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Friday, December 22 2017

Contributor: Alex Alajiki

INTRODUCTION: Last week, from our study in 2 Corint.12:1-21, we saw Paul, a man full of revelations and insight into kingdom mysteries and on the other hand, he was going through fierce persecution from the gates of hell. The comforting words of the Lord to Paul was; “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness”. The response of Paul is “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor.12:9-10).

 

This week, we are studying 2 Corinthian chapter 13. This concludes our studies in Paul’s letters to the Corinthian Church.

 

1. Coming with Authority: 2 Cor.13:1-6

This will be the third time I am coming to you. “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.” 2 I have told you before, and foretell as if I were present the second time, and now being absent I write to those who have sinned before, and to all the rest, that if I come again I will not spare. 3 since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you. 4 For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you. 5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. 6 But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.

 

Vs-1, This is the third time Paul will be visiting Corinth because of persistent problems, so Paul warned them that he would not listen to gossip, or to stories about other people. In any such matter, Paul needed to hear witnesses who were able to give their evidence in front of God. The truth would become clear when the evidence of two or three witnesses are in agreement according to Due.19:15.

 

Vs-2, On his return to Corinth he will deal firmly with those people who are causing troubles in the church. In 1 Corinthians 5:1-5. There, Paul told the church to deal with the member who was guilty of wrong sex acts. He urged the church to join with him in prayer against that man and his evil behaviour.

 

Vs-3-4, Corinth’s Christians very much wanted to see the power of God. For a time, they confused it with the actions of powerful men who wanted to control them. Probably, the Christians made that mistake because they had not really understood God’s power in their own lives. They considered Paul weak; they even doubted his apostleship. Paul, on the other hand, believed that church leaders should normally be humble, gentle and patient. He understood that God is working powerfully inside his people - nobody can see that power, but it is real (2Tim.2:24).

 

Their error was to concentrate too much on the things that they could see and feel. Their problem with Paul was simply that he did not impress them enough.

However, there is a situation where church leaders must be firm and powerful. They must sometimes deal with stubborn people who have firmly chosen to do wrong things. In such circumstances, even the most gentle church leader has a duty to be strong and bold. An extreme example is how Samuel carried out God’s punishment against the wicked King Agag in 1 Samuel 15:33.

 

Vs-5-6, Paul urges each of his readers to examine whether their own relationship with God is real. It is not good enough if other people consider us to be genuine Christians. Even our own heart (mind) can convince us of something that is not true. So we must be extremely careful in this matter.

 

2. Paul Prefers Gentleness: 2 Cor.13:7-10
 

Now I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do what is honourable, though we may seem disqualified. 8 For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. 9 For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we pray, that you may be made complete. 10 Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction.

 

Vs-7-8 Paul loved the Christians in Corinth, even as a father loves his own children. However, they were discussing whether Paul’s work for God was genuine or not. They complained that Paul did not seem impressive enough. He refused their gifts; and he did not seem powerful, like some other church leaders.

 

Paul wanted them to know the truth about him. However, in the end, it hardly seemed to matter. Paul had worked hard among them so that they could have a relationship with God. So, if now they were truly serving God, their opinion about Paul was unimportant. Paul had done his work; the work of God in their lives would continue without Paul.

 

Paul still prayed for them, and he would continue to pray for them. He was not praying that they would approve of him. He was praying that they would do the right things. He prayed that they would stop their wrong activities. Paul’s greatest desire was that they would learn to serve God better.

 

Paul saw himself as a witness of the truth about God. As a witness, Paul cared only that people heard the truth. When people accepted Christ into their lives, they had received the truth. It was not necessary for them also to accept Paul as the leader of their church. If Paul had argued otherwise, he would have been arguing against the truth. So, Paul considered it his duty simply to declare the truth that God had shown to him.

 

Vs-9-10 Many political leaders and business leaders are pleased when they become more powerful or more important. Church leaders should have a very different attitude. They can be glad even about the loss of their power, when other people serve God better as a result. That is because church leaders must not work for their own wealth, honour and importance. Instead, church leaders work for God; and they work to help other people to know God better. Matt.23:11.

 

So, Paul was not praying that Corinth’s Christians would respect him. Instead, he was praying that God would make them perfect. We can see what he meant by ‘perfect’ from his previous use of a similar word in 1 Corinthians 1:10. There, Paul was writing about the opposing groups that had formed in their church. Those groups argued much with each other. Paul appealed that the church should be ‘perfect’ with the same opinion. In other words, he wanted them to ‘join’ with the other Christians, and not to be separate groups that constantly argued. We could say that God needed to ‘repair’ their church; it was as if it had broken apart. Paul was praying for God to do that.

3. Greetings and Benediction 2 Cor.13:11-14

 

 

Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All the saints greet you.

14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

 

Vs-11, Paul was concluding his letter here with greetings. The rest of Paul’s advice is for the same purpose. They should urge and encourage each other to serve God better. They should end their arguments and they should try to understand each other. Their many different opinions had caused them to separate from each other in the past. However, God wanted them to join together so that they would all benefit from their many different skills and gifts. Then, instead of their constant arguments, their church would be calm and content.

That was what God wanted. Love and peace (a calm and content attitude) are part of God’s character. They are also among the results of the Holy Spirit’s work in the lives of Christians. Christians should love each other with the love that comes from God. They should be calm and content because of the work that God is doing in their lives.

 

Vs-12, Paul mentions the ‘holy kiss’ in three other places also: Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; and 1 Thessalonians 5:26. It became a usual greeting in the first Christian churches. The custom continues in the churches in some countries near the Mediterranean Sea today. The men kiss each of the other men in turn. The women kiss each of the other women. Men do not kiss women; and they do not kiss on the lips. Rather, they kiss by the side of the head.

 

Vs-13, ‘All the saints greet you.’ In the original language, Greek, the word for ‘saints’ is HAGIOI. That word is simply the plural form of the word that means ‘holy’. So, a correct translation would be: ‘All the holy people greet you.’

Paul concluded with the benediction

 

 

CONCLUSION

Vs 14, Paul finishes the Book of 2 Corinthians with words that are very familiar to many Christians today. They are not just a prayer but a blessing: a declaration that God will show his kindness in a person’s life. This blessing is sometimes called ‘the benediction’, which means ‘the blessing’ - or sometimes simply ‘the grace’. Many church meetings today end when the leader, or all the people, declare these words to everyone present.

 

                                 Parts of this study was culled from usefulbible.com

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 02:04 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, December 14 2017

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

Introduction

In last week’s study, we saw Paul defending his apostleship against those apostles he referred to as “deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ”, whose utmost desire was to corrupt the churches from the simplicity that is in Christ. He gave a large account of his own qualifications, labours, and sufferings (not out of pride or vain-glory, but to the honour of God, who had enabled him to do and suffer so much for the cause of Christ). In today’s study, we shall be looking at his concluding defense and learning from his experiences.

 

Verses 1-6 – Paul’s Revelations

“True, there is nothing to be gained by it, but [as I am obliged] to boast, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—was caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or away from the body I do not know, God knows—4 Was caught up into paradise, and he heard utterances beyond the power of man to put into words, which man is not permitted to utter. 5 Of this same [man’s experiences] I will boast, but of myself (personally) I will not boast, except as regards my infirmities (my weaknesses). 6 Should I desire to boast, I shall not be a witless braggart, for I shall be speaking the truth. But I abstain [from it] so that no one may form a higher estimate of me than [is justified by] what he sees in me or hears from me.”

 

Although Paul said in verse 2 say: “I know a man . . ..” he was talking about himself! Whether heavenly things were brought down to him, while his body was in a trance, as in the case of ancient prophets; or whether his soul was dislodged from the body for a time, and taken up into heaven, or whether he was taken up, body and soul together, he knew not. We are not capable, nor is it fit we should yet know, the particulars of that glorious place and state. He did not attempt to publish to the world what he had heard there as he was instructed not to.

 

Verses 7-10 – Paul’s Thorn and lessons to learn

“And to keep me from being puffed up and too much elated by the exceeding greatness (preeminence) of these revelations, there was given me a thorn (a splinter) in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to rack and buffet and harass me, to keep me from being excessively exalted. 8 Three times I called upon the Lord and besought [Him] about this and begged that it might depart from me; 9 But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! 10 So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful in divine strength)”

 

Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so he wouldn’t get a big head, he was given a physical condition - a thorn in his flesh to keep him in constant touch with his limitations. We are not told what this thorn in the flesh was, whether some great trouble, or some great temptation. But God often brings this good out of evil, that the reproaches of our enemies help to hide pride from us. If God loves us, he will keep us from being exalted above measure; and spiritual burdens are ordered to cure spiritual pride. This thorn in the flesh is said to be a messenger of Satan which he sent for evil; but God designed it, and overruled it for good.

Troubles are sent to teach us to pray; and are continued, to teach us to continue instant in prayer. Though God accepts the prayer of faith, yet he does not always give what is asked for: so He sometimes denies in love. When God does not take away our troubles and temptations, yet, if he gives grace enough for us, we have no reason to complain. Grace signifies the good-will of God towards us, and that is enough to enlighten and enliven us, sufficient to strengthen and comfort in all afflictions and distresses. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Thus his grace is manifested and magnified. When we are weak in ourselves, then we are strong in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; when we feel that we are weak in ourselves, then we go to Christ, receive strength from him, and enjoy most the supplies of Divine strength and grace.

 

Verses 11-12 – Paul’s Disappointment at being made to “boast”

“Now I have been [speaking like] a fool! But you forced me to it, for I ought to have been saved the necessity and] commended by you. For I have not fallen short one bit or proved myself at all inferior to those superlative [false] apostles [of yours], even if I am nothing (a nobody). 12 Indeed, the signs that indicate a [genuine] apostle were performed among you fully and most patiently in miracles and wonders and mighty works.”

We owe it to good men, to stand up in the defense of their reputation; and we are under special obligations to those from whom we have received benefit, especially spiritual benefit. Paul’s expectation was that it would have been the Corinthian church writing about him and defending him to the so called “super apostles”

 

Verses 13-15 – Paul’s Independence – A worthy example

“For in what respect were you put to a disadvantage in comparison with the rest of the churches, unless [it was for the fact] that I myself did not burden you [with my financial support]? Pardon me [for doing you] this injustice! 14 Now for the third time I am ready to come to [visit] you. And I will not burden you [financially], for it is not your [money] that I want but you; for children are not duty bound to lay up store for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 But I will most gladly spend [myself] and be utterly spent for your souls. If I love you exceedingly, am I to be loved [by you] the less?”

 

Paul was one who lived what he preached! He who would not work should not eat 2 Thessalonians 3:10. He worked with his hands and did not ask the church for food and a place to stay and this was what the so called “super apostles” were using to bring him down

 

Verses 16-21 – Conclusion Paul’s reply to false charges –- Cautions and warnings

“But though granting that I did not burden you [with my support, some say that] I was crafty [and that] I cheated and got the better of you with my trickery. 17 Did I [then] take advantage of you or make any money out of you through any of those [messengers] whom I sent to you? 18 [Actually] I urged Titus [to go], and I sent the brother with [him]. Did Titus overreach or take advantage of you [in anything]? Did he and I not act in the same spirit? Did we not [take the] same steps? 19 Have you been supposing [all this time] that we have been defending ourselves and apologizing to you? [It is] in the sight and the [very] presence of God [and as one] in Christ (the Messiah) that we have been speaking, dearly beloved, and all in order to build you up [spiritually]. 20 For I am fearful that somehow or other I may come and find you not as I desire to find you, and that you may find me too not as you want to find me—that perhaps there may be factions (quarreling), jealousy, temper (wrath, intrigues, rivalry, divided loyalties), selfishness, whispering, gossip, arrogance (self-assertion), and disorder among you. 21 [I am fearful] that when I come again, my God may humiliate and humble me in your regard, and that I may have to sorrow over many of those who sinned before and have not repented of the impurity, sexual vice, and sensuality which they formerly practiced.”

 

Here is an account of the apostle's behavior and kind intentions; in which we see the character of a faithful minister of the gospel. His great aim and design, was to do good to the Corinthians – not being a burden to them. These last verses show to what excesses the false teachers had drawn aside their deluded followers. That they could still confidently live in sin and Paul feared that he would meet them in their un-repented state.  How grievous it is that such evils should be found among professors of the gospel! But this is the painful truth, as we see it these days very often, and it was so in the days of the apostles.

Parts of this study was culled from https://www.christianity.com/bible/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=47&c=12

 

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 10:13 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, December 08 2017

Contributor: Leye Olayiwola

Introduction: Apostle Paul during his earthly ministry established many churches and wrote majority of the epistles to these churches. His passion for souls was impeccable. His pursuit and love for these churches could only have been second to that of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. However, during this period of his ministry, there were some false apostles also contesting for these souls. Paul in his words referred to these apostles as “deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ”, whose utmost desire was to corrupt the churches from the simplicity that is in Christ. This is what we will be considering in this portion of Paul’s epistle to the Corinthian church in 2 Corinthians 11 . 

Vs 1-4:

• Note the apology Paul makes for going about to commend himself. He is unwilling to enter upon this subject of self-commendation. It is no pleasure to a good man to speak well of himself, yet in some cases it is lawful, namely, when it is for the advantage of others, or for our own necessary vindication; as thus it was here.

• We have the reasons for what the apostle did:

(1.) To preserve the Corinthians from being corrupted by the insinuations of the false apostles, He tells them he was jealous over them with godly jealousy; he was afraid lest their faith should be weakened by hearkening to such suggestions as tended to lessen their regard to his ministry, by which they were brought to the Christian faith. This godly jealousy in the apostle was a mixture of love and fear; and faithful ministers cannot but be afraid and concerned for their people, lest they should lose that which they have received, and turn from what they have embraced, especially when deceivers have gone abroad, or have crept in among them.

(2) To vindicate himself against the false apostles, forasmuch as they could not pretend they had another Jesus, or another Spirit, or another gospel, to preach to them.

Vs 5-15:

• After the foregoing preface to what he was about to say, the apostle in these verses mentions,

(1). His equality with the other apostles—that he was not a whit behind the very chief of the apostles. Paul expresses this very modestly. He might have spoken very positively. The apostleship, as an office, was equal in all the apostles; but the apostles, like other Christians, differed one from another. These stars differed one from another in glory, and Paul was indeed of the first magnitude; yet he speaks modestly of himself, and humbly owns his personal infirmity, that he was rude in speech (vs 6), had not such a graceful delivery as some others might have. Some think that he was a man of very low stature, and that his voice was proportionably small; others think that he may have had some impediment in his speech, perhaps a stammering tongue. However, he was not rude in knowledge; he was not unacquainted with the best rules of oratory and the art of persuasion, much less was he ignorant of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, as had been thoroughly manifested among them.

(2) His equality with the false apostles in particular—the preaching of the gospel unto them freely (vs 7), without wages. This the apostle largely insists on, and shows that, as they could not but own him to be a minister of Christ, so they ought to acknowledge he had been a good friend to them.

• He had proved at large, in his former epistle to them, the lawfulness of ministers’ receiving maintenance from the people, and the duty of the people to give them an honourable maintenance; and here he says he himself had taken wages of other churches (vs 8), so that he had a right to have asked and received from them: yet he waived his right, and chose rather to abase himself, by working with his hands in the trade of tent-making to maintain himself, than be burdensome to them, that they might be exalted, or encouraged to receive the gospel, which they had so cheaply; yea, he chose rather to be supplied from Macedonia than to be chargeable unto them.

• He informs them of the reason of this his conduct among them. It was not because he did not love them (vs 11), or was unwilling to receive tokens of their love (for love and friendship are manifested by mutual giving and receiving), but it was to avoid offence, that he might cut off occasion from those that desired occasion. He would not give occasion for any to accuse him of worldly designs in preaching the gospel, or that he intended to make a trade of it, to enrich himself; and that others who opposed him at Corinth might not in this respect gain an advantage against him.

• There were counterfeit prophets under the Old Testament, who wore the garb and learned the language of the prophets of the Lord. So there were counterfeit apostles under the New Testament, who seemed in many respects like the true apostles of Christ. And no marvel (says the apostle); hypocrisy is a thing not to be much wondered at in this world, especially when we consider the great influence Satan has upon the minds of many, who rules in the hearts of the children of disobedience. As he can turn himself into any shape, and put on almost any form, and look sometimes like an angel of light, in order to promote his kingdom of darkness, so he will teach his ministers and instruments to do the same. But it follows, Their end is according to their works (vs 15); the end will discover them to be deceitful workers, and their work will end in ruin and destruction.

Vs 16-21:

• Boasting of ourselves is usually not only a sign of a proud mind, but a mark of folly also. However, says the apostle, yet as a fool receive me; that is, if you count it folly in me to boast a little, yet give due regard to what I shall say. He mentions a caution, to prevent the abuse of what he should say, telling them that what he spoke, he did not speak after the Lord, (vs 17). He would not have them think that boasting of ourselves, or glorying in what we have, is a thing commanded by the Lord in general unto Christians.

• It is the duty and practice of Christians, in obedience to the command and example of the Lord, rather to humble and abase themselves; yet prudence must direct in what circumstances it is needful to do that which we may do lawfully, even speak of what God has wrought for us, and in us, and by us too.

• He gives a good reason why they should suffer him to boast a little; namely, because they suffered others to do so who had less reason. Seeing many glory after the flesh (of carnal privileges, or outward advantages and attainments), I will glory also, (vs 18). But he would not glory in those things, though he had as much or more reason than others to do so. But he gloried in his infirmities, as he tells them afterwards.

Vs 22-26:

• Here the apostle gives a large account of his own qualifications, labours, and sufferings (not out of pride or vain-glory, but to the honour of God, who had enabled him to do and suffer so much for the cause of Christ), and wherein he excelled the false apostles, who would lessen his character and usefulness among the Corinthians.

• He mentions the privileges of his birth (v. 22), which were equal to any they could pretend to. He was a Hebrew of the Hebrews; of a family among the Jews that never intermarried with the Gentiles. He was also an Israelite, and could boast of his being descended from the beloved Jacob as well as they, and was also of the seed of Abraham, and not of the proselytes. It should seem from this that the false apostles were of the Jewish race, who gave disturbance to the Gentile converts.

• He makes mention also of his apostleship, that he was more than an ordinary minister of Christ, (vs 23). God had counted him faithful, and had put him into the ministry. He had been a useful minister of Christ unto them; they had found full proofs of his ministry:

• Paul was the apostle of the Gentiles, and for that reason was hated of the Jews. They did all they could against him; and among the Gentiles also he met with hard usage. Bonds and imprisonments were familiar to him; never was the most notorious malefactor more frequently in the hands of public justice than Paul was for righteousness’ sake. The jail and the whipping-post, and all other hard usages of those who are accounted the worst of men, were what he was accustomed to.

• As to the Jews, whenever he fell into their hands, they never spared him. Five times he fell under their lash, and received forty stripes save one, (vs 24). Forty stripes was the utmost their law allowed (Deu.25:3 ), but it was usual with them, that they might not exceed, to abate one at least of that number. And to have the abatement of one only was all the favour that Paul ever received from them.

Conclusion: Vs 27-33

Paul was a stranger to wealth and plenty, power and pleasure, preferment and ease; he was in watchings often, and exposed to hunger and thirst; in fastings often, it may be out of necessity; and endured cold and nakedness. Thus was he, who was one of the greatest blessings of the age, used as if he had been the burden of the earth, and the plague of his generation. And yet this is not all; for, as an apostle, the care of all the churches lay on him. He mentions this last, as if this lay the heaviest upon him, and as if he could better bear all the persecutions of his enemies than the scandals that were to be found in the churches he had the oversight of. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not? There was not a weak Christian with whom he did not sympathize, nor any one scandalized, but he was affected therewith. See what little reason we have to be in love with the pomp and plenty of this world, when this blessed apostle, one of the best of men that ever lived, except Jesus Christ, felt so much hardship in it. Nor was he ashamed of all this, but, on the contrary, it was what he accounted his honour; and therefore, much against the grain as it was with him to glory, yet, says he, if I must need glory, if my adversaries will oblige me to it in my own necessary vindication, I will glory in these my infirmities. It is a great comfort to a good man that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is an omniscient God, knows the truth of all he says, and knows all he does and all he suffers for his sake.

Teachings culled from www.biblestudytools.com

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 08:49 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, December 01 2017

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

Introduction: There was no place in which the apostle Paul met with more opposition from false apostles than at Corinth; he had many enemies there. Although he was “blameless and inoffensive” in all his carriage, so condescending and useful to all, yet there were those who bore him ill-will, who envied him, and did all they could to undermine him, and lesson his interest and reputation. Paul distinguishes himself and the other authentic apostles by contrasting the characteristics of the cultist leaders of that day with the doctrine, attitudes, and practice of the true apostles. These characteristics are just as true of leaders today as they were in Paul’s day, so let us be very attentive to his words.

 

Verses 1-2 - Characteristic #1: Paul Is Meek and Gentle, Unless Forced to Act Otherwise

“I plead with you—yes, I, Paul—and I plead gently, as Christ himself would do. Yet some of you are saying, “Paul’s letters are bold enough when he is far away, but when he gets here he will be afraid to raise his voice!” 2 I hope I won’t need to show you when I come how harsh and rough I can be. I don’t want to carry out my present plans against some of you who seem to think my deeds and words are merely those of an ordinary man.”

In verse 1, we see the mild and humble way the apostle addresses the Corinthians, and how desirous he is that no occasion may be given him to use severity. He was addressing the false apostles who had particularly levelled their reproaches; yet amid the greatest provocations he shows humility and mildness, from the consideration of the meekness and gentleness of Christ, and desires this notable example may have the same influence on the Corinthians. In verse 2, He begs them to give no occasion for him to be bold, or to exercise his authority against them in general, as he had resolved to do against some who unjustly charged him as walking according to the flesh, that is, regulating his conduct, even in his ministerial actions, according to carnal policy or with worldly views.

 

Verses 3-6 - Characteristic #2: Paul’s Spirituality Is Vastly Different from That of His Critics

& Characteristic #3: Paul’s View of Spiritual Warfare Differs from That of His Critics

“3 It is true that I am an ordinary, weak human being, but I don’t use human plans and methods to win my battles. 4 I use God’s mighty weapons, not those made by men, to knock down the devil’s strongholds. 5 These weapons can break down every proud argument against God and every wall that can be built to keep men from finding him. With these weapons, I can capture rebels and bring them back to God and change them into men whose hearts’ desire is obedience to Christ. 6 I will use these weapons against every rebel who remains after I have first used them on you yourselves and you surrender to Christ.”

The carnal weapons Paul renounced were the manipulative and deceitful ways his opponents used. And though ministers walk in the flesh, or live in the body, and in the common affairs of life act as other men, yet in their work and warfare they must not go by the maxims of the flesh, nor should they design to please the flesh: this must be crucified with its affections and lusts; it must be mortified and kept under.

He asserts the power of his preaching and his power to punish offenders in verses 3 and 5. From these verses we learn that the work of the ministry is a warfare, not after the flesh indeed, for it is a spiritual warfare, with spiritual enemies and for spiritual purposes. The apostle’s power to punish offenders (and that in an extraordinary manner) is asserted in v. 6. The apostle was a prime-minister in the kingdom of Christ, and chief officer in his army, and had in readiness (that is, he had power and authority at hand) to revenge all disobedience, or to punish offenders in a most exemplary and extraordinary manner. The apostle speaks not of personal revenge, but of punishing disobedience to the gospel, and disorderly walking among church-members, by inflicting church-censures.

 

Verses 7-11 - Characteristic #4: Paul Differs from the Cultists on Judging Spirituality and Success

7 The trouble with you is that you look at me and I seem weak and powerless, but you don’t look beneath the surface. Yet if anyone can claim the power and authority of Christ, I certainly can. 8 I may seem to be boasting more than I should about my authority over you—authority to help you, not to hurt you—but I shall make good every claim. 9 I say this so that you will not think I am just blustering when I scold you in my letters. 10 “Don’t bother about his letters,” some say. “He sounds big, but it’s all noise. When he gets here you will see that there is nothing great about him, and you have never heard a worse preacher!” 11 This time my personal presence is going to be just as rough on you as my letters are!

In our passage, Paul points out how his critics differ from him in the way they judge spirituality or success. He first writes in verse 7: “You are looking at things as they are outwardly.” Then in verse 10, he gives us the words of his opponents who criticize his personal appearance and preaching style: “His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is unimpressive, and his speech contemptible.” The most important thing Paul says about his authority is its source: “which the Lord gave …” (verse 8). Paul’s authority came from God and not from men. His critics could not make the same claim. They promote themselves and commend themselves, or as rendered loosely from above, they “write their own press releases.” The counterfeit apostles “measure themselves by themselves,” and “compare themselves with themselves.” These men seek to elevate themselves by misrepresenting their own accomplishments and minimizing the accomplishments of others.

 

Verse 12 Characteristic 5: Paul’s Critics are Exclusivists and Short-sighted

“12 Oh, don’t worry, I wouldn’t dare say that I am as wonderful as these other men who tell you how good they are! Their trouble is that they are only comparing themselves with each other and measuring themselves against their own little ideas. What stupidity!”

They measure themselves against their own little ideas! In this verse, Paul criticizes his opponents for measuring themselves against themselves. We see that they are not working for the common goal of the gospel but for their own personal gratification; their mindset looks down on others as being less spiritual. Then, almost inevitably, they become exclusive. In our present day, you hear statements like “If you are not a member of the church of ________, then you are not saved.” “Unless you have been baptized by ________, you are not a genuine Christian.” “Unless you are a member of this man’s organization … Unless you have spoken in tongues, you cannot be …” and so on.

Verses 13-16 -  Characteristic #6: Paul’s Critics, the Cultists, Prey Upon the Sheep

& Characteristic #7: Paul’s Critics, the Cultists, Are Thieves

13-14 We aren’t making outrageous claims here. We’re sticking to the limits of what God has set for us. But there can be no question that those limits reach to and include you. We’re not moving into someone else’s “territory.” We were already there with you, weren’t we? We were the first ones to get there with the Message of Christ, right? So how can there be any question of overstepping our bounds by writing or visiting you?

15 We’re not barging in on the rightful work of others, interfering with their ministries, demanding a place in the sun with them. 16 After that, we will be able to preach the Good News to other cities that are far beyond you, where no one else is working; then there will be no question about being in someone else’s field.

The cultists of Corinth seek to make personal followers of those who are saved through Paul’s ministry and who have come to trust and follow Christ. They take credit for Paul’s ministry. They boast in things for which they should never take credit. They boast in that which God has done. They boast in what God has done through others than themselves. They boast in the labours of others. Paul reminds the Corinthians of his labour among them, and that many of them are his children in the faith. He also indicates that he and his colleagues continue to minister to them, and as they continue to grow, there will be even further reason for them to be “enlarged” by these Corinthians.

Verses 17-18 Characteristic #8: The Cultists Seek the Approval of Men Rather Than of God

17 As the Scriptures say, “If anyone is going to boast, let him boast about what the Lord has done and not about himself.” 18 When someone boasts about himself and how well he has done, it doesn’t count for much. But when the Lord commends him, that’s different!”

The Corinthian cultists are those who take credit for ministry that is not their own. They even compete with one another and criticize Paul and his fellow-apostles. They appraise spirituality and success by external appearances. They take pride in that for which they should not take credit. In the end, it is apparent that they are more interested in gaining the approval of men than of God. Paul concludes this chapter by setting this matter straight: “But HE WHO BOASTS, LET HIM BOAST IN THE LORD. For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends” (2 Corinthians 10:17-18, NASB).

To think of himself (or herself) as superior to others, the cultist must compare himself with others in a way that makes him look superior. In the end, Paul’s opponents are boasting. Paul reminds all who minister that their ministry is God-given, just as the fruit of their ministry is God’s work If there is any boasting to be done, let it be boasting in God and what He has done through us (and often in spite of us). If there is any approval, any commendation to be sought, let it be His commendation. Let us labour so that He will say to us in that day, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).

 

This study was culled from https://bible.org/seriespage/contrasting-christian-leaders-cultists-2-cor-101-18

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 07:02 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, December 01 2017

Contributor: Alex Alajiki

INTRODUCTION:

Last week, from our study in the concluding part of 2 Corint.8:16-24, we saw the transparency with which Paul handled the church offerings. Apart from appointing Titus, his own personal assistant, the church also appointed two brothers to accompany him. 2 Cor.8:20-21 “We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. 21 For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.” This is a great example for the 21st century Churches to emulate in handling Church financial matters. This week, we are studying chapter 9 of the 2nd book of Paul to the Corinthian Church

1. Preparation before collection: 2 Cor.9:1-5

 

Now concerning the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you; 2 for I know your willingness, about which I boast of you to the Macedonians, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal has stirred up the majority. 3 Yet I have sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this respect, that, as I said, you may be ready; 4 lest if some Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we (not to mention you!) should be ashamed of this confident boasting.[a] 5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation.

 

Vs-1, Paul is writing about a large gift from the church at Corinth to help the poor suffering Christians in Judea. However, Paul described the gift as an act to ‘serve the saints’ (ministering to the saints). Based on their generosity, he considered it unnecessary(superfluous) to write or persuade them about this offering for the saints.

 

Vs-2-4, Macedonia was located in northern Greece and Achaia was a province in southern Greece near where Corinth was. So, the generous acts of one group of people encourage other people to give It appears the zeal of the church at Corinth has caused the other churches to want to help also. Paul had bragged so much about their generosity. Now Paul is calling the Corinthians back to their original eagerness and readiness to participate in the offering project. After promising so boldly what they would do, if they did not, it would be embarrassing for Paul, as well as for them. Paul had not ceased telling the people in Macedonia what the church at Corinth had planned to give.

Vs-5, Paul explains that he does not want anyone to give merely as a duty, or from shame. Rather, he wants them freely and gladly to choose to give, with willing hearts. The brethren went ahead to avoid emotional giving when he arrives. Christian giving is not forcing people to hand over their money. It should be an act of love and blessing, a declaration of God’s goodness. Christians give because of their strong desire to show God’s goodness.

2. God loves a cheerful giver: 2 Cor.9:6-10

 

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 9 As it is written: “He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.” 10 Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness

 

Vs-6 If you want a large crop, you must plant a lot of seeds. Pertaining to Christian giving is the saying that the harvest is directly proportionate to the amount of seed sown (Gen.8:22). We must be careful not to become greedy givers but rather, generous givers. A greedy giver is motivated by returns only while a generous giver is motivated by love. God gives a return on the amount one invests with Him. You reap according to what you sow. Luk.6:38.

 

Vs-7 Giving should come from our hearts not because of manipulation. Nobody should force anyone to give more than that person had chosen. Then, their attitude in front of God would be right. They would give with a joyful and willing attitude; and God loves that. God would be pleased to see that they gave gladly.

 

Vs-8 The abounding grace of God will always make a giver to always have to give the more for every good work

Abound is to have enough, same word Paul used in Phil.4:12 and 1 Tim.6:6. God does not only provide what we need; he also provides enough so that we can do his work.

 

Vs-9, As Corinth’s Christians prepared their own gifts, Paul reminded them about Psalm 112 “He has dispersed, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honour.”

God replenishes and rewards the righteous giver both in time and eternity.

 

Vs-10, The Corinthians would not be the ones to distribute their offerings. They are the one who provides the seed to be sown. They entrust someone else to sow it for them and everyone benefits. The person who provides the funds to minister with has just as much part in the ministering as the one who actually does the ministering.

