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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Paul's Warning and Admonishment for Those He Loves

1Co 4:14-21  I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children.  (15)  For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.  (16)  I urge you, then, be imitators of me.  (17)  That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.  (18)  Some are arrogant, as though I were not coming to you.  (19)  But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power.  (20)  For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.  (21)  What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?

Paul here explains his previous statements and admonishments, explains why he says them. Paul loves the Corinthians as his children and that is why he warns them and admonishes them. He also gives another warning to those who are in the Corinthian church.  

1Co 4:14  I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children.

What he told them in the previous passages, could very well have made them feel ashamed, it very well could make them feel foolish. He gave them a picture of how much the apostles suffer, and then allowed the Corinthians to make the connection of how little they suffered. It very well might have made them feel ashamed because he just told them “You sit in comfortable houses, you have no persecution, the biggest difficulty you have is deciding ‘who you follow’, us, the apostles have gone to the point of death, we have been beaten, we have been persecuted in every way, WAKE UP”. But, as much as it might wake them up and make them feel ashamed, that wasn't Paul’s point, his point was to warn them. He changes his tone from sarcastic to one of loving mercy, one of genuine concern. He loves them as children because he was put in the place of “raising them” so to speak, and he loved them as God loves them. So, although he was harsh with them for a little while, as with children, you need to be just, but you also need to be doing it for the right reason: you love them. God loves us and his discipline is for our benefit and because he loves us. Psa 94:12-13  Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O LORD, and whom you teach out of your law,  (13)  to give Him rest from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked. God truly does discipline us for our good, and he warns us for our good, and the same is true for how the apostle Paul treated the Corinthians.

1Co 4:15-16  For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.  (16)  I urge you, then, be imitators of me.

Paul is their Spiritual father, there are many people who “guide” their spiritual lives, but really, only Paul was their “father” he cares about them more than their guides. This is a transition verse that explains both the previous verse and the next verse. It explains that he loves them as children and so his rebuke is not meant to be condemning, but it’s meant to be exhorting. It’s meant not to push them down, but to help them up. It’s transitioning into the next verse (16) because verse sixteen explains how their relation to each other should influence their actions. He calls them to imitate him because they are his spiritual children. Most children imitate their parents, he is an example of a godly spiritual father and he wants them to be a godly spiritual person just as he is, by God’s grace.

1Co 4:17  That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.

Paul Sent Timothy to the Corinthians because as much as we think we remember things, we are a drifting people, our habits, our likes, everything we do drifts with the waves of life. Paul knew that some of them had drifted from what he had taught them. Timothy was Paul’s representation, Timothy acted as Paul did, he knew what Paul knew, at least most of it. Therefore, Paul sent Timothy to them to remind them how they ought to act and how they ought to live. Moreover, Paul taught the SAME thing everywhere he went, he taught the gospel and the simplicity of it, and taught them how they ought to live, he didn't change it up everywhere he went, and he stayed consistent. We also ought to stay consistent because the gospel is consistent, not that we can't grow, we have infinite room to grow. However, we need to stay true to Christ. We need to be careful not to drift as most people do, we need to be careful not to drift as the Corinthians did. The real question Heb 2:1-3  Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.  (2)  For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution,  (3)  how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, The Bible is clear what happens to those who do not stay with their faith to the end. If you pray a prayer and think that that’s your magic ticket to heaven, you are absolutely wrong, because if there is not a change in your life, you are in danger of Christ saying he never knew you. Mat 7:22-23  On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' (23)  And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'. Here in Galatians tells us how we should live. Gal 5:24-26  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  (25)  If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.  Those that are saved will have fruit from the Spirit, they will have, as it says here, crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Do not become lazy in your faith, do not let it slip from your fingers. Do not become complacent in your spiritual life or in living for Christ.

1Co 4:18  Some are arrogant, as though I were not coming to you.

