ as Saviour, the truth of resurrection has granted unlimited comfort and hope to us; furthermore, this has also become a motivation for us to live for the Lord.
1 What is meant by “flesh and blood” (15:50)?
2 What is the meaning of “mystery” (15:51)?
3 What is the relationship between “the last trumpet” and the attainment of glorious bodies (15:53)?
4 Why the sting of death is sin (15:56)?
5 Why the power of sin is the law (15:56)?
“Flesh and blood” suggest frail, feeble people. The Apostle Paul reminded the Corinthian believers that those with perishable bodies cannot enter the kingdom of God. In other words, those who do not possess the life of the Lord or do not attain glorious bodies certainly cannot inherit the kingdom of God (15:50). Paul moved on to state that believers would for sure attain glorious bodies in the future. Those who were asleep in the Lord would rise from the dead; those who were alive on earth would have their bodies transformed at the rapture of the Church, having imperishable bodies consequently (1 Cor. 15:51–54; cf. 1 Thess. 4:13–18).
“Sleep” was an euphemistic term for death. The “mystery” is the things that the Old Testament saints have no knowledge of. Receiving the revelation directly from God, Paul revealed the truth of the rapture that was prior to the knowledge of humankind. The Apostle stated that not all Christians would experience death, and the believers at the rapture would not experience death. This truth was unknown to the Old Testament believers, until the Apostle was informed in the New Testament era.
There are three groups of word that are related with chronology, namely: “in a flash,” “in the twinkling of an eye,” and “at the last trumpet.” “In a flash” is a moment, or in a twinkle, or a flash of time so brief it could not be measured. “In the twinkling of an eye” is a split second. “At the last trumpet” has nothing to do with the seventh trumpet that was related to the Great Tribulation on earth (Rev. 11:15). In the Old Testament times, the trumpet is used to assemble people for convocation or war; whereas this trumpet will herald resurrection and life of Jesus Christ. At the rapture of the Church, the dead Christians will resurrect first, and the bodies of those living Christians on earth will be transformed in a split second, attaining imperishable and glorious bodies.
There are two groups of people here, namely: “the perishable” and “the mortal.” “The perishable” can be described as those living Christians on earth; “the mortal” are those dead Christians. Their endings are similar for both of them will attain bodies of glory. Those living believers on earth will not experience death, but through the transformation of their bodies, they will be the same as those resurrected believers, attaining bodies of glory. Paul quoted the words of the Old Testament prophets, Isaiah and Hosea, stating clearly that the promise of God must be fulfilled eventually (Is. 25:8; Hosea 13:14).
Paul asked two questions and answered them himself, and they are: 1) Where, O death, is your victory? 2) Where, O death, is your sting?” Perhaps, the sting is the sting of a scorpion or a serpent, and Paul used it to represent death. Sin brings in spiritual death and will lead people to eternal death as well. The Law by itself is good, but only in the process of revealing our sins to us, thus convicted us of sin.
The Law is a means of convicting people of their sins; moreover, people can never overcome sin by our own strength, but only through Jesus Christ who can save us from the curse of sin.
“In vain” means futile. Those who do not believe in the resurrection of humankind, their entire lives are futile. On the contrary, the believers who believe in the truth of resurrection and work laboriously for the Lord will be rewarded consequently. At the conclusion of the truth of resurrection, Paul stated his view in a positive way, reminding the believers to stand firm in the apostles’ teaching and give themselves fully to the work of the Lord, they will be rewarded accordingly (15:58).
Christians will attain bodies of glory to worship and serve the Lord in eternality. Not only the truth of resurrection is the hope of the Christians, but it is also the truth that we must stand firm and proclaim. Owing to the fact that our Lord is the risen Saviour, we are assured of our own resurrections as well. As we are facing our own fragile bodies, let us remember that we will have glorified bodies one day. This not only has become our hope, but it also reminds us of serving the Lord fervently.
3) “Exercise” (X)
iEXP Bible Study Method
1 It does matter who you are; if you did not know Jesus Christ, you will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 15:50).
2 We have to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ by telling others that humankind can attain a glorious body and have eternal redemption.
3 Memorise 1 Corinthians 15:47.
57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:47)
4 The rapture of the Church and the resurrection of Christians are the truths of the Bible; let’s grasp firmly the above promises of God (1 Cor. 15:51–54).
5 Observe the commands of the Bible diligently and employ the teachings as our principles of serving the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58).
6 Plan well and utilise every effort of our time and strength to serve the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58).
7 Owing to the fact that the Lord’s Day is a day to remember Christ’s victory over death, we must have a higher regard on Sunday worship.
8 Resolve to read more apologetic books about the resurrection of Christ, as means of strengthening one’s own faith and be able to testify to other people more effectively.
9 When physical weakness and sickness affect us, let’s grab hold of the hope that we will have a glorious body in the future.
10 Let’s face our daily life with hope; wholeheartedly believe that we will be with our gracious Lord and reunite with our saved relatives and friends in heaven.
4) “Proclaim” (P)
By applying the biblical truths to their lives, believers would experience God. When the Bible students experience God and His truths, they should follow the example of the early Christians of testifying to non-believers and believers boldly. By means of speech, we witness to non-believing friends and to edify believers alike. The fourth step of the iEXP Bible study is “Proclaim”.
iEXP Bible Study Method
After finished studying the text, try to apply the truths to your daily living, family life and church life, and pray that you will experience the truthfulness and power of God’s Word. Grab the opportunity to share your experience with non-believers and believers, in family altar, small groups and social gatherings, as a way of witnessing the power of the gospel to non-believers and edification of believers.