Thanksgiving Is Good for the Soul (1 Corinthians 1:4)


Several years ago, I suffered a bout of deep depression. It lasted for months. And I don’t want to experience it ever again. But I learned something out of that depression that has proved invaluable to my mental—and spiritual—health: Giving thanks is good for the soul. During my depression, I kept a journal in which I monitored my feelings and their causes in minute detail. The more I analyzed my depression, the more depressed I became. So one day, I tried something different. I wrote a list of everyone and everything I was thankful for. To my surprise, it was … Continue reading Thanksgiving Is Good for the Soul (1 Corinthians 1:4)

The Radical Impermanence of the World and the Permanence of Christian Love


Today is the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11. The Friday after 9/11, I wrote this devotional for my church. Providentially, in this devotional, I was working my way through 1 Corinthians 13 that week, Scripture’s “love chapter.” I’m reposting that devotional today because, fifteen years later, it still expresses my heart and mind in the light of that horrific event. OPENING PRAYER This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it! O God, grant us a vision of this city, fair as it might be: a city of justice, where none shall prey upon the other; … Continue reading The Radical Impermanence of the World and the Permanence of Christian Love

Dr. Jim Bradford (@bradfordjim) on the spiritual gift of knowledge


In this video, Dr. Jim Bradford continues his nine-part series on spiritual gifts from 1 Corinthians 12, focusing on knowledge. Bradford is general secretary of the Assemblies of God (and my boss). Dr. Jim Bradford (@bradfordjim) on the spiritua…, posted with vodpod Continue reading Dr. Jim Bradford (@bradfordjim) on the spiritual gift of knowledge

Plans and People (1 Corinthians 16:5-24)


Paul concludes his contentious letter to the Corinthians by writing them about his plans and about the people whose friendship they hold in common. First of all, his plans. Paul intends to visit the Corinthians, although he can’t tell them exactly when he will arrive. He will come to them, he says, “after I go through Macedonia.” The important thing is not the timing of the visit, however, but its duration. “I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits.” I have often … Continue reading Plans and People (1 Corinthians 16:5-24)

Remembering the Poor (1 Corinthians 16:1-4)


An abrupt transition occurs in 1 Corinthians 16:1-4. Heretofore, Paul has been speaking in lofty theological terms about lofty theological themes. Now, however, he offers four verses of advice on the nuts-and-bolts mechanics of giving. The transition is, if you think about it, a marvelous comment on the Christian life, for the life of faith includes everything from the sublime to the mundane. No aspect of life is untouched by God’s grace. Our ideas must change, and so must our habits – even our spending habits. “Now about the collection for God’s people….” In the early church, a dispute arose … Continue reading Remembering the Poor (1 Corinthians 16:1-4)

The Death of Death (1 Corinthians 15:50-58)


Many years ago, Rocky Aoki – the founder and owner of Benihana Restaurants – remarked, “Life is a one-hundred yard dash with a brick wall at the finish line.” With these words, he expressed a sentiment many have when they have no hope beyond this life. “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die,” is how Rocky Aoki might have put it if he had lived in Paul’s day. All of us must vote in what Bruce Thornton calls “the bleak democracy of death.” That is a fact which we cannot change. But we need not all vote for … Continue reading The Death of Death (1 Corinthians 15:50-58)

Natural and Spiritual Bodies (1 Corinthians 15:45-49)


First Corinthians 15:45-49 continues the argument of the previous paragraph. At verse 35, Paul asked, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” He answered that question in verse 44 by saying that although people are born with a “natural body,” they are raised with a “spiritual body.” Verses 45-49 expand on this answer by means of an analogy between Adam and Christ. Before we get to the analogy, however, it is important to understand what Paul means by the distinction between “natural” and “spiritual” bodies. In Greek, the word for “natural” is “psychikoi” and … Continue reading Natural and Spiritual Bodies (1 Corinthians 15:45-49)

If No Resurrection, Then What? (1 Corinthians 15:29-34)


In 1 Corinthians 15:29-34, Paul points out three consequences of denying Christ’s resurrection. First, Christian theology goes wobbly. Verse 29 refers to the Corinthian practice of baptism for the dead. Nobody’s quite sure what baptism for the dead looked like or why the Corinthians practiced it. Perhaps it involved baptizing a live Christian on behalf of a dead pagan in hope that the dead would receive the benefits of Christian baptism. Whatever it was, it was a Corinthian eccentricity. The New Testament nowhere condones it, it contradicts what the Bible elsewhere teaches about baptism, and no Christian church has ever … Continue reading If No Resurrection, Then What? (1 Corinthians 15:29-34)

That God May Be All in All (1 Corinthians 15:20-28)


Start with the passage’s final words: “that God may be all in all.” God’s all-in-all-ness is the goal toward which the universe and everything and everyone in it are moving. The universe and its inhabitants will not become divine, but rather, it and they will experience the peace that comes from God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven. Several years ago, my mother gave me a framed nineteenth-century lithograph, which now hangs in my office. It depicts a scene from the prophet Isaiah, who foretold a coming day when the lion would lie down with the … Continue reading That God May Be All in All (1 Corinthians 15:20-28)