When a Christian gives, he does not depend on his own resources, but on God’s goodness. God, the great provider, is using that Christian to show his (God’s) goodness in the world. So, God himself provides what that Christian gives. That is like the farmer’s supply of seed and the same God is responsible to multiply he seed sown.

 

3. The results of generosity: 2 Cor.9:11-15

 

while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. 12 For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, 13 while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, 14 and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. 15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

 

Vs-11 One may provide the seed and another plant the crop, but God gives the increase. The effect of the gifts from the gentile Churches will produce thanksgiving to God from the suffering Jewish Christian in Judea. The Gentile Christians were showing a real act of love towards the Jewish Christians. That love showed that those Gentiles really had become Christians. It was clear evidence that they really had accepted the gospel, the message of Christ. Their decision to serve God, and to give this gift, gave great honour to God.

 

Vs-12, Paul viewed the entire collection project as a spiritual, worshipful enterprise that was primarily being offered to God to glorify Him. Many residents of Jerusalem had undoubtedly lost their jobs because of persecution.

 

Vs-13, The Jewish believers, who already doubted the validity of gentile salvation, were especially sceptical of the Corinthians since their church had so many problems. The Corinthian’s involvement in the collection would help to put those doubts to rest.

Obedient submission to God’s Word is always evidence of a true confession of Christ as Lord and Saviour. If the Corinthians had a proper response to and participation in Paul’s collection ministry, the Jewish believers would know the Gentile conversions had been real

 

Vs-14-15 Corinth’s Christians were sending a large gift for Judea’s poor Christians. However, Paul insisted that he was not simply taking money from Corinth’s Christians to give it somewhere else. In fact, each group of Christians was sharing what it had with other Christians. Corinth’s Christians had money to give; but Judea’s Christians were holy people, with an especially close relationship with God in prayer.

 

Paul expected Judea’s Christians to accept, as a serious responsibility, that they must pray for Corinth’s Christians. Corinth’s Christians had only recently become Christians. Since then, there had been serious problems in their church. However, they had shown by this gift that God was working powerfully in their lives. Now, they needed prayer, so that they could develop and become strong in their relationship with Christ. Paul could see that the mature Christians in Judea were the right people to pray for them.

 

 

CONCLUSION

Matt.6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

 

 

                                               Parts of this study was culled from bible-styds.org

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 07:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, November 16 2017

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

Introduction:

In the last study we saw Paul encouraging the Corinthian church to give generously. We learnt that to be generous is by God’s grace; especially when we are facing difficulties ourselves! It is however a known truth that when it comes to handling monies; especially those given for a particular cause, accountability is key! Because quite easily, allegations of mishandling of funds could arise. That is why in today’s world, a charity organization would employ an independent body that would assess its fiscal accountability and apply objective standards to its handling of donations. In this way donors can be assured that all monies are being appropriately managed. But what about the first century? How could a donor be certain that his contribution would not end up merely lining the pockets of an administrator? And what kind of assurances did a fundraiser give prospective contributors that their donations would be handled in a responsible fashion?

Reading through these 9 verses, we learn of the precautions Paul; a first-century fundraiser took to ensure the responsible handling and transportation of a considerable sum of money.

 

Verses 16 – 17 – Same Goal, Same Vision, Same Purpose

“But thanks be to God who puts the same genuine concern for you in the heart of Titus.  17 For Titus not only accepted our appeal, but was so very interested in you that he has gone to visit you of his own accord.” 

The first time, Titus had to be encouraged to go to Corinth (7:13-14). This time no encouragement was needed. Paul made his appeal and to his surprise, Titus welcomed it (v. 17). That Titus would welcome a visit so soon after returning from Corinth is surprising indeed. In part this is due to the church's warm reception and obedient response on his last visit. But it can also be attributed to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern for the Corinthians that Paul himself has (v. 16). Besides eagerly accepting the idea of a return visit to Corinth, Titus is coming on his own initiative (on his own accord) (v. 17).

 

Verses 18 – 19 – Steer Clear but Engage People with Character

“And we have sent along with him the brother who is praised in the gospel [ministry] throughout all the churches; 19 and not only this, but he has also been appointed by the churches to travel with us in regard to this gracious offering which we are administering for the glory of the Lord Himself, and to show our eagerness [as believers to help one another].” 

In addition to a trusted colleague, Paul sends two church representatives of proven worth and recognized stature to help Titus with the collection effort. The first is merely referred to in the text as the brother (v. 18); no name is provided. But where a name is lacking, credentials are not. To the brother's credit is the fact that he was chosen by the churches to accompany the offering (v. 19).

This brother is also someone who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel (v. 18). Although praised by all the churches could be understood provincially (all the churches in Macedonia), the phrase could also point to someone who was highly regarded by all the Gentile churches contributing to the fund. Regardless, his fame shows that he is more than a local church leader. What he is famous for is his service to the gospel. The Greek text is literally "praised in the gospel" and may well indicate that he is an evangelist of some renown.

 

Verses 20 – 21– Give No Room for Suspicion

“We are taking precaution so that no one will [find anything with which to] discredit us in our administration of this generous gift.  21 For we have regard for what is honorable [and above suspicion], not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.” 

You will recall that Paul had already insisted that the collection occur prior to his coming, so that he not be involved in the actual handling of the monies (1 Cor. 16:2). And here we see him taking extra precautions. Such advance planning was needed to avoid any criticism of the way the offering was being administered (v. 20). Paul tries to have as little to do with the collection process as possible. In this way he hopes to eliminate any possibility of criticism (v. 20). The extra care that Paul takes is understandable. His critics were quick enough to suggest that the collection was merely a covert way of receiving financial support (Read 2 Cor. 12:16-18).

Paul was usually concerned with doing what is right in God's eyes rather than human eyes--especially since God's way and humankind's way are often in conflict. Here he takes the additional step of taking into consideration what is right in the eyes of others (v. 21). What this amounted to was making sure that everything not only was above suspicion (right . . . in the eyes of the Lord) but also looked so (right . . . in the eyes of men). Why? Because life and ministry are inseparable. There will always be those who judge the claims of Christ by the lives of those who claim to be his followers. If the conduct of the fundraiser can be faulted, then the gospel itself can be called into question. Not only this, but God's reputation can be damaged. The ultimate purpose of the collection was to honor the Lord (literally, "to advance the glory of the Lord"; v. 20); an aim that could hardly be accomplished if any suspicion is attached to the collection process.

The steps that Paul had already taken to avoid criticism are spelled out in 1 Corinthians. For one, he had insisted that the collection occur prior to his coming, so that he not be involved in the actual handling of the monies (1 Cor. 16:2). Moreover, he had instructed the Corinthians to appoint their own representatives to accompany the collection, thereby exempting himself from any criticism regarding the transportation of the funds (1 Cor. 16:3). Now, in 2 Corinthians Paul adds an additional precaution: he sends a trusted colleague to finish the collection effort, rather than going himself: Titus . . . is coming to you (2 Cor. 8:17). This trusted colleague is well respected by the Corinthians and has already established a good working relationship with the church in the matter of giving (8:6).

 

Verses 22 – 24 – You Can Never Be Too Careful – Involve All Relevant Parties

“We have sent with them our brother, whom we have often tested and found to be diligent in many things, but who is now even more diligent [than ever] because of his great confidence in you.  23 As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker in your service; and as for the [other two] brothers, they are [special] [b]messengers of the churches, a glory and credit to Christ.  24 Therefore, show these men, in the sight of the churches, the proof of your love and our reason for being proud of you.”

The second church representative is unnamed as well. This individual, unlike the first, is well known to the congregation: our brother (v. 22). He is distinguished by Paul in two ways. First, he has often proved in many ways that he is zealous (v. 22). Each time, the brother was found zealous). Second, his great confidence in the Corinthians. The language suggests a recent positive encounter with the Corinthians in a ministry capacity.

A summary of the credentials of the three individuals is provided in verse 23. Titus is distinguished as Paul's partner and fellow worker. By virtue of his apostolic standing, he could legitimately have treated Titus as a subordinate. Instead he dealt with him as a partner and companion. Titus is Paul's personally appointed representative. The other two brothers are designated representatives of the churches.

The two brothers are also distinguished as an honor to Christ. Nowhere else are individuals referred to in this way. The phrase is literally "the glory of Christ." The two brothers and Titus raise the total that Paul sends in advance of his arrival to three persons. Would Titus alone not have sufficed? His ministerial abilities and affection for the Corinthians seem to be very much in evidence. Yet although Titus had had some success with the collection on his previous visit, it had not been enough to spur the Corinthians on to completion. In addition, Titus is Paul's colleague and representative, and there are now intruders on the scene raising doubts about the offering. So there is real value in sending persons who are not directly connected with the Pauline mission. Also, by sending two representatives of congregations that had already given, Paul can place a subtle pressure on Corinth to match the efforts of the other Gentile churches. Then too, the two delegates serve to guarantee the legitimacy of the endeavor. Their presence shows that the collection effort is not just Paul raising personal funds for himself and his colleagues.

 

Conclusion

Paul concludes by exhorting the Corinthians to do two things. They are to show these men their love and to demonstrate the reason for [Paul's] pride in them.

By showing Titus and the delegates their love, the Corinthians in turn demonstrate the reason for Paul's pride in them. He has been confidently boasting about them to the Macedonian churches (2 Corinthians 9:2). They are now called on to justify his boasting by fulfilling their pledge from the year before. And they are to do it so that the churches can see it--that is, the Corinthians are challenged to act as if the churches, and not just their delegates, were there to watch.

This study was culled from: https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/IVP-NT/2Cor/Paul-Sends-Team-Advance-Coming

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 01:36 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, November 06 2017

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION:

In last week’s study titled “Paul Reveals His Heart – Titus’ Good Report” we learnt about the believer’s responsibility as it relates to walking in holiness, and humility being one of the attributes of a godly leader and that leaders were not exempted from real life issues – conflicts and occasional fears; but in all of it, God sends His comfort. In today’s study we shall be looking at Paul’s encouragement to the Corinthians to give generously

 

GIVING IS BY GOD’S GRACE - VERSES 1-2

Now, brothers and sisters, we want to tell you about the grace of God which has been evident in the churches of Macedonia [awakening in them a longing to contribute]; 2 for during an ordeal of severe distress, their abundant joy and their deep poverty [together] overflowed in the wealth of their lavish generosity.”

 

Paul begins with an example of sacrificial giving by referencing the churches in Macedonia. The churches of Macedonia had been planted by Paul on his second missionary journey--Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea. Paul points to the fact that their generosity was due to the grace that God has bestowed on them. That despite adverse conditions, God has enabled the Macedonians to financially assist destitute Christians whom they did not personally know. The Macedonians make it absolutely clear that our stewardship does not depend upon our circumstances. It depends upon the quality of our relationship with Jesus Christ. We give because He first gave to us His amazing grace.

In this type of giving, there is no pressure on the giver. There is no public display, no competition and no manipulation of the givers. It is honest, open, transparent and genuine giving from the heart.

The apostle Paul had already taught the Corinthians some great principles of stewardship as we see in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2. "Now, concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come"

  • They gave methodically. Paul instructed them to give "on the first day of every week." It was periodic giving. The church received the gifts every Lord's day.
  • They gave personally. It was a personal privilege and responsibility to give. "Let each one of you" give.
  • They gave regularly. They were to "put aside and save." You will never give consistently unless God comes first. When you give Him His part first, before the house note, car notes, even food, you will give as a gift of grace.
  • They gave impartially. They gave as God caused them to prosper. Each person gave "as he may prosper." They gave in proportion to what they had.
  • They gave confidentially. Paul wanted them to take the offering before he came, so "no collection be made when I come." He did not want a big show. He didn't want to make a contest out of it. Do it privately so that when I get there we can concentrate on other matters. It is an act of grace. Do it methodically, individually, regularly, impartially and with confidentiality. It is a matter of the heart. "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
     
    ACCEPTABLE SACRIFICES - VERSES 3-5
    It is easy to see how wealth can well up in generous giving. But how is it possible for extreme poverty to overflow in a wealth of liberality? Verses 3-5 provide the explanation.
    "For, as I can bear witness, [they gave] according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability; and [they did it] voluntarily." 4 begging us insistently for the privilege of participating in the service for [the support of] the saints [in Jerusalem].  5 Not only [did they give materially] as we had hoped, but first they gave themselves to the Lord and to us [as His representatives] by the will of God [disregarding their personal interests and giving as much as they possibly could].  [AMP]
    So, how is it possible?
    First, it is because the Macedonians gave not just as much as they were able (literally "according to their ability") but beyond (v. 3). The sense is that they determined what they could comfortably contribute and then went beyond this figure.
    Second, what they gave, they gave entirely on their own (v. 3). In essence, the Macedonians were not pressured into giving. They gave willingly. In fact, they urgently pleaded to be involved (v. 4). Finally, the Macedonian generosity was possible because they gave themselves first to the Lord and only then to Paul (v. 5). Their preeminent concern was how best to serve Christ. It is here that they exceeded Paul's expectations. They gave out of their poverty because of the sincerity of their commitment to Christ as Lord. So great was their desire to serve Christ that they would not allow their economic situation to keep them from being involved in the Lord's work. This is why Paul describes the collection as a service (v. 4). It is not just a financial obligation. It is a ministry opportunity to the saints (v. 4) - those set apart to be God's possession
     
    A TRUE SIGN OF OUR SINCERE LOVE FOR GOD - VERSES 6-9
    " So we urged Titus that, as he began it, he should also complete this gracious work among you as well. 7 But just as you excel in everything, [and lead the way] in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in genuine concern, and in your love for us, see that you excel in this gracious work [of giving] also. 8 I am not saying this as a command [to dictate to you], but to prove, by [pointing out] the enthusiasm of others, the sincerity of your love as well. 9 For you are recognizing [more clearly] the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [His astonishing kindness, His generosity, His gracious favor], that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich (abundantly blessed). [AMP]
     
    The Corinthians had made a previous commitment to help in "the support of the saints" in Jerusalem. Following from 1 Corinthians 16:1-2. They said they would do their part to relieve the suffering of the believers. It was Titus, who encouraged their giving in the first place, so Paul urged him to visit them and encourage them to complete their share in this ministry of giving. Paul commends the Corinthians reminding them that God has blessed them abundantly (v. 7). They excelled in everything, leading the way. They had faith, utterance, knowledge, all earnestness and love. Now it was time to demonstrate it by showing their love to the Lord by capitalizing on the opportunity to give. In these verses the apostle uses several cogent arguments to stir up the Corinthians to this good work of giving. He urges upon them the consideration of their eminence in other gifts and graces, and would have them excel in this of giving also, v. 7. Most people love to be complimented, especially when we ask a gift of them for ourselves or others; it is only just natural that we give commendation to whom God’s grace shines always and not only when something is required from them.
    The best way to determine the sincerity of our love for God is when people are given the option to choose to give; not commanded to. Paul wanted to motivate them by the sincerity of their love for the Lord to give (v. 8). Because we do not have to be commanded to give before we give. In verse 9, you get the feeling as if Paul was saying: “Now if you think these Macedonian churches are an excellent example of the stewardship of grace, let me show you an even greater example of Jesus!” He didn’t give out of poverty but became poor so we can be rich!
     
    A WILLING MIND MUST GO WITH SINCERE ENDEAVORS - VERSES 10-12
    " 10 I give you my opinion in this matter: this is to your advantage, who were the first to begin a year ago not only to take action [to help the believers in Jerusalem], but also [the first] to desire to do it.  11 So now finish this, so that your eagerness in desiring it may be equaled by your completion of it, according to your ability.  12 For if the eagerness [to give] is there, it is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.” [AMP]
     
    Paul then proceeds to encourage them to finish what they started; their good purposes, and their forwardness to begin this good work. Good purposes, indeed, are good things; they are like buds and blossoms, pleasant to behold, and give hopes of good fruit; but they are lost, and signify nothing, without performances. Akin to Faith without Works!
    So good beginnings are amiable; but we shall lose the benefit unless there be perseverance, and we bring forth fruit to perfection. Seeing therefore the Corinthians had shown a readiness to will, he would have them be careful also in the performance, according to their ability. This willing mind is accepted (v. 12), when accompanied with sincere endeavors. When men purpose that which is good, and endeavor, according to their ability, to perform also, God will accept of what they have, or can do, and not reject them for what they have not, and what is not in their power to do: and this is true as to other things besides the work of giving.
    The MSG version says:
    “So here’s what I think: The best thing you can do right now is to finish what you started last year and not let those good intentions grow stale. Your heart’s been in the right place all along. You’ve got what it takes to finish it up, so go to it. Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can’t. The heart regulates the hands.
     
    CONCLUSION - VERSES 13-15
    13 For it is not [intended] that others be relieved [of their responsibility] and that you be burdened [unfairly], but that there be equality [in sharing the burden]—  14 at this present time your surplus [over necessities] is going to supply their need, so that [at some other time] their surplus may be given to supply your need, that there may be equality; 15 as it is written [in Scripture], “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not lack.” [AMP]
    The MSG version says:
    “This isn’t so others can take it easy while you sweat it out. No, you’re shoulder to shoulder with them all the way, your surplus matching their deficit, their surplus matching your deficit. In the end you come out even. As it is written, nothing left over to the one with the most, nothing lacking to the one with the least.”
     
    It is important to note here that Paul’s mission was to motivate the Corinthian church by comparing attitudes, not monetary amounts. It is the Macedonians' joyful, willing and earnest attitude that is set before the Corinthians, not the size of their contribution.
    Finally, Paul is quick to point out that generous giving is an act of divine grace (8:1). It is only as God blesses and enables that we are able to give in the first place.
     
    Parts of this study was culled from: http://www.abideinchrist.com/messages/2cor8v1b.html
Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 01:46 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, October 29 2017

Contributor: Leye Olayiwola

Introduction:

Last week, we learnt what our attitudes to service should be as ministers and co-workers in the vineyard, through the life of Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthian Church in Chapter 6. With the help of the Holy Spirit, Apostle Paul was able to maintain a winning and godly attitude in all tribulations, distresses, tumults and imprisonments. Remember, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philipians 4:13).

This week, we will continue our study of the second letter of Paul to the Corinthian Church in chapter 7.

Vs 1: It is our responsibility and not God’s

The promises of God about His dwelling among His people (Chp.6:16b) are the basis for Paul’s appeal to the Corinthians, and to us, to put off all defilement of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Special attention to the following;

  • It is the believer’s responsibility to consciously cleanse and walk in holiness. How?
  • We must be conscious that a holy God is dwelling in our midst (and will do so even more in the kingdom of God)
  • We should fear God in a way that prompts us to put off all sin.
  • We should pursue holiness because He is holy. Any defilement, whether in spirit or flesh, should be cleansed. If God is holy and can only dwell amongst those who are holy, how can Christians become partners with unbelievers? The thought is inconceivable.

Vs 2-4: Attributes of a Godly Leader

  • Paul appeals to the Corinthians to “open their hearts” or make room for him and the authentic apostles because the Corinthians have withdrawn themselves from them (6:11-13) This is a great display of humility from Paul. Remember, the better person does the best thing first. This is no display of weakness, rather a display of strength stemming from spiritual maturity. He communicates their desire for restoration of relationship.
  • Paul also enumerates evidences of their love and affection towards the Corinthians by stating they have “wronged no one” i.e. not acted unjustly towards them; “corrupted no one”, i.e. not seduced or misled anyone; “cheated or taken advantage of” any of them. The Corinthians have not been exploited or cheated. This is a learning point, especially for those of us in authority.

Vs 5-7: Maintain Joy In The Midst of Affliction

  • “We were troubled from every sides” - Paul shows that the Apostles were not exempted from real life issues – conflicts and occasional fears.
  • He however acknowledged the comfort of God in the midst of troubles. This comfort and joy Paul describes is not due to the pleasantness of his surroundings in Macedonia. He enjoys comfort and encouragement in “all our affliction” (vs 4)
  • It is the way God comforts Paul which I find most instructive and encouraging. God encourages Paul through the arrival of Titus, and the good report Titus brings with him about the Corinthians’ response to Paul’s strong letter of rebuke and correction, referred to in verses 8-13a.

Vs 8-12: A Time for Every Purpose

  • Paul has made several visits to Corinth and also written several letters, only two (1st and 2nd Corinthians) of which are preserved for us in the New Testament.
  • That letter was sorrowful because it caused both Paul and the Corinthians to sorrow. Paul had his regrets in sending this letter, because he knew at the time the pain it would cause them. But he also knew that there was no other way to deal with their sin other than to expose and confront it with a letter of rebuke.
  • As the writer of Ecclesiastes 3:1puts it – “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.” As body of Believers, we must not shy away from being corrected and also correcting others, no matter our levels. Jesus will rather chastise us with the truth than pamper us with flattery. Keeping mute (most times) is never effective.
  • We should however correct or chastise prayerfully, trusting that this will result in a godly sorrow which will eventually lead to godly repentance which is the desired effect of the correction in the first place.
  • What does Paul mean when he said “that you might suffer loss from us in nothing” or speaks of the possibility of the Corinthians “suffering a loss through Paul and his colleagues”? The inference here is  that when a brother or sister is caught up by some sin, they are headed for “loss” if that sin is not rebuked and they do not repent of the sin. If we fail to speak up when we see a brother or sister caught up in sin, we become partners in their sin. We contribute to their downfall. They suffer loss because of our passivity and silence. We become accessories to their sin.
  • There is a sorrow which is according to the will of God, and that sorrow produces a repentance without regret. Repentance is without regrets. Repentance leads to salvation, and salvation is never regretted.
  • How interesting in our text that Paul speaks of not two kinds of repentance, but only one. He does, however, speak of two kinds of sorrow. The first sorrow is “according to the will of God.” This godly sorrow produces a repentance without any regrets and leads to life. It does so by bringing about repentance, which turns our faith to Jesus Christ and His completed work of redemption by means of His death, burial, and resurrection. The sorrow of the world is very different, leading men to death. Worldly sorrow does not regret having sinned, because it offends a holy and righteous God. The one who sorrows wrongly is not sorry because of their sin, but because of the suffering their sin causes them (and the exposure). Judas was sorry he had betrayed our Lord (Matthew 27:3), but his sorrow did not lead him to repentance.
  • Paul’s letter to the Corinthians led to the right (godly) kind of sorrow, for it led them to repentance. This was evident by the “fruits of genuine repentance” which Titus reports to Paul.
  • Some of the “fruits of repentance” which Titus reported to Paul are listed in verse 11: what vindication of yourselves [against charges that you tolerate sin], what indignation [at sin], what fear [of offending God], what longing [for righteousness and justice], what passion [to do what is right], what readiness to punish [those who sin and those who tolerate sin]! 
  • Just what is the “wrong” Paul rebukes, for which the Corinthians repent? According to Verse 12, there is a specific problem in Corinth. It is a specific sin committed by one individual (“the offender”) and against another (“the one offended”). The Corinthians are aware of this sin and yet fail to act on it. Paul’s painful letter is to the church as a whole, rebuking them for not dealing with this sin. On receiving Paul’s letter of rebuke and reflecting on it, they realize that Paul is right, and they are wrong. The evidence of this is their dealing with the offender appropriately. The letter Paul writes to the Corinthians is not primarily for the sake of the offender, or for the one offended, but for all those who passively stand by and look on without dealing with this sin. In short, the Corinthians are seemingly soft on sin, and Paul’s letter brings them up short, leading to their repentance. For this, Paul greatly rejoices.

Conclusion: Vs 13-16: Rejoicing over Good Reports

  • Paul and his colleagues are greatly comforted and encouraged by the report Titus gives concerning the Corinthians. How relieved and excited Titus must have been at the repentance and total change of attitude by the convicted Corinthians. That’s what our response should be when an erring member of the Body have a change of heart. This is opposite to what Jonah felt at Nineveh.
  • Titus went to Corinth with a heavy heart and a good measure of fear and trepidation. He comes back with his spirit refreshed as a result of having been among the Corinthians.
  • What a joy Titus’ change of countenance is to Paul. The improvement in Titus is noted by Paul and becomes one more source of encouragement to him as he presses on in his ministry as a fellow-servant with Titus and the apostles.
  • The change in Titus especially encourages Paul because he has boasted to Titus about the Corinthians. Paul had told the Corinthians of his confidence in them (1 Cor.1:4-9; 2 Cor.1:7; 7:4)
  • Would the Corinthians live up to their calling and Paul’s confidence? The countenance of Titus tells it all. They certainly did live up to Paul’s expectations! Because of this, Titus now feels toward the Corinthians as Paul does. His affection abounds toward them even more, and his heart is warmed by ever fond remembrances of his time spent among them. They received him with “fear and trembling,” with deep humility and a willingness to hear what God would say to them through him. Their obedience to Paul’s words (and, we would expect, those of Titus as well) was proof of their godly sorrow and repentance.

Most of this teaching is culled from bible.org

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 02:34 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, October 29 2017

Contributor: Alex Alajiki

INTRODUCTION: Last week, from our study in the concluding part of 2 Corint.5:11-20, we saw the importance of the major ministry committed to every believer; the ministry of reconciliation.  2 Corint.5:20 “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God”. This is the most important assignment of believers on earth. We must daily see ourselves as Christ ambassadors on earth with the sole assignment of preaching the gospel to every creature. 

This week, we are studying chapter 6 of the 2nd book of Paul to the Corinthian Church

 

  1.  Do not receive God’s grace in vain: 2 Cor.4:1-2

We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

 

We are co-workers on earth with God and He has given every one of us His abilities or grace to get the work done. Paul is appealing to the Corinthians not to receive the grace of God in vain. ‘In vain’ means without a proper purpose, or without a worthwhile result. In 1 Corinthians 15:10, Paul said that God’s grace towards him was not in vain. He explained this by reference to his special work for God, and the way that God’s grace worked through him.

 

In vs 2, Paul was referring to Isa.49:8-9 “Thus says the Lord: “In an acceptable time I have heard You, and in the day of salvation I have helped You; I will preserve You and give You as a covenant to the people, to restore the earth, to cause them to inherit the desolate heritages; 9 That You may say to the prisoners, ‘Go forth,’ to those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’

 

This is a prophetic scripture referring to this period that God offers to save people. That is, to rescue them from their real enemies: their sin (wrong and evil thoughts, words and deeds), the devil and hell. He has heard and helped us in this day of salvation, we are His messengers to deliver and restore the creature back to Him.

 

  1. The attitude of a true servant of God: 2 Cor.6:3-4a

We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. 4 But in all things, we commend ourselves as ministers of God.

 

This is the same as saying, do not even give the appearance of evil. Paul, a faithful ambassador of Christ does nothing to discredit his ministry, but did everything he can to protect his integrity, the gospel’s integrity, and God’s integrity.

In vs 4a, commend means “introduce,” with the connotation of proving oneself.

Paul could have chosen to live a more comfortable life. However, as God’s servant, he recognised the importance of his ministry, his work for God. He knew that God had given him an extremely important message to declare (2 Corinth. 5:18 to 6:1). Therefore, Paul accepted the most severe troubles as he carried out his work for God. Paul would not allow even the worst troubles to stop his work for God. Paul did not want any weakness of his own to be a reason why someone could not trust God.

  1.    How Paul served God: 2 Cor.6:4b-10

 

in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, 5 in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in sleeplessness, in fastings; 6 by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, 7 by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the Armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8 by honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

 

 

*In vs 4b, Paul served God in patience, in afflictions, in necessities and in distresses. Patience in the face of afflictions, necessities and distresses. Patience was an enduring character in the life of Paul. In time of troubles, we should allow the Spirit of God within us to take over and guild us through them.

 

*In vs 5, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watching, in fastings. These are severe hardships and pains that brought pressures on the flesh. Paul faithfully endured hardship like he recommended in 2 Tim.2:3.

 

*In vs 6, By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost and by love unfeigned. This is the standard that we should endure these problems with. We should never stop loving, even the enemy. It is not how many problems we have that are important, but how we handle those problems. Heb.13:5.

 

*In vs7, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the Armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.

We know that every temptation Satan brought to Jesus, He answered "It is written". This is a guide to us. We must face each problem, or temptation, with "It is written". The answers to all of life's problems are found in the Bible

Paul never operated beyond the boundaries of the direction and guidance of divine revelation. Nor did he rely on his own strength when he ministered. He did not fight Satan’s kingdom with human resources, but with spiritual virtue such as the sword of the Spirit, and defensive tools, such as the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation. Eph.6:12

 

*In vs 8, By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and [yet] true. Paul is just saying, that it does not matter where the accusations are coming from. It really does not matter whether they are even true or not. They are still overcome by the Word of God and righteousness. 

 

*In vs 9, As unknown, and [yet] well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed. Wherever Paul went, people were trying to kill him. In some places, vast crowds gathered to oppose him. People were constantly demanding Paul’s death. In time, even Paul thought that he must die soon (2 Corinth. 1:8-9). It astonished him that he was still alive. ‘Look!’, he said to Corinth’s Christians in 2 Corinthians 6:9. ‘We live!’

 

*In vs 10, As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and [yet] possessing all things. Circumstances around you may be sorrowful, yet unexplainable, joy in the face of these bad circumstances is in Jesus. Paul said that he had learned to be satisfied in times when he had plenty and in times of want. Whatever state he found himself in, he was content. The spiritual wealth Paul possessed and imparted did much to make his hearers spiritually wealthy Phil.4:11.

 

  1.      We should obey with willing hearts: 2 Cor.6:11-13

11 O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. 13 Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open.

 

The evidence of Paul’s genuine love for the Corinthians was that no matter how some of them had mistreated him, he still loved them and had room for them in his heart. Their limitation was their lack of love in response to his fatherly love 1 Corinth. 4:14-15. He only demand that they open their hearts to him in love.

 

CONCLUSION; Our Call to Holiness: 2 Cor.6:14-18

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people." 17 Therefore "Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you." 18 "I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty."

 

To be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers is for Christians not to be bound together with non-Christians in any spiritual enterprise or relationship that would be detrimental to the Christian’s testimony within the body of Christ. This command does not mean believers should end all associations with unbelievers; that would defy the purpose for which God saved believers and left them on earth. The implausibility of such religious alliances is made clear (in verses 14b-17)

God said to the believers, "Be ye holy, for I am holy". We are like an island surrounded by water. We are the island, and the world is the water. We have a hedge of the blood of Jesus which protects us from the world coming too close. We are separated unto God. In other words, we have come over to God's side. We have left the evil of the world behind. As a result of separating themselves from false doctrine and practice, believers will know the full richness of what it means to be children of God.

 

                                               Parts of this study was culled from bible-styds.org

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 02:26 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, October 29 2017

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION:

In last week’s study, we looked at the first ten verses of this chapter under a title – “Living by Faith”. In the study, we learnt how Christians should handle death; knowing that when this earthly body is destroyed, there is another body: “a building from God, a house not made with hands". Emphasis was placed on knowledge and not guess work as to what happens to us when we leave this world. We concluded by saying that if we want to face death the way Paul faced it, we should make it our aim to please the Lord. Today, we continue from Paul’s last statement.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” So, having that in mind, he and the apostles work hard to win others (persuading them) but all with a pure heart and clear conscience

VERSES 11-12: “It is because of this solemn fear of the Lord, which is ever present in our minds, that we work so hard to win others. God knows our hearts, that they are pure in this matter, and I hope that, deep within, you really know it too. Are we trying to pat ourselves on the back again? No, I am giving you some good ammunition! You can use this on those preachers of yours who brag about how well they look and preach but don’t have true and honest hearts. You can boast about us that we, at least, are well intentioned and honest.”

