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Sunday, March 26 2017
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
Last week, we continued our study of the book of Corinthians and examined 1 Cor.5:1-13.
Today, we are focusing on how Christian should handle disagreements among themselves. The practice of the brethren in Corinth was to take themselves to court before unbelievers. Paul was strongly against such ungodly practice in the Church.
Paul was distressed and blood might be rushing to his face as he writes, “How dare you go to law before the unrighteous when you have a dispute with a fellow-believer and not go before the church?” There are several things that might have made Paul to be greatly disturbed by the conducts of the Corinthians’ Church;
The people who opposed Paul then were not Christians. However, you might expect the Christians in Corinth to learn something from their experience. But in fact, the Christians were trying to get the support of judges whenever they disagreed with each other.
2) The saints will judge the world & angels: 1 Corin.6:2-3
“Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?"
It is a modern idea to separate the work of judges and rulers. In former times, ‘to judge’ meant ‘to have legal authority’. So rulers acted as judges, and judges acted as rulers.
The angels are the powerful spirits that God created to serve him. But some angels were not loyal to God. These evil angels control the evil forces that now rule this world (Ephesians 6:12).
a) Saints Judging the world; Rev.20:4, Matt.19:28 “And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel”
b) Saint Judging angels(demons); 2 Pet.2:4, Jude 6; “For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment”
Paul assumes they do know this, and their actions are completely contradictory to this theology. If these saints are going to reign with Christ and participate in the judgment of the world, how in the world can these Corinthians turn now to the unsaved for judgment? If the righteous will judge the unrighteous at the second coming, how can the Corinthian Christians now be looking to a heathen to judge the righteous?, why is it that they are not now able to judge in the trivial matters of this life?
3) Arguments between Christians and how to deal with them: 1 Corin.6:4-6
If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? 5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers!
Paul, in the light of our Lord’s teaching in Matt.18:15-20 instructed that if a brother has a dispute or an offense with another brother, this should first be addressed personally and privately, one to one. If this does not bring about reconciliation and harmony, then one or two witnesses must be brought along. If this does not result in repentance and reconciliation, then the matter should be taken to the whole church. If the belligerent party does not heed the admonition of the whole church, the wayward saint must be expelled from the fellowship of the church. 1 Cor.2:14-16 Christians Judge with discernment.
4) The right attitude when Christians disagree: 1 Corin.6:7-8
Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? 8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!
For the competitive Corinthians, life is all about winning and losing. Lawsuits are certainly about winning and losing. Paul makes a most troubling announcement; any Corinthian Christian who takes another believer to court has already lost. Going to court with a fellow-believer is a no-win situation. The better way is to take the loss. Imagine Paul telling us that it is better to be a victim than a victor. Pride prevent many from accepting this view. Following Jesus is a daily journey with your cross (1Pet.2:18-25
5) Ungodly behaviours and the new creature: 1 Corin.6:9-11
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals,[a] nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
The list of ungodly behaviours here is to show that people who choose to live in this manner care only about themselves. People with these behaviours will not make heaven. Salvation is the process of turning from darkness to light, from death to life, from sin to righteousness. Salvation means that we should never consider continuing on in sin, even though God’s grace is greater than all our sin.(Rom.6:1).
When we were saved, we were completely saved, severed from our past identity and given a new identity. We were washed, cleansed of our sin and our guilt. We were sanctified, set apart from sin unto holiness. We were justified, legally declared righteous through the righteousness of Jesus Christ, imputed to us by faith. All of this transpired in the name of Jesus Christ. (2 Cor.5:17).
Thursday, March 16 2017
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
In last week’s study, we concluded the topic “Servants of Christ”. In the study, we looked at Paul’s dealings with those in the wrong in the Corinthian church and learned from and took his example as instructions to us for handling problem people in the Church. In today’s study titled “Confronting sexual immorality in the church.” We will be learning from Paul’s letter how and why the church should confront sexual immorality in the church.