Some people clearly thought that Paul wouldn't come back to them because he was “scared” and “afraid” of those that thought they were so powerful. This is the same issue that is at work in our churches today, there are people that act as if Christ is not coming back, and people are acting as if THEY are more authoritative on scripture than scripture itself is. There are people who are trying to change God into something much less than he is, and raise people to much more than they are. The Pope is being raised up as godlike, and even some evangelical pastors are raised up as almost godlike and their word is taken as the gospel truth and people don’t even check the facts against scripture, which is the ONLY source of truth. Christ said this Mat 24:37-38  For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (38)  For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, For we need to be ready for Christ to return as he promised, we can’t be like those in Corinth and doubt the return, they doubted the return of Paul, sometimes we doubt the return of Christ, sometimes we weary like the disciples in the garden, yet we need to stay vigilant. 1Pe 5:8-9  Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  (9)  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. The easiest thing for Satan, is when the Christians are lazy and do not fight with the zeal that we get from the power of Christ.

1Co 4:19-20  But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power.  (20)  For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.
Paul lets them know that he plans on going back to Corinth, and as soon as he can as long as the Lord wills that it is to be. He also tells them that he will find out what they are talking about, but more importantly, he will test their power, he will test them to see if what they are teaching is true and if they have the power of the Holy Spirit.  Because, what they say doesn't matter if they do not have the spiritual power to back it up. The kingdom of God doesn't consist of empty talk, but it consists of true power given by God.

1Co 4:21  What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?

He then asks a simple question: Do you want me to come with discipline or with gentle friendship? The people were straying away from the gospel and this was his warning that they were following false teachers, if they didn't straighten up themselves, he would have to come with discipline and straighten them out. This is also a warning to us, although not spoken by Paul, God speaks this to us when we stray, if we don’t go back to him, we will be disciplined out of love, Heb 12:5-11  And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him.  (6)  For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives."  (7)  It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?  (8)  If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.  (9)  Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?  (10)  For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.  (11)  For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.  Discipline is not a bad thing, it is painful though, and if we act in righteousness, God doesn't need to discipline us. The Old Testament is full of God disciplining his people many times and each time it causes his people to come back to Him. Today, many of us don’t want to endure God’s discipline, this is completely wrong, we need to endure discipline and take it to heart for the sake of righteousness. Moreover, we need to identify when we are being disciplined because if we are to have a heart for God we cannot ignore discipline. Our attitude should be like that of David: Psa 94:12  Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O LORD, and whom you teach out of your law, David realized that discipline is a good thing when we stray away, for if we aren't being disciplined, do we truly have a father that loves us? No, it very well could mean that our father is Satan if we are not being disciplined for our wrongdoings. 1Jn 3:10  By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. This doesn't mean that if you sin, you are a child of the devil, it means that those who continually practice sin are children of the devil, moreover, if you are a child of God and you continually sin, he WILL discipline you as he did the children of Israel. 

In conclusion, we need to be wary, we need to be diligent, we need to accept discipline, and we need to be ready. We need to be wary of teachers teaching things that are false, 2Pe 2:1-2  But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.  (2)  And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. There will be false teachers and they will be popular, but they will bring destruction upon the church and upon the individuals that listen to them and follow them. We need to be diligent in our salvation, we need to be guarding our salvation Php 2:12  Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, We need to be careful not to drift, not to fall away, we need to remain steady and consistent within our faith, because if we don't, we WILL fall away and we WILL either be found to not be followers of Christ, or we will be disciplined by him. We also need to accept discipline from God, because He tells us that it is an extension of His love and so we need to use it to adopt change. We also need to be ready for Christ to come back, in our personal salvation and in the spreading of his word. In the end, we need to continue to focus on Christ and live for Him and for His glory every minute of every day.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Fate of Paul, and of Course, You!


1 Cor. 4:6-13 "I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.  (7)  For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?  (8)  Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you!  (9)  For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men.  (10)  We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute.  (11)  To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless,  (12)  and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure;  (13)  when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things."




Paul and the Apostles were put here for a reason, and that reason was to glorify God and spread the Gospel. The reason they were here is the same reason we are here. Paul challenges the Corinthians in their thinking and their division in regard to the purpose of the Apostles and, ultimately, of the Corinthians. Paul also gives us a view of what he and the Apostles were going through for the sake of Christ. 