You can sense from this verse that Paul was having great difficulty dealing with the Corinthians! If he did not respond to what they were saying about him, his silence might be interpreted as guilt and confusion. If he defended himself, he would be accused of vanity, self-commendation, and folly. That is why he was always giving instances to show that his whole carriage was upon principles far above all worldly considerations; and tells them here, once for all, that the account which he gives of himself is only to furnish them who are his friends, and adhered to him, with matter to justify themselves in their esteem of him, and to reply to those who opposed him.

VERSES 13-15:  Are we insane to say such things about ourselves? If so, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. Whatever we do, it is certainly not for our own profit but because Christ’s love controls us now. Since we believe that Christ died for all of us, we should also believe that we have died to the old life we used to live. 15 He died for all so that all who live—having received eternal life from him—might live no longer for themselves, to please themselves, but to spend their lives pleasing Christ who died and rose again for them.

No doubt some of the people at Corinth did not like Paul’s methods and would have referred to Paul’s speaking of his visions and revelations, his speaking with tongues as in ecstasy, his prophecies of future judgment, as so many signs of madness. Like what Agrippa said in Acts 26:24. So Paul responds in verse 13; if you see us as mad men, it is all because of you! Whatever he practised was not for himself, but for them, to win them to Christ, remove difficulties, and strengthen them in the faith. He goes further to explain his drive; in verse 14: “Christ’s love controls us now” the KJV says “For the love of Christ constraineth us.” The love he has for Christ was acting as a constraining power, directing every act of every spiritual state to the good of others, restraining him from every self-seeking purpose.

If we say we believe that Christ died for all of us, then the only true and normal position of each member of the body of Christ should therefore be one that ceases to live for himself or herself and lives for Christ. See Ephesians 2:5 and Romans 6:9-11

VERSES 16-19: So stop evaluating Christians by what the world thinks about them or by what they seem to be like on the outside. Once I mistakenly thought of Christ that way, merely as a human being like myself. How differently I feel now! 17 When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun! 18 All these new things are from God who brought us back to himself through what Christ Jesus did. And God has given us the privilege of urging everyone to come into his favour and be reconciled to him. 19 For God was in Christ, restoring the world to himself, no longer counting men’s sins against them but blotting them out. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others.”

Paul continues from the last statement in verse 15 by saying . . . “Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. (MSG); or by what the world thinks about them or by what they seem to be like on the outside. (LB) . . .. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new.

Paul ceased judging men by those standards. And we should cease from it too. Because we can be very easily wrong! Judging from what we see or other people’s opinion without knowing for sure the person’s relationship with God is erroneous. And then he links it up with Verse 17: To be in Christ, in St. Paul’s language, is for a man to be united with him by faith and by baptism (Romans 6:3-4), to claim personally what had been secured to him as a member of the Body for whom Christ died. In such a case the man is born again (Titus 3:5)—there is a new creation; the man, as the result of that work, is a new creature. The old things of his life, Jewish expectations of a Jewish kingdom, chiliastic dreams, heathen philosophies, lower aims, earthly standards—these things, in idea at least, passed away from him at the time when he was united with Christ. All these things are of God (Verse 18) ... being completely changed; no longer the old person but a brand-new creation inside! It was God who did the work Himself through what Jesus did on the cross and if we are called to preach this good news, we should count it as a privilege! And more importantly, when we do, we should focus on the truth that God has blotted out our sins; not counting their sins against them anymore!

Conclusion Verses 20-21

20 We are Christ’s ambassadors. God is using us to speak to you: we beg you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, receive the love he offers you—be reconciled to God. 21 For God took the sinless Christ and poured into him our sins. Then, in exchange, he poured God’s goodness into us!

We are ambassadors for Christ. This implies that you, I, and preachers of the Word are acting on behalf of Christ. God used the apostles and wants to use us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter God’s work of making things right between them. And just in case you want to know how this became possible with us sinners, Paul answers in verse 21 “. . . In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.”

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 02:18 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, October 29 2017

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION:

Last week’s study saw us looking at the life of a Christian as it pertains to facing challenges. We learnt that because of the treasure of God inside of us; we become targets of attack. We may be pressured in every way, but we are not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair; because the Lord will never leave us nor forsake us! In today’s study titled “Living by Faith” we will be considering some interested terminologies. Paul used an interesting phrase in the first chapter of this second letter to the Corinthians: “…the sufferings of Christ abound in us,” as we see in 2 Cor.1v5).

He describes the suffering he and his companions endured as they lived and preached the gospel of Christ. He uses words like “tribulation, trouble, afflictions, burdened, sorrow, anguish” and “many tears.” Paul’s purpose in these reports in 2 Corinthians is not to create gloom and doom. Because, scattered throughout his report of suffering there are intense statements affirming the comfort of faith. God “comforts us,” (1:4), “…for as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ,” (1:5). Paul acknowledges: our hope is steadfast (1:7); God is faithful (1:18); and we are fellow-workers for your joy (1:24).

So, the apostle objectively reports the suffering they endured as ambassadors of Christ, but not to promote despair; rather, to stress the endurance possible by faith. As Paul describes their suffering, more than once he speaks of death! He said, “We had the sentence of death in ourselves,” (1:9), and he speaks with joy of deliverance “from so great a death,” (1:10). He uses the poetic expression, “the aroma of death leading to death,” (2:16). Then he says: “For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So, then death is working in us, but life in you.”

How do you go through something that can best be described by the terminology of death? How do you go through something that can best be described as death? The more direct question for us today is: How do we face death? Now that we have that as a backdrop, let’s step into 2 Cor. 5.

VERSE 1: “For we know that if the earthly tent [our physical body] which is our house is torn down [through death], we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

This is how Christians handle death; in fact, this is the only way to face it; knowing that when this earthly body is destroyed, there is another body: “a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” A close look at the details reveals The Importance of Knowledge. This verse is introduced by that simple phrase that is filled with meaning: “we know!” Guessing affords no power in facing death. The philosophical speculation of men supplies no strength. Paul writes of that which we can know here in 2 Cor. 5:1. This is the knowledge enjoyed by those who walk by faith, not by sight.

Now to the essence of the verse, two bodies are mentioned. One we have now; another we will have then. One is earthly, the other is “eternal in the heavens.” The present body is called a “tent,” while the future body is called a “building.” A tent is a temporary habitation of a traveller. A building is the permanent habitation of a resident. The tent is the body we now occupy; the building is the glorious body we are destined to occupy, so long as we walk by faith (see Phil. 3:20,21).

VERSE 2: “For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our [immortal, eternal] celestial dwelling,” The LB says: “How weary we grow of our present bodies. That is why we look forward eagerly to the day when we shall have heavenly bodies that we shall put on like new clothes.”

Paul continues with this statement: “In this we groan…” We know what it means to groan, but Paul was talking about something beyond the ordinary groaning we do. He defined it as: “Earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven.” This is the groaning of wanting to occupy that other body – that eternal building from God, prepared for those who walk by faith! This may be this is easier to grasp through the years of experience. Or more meaningful to us, as we grow older. That is why it is common for aged Christians to long for that eternal body they will occupy in heaven. And it may also be, the more you suffer, the deeper your appreciation of that which is eternal. (There is a legitimate, commendable mood that seeks death, see Phil. 1:23). “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;”

This was written by a suffering man. An inspired apostle – Yes. But do not rule out his experience of suffering – which is the background of the text. He said this, expressing his hope and the hope of all – who walk by faith: “For we know, that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven.”

VERSES 3 & 4: “so that by putting it on we will not be found naked.  4 For while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened [often weighed down, oppressed], not that we want to be unclothed [separated by death from the body], but to be clothed, so that what is mortal [the body] will be swallowed up by life [after the resurrection].”

Here, Paul further explains this groaning. It is not just the thought to get out of suffering; or just the emotion or longing of pure escape, but – “that mortality may be swallowed up by life.”

The body we will have in eternity will be free of the diseases, pains and burdens of earthly existence. It is about living in a glorious body prepared by God (Phil. 3:20,21), in a place prepared by God (heaven), for those who walk by faith. As we struggle in “this tent,” we long for this eternally clothed existence (not naked, but eternally clothed, immortally clothed.)

VERSE 5: “Now He who has made us and prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the [Holy] Spirit as a pledge [a guarantee, a down payment on the fulfilment of His promise].

Paul was not merely guessing or speculating here! Remember verse 1 begins with, “For we know…” How did Paul know? “By revelation,” (see Eph. 3:1-6). The Holy Spirit has revealed it; Paul wrote it and we can know it, and take our confidence in it. As we walk by faith, God is preparing us for better things. Amen!

VERSES 6 - 8: “So then, being always filled with good courage and confident hope, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord for we walk by faith, not by sight [living our lives in a manner consistent with our confident belief in God’s promises] -  we are [as I was saying] of good courage and confident hope, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”

These verses express both obligation (obedience) and ground of confidence (trust). It is our ground of confidence – as we live by faith – that when these bodies are destroyed – “we have a building from God, eternal in the heavens.” That’s our ground of confidence. Those with this confidence walk (active mobility) by faith.

What does that mean in practice? It means hearing, believing and doing as God directs. It means not living according to what you see in the temporal world. It means even in the face of death, maintaining your obedience of heart to God. As we walk by faith. verse 8 says, “we are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from body and to be present with the Lord.”

CONCLUSION (VERSES 9 & 10)

“Therefore, whether we are at home [on earth] or away from home [and with Him], it is our [constant] ambition to be pleasing to Him. 10 For we [believers will be called to account and] must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be repaid for what has been done in the body, whether good or bad [that is, each will be held responsible for his actions, purposes, goals, motives—the use or misuse of his time, opportunities and abilities].”

If you want to face death the way Paul faced it, make it your aim to please the Lord. If you want hope to strengthen you and get you through the struggles on earth – make it your aim to please the Lord. As you please the Lord – though the body may deteriorate, your spirit will soar to great heights. You will be strong and courageous. And you will be ready

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” It is important to note the movement in the text from hope to accountability in 2 Cor. 4:16-5:10. As we accept the promises of the gospel, by the activity of our faith (walking by faith, not sight), we personally embrace the necessary accountability to stand before “the judgment seat of Christ.”

Parts of this study was culled from http://www.bible.ca/ef/expository-2-corinthians-5-1-10.htm

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 02:08 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, October 29 2017

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Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 02:04 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, September 13 2017

Contributor: Leye Olayiwola

Introduction: It was an awesome time studying at the feet of the Master, Jesus Christ, during last week’s exposition into 2 Corinthians chapter 2. Amongst other things, we dug into God’s perfect template for forgiveness as laid out by Apostle Paul through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We learnt how we must consciously, as a church, unite in the condemnation of sin and the show of love to the offending brother or sister. We also learnt how, as the fragrance of Christ, we can please others to their edification, through our manner of doing things. We will continue in our study by understanding the immense privilege of being ministers of the new covenant.   

1. Epistles of Christ (verses 1-3)

"as some" Paul uses this term often in 2 Corinthians because of the conflict with the aggressive false teachers from Palestine who tried to elevate themselves by contrasting themselves to Paul and his background and his gospel (2 Cor.2:17; 10:2). He also used the same expression in a negative sense in 1 Corinthians to relate to the actions and beliefs of some church members (1 Cor. 4:18*; 15:12).

"letters of commendation" The early church adopted the procedure of letters of recommendation to assure the orthodoxy and trustworthiness of itinerant ministers. When Paul said "You are our letter, written in our hearts," He is asserting that he does not need a letter to recommend himself to this church (or from this church), because he is its spiritual founder as Christ is its Saviour and Lord. They were his flesh-and-blood letter.

The phrase "written in our hearts" is a perfect passive participle. Paul loved this church. They were permanently in his heart and mind. The passive voice implies that God/Christ/Spirit is the agent (vs. 3), which produces Paul's love.

"you are a letter (epistle) of Christ"- Believers are meant to clearly reveal Christ by their motives, words, and actions. How we live reflects on His reputation!

"the Spirit of the living God" The terminology referring to the Triune God is very fluid. The Spirit is often referred to as the Spirit of Jesus (Rom. 8:9; 2 Cor. 3:17; Gal. 4:6; 1 Pet. 1:11). Here the same type of fluidity is directed toward the Father. The title "living God" is a play on YAHWEH, which is from the Hebrew verb "to be" (Exod. 3:14). The descriptive title is common for the Father in the NT ( Matt. 16:16; 26:63; Acts 14:15; Rom. 9:26; II Cor. 6:16; I Thess. 1:9). In the OT the pagan idols were lifeless. They could not respond or they were dead part of the year (i.e. The winter) following the fertility cycles of nature. YAHWEH was the only truly alive, always-alive God!

"not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts" This seems to relate to the giving of the law in Exod. 31:18 and to the promise of a New Covenant (cf. Jer. 31:31-34 and Ezek. 36:22-38). This is an obvious contrast between the Old Covenant as external law versus the New Covenant as internal (i.e. new heart, new mind, and new spirit, cf. Ezek. 11:19; 36:26).

2. Spirit vs Letter (verses 4-6)

"Not that we are adequate in ourselves" The Greek term hikanos is common in the NT and is used in two senses. (1) as a large number of something (2 Cor.11:30), even time; (2) fit, appropriate (2 Cor. 2:6), competent, qualified, able, or adequate. The second sense is used here. Paul expresses his sense of unworthiness using this term in 1 Cor. 15:9. He also asserts that gospel ministers are not worthy in themselves in 2 Cor. 2:16 and 3:5. Yet, even as we are inadequate in ourselves, God has called us and empowered us as His representatives (2 Cor. 3:6; 2 Tim. 2:2). We are adequate in Him (Col. 1:12).

 "servants of a new covenant" - God's leaders are gifts to the church (Eph. 4:11), but they are still servants, not bosses!  Paul uses several terms to address the idea of servant/minister in the Corinthian letters. This shows Paul's understanding of ministry.  Believers belong to Christ.  As Christ served others (Mark 10:45*), believers serve others (1 John 3:16*).  Church leadership is servant leadership (Matt. 20:20-28; Mark 10:32-45; Luke 22:24-27). Believers are part of a family.  The goal is not directed toward the individual believer but toward the health and growth of the Body, family, field, temple building.  Believers are each gifted (1 Cor. 12:11) for the common good (1 Cor. 12:7).  We are saved to serve! 

 "not of the letter but of the Spirit"- Paul is contrasting the old and new covenants, but really heart faith (Rom. 2:29; 7:6) versus head faith (i.e., legalism, human performance, self-righteousness).

"the letter kills" This seems to relate to the primary purpose of the Mosaic law. It was given not to give life, but to accentuate and reveal our sinfulness (Rom. 7:9-11; Gal. 3:10). The Law brings condemnation (Rom. 5:13), wrath (Rom. 4:15), and death (Rom. 7:19; II Cor. 3:6). The place of the law is also clearly seen in  Rom. 3:20; 5:20; 10:4; Gal. 3:24-25. The relationship between the NT believer and the OT Law has been a greatly confused issue. Based on all the passages of the NT, it is clear that the Christian is not under OT law (Rom. 6:14; Gal. 5:18). This is not because the OT law has passed away, but because the NT Christian fulfills the OT law in God's love relationships with us seen in believers' love for others (Rom. 13:8-10; Gal. 5:14). The purpose of the law is to bring fallen mankind to Christ, so as to redeem them. However, just because the OT law is not a means of salvation does not mean it is not God's will for humanity in society.

"the Spirit gives life" This relates primarily to the distinction between the purpose of the OT and the purpose of the NT. The key is God's love, Christ's work, and the Spirit's enabling.

3. Condemnation vs Righteousness (verses 7-11)

"the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones" The purpose of the law was to show sinfulness (Gal. 3:24). The old covenant is written by the finger of God on tablets of stone on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19-20). The new covenant, also written by God, is on the hearts of faithful followers (Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:22-38). The first is characterized by obedience to an external code, but the second, obedience to an internal relationship.

"the ministry of condemnation" - What a strong, shockingly negative way to describe the Old Covenant. The OT produced condemnation for most of the children of Abraham. "the ministry of righteousness" - The NT produces righteousness for all the children of Adam if only they will trust in God's finished work in Christ.

"that which remains is in glory" The contrast is not between that which is from God or has God's glory, but which has the greater glory and the abiding glory. The answer is the New Covenant in Christ, the New Age of the Spirit, and the now complete predestined eternal plan of redemption.

4. Moses Covenant vs Jesus Covenant (verses 12-16)

Verse 13 - this verse refers to verse 7, which is an allusion to Exod. 34:29-35. In the OT the reason for Moses wearing a veil is the fear of what his glowing face might cause to the Israelites (Exod. 34:30). Paul interprets the reason so as to accentuate his depreciation of the Old Covenant. As Moses' face fades, so too, Moses covenant! Paul makes several comparisons between Moses' covenant and Jesus' covenant.

1. the Lord of Exodus = the Spirit of Jesus; 2. only Moses could approach God intimately versus all believers in Christ can approach God; 3. Moses' glory faded versus Jesus' glory never fades; 4. Moses brought the bondage of performance versus Christ brings the freedom of grace; 5. Moses' covenant was unable to produce a righteous people versus Jesus' covenant does produce righteous people

"But their minds were hardened". This Greek term comes from the idea of "thick skinned" or "calloused" (Mark 6:52; 8:17; Rom. 11:7,25). "the same veil remains unlifted" Moses used a literal veil; this term is now used to describe the inner blindness of contemporary Judaism. Jews were/are walking in the judgment of Isa. 6:9-10 and 29:10. This also relates to the Jews of our day who refuse to accept Jesus as the Messiah.

"because it is removed in Christ" - Only the grace of God can remove the blindness of tradition, self-righteousness, and sin. Religious people are as prone to spiritual blindness as non-religious people. Fallen mankind's only hope is;

1. the unchanging mercy of the Father; 2. the full and finished atonement of the Son; 3. the universal work of the Spirit

Salvation is a spiritual gift and not a matter of family, tradition, intellect, performance, or preference! Jesus Himself opened the minds of the two on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35.

"but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away" - This could be a quote from Exod. 34:34. If so it relates to Moses' actions when approaching God. It also seems to be a universal appeal and invitation for anyone and everyone to turn to the Lord. The term "turn" in Hebrew (shub) refers to repentance.

Conclusion: (verses 17-18)

"Now the Lord is the Spirit" - The ministry of Jesus and the Spirit are inseparably linked (vs.17-18). The ministry of the Spirit is to magnify Jesus.

"there is liberty" - This refers to freedom from spiritual blindness, self-righteousness, and legalism caused by a personal faith relationship with Jesus Christ 

 "with unveiled face" - This is a perfect passive participle implying a permanent unveiling. 

"beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord" The gospel has fully revealed both YAHWEH and Jesus of Nazareth (2 Cor.4:6). As we respond in repentance and faith the revelation changes us into His image.

"are being transformed" This is a present passive indicative. All of the verbals in this context are passive voice, implying God's activity on our behalf, transforming believers into Christ's likeness (Rom. 12:2). This same verb is used of the Transfiguration (Matt. 17:2; Mark 9:2).

"into the same image" Jesus is the image of God (2 Cor.4:4; John 1:14-18; 14:9; Heb. 1:3). Humans were created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). Believers are in the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29-30). Christlikeness is God's primary goal for all believers (Gal. 4:19; Eph. 1:4).

"from glory to glory" There are stages in God's plan of restoration and renewal. Believers are in a process that leads to Christlikeness (1John 3:2).

Most parts of this study was culled from bible.org

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 03:54 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, August 31 2017

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

Introduction:

In last week’s study, we saw the Apostle Paul responding to the Corinthians who were criticising him saying he was unreliable and inconsistent because he changed his travel plans. In his response, we learnt that his decision was for both their benefits; and that he could have avoided all the chaos if he had explained his reason in his initial message to them through Titus. But more importantly, he was humble enough to respond to them without any bile or guile. In today’s study, we will follow through with the remaining verses from chapter 2 and learn some valuable lessons in Church Discipline and Forgiveness as well as our triumph in Christ

The Perfect Template for Forgiveness – Verses 5-8
“Remember that the man I wrote about, who caused all the trouble, has not caused sorrow to me as much as to all the rest of you—though I certainly have my share in it too. I don’t want to be harder on him than I should. He has been punished enough by your united disapproval. 7 Now it is time to forgive him and comfort him. Otherwise he may become so bitter and discouraged that he won’t be able to recover. 8 Please show him now that you still do love him very much” [LB]
In verses 5 – 8, Paul appeals to the Corinthian church to forgive the brother who had sinned (and repented) among them. Let’s delve into these verses:
"Remember that the man I wrote about, who caused all the trouble:" This is real pastoral wisdom and compassion on display!  He refers to a specific person among the Corinthians, without naming him.  You will recall from 1 Corinthians 5; there was a man sleeping with his father’s wife. The Corinthian church obeyed and issued punishment to the man as instructed by Paul. Apparently, he repented, but the Corinthian Christians would not receive him back!  So here, Paul was telling them not be too severe, to consider their punishment sufficient, and to forgive and comfort the man. Their harsh stance towards this man had a real danger: “Lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow.”  By withholding restoration and forgiveness from the man, they risked ruining him, causing him to be swallowed up with too much sorrow.
The Corinthian Christians were often extreme! Either being too lenient (as they were initially, condoning the sin) or as it now, too harsh. From Paul’s letter, we learn that for forgiveness to be complete; there must be comfort. Forgive and comfort him Paul admonishes. There is the judicial forgiveness which is hard, and leaves the soul always conscious of the past.  But comfort takes the soul to heart, and leaves it grateful and assured.  That is how God forgives, and so should we who are His children. Joseph’s experience when he forgave his brothers in Genesis 50: 19-21 is the perfect template for forgiveness.
“And Joseph said unto them, fear not: for am I in the place of God?  But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.”
The restoring work of the church towards sinners is just as important as its rebuking work. When the offender is made to feel that, while his sin is punished, he himself is loved; and that the end aimed at is not his suffering but his good, he is more likely to be brought to repentance."

The Reason for Complete Forgiveness and Reassurance Read Verses 9 - 11
“I wrote to you as I did so that I could find out how far you would go in obeying me. When you forgive anyone, I do too. And whatever I have forgiven (to the extent that this affected me too) has been by Christ’s authority, and for your good. A further reason for forgiveness is to keep from being outsmarted by Satan, for we know what he is trying to do.” [LB]
Paul wrote strongly in 1 Corinthians 5, and the Corinthians met the test by doing what Paul instructed them to do.  Now, he puts them to the test again, telling them to show love to the now repentant brother. Sometimes we find it easier to be obedient when it came to being "tough" than when it comes to being “loving.” You will see here also that Paul expects the Corinthian Christians to take the lead in showing the man forgiveness and restoration. “When you forgive anyone, I do too.”  Jesus talked about the same in Luke 17:3 "So watch yourselves. "If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them."
Verse 11 says: "A further reason for forgiveness is to keep from being outsmarted by Satan, for we know what he is trying to do.” Other versions say “Lest Satan should take advantage of us:”
Paul knew this was of special concern, because Satan is looking to take advantage of our mistakes, as a church and as individuals. The phrase “Take advantage” (the Greek word pleonekteo) is used in four other verses in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 7:2, 12:17-18, 1 Thessalonians 4:6).  It has the idea of cheating someone out of something that belongs to them.  When we are ignorant of Satan's strategies, he can take things from us that belong to us in Jesus, things like peace, joy, fellowship, a sense of forgiveness, and victory. For we are not ignorant of his devices (for we know what he is trying to do.”): To withhold forgiveness from the repentant is to play into the hands of Satan. And there is nothing more dangerous than to give Satan a chance of reducing a sinner to despair. Whenever we fail to comfort those that are moved to a sincere confession of their sin, we give Satan the opportunity to do this.

Grabbing Every Opportunity to Preach! – Verses 12-13
“Well, when I got as far as the city of Troas, the Lord gave me tremendous opportunities to preach the Gospel. 13 But Titus, my dear brother, wasn’t there to meet me and I couldn’t rest, wondering where he was and what had happened to him. So I said good-bye and went right on to Macedonia to try to find him.” [LB]
Paul has been dealing with criticism from the Corinthian Christians, saying he is unreliable and inconsistent because of his travel plans.  Here he mentions another reason; that while he was away, he was busy at the Master’s business! The Lord gave me tremendous opportunities to preach the Gospel.: Paul was interested in ministering where God was opening doors.  The only way our work for God will be blessed is when it is directed service. In verse 13 we learn that even though there was an open door, Paul felt he could not do all that he needed to if he did not have Titus there.  Paul did not regard himself as a one-man show, he knew he needed other people with him and beside him.

Jesus, The Triumphant Leader – Verses 14
“But thanks be to God! For through what Christ has done, he has triumphed over us so that now wherever we go he uses us to tell others about the Lord and to spread the Gospel like a sweet perfume.” [LB]
Here in verse 14, Paul takes an image from the Roman world, seeing Jesus as the victorious, conquering general in a triumph parade. A Roman triumph parade was given to successful generals when returning from their conquests. Paul wanted the Corinthian Christians to realize that he was being led his general, Jesus Christ.  It is almost as if he sees Jesus' triumph parade winding its way through the whole Roman Empire, through the entire world. Incense, was also a common feature at the Roman triumph parade.  In Paul's mind, this fragrance is like the knowledge of God, which people can smell when the triumph parade winds by. The Fragrance of Christ!  It does not consist so much in what we do, but in our manner of doing it; not so much in our words or deeds, as in an indefinable sweetness, tenderness, courtesy, unselfishness, and desire to please others to their edification.  It is the breath and fragrance of a life hidden with Christ in God, and deriving its aroma from fellowship with Him. 

The Triumph Parade Means Different Things to Different People. Verses 15-16a
“As far as God is concerned there is a sweet, wholesome fragrance in our lives. It is the fragrance of Christ within us, an aroma to both the saved and the unsaved all around us. 16 To those who are not being saved, we seem a fearful smell of death and doom, while to those who know Christ we are a life-giving perfume.” [LB]
To the one we are the aroma of death to death, and to the other the aroma of life to life: The smell of incense burnt to the gods in a Roman triumph parade would be a great smell to a Roman.  But it would be a bad smell to a captive prisoner of war in the parade, who would soon be executed or sold into slavery. In the same way, the message of the gospel is a message of life to some and a message of condemnation to those who reject it (John 3:17-21). The same happens to the present day to those who receive and to those who reject the Gospel: it is the means of salvation to the former, it is the means of destruction to the latter; for they are not only not saved because they do not believe the Gospel, but they are condemned because they reject it.

Conclusion: Paul Characterizes His Ministry Based on His Integrity. Verses 16b-17
“But who is adequate for such a task as this? 17 Only those who, like ourselves, are men of integrity, sent by God, speaking with Christ’s power, with God’s eye upon us. We are not like those hucksters—and there are many of them—whose idea in getting out the Gospel is to make a good living out of it.” [LB]
Who is adequate/capable for these things?  When Paul thinks of the greatness of God's plan, he wonders who is sufficient to play a role in it.  "In himself, no one is.  But someone has to preach Christ and Paul proceeds to show that he is sufficient." This is a great work, first to consult the mind and will of God, and find it out by study and meditation; then faithfully to communicate it unto people, without any vain or corrupt mixtures (which do but adulterate the word preached); then to apply it to the consciences of those that hear us.  Who is sufficient for these things? that is, to discharge the office of the ministry in the preaching of the gospel, as men ought to preach it." Not like others who are preaching the Gospel; "adulterating" or "watering down" for their personal gains. Revelation 2:24
Parts of this study was culled from https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/archives/guzik_david/studyguide_2cr/2cr_2.cfm

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 01:54 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, August 27 2017

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION
At the tail end of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians he had made plans to visit the church as we see in 1 Cor. 16: 5 – 7 – “I am coming to visit you after I have been to Macedonia first, but I will be staying there only for a little while. It could be that I will stay longer with you, perhaps all winter, and then you can send me on to my next destination. This time I don’t want to make just a passing visit and then go right on; I want to come and stay awhile, if the Lord will let me.”
Apparently, something happened and plans changed and the Corinthians started accusing him of being inconsistent and unreliable. It would also appear that the Corinthians accused Paul of employing worldly methods. Paul's policy of being all things to all men so that by all possible mean I might save some (1Cor9v22) would have invited some criticism too.
And so, he responds with his second letter; but important to note that he didn’t lash off addressing their accusations; he started off from verses 1-11 admonishing the church on how to handle difficulties. He even went as far as using himself as an example of his sufferings in Asia. This shouldn’t come as a surprise because Paul’s method and that of our Lord Jesus Christ has never been to be one-sided in rebuke. The approach has always been not to be overly critical. So, let’s step into the last few verses of Chapter One and into the first few verses of chapter 2 and learn some valuable traits of a genuine leader as Paul defends his integrity and ultimately his ministry!

PAUL’S INTEGRITY, SIMPLICITY AND WRITINGS DEFENDED. Read Verses 12 - 13
From Paul’s response, we can learn the following:
(a) People's consciences vary. Our conscience informs us if we live up to the standards of which we approve. Paul had very high standards informed as they were by Old Testament values and Christ's teaching. So even though his standards were high Paul could still affirm that his conscience was clear over the methods he used to evangelise and his conduct toward the Corinthians.
(b) The importance of integrity. Paul claimed that he behaved at Corinth with holiness and sincerity that are from God. At Corinth Paul behaved with godly simplicity with no intention to deceive anyone. What you saw was what you got and that is how we all should be! Because mostly, people see through our pretences and don’t just want to call us out! Paul also acted with godly sincerity. His motives were pure - perfectly transparent for all to see. He had the best interests of the Corinthians at heart. Paul didn't use the believers there for his own purposes - to acquire wealth, a following, status or adulation.
(c) God's help is better than worldly wisdom. When Paul ministered at Corinth for eighteen months he did not rely on worldly wisdom or his own wisdom. Paul relied on God's help when he took this message to wicked men and women in Corinth. He needed the Holy Spirit to enlighten, guide and empower if success was to accompany the gospel message. 1Cor2v4. This is how everyone in God's service should proceed. If we trust in our strength like Samson we shall come unstuck as surely as he did. We must rely on God alone for effectiveness in service
Paul also had to defend the criticism of his writings.
It also seems the Corinthians criticised Paul's letters in two respects:
(i.) They were not easy to read and consequently were hard to take in and instead of seeking to understand, they turned around and accused Paul of writing in “codes” (in some instances, you and I will agree with them)
(ii.) It was sometimes difficult to discern Paul's meaning. Topics such as an apostle's rights in 1Cor 9 where he argued that God's servants should be paid but refused to accept payment himself. Meat sacrificed to idols where he told the Corinthians not to eat it if by so doing they would offend the weaknesses of another but then asserted: “For why should my freedom be judged by another's conscience.” 1Cor10v29. or his teaching on a woman's role in the church and hair covering that still confuses some Christians to this day.
Here is how Apostle Peter put it in 2 Pet.3:15-16
“and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.”
So, Paul’s response was:
“My letters have been straightforward and sincere; nothing is written between the lines! And even though you don’t know me very well (I hope someday you will), I want you to try to accept me and be proud of me as you already are to some extent; just as I shall be of you on that day when our Lord Jesus comes back again.”
Paul’s response implied that with a bit of effort they should be able to take in what he wrote and by trying hard would eventually fully understand it. He expected that the time he spent with them 18 months was enough for them to have grown above those who need spoon feeding. And that it is wrong when we come across a difficult passage in the New Testament not to make a concerted attempt to understand it.

