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Tuesday, February 28 2017

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION
Last week we considered the topic “Paul's Reliance upon the Spirit” and that the church (you and I) must rely on the Holy Spirit. We concluded by saying that the Christian life can only be lived successfully in the power and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. And so we must therefore learn to depend on and walk with Him daily. In today’s study we shall be looking at the topic “Foundations for Living.”

A. 1 Corinthians 3:1-4 [AMP] – The Result of Immaturity
However, brothers and sisters, I could not talk to you as to spiritual people, but [only] as to worldly people [dominated by human nature], mere infants [in the new life] in Christ!  I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Even now you are still not ready. You are still worldly [controlled by ordinary impulses, the sinful capacity]. For as long as there is jealousy and strife and discord among you, are you not unspiritual, and are you not walking like ordinary men [unchanged by faith]? For when one of you says, “I am [a disciple] of Paul,” and another, “I am [a disciple] of Apollos,” are you not [proving yourselves unchanged, just] ordinary people?

Paul starts off by rebuking the Corinthians for their carnality and divisions. He pointed out that because they had failed to grow, he could not speak to them as unto spiritual men, but as unto carnal men, as to babes in Christ still under the command of carnal and corrupt affections; evidenced by is jealousy, strife and divisions. The Corinthian church had received some of the first principles of Christianity, but had not grown up to maturity of understanding in them, or of faith and holiness; and yet they were very proud of their wisdom and knowledge. It is very common among those who have little knowledge and understanding to have a great measure of self-conceit.
What other learnings can we draw up from these first four verses?

B. 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 [AMP] – Misdirected Attentions
What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Just servants through whom you believed [in Christ], even as the Lord appointed to each his task. I planted, Apollos watered, but God [all the while] was causing the growth. So neither is the one who plants nor the one who waters anything, but [only] God who causes the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one [in importance and esteem, working toward the same purpose]; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are God’s fellow workers [His servants working together]; you are God’s cultivated field [His garden, His vineyard], God’s building.

Paul then addresses the reason for the strife and division in the church – the idolizing of ministers! He made them realize that the ministers (himself) included were just servants; mere instruments used by the God of all grace. He, by so doing de-emphasized laying importance on ministers but on the Almighty instead! Everyone has their own task (calling). His was to plant, Apollos was to water but growth and fruitfulness is not given to any man but God Himself. He then makes the Corinthian church see that the “planter” and the “waterer” are one. Although they may have their different gifts, these gifts all come from one and the same Spirit. They are fellow-labourers in the same work; employed by one Master, and are in harmony with one another. Care should be taken because they may be set in opposition to each other by contentious party-makers.
He then talks about rewards which does not only apply to “ministers” but to every one of us! Every man shall receive his own reward, according to his own labour. Every one’s own work shall have its own reward. Those that work hardest will fare best. Those that are most faithful shall have the greatest reward.
Note that the work referred to here is not the work of salvation – Christ already did that!
What other learnings can we draw up from these next five verses?

C. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 [AMP] – Building with Care and with the Right Materials
According to the [remarkable] grace of God which was given to me [to prepare me for my task], like a skilful master builder I laid a foundation, and now another is building on it. But each one must be careful how he builds on it, for no one can lay a foundation other than the one which is [already] laid, which is Jesus Christ. But if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will be clearly shown [for what it is]; for the day [of judgment] will disclose it, because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality and character and worth of each person’s work.  If any person’s work which he has built [on this foundation, that is, any outcome of his effort] remains [and survives this test], he will receive a reward. But if any person’s work is burned up [by the test], he will suffer the loss [of his reward]; yet he himself will be saved, but only as [one who has barely escaped] through fire.

Paul kicks this section off by giving the glory to God about his ability of being a skilful master builder. Though he gives himself such a “title”, it is not to gratify his own pride, but to magnify divine grace. He was a wise master-builder, but the grace of God made him such. He then proceeds to advise that great care should be employed, not only to lay a sure and right foundation, but to erect a regular building upon it. Nothing must be laid upon it but what the foundation will bear, gold and dirt must not be mingled together. The learning point here is that ministers of Christ should take great care that they do not build their own fantasies or false reasoning on the foundation of divine revelation. What they preach should be the plain doctrine of their Master, or what is perfectly agreeable with it.
He then describes two classes of builders: those who build upon this foundation using gold, silver, and precious stones. These are those who receive and propagate the pure truths of the gospel, who hold nothing but the truth as it is in Jesus, and preach nothing else. They teach the doctrines Jesus taught, in their purity, without any corrupt mixtures, without adding or diminishing. Then Paul refers to others who build with wood, hay, and stubble, on this same foundation; that is, though they adhere to the foundation, they depart from the mind of Christ in many particulars, substitute their own fantasies and inventions but their works will not bear the trial by fire, and will be consumed in it.
What other learnings can we draw up from these next six verses?