1 Cor. 4:6 "I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another."

Paul just finished giving a bunch of analogies of the Apostles. It starts with framing as an analogy, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” He then says that the apostles are “fellow workers” with God, but without God, there would be no growth. Then, he uses a building analogy: “like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation and someone else is building upon it” and only Christ can be the foundation. It doesn’t matter if they follow Paul or Cephas or Apollos because, in the end, they are all builders who, by God’s grace, were given skills that allowed them to build. His third analogy, is that of a steward. They are God’s stewards in regard to the Gospel. The Apostles all shared each of those. Each of them planted, each of them watered, each of them built, and each of them are stewards of the mysteries of God. Therefore, you can’t say one is better than the other. It means that all are important and all are servants of God, called by Him with an equal importance within His kingdom. The same can be true of today. Each one called by God is important, and it doesn’t matter what preacher you listen to as long as they are of God. There are heretics and those that speak nothing but lies, and of course, they should not be listened to and should be shunned. However, if you have two people who are preaching the truth, it doesn’t matter which you follow. We can’t let denomination or teacher segregate us, as long as the truth is being taught and God is being glorified. Because we all belong to Christ, and therefore to each other. We need to be unified for the cause of Christ so that those around us might see the common ground of Christ as our Savior.


1 Cor. 4:7  "For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?"


The Corinthians were given all of the Apostles, and many other things. But instead of being grateful for all the things God gave them, they boasted as if they were superior Christians, as if it was their own actions that caused them to receive it. There isn’t anything inherently different in them than in other Christ follower, for all of them have been given everything good by God.  It really goes back to chapter one where Paul says 1 Cor. 1:26-31  "For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.  (27)  But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;  (28)  God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,  (29)  so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.  (30)  And because of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,  (31)  so that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." It is clear that Paul is reminding them that there is absolutely nothing to be proud of unless it is God and His amazing works. Not many Christians were wise, not many were powerful or rich. The fact is, not many people that are true believers are “smart,” “rich,” or “powerful” because with all of those things comes a glaring sin that leads to death, and that is pride. A prideful person cannot enter heaven. (I’m not saying that those that are saved won’t ever “have pride” or “be prideful,” but rather that the person who lives on of his pride rather than Christ cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.)


1 Cor. 4:8  "Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you!"


Paul is clearly being sarcastic and even being mocking towards them by saying that they already have all that they want and that they have become rich. I believe this is in a spiritual sense as much as a physical sense. That they are already rich in the Spirit, and they have all of the Spirit that they could ever want. This goes back to them being prideful about who they follow, and to Paul’s point that there is nothing that they have that they didn’t receive. It goes back to their boasting spirit. When it says “without use you have become kings” it is saying “you think you’ve reached the absolute climax of the spiritual journey;" there is nothing else to rise to, and nowhere else to go.
Paul goes on to say that he wishes that they did reign so that he might share the rule with them. There are a couple interpretations of this, one is that this is still sarcastic and he is saying “hey, if you were kings, I would finally be able to have protection and I would be able to rule with you.” The other is that he dropped being sarcastic and truly wishes that they ruled either in the millennial kingdom, or that they were really as spiritual and blessed as they think they are. I tend to believe that he is saying that he wishes that they were in the millennial kingdom. The fact is, we as believers will reign in that 1000 year kingdom. Rev. 20:4a "Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed." It says here in 1 Cor. 6:2  “Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?” (in that chapter it talks about disputes between believers, and Paul tells them not to go to the civil authorities, but go to the church for mediation and judgment within the church). And it says in 2 Tim. 2:12 “if we endure, we will also reign with Him; if we deny Him, he also will deny us.” This indicates that we will rule with Christ during the 1000 year reign. Which is why I believe that Paul is truly wishing that it were the beginning of the millennial kingdom so that all of the saints could rule together.


1 Cor. 4:9  "For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men."


There is some debate as to if Paul was still being ironic in this passage, some say that yes, he was still being sarcastic and using irony to prove a point. Yet, others believe he is being serious in this part of the passage. At first reading, it might seem that he is being sarcastic, but at a deeper reading, I don’t think he is being sarcastic. This is because if you read the fate of the Apostles, especially Paul, he was hated everywhere, he was sentenced to death several times, he was whipped, and put on show for his punishment almost everywhere he went.  All of the Apostles were martyred except for John, who was exiled.


