Some things we think we know, when we actually don’t. Our emotions, for example, tell us things that appear to be as right as rain, but have no basis in reality. Scripture offers us a true vision. Continue reading
A young man was being interviewed for a job. The employer held a glowing letter of reference and complimented the potential employee on such an impressive letter. With modesty came the reply, “I’m glad you liked it. I wrote it myself” Pride goes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18), and it also goes before a lot of hot air. The world is filled with puffed up people who hold themselves in the highest esteem. But in 1st Corinthians 4, the apostle Paul is addressing a puffed up church! “Now some are puffed up” (verse 18; also verses 6, 19). The Greek word is phusioo (pronounced `foo-see-o’-o”), defined by Strong’s Concordance as “blowing; to inflate, make proud (haughty); puff up.” The Corinthians were a proud, haughty, puffed up bunch. They felt good about themselves. As a matter of fact, they felt better about themselves than the Lord did! They had written their own glowing letter of reference, had read it, and were very impressed with what it said. In 1st Corinthians 4:7-13 Paul gives a pointed portrayal of just how puffed up they were. They saw themselves as “full, rich, reigning as kings, wise, strong, distinguished.” Study carefully and you will find this is a case where an inspired Bible writer uses sharp irony (an expression in which the intended meaning of the words is ‘the opposite of their usual sense). Paul employs this technique in an effort to puncture their puffed-up pride and jerk them back to spiritual reality.
The point, of course, is not to suggest we ought to feel bad for feeling good about the church. The problem was not that the Corinthian church was rich and full. Christians, after all, enjoy what Paul called in another place the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8). The problem at Corinth was what they were full of — themselves! Church pews can be occupied by puffed up people who, spiritually, have become as snug as a bug under a rug. Nice jobs, nice homes, a nice income, a nice building, a nice budget, nice preachers, nice elders, nice worship services, and a nice membership can puff us up with a sense of accomplishment and pride to the point that we become stagnant and complacent in our spiritual lives and work for the Lord. When this happens, we begin to “keep house for the Lord” instead of storming our neighbors and the world with the gospel. Words from Revelation 3:16-17 ought to puncture the pride of any Christian or congregation puffed up with self-conceit and pride — “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’; and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.” When we feel better about ourselves than the Lord does, we are puffed up with pride.
Dan Gulley – Smithville Church of Christ
What if every member of the congregation were a preacher? Would that make the congregation successful? NO
What if every member of the congregation could sing like a song leader? Would that make the congregation successful? NO
Sometimes we may think that if we could get everyone to do something “big” for the congregation then the congregation would be successful! But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul basically asked, “What if every member of the congregation were an apostle? What if every member of the congregation were a prophet? What if every member of the congregation were a teacher? What if every member of the congregation could work miracles? What if every member of the congregation could heal? What if every member of the congregation could speak in tongues? What if every member of the congregation could interpret? Would that make the congregation successful? NO.”
Some in the congregation thought they were “big time” because they could do “big things” but Paul reminded them that every “little thing” mattered to the congregation’s success. Working together is what makes a congregation successful. Working together as a body is what gets the job done.
Everyone can’t be a foot, or an eye, or a nose – but everybody can be somebody in the body of Christ! And we must not forget that without love we’re no body no matter what somebody thinks; just read the next chapter in its context.
Here’s a little something for what it’s worth:
1. The will – vs.1-3
2. The waiting – vs.4-9
3. The wonder – vs.10-17
4. The wisdom – vs.18-25
5. The way – vs. 26-31
If you like alliteration it works – if you don’t like alliteration, well, it still works 🙂
Our Bible reading yesterday was 1 Cor. 8, which we used last night in our home reading group here at the house. (We have a weekly group here.) Though it hasn’t been well attended of late, we had a good moment last night and saw, among others, these important points from the chapter.
- Knowledge without love is useless, for it is love that causes us to be known by God, 1-3.