D. 1 Corinthians 3:15-23 [AMP] – Purity and True Wisdom
Do you not know and understand that you [the church] are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells [permanently] in you [collectively and individually]? If anyone destroys the temple of God [corrupting it with false doctrine], God will destroy the destroyer; for the temple of God is holy (sacred), and that is what you are.
Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool [discarding his worldly pretensions and acknowledging his lack of wisdom], so that he may become [truly] wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness (absurdity, stupidity) before God; for it is written [in Scripture], “[He is] The one who catches the wise and clever in their craftiness;” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the [humanly] wise, that they are useless.” So let no one boast in men [about their wisdom, or of having this or that one as a leader]. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas (Peter) or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things are yours, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.

Finally, Paul gets really serious with the Corinthians talking about how seriously God expects us to protect our temples! If we destroy our bodies, God will destroy us! Then he prescribes humility, and a modest opinion of themselves, for the remedy of the divisions and contests among them; advising them not to be led away from the truth and simplicity of the gospel by pretenders to science and eloquence, by a show of deep learning, or a flourish of words, by rabbis, orators, or philosophers.
He then addresses being wise; advising that he who “seems to be wise” must become a fool that he may be wise. The way to true wisdom is to de-emphasize our wisdom and be willing to be taught of God. The person who resigns his own understanding, that he may follow the instruction of God, is in the way to true and everlasting wisdom. Ps. 25:9 says: “The meek will he guide in judgment, the meek will he teach his way”
What other learnings can we draw up from these next nine verses?

CONCLUSION
In this chapter, we learnt from Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church how NOT to live. He addressed and condemned carnality and divisions as well as failure to grow!
• As believers we should therefore be governed by the Spirit. Romans 8: 6 says: “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
• We should dwell together in unity because that is where God ordains His blessings. Psalms 133:1&3 says: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! It is like the dew of [Mount] Hermon coming down on the hills of Zion; for there the Lord has commanded the blessing: life forevermore.”
• We should grow and bear fruits. Matt.7:19 says: “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
He also condemned partisan spirit! Praise singers and men pleasers! Ministers must be careful not to encourage such for two reasons:
• They inadvertently cause factions in church! The Bible condemns those who do this. Titus 3:10 says: “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him,”
• They idolize you and place you at risk. Acts 12:22-23 says of Herod: “The people gave him a great ovation, shouting, "It's the voice of a god, not of a man!" Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.”
Paul also talked about rewards based on the way we build on the foundation. If you build upon the right foundation using gold, silver, precious stones, etc. when your work is tried (by a quality, character and worth test) using fire, it will survive this test, and you will receive a reward. But if you build upon the right foundation using wood and hay and stubble, although you will be saved, out of the fire, the flame will consume your work and you will suffer loss. Note that the fire referred to here is not hell fire but it’s symbolical; used as a test of one’s works in determining their reward. So, it is not that he or she shall lose their salvation (because this is a free gift, not a "reward" or wages), because he or she remains still on the foundation. But building on any other foundations apart from the one which is [already] laid, which is Jesus Christ leads to damnation!
Finally, he addresses the issues of purity and true wisdom; advising that we should take good care of our bodies and that to be truly wise, we have to be taught of God!

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 06:46 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, February 10 2017

Contributor: Alex Alajiki

INTRODUCTION

Last week, we continued our study of the book of Corinthians and examined 1 Cor.1:18-21.

We saw the contrast between human and Godly wisdom. The preaching of the cross is foolishness to the world, but it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes.

Since the world has not come to know God through its wisdom, God will make Himself known to some through means which the world regards as foolish. Imagine the saviour of the world was born in a manger and crucified on the cross. 1 Cor.1:27 “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty”

Today, we are looking at the first sixteen verses of chapter two. Paul approached the Corinthians with great humility, both in speech and character. His main focus was the mystery of Christ and His cross.