1 Cor. 4:10  "We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute."


This is clearly the Apostle Paul using clear sarcasm and irony. It may be that some saw the Apostles as fools, but in Christ’s eyes, they were the wise, and the Corinthians were definitely not the wisest on earth. The Apostles were very strong, they endured many things, while the Corinthians lived in relative ease. The Apostles were regarded in disrepute in a lot of places they went, but not before the church of God, they were seen as wise, and the building blocks on which God will build His church.


1 Cor. 4:11-13  "To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless,  (12)  and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure;  (13)  when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things."



Paul switches yet again in his tone. Here, he isn’t being sarcastic anymore. The Apostles were hungry and thirsty, poorly dressed, homeless; they had to labor for their own food. Moreover, Paul explains how they react to things. When they were cursed, they blessed, when they were persecuted, they kept going, when slandered, they still plead with their attackers. They were like Christ; they acted as He did. Moreover, in social standing, and in the eyes of the authorities, and the culture, they were scum,  people were either indifferent, or they hated them. Neither would be pleasant, yet the Apostles still did what Christ had commissioned them to do. They endured all things for Christ’s name. James 1:2 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,” James 1:12 “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.” It is clear that we need to stand trials because we are believers and we are to stand with Christ, not just in His blessings but in His sufferings. As it says here: 2 Cor. 1:5-6  "For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.  (6)  If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer."  We have been put here on earth, we have the chance of salvation, but if we sign up for salvation, we are also truly signing up for suffering. The word “suffer” is used 32 times in the New Testament. None of the uses have a negative connotation except in first Peter. 1 Peter 4:15  "But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler." But Peter goes on to say: 1 Peter 4:16  "Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name." The Bible is clear that we should expect to suffer for Christ, and we should expect to be ridiculed for our faith. If we aren’t suffering, then we should be worried. If we aren’t being tested, we should be concerned, and if we have an easy life, we should beware. 


In conclusion, we as Christians should be prepared to suffer, we should be prepared for trials and we should be prepared to endure all things for the sake of Christ and His love. We need to rejoice in our suffering and our trials: James 1:2 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.”  We do so because in the end we will receive the crown of life, and we will receive commendation from Christ for our service. Moreover, if you are  undergoing a trial or suffering for the name of Christ, keep going, stay faithful and in the end, Christ will be glorified. This is what we signed up for when we decided to follow Christ. We need to remember that, and we need to lean on Christ to make it though. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Status of Paul, and You!

When we are conscripted into the ranks of Christianity, what is our status? How are we to act? What is our "job?" When we are saved, we want to serve God, we want to show Him our appreciation, and we want to show our love for Him.

1 Cor. 4:1  "This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God."

Paul, speaks again of the apostles and leaders within Christian circles of the day. In the previous few chapters he warns against following man rather than God. 1 Cor. 1:12-13 "What I mean is that each one of you says, 'I follow Paul,' or 'I follow Apollos,' or 'I follow Cephas,' or 'I follow Christ.'  (13)  Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?" So moving on from that discussion, he talks about how we should regard the apostles. He says that we should regard them as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. The word “servant” actually speaks of one who is a subordinate, yet is also above others. An example would be an officer: they are teachers, shepherds (pastors), and they lead the flock under the direction of God. In the Parable of the Talents in Mathew 25, God gives different servants a different number of talents. Through this, He shows that those servants have a responsibility to work with it and do their best to multiply it. Overseers, or elders, are also stewards Titus 1:7 "For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain." It goes on to say in verse nine:he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine… God’s roles for His stewards are various, meaning that His stewards and servants are all people who are His children.  We have all been given His mysteries, and it’s our job to protect sound doctrine, and to be able to teach it, not only to believers, but to unbelievers, too. One of the mysteries of God is shown here: Eph. 3:6 "This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel."   This is one of the “mysteries” of God. These mysteries of God are the mysteries of the Gospel. Through that you can conclude that our job it to guard the integrity of the Gospel, and (as the parable of the talents shows) we are to be multiply it. (This does not mean adding to the Gospel, but that it’s our job to use the Gospel and to spread it, and thus, it shall multiply.)

