All things to all people

Number 581 • November 8, 2020


As the basis for this essay read 1 Corinthians 9:16-27. Verses 19-23 are often misquoted and misapplied. In particular Paul is misunderstood when he says, “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”

We will examine several questions and/or assumptions about what is set forth in these verses. Did Paul tolerate or approve error? He did not. Does he say that he, and therefore we, can share fellowship in Christ with those who are in religious or moral error? He does not. Does he say he, and therefore we, can participate in the errors of others? He does not. Does he say that he, and therefore we, should be anything anybody wants us to be and do anything anybody wants us to do? He does not. Continue reading

#1-corinthians, #geralcowan


Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

And just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, let us also bear the image of the man of heaven. Now this is what I am saying, brothers and sisters: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I will tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 1 Corinthians 15.49-52

Adam was the first man that God created. He was created out of the dust of the earth. Upon his death, his body returned to dust. This is true of almost every human being with few exceptions. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, which is spiritual. Our perishable body is not compatible with the heavenly kingdom.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians to encourage them to be firm in their faith. Not all Christians will die before the Lord returns. His return will be like a thief that comes in the night, 2 Peter 3.10. Unexpected! At that time, in the blink of an eye, those who are still alive will be changed and given a body that is imperishable, one that can pass into eternity and inherit the kingdom of God.

Paul’s message to Christians was to stand firm and not be moved from your faith. For just as your earthly body was like that of Adam, you will be given a heavenly body like the one from heaven.

#risingjoy #1-Corinthians #resurrection

Characteristics of love

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up. It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful. 1 Corinthians 13.4-5

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul dealt with many problems that the church was experiencing. There was a wide range of problems that included division within the church, tolerance of an immoral situation, abuse of the Lord’s supper, and difficulties with the use of the spiritual gifts that the church had been given.

Paul showed the Corinthians in chapter 13 the importance of love in the church. Whatever was done in the church, had to be done in love. If it was not, then it was of little value. Paul listed some of the characteristics of love. Love enabled the church to serve one another instead of thinking more of oneself that they should have.

The same is true of the church today. Christians must serve others with love and the characteristics that Paul described are also true and valid today.

There is an exercise that is sometimes suggested while reading this chapter. Read the chapter inserting your name in place of the word “love”. Does the reading describe you as a person? If not, perhaps you need to do an inventory on your ability to love others.

#risingjoy #1-Corinthians #love

He is in you

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6.19-20

When God was busy creating this universe, he saved his best creation for last. Man was the last thing created. At that time, God pronounced that everything he had made was very good! But man did not stay very good for long. He sinned and was separated from his Creator.

In Acts 2.38, we read that upon our baptism into Christ we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. In John 14.15-17, we read that those who have obeyed the commandments of Jesus will receive the Spirit of truth.

The Corinthians were having problems with immorality in the church. Paul reminds them in 6.17 that the one united with the Lord is one spirit with him. The same union occurs when a man and woman are married. They become one. Our bodies are members of Christ and we should never unite members of Christ with a prostitute. Paul tells the Corinthians to flee sexual immorality! Let us use our bodies to bring glory to God and not shame.

#risingjoy #1-Corinthians #Holy-Spirit

Still childish?

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became an adult, I set aside childish ways. For now we see in a mirror indirectly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known. 1 Corinthians 13.11-12

Do you know someone who still acts childish even as an adult? Everything has to go their way or they are not happy? Even though, at times, we all act this way, it is difficult and frustrating to deal with someone who has not matured.

Paul writes that as a child, he talked, thought and reasoned like a child. It is the nature of things to grow. With growth should come maturity. Paul writes to set aside childish ways. As an adult, we should act maturely and responsibly.

At present, we are unable to literally see things of a spiritual nature clearly. But the time will come when we will look in the face of Jesus. We will see him as he is. Just as he knows me completely, I will know him.

#risingjoy #1-Corinthians #maturity

A warrior not a wimp

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Stay alert, stand firm in the faith, show courage, be strong. Everything you do should be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16.13,14

Do you like compact lists that help you to be a better person? That is what Paul has given us here. This makes up part of Paul’s final words in this letter to the Corinthians. You have heard it said that we save the best for last. The four points that he shares with us are not wimpy. Quite the contrary. Stay alert. Peter tells us in 2 Peter 3.10 that the day of the Lord will come as a thief. If you have ever had the misfortune to be robbed, you know the terrible feeling with which it leaves you. If we do not keep watch, we could be lost due to our lack of vigilance. Stand firm in the faith. Paul tells us 1 Corinthians 15.2 that we are being saved if we hold firmly to the message that he preached. Otherwise, my faith is vain. It is of no value. How do I know that message today? By reading the Bible. Show courage. It is said that courage is not the absence of fear. Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 1.7 that God does not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and love and self-control. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 3.6 not to give way to fear. Fear is so detrimental to our lives. It can hold us back and keep us from being all that God wants us to be. Be strong. When I think of strength, I think of an anchor. We need to be firmly grounded in our faith and in our hope. Do everything in love. Decision. Love is my decision to obey let come what may. As a follower of Christ, one who loves Jesus, I must not be a wimp. I must be a warrior. A love warrior wanting to take the world for the One who made redemption possible. Are you following Paul’s advice in your life?