  1. Paul’s Conduct at His First Coming: 1 Corin.2:1-5

And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Paul came to Corinth at the beginning, preaching to them the gospel of Jesus Christ with humility and simplicity. It was through his simplistic message and methods that the Corinthians, once pagans, became saints. Paul now reminds them of his message and manner when he first came to them which resulted in their salvation. He needed to remind them because they were now exposed to other teachers trying to complicate the simplicity of the gospel. Paul came to Corinth with a clear sense of his own limitations, knowing that the salvation and sanctification of men could only be accomplished by the miraculous intervention of God. Vs 3 “I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling”.

Paul was not interested in making disciples for himself but for Christ. If men were converted because of Paul’s wisdom and because of his persuasive skills, they could then be led astray by anyone who was wiser and more persuasive. Paul’s desire was that men would place their faith in God and in His power rather than in men’s wisdom (verse 5).

  1. God’s Wisdom and the Wisdom of This Age: 1 Corin.2:6-8

However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Paul’s words here help us to distinguish between God’s wisdom and worldly wisdom. God’s wisdom was revealed in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ at His first coming, but the world rejected Him and the wisdom He manifested (1 Cor.1:24). The wisdom of God is “eternal wisdom,” a wisdom established in eternity past. The wisdom of this world is “empirical wisdom,” based upon that which can be seen and heard and touched. The wisdom of God is otherwise. It is not seen by the naked eye, it cannot be heard with the ears, it cannot be fathomed by the natural mind. It surpasses even man’s imagination. Most people in the present age would not recognise this wisdom. That is why Paul called this wisdom a mystery, in other words, a secret. The mystery is that, at a future time, God has a plan to share his glory with all his people (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; Colossians 1:26-27).

Paul, in Athens, had an opportunity to speak at one of the greatest universities in the ancient world. He tried hard to explain about God and about Christ in a manner that the people there could understand. However, most of those people did not believe; they even started to laugh at Paul (Acts 17:16-34). The most intelligent people in the world could not understand things that every Christian can know.

  1. How God’s Wisdom is Revealed; 1 Cor.2:9-13

But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man

The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”

God has great plans for those who love Him and this plans are beyond the reach of the enemy (Jer.29:11). But a person’s mind does not know about these things unless God’s Spirit shows them to that person. That should not surprise us; one person does not know another person’s secrets. A person does know his own secrets. Deep inside him, in his spirit, that person knows his own desires, plans and intentions.

God has desires, plans and intentions for the people who love him. God does not allow everyone to know about these things; they are his secret (2:7). But God’s plans are not secrets for the people who love God. That is because God has given his Holy Spirit to them. And the Holy Spirit shows them what God is doing. In the future they will share his glory (honour and greatness), but already they share his Spirit (John 16:13).

It is not necessary to have great knowledge or intelligence in order to become a Christian. But it is essential that each Christian should allow the Holy Spirit to teach him. 1 John 2:20 “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.”

  1. Spiritual Insight; 1 Cor.2:14-16

“But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”

Paul contrasts two different kinds of people here; The Natural man and The Spiritual man.

The first kind of person has life that comes from this world (2:14). He is not allowing God’s Holy Spirit to teach him in the manner that Paul described in 1 Corinthians 2:13. Instead, this person follows the opinions and attitudes that he has learned from this world. As we saw in 1 Corinthians 2:12, those opinions and attitudes really come from the devil. So the things that the Holy Spirit wants to teach seem foolish to this person.

The second kind of person has life that comes from the Holy Spirit (2:15). God teaches this person by means of the Holy Spirit. So, this person can understand what God is doing (2:9-10). And this person even does things by the power of the Holy Spirit that other people cannot understand. That is possible because the Holy Spirit guides this person (John 3:8; Acts 1:8, Rom.8:14).

Paul’s question in vs 16 comes from Isaiah 40:13. ‘Who knows God’s thoughts?’ he asks. We expect the answer ‘nobody’. But that is not Paul’s answer. Only someone who has God’s Spirit can understands God’s thoughts (2:11). But Christ has given his Holy Spirit to his people (John 16:5-15). So now, they think as Christ thinks. In other words, they have the mind of Christ.

