1 Corinthians

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“For I became your father in Christ Jesus when I preached the Good News to you” (1 Corinthians 4:15 NLT).

August 8, 2018

Paul reminded the Corinthians of their spiritual relationship to him. He had become their spiritual father because he was the one who had first preached the Gospel to them. Yet, they were treating him disgracefully by comparing him to other preachers, such as Apollos, who had come after him. It was not Paul’s injured pride that motivated him to write this corrective letter to the Corinthians. But it was the Spirit who inspired him to show them that it was their fleshly pride that led them to compare and boast based on outward appearance.

There is a new spiritual reality that comes from believing the Gospel. We have become God’s children. We have become members of God’s family. Those who have taught us of Christ, and continue to mentor us, are as our spiritual fathers and mothers. Those who we fellowship with in Christ are as our brothers and sisters. And those who we share the Gospel with are as our spiritual sons and daughters. Remember this when pride tempts you to compare and complain. We are God’s family!

“But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:10-11 NLT).

August 7, 2018

Paul was concerned with the church at Corinth because of reports that there were divisions among them concerning which teacher they followed. Some were claiming to be followers of Paul and others, followers of Apollos. This was heartbreaking news to Paul, for he knew the foundation he had laid when he planted the church in Corinth. And that foundation was Christ Jesus. He had not led them to follow him, but to follow Christ.

Someone has once said that wherever you hear the name of the preacher lifted up more than the name of Christ, one should listen for the sound of the serpent’s hiss in the background. For Satan is pleased when he has tempted man to take the glory belonging to Jesus.

It’s good to honor and to submit to the spiritual leaders that God has given. Yet, the glory belongs to Christ. We are not called to make a man, a doctrine, nor a church famous. We are called to make Christ Jesus famous, and if need be, ourselves a fool.

“But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16 NLT).

August 6, 2018

In 1896, Charles Sheldon published a novel called In “His Steps,” in which a fictional town was radically improved when its residents began to ask themselves, “What would Jesus do?” before every action. In the 1990s, someone got the idea of writing this question in the acronym form, “WWJD,” and putting it on everything from bracelets to ball caps. The WWJD logo was soon seen everywhere.

Did asking this question help people live better? Perhaps. Thinking before acting is always a good idea. But there is an error at the heart of this. According to the apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, the “people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means” (1 Cor. 2:14). In other words, those without Christ have no idea what Jesus would do, neither do they have the desire nor the willpower to do it.

The truth is, only those who have believed and received Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior can know the “mind of Christ” on things. For only those who have been born again have the Spirit of Christ living within, instructing and empowering them to live for Him. The believer doesn’t need to ask what Jesus would do, for they already possess the “mind of Christ” on things. They only need to obey and rely on His Spirit, for the challenge is not so much in knowing God’s will, but in doing it.

But you don’t have to throw your WWJD bracelet away! Who knows? It might cause someone to ask a question about Jesus that will give you the opportunity to share the gospel. Surely, that’s what Jesus would do. 🙂

“For Christ didn’t send me to baptize, but to preach the Good News—and not with clever speech, for fear that the cross of Christ would lose its power” (1 Corinthians 1:17 NLT).

August 4, 2018

Perhaps more than any other epistle, Paul’s letter to the Corinthians was corrective. He had heard that there were divisions among them based on who had baptized them, claiming superiority by some fleshly view of spiritual lineage. But Paul would have none of it. He reminded them that it wasn’t who baptized them that mattered, nor was it important that the preacher who had led them to Christ was the most eloquent. What mattered was the simple yet powerful message of the cross of Christ.

The Corinthians were lovers of Greek culture and rhetoric. They seemed more enamored with the quality of the speaker, than with the power of the message. Paul made the point that it was the simplicity of the gospel that was key to its power. The point of preaching the gospel wasn’t to make the preacher famous, but to make Jesus famous!

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NKJV).