PAUL DEFENDS THE CRITICISM OF HIS DECISION – Read Verses 14 - 18
It is possible that one of the reasons the church at Corinth criticised Paul for changing his travel plans was because they needed his presence to clarify matters. It is evident from 2Cor1v15 to 2Cor2v4 that Paul made a promise to visit the church at Corinth on his way to Macedonia and then on his way back from Macedonia. In 1 Cor.16:5-7, he promised two visits – the first on his way to Macedonia and the second on his return. It would appear that he deliberately postponed visiting them on his return leg and so, the Corinthians criticised him severely for changing his plans and breaking his promise. And that his “yes” was not “yes” and his “no” was not “no.”
So, Paul again responded in verses 14-18. In verses 14 & 15 you could sense Paul’s disappointment in the Corinthian church when he first said: “And even though you don’t know me very well (I hope someday you will), and then in verse 15: “It was because I was so sure of your understanding and trust . . . “Apparently, that was not the case; the Corinthian didn’t understand, neither did they trust Paul.
He assured the Corinthians of his good intention. He planned to visit them twice for their benefit. And then in verse 17, he expressed another hint of disappointment. "Then why, you may be asking, did I change my plan? Hadn’t I really made up my mind yet? Or am I like a man of the world who says yes when he really means no. He asserted he wasn't the sort of person to make a promise with no intention of keeping it."

VERSES 19 - 24 PAUL EXPLAINS HIS DECISION.
Before Paul explained his decision, he importantly connected his ministry with that of Jesus Christ; since it was Jesus they had been preaching about and He, Jesus isn’t one to say yes when he means no; and He always does exactly what he says. He then quizzed them; “when Silas and Timothy and I proclaimed Jesus among you, did you notice any yes-and-no, on-again, off-again waffling? Wasn’t it a clean, strong Yes?” And then in verse 23b - 24 Paul admitted that he broke his word and changed his plans because he couldn't bear any more unpleasantness. “I call upon this God to witness against me if I am not telling the absolute truth: the reason I haven’t come to visit you yet is that I don’t want to sadden you with a severe rebuke.  24 When I come, although I can’t do much to help your faith, for it is strong already, I want to be able to do something about your joy: I want to make you happy, not sad.”

CONCLUSION - 2 Corinthians 2:1-4
Paul made the first visit on the way to Macedonia, but it was painful for both him and the Corinthians because it was full of confrontation as some of them found it difficult to come to terms with everything he wrote; thus, certain issues remained unresolved and disagreements persisted that the Corinthians would have wanted resolved. But Paul was convinced that if he made a return visit it would be another painful one. 2Cor2vs1 says: “No,” I said to myself, “I won’t do it. I’ll not make them unhappy with another painful visit.”
You see, when he wrote his first letter, it was in the hope that the Corinthians would straighten things out. “That is why I wrote as I did in my last letter, so that you will get things straightened out before I come. Then, when I do come, I will not be made sad by the very ones who ought to give me greatest joy.” 2Cor2v3. But that wasn’t the case. Instead, his confidence that the Corinthians would respond positively to his letter was misplaced. “I had confidence in all of you, that you would all share my joy.” 2Cor2v3. He also didn't enjoy pointing the church to their errors and malpractices as we see in 2Cor2v4a. “Oh, how I hated to write that letter! It almost broke my heart, and I tell you honestly that I cried over it.”
This was clearly a difficult situation Paul found himself. His decision to skip his return visit was clearly for the mutual benefit of both parties but he didn’t explain that in the message sent to the Corinthians through Titus from Ephesus (2Cor2vs3-9). But he was sincere in the explanation of his decision. He didn’t slap his authority over them as we will see these days

Parts of this study was culled from http://www.jrtalks.com

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 03:31 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, August 19 2017

Contributor: Leye Olayiwola

Introduction:

Last week, we concluded on the first letter of Paul to the church in Corinth. In the 16th chapter of the first letter, Paul gave general advice on charitable giving and his intention to visit and fellowship with the brethren. As is customary of the apostle, he admonished the brethren to stand strong in their faith and to do all things with love. Apostle Paul concluded his letter to the Corinthian brethren by praying and reiterating his love for the brethren. Today, we will continue our study of the first chapter of the second epistle of Apostle Paul to the Corinthian church.

1. The Salutation (verses 1-2)
• Paul gives the church one of his standard greetings. Grace refers to that unmerited favor of God toward unworthy sinners that leads to peace in their hearts (i.e., God’s peace that he possesses in himself), in their relationship with God, and also in their relationships with others.

2. God’s comfort and reason for His comfort (verses 3-5)
• Paul starts this section off by ascribing blessing to God. While this opening was a typical way a Jew approached God it was nonetheless an expression of deep piety and reverence. But here, as in Ephesians 1:3 and 1 Pet 1:3, God is specifically identified as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
• God is to be praised for many reasons, for all that He is and does, and the sheer greatness of His being (Ps 145:3), his love (Ps 86:15), faithfulness (Lam 3:22-23), strength (Isa 41:10), and inscrutability (Romans 11:36). Here Paul, in light of his deliverance from deadly circumstances in Asia minor reflects on and gives thanks to God for his immeasurable mercy. In fact, he calls God the Father of mercies (note the plural, “mercies”) and the God of all comfort (Mic 7:19; Isa 40:1; 66:13). God’s mercy is His pity upon us in our helpless (though not necessarily innocent) state and it results in his comfort being shown to us. Paul had experienced that deep compassion of a father who gives mercy a totally new name and who loves a needy son and extends mercy to him in the midst of his struggles (Rom 5:1-5: God has poured out his love into our hearts…”). He comforted the apostle undoubtedly through the Holy Spirit and ultimately by delivering him from the deadly peril (v. 11).
• God does not pick and choose when he will comfort us. Further, there is never a time when we deserve his special presence in mercy. Remember it is according to his mercies—which are many—and in all our affliction or in every affliction we go through. You may have sinned and as a result suffering the consequences, but God will nonetheless draw near to you to comfort you if you allow him.
• So why does God comfort us in all our afflictions? One reason he does this is so that we can comfort others who are in affliction with the comfort by which we were comforted by God. In other words there is a reason why God comforts us. To be sure it is so that we ourselves experience his love and help, but he also wants us as Christians to be conduits of that love, not storehouses. Once we have experienced God’s compassion and comfort in the midst of a trial we are better equipped to minister that same comfort to others. We know what it takes, by the grace of God, to help others who are suffering. This is at the heart of the gospel.
• Paul gives the reason why the argument of verse 4 is true. It is true because just as the sufferings of Christ overflow toward us, so also our comfort through Christ overflows. The sufferings of Christ do not refer to any suffering Messiah endured on the cross en route to securing our redemption. Rather, they refer to the sufferings Paul underwent in the context of his apostolic ministry, that is, suffering for Christ which in fact every Christian encounters as a result of living godly. They are Christ’s sufferings since they come as a result of his life in us. Indeed, as he lives in us in the current expression of the kingdom, he endures them with us until they are completed. But as the sufferings overflow so also our comfort through Christ overflows. But, Paul says, the more I suffer the more I experience comfort through Christ. The particular emphasis here is on the experience of comfort in the midst of suffering, not being comforted by being removed from suffering. Though God did save Paul from such a deadly peril (1:8-11), he was nonetheless comforted in the midst of the trial.

3. Learning from Apostle Paul’s Experience (verses 6-7)
• Two points must be noted in v. 6. First, Paul’s afflictions in the course of his ministry of preaching the gospel for Christ result in the salvation of those who hear the message. This, of course, included the Corinthians. Thus they owe their salvation—which brought them comfort and the experience of God’s presence—as it were, to the suffering of the apostle.
• Second, the fact that Paul is comforted in his trials, demonstrates to the Corinthians that they too can be comforted by God. The mention of this fact, though we are ignorant of the particular afflictions of the Corinthians, awakens them to the possibility of God’s comfort. The end result is that everything God did through Paul was both for his benefit as well as the benefit of the Corinthians.
• Since the sufferings Paul refers to are unique to the Christian—sufferings the Christian undergoes in consequence of being a Christian in a fallen world—and the Corinthians are sharing in these sufferings, Paul is confident that the church will also share in a similar comfort; Paul is ultra confident that God will minister his comfort to them. The implication is that they too will be able to comfort each other in the trial they are enduring.

4. Hardships In Asia (verses 8-11)
• With the use of a common formula in Pauline writing, the apostle says for we do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters. Paul wants them to know the affliction that happened…in Asia, that he and others were burdened excessively, beyond their strength, so that they despaired even of living. The word for connects this paragraph, namely, vv. 8-11, with vv. 3-7 in the following way: since they can share in his sufferings and comfort he tells them about his great struggle in Asia. No one knows precisely what hardship Paul faced in Asia but some school of thoughts are;
a) Fighting wild beasts in Ephesus (1 Cor 15:32);
b) Riots at Ephesus instigated by Demetrius the silversmith (Acts 18:23-41)
c) Deadly sickness of some kind (2 Cor 1:9)
d) Trial in Asia due to the Jews who gave him a great deal of grief (Acts 20:19)
Although we cannot know for certain what the struggle was, it nonetheless brought Paul to his knees—so to speak. He was burdened beyond his ability to endure, beyond his strength, with the result that he despaired of life.
• Paul says that he felt as if the sentence had been passed and death was the verdict. At least this is the place he had come to in his own thinking. He thought for sure that there was no way out whatsoever and that death was inevitable. But, after the entire affair was over he said that God permitted it so that we (he and others with him) would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead. Paul had come to view all of his life in the sovereign hands of God and his good purposes. He knew that God had permitted all of his affliction to occur for many reasons, one chief one being the apostle’s dependence on God.
• Paul is convinced that God delivered him, and those with him, from so great a risk of death and that he will continue to do so in the future. But he wants the Corinthians to know that such deliverance comes about when God’s people pray and petition him in such cases. But the prayer is for more than mere deliverance; it is also for the whole work of proclaiming the gospel and all that such an enterprise entails. The end result of such prayer and “help” is that many will give thanks to God on behalf of his gracious gift of deliverance for Paul and His advancement of the gospel.

Conclusion:
As Christians, we have, by virtue of becoming a Christian, learned to rely on Christ and not ourselves. We learned that through conversion. But the lesson really never ends and in certain ways is greatly accelerated when we suffer. The deeper the suffering, the deeper the despair. The deeper the despair, the deeper the feelings of death. The deeper the feelings of death, the deeper our cry goes forth to the one who can save us from death. What does all this produce: a greater God-given ability to comfort others who are suffering.

Most parts of this study was culled from bible.org

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Tuesday, August 15 2017

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION
The journey through the first letter Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians has been a rather exciting and enriching one. In this final “salutation” chapter, terror and tenderness are strangely mingled in his parting salutation, written by Paul’s own hand. He has been obliged, throughout the whole epistle, to assume a tone of remonstrance abundantly mingled with irony and sarcasm and indignation. He has had to rebuke the Corinthians for many faults, party spirit, lax morality, toleration of foul sins, grave abuses in their worship even at the Lord’s Supper, gross errors in opinion in the denial of the Resurrection. In today’s study, we shall learn a lot from this parting salutation.

Verses 1-4 Directions About Some Charitable Collection to Be Made In The Church
In this chapter, Paul begins with directing the Corinthians about a charitable collection on a particular occasion, the distresses and poverty of Christians in Judea, which at this time were extraordinary, partly through the general calamities of that nation and partly through the particular sufferings to which they were exposed. It was not a peculiar service which he required of them; he had given similar orders to the churches of Galatia, v. 1. He desired them only to conform to the same rules which he had given to other churches on a similar occasion. He did not desire that others should be eased and they burdened, 2 Co. 8:13. He also prudently mentions these orders of his to the churches of Galatia, to excite emulation, and stir them up to be liberal, according to their circumstances, and the occasion. Those who exceeded most churches in spiritual gifts, and, as it is probable, in worldly wealth (see the argument), surely would not suffer themselves to come behind any in their bounty to their afflicted brethren. The good examples of other Christians and churches should excite in us a holy emulation.
In verse 2 Paul teaches us how to form the habit of giving without being under pressure. Each person should set aside any amount he/she could spare from time to time, and by this means make up a sum for this charitable purpose.
When God blesses and prospers us, we should be ready to relieve and comfort his needy servants; when his bounty flows forth upon us, we should not confine it to ourselves, but let it stream out to others.
Works of mercy are the genuine fruits of true love to God, and therefore are a proper service on his own day. Paul’s intention when in he said “I will send whomever you approve with letters [of authorization] to take your gift [of charity and love] to Jerusalem;” was not to meddle with their contributions without their consent. We should not only charitably relieve our poor fellow-Christians but do it in such a way as will best signify our compassion to them and care of them.

Verses 5 – 9 The Visit, The Work and The Challenges
In this passage the apostle notifies and explains his purpose of visiting them,
His purpose: he intended to pass out of Asia, where he now was and to go through Macedonia into Achaia, where Corinth was, and to stay some time with them, and perhaps the winter, v. 5, v. 6. He had long laboured in this church, and done much good among them, and had his heart set upon doing much more (if God saw fit), and therefore he had it in his thoughts to see them, and stay with them.
The heart of a truly Christian minister must be much towards that people among whom he has long laboured, and with remarkable success. His stay among them, he hoped, would cure their factious humour, and reconcile them to himself and their duty.
In verse 7 he adds, “if the Lord permits”: This shows that though the apostles wrote under inspiration, they did not know thereby how God would dispose of them. All our purposes must be made with submission to the divine providence. We should say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this and that, James. 4:15 . It is not in us to effect our own designs, without the divine leave. It is by God’s power and permission, and under his direction, that we must do everything.
However, he intends to continue to stay in Ephesus for a while because a great door, and effectual was opened to him; many were prepared to receive the gospel at Ephesus, and God gave him great success among them; he had brought over many to Christ, and he had great hope of bringing over many more. Great success in the work of the gospel commonly creates many enemies. The devil opposes those most, and makes them most trouble, who most heartily and successfully set themselves to destroy his kingdom.
Adversaries and opposition do not break the spirits of faithful and successful ministers, but only enkindle their zeal, and inspire them with fresh courage.

Verses 10 -12 Recommendation of Timothy to Them, And Apollos’ Intended Visit
Here the apostle recommends Timothy to them. He bids them take care that he should be among them without feat. Timothy was sent by the apostle to correct the abuses which had crept in among them; and not only to direct, but to blame, and censure, and reprove, those who were culpable. They were all in factions, and no doubt the mutual strife and hatred ran very high among them.
He warns them against despising him. Faithful ministers are not only to be well received by a people among whom they may for a season minister, but are to be sent away with due respect. Timothy was employed in the same work as Paul, and acted in it by the same authority, v. 10. He did not come on Paul’s errand among them, nor to do his work, but the work of the Lord. Though he was not an apostle, he was assistant to one, and was sent upon this very business by a divine commission. And therefore, to vex his spirit would be to grieve the Holy Spirit; to despise him would be to despise him that sent him, not Paul, but Paul’s Lord and theirs. Those who work the work of the Lord should be neither terrified nor despised, but treated with all tenderness and respect.
Next, he informs them of Apollos’s purpose to see them. Though one party among them had declared for Apollos against Paul, yet Paul did not hinder Apollos from going to Corinth in his own absence, instead, he encouraged him to go. He had no suspicions of Apollos.

Verses 13 – 18   Admonishment onto Watchfulness, Constancy, Charity, And Paying Due Regard to Fellow Labourers In Their Work
In this passage the apostle gives some general advices;
1. That they should watch (v. 13), be wakeful and upon their guard. A Christian is always in danger, and therefore should ever be on the watch; but the danger is greater at some times and under some circumstances. The Corinthians were in manifest danger upon many accounts: their feuds ran high, the irregularities among them were very great, there were deceivers got among them, who endeavoured to corrupt their faith in the most important articles, those without which the practice of virtue and piety could never subsist. And surely in such dangerous circumstances it was their concern to watch.
2. He advises them to stand fast in the faith, to keep their ground, adhere to the revelation of God, and not give it up for the wisdom of the world, nor suffer it to be corrupted by it—stand for the faith of the gospel, and maintain it even to death
3. He advises them to act like men, and be strong: "Act the manly, firm, and resolved part: behave strenuously, in opposition to the bad men who would divide and corrupt you, those who would split you into factions or seduce you from the faith: be not terrified nor inveigled by them; but show yourselves men in Christ, by your steadiness, by your sound judgment and firm resolution.
4. He advises them to do everything in charity: Our zeal and constancy must be consistent with charity. When the apostle would have us play the man for our faith or religion, he puts in a caution against playing the devil for it. We may defend our faith, but we must, at the same time, maintain our innocence, and not devour and destroy, and think with ourselves that the wrath of man will work the righteousness of God, James. 1:24.
He gives further advice on how they should behave towards those that had been faithful in the service of God. He gives us their character
(1.) The household of Stephanas is mentioned by him, and their character is, that they were the first-fruits of Achaia, the first converts to Christianity in that region of Greece in which Corinth was.
(2.) He mentions Stephanas, and Fortunatus, and Achaicus, as coming to him from the church of Corinth. The account he gives of them is that they supplied the deficiencies of the church towards him, and by so doing refreshed his spirit and theirs, v. 17, v. 18. They gave him a more perfect account of the state of the church by word of mouth than he could acquire by their letter, and by that means much quieted his mind, and upon their return from him would quiet the minds of the Corinthians.

Verses 20 – 24 Conclusion: Solemn Admonition and Good Wishes
And in this last solemn warning he traces all these vices to their fountainhead-the defect of love to Jesus Christ-and warns of their fatal issue. ‘Let him be Anathema.’
But he will not leave these terrible words for his last. The thunder is followed by gentle rain, and the sun glistens on the drops; ‘The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.’ Nor for himself will he let the last impression be one of rebuke or even of warning. He desires to show that his heart yearns over them all; so he gathers them all-the partisans; the poor brother that has fallen into sin; the lax ones who, in their misplaced tenderness, had left him in his sin; the misguided reasoners who had struck the Resurrection out of the articles of the Christian creed-he gathers them all into his final salutation, and he says, ‘Take and share my love-though I have had to rebuke-amongst the whole of you.’

Parts of this study was culled from biblestudytools.com

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 04:09 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, August 04 2017

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION
In last week’s study titled The Order of Resurrection, we learnt that because Christ resurrected, He became the first fruit of you and I who will also resurrect! We used the parallels of planting a dead seed and the fruit it bears to explain how different our resurrected bodies will be from our earthly bodies. In today’s study, we shall be looking at the concluding 9 verses of chapter 15. In these verses of scripture, the Apostle Paul concludes his glorious teaching on the resurrection. These closing verses are a climactic song of victory, a kind of symphony. It’s a symphony in three movements. The first movement celebrates the future transformation of our bodies while the second movement celebrates the future termination of sin. The final movement celebrates the future compensation of our work.

VERSES 50 – 53: CELEBRATING THE FUTURE TRANSFORMATION OF OUR BODIES 
“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”

In these first four verses, Paul explains that an earth suit, a natural human body consisting of flesh and blood as we know it, is unsuitable for heaven. Hence, those believers still alive when Jesus returns at the rapture will receive their new bodies by transformation rather than by resurrection. Our earthly bodies made of flesh and blood cannot get into God’s Kingdom. Because perishable bodies are not the right kind to live forever. Our “appearance” and “attire” must meet certain standards to enter heaven! That is the way heaven is. Heaven is a place where there is no pain, no sorrow, no sickness, or death. These perishable bodies that we possess here on earth are not suited for heaven because they are prone to these.
We must receive “imperishable” or “ageless” bodies. They must be changed into a glorified state so that we can live in God’s presence before His perfection, holiness, and beauty.
He goes further to talk about a mystery; something that had not been taught by any other apostle or the Lord Himself; he was referring to a revelation the Lord must have showed him; a newly revealed truth! The “mystery” is what is called the rapture of the church. There will be a generation of Christians that will inherit their glorified bodies without having to “sleep” or die. 1 Thessalonians 4:15
Paul continues his description of the rapture in 15:52a and explains that the transformation of our bodies will take place “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet.” This transformation will not be a gradual process but instantaneous. You hear the blast of a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it’s over.

VERSES 54-57: CELEBRATING THE FUTURE TERMINATION OF SIN
“54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The resurrection of dead believers and the transformation of living believers signal the death of death. In verse 55, the apostle refers to Isa 25:8 and Hosea 13:14; two scriptures that both mock death! And then he goes further to show reveal some vital truths in verses 56 & 57.
Death is not supposed to have any power over us; but it is sin that makes death so frightening and the guilt that the law invokes gives sin its destructive power. But since we have experienced redemption from sin by Christ then we can face death without its sting. It would only be a transition from earth to heaven.
This reality ought to cause us to break out in thanksgiving, as Paul did in verse 57 when he said: “but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The verb “gives” is in the present tense. Literally, God keeps on giving us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

VERSE 58: CELEBRATING THE FUTURE COMPENSATION OF OUR WORK ON EARTH
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

Paul concludes his discussion of the resurrection with an exhortation to be faithful in the present; telling us how these truths relate to our daily lives.  In this verse, he answers the concerns expressed in verses 1-2

The phrase “my beloved brethren” demonstrates Paul’s love for the Corinthians, despite the deficiencies in their theology and their behavior.31 This should compel us to love one another despite our theological differences. Paul was dealing with Christians that were waffling on their own bodily resurrection. Yet, despite their erroneous theology Paul continued to love them.
After affirming his readers, Paul gives further instructions: What we should be (steadfast and immovable), what we should do, (“abound”) and what we should know (that our labour is not in vain in the Lord.)
1. What we should be: Paul commands us to “be steadfast, immovable.” - Like the Corinthians we are prone to be impatient, easily discouraged, and lazy. We let the circumstances of life blow us out of the water. We allow financial setbacks or job problems to depress us. Yet, Paul says, “Get a grip on the resurrection and on God’s final plan for believers, and you will not be so readily shaken.” We will be firmly rooted in what we know to be true about life and death because we have confidence in the resurrection. It gives solid footing. We won’t be swayed by every idea that comes along about this life and the afterlife. We can stand firm. We know who we are, why we’re here on earth, and where we’re headed in the future.
2. What we should do: Paul urges us to be “always abounding in the work of the Lord.” The verb “abounding” pictures something flowing over the edges on all sides. If we want to hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” we need to give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord. Consistently and continuously.
3. What we should know: Paul encourages us to know (and keep in mind) that our labour is not in vain in the Lord. so, throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort. He is a Rewarder! (Heb. 11:6, Heb.6:10)

CONCLUSION
Now that we know that the resurrection brings us to a quality and a dimension of life that is a lifting to a higher, more free, and a more marvellous dimension of existence than we have ever known; we should also remember that death is a tool, and only our enemy on this earth. Just beyond the “curtain”, it becomes our friend. That is why the elderly at the point of death are “mostly” at peace. (The label “Death” is still on the bottle, but the contents are “Life Eternal.”)
Death is not the end of the road; but only a bend. Psalms 116:15 says: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His (godly ones)”
We should change the way we see death; because the death and burial of our earthly bodies is not an unfortunate circumstance; it is a necessity if you want to enter heaven! God sees death as a passage from earth to heaven for Him to enjoy perfect, eternal, delightful fellowship with each of His redeemed children. And that is how we should see it too; as an opportunity to truly rest from all the hard work and be with God! For Christians, death is a transfer, a promotion; it's on to better things; no more problems. The Bible assures us that death is not a tragedy but a triumphal entry into heaven. Revelation 14:13 says:
'I heard a voice out of Heaven, "Write this: Blessed are those who die in the Master...how blessed to die that way!" "Yes," says the Spirit, "and blessed rest from their hard, hard work. None of what they've done is wasted; God blesses them for it all in the end’
The truth is that even after reading scriptures like these we remain afraid of death because of sin. It is sin that gives death its sting and makes it painful! When death comes, there is nothing we can do about it. But by the life we have lived on earth, we can die by death's sting or use death as a transition-channel to heaven to the beginning of a glorious everlasting life!

Parts of this study was culled from Bible.org

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 03:43 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, July 28 2017

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION
In the conclusion of last week’s study in verse 19, Paul mentioned six things; six history-changing facts that would have followed if Jesus had not risen from the dead. They are: (1) Our preaching is vain; (2) our faith is empty; (3) the apostles are made to be liars; (4) our sin still remains unatoned for; (5) death has triumphed over our loved ones; and (6) life itself is made utterly miserable.
But thank God for the following verses beginning from verse 20!

Verses 20-28 The Last Enemy Destroyed
“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.” 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God[a] has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all."

Twice, Paul mentioned "first fruits." What he refers to here is the ritual given to the Israelites in Leviticus 23:9-14, where on the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which followed the Passover, the day after the Sabbath, there would be the offering of the first fruits of the barley harvest. The Jews were commanded to bring a sheaf of grain, the first of the harvest, to the priest, who would wave it before the Lord on the first day of the week after Passover. Jesus celebrated First Fruits in the appropriate manner by rising from the dead on that day. He also gave the Father His Proper First Fruits offering; graves were opened and dead people rose and were seen after His resurrection in Jerusalem (Matt. 27:53). Paul's argument is that not only did Jesus rise from the dead on the exact day predicted by the ritual, but, furthermore, his resurrection is a sample and a guarantee of the entire "harvest" of resurrection, which would include ours as well. Jesus was the first human being ever to be resurrected from the dead.
What about Lazarus and a number of others who were raised from the dead? Yes, they did return from the dead, but they were not resurrected. There is a difference! Resurrection means more than merely coming back to life. They were resuscitated; brought back to the same life they left. But resurrection does not do that. Resurrection brings us to a quality and a dimension of life we have never lived before. It is not simply a return to existence as we know it now; it is a lifting to a higher, more free, more marvellous dimension of existence than we have ever known. Jesus was the first one, therefore, to be resurrected from the dead. It was the same Jesus, he came in the same body, but he came back to a different level of life.
Paul goes further; "For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead." Death passed upon our race because of the fall of Adam, so all who are part of the new creation, the new race in Christ, shall also participate in the resurrection of the dead. As Paul says, "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive." Now he is talking about believers, those who have already fallen asleep in Christ. In Verse 18 he says, "Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ ..."; in Verse 20 he speaks of "those who have fallen asleep"; and in Verse 23, "those who belong to Christ." So when he says, "in Adam all die," he is not talking about the unbelieving world, although it is true that they all die in Adam, but he is talking particularly about believers. Believers die because, as far as their bodies are concerned, they are part of the race of Adam, and that is why we are not caught up into glory immediately. But, also, we are "in Christ," and those "in Christ shall all be made alive." This is his argument. By man came the breakout from Eden; by man came also the breakthrough back into Paradise, by means of resurrection. What he is really saying then is that resurrection is just as certain as death.
Beginning in Verse 24, the apostle moves on to that final scene, to the time when Christ has returned into time and reigned already for 1,000 years of millennial peace and righteousness on the earth. He will have completed his work, subdued his enemies, cast the devil and death and Hades into the lake of fire (as we read in the book of Revelation), and then delivered the kingdom back to the Father.
Now the apostle says, "The last enemy to be destroyed is death." This can be seen to be true in both an individual and a universal sense. Universally, death is never going to disappear from this earth until we come to that moment, described in the book of Revelation, when a new heaven and a new earth come into existence. But there is coming a time when this body will die, and death then is destroyed for us. "The last enemy to be destroyed is death." Once we pass through the experience of death into resurrection, like our Lord himself, we shall never die again; that is the wonderful statement. Christ having once died, Paul says in Romans, never dies again, and we share his existence. He is the first fruits of the great harvest of which we are a part.

Verses 29-34 (MSG) - Effects of Denying the Resurrection
“29 Why do you think people offer themselves to be baptized for those already in the grave? If there’s no chance of resurrection for a corpse, if God’s power stops at the cemetery gates, why do we keep doing things that suggest he’s going to clean the place out someday, pulling everyone up on their feet alive? 30-33 And why do you think I keep risking my neck in this dangerous work? I look death in the face practically every day I live. Do you think I’d do this if I wasn’t convinced of your resurrection and mine as guaranteed by the resurrected Messiah Jesus? Do you think I was just trying to act heroic when I fought the wild beasts at Ephesus, hoping it wouldn’t be the end of me? Not on your life! It’s resurrection, resurrection, always resurrection, that undergirds what I do and say, the way I live. If there’s no resurrection, “We eat, we drink, the next day we die,” and that’s all there is to it. But don’t fool yourselves. Don’t let yourselves be poisoned by this anti-resurrection loose talk. “Bad company ruins good manners.” 34 Think straight. Awaken to the holiness of life. No more playing fast and loose with resurrection facts. Ignorance of God is a luxury you can’t afford in times like these. Aren’t you embarrassed that you’ve let this kind of thing go on as long as you have?”

The first part of verse 29 is an interesting read. “. . . what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead?” This is what some religions have erroneously adopted and people go and baptize on behalf of someone who was dead; claiming then that the dead person has fulfilled the requirements of salvation in the after world and can enjoy further spiritual benefits in the spiritual realm. Historically, just north of Corinth was a city named Eleusis. This was the location of a pagan religion where baptism in the sea was practiced to guarantee a good afterlife. The Corinthians were known to be heavily influenced by other customs. It is probable that the Corinthians were being influenced by the religious practices found at Eleusis where baptism for the dead was practiced. So, Paul used this example from the pagans in 1 Cor. 15:29, when he said, "...if the dead are not raised, then why are they baptized for the dead?" Paul did not say we. This is significant because the Christian church was not practicing baptism for the dead, but the pagans were. Paul's point was simple. The resurrection is a reality. It is going to happen when Jesus returns. Even the pagans believe in the resurrection, otherwise, why would they baptize for the dead? He then continued to rhetorically ask: “Why are we (the apostles) in danger every hour?

Verses 35-49 (MSG) - Parallels in nature help us to grasp the truths of the resurrection
(35-41) “Some skeptic is sure to ask, “Show me how resurrection works. Give me a diagram; draw me a picture. What does this ‘resurrection body’ look like?” If you look at this question closely, you realize how absurd it is. There are no diagrams for this kind of thing. We do have a parallel experience in gardening. You plant a “dead” seed; soon there is a flourishing plant. There is no visual likeness between seed and plant. You could never guess what a tomato would look like by looking at a tomato seed. What we plant in the soil and what grows out of it don’t look anything alike. The dead body that we bury in the ground and the resurrection body that comes from it will be dramatically different. (39-41) You will notice that the variety of bodies is stunning. Just as there are different kinds of seeds, there are different kinds of bodies—humans, animals, birds, fish—each unprecedented in its form. You get a hint at the diversity of resurrection glory by looking at the diversity of bodies not only on earth but in the skies—sun, moon, stars—all these varieties of beauty and brightness. And we’re only looking at pre-resurrection “seeds”—who can imagine what the resurrection “plants” will be like!
(42-44) This image of planting a dead seed and raising a live plant is a mere sketch at best, but perhaps it will help in approaching the mystery of the resurrection body—but only if you keep in mind that when we’re raised, we’re raised for good, alive forever! The corpse that’s planted is no beauty, but when it’s raised, it’s glorious. Put in the ground weak, it comes up powerful. The seed sown is natural; the seed grown is supernatural—same seed, same body, but what a difference from when it goes down in physical mortality to when it is raised up in spiritual immortality!
(45-49) We follow this sequence in Scripture: The First Adam received life, the Last Adam is a life-giving Spirit. Physical life comes first, then spiritual—a firm base shaped from the earth, a final completion coming out of heaven. The First Man was made out of earth, and people since then are earthy; the Second Man was made out of heaven, and people now can be heavenly. In the same way that we’ve worked from our earthy origins, let’s embrace our heavenly ends.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 10:37 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, July 20 2017

Contributor: Alex Alajiki

INTRODUCTION: Last week, we looked at the second part of Paul’s instructions for the proper use of the gifts of the spirit during worship services. He corrected the Corinthian Church about the importance of the gift of prophesy to edification. He made us to realise that gift of tongues must come with interpretation to benefit the Church.