Conclusion: The Christian life can only be lived successfully in the power and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. We must learn to depend on and walk with Him daily.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 05:28 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, February 10 2017

Contributor: Leye Olayiwola

  1. The Cross Has No Status To The Lost

In verses 18-25, Paul reminds the church that those who are status seekers will never gain recognition and status from the unbelieving world. The gospel does not appeal to human pride; it cannot even co-exist with it. The gospel informs us that there is only one thing to do with pride—crucify it. The “word of the cross,” that is, the gospel, is not a status symbol to unbelievers; it is an offense. For those of us who “are being saved,” the gospel is the power of God. For the unbeliever, the cross is a shame; for the Christian, the cross is glorious.  Let us see Romans 1:16 also.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”

  1. Godly Wisdom vs Human Wisdom

The conflict between divine wisdom and power and the secular world’s view of the matters of the cross should come as no surprise. Throughout history God has worked in ways that the world would never have imagined or believed. God’s purpose in history is not to glorify man but to glorify Himself by demonstrating the foolishness of man’s wisdom. The text which Paul cites in verse 19 is one indication of God’s intention of proving man’s wisdom to be folly.

“Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvellous work among this people, a marvellous work and a wonder; For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, And the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden.” Isaiah 29:14

This verse shows that God has always worked in a way that is contrary to human wisdom. The following questions and acts of God are proofs.

  1. Would human wisdom have led the Israelites to be trapped between the Red Sea and the on-coming Egyptian army?
  2. Would human wisdom have instructed the people of God to use their power to help the weak, rather than to use their power to take advantage of the weak?
  3. Would human wisdom have purposed to save Gentiles through the rejection and failure of the Jews, rather than through their triumph?
  4. Would human wisdom have declared that the coming Messiah was to be born of a virgin?
  5. Would human wisdom have declared that the only way out of lack is through giving?

No wonder, a man of faith will still be joyful even in the face of adversity. Why?

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”Romans 8:28

Does the world think that God’s wisdom is foolish? God has set about a course that will prove man’s wisdom to be foolish. God will use foolishness to prove the ungodly to be fools. Since the world has not come to know God through its wisdom, God will make Himself known to some through means which the world regards as foolish. God has chosen the cross of Christ as the means whereby men may be saved from their sins. Have you ever seen the look on the face of an unbeliever when you tell him or her that Christ died and took their sin away over 2000 years ago? You sound weird and crazy.

Jews and Gentiles may agree on few things, but they mutually hold that the cross of Christ is foolish. The Jews are into power through signs and wonders. All through our Lord’s life, they wanted to see signs and wonders. They expected their Messiah to be a wonder worker, here to do their bidding. Even the disciples bought into this frame of mind, so that Peter rebuked the Lord for speaking of His cross (Matthew 16). The Gentiles were into a different kind of power—mind power, human wisdom. They took pride in following great intellectual thinkers or powerful orators. The message of a humble carpenter’s son, who died as a common criminal on a Roman cross, was not that which the Gentiles sought.

There are two radically different views of the same gospel. The view of the unbeliever, whether Jew or Gentile, is that the gospel is foolish and weak. The view of the Christian is that the gospel is the wisdom and the power of God. Even that which seems to the unbelieving eye to be God’s weakness and foolishness proves in the end to cause man’s wisdom and power to pale in insignificance.

  1. Those Saved Have No Status Either

“Look at yourselves,” Paul challenges the Corinthians. Granting the possibility of a few exceptions, Paul reminds the Corinthians of the rule. By and large, the church is not composed of the wise, the mighty, or the noble, when judged by fleshly (unbelieving) standards (verse 26). Instead, God has chosen to save the foolish, the weak, and the base and despised, the “nobodies”. The word “chosen” in verse 27 is very significant, because it underscores that God chose those on the lowest rung of the social ladder. It was not that these were all that would come to God; it is that these are those whom God ordained to come to Him. It was not that God could do no better; it was that God chose not to do better. Are you not glad you were chosen?

“Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,”Ephesians 1:4

Following the principle set down in verse 19, Paul explains why God selected the undesirables of this world for salvation. God has purposed to nullify the wisdom of the wise and to humble the proud. He has chosen to do so by employing means and people that the world rejects as weak and foolish and worthless. God chose the foolish things of this world to shame the wise, the weak things of this world to shame the strong, the base and despised things to humble that which is highly esteemed (verses 27-28).