1 Cor. 4:2 "Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful."

Speaking again of the apostles, Paul talks about how their duties should be performed, and really, it explains why it’s not for human praise, but because they are stewards. They have been tasked by somebody above them,to do a job. A steward is an overseer or a manager. The apostles were overseers of the Gospel and of the church. They are to be found faithful, or trustworthy, meaning if one does not perform his duties properly and honestly, he won’t be a steward very long, or his stewardship will be limited. It’s a requirement for stewards that they are found honest and trustworthy and faithful. Joseph, back in Exodus 39, was placed as an overseer of Potiphar’s household. Joseph says: “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, hand he has put everything he has in my charge.” As we can see, this is no menial place. Being an overseer is a great responsibility, for if something goes wrong, or you mess up. It’s going to be your responsibility, not anybody else’s. I can’t emphasis enough how great of a responsibility this is. Luk. 17:2  "It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin." The responsibility for the apostles and the teachers is great, in fact, it says that if somebody leads a little one to sin, it would be better for them to die. Moreover, if we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, how much more should we be fearful and careful that we guard doctrine, that we seek truth, and that we teach the truth?

1 Cor. 4:3-4 "But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself.  (4)  For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me."

Paul is talking here about what he already has been talking about in the previous verses, he says that they should regard them as servants (which I talked about in regard to the notion that one should follow a human being like Paul or Apollos, and how foolish that notion is). We should regard them as servants, and because he believes he is a servant of the living God and nothing else, he takes it as very small when somebody judges him. The word judgement in the original language has an implication that goes with it to mean “investigated” or “scrutinized;” therefore, Paul says that he holds it a very small thing that somebody should investigate him, how well he’s doing, or how close he is to God. The reason being that if he is a servant of God, the only opinion that really matters, is that of God. Moreover, he goes on to say that he doesn’t even judge himself. You might say “Well, he knows how he’s doing, doesn’t he?” Well, the answer is no, he doesn’t. We have a perspective tainted by our self-love, our pride, and our selfishness. As Paul says here: “For I am not aware of anything against myself.” There are sins and there are issues in our walk that we are unaware of, both good and bad. This means that the only one who can truly judge us is God, who is the only one who has a perfect perspective on reality and on our actions.

Paul says he isn’t acquitted of sins just because he doesn’t know they exist, because God still sees them. Although we can often see our mistakes, there are always mistakes and sins in our lives that we are unable to see. David calls them hidden faults. Psa. 19:12-13  "Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.  (13)  Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression." David is clear that there are two kinds of sins: hidden sins and presumptuous sins (willful or arrogant sins). Both are sins, and David asks to be forgiven for them because he knows he can’t discern all of his own sins, but God can.

1 Cor. 4:5  "Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God."


People are quick to say “that guy is in it for himself” (I am also quick to do this). However, we can’t know the internal purposes of the heart, and really, that matters just as much or more than the external actions. The fact of the matter is, until God sheds light on the intentions, we should not pronounce judgment on somebody. Some interesting wording here indicates that right now our deepest intentions are in the dark, but when Christ comes into our hearts it brings light to us. Then, when we are all in judgment  before God, Christ, being light, will expose us completely and there will be no part of us that can’t be examined by men and by God. In that time, we will receive our commendation from God, or our reward. We seek to hear this which is told in Matt. 25:23 “His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'”  We gain a reward for being faithful, however, we also must be careful as is the warning here: 2 John 1:8  "Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward." We need to be careful; we need to be faithful. Moreover, this doesn’t mean that we should not be careful of our actions just because we can’t rightfully judge them. The Holy Spirit resides within us and identifies our sins, and identifies our faults. When identified, we have no excuse not to act on our knowledge of them, because if we truly believe in what Christ has done, we will seek to serve Him with all of our might and all of our worth. If we don’t, we are showing we don’t truly believe in Him and His works. This is clearly seen in Romans: Rom. 6:15-18  "What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!  (16)  Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?  (17)  But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,  (18)  and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness." When we are saved, we are submitting to be servants, friends, and stewards of God. We are supposed to act like it, we are to spread His word, and we are to obey Him, Acts 10:42  "And He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead." This, in context, was in regard to the apostles who ate and drank with Christ. But the commission has been given to us as well as to them. 1 John 5:2-3  "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey His commandments.  (3)  For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome." God is clear on what truly shows that we love Him and shows us how to truly live for Him.