This week, we are studying one of the most important subject in the gospel of Christ; the resurrection.

1)  The True Gospel of Christ: 1 Cor.15:1-2

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

The Church in Corinth was going through many doctrinal misunderstanding and Paul needed to remind them the gospel he preached to them, 1 Cor.2:1-2. By means of that message, God had saved them. (In other words, he had given them a right relationship with Himself.) However, that message was not just important on the occasion when God saved them. It is both necessary and essential through their entire lives as Christians to hold fast to the original gospel that they believed. Paul wanted them to know that they were saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord (Eph.2:8-9). He also wanted them to remember the purpose for which God saved them. They learn this from the resurrection of Christ. In other words, Christ became alive after his death - and God will do the same thing for them, too. God is giving them a wonderful life with him, which will never end (Eph.2:5-7, Rom.6:4).


2)  The Risen Christ: 1 Cor.15:3-8

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time

Paul chronicled the passion of Christ here to show that Christians believe are not ideas, but real events that happened
The events of Christ’s birth, death and resurrection were foretold by David 1000 years before in Ps.22 and Isaiah wrote about it 700 years before Christ’s death in Isa.53.

Christ’s death is so important because of what He achieved by his death. All people have done many wrong and evil things that are against God’s law (Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:23). The punishment that everyone deserves for their evil deeds is death (Romans 6:23). Christ alone obeyed God perfectly (Hebrews 7:26-27); he alone did not deserve death. But Christ suffered death so that God could forgive many people (Hebrews 9:28; Isaiah 53:6)
His death and shed blood is the atonement for our sins (1John 2:2).

Christ was buried for a period of three days to confirm that He actually died. He was in the grave from Friday until Sunday morning when he resurrected (Ps.16:8-11). Paul does not merely mean that Christ’s spirit was alive. The same body that the men had buried became alive again. In fact, his body was not just alive again; it had a new quality of life (1 Cor.15:35-44). His body had received the same quality of life that already existed in his spirit.

Paul gives a list of occasions when people saw Jesus alive after his death (15:5-7). This began to happen on the third day after Jesus’ death, and continued during a period of 40 days. Paul’s list does not include every occasion when this happened. That is clear from such passages as John 20:11-18, Luke 24:13-32 and John 21:1-2. Perhaps Paul selected the most important occasions to give evidence that Jesus is alive.

Peter and John went to the grave, but they did not find Jesus there (John 20:1-10). However, later that same day, Jesus met Peter (Luke 24:34).
Many people were witnesses of the fact that Jesus became alive again after his death. Here, Paul mentions an occasion when over 500 brethren were present.
He was also seen by James. However, it seems quite likely that Paul actually refers to James, the brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3). Paul refers to this James in a similar manner in Galatians 1:19; 2:12.
Paul met the living Christ on his to Damascus to persecute the Church (Acts 9:3-7; Acts 9:17). All these appearances were to show that He actually rose from death.

3)  God’s kindness to Paul: 1 Cor.15:9-11

For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11 Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Paul too had seen that Christ was alive and from Paul’s experiences, we can see how great God’s kindness is. Christ met this cruel enemy of the Christians, and Christ gave him a new life and commission him as an apostle

Paul hardly dared to consider himself an apostle. He did not think that he had any right to compare himself with Peter and the other apostles. They had served Christ loyally for such a long time. But now, because of the kindness of God, Paul is not only a Christian, but an apostle too.
The word ‘apostle’ means someone whose master sends to carry out an important task. God had given Paul an important task: to declare God’s good news to people from all the different nations (Galatians 1:15-16).

Paul worked harder than any of the other apostles, and he had more success than any of them. However, Paul did not believe that this was the result of his own efforts. God, because of his kindness, had done these things. God showed his kindness to Paul when God saved him. Then God used Paul’s work to show his kindness to many other people. Those people had become Christians when Paul declared God’s good news to them.

4) The Risen Christ, Our Hope: 1 Cor.15:12-19

Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

The resurrection of Christ is the fact upon which the whole of the gospel rested upon (15:17-18). It was after resurrection that He presented Himself before the father (John 20:17)
It astonished Paul that some of the Corinthian Christians actually thought that there is no life after death. He himself had declared in Corinth that Christ became alive after his death. This was the message that Christians were declaring across the world. More than 500 of them were witnesses of that fact. This was an essential part of God’s good news.

Already, twice in this letter, Paul referred to dead Christians as people who ‘sleep’ (11:30; 15:6). Paul was not just using a word-picture. He really believed that after death, Christians will live again. Their spirits are already alive with God in heaven. Their bodies will become alive again when Christ returns. This is as certain as the fact that Christ became alive again. In fact, it will happen because Christ became alive again.

There are still many people today calling themselves Christians although they do not believe in life after death.
In 1 Corinthians 15:16-19, Paul examines the nature of this kind of religion. He considers it a terrible religion, because it cannot offer any real hope to anyone. He feels sorry for a person who has such beliefs. Christ died and became alive again to save his people from their sins (evil deeds). If that did not happen, then God cannot forgive anyone. God’s plan to save people would have failed completely. So, such a belief could achieve nothing.


CONCLUSION
Christianity is not for this life only. That is, its purpose is not to make people happy in this world. People should not become Christians in order to make themselves wealthy, impressive or important. A religion that tries to satisfy people’s feelings now has no value after death.
In the end, the only worthwhile religion is the one that can save people from death and hell. Christ died on the cross to achieve that; he became alive again to prove it.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 03:29 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, July 14 2017

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION
Last week’s study saw us looking at the first part of 1 Cor.14 as we considered Spiritual Gifts and Church Order. We learnt that the gifts are for edification of the body of Christ, that worship should be all involving and beneficial, and that common language promotes corporate worship. We concluded by striking a balance that we should do both; pray in unknown tongues and in ordinary language that everyone understands. Today we shall be concluding our study of chapter 14 as we receive instructions that will help us grow into maturity.

THE TRUE PURPOSE FOR THE GIFT OF SPEAKING IN TONGUES – Read Verses (20 – 25)
We know that children are quick to be struck with novelty and strange appearances. They are taken with an outward show, without enquiring into the true nature and worth of things. Do not you act like them, and prefer noise and show over worth and substance; we should show greater maturity in judgment, and act a more manly part; be like children in nothing but an innocent and inoffensive disposition, void of all guile and malice; but should have wisdom and knowledge that are ripe and mature. A double rebuke is implied in this passage, both of their pride upon account of their gifts, and their arrogance and haughtiness towards each other, and the contests and quarrels proceeding from them. Christians should not be unskilful in the word of righteousness (Heb. 5:13), but unskilful in all the arts of mischief.
Apostle Paul then went further to address their misuse of the gift of tongues in the church.
When he quoted Isa. 28:11, he was referring to the fact that tongues were used as a token of judgment from God than mercy to any people (v. 21).  The meaning in this view is that it is an evidence that a people are abandoned of God when he gives them up to this sort of instruction, to the discipline of those who speak in another language.
In verse 22 he mentions that tongues were meant to be a sign to unbelievers and not to believers. They were a spiritual gift, intended for the conviction and conversion of unbelievers, that they might be brought into the Christian church; but converts were to be built up in Christianity by profitable instructions in their own language.
For gifts to be rightly used, it is proper to know the purpose they are intended to serve. To go about the conversion of unbelievers, as the apostles did, would have been impossible without the gift of tongues, and the discovery of this gift; but, in an assembly of Christians already converted to the Christian faith, to make use and show off this gift as the Corinthians did was out of place, because it was of no advantage to the church; not for conviction of truth, because they had already embraced it; not for their edification, because they did not understand, and could not get benefit without understanding, what they heard.
In Verses 23 - 25, Paul inferred that the reputation of the church among unbelievers required them to prefer prophesying over speaking with tongues. Because, if, when they were all assembled for worship, and the ministers were speaking in unintelligible language, and unbelievers should drop in, they would conclude them to be mad! And this would make Christianity ridiculous to a heathen, to hear the ministers of it pray, or preach, or perform any other religious exercise, in a language that neither he nor the assembly understood.
If, instead of speaking with tongues, those who minister plainly interpret scripture, or preach, in language intelligible and proper, the great truths and rules of the gospel, a heathen or unlearned person, coming in, will probably be convinced, and become a convert to Christianity (v. 24, v. 25); his conscience will be touched, the secrets of his heart will be revealed to him, he will be condemned by the truth he hears, and so will be brought to confess his guilt.

DISORDER REPROVED – Read Verses (26-33)
In this passage the apostle reproves them for their disorder, he blames them for the confusion they introduced into the assembly, by showing off their gifts (v. 26). The picture Paul painted here was that of pandemonium that cannot be in anyway edifying. and so, he corrects and regulates their conduct for the future by the following:
1. As to speaking in an unknown tongue, he orders that no more than two or three should do it at one meeting, and this not altogether, but successively, one after another. And even this was not to be done unless there were some one to interpret (v. 27, v. 28) either the speaker or another. Note this is different from praying in tongues.
2. As to prophesying he orders:
(a) That two or three only should speak at one meeting (v. 20), and this successively, not all at once; and that the other should examine and judge what he delivered, that is, discern and determine concerning it, whether it was of divine inspiration or not because there might be false prophets, mere pretenders to divine inspiration.
(b) That all (two or three) might prophesy, one by one, or one after another, which could not be where any one was interrupted and silenced before he had done prophesying; but might easily be if he someone else receives a word while another is speaking, holds his/her peace till the former prophet had finished what he/she had to say. And, to confirm this sense, the apostle quickly adds, “The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets” (v. 33); that is, although they have these spiritual gifts, that can be expressed anytime by the leading of the Holy Spirit, they still possessed their reason, and capable of using their own judgment in the exercise of them.
Divine inspirations are not, like the diabolical possessions of heathen priests, violent and ungovernable, and prompting them to act as if they were beside themselves; but are sober and calm, and capable of regular conduct. The man inspired by the Spirit of God may still act the man, and observe the rules of natural order and decency in delivering his revelations. His spiritual gift is to be managed by his discretion. The apostle gives the reasons of these regulations.
That they would be for the church’s benefit, their instruction and consolation. That God is not the God of confusion, but of peace and good order, (v. 33).
Therefore, divine inspiration should by no means throw the Church into confusion, and break through all rules of common decency. And finally, that things were being orderly managed in all the other churches (v. 33); they kept to these rules in the exercise of their spiritual gifts, therefore the church of Corinth should do the same.

THE CONTINENTAL DIVIDE! – Read Verses (34-35)
Here the apostle enjoins silence on the Corinthian women in public assemblies, and to such a degree that they must not ask questions for their own information in the church, but ask their husbands at home. So many scholars have tried to interpret this passage and as it is normal, inclined towards their individual bias! But let’s look at it from a more balanced view as it is our tradition. Let’s say for instance, the Spirit of prophecy came upon a woman in the church, should she not prophesy? Anna, for instance was a prophetess, in the temple she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of him to all them that looked-for redemption in Jerusalem (Luke 2:38). What about Philip’s daughters who prophesied? (Acts 21:9).
The reason that is given why women should keep silence, is, because they are commanded to be under obedience. Apostle Paul referred to the same in 1 Timothy 2:11,12. The early church evidently followed Jewish practices in religious education. In Israel, mothers taught their daughters, and it was the father’s responsibility to teach his sons in all areas, including religious education. So, Paul’s prohibitions here are consistent with the practices of his day. *
Others have said that the silence enjoined in 1 Corinthians 14:34–35 must be a specific, limited silence. Numerous suggestions have been offered, some have also suggested either that 1 Corinthians 14:34–35 was not written by Paul but was inserted by a copyist or that it is a question from Paul’s opponents in Corinth which Paul denounces in 1 Corinthians 14:36.
One view is that the speaking prohibited here is mere babbling. There is, however, nothing specific in the context to support this meaning of “speak,” and such nonsense would certainly have been prohibited to all persons in the worship Paul described not women only. Another view suggests that the speaking prohibited is speaking in tongues (glossolalia) since that is frequently mentioned in the preceding context (1 Corinthians 14). However, glossolalia is always referred to as “tongues” or “speaking in tongues” and never simply as speaking.
The view that seems to make the most reasonable sense is the speaking prohibited here to women to refer only to disruptive questions that wives (usually uneducated in the culture of Paul’s time) were asking their husbands.** 
This is made clearer when we read these verses in the MSG version: “Wives must not disrupt worship, talking when they should be listening, asking questions that could more appropriately be asked of their husbands at home. God’s Book of the law guides our manners and customs here. Wives have no license to use the time of worship for unwarranted speaking.”

CONCLUSION - BE COURTEOUS AND CONSIDERATE IN EVERYTHING. Read Verses (36-40)
In these concluding verses, the apostle closes his argument, by rebuking the Corinthians for their extravagant pride and self-conceit; they behaved in a manner that would not easily endure control nor regulation. As so Apostle Paul addresses them to beat down this arrogant humour. He asks rhetorically in verse 36:
“Did the word of the Lord originate from you [Corinthians], or has it come to you only [so that you know best what God requires]?”
In other words, if you think everything revolves around you; then you are mistaken!
In verses 37-38 Paul adds: “You who claim to have the gift of prophecy or any other special ability from the Holy Spirit should be the first to realize that what I am saying is a commandment from the Lord himself. 38 But if anyone still disagrees—well, we will leave him in his ignorance.”
It is just with God to leave those who choose to remain blind wilfully shutting out the light; to the blindness of their own minds. Those who would be ignorant in so plain a case were justly left under the power of their mistake.  Romans 1: 28, Rev 22:11
He then sums up all in two general advices that once again strikes the required balance in verses 39 and 40. “So, my fellow believers, long to be prophets so that you can preach God’s message plainly; and never say it is wrong to “speak in tongues”; however, be sure that everything is done properly in a good and orderly way.”
With this passage Paul was admonishing the Corinthian church that

(1.) They should not despise the gift of tongues and that they should prefer prophesying. This is indeed the scope of the whole argument. It was to be preferred to the other, because it was a more useful gift.
(2.) And that all things be done decently and in order (v. 40).
Avoiding indecencies and disorders such as childishness (v. 20), or any expression that would give people the opportunity to discredit the church and refer to the church as a gathering of mad people (v. 23), or cause confusion, (v. 33).
Instead they were to do things in order; they were to speak one after another, and not all at once; take their turns, and not interrupt one another. God is not to be dishonoured, nor his worship disgraced, by our unbecoming and disorderly performance of it and attendance at it.

Parts of this study was culled from Mathew Henry's commentary on 1 Cor. 14

* 1Tim2:11-12 footnote on AMP
** DAVID SCHOLER'S ESSAY ON WOMEN IN MINISTRY
 

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 06:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, July 11 2017

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION:
Last week in our study of Love - The Universal Spiritual Gift, we learnt the characteristics of love; that it was greater than any spiritual gift because without love, the most glorious gifts are of no account to us, and of no esteem in the sight of God. and finally, that love was eternal.
Today we will be studying Paul’s response to the Corinthian’s misdirected flaunting of the gift of speaking in tongues as we address spiritual gifts and church order.

Verses 1-5 – THE GIFTS ARE FOR EDIFICATION OF THE BODY OF CHRIST
“Let love be your greatest aim; nevertheless, ask also for the special abilities the Holy Spirit gives, and especially the gift of prophecy, being able to preach the messages of God. But if your gift is that of being able to “speak in tongues,” that is, to speak in languages you haven’t learned, you will be talking to God but not to others, since they won’t be able to understand you. You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be a secret. 3 But one who prophesies, preaching the messages of God, is helping others grow in the Lord, encouraging and comforting them. 4 So a person “speaking in tongues” helps himself grow spiritually, but one who prophesies, preaching messages from God, helps the entire church grow in holiness and happiness. 5 I wish you all had the gift of “speaking in tongues,” but even more I wish you were all able to prophesy, preaching God’s messages, for that is a greater and more useful power than to speak in unknown languages—unless, of course, you can tell everyone afterwards what you were saying, so that they can get some good out of it too.” (TLB)

From this verse of scripture, we can deduce that Paul wants the Corinthian church to not that gifts are fit objects of our desire and pursuit, but they are not greater than love; hence we should make that which is of greater value our goal. And so, Paul starts off with what everyone should aim for – love. “Make it your greatest aim” he says and then directs the Corinthian church to seek spiritual gifts and then zeroes in on which spiritual gift to prefer. But see what he means by prophecy; being able to preach the messages of God. He also assigns the reasons of this preference. And it is remarkable here that he only compares prophesying with speaking with tongues. It seems, this was the gift on which the Corinthians principally valued themselves.
Paul’s angle was this: “What cannot be understood can never edify". No advantage can be reaped from the most excellent discourses, if delivered in unintelligible language, such as the audience can neither speak nor understand: but he that prophesies speaks to the advantage of his hearers; they may profit by his gift. So, the best and most eligible gift which best answers the purposes of love and does most good is that which benefits the entire body of Christ such as prophesying, or preaching, and interpreting scripture as opposed to that which can edify ourselves only
This is not a license to despise any gift, but the best gifts are to be preferred. Every gift of God is a favour from God, and may be improved for his glory, and as such is to be valued and thankfully received; but then those are to be most valued that are most useful. In verse 5, Paul infers that greater is the one that prophesies than he that speaks with tongues, unless he interprets, that the church may receive edifying.

Verses 6-11  WORSHIP SHOULD BE ALL INVOLVING AND BENEFICIAL
"Dear friends, even if I myself should come to you talking in some language you don’t understand, how would that help you? But if I speak plainly what God has revealed to me, and tell you the things I know, and what is going to happen, and the great truths of God’s Word—that is what you need; that is what will help you. 7 Even musical instruments—the flute, for instance, or the harp—are examples of the need for speaking in plain, simple English rather than in unknown languages. For no one will recognize the tune the flute is playing unless each note is sounded clearly. 8 And if the army bugler doesn’t play the right notes, how will the soldiers know that they are being called to battle? 9 In the same way, if you talk to a person in some language he doesn’t understand, how will he know what you mean? You might as well be talking to an empty room. I suppose that there are hundreds of different languages in the world, and all are excellent for those who understand them, 11 but to me they mean nothing. A person talking to me in one of these languages will be a stranger to me and I will be a stranger to him." (TLB)

Obviously, some of the members of the church in Corinth must have flaunted their gift of speaking in tongues due to the emphasis Paul laid on it. He showed them how vain it is to flaunt speaking unknown and unintelligible language is. It was altogether unedifying and unprofitable. He does this by using several illustrations; musical instruments with notes not sounding clearly, the army bugler that calls soldiers onto battle. To talk in an unknown language in a Christian assembly is altogether as vain and to no purpose as for a trumpet to give no certain sound in the field or day of battle.
If one is asked to preach or teach in church and they start to speak in an unknown tongue is to talk gibberish; it is to play the barbarian; it is to confound the audience, instead of instructing them; and for this reason, is utterly vain and unprofitable. 

Verses 12-14  COMMON LANGUAGE PROMOTES CORPORATE WORSHIP
“Since you are so anxious to have special gifts from the Holy Spirit, ask him for the very best, for those that will be of real help to the whole church. 13 If someone is given the gift of speaking in unknown tongues, he should pray also for the gift of knowing what he has said, so that he can tell people afterwards plainly. 14 For if I pray in a language I don’t understand, my spirit is praying, but I don’t know what I am saying.” (TLB)

Having thus established his point, he goes ahead to advise the church to be zealous for those gifts that were most for the church’s edification this way it will become commendable zeal, be zealous to edify the church, to promote Christian knowledge and practice, and covet those gifts most that will do the best service to men’s souls. But if you are gifted in speaking in tongues, you should beg of God the gift of interpreting it. He then enforces this advice with a proper reason, that, if he prayed in an unknown tongue, his spirit might pray, that is, a spiritual gift might be exercised in prayer, or his own mind might be devoutly engaged, but his understanding would be unfruitful, that is, the sense and meaning of his words would be unfruitful, he would not be understood, nor therefore would others join with him in his devotions. It should be the concern of such as pray, preach or sing in public to do so intelligibly, not in a foreign language, nor in a language that, if it be not foreign, is above the level of his/her audience. Language that is most obvious and easy to be understood is the most proper for public devotion and other religious exercises.

CONCLUSION
Verses 15-19  STRIKING THE BALANCE

“Well, then, what shall I do? I will do both. I will pray in unknown tongues and also in ordinary language that everyone understands. I will sing in unknown tongues and also in ordinary language so that I can understand the praise I am giving; 16 for if you praise and thank God with the spirit alone, speaking in another language, how can those who don’t understand you be praising God along with you? How can they join you in giving thanks when they don’t know what you are saying? 17 You will be giving thanks very nicely, no doubt, but the other people present won’t be helped. 18 I thank God that I “speak in tongues” privately more than any of the rest of you. 19 But in public worship I would much rather speak five words that people can understand and be helped by than ten thousand words while “speaking in tongues” in an unknown language.” (TLB)

Paul once again creates balance in his letter! He does not forbid their praying or singing as led by the Spirit, or when they were inspired for this purpose, or had such a spiritual gift communicated to them; but he would have them perform both so as to be understood by others, that others might join with them. He enforces the argument with the following reason; it fosters agreement and participation in prayers, thanksgivings, and worship.
How would someone say “Amen” to prayers in an unknown tongue? How should they declare their consent and concurrence?
The intention of public devotions will be destroyed if they are performed in an unknown tongue. Although the person may pray well, and give thanks well, but not in that time and place, because others are not, and cannot be edified. Paul uses his own example, to make the greater impression; that he did not come behind any of them in this spiritual gift (so they will not think that it is because he didn’t have the gift he held such convictions). He spoke more language than they all. Yet, he’d rather speak five words that people can understand and be helped by than ten thousand words while “speaking in tongues” in an unknown language.”

Parts of this study was culled from Mathew Henry's commentary on 1 Cor. 14

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 07:46 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, June 29 2017

Contributor: Alex Alajiki

INTRODUCTION: Last week, we looked at the second part of the use of Spiritual Gifts. We concluded saying that Paul’s admonishment to earnestly desire the greater gifts is not addressed to the individual but to the collective church. And that the “best gifts” are those that benefit the general body of Christ. He also mentioned “the excellent way.” The excellent way Paul was referring to is love in its fullest meaning; true love to God and man. Without this, the most glorious gifts are of no account to us, of no esteem in the sight of God. A clear head and a deep understanding, are of no value without a benevolent and charitable heart.

1)  LOVE IS GREATER THAN ANY SPIRITUAL GIFT: 1 Cor.13:1-3
In these three verses, Paul mentions spiritual gifts and other God-given abilities: tongues, prophecy, knowledge, faith, giving, and martyrdom. The first four gifts are listed in 12:8-10. Martyrdom is a God-given ability to die for Christ’s sake. Paul kicks off 13:1 with the gift of tongues when he writes, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”

Paul says you can speak in tongues all you want (of men and angels), but if you don’t have love you are merely making a lot of noise. Then in verses 2-3, Paul mentions more spiritual gifts when he writes,

“If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”

Prophecy refers to the ability to declare God’s truth in a powerful, life-changing way. Knowledge involves the deep understanding of the Word of God. Faith is the unique ability to trust God for great things. These three gifts are all from the Holy Spirit, and yet without love the person who has them is “nothing.”
Verse 3 poses a problem because it asks us to ponder activities that we automatically consider noble. Giving to the poor is a good thing to do. And dying for your faith in Christ is the ultimate sacrifice. But as good as these things are, without love they do you no good. Paul declares that the greatest expression of spirituality is love. We could summarize these three verses like this: Without love…I say nothing, I am nothing, and I gain nothing.
Clearly, we must have love when we are exercising our spiritual gifts. So, let us stop for just a moment and reflect on our spiritual gifts as individuals and as a church. Do you do what you do out of genuine love for people? Or do you serve out of a sense of obligation? Do you serve because of the satisfaction you derive from ministry? Do you minister because you like honing your skills? Although no one has perfectly pure motives, we ought to be seeking to grow in our love quotient. Paul says that love is an action, not an emotion; therefore, we need to put feet to our love. Love is the measure of true spirituality (1 John 4:7-10).

2)  THE CHARACTERISTICS OF LOVE: 1 Cor.13:4-7
After talking about the importance of love, Paul now will discuss how love behaves. Love is expressed by supernatural responses. Love is a word that can only be properly defined in terms of action, attitude, and behaviour. Paul wanted his readers to know what love looks like when we see it. And so, he paints fifteen separate portraits of love. Not our contemporary definition of love as an emotion or a feeling—we love our jobs, we love football and we love pizza. In the biblical definition of agape, love acts, for love is an action, not an emotion.
Verse 4 begins by summarizing the unselfish nature of love. Love sums up our Christian life!
Everything we need to be prepared for heaven, and everything we are admonished to imbibe is what love

1) Love is patient.  Patience with circumstances and patience with people. Love doesn’t have a short fuse. It doesn’t lose its temper easily. A person who exercises agape love does not lose patience with people. Love never says, “I’ll give you just one more chance.” Love is patient; it never gives up (Galatians 6:9)
2) Love is kind. Kindness is not to be equated with giving everyone what he or she wants. Sometimes love must be tough. Kindness means to withhold what harms, as well as give what heals. Love is kind, but often tough.
3) Love is not jealous. Jealousy implies being displeased with the success of others. Yet, true love desires the success of others. The best way to cure envy is to pray sincerely for the one of whom you are jealous. To pray for him or her is to demonstrate love, and jealousy and love cannot exist in the same heart.
4) Love does not brag. Love is not big-headed but big-hearted. This means the more loving you become, the less boasting you need to do. The greater your spiritual gifts, the less prone you should be to brag.
5) Love is not arrogant. The term “arrogant” refers to a grasping for power. It is more serious than bragging, which is only grasping for praise. Arrogant people push themselves into leadership, using people as stepping-stones, and always consider themselves exempt from the requirements on mere mortals. Arrogance disrespects others and carries a distain for others. God calls us to serve others and be gracious toward them.
6) Love does not act unbecomingly. This word is best translated “rude.” There are some Christians who seem to take delight in being blunt, justifying it on the grounds of honesty. Love doesn’t always verbalize all its thoughts, particularly if those thoughts don’t build others up. There is a graciousness in love which never forgets that courtesy, tact, and politeness are lovely things.
7) Love does not seek its own. A self-absorbed narcissistic person cannot act in love. Love is not possessive, demanding, stubborn, or dominating. Love does not talk too much but listens as well. Love does not insist on its own way. It is always willing to defer to others.
8) Love is not provoked. Love is not given to emotional outbursts, is not exasperated by petty annoyances, and refuses to let someone else get under one’s skin.
9) Love does not take into account a wrong suffered. Paul uses the normal word here for bookkeeping. Love does not keep a ledger of evil deeds. It doesn’t write down each injury done and keep the account open to be settled someday.
10) Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness. Love takes no joy in evil of any kind. It takes no malicious pleasure when it hears about the inadequacies, mistakes, and sins of someone else. Love is righteous. Now, after eight sobering negatives come five glorious positives:
11) Love rejoices with the truth. Truth must make our love discriminating, and love must make our truth compassionate and forgiving. If our actions are in accord with agape love, we will always welcome biblical truth, never resist it.
12) Love bears all things. The phrase “bears all things” comes from a Greek word meaning to cover something. It is related to the word for roof—a covering that offers protection from the hostile elements. 1 Peter 4:8 says that love covers a multitude of sins. That is precisely the meaning here. Love protects other people. It doesn’t broadcast bad news. It goes the second mile to protect another person’s reputation.
13) Love believes all things. Love always gives the other person the benefit of the doubt, to believe the best about people. Love always trusts. Love says, “I am willing to wait for the evidence to come in before making my decision. I choose to give you the benefit of the doubt as long as there is reason to do so.
14) Love hopes all things. The third phrase in 13:7 tells us that love “hopes all things.” This is simply a step beyond believing. Love hopes and expects the best. Love never loses faith in other people and gives up on them but remain faithful to them, in spite of their shortcomings.
15) Love endures all things. The word “endures” is a military term that means to hold a position at all costs, even unto death, whatever it takes. Love holds fast to people it loves. It perseveres. It never gives up on anyone. Love won’t stop loving, even in the face of rejection.

3)  LOVE IS AN ETERNAL GIFT: 1 Cor.13:8-13
In these final six verses, Paul discusses the temporary nature of the spiritual gifts and the eternal nature of love. Verse 8 says: “Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.”
Love never ends but spiritual gifts will be done away with one day.
The reason that spiritual gifts like prophecy and tongues will come to an end is revealed in 13:9-10. Paul writes, “For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.” Paul explains that we are limited in our understanding, but this will not always be the case. A time of perfection is coming! The “perfect” refers to the returning of Christ.
Paul explains himself further in 13:11-12: “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.”
Paul explains that our understanding of God is indirect in this life. He uses two analogies: childhood and a mirror. In using the analogy of childhood, Paul is not suggesting that those who speak in tongues are childish and immature. Rather, he is adopting an eternal perspective and simply saying that there will come a time when the gifts of the Spirit will no longer be necessary. The analogy of the mirror implies that our visibility of Christ is indirect. In other words, Paul is comparing the nature of looking in a mirror to the relationship we will enjoy with Jesus when we see Him “face to face.”

CONCLUSION
Paul concludes this chapter in with these words: “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” For all eternity, we will enjoy love. We will experience God’s incredible love, we will experience a deep love for God, and we will love one another with a perfect love. Faith, Hope and love, the greatest of these is love. Love is eternal. Love covers not only what we experience in our relations to others and to God, but what we experience from God Himself.

This Study was culled from bible.org

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 06:38 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, June 22 2017

Contributor: Leye Olayiwola

Introduction:

Last week, we had an in-depth study of the diverse gifts of the Holy Spirit. It was emphasised that these gifts are given by the Holy Spirit, as He wills! We also learnt that a great spiritual gift is no indication of spirituality. It is possible to be gifted and not be spiritual. Continuing further in verse 12 through to 31, Paul further emphasised the importance of these gifts through the diversity and unity of the physical body as an analogy. Due to the competitive nature of bodybuilding, in order to win a competition one cannot have any weak body parts. Bodybuilders understand the value and significance of every single part of the body. There can be no undeveloped or lagging parts. Every single body part must develop and function at its absolute best.
Did you know that God is also interested in bodybuilding? God wants to build every muscle in His church. He doesn’t want there to be any superior or inferior body parts. There can be no undeveloped or lagging parts. God expects every part of the body to grow and do its work. In our passage, Paul is going to discuss the importance of church teamwork. This is not to depreciate the fact that people become Christians on an individual basis, but that once one is a Christian the focus is always on the health, unity, and well-being of the whole.