God has not done this because the weak and foolish are any better than the powerful and the proud. He has set aside the highly regarded and employed those things which are disdained so that all the glory might come to Himself and not to mere men. This is the concluding point Paul makes in verses 29-31. If God were to achieve His purposes through the worldly wise and powerful, we would be inclined to give the praise and glory to the men He has used rather than to God.

In Conclusion

How often, when men seek to evangelize the lost, or when they attempt to motivate Christians (and unbelievers) to give or to serve, do they appeal to human pride? They glorify certain tasks and positions, so that people will fill them for that glory. They publicly laud the gifts or service of people, so that they will be proud of their contribution. Gospel thinking requires us to do just the opposite. We must cease trusting in our goodness, in our works or efforts, in our worthiness, and cast ourselves on the sinless Son of God who died in our place, bearing the penalty for our sin, and giving to us His righteousness as a free gift. The gospel which saves is the gospel which humbles, and that humbling gospel is the basis for Christian unity and harmony.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 05:26 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, February 10 2017

Contributor: Alex Alajiki

INTRODUCTION

Last week, we started with the introduction of the books of 1&2 Corinthians. 1 Corinthians was written by Paul in respond to the moral failures of the Corinthian Church. He provided an important model on how the church should handle the problem of sin and other important issues which was misunderstood by the Church. We must have it behind our mind, as we progress in this studies, that the Corinthian Church was a gentile (Non Jewish) Church.

Today, we are looking at the first seventeen verses of chapter one. Paul started with salutation to the Church, followed by commending them that they came short in no spiritual gifts. He then addressed the issue of division in the Church.

  1. Greeting: 1 Corin.1:1-3

Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul, by the will of God, was the apostle to the gentiles (Non-Jews) and brought the gospel to Corinth (Acts 18:1-8,11). The Church in Corinth was the fruit of his ministry (1 Corin. 9:2;             2 Corin. 3:1-4). He wrote with full authority. His words were not to be ignored.

Paul defined the Church as;

(a) “those who are sanctified (Made Pure) in Christ Jesus, called to be saints (Holy),”

(b) “all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”

We clearly see that the Church consist of those who are sanctified in Christ (Blood washed) and call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Pray in the name of Jesus our Lord). This is the best way to define those who are members of the Church of Christ and not just members of a local assembly.

Paul emphasised their connection with other Christians, both in Corinth and elsewhere. Some groups in Corinth were acting as if they were the only real Christians (Corin.1:11-12, 14:36).

Paul’s epistle, though addressed to the saints at Corinth, was also written to the church at large (all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours). That is, Paul’s teaching to the saints at Corinth is just as applicable and just as authoritative for the church at Philippi, Ephesus, London, Dublin, Lagos and anywhere in the world (1 Corin. 4:16-17).

  1. Spiritual Gifts at Corinth: 1 Corin.1:4-9

I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, 5 that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

The normal expectation, based on the reports Paul got about the Church, will be to start with rebuke, but Paul was kind to them and he wrote to them in a gentle manner. He knew that they had not been Christians for a long time. Here is a church that has begun to listen to false teachers and who is challenging Paul’s authority. Here is a church which condones immorality and “unconditionally accepts” a man whose sin shocks the unbelieving pagans of that city. Here is a church whose personal conflicts are being aired out before unbelieving eyes in secular courts. How can Paul possibly give thanks?

This should be our attitude toward baby Christians. We should correct them in love (Gal.6:1 “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”)

God’s grace to the saints in Corinth and everywhere was boundless. He enriched them in everything. They were enriched in all speech and all knowledge. The Corinthians had no critical need for which God had not made provision through the apostolic preaching of Christ. God had already provided all that was necessary for “life and godliness” in Christ (2 Pet.1:2-4). No gift was lacking in the church. God had provided just the right gifts for the growth and maturity and ministry of the saints in Corinth. If the church at Corinth was failing, it was not due to any failure on God’s part to provide for their needs, but rather a failure on their part to appropriate these means.

God had begun to do his work in their lives. And Paul was confident that he could trust God to complete that work (Phil. 1:6). God had given them a real relationship with Christ.

  1. Arguments about who leads the church; 1 Cor.1:10-12

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.”