PART 1: REFUSE TO TOLERATE REBELLION IN THE CHURCH (1 CORINTHIANS 5:1-8)
In these first eight verses, Paul presents two problems. There is a problem with an immoral man. But secondly, and even more importantly, there is the failure of the church to take sin seriously. It was a matter of general knowledge, the talk of the town that a man was living (co habiting) with his step mother! And the church did nothing about it! Instead, verse 2 says they responded with pride and disobedience. It is likely that the Corinthians were boasting despite the immorality, rather than because of it. They were boasting in the social status of the man while ignoring his offense.
1. How Paul Handled it
2. What the Corinthian church should have done (Verse 2, 5)
Many people believe that the notion of church discipline is “old fashioned”; some even play the “grace card” What about grace and compassion they ask? Verses 6-13 explains.
3. Why should a church practice church discipline?
So, let’s ask ourselves a tough question (only for self-examination purposes): Are you involved in some sin that, if revealed, would devastate your loved ones and destroy any ministry you have? Okay, maybe you haven’t done what this man did, but are you involved in Internet pornography, or an emotional affair at work, or abuse of prescriptions drugs, or the greedy pursuit of wealth. Whatever it is, stop today! Because sin is spiritual cancer! Get into an accountability relationship. Begin practicing the spiritual disciplines of prayer and Bible study. God will grant you plenty of grace if you come clean with Him and others.
PART 2: REFUSE TO STOP REACHING OUT TO THE WORLD 1 CORINTHIANS 5:9-13
In this section, Paul informs us that church discipline is for believers. It is widely accepted that Paul wrote four different letters to the church at Corinth. In one of his previous letters, the Corinthians apparently misunderstood Paul. They thought he didn’t want them to have any association with any immoral person. Paul clarifies and explains that this ban only pertained to Christians. When sinners sin, they are merely doing what they are supposed to do. Sin is a part of a sinner’s job description! The difference between a sinner and a saint is that a saint doesn’t have to sin anymore.
Paul concludes chapter 5 with two pointed verses: “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. remove the wicked man from among yourselves” (5:12-13). Christians have no jurisdiction over outsiders and have no business usurping a task that belongs to God alone. Those outside are left in God’s hands, and the church has the responsibility to seek to win them over, not to nag, intimidate, or seek to control them. Many of us are trying to clean up the world’s fishbowl when all God asks us to do is fish. Jesus says, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt 4:19). If you’ve been spending your time trying to scour the world, put down your scrub brush, pick up your fishing pole, and go for the fish!
Parts of this study was culled from How to Handle a Scandal by Keith R. Krell.
Monday, March 13 2017
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
Last week, we continued our study of the book of Corinthians and examined 1 Cor.4:1-13.
“It is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy (faithful)” 1 Cor.4:2
Today, we are looking at the concluding verses of this chapter; 1 Cor.4:14-21.
1) Paul’s Fatherly Appeal: 1 Corin.4:14-15
I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. 15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
Paul was not writing to shame the Corinthians over their failures but to rescue or correct them from their errors. Paul is a model of godly leaders. He is a very different leader from those whom some Christians in Corinth are choosing to follow, leading them into doctrinal errors. This is his admonition in Gal. 6:1
In Corinth, the Christians may have considered it difficult to understand why Paul’s opinions still mattered to them. Paul had left Corinth to go elsewhere; they had other teachers now. Paul was saying that they were doing many wrong things in their church.
Paul’s reply was that he still had a responsibility for their church. And that responsibility had its origin in Paul’s love for them. If those other men were teachers, Paul was like their father. He birth the Church.
It was Christ who gave Paul that responsibility and that love. Christ sent Paul to Corinth. And there, Paul was the first person to declare Christ’s message publicly. That was when Paul’s love for the Christians in Corinth began. And that was how the church in Corinth began.
We also need to attend to growing Christians around us with love, forgiveness and fatherly or motherly care. Younger Christians should be able to depend on older Christians for love, non-judgemental correction and Godly care. Gal. 4:19
2) Imitate Me: 1 Corin.4:16-17
“Therefore I urge you, imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.”