1. Appreciate the solidarity of the body (verses 12-13)
• These first two verses give the theological basis for the body imagery that is developed in the rest of this passage. Paul states that every part of the body is essential because every believer is a member of the church
• The emphasis here is on unity and oneness. Our body of many members is unified in one body. Paul is so intent on driving home this point of our oneness in the church that he refers to Christ as the church. This is one of the places in Scripture where all believers collectively are called “Christ.” (See Acts 9:4)
• Paul had been persecuting Christians, not realizing that in so doing he was persecuting Christ. Saul, who later became Paul, would one day learn that every believer is a member of Christ’s body. Likewise, you and I are members of the body of Christ…and we are one body
• In verse 13, Paul explains the reason for the oneness of the church: we have all been placed into the body of Christ. Paul argues that every Christian has experienced Spirit baptism. Notice the word “all” as well as the past tense, “were baptized.” Every believer shares in this experience. It occurs the moment we trust in Jesus Christ
• In Spirit baptism the Holy Spirit baptizes the believer into the body of Christ. He makes us a part of His church. The baptism of the Holy Spirit means if you belong to Jesus Christ, you belong to everyone else who belongs to Jesus Christ. This means the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not a matter of having a certain level of spiritual maturity, achieving some advanced spiritual state, or receiving a “second blessing.” On the contrary, every believer experiences Spirit baptism regardless of his or her race or social status. We are now on equal footing in the sense that we are all members of the body of Christ
• Now, having been introduced to this important analogy between the human body and the body of Christ, there are two key problems that constantly plague the church and prevent us from enjoying unity in diversity. Those two tendencies are what we might simply call an inferiority complex and a superiority complex, or self-pity and pride. When certain Christians think they just don’t have anything to offer and therefore fail to participate in the life of the church, the body cannot be complete. On the other hand, when some think of themselves as God’s gift to the church and don’t allow others to contribute their gifts, again the body cannot function well. This passage teaches that both inferiority feelings and superiority feelings are out of bounds in Christ’s church. Everybody is somebody because we’re in this together.

2. Do not underestimate your importance to the body of Christ (verses 14-20)
• In these verses, Paul attempts to pass his points across that every member of the body has a different role to play, but that all of these parts are needed in order for the body to function as a unit. In 12:14, Paul writes, “For the body is not one member, but many.” Paul is making a simple statement of fact that every part of the body, every organ, is valuable.
• The phrase “I am not a part of the body” occurs in both verses 15 and 16. This is an indication of a feeling of insignificance: “No one thinks that I am important or significant. I have little to contribute to this ministry. I don’t really matter to this church.” For example, the ear feels inferior to the eye. The foot is jealous of the hand because he is covetous of the hand’s prominence. The hand is in the public and in the limelight, but the foot is in confinement inside a shoe. We manicure hands and put ointment on them. We make hands beautiful by putting rings on them. We put jewellery on the hand but rarely on the foot. Hands take a scalpel, do delicate operations, play the piano or violin. No wonder the foot feels inferior because the hand is in the limelight!
• Yet, the body would be in bad shape without a foot. Did you know that you use more than 200 different muscles to walk? If your feet and their muscles are not working well you aren’t going very far. Furthermore, if you dislocate a tiny bone in your foot your whole body is miserable. Feet are awfully important. So why should the foot say, “I don’t count; I’m not important; no one ever notices me; no one cares about what I do.
• God rewards the foot based on being a foot. If you have been gifted as a foot it’s easy to look at those gifted as hands and think how skilled, how capable they are, and that you’re not important at all. However, all God expects is that you do what you can with what you have.
• Unfortunately, some at Corinth who lacked the more spectacular gifts of others were discouraged and began to ask whether they had any place or function in the church. So Paul moves from the sublime to the ridiculous by envisioning an absurd scenario. In 12:17, he asks, “If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?”
• In verses 18-20, Paul emphasizes that God sovereignly places the gifts in the church that He desires. Paul makes it clear that God is the one that has gifted every church the way He wants her gifted. The church is all about the sovereignty of God.

3. Do not overestimate your importance to the body of Christ (21-26)
• Beginning at verse 21, we have a transition from those who feel inferior in their gifts to those who feel superior. In this section, we see members who suffer from a superiority complex. Paul explains that we need to squash spiritual pride because we all need each other. Paul needs to get across that all of the members in Corinth need each other, and no one is dispensable.
• In verses 22-25, Paul argues that every member of the body is necessary. There are no exceptions. Those body parts that are deemed weaker, less honorable, or less presentable are all critically important. How does this apply to the church? Every church has people who are out in the forefront and love the public spotlight. But what is really essential to the ongoing life of the church is the people behind the scenes—those who serve faithfully and quietly (and often are the ones who make the leaders look good
• In verse 26, Paul pens one of the most powerful verses in the Scriptures: “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it”. As members of the same body we are so closely bound together that we actually share the same feelings. What causes joy for one member delights the whole body. When one member suffers the entire body hurts. If we are family, why is it so difficult to see another member of our own body receive honor? We must desperately yearn for the success of others.

4. Celebrate the diversity of the body (27-31)
• Paul takes the analogy of the physical body and applies it practically in terms of gifting and how ministry is to be expressed. He lists eight kinds of members with special functions. The ranking of the first three items corresponds to their building up the local church. We will briefly discuss these definitions.
• Apostles - the ability to begin and/or to oversee new churches and Christian ministries with a spontaneously recognized authority.
• Prophets - ability to receive and proclaim a message from God. This could involve the foretelling of future events, though its primary purpose as seen in 1 Cor 14:3 is forthtelling
• Teachers - ability to clearly explain and effectively apply the truths of God’s Word so that others will learn
• Miracles - ability to serve as an instrument through whom God accomplishes acts that manifest supernatural power.
• Gifts of healings - ability to serve as a human instrument through whom God supernaturally cures illnesses and restores health. The possessor of this gift is not the source of power, but a vessel who can only heal those diseases the Lord chooses to heal.
• Gifts of helps - ability to enhance the effectiveness of the ministry of other members of the body
• Gifts of administrations - the ability to steer a church or Christian organization toward the fulfillment of its goals by managing its affairs and implementing necessary plans. A person may have the gift of leadership without the gift of administration
• Various kinds of tongues - ability to receive and impart a spiritual message in a language the recipient never learned.
God’s expectation is that every Christian will serve in the local church. Yet, someone may say, “I am an inactive Christian.” There is no such thing. That is like saying, “I am an honest thief” or “I am a godly prostitute.” An inactive Christian is a paradox in terms. No Christian is without a special, supernatural gift from God.

Conclusion (verse 31):
Paul’s final words are found in verse 31: “But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.” The command to “earnestly desire the best gifts” is not addressed to the individual but to the collective church. The implied “you” is second person plural in the Greek. We cannot select our gifts because that is the prerogative of the Holy Spirit. However, as a congregation we can “earnestly desire” that the “best gifts” (superlative gifts) be manifested among us. The “best gifts” are those that benefit the general body of Christ.
 

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 11:29 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, June 16 2017

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION
In last week’s study, we considered The Lord’s Supper. We learnt that when we partake of the communion, we are not only reminded that we have partaken of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary for the forgiveness of our sins, we symbolically demonstrate that we have become a member of His body, the church. In today’s study, we will be looking at the first part of the use of Spiritual Gifts. Paul’s introduction of this chapter implies that the Corinthian church had once again gotten it wrong. We can only assume what the exact question was; but obviously, Paul’s response to their question(s) implies that they must have held an erroneous opinion of spiritual gifts when he said in verse 1: “Now about the spiritual gifts [the special endowments given by the Holy Spirit], brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.” (AMP)

Verses 2-3 (AMP) - The Different Responses to Christ
“2 You know that when you were pagans, you were led off after speechless idols; however you were led off [whether by impulse or habit]. 3 Therefore I want you to know that no one speaking by the [power and influence of the] Spirit of God can say, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is [my] Lord,” except by [the power and influence of] the Holy Spirit.”

Paul addresses the different responses to Christ; the rejection by the pagans, the rejection by the Jews, and the acceptance by faith of the Christian.
Many of the Corinthian believers had been pagans before they became saved. These Gentiles worshipped various idols that could not speak or help.
A second response was the rejection of Christ by the Jews. In 12:3a, Paul writes, Therefore I want you to know that no one speaking by the [power and influence of the] Spirit of God can say, “Jesus be cursed,” Here, Paul speaks of the typical response of the Jews. Not all the Corinthians were Gentiles before believing in Christ…some were Jews who did not believe that Jesus Christ was the Messiah.
The final response is found in 12:3b, where Paul writes, and no one can say, “Jesus is [my] Lord,” except by [the power and influence of] the Holy Spirit.”
To say that Jesus is “Lord” is to say that He is God. In the context of the Jewish world and the Old Testament, this confession essentially affirmed that Jesus was God. This was a counter-cultural assertion to both the Jews and the Romans. Because citizens of the Roman Empire were required to declare, “Caesar is Lord.” But Christians who believed that Jesus was the only Lord couldn’t say this. It was a challenge to faith. Thus, Paul’s point is this: No one can say that Jesus is Lord except through the work of the Holy Spirit. It is a supernatural act. Paul brought up these three responses to Christ to refute the claims of those Corinthians who assumed that they alone possessed the Spirit. Paul wants all his readers to understand that salvation is the greater leveller. Every member of the Corinthian church who has trusted in Christ (whether they were once Gentiles or Jews) is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and is incredibly valuable to God. This is also true in our church today. If you have believed in Christ, it is because God did a supernatural work in your life and you are incredibly valuable to God.

Verses 4-6 (AMP) - Gifts, Administrations, and Operations – Variety is spice of the Church too!
Now there are [distinctive] varieties of spiritual gifts [special abilities given by the grace and extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit operating in believers], but it is the same Spirit [who grants them and empowers believers]. 5 And there are [distinctive] varieties of ministries and service, but it is the same Lord [who is served]. 6 And there are [distinctive] ways of working [to accomplish things], but it is the same God who produces all things in all believers [inspiring, energizing, and empowering them]

In other words; Paul was saying that there are different spiritual gifts, but all of them stem from the one and only Holy Spirit (verse 4). And although we may administer (serve with) these gifts differently, but we serve the same Lord (verse 5). There are different types of operations (procedures or methods), but it is the same God who does the work in all of us (verse 6). The Holy Spirit does not employ ONLY ONE method, so we should be sensitive and not be stereo typed.

Verse 7 (AMP) – Understanding the Ultimate Purpose of the Gifts
7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit [the spiritual illumination and the enabling of the Holy Spirit] for the common good.

Paul was making the distinction here that "gifts" of the Spirit aren't gifts in the sense that the believer owns and operates the gift whenever he wants to. They are gifts of the Holy Ghost, manifested through individual believers as the Spirit of God wills. The gifts of the Spirit aren't just given for the individual, but they are given to profit the whole local assembly or local body of believers. Sadly, too many people have decided that they will not serve in the church or serve only occasionally and when it’s convenient. But the church needs people who will make lifelong commitments and be dependable. So, the probing question today is: “Are you a consistent worker or a convenience worker?

Verses 8-10 (AMP) - The Nine Gifts of The Spirit
8 To one is given through the [Holy] Spirit [the power to speak] the *message of wisdom, and to another [the power to express] the *word of knowledge and understanding according to the same Spirit; 9 to another [wonder-working] **faith [is given] by the same [Holy] Spirit, and to another the [extraordinary] gifts of **healings by the one Spirit; 10 and to another the **working of miracles, and to another ***prophecy [foretelling the future, speaking a new message from God to the people], and to another *discernment of spirits [the ability to distinguish sound, godly doctrine from the deceptive doctrine of man-made religions and cults], to another ***various kinds of [unknown] tongues, and to another ***interpretation of tongues. (Emphasis Mine)

The nine manifestations or gifts of the Holy Spirit are generally divided into three groups of three each. Please note that the division into these three groups was not done by Apostle Paul but it is purely to be able to easily distinguish and discuss them and for no other reason.

REVELATION GIFTS: Gifts That Reveal Something 
The word of wisdom: God-given insight into the mysterious purposes and workings of God.
The word of knowledge: God-given insight into what God is doing in the world.
The Discerning of Spirits: The ability to quickly perceive whether such things as people, events, or beliefs are from God or Satan
POWER GIFTS: Gifts That Do Something
Faith: The ability to confidently believe God for changes and spiritual growth that will enhance the purposes of God.
Healing: The faith to believe God for healing. Individuals can serve as agents of God’s healing power. 
The Working of Miracles: The ability (energizing power) given by the Holy Spirit to perform miracles (supernatural acts)
UTTERANCE OR INSPIRATIONAL GIFTS:  Gifts that say something
Prophecy: A declaration of God’s will to God’s people
Divers Kinds of Tongues: Utterance in an unknown (unlearned) language. Not to be confused with the baptism of the Holy Spirit
Interpretation of Tongues: The ability to interpret tongues.

Conclusion – Verse 11
11 All these things [the gifts, the achievements, the abilities, the empowering] are brought about by one and the same [Holy] Spirit, distributing to each one individually just as He chooses.

Paul emphasizes once again that every believer can be spiritually gifted as the Holy Spirit chooses. That these gifts are not for some spiritual elite, but the entire body of Christ. We are all called by the Lord to minister with the gifts He has supplied. Each believer, regardless of his or her gifts, ministries, and the manner and extent of God’s blessing, should demonstrate the Holy Spirit’s gifting through his or her life. All the gifts manifest the Spirit’s presence, not just the more spectacular ones in each category. It is important to note that Believers who have spectacular gifts, ministries, or effectiveness are not necessarily more spiritual than Christians who do not. Each believer makes a unique contribution to the common good, not just certain believers.
Remember, the Corinthians were the most gifted church in the Scriptures while at the same time the most carnal church in the Scriptures. They were a church of divisions, immorality, and distortion in doctrine. This serves to remind us that a great spiritual gift is no indication of spirituality. It is possible to be gifted and not spiritual. In this case, the Corinthians were getting high on their spiritual giftedness instead of recognizing the source of the gift—Jesus Christ. Thus, Paul’s introduction in verse 1 about not wanting them to be “unaware” or “ignorant”.

Parts of this study was culled from bible.org

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 09:47 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, June 08 2017

Contributor: Alex Alajiki

INTRODUCTION:
In last week’s study, we looked at the issue of head covering during prayer and worship. Paul’s instruction to women about covering their heads is to demonstrate to the angels and celestial powers their submission to God’s appointed authority. Paul does not present head coverings as a matter of his opinion, but as an apostolic tradition. He does not describe this as a matter of Christian liberty, or as a personal conviction, but as a matter of obedience. I Cor.11:13-15 summed it up; “Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonour to him? 15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her[a] for a covering”

This week, we are going to study about the proper order and revelation of the Holy Communion service.

1) Conduct at the Lord’s Supper: 1 Corn. 11:17-22

“Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. 20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. 21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.”

Paul knew there were sharp division within the Corinthian Church (I Cori.6:1-8). Their coming together for fellowship and communion was not for the better but for the worse. Their coming together for the Lord’s super was supposed to be an opportunity to show love, but it is now an opportunity for the richer Christians to act in a greedy and selfish manner. If they shared their food, it was only with their rich friends. If they shared the wine, they kept too much for themselves. In the way the Corinthian Christians were conducting the Lord’s Supper, the poor were being publicly shamed and humiliated by exposing their deficiencies, rather than concealing them and providing for them. The Lord’s Supper, which commemorated the sacrificial gift of our Lord’s body and blood, had been perverted to an occasion for self-indulgence by giving way to selfish bodily lusts.

In the most general sense, the Lord’s Supper was a celebration of our Lord’s sacrifice on Calvary for our unmerited benefit and blessing (1 Pet. 2:24). The Lord Jesus set aside His own personal interests and sacrificed His body so that by His sufferings in His body, we might be saved. And yet at the Lord’s Supper in Corinth, there is no self-sacrifice but only self-indulgence. The saints are all more concerned with satisfying their own bodily appetites than those of their fellow-believers. The most self-indulgent are those who least need food or drink. Those most in need are denied sustenance. In whatever we do, we must always be conscious of the weak, poor, sick, oppressed and less privileged people among us.  There were poor people in that church; its members included several slaves (1 Cor.7:21-22)


2) Institution of the Lord’s Supper; 1 Corn. 11:23-26

“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.”
Paul was not present with the original apostles when Jesus instituted the last super in Matt. 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-26; Luke 22:7-39; John13 to 17. He received this revelation from Jesus Himself. The last supper was originally a Passover celebration. Our Lord observed this Passover in an upper room, along with His 12 disciples. This “last supper” became the “Lord’s Supper.” Jesus instructs His disciples to continually observe this “supper” until His return. Note; Old Testament, it was flesh while it is now bread, why?  The one loaf of bread, which was broken by our Lord and divided among His disciples, and which we share in communion as well, represents the physical “body of Christ.” in which our Lord came to the earth, successfully endured all the temptations we face, and then in His body, suffered and died in our place (Isa.53:4-5, Matt.8:17).
Paul speaks of the bread as “one bread” (1 Cor.10:16-17), so that all who partake of it are “one body.” By partaking of a piece of the one loaf, we proclaim the unity of the church, the body of Christ, and our communion or fellowship with the rest of the saints, who have also partaken of the work of Christ.
1 Cor.10:17 “Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.”
As he shared the cup, he spoke about the result of his death. A new kind of relationship (Covenant) would now exist between God and his people. Christ’s blood was poured out of his body at his death. That blood makes this new relationship (Covenant) with God certain (Hebrews 9:14). A ‘covenant’ means the promises that establish a relationship. In the new covenant between God and people, it is God who has made the promises. He promised to forgive when people confess their evil deeds to him (1 John1:9). He promises to save people who trust him (Act 2:21, Rom.10:13). When people invite him into their lives, he promises to establish a right relationship with them (Matt.11:28). He can do these wonderful things in a person’s life because of Christ’s death. Whenever we share bread and wine at church, we are declaring the importance or significance of Christ’s death until His return.

3) Examine Yourself; 1 Corn. 11:27-34

“Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. 33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.

The bread and wine at the communion table are holy because of their connection with the death of Christ. Many Christians in Corinth had not recognised that fact. They thought that they were eating together merely in order to enjoy themselves. The ceremony is a holy occasion so it is very wrong for a person who is living in an unholy manner to accept those sacred gifts. So, at that special moment, Christians should examine their own lives in front of God. We must confess our wrong deeds to God, He will forgive us (1 John 1:7-9).
 
Paul warned the Corinthian Christian that they were acting in an unholy manner on a very holy occasion (Vs 29 “he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body”)
Those Christians in Corinth were not recognising the connection between their meals and Christ’s death. The result of their unholy behaviour was severe.
The Corinthians were experiencing weakness, sickness and death as a result of the unworthy manner at the Lord’s table. The illness or death of Christians is not usually the result of God’s judgement against them. However, it can be so sometimes, as Paul has just explained. God’s holiness is surely evident when He disciplines His children, and so is His faithfulness and love (Heb.12:6). Remember that even in the discipline of death, God’s actions are for our best interest: Vs 32 “But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord in order that we may not be condemned along with the world.”

Finally, Paul told the church leaders to make two simple changes to that meeting:
(a) Formerly, people had brought their own food to the meeting. At the meeting, they ate as much as they wanted. But now the church members must eat their food at home. At the meeting, they would just share a little bread and wine, to remember Jesus’ death.
(b) Formerly, people began to eat their food as soon as they arrived. This made the meeting like a party, except that each person brought his own food. But now anyone who arrived early would have to wait for the other members. So the meeting would begin at its proper time, probably with prayer. That would make the meeting a more serious occasion, and people would respect its importance.


CONCLUSION
The Lord’s Supper is the commemoration of our Lord’s sacrificial life and death for the salvation and sanctification of lost sinners in whose place He was condemned, and in Whom the saints have been forgiven, justified, and glorified. The Lord’s Supper means nothing apart from the gospel, and so it is by revisiting the gospel message through the symbols of the Lord’s Supper that we come to appreciate the significance of the Lord’s Supper. When we partake of the communion, we are not only reminded that we have partaken of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary for the forgiveness of our sins, we symbolically demonstrate that we have become a member of His body, the church. Communion symbolizes our identification with Christ and with His church.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 05:31 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, June 01 2017

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION
In last week’s study, we looked at the concluding part of learning from the mistakes of the Israelites as they journeyed from Egypt to the Promised Land; considering an important learning point -avoiding false gods. We concluded by looking at Paul’s response based on two guiding principles in expressing one’s liberty of eating food sacrificed to idols; our actions in terms of our relationship to God and actions in terms of our relationship to men. In today’s study, we will be looking at what the Bible says about covering of the head in worship as it relates to the man and the woman in the honour of God.

DIVINE ORDER - (Verses 1-3)
"Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. 2 Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. 3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God."

Paul starts off this chapter as a continuation of chapter 10 with a very bold proclamation; one that only Jesus Christ had ever made! (Matt.4:19) His proclamation indicates he was confident that his motives were pure and that he was a true follower of Christ. You will recall from the concluding verses of Chapter 10 that Paul, talking about the abuse of one’s liberty used himself as an example that he did not only preach such doctrine, but lived the life! And as such, they should imitate him!
And then he proceeds to acknowledge the effort the Corinthian church has made in remembering and honouring him by keeping up the traditions of the faith he taught them. A method we see the Lord Jesus Christ use severally in the Book of Revelations (Rev. Chapters 2&3). This is important because when we reprove what is amiss in any, it is very prudent and fit to commend what is good in them; it will show that the reproof is not from ill-will, and a humour of censuring and finding fault; and it will therefore procure the more regard to it.
Having done all that, he then introduces the subject matter of disorders in the Corinthian church in relation to the misconduct of their women in the public assembly, who laid down their veils, the common token of subjection to their husbands in that part of the world. He did this by referring to the spiritual connotation of covering and not covering of hair. He was saying that head covering goes beyond fashion and culture! It is spiritual! “the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” that everyone has a head! And that just as Christ acknowledges the pre-eminence of the Father and men acknowledge the pre-eminence of Christ over them, so women acknowledge the pre-eminence of men in the male-female relationship (or at least the husband-wife relationship). But prominence in a relationship does not imply superiority or inferiority; certainly, it does not carry that meaning in the relationship between the Father and the Son, and it should not mean that between men and women in the church.

HONOR YOUR HEAD – (Verses 4-5)
“4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonours his head. 5 But every woman that prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven”.

Having set the foundation in verse 3, Paul proceeds to expound. An understanding of these four verses brings the entire 16 verses in focus. That Paul refers to the “head” here should not be misconstrued that it is separate from the “hair” as some have come to interpret it. (See verse 6)
The man praying or prophesying, having his head (hair inclusive) covered, dishonours his head – CHRIST. The Woman that prays or prophesies with her head (hair inclusive) uncovered dishonours her head – THE HUSBAND
Having said that; back in the era of the first century church, across Jewish, Greek and Roman cultures, the head-covering was a symbol of sexual purity. And for a married woman, it was a symbol of her loyalty to her husband, of her acceptance of his leadership in the relationship. It would be like the wedding bands that a man and a woman wear today. So, for a Christian woman in the church to appear in public without that covering, let alone to pray or to share the Word in worship, was both culturally offensive and from Paul’s perspective, confusing to nonbelievers who were trying to understand what this new community of faith stood for in terms of values and relationships. Paul’s point is this: In the culture of Corinth, it was not proper for a woman to act as a spokesman for people with God by praying publicly with her head uncovered. To do so would be tantamount to claiming the position of a man in God’s order. The apostle did not think it wise for Christian women to exercise their liberty in a way that would go against socially accepted behaviour even though they were personally submissive.
Please note that the manner of doing a thing affects the morality of it. We must not only be concerned to do good, but that the good we do be well done. (Rom.14:6)

COVER OR SHAVE – (Verses 6-7)
“6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. 7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.”
Paul offers two options; cover your head or shave it! But if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, (for her hair is her ornament and glory! Verse 15) she should cover her head.

BECAUSE OF THE ANGELS – (Verses 8-12)
“8 For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. 9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. 10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. 12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.”

Paul first addresses the possibility of the claim for “equal rights” in verses 8 & 9. Simply put, Adam was not created for Eve, but Eve was created for Adam – and this principle applies to every “Adam” and every “Eve” through history. Genesis 2:18 declares God’s intention in creating Eve: I will make him a helper comparable to him. Eve was created to be a helper to Adam, meaning that Adam was “head” over Eve, and she was called to share and help his vision and agenda. Genesis 2:22 says, He brought her to the man. Adam was not brought to Eve, but Eve was brought to Adam – her head. It is an idea offensive to the spirit of our age, but the Bible in this passage clearly teaches that (in the church and in the home) man was not made for the benefit of woman, but woman for the benefit of man.
In verse 10, Paul mentions that the woman “ought to have power on her head, because of the angels.” Power, that is, a veil, the token, not of her having the power or superiority, but being under the power of her husband, subjected to him. Rebekah, when she met Isaac, and was delivering herself into his possession, put on her veil, in token of her subjection, (Gen. 24:65).
The angels, though invisible, are fellow-worshippers with men in the Christian assemblies, and would therefore “see this indecency,” and liable to be offended by it. Also, the Jews believed that that good angels, being under the possibility of falling from the same cause as their evil brethren (Gen 6:4), fly away at once from the presence of unveiled women. So as not to offend the Angels, women ought to (must, should, have to) cover their heads.

COMMON SENSE? – (Verses 13-16)
“13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely (proper, right) that a woman pray unto God uncovered? 14 Doth not even nature (common sense) itself teach you, that, if a man has long hair, it is a shame unto him? 15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. 16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.” Emphasis mine

Sentiments aside; Paul urges us (you and I who would one day judge Angels) to judge in ourselves. The Message version renders these verses thus: “Don’t you agree there is something naturally powerful in the symbolism—a woman, her beautiful hair reminiscent of angels, praying in adoration; a man, his head bared in reverence, praying in submission? I hope you’re not going to be argumentative about this. All God’s churches see it this way; I don’t want you standing out as an exception.”
It’s the same agelong argument! Paul knew this command would naturally be greeted with arguments as we have these days; so he appeals to our common sense, our good conscience not our “dogged” convictions! 

CONCLUSION
Paul’s instruction to women about covering their heads is to demonstrate to the angels and celestial powers their submission to God’s appointed authority. Paul does not present head coverings as a matter of his opinion, but as an apostolic tradition. He does not describe this as a matter of Christian liberty, or as a personal conviction, but as a matter of obedience. (“Let her cover her head” in verse 6 is authoritative, buttressed by the “ought” of verse 10.) Paul mentions no other alternative symbol nor does he imply there may be some other way to symbolize submission to male headship. He also speaks of the head covering of women as the consistent practice of every church and not just that of the Corinthian church. He teaches us that in a marriage relationship, there is authority from Christ to husband, and from husband to wife. The authority of Christ is the authority of God. Any man who speaks with God or about God in a way that shows a lack of respect for the authority of Christ, dishonours Christ. In the same way, a wife who speaks with God in a way that shows a lack of respect for the authority of her husband, dishonours her husband. Worse, she dishonours herself—an ugly sight, like a woman with her head shaved. This is basically the origin of these customs we have of women wearing head coverings in worship, while men take their hats off. By these symbolic acts, men and women, who far too often butt heads with each other, submit their “heads” to the Head: God.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 06:57 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, May 27 2017

Contributor: Leye Olayiwola

Introduction:
We considered the first verses of 1 Corinthians chapter 10 last week. Apostle Paul drew our attention on the need to avoid the attitudes displayed by the children of Israel who rather than serving God gave heed to their own desires and emotions. We saw how, though having been saved and delivered from slavery in Egypt, the Israelites mind sets were still otherwise. We concluded on how to deal with temptations. Though temptations are very certain to happen, we were enjoined never to allow them linger on in our thoughts and never to allow them persuade us to do wrong things. The last verses of this chapter spell out Paul’s bottom line in the matter of idol-meats. In these closing words of instruction and counsel, Paul practically applies what he has been teaching in principle by addressing three situations which the Corinthians would face: (1) The question of whether a Corinthian Christian should eat idol-meat at a meal that is a part of a heathen worship ritual. (2) The question of whether a Corinthian should eat meat purchased at the meat market, the origins of which are not known. (3) The question of whether a Corinthian Christian should accept a dinner invitation from an unbeliever. Interspersed in these verses are the general guiding principles which should govern every decision pertaining to idol-meats, and any other question regarding our conduct in a pagan world. Let us learn from our “fathers,” as we are instructed from the inspired Word of God.

1. Dining With the Devils - Eating Meat in a Pagan Worship Ritual (verses 14-22)
The issue of meats offered to idols was first introduced in chapter 8. There, Paul did not debate the question of whether or not a Christian was at liberty to eat idol-meats, but allowed the assumption of some to stand that idol-meats were a matter of Christian liberty. In chapter 8, Paul sought to establish the principle that while one’s knowledge may cause him to conclude that he is free to eat idol-meats, love for the weaker brother should prompt him to forego his rights in deference to the one who may be caused to stumble. For some, the logic of 1 Corinthians 8:4-5 gave them license to eat idol-meats, and under virtually any set of circumstances. Paul takes a very different approach to this matter in the verses above. Now just exactly what does this mean, to “flee from idolatry”?
i.  To partake of the cup at the Lord’s table is to symbolically partake of what the cup represents. To partake of the cup is to symbolically commemorate (give respect to) the fact that we have become partakers in the shed blood of Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sins which it accomplished, through faith in His atoning death on the cross of Calvary. This is what Jesus taught before His death (John 6:47-58).
ii. To partake of the bread at communion is to symbolically proclaim that we have identified with our Lord’s body. We have identified with Christ, not only in His incarnation, and in His bodily death, burial, and resurrection, but we have identified ourselves with His “body,” the church.
iii. Communion commemorates our union with the person and work of Jesus Christ by faith at the time of our salvation and for all eternity. It signifies our union with the church, His body.
iv. The pagan ritual of eating a meal, of which a portion is that which was sacrificed in heathen worship, was a “communion service” as well. The heathen worshipper is celebrating a communion service when he eats of what was sacrificed to an idol. In eating the things sacrificed to the idol, he is identifying himself with the pagan sacrifice and all that it means.
v. When the pagans worship idols by sacrificing to them, they are worshipping demons. Here is an amazing fact, which the Corinthians had overlooked. There are no other gods. Idols are nothing, because they represent gods which don’t exist. But false worship is not thereby rendered harmless and insignificant. This is where the Corinthians went wrong. Paul says that the worship of idols is the worship of demons. (See Leviticus 17:7; Deuteronomy 32:17; Psalm 106:37).
vi. Christians cannot become partakers of two tables, for one is the table of the Lord and the other is the table of demons. Just as no man can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24), neither can a Christian participate at two religious tables or partake of two sacrificial meals.
vii. When the Corinthians eat idol-meats while participating in pagan idol worship, they provoke the Lord to jealousy. Paul has instructed the Corinthians to “flee idolatry” in verse 14. Now we know exactly what he means. To sit at the table of demons and to participate in this pagan worship by eating idol-meats is to practice idolatry. This is exactly the way the ancient Israelites fell into idolatry, by joining themselves with the pagans at their “table”. Idolatry is a most serious offense to God. The Israelites were “laid low in the wilderness” (10:5) because God poured out His wrath by various plagues. To practice idolatry is to provoke the Lord to jealousy, and this is a most serious situation.