There are problems of division in the church which are wide spread and widely known. The quarrels and dissension are due to a party spirit on divisions which focus on personalities—individuals with which certain members have identified—to the exclusion of others. Every one of Paul’s examples is of a person who identifies with a particular person, and thus who stands aloof from others. Each says, “I am of Paul or of Apollos or Cephas or Christ.”

The problem as it is introduced here is a “follower problem” rather than a “leader problem,”

The root problem underlying the Corinthian quarrels and factions is pride. We see this clearly stated by Paul in 1 Corin.4:6. Paul reminded the people in all these groups that Christians belong to Christ. It was Christ who died to save them.

  1. Paul’s Correction for Corinthian Conflicts; Cor.1:13-17

Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. 16 Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.

Paul takes us to the core question: Is salvation about the work of men or about the work of Jesus Christ? All four of the groups mentioned by Paul in verse 12 were man-centred. The fourth group was a little more subtle about it, but all of these individuals took pride in themselves, based upon their perceived allegiance. Paul wants to make the point clear and unmistakable: Our salvation is totally about Christ’s work. Those who are man-centred need to be reminded of the gospel and of their salvation, to recall that salvation is Christ-centred. Christ has not been divided, so how can His body, the church, be divided? It was not Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or any other mere man who died on the cross of Calvary; it was Christ whose shed blood cleansed us from all sin.

Conclusion: Jesus assigned each of us to specific assignments in the body like Paul, Apollos and any of the leaders in the Church. They are not to be hero worshiped or become sources of division

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 05:02 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, February 10 2017

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION

This year we will be studying the two “official” letters written by the Apostle Paul to the church at Corinth. Although the Corinthian letters were addressed to a single church and were concerned primarily with local problems existing at that time, they should be of special interest to you and I as seekers of truth and those who want to please the Father.

Paul wrote the 2 letters to the Corinthian church popularly known as 1 & 2 Corinthians.

1 CORINTHIANS

Paul’s authorship of the first epistle is widely accepted in the scholarly community, though it was not the first letter Paul wrote to the Corinthian people (see 1 Corinthians 5:9). We know that the Corinthians misunderstood an earlier letter from Paul (5:10–11), though that letter has not survived. Therefore, it is Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians that we know as 1 Corinthians—the first letter to the Corinthians that God inspired.

Four years prior to writing the letter we know as 1 Corinthians, the apostle had spent eighteen months in Corinth, so he was intimately familiar with the church and many of its congregants. The recipients of the letter must have understood the letter’s significance, not only to their own circumstances but for the church worldwide. In AD 95, Clement, the bishop of Rome, wrote a letter of his own to the Corinthians in which he invoked the authority of Paul’s instruction in 1 Corinthians. Only a few decades after its origin, this letter to the Corinthians had travelled outside of Corinth and was considered authoritative beyond its initial Corinthian context.

Paul had been in Ephesus for more than two years on his third missionary journey when he received a disturbing report of quarrelling within the Corinthian church, a report he received from people associated with one of its members, Chloe (1 Corinthians 1:11). The church he had founded so recently (Acts 18:1–17) had already developed deep divisions, a situation that required immediate action. Paul penned his letter in AD 55, just as he was planning to leave Ephesus for Macedonia (1 Corinthians 16:5–8).

WHY THIS LETTER IS IMPORTANT TO US

First Corinthians contains a frank discussion of the church and the issues that impacted real people in the first century. The Corinthian church was corroded with sin on a variety of fronts, so Paul provided an important model for how the church should handle the problem of sin in its midst. Rather than turn a blind eye toward relational division and all kinds of immorality, he addressed the problems head on. In his bold call to purity within the Corinthian church, Paul made it clear that he was willing to risk the good opinion of some in order to help cleanse the sin that tainted the church.

First Corinthians addresses reports that Paul received from Chloe’s household, as well as a letter he received from the church itself (1 Corinthians 7:1). In this letter to the church at Corinth, Paul covered a number of different issues related to both life and doctrine: divisions and quarrels, sexual immorality, lawsuits among believers, marriage and singleness, freedom in Christ, order in worship, the significance of the Lord’s Supper, and the right use of spiritual gifts; he also included a profound teaching on the resurrection.

The line of thought that joins these topics together was Paul’s emphasis on Christian conduct in the local church. The apostle expected that Christian people would live according to Christian ideals, or as he told them, “You have been bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body” (6:20).