In conclusion, do you regard those in authority in your church as servants of Christ? And do you see yourself as a steward with a dire warning if you do nothing with that responsibility? If you are like the timid, slothful servant, what kind of reception do you expect when you are before God, answering for your actions here on earth? We are called to produce, we are called to serve Him, and we are to proclaim His name to all the nations and to all people. Are you?


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Of the Temple, and of Wisdom

It has been quite a long time since my last blog post. I had some personal things I have needed to work through, but I'm back again. :) 

1 Cor. 3:16-23  "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?  (17)  If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.  (18)  Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.  (19)  For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, 'He catches the wise in their craftiness,'  (20)  and again, 'The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.'  (21)  So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours,  (22)  whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours,  (23)  and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's."


To continue on the series that I was working on going through 1 Corinthians, I will go through my thoughts about 1 Corinthians 3:16-23.
It somewhat seems like a bunch of random thoughts thrown together, however, all Scripture is God-breathed and I did my best to connect the different concepts. However, some of them I struggled to find the connection, therefore I suggest you read the passage and study it on your own (and really the rest of the chapter) to find any context I didn't provide.

1 Cor 3:16 "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?"

It used to be that God resided above the Ark of the Covenant and His presence was always there:
Exod. 25:21-22 "And you shall put the mercy seat on the top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you.  (22)  There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel."
However, now that we have entered into a new covenant and the Holy Spirit resides in us and Christ is our mediator and we have constant access to the Father.
Heb. 9:24  "For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf."  
Christ’s death has given us the Holy Spirit, and wherever God dwells is holy and is a temple of God. The word “dwell” refers to living someplace with permanence. Therefore, the Holy Spirit lives in us and we are his habitation. The fact that He dwells in a place makes it His temple. Now, knowing that we are the temple of God, how are we to live? We are supposed to live pure and holy lives that are representative of the person who lives inside us. We are supposed to let the light of God shine through our lives. For he is a pure and holy God, and if we don’t live that way, it is evidence that the Holy Spirit doesn't live in us.

1 Cor. 3:17 "If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple."

Paul just finished discussing and posing the notion that we are God’s temple, and here he goes on to say what we need to do with that information. It says that if anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. The word “destroyed” means to defile, to ruin, or to spoil. It doesn't necessarily mean the word “destruction” in the sense of a building being completely destroyed, so much as it could mean graffiti, or bringing something unholy into the temple, or vandalism.  God destroyed any who did those things to his temple in the Old Testament. An example is when the Philistines captured the ark and attempted to keep it in their pagan temple. First God destroyed their idol, and then He gave the people of Ashdod tumors, killing some. Therefore, how much more should we be careful of our own bodies, and of the temple of God? I believe this warning is spoken mostly to apply to ourselves, but also others. For we need to respect our bodies, we need to take care of them, we need to try to keep them pure and holy, free from sin, free from all bondage. We also need to keep others who are the temple of God, holy and pure, and we need to respect their bodies and respect them because of the holiness that God gave them through His presence within them.

1 Cor. 3:18-19 "Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.  (19)  For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, 'He catches the wise in their craftiness.'"

