1 Corinthians

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“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.

“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” (1 Corinthians 11:3 ESV)

August 17, 2016

Headship is a biblical title of relational authority. It is a beautiful word that unfortunately rubs many of our generation the wrong way. In 1 Corinthians 11, the apostle Paul was trying to restore God-honoring order to their worship services, which had fallen into disarray. He reminded them that Christ is the perfect picture of headship and submission. As the Head of the Church, He lay down His life as a sacrifice for sin and will one day return to receive her as His bride. At the same time, Christ did all of this in submission to the Father, who is His head. They are coequal, yet the Son always submits to the Father. In like manner, those who would lead in worship must submit to appropriate headship and lead as servant-leaders. Clearly, men and women are to follow the order of creation and the intent of the Father in this. God’s Word, not human culture should be the “head” of how we worship.

“yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Corinthians 8:6 ESV)

August 13, 2016

Our existence is “from” and “for” God, the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ. He made us for Himself. As Augustine said, “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” Do you know the One to whom you belong and for whom you exist? Come, and find perfect rest and purpose in Him.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV)

August 10, 2016

When Paul wrote this to the Corinthians he was primarily addressing the problem of sexual sin that was so prevalent in their culture. Believers were to live differently than the culture around them. This was not a call to an outward asceticism, but a reminder of an identity change. They were no longer slaves to sin, but slaves to Christ. Their bodies were purchased by His blood and had become God’s holy temple where His Spirit dwelled. This word is as relevant today as it was then. We are no longer to be identified by our sexual orientation or sinful enslavement, for we have been bought out from under sin’s mastery. We have a new Master and a new identity in Christ.