August 20, 2017

The apostle Paul used hyperbole to urge the Corinthians not to place so much emphasis on spiritual gifts and signs. Even taken to the extreme, such would come to nothing without love. Instead, he would have them focus on what motivated their worship. Namely, were they moved by a heart of love?

Paul’s point is clear: Without love, our best communication is garbled, our spiritual giftedness is empty and our religious effort will come to nothing. “For man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).

What motivates you? Is it ambition or a desire to be seen? Or does your heart beat with the agape love of God?

“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.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV).

August 15, 2017

Is it true that “God won’t allow more to come on you than you can bear?”

This verse from the apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is often misquoted. Well meaning people say it to others when they see them grieving the loss of a loved one or suffering a severe illness. But this verse is not about the endurance of suffering. It is about temptation, and how to overcome it with God’s help. Jesus taught His disciples to pray to the Father, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Paul was taking away the false notion that we have no choice but to give into temptation, or that our sin is somehow God’s fault. As James taught, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God;” for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed” (James 1:13-14). So, when we are tempted, rather than blaming God, we should trust Him to help us escape sin’s trap.

As for the first question, life often puts much more on us than we can bear, but at those times we can answer Christ’s invitation to “Come unto Me” (Matt. 11:28-30).

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14 ESV)

August 25, 2016

The apostle Paul closed his epistle to the Corinthians with five instructions for men that are more than applicable today.
1) “Be watchful.” – Be vigilant, stay awake, stand guard. You are built to be a protector. Protect your families, churches, and neighborhoods.
2) “Stand firm in the faith.” – Persevere and grow in faith. Know and stand fast in the Word. Be spiritual leaders who never give up.
3) “Act like men.” – This is a call to biblical masculinity. Grow up. Stop acting like little boys still playing with their toys. Real men are like trucks. They run better when carrying a load. Take responsibility. Work. Sacrifice. Endure pain without complaint. Serve.
4) “Be strong” – Grow strong. Exercise your body and mind to be strengthened for defense of your family and faith. Be courageous. Gain mastery over your appetites and desires, so that you have self-control.
5) “Love” – Let love be the motive for all action. This is “agape” love, which is sacrificial and unconditional. Be full of passion and fire for God and for others. Answer the call to be a man of God with great passion and enthusiasm. Put away passivity. Love!

“For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22 ESV)

August 23, 2016

We are all children of Adam and as such, subject to the wages of sin, which is death. Yet, God has sent Christ, who is like a second Adam, that we might be born again becoming the righteous children of God and receiving eternal life. Just as Adam’s death pointed to our own, so Christ’s resurrection points to our own future resurrection. Christ is the prototype, the “firstborn among many brothers” (Rom. 8:29). Since Christ is raised, so we who believe will be raised.

“So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.” (1 Corinthians 14:12 ESV)

August 21, 2016

Paul called on the Corinthians to pursue and exercise spiritual gifts that would edify the other members of the church. Apparently, many were striving for gifts that only edified the individual who exercised them. Specifically, Paul named speaking in tongues without an interpretation as an example of a wrong use of spiritual gifting, because it did not build up the hearer. A timeless principle may be understood in this–– that spiritual gifts are to be used to build up the body of Christ, not for self-edification.

“Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Corinthians 11:28 ESV)

August 18, 2016

Paul rebuked the Corinthians for coming to the Lord’s table without treating one another as members of the Lord’s one body. Their disunity and selfish behavior flew in the face of the sacrifice of Christ which the Lord’s Supper represents. He challenged them to first “examine” themselves before taking communion. Self examination should include asking the Lord to reveal any area of sin to confess. And by context, it should include reconciling to those with whom there is disunity or offense. Of course, the Lord’s Supper shouldn’t be the only time that such self examination takes place. Keep short accounts. Don’t let the sun go down on disunity. But the Lord’s Supper is an appropriate time to do a heart check, asking, “Lord, am I right with You and with others at this time?” The Supper should never be allowed to become a meaningless religious ritual. It should always move us to remember Christ’s sacrifice and proclaim His death until He returns.