PRACTICAL APPLICATION

Corinth was a large, international metropolis, filled with people from different backgrounds. Idol worship to gods such as Aphrodite was particularly prominent in the city, though Corinth contained numerous temptations far beyond her temples. In this sense, Corinth was very much like a modern urban area, containing unending opportunities to engage in sinful behaviour without any apparent consequences.

Such a community clearly had a negative influence on the Corinthian church. But notice that Paul’s instruction to the believers was not to retreat from their city. This was not Paul’s vision for the church then or now. Instead, he directed us to live out our commitment to Christ ever more faithfully in the midst of nonbelievers. Paul expected that we Christians would shine our light into the dark places of their world by worshiping in a unified community that was accountable to one another. He expected that we would settle our problems internally, that we would encourage one another in the pursuit of purity, and that we would strive together by holding tightly to the hope of

our bodily resurrection to come.

2 CORINTHIANS

Paul wrote 2 Corinthians at a vulnerable time in his life. He had learned that the church at Corinth was struggling, and he sought to take action to preserve the unity of that local body of believers. The letter is riddled with personal comments as Paul revealed details about the persecution he had suffered for the sake of Christ as well as about a mysterious thorn in the flesh that kept him reliant on God.

After sending Timothy off from Ephesus to deliver the letter of 1 Corinthians, Paul, in his concern for the church, made a quick visit of his own to Corinth. Afterward, Paul returned to his work in Ephesus, where he wrote a sorrowful letter to the Corinthians that has not been preserved (see 2 Corinthians 2:1–11; 7:8). Paul then departed for Macedonia. Once there, he received a good report from Titus regarding the Corinthians (7:13), which led Paul to write a fourth letter to them, titled “2 Corinthians” in the Bible. The apostle composed this letter near the end of AD 56, possibly in the city of Philippi.

WHY THIS LETTER IS IMPORTANT TO US

This letter offers a great deal of personal insight into Paul’s life that is not present in any other New Testament book. However, in chapters 8 and 9, his letter also clearly reveals God’s plan for His people to give to others. Paul first focused on the generous example of the Macedonian churches, largely Gentile, who gave to their Jewish Christian brothers and sisters in Jerusalem. Then he exhorted the Corinthian believers to make donations of their own to the work in Jerusalem. Several realities about Christian giving become clear in these two chapters: Christians give generously according to, and at times beyond, their financial abilities; Christians give their money across racial and national lines; Christians who make commitments to give should follow through with those promises; and Christians should give cheerfully, rather than under compulsion.

The church at Corinth had recently been struggling with divisions and quarrels. But for a majority of the believers, the problem had been solved by the time Paul wrote 2 Corinthians. Many had repented of their sinful ways and had come back into unity with one another and with the leadership of Paul.

However, Paul still felt the need to articulate a defence of his apostleship and his message. Some in the church had apparently taken his meekness among them to be a sign of moral weakness or lack of authority (2 Corinthians 10:1–2). These accusations led Paul to defend himself by arguing that he was on the same level of importance as the other apostles, that he had deep knowledge of the Christian faith, that he had suffered profound physical punishment in the name of Christ, and that he had received visions and revelations from God (11:1–12:13).

PRACTICAL APPLICATION

Just as Paul wrote to the Corinthians in the wake of their repentance from divisions and quarrels, the message for today is clear: living in unity requires us to humbly forgive one another and to follow our leaders. Second Corinthians reminds us that even as Christians, we hurt each other and need to forgive those who wrong us (2 Corinthians 2:7). That Paul was willing to exhort the Corinthian believers to forgive those who had fallen away and repented, even as he defended his own apostleship against a vocal opposition, illustrates the apostle’s commitment to this way of life among God’s people.

In what ways do you struggle to forgive others and/or to follow your godly leaders? An overinflated sense of ourselves often leads us to strike out on our own or hold on to our frustration and anger regarding the choices of others. However, just as Paul reminded us of Jesus’s ministry of reconciliation (5:17–19), we must seek to reconcile relationships in which disunity reigns. Look out for the pitfall of disunity with leaders and other believers in your own life while striving to live among all people in humility.

This overview of 1 & 2 CORINTHIANS was culled from Charles Swindoll’s Insight for Living Website

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 04:53 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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