Back in chapter one, Paul described those that are chosen by God, and God chooses those that are humble. 1 Cor. 1:26-29 "For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.  (27)  But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; (28) God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, (29) so that no human being might boast in the presence of God." God chooses the foolish, the weak, the low, and the despised to be His servants. In order for us to become His perfect servants, we must become humble, we must acknowledge our own foolishness, and in so doing, we become wise. It is a paradox, yet it’s what God has instituted for us as His perfect plan. We need to realize that although worldly wisdom or knowledge can be useful for surviving here on earth, it doesn't save us, and it can lead us into a prideful state that is very dangerous. As it says in verse 19, the wisdom of the world is folly with God, and it warns in Col. 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. It’s very easy to be taken captive by philosophy and empty deceit which are based in human tradition. An example of this is evolution, those that believe in macro-evolution and try to mix it with the Bible have been taken captive by empty deceit, and they have chosen to believe worldly wisdom over the “foolishness” of the Bible. The Bible is clear about what is true, and yet people try to twist it and say “well that’s just poetry” or they say “that’s not what it really means.” They are trusting scientists that are not believers to interpret the evidence for them without the lens of the Bible and then they take their word for it even if it contradicts what the Bible says. To the world, the Bible is foolish, and if we don’t renounce our worldly wisdom, we will never gain true wisdom for we will be taken captive by empty deceit and philosophy.

1 Cor. 3:20  "and again, 'The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.'"

The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise; He knows what they are thinking (He also knows what we are thinking). It says here that their thoughts are futile. The word means it’s vain - they are pointless thoughts. Why are they pointless? Because they are worldly wisdom, and though “wisdom,” they are worldly which makes them corrupt and also fruitless. An interesting note of this word is that it can be used to indicate idolatry (empty worship) and vanity (somewhat relating to pride in one’s accomplishments, or character). Therefore it leads me to believe that this is also referring to people who take pride in their wisdom (therefore they are an idol to themselves). Although they are “wise,” their wisdom is in vain due to their pride in themselves, and their wisdom will avail nothing. God, as it says in verse 19, will catch the wise in their craftiness.

1 Cor. 3:21-23  "So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours,  (22)  whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours,  (23)  and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's."

Men are flawed and nothing they do on their own will be fruitful or pure or godly. Anything that is good will be from God, not men. Rom. 7:18 "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out." As Paul is clear to tell us, there is nothing good within us, and anything that is “good” is from God, not ourselves. Therefore, they shouldn't put themselves under the banner of “I follow Paul” or “I follow Apollos” or “I follow Cephas” because although they have been made great by God, they are still only His creations, and it’s only to God’s credit that they are to be lifted up.

The phrase “for all things are yours” indicates that the previous statements are important to the following statement. The previous statement shows that men aren't worthy to boast in because their wisdom is folly in God’s eyes. This means that one shouldn't boast in men, because all of God’s creation was given to man. Moreover, we should realize that all of these things are given to us by God. Furthermore, we were given to Christ and Christ was given to God. So all of those things were given to us by God, yet they belong still to God. But we shouldn't boast in them because they are God’s not ours. We should be united because they are given to all of us by God for our benefit. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Foundation and The Fire

1 Cor. 3:10  "According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 
1 Cor. 3:11  "For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 
1 Cor. 3:12  "Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw
1 Cor. 3:13  "each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 
1 Cor. 3:14  "If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 
1 Cor. 3:15  "If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire."

The foundation, the fire, and the reward - these are the three things this passage talks about. It talks about the foundation of Christ, it talks about the testing of our works, and then it talks about what happens after we are tested.

1 Cor. 3:10  "According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it."

Paul was a skilled master builder because of God's grace which was given to him. What he means is that he was an Apostle, as he says in almost all the books he wrote: Rom 1:1  "Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God."  The word "apostle" means "delegate," "ambassador," "officially a commissioner of Christ with Miraculous power." Paul is an apostle, which means he has miraculous power, he is there to represent Christ, directly, here on earth. Think about that; a man whose sole purpose in life was to destroy the church of Christ (before his conversion) - this man's purpose on earth is now to represent, directly, the Person whom he had persecuted with so much zeal. Paul gets his authority from Christ because he is an Apostle. We are to follow his direction because he is a direct representative for God. Moreover, he is one who has the authority from God, directed by the Holy Spirit, to lay the foundation of salvation for people.