- It is important to know the truth, for Paul affirms the importance of knowledge of God as the only God and Christ as the only Lord, 4-6.
- Knowledge without love causes one to sin against one’s brother; this is serious because it means sinning against Christ, 7-13.
Paul works both sides: Those who don’t know the truth ought to know, but the greater responsibility lies with those who know but leave off love. Love is a main theme of the book (see chap. 13, for example).
There are several verses one could pick, but for me, none surpasses this one–“The last enemy that will be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26, NKJV.) Death is an enemy that will be destroyed by Christ!
It reminds me of the promise Jesus made about the church–“I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18b, NKJV.) The gates of Hades are the gates that hold the righteous and unrighteous dead. When I compare these two verses, Revelation 20:12-15 has even more intense implication–“And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and the books were opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were judged in them. And they were judged each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (NKJV.)
Perhaps all of us have heard lesson about the severity of punishment of the rich man who mistreated Lazarus. I recall, before I became a Christian, shifting in my seat as I had it brought to bear on my mind the agony of the rich man. I was impressed that he wanted Abraham to send Lazarus back to warn his household not to make the same mistake–“I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment” (Luke 16:27-28 NKJV.) I reflect on Abraham’s reply after the rich man said Moses and the prophets were insufficient of warning–“If they not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rises from the dead” (Luke 16:31, NKJV.) Think of that–since that time Jesus actually triumphed over the tomb and has warned us, but people still reject Him.
When I preach/teach on this subject, I make sure to point out that as hot as the fire was for Lazarus, the eternal fires of hell are such that these will burn up Hades! May God give us the opportunity and courage to speak to those we have access to warn them that they are not just merely lost but the worst of fates await them as they continue to put off obeying the gospel, resist being added to the church, and forfeit living in the abode of the righteous.
In preparing the lessons for next week, I admit to a bit of dread at having to work through 1 Cor. 7. But once I got into the chapter (you know what’s coming), it was a thrill. Especially this passage, verses 29-31:
And I say this, brothers and sisters: The time is short. So then those who have wives should be as those who have none, those with tears like those not weeping, those who rejoice like those not rejoicing, those who buy like those without possessions, those who use the world as though they were not using it to the full. For the present shape of this world is passing away.
I can’t say it’s my favorite (Don’s choice has been an old favorite as well), but it is a new passage that has taken on great meaning to me. First, because it’s poetic, lyrical language is just right for the sentiment it expresses.
Second, it expresses in a profound way what I often feel about this world, even if I’m not the best at its practice: a sense of that distance from this world’s activities in light of the approaching end.
Third, it reminds me of Eccl. 3 in a roundabout way. There, there is a time for everything. Here, though the whole approach and thought is different, there is no time for any of this. These belong to the passing order, to the universe which dissolves already in its turning, to the hard, definite shapes which blur before our eyes as they fade into nothingness. The tears dry because the reason for crying already is forgotten; the laughter ceases with the quick expiration of the mirth. This world’s doing and going and being are too little for such eternal souls. This ephemeral planet cannot hold up the weight of celestial yearnings and strivings and reachings.
A new set of circumstances will not make things better, Paul tells us in chapter 7, so just stay where you are. Until that door swings wide at angels’ trumpets and that great cloud of witnesses jumps to its feet to welcome home the souls of those who held all things on earth lightly, tentatively, and loosely, knowing that reality was not in these, nor true satisfaction.
What’s the best thing, in your opinion, that Paul says about God in 1 Cor.? Obviously, with my short deadline for teaching 1 Cor. and Hebrews in a few days, this is all I’m thinking about. Even my editorial yesterday came from this letter.
My desk is scattered with Bible versions, language resources, dictionaries and commentaries. Not enough room for them all.
With my nose in the books, news of the saints has escaped me. Whatcha got?
The warning [1 Corinthians 10:12, DH] amounts to this: Do not be smug in your firm stand for Christ. Keep alert lest you fall.
W. Harold Mare, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 10, p. 250