2. Is Market Meat Idol-Meat? (verses 23-26)
• Paul’s words in verses 23 and 24 should sound familiar to us because they are not new – 1 Cor.6:12-13. When Paul repeats the words of chapter 6 in chapter 10, we should not be surprised. The principle of profitability (or edification) underlies the teaching of the entire book. We find it in chapter 6, again in chapter 8, now in chapter 10, and again in chapters 12-14. The law of love obliges us to act in a way that benefits or edifies our brother, and, if possible, the lost (by leading to their salvation).
• Can the Christian eat meat purchased in the market place, knowing that it could possibly have been sacrificed to an idol? The issue at hand seems to be as follows. The Christians purchased their food supplies at the market place. In addition to fruits and vegetables, this included meat. It was possible that some of the meat sold in the market place had been offered to an idol. It appears that the question pertains to meats whose origins are not known and are not immediately apparent. Should the Christian buy no market meats because of the possibility of obtaining idol-meats? Or, should the Christian seek to satisfy his sensitive conscience by inquiring about the origin of the meat?
• Paul’s answer is really quite simple. In today’s jargon, Paul would have said, “Chill out; relax!” The fact is, it didn’t really matter. Biblical separation required that the Corinthian Christians have no part in the idol worship of their pagan peers. It was not necessary that the meat they ate have no such association. Whether or not a Christian should knowingly purchase idol-meats is not asked or answered. But when the origin of the meat is not known, the Christian is not to make an issue of it.
• Are the Corinthians concerned about the immediate origins and associations of the meat they purchase? They need not be. And the reason is to be found in the ultimate origin of such food: God created it. If God created it, we know it is good. All that is required is to partake of it gratefully and with thanksgiving.

3. Should I Dine With My Pagan Neighbor? (10:27-30)
• Now, Paul provides us with another specific application to his instruction to “flee from idolatry.” Does “fleeing from idolatry” mean that I should never go to dinner with an unsaved neighbor, for fear that I might be served idol-meats? The assumption here seems to be that the invitation is to the home of an unbeliever and not to a heathen temple, where the meal would be a part of a heathen religious ritual involving idols.
• Biblical separation does not require the Christian to avoid all contact with unbelievers. It does not even prohibit the Christian from enjoying the hospitality of an unbeliever by accepting a dinner invitation. Biblical separation is not meant to keep the Christian isolated from the world (which we are to evangelize), but to keep us separate from those who profess to know Christ and who live like pagans.
• Paul’s answer is similar to his response to the previous question: “Don’t ask!” The Corinthians should not make an issue of the origin of the meat or food they are eating. They should eat all of it. Eating a piece of meat that was offered to an idol will not defile the Christian. What defiles the Christian is participating in heathen worship. If eating a piece of idol-meat does not defile the Christian, there is no need to make an issue of it.
• The law of love does require an exception to this instruction, however. If one’s host volunteers that the meat has been offered to an idol, then the Christian should refrain from eating it. When the host makes an issue of the origin, it is because it is important to him, or because he thinks it may be important to his guest.

Conclusion – (verse 31-33)
Having expressed his commitment not to eat idol-meats at the table of an unbeliever under certain circumstances, Paul now concludes by explaining his response in terms of two guiding principles, principles which should guide every Christian concerning the exercise of their Christian liberties. The first principle governs our actions in terms of our relationship to God. The next governs our actions in terms of our relationship to men. The goal of history, and of God’s eternal plan, is to bring glory to Himself. The guiding principle by which the exercise of every liberty must be determined is that whatever we do, it must bring glory to God. Eating everything set before us at the home of a heathen can bring glory to God because our presence is to be a manifestation of His excellency to lost men (1 Peter 2:9).
It may be by our witness at the dinner table that we are able to share our faith and be instrumental in leading lost souls to faith in Christ.124
The second guiding principle is that our every action should be done for the edification and upbuilding of others. For the lost, we should act in a way that most facilitates the gospel and the salvation of the lost. For those who are saved, our actions should be those which build up our brothers and sisters in their faith, and which enhance their daily walk with Him.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 02:22 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, May 27 2017

Contributor: Alex Alajiki

INTRODUCTION

The highlight of last week’s study, in conclusion of chapter 9, is the need for discipline or being temperate in all things. Self-indulgence lay at the root of every other Corinthian problem mentioned up to this point. The solution to self-indulgence is self-control. Paul uses the analogy of athletes; if athletes who compete for trophies that fade put in so much effort in preparation; how much more should we prepare for our trophies that are incorruptible? We should not be shabby or shoddy when it comes to the work of God! (Colossians 3:23-25).

Today, we are looking at the first thirteen verses of chapter ten. In this chapter, Paul draws several lessons for the readers of his Epistle from the failure of the Israelites in the wilderness.

1) A lesson from the past: 1 Corin.10:1-2

"Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness."

Paul begins a lesson about the people whom Moses led. Those people had been slaves in Egypt, but God made them free. They experienced the presence of God in forms of the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night (Exo.13:21). They saw the miracle of the opening of the red sea (Exo.14:21). They were fed with manna from heaven (Exo.16). They drank from the spiritual rock that was Jesus Christ; the living water (Exo.17&20).
However, as free people, they did not serve God. They served their own wrong desires and wrong emotions. In other words, they did whatever they wanted to do. The result was that God was not pleased with them. Almost all of them died in the desert. They never entered the country that God had promised to their nation. 600,000 men (not counting women and children) left Egypt but only two among those older than 20 years entered the Promised Land! (Num.2:32)

Paul could see that many Christians were starting to have the same wrong attitudes. God had made them free (Col.1:13), but they cared only to please themselves. They did not really want to serve God or to show his love to other people. They believed that they had the right to please themselves. They even claimed the right to eat food that someone had offered to a false god (1 Cor.8:10).

Paul had to warn them that God would not be pleased with their selfish behaviour. It was a hard lesson for those Christians. They thought that their lives did please God. He had saved them when they began their relationship with him. He was present in their lives by his Holy Spirit. They had gone through the ceremony called baptism to show that they had a new life with Christ.
It is a sad fact that, in every age, most people have not obeyed God. The history of our churches shows that most church members care more about themselves than about God. Jesus compared a right relationship with God to a narrow path that few people find (Matthew 7:13-14).

2) Lessons from the Israelites in the wilderness: 1 Corin.10:6-10

"Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. 7 And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” 8 Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; 9 nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer."

1 Corinthians 10:6-10 contains a list of four separate events during the life of Moses. The purpose of this list is to warn Christians not to use the freedom that God has given them wrongly. The people whom Moses led had done that. And some Christians in Corinth were starting to behave in a similar manner.
a) They gave honour to a false god; Ex.32 Moses remained on the mountain called Sinai for 40 days while he received God’s law. During this time, the people became impatient. They told Aaron to make them an image out of gold. They wanted to give honour to that image as their god. So Aaron made an image of a young cow. Some members of the church at Corinth were eating meat that other people had offered to false gods. Those Christians should be especially careful. They must not give honour to false gods, and they must not cause other people to do that (Ch.8)
b) Sexual immorality; Num.25 Women from Moab and Midian tried to tempt the men from Israel. Many of the men accepted the women’s offer. Again, they were following their emotions when they ought to obey God. God wanted them to be free people; they chose to let their emotions rule their lives. Paul told the church leaders in Corinth to deal strictly with a man who was guilty of sexual immorality and will not repent of this evil behaviour (5:1-2). God’s people should never behave in such an evil manner (1 Corinthians: 6:9-10)
c) They tested God; Num.21:4-9 In other words, they tried to force God to do what they wanted. They accused God of wrong behaviour. They said that God had taken them out of Egypt in order to kill them in the desert. They suffered a terrible punishment by being bitten by snakes. God still cared about his people. He saved them from that punishment. The method that he used to save them teaches us about Christ (John 3:14-15)
Paul’s lesson for Christians here is that they must not test God (Deuteronomy 6:16). 1 Corinthians 8:10. He should not enter a place where the desire to do wrong things is so strong. If God has not sent him, he should not go into any such place.
d) They Complained against God. Exo.14 There were several instances that they murmured, grumbled or complained against Moses and Aaron but God said it was against Him. Ex.14:27. When people allow their feelings to control their lives, they do such things constantly. They were destroyed by the destroyer. The Bible sometimes uses words like that when people die quickly from a sudden, serious illness (1 Chronicles 21:14-15). That happened in Numbers 11:33-34 and Num. 16:41-49. When we allow our feelings to control our lives, it will give opportunity to the devil (1 Peter 5:8).

3) The church must learn from the past; 1 Cor.10:11-12

"Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."

The Bible is not just history. Its purpose is not to provide a record of ancient events or of people whom the world has forgotten. It tells us about those events and those people because God wants to use them to teach us, today. God’s relationship with ancient Israel was real, and it still continues today (Romans 11:1-2). But God did not establish that relationship so that people from just one nation would know him. From its beginning, God wanted people from every nation to know his kindness (Genesis 12:3).
Only a fool has confidence in something that is weak (Flesh). It will certainly disappoint him. When he needs something to support him, it will fail. When he needs to stand, he will fall (Proverbs 16:18).

Conclusion: Dealing with temptations, 1 Cor.10:13

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Temptations are the thoughts, ideas and circumstances that test our trust in God. They do not always seem like troubles; in fact, many temptations seem attractive. But they are always dangerous; falling to temptations can ruin a person’s relationship with God.
We should pray that God will help us to deal with temptation (Matthew 6:13). We will certainly have temptations, but we must not let them persuade us to do wrong things. Evil thoughts will enter our minds, but we must not allow them to remain constantly in our thoughts. People will urge us not to obey God, but we must not accept that wicked advice. Whenever a Christian refuses to give in to temptation, that Christian becomes stronger in his relationship with God (1 Peter 1:6-7). God never tempts men to sin Jam.1:13-15.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 02:16 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, May 15 2017

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION

Last week’s study saw us looking at the proper use of liberty and how Paul waived his rights for the sake of the Gospel. Verses 1-14 was his response to those who challenged his apostleship because he chose not to exercise his rights as an apostle. We concluded with Paul’s inference that although he and Baranabas waived their rights of reaping material things from the church in Corinth for the sake of the Gospel, it shouldn’t be misunderstood or taken for granted. In today’s study, we shall be looking at the concluding part of the use of liberty - Self Discipline.

Verses 15-18 (AMP) - GUARANTEED REWARD
“But I have used none of these privileges, nor am I writing this [to suggest] that any such provision be made for me now. For it would be better for me to die than to have anyone deprive me of my boast [in this matter of financial support]. 16 For if I [merely] preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast about, for I am compelled [that is, absolutely obligated to do it]. Woe to me if I do not preach the good news [of salvation]! 17 For if I do this work of my own free will, then I have a reward; but if it is not of my will [but by God’s choosing], I have been entrusted with a [sacred] stewardship. 18 What then is my reward? [Just this:] that, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge [to everyone], so as not to take advantage of my rights [as a preacher and apostle] in [preaching] the gospel."

Paul continues his defence by saying that although he had the right to a maintenance allowance, as an apostle, based on both the law of God and the gospel; he hasn’t used any of these benefits; then he becomes very assertive; it was not on his own account that he gave these strong reasons, and undeniably proved the point, that ministers should be maintained by the people; and to prevent people from thinking that he has the plan to start receiving maintenance from the church he categorically stated that he would rather die than to give anyone ammunition to discredit him or challenge his motives! As a matter of fact, he didn’t choose to serve God himself! He was out persecuting the church when he was called by God’s choosing and mandated to serve! So it was clearly not for any personal benefits he was in the business of the Gospel
He then asked a rhetorical question: “What then is my reward?” And answers it himself! “Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel.” For it is better to give than receive (Acts 20:35)

Verses 19-23 (AMP) - PAUL’S USE OF HIS FREEDOM
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to everyone, so that I may win more [for Christ]. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews [for Christ]; to men under the Law, [I became] as one [c]under the Law, though not being under the Law myself, so that I might win those who are under the Law. 21 To those who are without (outside) the Law, [I became] as one without the Law, though [I am] not without the law of God, but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. 22 To the weak I became [as the] weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means [in any and every way] save some [by leading them to faith in Jesus Christ]. 23 And I do all this for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings along with you.”

In these verses Paul teaches us how to best use our freedom; not for our personal gains but for the benefit of and the service of others. He volunteered himself to become a servant to all and sundry. He went into the world of the religious and nonreligious, the meticulous moralists, and those living in immorality, the defeated, the demoralized—all of them! To experience things from their point of view; so he can appropriately empathise with them (Heb. 4:15); but didn’t take on their way of life. He did this to lead many to Christ! He did not just want to talk about it; he wanted to be in on it! And so, must we! Enough of just talking about reaching out – time to step out and do!

Verses 24-27 (AMP) - THE NEED FOR SELF-DISCIPLINE
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run [their very best to win], but only one receives the prize? Run [your race] in such a way that you may seize the prize and make it yours! 25 Now every athlete who [goes into training and] competes in the games is disciplined and exercises self-control in all things. They do it to win a [f]crown that withers, but we [do it to receive] an imperishable [crown that cannot wither]. 26 Therefore I do not run without a definite goal; I do not flail around like one beating the air [just shadow boxing]. 27 But [like a boxer] I strictly discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached [the gospel] to others, I myself will not somehow be disqualified [as unfit for service]."

Like a bolt out of the blue, Paul switches to a topic somewhat unconnected to his defence; but it is to drive home his point! "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize?" Here, he was referring to athletes who win races; not for the sake of us winning the race but for the preparation they put into winning a race. “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.” So, let us prepare to serve God like athletes who win; not sloppy, not nonchalant; for that is the only way we can achieve what God wants us to. The key words here are “strict”(demanding that rules concerning behaviour are obeyed and observed; following rules or beliefs exactly) and “training”(Organized activity aimed at imparting information and/or instructions to improve the recipient's performance or to help him or her attain a required level of knowledge or skill.)

CONCLUSION
Paul uses the analogy of athletes to summarise and conclude this chapter of his letter. If athletes who compete for trophies that fade put in so much effort in preparation; how much more should we prepare for our trophies that are incorruptible? We should not be shabby or shoddy when it comes to the work of God! (Colossians 3:23-25).

And when he said in verses 26-27 (MSG)
“I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself."

He was referring to being focused; that he will not be swayed by those challenging his apostleship or those who want to toil with his liberty or any other distractions that may come; because such distraction can cause a faithful servant miss his/her place in eternity.
 

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 07:30 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, May 04 2017

Contributor: Alex Alajiki

INTRODUCTION:
In last week’s study, we started off on the journey of our liberty in Christ and how exercising our liberty interlocks with other believers around us. We learnt that we owed other believers; especially the weaker ones a duty of care. In today’s study, we will be looking at the topic: “Proper Use of Liberty part1 - Waiving rights for the Gospel” a study of exercising liberty as it pertains to the ministers of the Gospel and how the church should view it.

1) Paul’s Apostleship Declared and Defended: 1 Cor. 9:1-2
“Am I not free [unrestrained and exempt from any obligation]? Am I not an apostle? Have I not [a]seen Jesus our [risen] Lord [in person]? Are you not [the result and proof of] my work in the Lord? 2 If I am not [considered] an apostle to others, at least I am one to you; for you are the seal and the certificate and the living evidence of my apostleship in the Lord [confirming and authenticating it].”
There was obviously a challenge here about the Apostleship of Paul; especially because of what we see in 1Co 9:11, 13, 14. Paul's not exercising this right was made a plea by his opponents for insinuating that he was himself conscious he was no true apostle (2Co 12:13-16). This was what precipitated his response that leads to the revealing of the qualification of an Apostle. Paul knew that to be an apostle in the same sense as the original twelve apostles (with Matthias replacing Judas Iscariot, as we see in Acts 1:26), he had to be an eyewitness of the resurrected Christ (Acts 1:22). His encounter with Christ on his journey to Damascus met this requirement (Acts 9:2-8, 27; 22:6-21; 26:12-18).

2) Paul’s Rights as an Apostle; 1 Cor. 9:3-7
“This is my defense to those who would put me on trial and interrogate me [concerning my authority as an apostle]: 4 Have we not the right to our food and drink [at the expense of the churches]? 5 Have we not the right to take along with us a believing wife, as do the rest of the apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas (Peter)? 6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to stop doing manual labor [in order to support our ministry]? 7 [Consider this:] Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock?"
In these verses, Paul continues his response from the first two verses directed at those interrogating him and challenging his authority as an apostle. He gets practical and direct! He compares himself with Apostle Peter and the other apostles, unafraid. From his comment, here, we learn that it is right for ministers, missionaries, etc. to marry, and to take their wives with them when on ministrations. But there are people, like Paul, who can do better without being married. There are circumstances, like his, where it is not advisable that they should marry, and there can be no doubt that Paul regarded the unmarried state for a missionary as preferable and advisable. Probably the same is to be said of most missionaries at the present day, that they could do better if unmarried, than they can if burdened with the cares of families. He lays it bare by asking them in verse 7 a question that would challenge their common sense and reveal their ignorance: “Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock?"
He uses three illustrations from human life and business to show that the principle which has been adopted in the Christian Church is not exceptional. A soldier receives his pay; the planter of a vineyard eats the fruit of it; and the owner of a flock is supported by selling the milk.

3) Paul’s Apostolic Rights Supported; 1 Cor. 9:8-11
“Do I say these things only from a man’s perspective? Does the Law not endorse the same principles? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain [to keep it from eating the grain].” Is it [only] for oxen that God cares? 10 Or does He speak entirely for our sake? Yes, it was written for our sake: The plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the harvest. 11 If we have sown [the good seed of] spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?"
The preceding verses calls for the Corinthians to apply common sense from the human perspective; but just in case common sense did not work out for them, Paul balances it with drawing their attention to the Word of God – the ultimate guiding authority. He states that if God can care for some ordinary oxen asking that they MUST NOT muzzle it (tie up its mouth) while it’s treading out the grain how much more his Apostle while in service; preaching the Gospel!
Paul also refers to God’s divine principle of seed time and harvest in verse 11 – “If we have sown [the good seed of] spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?” (Gen 8:22)

4) A Christian leader’s right to receive wages; 1 Cor. 9:12-14
"If others share in this rightful claim over you, do not we even more? However, we did not exercise this right, but we put up with everything so that we will not hinder [the spread of] the good news of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who officiate in the sacred services of the temple eat from the temple [offerings of meat and bread] and those who regularly attend the altar have their share from the [offerings brought to the] altar? 14 So also [on the same principle] the Lord directed those who preach the gospel to get their living from the gospel."
Obviously, the other apostles and religious leaders and teachers were claiming maintenance, and were supported without personal labour; but Paul and Barnabas waived this right and worked with their hands (Acts 18:3 – “And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers” so that their lack of understanding would not get in the way of accepting the Gospel. And that working for their upkeep was a matter of choice and not because they were unqualified.
In verse 13 Paul references the priests that officiate in the temple of God stating that they eat from the offerings of meat and bread and other offerings brought to the altar so that the Corinthians will see that it is scriptural. (Lev.6:26, Deuteronomy 18:1)

CONCLUSION
In verse 14, Paul brings it home; that the same principle that applies to the oxen and those who officiate in the sacred services of the temple or who regularly attend the altar also applied to those who preach the Gospel. Inferring that although he and Baranabas waived their rights of reaping material things from the church in Corinth for the sake of the Gospel, it shouldn’t be misunderstood or taken for granted

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 04:09 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, April 28 2017

Contributor: Leye Olayiwola

INTRODUCTION:
Last week, we concluded the three part marriage series based on 1 Corinthians 7. Some of the highlights of last week’s teaching touched on the benefits of an unmarried life for a Christian, Paul’s advice on remaining in an unmarried state as a result of the distress prevalent during the time of writing the book of first Corinthians, and also his counsel to married women and widows amongst other things. Paul buttressed the importance of staying married which is very much in line with Jesus’s injunction in the epistles. Today, we will continue our study as we look very carefully on the topic of Taking Care with our Liberty as believers in Christ Jesus.

1. Relationship Between Love and Knowledge (vs 1-3)
Paul sets the stage for his teaching on meats offered to idols in verses 1-3. In these three verses, addressed to those who prided themselves for their higher knowledge and who indulged themselves in the name of liberty, Paul lays down four foundational truths which they need to grasp.
Truth 1: Christian knowledge is common knowledge, available to all. Paul writes, “Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge” (1 Corinthians 8:1a). Knowledge is not restricted to the few but is available to all. In the Book of Proverbs, error and deceptive knowledge is personified by “Madam Folly.” This woman is symbolized by the prostitute, who appeals not to the head but to the hormones; she appeals to fleshly pride and sensual desires. Her appeal is secret and sneaky. She lurks in the dark alleys, and she whispers her offer of illicit knowledge (Proverbs 7:6-27). Truth and wisdom is personified in Proverbs by a gracious and intelligent woman, Dame Wisdom. She publicly proclaims truth to all who will hear and learn, speaking openly in broad daylight and in the most public place (Proverbs 8:1-21). True knowledge is offered to all, while false wisdom is secretly and seductively presented to the naive.
Truth 2: Even true knowledge, which is wrongly interpreted or applied, can puff up the pride of the knower, while genuine love places others ahead of self and seeks to build them up. True love is not puffed up with pride, and it does not serve self-interest (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). Knowledge is not opposed to love, but is to be closely associated with it, as we can see in the Scriptures (1 Cor.13:2; 2 Cor.8:7; 1 Tim.1:5)
Truth 3: Those who suppose themselves to fully know only reveal their true ignorance (verse 2). Our knowledge in this life is partial, and even that which has been revealed by God is never perfectly grasped (see 1 Corinthians 13:8-13). Those who speak arrogantly of what they know are ignorant and self-deceived, often deceiving others as well (Romans 1:28-32; 2:17-23; Galatians 1:8; Colossians 2:18; 1 Timothy 1:7; 2 Peter 2:17-19). Over-confidence is often an indication of ignorance, while humility is the outgrowth of knowledge.
Truth 4: Christians are not to boast in knowing, but to rejoice in being known by God, and this is the result of loving God (verse 3). When Jesus sent His disciples out to proclaim the coming of the kingdom of God, they returned, rejoicing over the mighty works God had accomplished through them. Jesus gently corrected them saying, “… do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven” (Luke 10:20). Here, Paul tells Christians that they should not rejoice in knowing, but in being known by God. Salvation surpasses any sheepskin (diploma) we will ever obtain.

2. Transforming Truth into Error (vs 4-6)
• It comes as no surprise to hear that false teaching leads to various kinds of evil. But it is also possible to pervert the truth (see Rom.6:1-2; Jude 1:4;Matt.4:1-11). Paul supplies us with the doctrine—true doctrine—which the “stronger” Corinthians twisted in order to justify eating meat offered to idols. The doctrine which all Christians “know” is that there is but one God. This is one of the foundation stones of the Christian faith. It is emphatically laid down in Deut.5:6-10; 6:4-9).
• There is but one God. He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. He is the One from whom all things come, and for whom all things exist (1 Corinthians 8:6). While there is but one God, He exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Here, Paul speaks only of Father and Son as the one true God, but it is clear that while he distinguishes Father and Son, he also considers them as One.
• If there is but one God (and all Christians know this to be true), then there are no other “gods.” Idols are symbols or representations of these “no-gods.” These “no-gods” exist only in the minds of their heathen worshippers, and not in reality. Thus, since there are no other gods than God, idols really have no meaning or significance—they represent nothing.
• If idols are nothing, then the foods offered to them are of no significance either. Meats offered to gods which don’t exist are thereby assumed to have no negative or profane contamination by their use in false worship. If this is so, as some of the Corinthians have reasoned, then meats offered to idols are certainly free of moral contamination, and thus can be eaten without moral qualms. Those who fail to think on this high level are obviously weaker Christians. And if these “weaker Christians” follow the example of their “stronger brethren,” then they are so much the better for having done so, even though their consciences are pricked by eating this meat.
• Jeremiah said it well: “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9). Through twisted logic and compounded inferences, some Corinthians have turned the truth of God into a lie. They have made orthodox doctrine the basis for their sin. In verses 7-13, Paul will show these “stronger” brethren that they have become puffed up with knowledge, but they have failed to show love for their brothers.

3. Lacking In Love (verse 7-12)
• If the “knowledge” of some Corinthians was defective, so was their love. Having dealt with their “knowledge” in verses 4-6, Paul moves on to show the deficiency of their love in verses 7-13.
• The Corinthians were using their (defective) knowledge to the detriment of one who appeared to be a weaker brother. Paul will show them that one who loved his brother would surrender any right which would be detrimental to the weaker brother.
• While some saints with superior knowledge seem to have the right to eat idol-meat, there are others who have not come to this same knowledge. How, then, does the one with “knowledge” respond to the one without it?
• Paul now makes a very important point in verse 8. Meat is really a matter of indifference. Contrary to the thinking of the “stronger brother,” eating such meat doesn’t make him more spiritual. Conversely, if one were not to eat such idol-meat, it would not in any way diminish his standing before God. It is a sort of “Heads, I win; tails, you lose” proposition. I don’t gain anything by eating idol-meat, nor do I lose anything by refusing it. “Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were thus occupied were not benefited” (Hebrews 13:9).
• While neither eating meat nor abstaining from it changes my spiritual status, what I do with this meat can have a great impact on my brother. If something is a true liberty, I can partake of it in good conscience, just as I can abstain from it in good conscience, for I am not doing what I believe to be wrong. If I am more spiritual by eating idol-meat, then my weaker brother assumes he will be more spiritual for following my example. But since his conscience is not clear with respect to idol-meat, eating of it will be a sin for him. When I insist on exercising my liberty, in spite of the fact that others do not have this liberty, I am encouraging my “weaker brother” to sin.
• In verse 10, Paul employs a very well-known term, which is translated “strengthened” in the NASB (“emboldened,” KJV, NIV, Berkeley; “encouraging,” J. B. Phillips). The word is seldom used in this negative sense by Paul, but is most often positively used with the meaning “edified” or “built up.” Eating idol-meat is reverse edification. It builds up or strengthens others, encouraging them to sin. True love, Paul has just said in verse 1 “edifies” (the same root word). Eating idol meat so as to encourage a weaker brother to sin is not walking in love! It is, instead, putting a stumbling block in his path (verse 9).
• In verses 11 and 12, Paul shows that eating idol-meat is not only a sin against a brother, it is a sin against our Lord. Here is how Paul’s argument plays out in these verses. Christ died for sinners, to save them from their sin and to sanctify them. Christ’s work on the cross of Calvary was to set men free from their sin, and to present them holy and blameless to the Father. Christ’s work on the sinner’s behalf was for their edification, for their spiritual birth, growth, and maturity. When a thoughtless, self-serving saint insists on eating idol-meat, he knows that his “weaker brother” will be encouraged to follow his example. But in so doing, the weaker brother is not edified; he is caused to stumble.
• Insisting on my right to eat idol meat may cause a fellow saint to stumble, falling into sin, and in causing this, I find myself working at cross purposes with Christ. I am therefore not only sinning against my weaker brother, I am sinning against my Lord. This is a most serious offense indeed.

CONCLUSION (verse 13)
In verse 13, Paul sets down a principle which establishes the relationship of love to knowledge and Christian liberties. No liberty should ever be exercised when it acts contrary to love. No liberty of mine should be a spiritual detriment or hindrance to my brother in Christ. If I love my brother, I will gladly forego any liberty which will cause my brother to stumble. If eating meat (any meat, or any act at all) would cause a weaker brother to stumble, then I should gladly be willing never to eat meat again. No right should be exercised which is contrary to love, and love always seeks to edify.
 

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 01:23 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, April 24 2017

Contributor: Alex Alajiki

INTRODUCTION

We have been looking at the issues on marriage from the challenges of the Corinthian’s Church for the past three weeks. We can establish from our studies that God hates divorce. Why? Because the joining between a man and a woman is a permanent one. Jesus said in Luke 16:18; “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery.

God’s intention is to make our marriages parts of His kingdom influence on earth, by raising Godly seed within the confine of Kingdom homes. Our marriages and homes should naturally attract people to God. 

We shall continue on the issues of marriage but examine the circumstances where it is not wise to marry, the benefits of an unmarried life, situations where it is right to marry and advice to married women and widows. Paul clearly distinguished between the commands of the Lord and his own counsel.

  1. Circumstances where it is not wise to marry: 1 Corin.7:25-28

“Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment as one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy. 26 I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress—that it is good for a man to remain as he is: 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you.”

Paul indicates that he is giving his advice, he also encourages his readers to take that advice seriously because, his counsel is not personal opinion, given without divine enablement, but is the fruit of divine mercy which was given to him. If Paul is clear to tell us when he is not giving us a command, surely we dare not attempt to pass off our ideas, preferences, or prejudices as though they are a word from God.

His reference to “present distress” in vs 26, can be connected to the persecutions of Christians (2 Timothy 3:12, Romans 8:18-25, Galatians 1:4 & 1 Peter 4:12-14). In the light of this Paul counsel that “It is good for a man to remain as he is”. Can you imagine Paul being married with children and seeking to carry on the ministry we see described in the Book of Acts?

Verses 27 and 28 speak not only to the single saint, encouraging him or her to remain single, but Paul also addresses the married believer, advising that one not seek to be loosed. Once one is married (with or without children), it is too late to reduce one’s exposure by seeking to terminate the marriage or to abandon one’s family.

  1. Marriage and the Shortness of Time: 1 Corin.7:29-31

“But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, 30 those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, 31 and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away.”

One of the great dangers which confronts the Christian is losing sight of the shortness of the time. We must live in the light of the nearness of the return of our Lord, of the inauguration of His kingdom, and thus of the end of this present age (Rom.13:11-12, 1 John.2:17-18, Rev.1:3 & Rev.21 &22). Paul spells out several specific areas in which to apply our belief in the shortness of the time.

The first area of application is that of marriage: “so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none.” This is not an instruction for men to neglect their wives. We must connect his instruction with Ephesians 5. Husbands are to care for their wives as Christ cares for His church.

  1. The benefits of an unmarried life for a Christian; 1 Corinthians 7:32-35

But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. 33 But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife. 34 There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband. 35 And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.”

Marriage is not an eternal institution, but one divinely provided for men and women in this age, rather than in the age to come (Matthew 22:30). Marriage is a right, a liberty, which can be either exercised or set aside. Paul has just challenged the Corinthians to consider the possibility of remaining single, not because this makes one more spiritual than others, but because it may enhance their service in these shortened days. At every wedding, church leaders explain the benefits of married life. Here, Paul pointed out the benefits of an unmarried life for a Christian. There are two outstanding benefits; vs 32; free from concern and in vs 35; secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.

Remaining single provides an opportunity for the Christian to serve the Lord unreservedly, without the conflicting obligation of attending to the needs of one’s spouse. But staying single does not automatically produce this result.

Unmarried people are free to choose how they will spend their time, money and energy. They often have many less responsibilities at home than married people do. Certainly, they will serve God better as unmarried people than if they chose to marry unwisely.

  1. A situation where it is right to marry; 1 Corinthians 7:36-38

“But if any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of youth, and thus it must be, let him do what he wishes. He does not sin; let them marry. 37 Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well. 38 So then he who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better.”

These examples refer to the marriage customs that people used to follow in Corinth. Men were not free to choose whom they would marry. Instead, families arranged for a boy to become engaged to a girl when they were both very young. When he grew older, the boy could choose when to marry.

“If you conclude that marriage is the proper course for your life, then don’t agonize over this, do it; you have not sinned in so doing. If, on the other hand, you are able to gracefully reverse your decision, and you have the will power to do so, then release yourself from this commitment and remain single. The one who marries does well; the one who does not marry does even better.”

  1. Advice to married women and widows; 1 Corinthians 7:39-40

“A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 But she is happier if she remains as she is, according to my judgment—and I think I also have the Spirit of God.”