Fathers often tell their children to imitate them. Perhaps a child is unsure what to do, or perhaps he is afraid or foolish. So the father tells the child, ‘Copy what I do.’
That is a much better way to teach than just to give instructions. The child sees what the father is doing. The child has confidence because his father is doing that thing first.
Paul has just described himself as the ‘father’ of the church at 1 Cori.4:15. And here he speaks not merely as a teacher, but as a father. For 18 months, the Christians in Corinth had seen how Paul behaved (Acts 18:11). So they knew his statements in 1 Corinthians 4:10-13 were true. That was how he had behaved in Corinth. And that was how he wanted them to behave, too.
If church leaders today would not tell anyone to imitate them, perhaps their attitude is different from Paul’s attitude. Perhaps they feel that they are carrying out a job, like a teacher. Perhaps they feel unable to take the sort of responsibility that Paul took.
The assignment of Timothy to them was to teach and remodel Christ life he saw and received from Paul. Paul had discovered that he could trust Timothy (Philippians 2:19-22). And Timothy always respected Paul. Paul was constantly praying for Timothy (2 Timothy 1:3). 2 Timothy 1:4 shows us that they were true friends.
We likewise should follow the examples and lives of our godly leaders and remodel Christ’s lifestyle to younger Christians around us. Can we be trusted to raise godly followers for Christ? Will any youth or young Christian want to grow up to be like us?
Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. 20 For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. 21 What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?
The issue of pride in the Church in Corinth is a serious challenge. In 1 Corinthians 4:6, Paul urged the Christians in Corinth not to have proud attitudes. Here, in 1 Corinthians 4:18-19, he says clearly that some of them were already proud. He also explains the reason why they had that attitude. It was because Paul was not there in Corinth to oppose them. Nobody in Corinth could act in the power of God’s Holy Spirit to stop them.
When Paul arrived at Corinth, he would deal with those proud people. Paul preferred to speak to people in a humble, gentle manner that showed real love. But such gentle words will not usually convince proud people to change their attitudes. It was usual for a father to take a stick and to hit a proud child with it (Proverbs 22:15).
Paul had something much more powerful than a stick to deal with the proud people in Corinth. And he certainly would not depend on his own words, as the proud people did. Instead, Paul would ask God to give him the power of the Holy Spirit to deal with this situation.
Paul’s words to the Corinthians are for us as well, and they have much to say. Paul’s leadership is described as a radical contrast to the worldly-wise leadership. Paul’s dealings with those in the wrong at Corinth are an example of his instructions to us in handling problem people in the Church.
Friday, March 03 2017
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
1. Servant Leadership [verse 1-2]
2. Handling Criticism, Lifestyles and Humility [verse 3-7]
3. Fools for Christ Sake [verse 8-13]
B. By using the phrase "we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and men", Paul is referring to the difficult task of preaching the gospel. It is rewarding and refreshing to know however that God has used the foolish things of this world to confound the wise” (1 Cor.1:27). "We are fools for Christ's sake". God's wisdom is foolishness to the world; even sometimes to arrogant Christians. "To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless" These verses reflect Paul's own experience. "we toil, working with our own hands” reflects the Jewish emphasis on the appropriateness of manual labour (Acts 18:3; 20:34; 1 Thess. 2:9; 2 Thess. 3:8). This stresses the importance of hard work and taking responsibility instead of depending on others for goodwill. Paul and the other apostles led by example. We must consciously lead by example. I believe this will make working rewarding and encouraging.
C. "when we are reviled, we bless”. Paul is reflecting the teachings of Jesus (Matt. 5:10-12; 1 Pet. 2:23). The term "reviled" is also included in the list of sins in 1 Cor. 5:11 and 6:10. This term refers to personal verbal abuse, while the term "slandered" or “defamed” means public defamation (2 Cor. 6:8). Paul experienced verbal abuse from many false teachers, but it was the church at Corinth that must have wounded him the most. A group of people whom he personally led to Christ became his most vocal slanderers. Jesus Christ experienced same ridicule and we will at some point in our walk with the Lord experience same. We must however face this with the right attitude whenever we do.