#risingjoy #1-Corinthians #lists

Not easy to love

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up. It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful. It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But if there are prophecies, they will be set aside; if there are tongues, they will cease; it there is knowledge, it will be set aside. I Corinthians 13.4-8

Love endures. It is what will carry us to the end. Not the passionate, emotional type of love that the world holds in such high esteem. This love is the type that is a decision to do what Jesus commands, John 15.12-14. The above verses are in the middle of Paul’s teaching on spiritual gifts to the church in Corinth. Prophecies, tongues, and knowledge will all come to an end. Jesus teaches that if we love him, we will keep his commandments. We will obey him. Sometimes I put my name in the above verses and ask myself if my love has these qualities. At times, I pass the test. However, at other times I find myself falling far short in the love category. We as humans are not easy to love. If this love were the emotional feel good love, let’s face it, we would not finish the race to win the prize. But it is a decision to keep Jesus’s commands. He is there to help because he loves us. That, my friends, is reason to have joy overflowing.

#risingjoy #1-Corinthians #love

Knowledge puffs up, 1 Corinthians 8.1

“With regard to food sacrificed to idols, we know that ‘we all have knowledge.’ Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.”

1 Corinthians 8.1

Some Corinthians gloried in their knowledge. Their worldly perspective caused them to ignore or despise others who were not as advanced as they thought they were.

Without love, people exalt themselves because of knowledge. See Jeremiah 9.23-24. Here applies the old phrase that it’s not what, but who, you know.

#votd #1-Corinthians #knowledge

Spectacle to the world, 1 Corinthians 4.9

“For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to die, because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to people.”

1 Corinthians 4.9

The unregenerate man thinks of titles, positions, and privileges in a given group or setting. Jesus calls the “best and brightest” to become the rejects and oppressed.

God calls us all into an eternal covenant whose major characteristic today is suffering. To reject the suffering of Christ, with Christ, is to reject the covenant and all its promises.

#votd #1-Corinthians #suffering

Your faith is useless: 1 Corinthians 15.17

“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless; you are still in your sins.”

1 Corinthians 15.17

Denial of the resurrection undermines the entire gospel. The power of God is shown in raising Jesus from the dead. In this way he provided proof of the value of the cross.

No part of the gospel may be denied. It all stands or falls together. The Incarnation, the Crucifixion, the Ascension, the present Reign of Christ in the church, his Second Coming, are essential elements of God’s Good News.

#votd #1-Corinthians #gospel #resurrection

Hindrance to the weak

“But be careful that this liberty of yours does not become a hindrance to the weak.”

1 Corinthians 8.9

The Corinthians were arrogant and independent. They insisted on exercising their freedom, to the detriment of their brethren. Paul pulls them back to examine their impact on the weak.

How does my use of freedom affect others? Are my actions making others stronger or weaker in faith? Am I aware of how others interpret my words and actions?

#votd #1-Corinthians #freedom

Build up the church: 1 Corinthians 14.4

“The one who speaks in a tongue builds himself up, but the one who prophesies builds up the church.”

1 Corinthians 14.4

In context Paul addresses the use of the gift of speaking in tongues without an interpreter. His statement is a criticism of selfish use of miraculous gifts. The goal is edification of all. That is the key word of the chapter.

Pentecostals take this phrase out of context as permission for their practice, which has nothing in common with the miraculous gift of the first century. How sad to turn it on its head!

#votd #1-Corinthians #edification

Judge nothing before the time: 1 Corinthians 4.5

“So then, do not judge anything before the time. Wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the motives of hearts. Then each will receive recognition from God.”

1 Corinthians 4.5

Man judges differently than God does. Either he is critical and demeaning, or he puts his fellow man on a pedestal. Paul had to deal with both in Corinth.

Jesus requires that we judge with righteous judgment, even in relation to himself, Jo 7.24. That means we judge as God has revealed. Motives of the heart should await his final judgment.

#votd #1-Corinthians #judging

To us who are being saved: 1 Corinthians 1.18

“For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

1 Corinthians 1.18

Salvation has three tenses: past, present, and future. Paul says we are being saved. God continues to preserve us and save us from temptation, from the power of sin, from the wiles of Satan.

We have need of constant vigilance. This is not a reason for worry, but for peace of mind, because God’s power is more than sufficient. How am I trusting in God to save today?

#votd #1-Corinthians #salvation

If someone thinks he knows something: 1 Corinthians 8.2

“If someone thinks he knows something, he does not yet know to the degree that he needs to know.”

1 Corinthians 8.2

The Corinthians valued knowledge above all things. Their supposed knowledge led to pride, v. 1. What matters is not what we know, but who knows us, v. 3.

We know what we are permitted to know, Dt 29.29. That knowledge we must know, for it is our salvation, in Christ. All else calls for humility.

#votd #1-Corinthians #knowledge