Those who are married should consider themselves bound to that partner until death separates them. If a woman’s husband dies, she is then free to marry because the union is broken by death. The only condition placed on this widow is that she marry another believer. Nevertheless, Paul encourages such a widow to give due thought to remaining single, for the same reasons he has outlined above. These words of advice are an expression of Paul’s opinion, but failing to heed them is not sin. It is not just Paul’s opinion, he suggests, but counsel which he believes comes from the Spirit of God. It is, we might say, inspired advice.

Conclusion:

Chapter 7 is a kind of self-contained unit. In this chapter, Paul spoke to those who are married, whether in a mixed marriage (one partner is a believer, the other is not), or those equally yoked. These are to stay married, and not even to think about divorce. They are not to deprive each other sexually, which would only tempt them to sin. Those who are unmarried should consider the spiritual benefits of remaining single. Those who are engaged (or who are planning their daughter’s marriage) should feel free not to proceed with marriage, but they should not feel guilty about marriage either.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 01:10 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, April 14 2017

Contributor: Leye Olayiwola

INTRODUCTION:
Last week, we started on a three part series titled “Teaching on Marriage”. We considered Paul’s counsel, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, on issues pertaining to sexual relationship in the context of marriage. The unmarried were counselled to avoid the stronghold of sexual drive and advised to marry if they are of marriageable age. Married couples were also counselled to fulfil their marital duties to each other since they both do not have any authority over their respective bodies. We will continue on this series by considering God’s stand on the controversial issue of divorce and separation. Is divorce really an option? Is separation allowed? If yes, on what grounds? Under what circumstances? What is the relevance of Jesus’s reference to the beginning? These and many more shall be our focus today. 

1. Remain married permanently (vs 10-11)
In this disputed section, Paul urges Christian spouses to remain married. Paul gives instructions that are from the Lord Jesus who spoke about the permanence of marriage (Matt 19:6-9; Mark 10:5-12). Divorce is not an option—neither for the husband to divorce his wife nor for the wife to divorce her husband. It is worth noting that there is a parenthetical statement in verse 11 (“but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband”). It is possible that Paul may have been making a compassionate provision for an abused woman. This seems to indicate that God Himself is acknowledging that some marriages, even between Christians, are so difficult and so unwholesome and so degrading that divorce is the lesser of two evils. Put this way. God is more passionate for the soul than the institution. Remember, Christ did not die for an institution. He gave His life for the redemption of souls. God will rather a person in an abusive marriage be saved than die in an abusive marriage. However, for the believer who divorces his believing spouse there are two options: singleness or reconciliation. Remarriage to a different spouse is not biblically permissible.

Also note that the permission of divorce and the issue of certificate of divorce (Deut.24:1-4) was by Moses. Jesus confirmed this in Matthew 19:3-9.
The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?”

He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”

As we will also see in the next verses here in our text, Paul also said in his opening of verse 12;
“To the rest I declare—I, not the Lord [since Jesus did not discuss this]……”

If you are married, God’s intent and expectation is that your marriage goes the distance. This means when (not if) there are problems in your marriage (which has been lingering and building castles in your home), it is imperative that you go to the leadership of the church before it’s too late. Too often, couples run to the pastors and elders when their marriage is on life support and nothing can be done to salvage it. Yes, God can and will work miracles, but it is wise to include Him in our marriage trauma before it’s too late.

2. Marriage between a believer and unbeliever (vs 12-16)
In 7:12, Paul distinguishes between his own apostolic instruction and Jesus’ teaching during His earthly ministry. Paul deals with a situation about which the Lord gave no instruction in his earthly teaching.
a) Now it is very important for us to recognize that the mixed marriages Paul is addressing here are the by-products of the conversion of one of the partners. When these two individuals got married they were both unbelievers; now one of them has become a Christian. This section does not apply to a believer who violates God’s law by knowingly marrying an unbeliever. For such a person to appeal to this passage would be like a teenager killing his parents and then appealing to the judge for leniency on the grounds that he’s an orphan.
b) In 7:12-16, the discussion is not about a believing spouse initiating a divorce. Instead, the unbelieving spouse initiates the divorce. The general principle in 7:12-16 is that those who are married are to stay married (i.e. the believer should remain married to the unbeliever). But although the believer should not initiate the divorce, if the unbeliever should do so, the believer is no longer bound to the marriage. This is stated in 7:15, where Paul writes that the believer is “not bound in regard to marriage” (i.e., free to remain single or to remarry).It is however expected that the believing spouse should be more focused at winning the unbelieving spouse to Christ through his or her chaste character according to 1 Peter 3:1-6 instead of desiring to get rid of the unbelieving spouse.
c) In 7:39-40, there is a conceptual parallel where a wife is said to be “bound” (a different word in Greek, but the same concept) as long as her husband lives. But if the husband dies, she is “free” to marry as she wishes, only in the Lord. If the parallel holds, then not bound in 7:15 also means “free to marry another.”
d) Two motivations that Paul brings out for remaining in an unequally yoked marriage are the spiritual benefits that accrue to your family (7:14) and the hope that you may win your spouse to Christ (7:16). Paul says that the unbeliever is “sanctified” (i.e., set apart for God’s blessings) on account of the believer. Salvation does not change the marriage state. If the wife’s becoming a Christian annulled the marriage, then the children in the home would become illegitimate. Instead, these children may one day be saved if the Christian mate is faithful to the Lord. Paul also holds out hope that the believing spouse may influence the unbelieving spouse to believe the gospel.
e) A godly and bible based counsel will be for a Christian whose unsaved spouse has divorced him or her to remain unmarried as long as there is a possibility that the unsaved person may return. However, if the unsaved spouse who has departed remarries, I believe the Christian would be free to remarry since, by remarrying, the unsaved partner has closed the door on reconciliation. Remaining faithful to your marriage blesses your spouse and children to enjoy the exhilaration of real freedom.

3. Stay put indefinitely (vs 17-24)
 Paul now departs from commenting about marriage to offer more general considerations about one’s overall situation in life. But since he continues with issues concerning sexuality in 7:25-40, we cannot interpret the present section as unrelated to the marriage issues just discussed. In order to explain the general principle he has been trying to communicate in the previous verses about marriage, Paul uses two other less urgent issues (circumcision and slavery) as examples. His main point is that after experiencing the call of God, each person should remain in the situation he or she was in at the time of that call. Becoming a Christian does not mean totally revamping one’s social status. Do not seek (or pursue) marriage; do not seek (or pursue) singleness; do not seek (or pursue) divorce to the detriment of your happiness and fulfilment in life. In fact, do not actively seek any change in social status!
Three times Paul insists that a believer is to remain in the situation he or she was in at the point of faith in Christ (7:17, 20, and 24). This means that a Christian does not have to seek “the right situation” in order to enjoy Christian freedom or to serve God’s call effectively. We should serve God where we are until He calls us elsewhere.
Again, Paul’s overarching point in this passage is God is happy when we are content. If you are single—be content, if you are married—be content. Whatever your stage in life, be content.

CONCLUSION
The rate of Divorce (and separation) in the church is as high (if not more than) as it is in the contemporary world. The fact that this has become quite rampant in the church or the world does not nullify God’s stand on divorce. God hates divorce! Yes, He does. Why? Because the joining between a man and a woman is a permanent one. Jesus said in Luke 16:18;
“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery.
Why? Because Divorce does not nullify the bond between a man and a woman after they are married. This is a very hard one to comprehend or accept in this modern day. So what is the remedy? It is the responsibility of each and every one of us as believers to train up our children in the fear and way of the Lord. We all want our children to marry God fearing men and women. The question and the challenge is this. How many of us are really God fearing? And how many of us are really ready and willing to raise God fearing children? The church is becoming a difficult place to find suitors for the singles. We can however make a difference by investing time in raising and building godly virtues in our children. We can make a difference.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 01:24 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, April 09 2017

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION:
In last week’s study titled “The Lord’s Body” we learnt how believers should honour the Lord Jesus Christ with their bodies and the impact sexual sins have on our bodies and our spirits.
Today’s study is the first part of a three-part series on Paul’s teachings on marriage.
The tone of this chapter infers that the Corinthian church had written Paul a letter. And in that letter the Corinthians had probably asked questions which tended to belittle marriage, and had implied that it was better to break it off when contracted with an unbeliever. There was also the notion that it was better not to be married at all!

Verses 1-2: Sexual Relations was designed by God ONLY as a part of marriage
One of the questions the Corinthian church asked Paul was: “Is it a good thing to have sexual relations?” Verse 1 (MSG)
So, Paul’s answer was
“Certainly—but only within a certain context. It’s good for a man to have a wife, and for a woman to have a husband. Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life in a world of sexual disorder.” [MSG]

Here the general rule is given to the unmarried to avoid sexual immorality because sexual drives are strong. So, if you are of marriageable age and are ready for marriage, go ahead and get married because God designed marriage to curtail these sexual drives! And secondly, He designed marriage to provide a balanced and fulfilling sexual life. But still we hear of infidelity in marriages, don’t we? The root of many of those lie in what Paul addresses in the next two verses

Verses 3-4. The duty of cohabitation on the part of the married.
The husband must fulfil his [marital] duty to his wife [with good will and kindness], and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have [exclusive] authority over her own body, but the husband shares with her; and likewise, the husband does not have [exclusive] authority over his body, but the wife shares with him. [AMP]

The Message version explains clearly what these verses refer to when Paul said:

“The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality—the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. Marriage is not a place to “stand up for your rights.” Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out.”

It is not a one-sided affair but mutual. The failure of couples in fulfilling their marital (sexual) duties these days have resulted in sexual immorality in the body of Christ. In verse 3, Paul admonishes both husband and wife to fulfil their marital duties. That is when indeed they can experience a balanced and fulfilling sexual life. It’s a no brainer Proverbs 27:7 (MSG) says:
“When you've stuffed yourself, you refuse dessert; when you're starved, you could eat a horse.”
The NIV renders the second part of this verse as:
“. . . but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.”

Paul then goes ahead to reveal an interesting paradox. The husband and wife do not have [exclusive] authority over their bodies but it is shared!
The oneness of body in which marriage places husband and wife shows us that although is an integral part of marriage, marriage goes beyond sex. More importantly, it is the decision to “serve” each other whether in bed or out.

Verses 5-6. Agreeing on abstinence is important but moderation is key
“Do not deprive each other [of marital rights], except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, so that you may devote yourselves [unhindered] to prayer, but come together again so that Satan will not tempt you [to sin] because of your lack of self-control.  But I am saying this as a concession, not as a command.”

Other versions use the word “defraud” in place of deprive. To defraud means, to deceive, to swindle, to cheat, or trick. Some spouses hide behind spirituality to defraud their partners. So, desist from withholding sex from your spouse by any means – Paul says it must be mutually agreed if there should be any abstinence. Abstaining from sex is permissible for a period if you both agree to it, and if it is for the purposes of prayer and fasting—but only for such times. Because Satan can use the opportunity of prolonged abstinence to introduce unholy thoughts amidst the holiest exercises; especially when it becomes prolonged. Important to note here that Paul was not commanding these periods of abstinence; he was only providing his best counsel if we would choose them.

Verses 7-9. Celibacy is not for everyone; can’t handle it? Get married! God honours both!
“I wish that all the people were as I am; but each person has his own gift from God, one of this kind and one of that. But I say to the unmarried and to the widows, [that as a practical matter] it is good if they remain [single and entirely devoted to the Lord] as I am. But if they do not have [sufficient] self-control, they should marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”

Celibacy is not for everyone any more than marriage is. God gives the gift of the single life to some, and the gift of the married life to others. Also, our emotions are God-given but there are those who are gifted to be able to turn off these emotions and leave them permanently turned off! Paul was one of such and wished everyone were single like him because it is a simpler life in many ways! So, he offers another advice; to the unmarried and widows that if they can, they should remain unmarried. However, if they cannot stay single because they are not gifted they should marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
To “burn” refers to being consumed with the secret flame of lust, which lays waste the whole inner man James 1:14 (AMP) says:
“But each one is tempted when he is dragged away, enticed and baited [to commit sin] by his own [worldly] desire (lust, passion).”

Verses 10-11: Divorce isn’t an acceptable option
In these last two verses, Paul switched from offering advice to giving a command!
“But to the married [believers] I give instructions—not I, but the Lord—that the wife is not to separate from her husband, (but even if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband) and that the husband should not leave his wife.”

In effect, what the Lord through Paul commands is that if you are married, stay married - regardless. If a wife or husband should leave their partner, he/she must either remain single (that is, if the sin of separation has been committed, the sin of a new marriage is not to be added); or else come back and make things right with their partner. The only exception Jesus gave is in Matt. 5:32. Let’s read this verse in the message version
“Please, no more pretending. If you divorce your wife, you’re responsible for making her an adulteress (unless she has already made herself that by sexual promiscuity). And if you marry such a divorced adulteress, you’re automatically an adulterer yourself. You can’t use legal cover to mask a moral failure.”

CONCLUSION
The world for thousands of years and to date has been plagued by sexual disorder (Gen. 19:5) and there is immense pressure on the young and old who want to maintain their purity; either as singles or married as the world applauds those who defile the laws of God. (Romans 1:32)
When we fail to follow God’s order we leave room for manipulation by the devil (Romans 1:18-32)
Hebrews 13:4 [AMP] says
“Marriage is to be held in honour among all [that is, regarded as something of great value], and the marriage bed undefiled [by immorality or by any sexual sin]; for God, will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”
As singles, we should know that it pleases the Father to maintain our purity; and as married couples, we should hold our marriages in honour and not endanger our spouses if we love them; by depriving them and leaving them exposed to the attack of the enemy!

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 04:35 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, April 03 2017

Contributor: Leye Olayiwola

INTRODUCTION:

Last week, we continued in our study of the letter of Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:1-11. Paul’s wise counsels (through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) on how Christians should handle disagreements were carefully considered. He counsels that believers should rather accept wrong instead of going before unbelievers to be judged. We will continue this evening with the rest of the chapter by studying how believers should honour the Lord Jesus Christ with their bodies and the impact of sexual sins on our body and our spirit.

  1. Short-term pleasure leads to long-term disaster

Nowhere is this truer than in the area of sexual immorality. For a few minutes of pleasure, countless men and women will throw their lives away. Just think for a moment about the potential consequences of sexual sin: loss of fellowship with God, divorce, disease, pregnancy, guilt, estrangement from family and friends, psychological and financial loss, damage to one’s reputation, and countless others.

“Adultery is a brainless act, soul-destroying, self-destructive; Expect a bloody nose, a black eye, and a reputation ruined for good.” [Prov.6:32 MSG]

Indeed, there is no sin in this life with such brutal consequences. This reality ought to keep us from sexual sin. Yet, if we are honest, most people assume that they will be the exception to these consequences. Honestly, they believe that these things will never happen to them. So they go on their own merry way, sinning. Therefore, the apostle Paul uses another approach in helping us overcome sexual immorality. He uses a positive affirmation: “Your body is God’s body.” Take a moment to meditate on this. As far as God is concerned, when we engage in sexual sin with our body, we are actually doing so with God’s Body.

  1. Refuse to be mastered by your body (vs 12)

Paul shares a principle that governs the remaining passage of this chapter in verse 12. He argues that he and the Corinthians have certain freedom in Christ, but these are to be used for our good and God’s glory. Paul writes, “ Everything is permissible for me, but not all things are beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything [and brought under its power, allowing it to control me]”. The key word here is “Control”.

  1. In this verse, Paul seems to be adapting and qualifying (“but”) a saying for his own purposes. Twice Paul writes, “All things are lawful for me.” There is a sense in which this is true. God’s world is to be enjoyed. Everything created by God is good, including sex.
  2. Yet, sex outside of marriage is not profitable and can lead to being mastered. Paul wants the Corinthian Christians to feel free to enjoy God’s world. But he does not want them to press their freedom so far that they do damage to themselves. Immorality breaks marriages, shatters homes, brings agonies of guilt, and damages usefulness beyond repair.
  3. We are free, but sin still has serious consequences. We must constantly ask ourselves questions about what is expedient. Will what I am planning help my health? My emotional state? My spiritual sensitivity? My understanding of God and His Word? Will it damage someone else? Will it damage another person’s conscience? Will it affect the church’s testimony?
  4. Freedom does not mean the absence of constraints or moral absolutes. Suppose a skydiver at 10,000 feet announces to the rest of the group, “I’m not using a parachute this time. I want freedom!” The fact is that a skydiver is constrained by a greater law—the law of gravity. But when the skydiver chooses the “constraint” of the parachute, he is free to enjoy the exhilaration. God’s moral laws act the same way: they restrain, but they are absolutely necessary to enjoy the exhilaration of real freedom.
  1. Sin against God the Father (verse 13-14)

 This passage is not about food; it is about sexual immorality. Nevertheless, Paul contrasts the two to emphasize how God values the human body. Here, he simply insists that food and the stomach are temporal, but the physical body is eternal. Paul states that our bodies are designed for the Lord. We can no longer talk about “my body.” Your body is God’s body. And God will one day raise your earthly body. This means what we do in our bodies in this life matters greatly to God.

  1. Sin against The Lord Jesus Christ (verse 15-17)

Paul affirms very clearly in this verse of scriptures that we (our body) are members of Christ (See 2 Cor.16:15,16a).

“And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?  And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.”[2 Cor.16:15,16a]

However, a verse that I believe is worth meditating on for this teaching is;

“Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.”

  • The word “joins” or “unites” (NIV) is used in each of these verses. The Greek word was used for gluing. An immoral man glues himself to an immoral woman. A believer, on the other hand, should glue himself to the Lord.
  • Why do you think the word “glue” is used of sexual relationships? After all, aren’t many sex acts purely physical, without any real personal involvement? No. Paul says it is impossible to have a physical-only sexual relationship.
  •  There is no such thing as casual sex, inconsequential sex, or recreational sex. The sexual act is such an intimate act that it involves and affects the whole person. And he quotes the Old Testament to prove his point.
  • In Gen 2:24, God says of the sexual act, “the two will become one flesh or one personality.” We dare not dismiss sex as inconsequential. Your body is God’s body. When you have a sexual relationship with someone who is not your spouse, you glue yourself to another instead of God.
  • When are two married couple spiritually joined? At the altar?

  1. Remedy for Sexual Temptation (verse 18)

“Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.” This verse offers the first command of our passage: “Flee immorality.” It is a present imperative and should be translated, “Keep on fleeing” or “Make it your habit to flee!” The Bible’s advice for avoiding sexual immorality is simple: stay as far away as possible from the persons and places and things likely to get you in trouble. Real men and women run! They don’t stand in and fight. Some other wisdoms for guiding against sexual temptations are;

  • Watch televisions and movies selectively. The eye is one of the “main gates” to the hearts and must be guided. (Job 31:1). When you go to a theater, make sure you’ve read the reviews on the movie you are going to see. When you go out of town on business trips, it is wise to watch TV blocking out the adult movies in the hotel room.
  • Monitor your Internet use. Internet pornography is the most insidious sin of our day. Every man, woman, and child is vulnerable to Internet pornography. We must always be on guard! Wise parents do not allow their children to have their own computer in their room. It is also appropriate to have your computer in a visible part of your house.
  • Find an accountability partner. It is nearly impossible to stay pure without having an accountability partner. Every Christian needs a godly person of the same sex to ask the hard questions. One such question is, “Are you feeling attracted to anyone at work, church, or anywhere else?” The goal must be to answer this question honestly. It is better to feel a twinge of embarrassment than to find yourself in an emotional or physical affair.

CONCLUSION (verse 19-20)

There are three important points in these last two verses. First, we are a temple of God. In 1 Cor 3:16-17, the local church is called the “temple.” Here, the same Greek word (naos) is used of the individual Christian. The term used in both passages for “temple” is not the word for a pagan temple, or even for the Jewish temple structure and grounds; rather, it refers to the Holy of Holies, the most sacred place for the people of God in the Old Testament. Paul is saying that God Himself is resident within us. Your body is His mailing address and P.O. Box. He dwells in YOU! You would probably never consider committing an act of sexual immorality in a church sanctuary, right? But the fact is, as disgusting as that would be, it would be no worse for a Christian than committing the same sin anywhere else. A church building is never called a Holy of Holies, but the believer’s body is. What a difference it would make if we lived with this realization. If the body is a house for the Holy Spirit it should only be used for the very best purposes. We should not allow anything or anyone to spoil it or misuse it. We should keep it in good condition.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 02:02 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, March 26 2017

Contributor: Alex Alajiki

INTRODUCTION

Last week, we continued our study of the book of Corinthians and examined 1 Cor.5:1-13.
Paul was alarmed by the case of immorality in the Church, such that even unbelievers will be too ashamed to be involved. This was the case of a man in the Church living in sin with his father’s wife and the Church leadership did nothing about it. The admonition to the Church was that sin must be confronted and dealt with appropriately, irrespective of the positions of the people involved.

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.
 
1) Paul’s indictment: 1 Corin.6:1
Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?

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;
a) Disputes are erupting between believers in the church
b) Believers were turning to the secular courts to settle their disputes
c) Unrighteous (that is, unbelieving) judges are being asked to arbitrate between Christians
d) Disputes are being settled in courts before the curious eyes of unbelieving spectators
e) Disputes were not taken to the church for settlement, where they belong.
 
We should recall what happened when Paul was dragged before the local Judge by his own Jewish brethren when he started preaching in Corinth (Acts 18:12-16); the Judge threw out the case against Paul, and told them to sort the matter out among themselves because Paul did not commit any crime.

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”
Jude 6 “And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day”

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
We can’t retaliate, but return good for evil (Matt.5:43-48). Seek others’ interest first (Phil.2:1-8).

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).

Conclusion:
Paul rebukes the Corinthian saints for failing (or refusing) to resolve their disputes with one another within the church. Paul wants his readers to see the folly of taking spiritual matters before unbelievers, who can have no grasp of the real issues. Paul knows, as the Corinthians should, that the legal system deals with the protection of men’s rights and the seeking of one’s self-interest, while the gospel is about the surrender of one’s rights and the seeking of the best interests of others.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 05:43 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, March 16 2017

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION

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)
“Everyone is talking about the terrible thing that has happened there among you, something so evil that even the heathen don’t do it: you have a man in your church who is living in sin with his father’s wife (Step Mother). And are you still so conceited, so “spiritual”? Why aren’t you mourning in sorrow and shame and seeing to it that this man is removed from your membership? 3-4 Although I am not there with you, I have been thinking a lot about this, and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I have already decided what to do, just as though I were there. You are to call a meeting of the church—and the power of the Lord Jesus will be with you as you meet, and I will be there in spirit— 5 and cast out this man from the fellowship of the church and into Satan’s hands, to punish him, in the hope that his soul will be saved when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. 6 What a terrible thing it is that you are boasting about your purity and yet you let this sort of thing go on. Don’t you realize that if even one person is allowed to go on sinning, soon all will be affected? 7 Remove this evil cancer—this wicked person—from among you, so that you can stay pure. Christ, God’s Lamb, has been slain for us. 8 So let us feast upon him and grow strong in the Christian life, leaving entirely behind us the cancerous old life with all its hatreds and wickedness. Let us feast instead upon the pure bread of honor and sincerity and truth. Emphasis mine

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
It is important to note that in his letter Paul does not attack the man who is guilty of this atrocity directly. Instead, he rebukes the church for allowing the “immorality” to go on unchecked because they are supposed to be responsible. So, it was not only the man guilty of sin before God for the act of incest, but the church too for its failure to impose discipline.

2. What the Corinthian church should have done (Verse 2, 5)
Paul’s expectation was that they should have been so touched that they went into mourning in sorrow and shame and doing everything possible that this man is removed from their membership.
Paul expected them to grieve over the shame brought on the church by the incest. Instead of dismissing the sin or boasting in the person, God expects the church of Jesus Christ to deal with sin. God calls us to purge the church of sin for the church stands or falls together.
He also admonished that they cast him into Satan’s hands (means to dismiss that person from the church into the world (i.e., the realm of Satan) to punish him, in the hope that his soul will be saved.
What Paul was referring to here was the destruction of the flesh, and the salvation of the man. I would submit that what Paul meant here was the destruction of his fleshly appetites or carnal affections; and that he supposed that this would be effected by the act of excommunication. Although it is evident in scripture that the apostles back then were filled with the power of inflicting diseases or bodily calamities for crimes. See Acts 13:11. We don’t know if this was the case here but in 2 Corinthians 2:6-8 Paul referred to this same man and admonishes the Corinthian church to receive him again.
“The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.”

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.
Paul says: “Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?” He informs the Corinthian church that the primary problem is not the sin of the immoral man; rather, it is the pride of the church. He uses the illustration of a piece of leaven. Leaven is a little lump of bread dough that is saved out of the batch. It is allowed to ferment or sour, and then it’s used in the next batch of bread so that it will rise. A little bit of yeast can make a whole loaf rise. The Jews associated fermenting with rotting, so leaven became a symbol of corrosive evil.

3. Why should a church practice church discipline?
• It brings God glory (1 Pet 1:16, Heb. 12:5-11, 1 Cor 5:12-13; 2 Cor 2:6).
• It gets rid of the cancer and purifies the church. (1 Corinthians 5:7-8)
• It restores the sinning believer. (Matt 18:15; 2 Cor 2:5-8, Gal 6:1).
• It deters the church from sin. (Acts 5:1-11, 1 Tim 5:20).
• To maintain a credible witness before the world. (1 Pet 2:11-18; 3:8-16; 4:1-4

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 
"When I wrote to you before I said not to mix with evil people. 10 But when I said that I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who live in sexual sin or are greedy cheats and thieves and idol worshipers. For you can’t live in this world without being with people like that. 11 What I meant was that you are not to keep company with anyone who claims to be a brother Christian but indulges in sexual sins, or is greedy, or is a swindler, or worships idols, or is a drunkard, or abusive. Don’t even eat lunch with such a person.
12 It isn’t our job to judge outsiders. But it certainly is our job to judge and deal strongly with those who are members of the church and who are sinning in these ways. 13 God alone is the Judge of those on the outside. But you yourselves must deal with this man and put him out of your church."

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.
This means that our ministry is not to spend our time judging the world. That’s left to God. It’s none of our business. Don’t ever get mad at the world for acting like the world. What else are they going to do? We need to confront the sin that is within the walls of our churches, within the lives of our people. That is our ministry.
CONCLUSION

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!
Although we see sometimes around us that when many people are removed from the church, they just move down the street to another church. Or worse yet, they don’t even care!
The truth is that for those who have come to experience the church as their true home—a haven in the storm, a sanctuary of rest, a source of life and strength—exclusion would bring terrible pain. To exclude a Christian from this circle of fellowship would have made a strong statement.

Parts of this study was culled from How to Handle a Scandal by Keith R. Krell.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 11:51 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, March 13 2017

Contributor: Alex Alajiki

INTRODUCTION

Last week, we continued our study of the book of Corinthians and examined 1 Cor.4:1-13.
We understood that leadership in the Kingdom of God is a position of servanthood and stewardship. We are not called to lord it over people but to serve faithfully. Faithfulness must be our lifestyle because we are going to give account of our stewardship. Whatever gifts we have, we were given for the purpose of faithful service to God and His kingdom’s purpose on earth.

                   “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.
Paul demonstrated his paternal care for the Christians in Corinth.

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
“Brothers, if a man be overtaken in a fault, you which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering yourself, lest you also be tempted.”

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
           “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.”

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.”


‘Imitate Me’ is a bold request or command from Paul. How many leaders can dare to say such to their followers? But Paul was not just asking them to follow him blindly, but according to 1 Cor.11:1 “Be you followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” He was qualified for followership because he was following Christ."

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?


3) How Paul dealt with proud people: 1 Corin.4:18-21

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.
Paul’s intent is to come as quickly to Corinth as he can but according to the will of God. Sometimes God had guided Paul to places that Paul did not expect (Acts 16:6-10). Paul always had to obey God. But Paul expected God to send him to Corinth.

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.

Conclusion:

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.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 05:11 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, March 03 2017

Contributor: Leye Olayiwola

Introduction
In our last study, we were able to learn about the various foundations for Christian living from various experiences of Paul through his letter to the Corinthian Church in 1 Corinthians 3 from verse 1 through to verse 23. We were able to learn How Not to Live by considering the dangers of causing divisions and schism in the body and idolizing leaders. We also learn how to properly build on already solid foundations. We will continue our study today, titled Servants of Christ, by considering and learning further from Paul’s experiences in the fourth chapter of 1st Corinthians.

1. Servant Leadership [verse 1-2]
Paul in his opening of this chapter declared:
A. "Let a man regard us in this manner". Believers must constantly evaluate or consider the status of leadership. For the Kingdom of God leadership is servanthood/stewardship.
“But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. 44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all”. [Mark 10:42-44]
B. He further expatiated on this point by stating how the leadership should be regarded – “as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” It was the servant who managed the house/estate and gave an account to the owner (Matt. 25:14-46; Luke 16:1). This is the emphasis on responsibility to and trustworthiness of the gospel. God Himself will judge His stewards. What an awesome privilege and obligation to serve in the Kingdom.
C. “It is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy (faithful). Jesus used the concept of a faithful servant in Matt.24:45. Faithfulness in the Kingdom should be a lifestyle. We, as leaders and followers of Christ must be able to give proper accounts of all that have been committed to us. Remember, that your service should be done as unto the Lord and not man.

2. Handling Criticism, Lifestyles and Humility [verse 3-7]
A. It appears that Paul was under personal attack by a certain group at Corinth. He however gives advice to us as stewards and followers of Christ on how to handle such judgement. He declared that the ultimate and perfect judge is God. Why? Because He is the only one that has the perfect picture. He sees every hidden things of darkness and reveals the counsels of the hearts (motives). It is very hard to properly examine oneself spiritually. Often believers are too hard on themselves and too easy on others. Often we compare ourselves to other humans (2 Cor. 10:12-18). We must let God judge. He knows the heart and the circumstances. Believers are responsible for what they do understand, and also responsible for their attitudes and motives. Faithfulness will be rewarded and unfaithfulness will be judged. This however does not excuse us from taking criticisms into consideration when the situation arises as God may be the one orchestrating such event in order to bring us back in line. Paul said, “For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this”.
B. In verse 6, Paul is using himself and Apollos as examples for all leaders. He advises that no individual among you must become filled with his own importance and make comparisons to another’s detriment. Also, Believers must not arrogantly choose certain teachers over other teachers. They must judge proclaimers by the content of their message
(1John 4:1-6) and their lifestyle (Matt. 7:1), not by their presentation nor their personality nor by their personal preferences nor by the human leaders they claim as their own (i.e. denomination).
C. "What do you have that you did not receive". Paul is reminding these proud leaders that they were not the originators or discoverers of truth, but recipients of other's ministry.
Some leaders and their followers were acting as if they were the source of the truths they proclaimed. Another problem of Corinth was human boasting.

3. Fools for Christ Sake [verse 8-13]
A. This term "filled or full" is normally used of physical eating (Acts 27:38), but here it is a metaphor (Matt. 5:6) of spiritual pride. Verse 8 can be three questions or three statements. These are a series of sarcastic statements or questions that reveal the pride of the Corinthian factious leaders. They thought they had arrived. Paul wished they had, but it was not true; their actions revealed their maturity level (i.e. babies in Christ).

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.

In Conclusion
Important learning points drawn from the experiences of Paul in Corinth. Focus here is on leading by examples while learning and growing through the pains that accompany this tedious but rewarding experience. We must always be mindful that we are first stewards and that we will all give account of our stewardship before the one and only God, our maker, who considers us all worthy of this privilege to be co-workers in His Kingdom.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 03:09 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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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