Paul didn't lay this foundation with eloquence or with worldly wisdom: 1 Cor. 2:1  "And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 1 Cor. 2:2  "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." The foundation of Christianity is sinners saved by Christ's death. The end. That is the foundation of our faith. Without it, there is NO salvation. On top of that you build other things, such as these:
His resurrection is power over death and therefore sin: Rom. 5:17-18  "For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men." 
Christ is the Son of God: Matt. 26:63-64  "But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to Him, 'I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.'  Jesus said to him, 'You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.'"
This God is the only God: 1 Tim. 1:17  "To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen." 
Another that I'll mention is the Trinity - three Beings who are all one, yet still three. All three were seen in this passage. Matt. 3:16-17  "And when Jesus was baptized, immediately He went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on Him;  and behold, a voice from heaven said, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.'"
These basics are built upon the foundation of Christ's death. On top of these more things are built. This is what Paul is talking about in 1 Cor. 2:6-7  "Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory." and what he talks about here, in  1 Cor. 3:1-2  "But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready."
The wisdom all stems from the foundation of Christ.

1 Cor. 3:11  "For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ."

There is only one foundation; anything else is not a foundation at all.
Matt. 7:24-26  "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand."
Sand is what you build on if you're not building on the rock of Christ. Christ is our foundation and our cornerstone. Isa. 28:16  "therefore thus says the Lord GOD, 'Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: 'Whoever believes will not be in haste.''"
The cornerstone is the stone that the rest of the building is built around. In fact, the rest of the bricks are all placed in the correct position in relation to this cornerstone. Therefore, if Christ is our cornerstone, everything we do should done because of Him, and should be done in relation to Him. If you go to the gas station today, how are you going to treat the cashier? How do you interact with the cashier in relation to Christ? Are you going to be grumpy and thereby misaligned from where Christ would have you? Or will you show some joy because you know where you're going and you know what Christ has done for you?

1 Cor. 3:12-13  "Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done."

This fire is an interesting concept. Fire is used other places by God: with Moses and the burning bush, (Exod. 3:2  "And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed.") in burnt sacrifices, (Lev. 1:9  "but its entrails and its legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall burn all of it on the altar, as a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the LORD.") burning idols, (Deut. 7:25  "The carved images of their gods you shall burn with fire. You shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them or take it for yourselves, lest you be ensnared by it, for it is an abomination to the LORD your God.") in baptism in Christ (Matt. 3:11  "'I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.'") His angels are seen as a flame, (Heb. 1:7  "Of the angels he says, "He makes His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire.") a pillar of fire was used to lead the Israelites, (Exod. 13:21  "And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. Exod. 13:22  "The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.")  fire was used to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:24  "Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven.") it is figuratively used in 1 Peter to represent trials to test our faith, (1 Pet. 1:6  "In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 1 Pet. 1:7  "so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.") in Revelation, Christ's eyes are said to be like a flame of fire, (Rev. 2:18  "'And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: 'The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.''") God is said to be a consuming fire, (Heb. 12:28  "Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, Heb. 12:29  "for our God is a consuming fire.")

Here in 1 Corinthians, it says "for THE Day will disclose it" ("it" being each one's work) and "it will be revealed by fire." It says in Revelation that Christ (whose eyes are like a flame of fire) will sit on the Great White Throne and judge the living and the dead: Rev 20:12  "And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done." He will use His discernment to judge our works and judge our motives; He will test our works and what survives His test will show what we have done here on earth for Him. If we have done all the right things, but had the wrong heart, our works will be consumed. 1Co 4:5a Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. If we have done the right things with the right heart, they shall not be consumed. The only way we can do this is through faith, humility, and through following the Spirit to allow Christ to live through us. 

1 Cor. 3:14  "If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward."

During our judgment we will get a reward for what we have done. 1 Cor. 4:5b "Then each one will receive his commendation from God." This commendation is this Matt. 25:23  "His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'" We are all servants of God, Titus 1:1  "Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness." This means that if we are servants of Christ we have a couple possibilities, either this where it says "well done good and faithful servant" or as it says in verse 26, "you wicked and slothful servant." It's up to you to choose how you serve and what you build on. 



1 Cor. 3:15  "If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire."

Basically, they will not receive the reward obtained by those whose works survived the fire. On top of that, they shall forever know they didn't do as much as they could/should have for Christ. Only as through fire shall they be saved. This means that after our actions have been tested by Christ's discernment, if there is nothing left but you still have the foundation of Christ, you have nothing besides the foundation of Christ; it's as if you came through a fire.