1 Corinthians 1:10-17 ESV
I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
In the Christian faith and practice, there are essentials of the faith, and there are non-essentials. What is important is that we agree on the essentials and that we not argue and fight over the nonessentials. For, far too many people who call themselves Christians are fighting amongst themselves over things that don’t truly matter for eternity, and this should not be. They are even fighting over things that don’t even exist.
We shouldn’t be Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist and Church of God, etc. (denominations of men), but we should all just be Christians, followers of Jesus, and saints of God who love God and who love our fellow humans.
Most of these divisions of the Christian faith, I believe, come because of people taking scriptures out of context to make them say what they want them to say. Or, they take one scripture and build a doctrine around it while they ignore other scriptures which would seem to say the opposite. So, when interpreting scripture, we have to take scripture as whole and not parcel it out to support what we want to believe. And, we don’t build our doctrines around historical events, either, but on actual doctrine taught in scripture.
Yet, as believers in Jesus Christ, we are under the New Covenant Relationship God has with his people, so many of the instructions God gave to the Jews under the Law of Moses do not apply to us. But, much of what was taught to God’s people under the Old Covenant is repeated for us under the New Covenant, so when reading the Old Testament, we need to read it in light of the New Covenant, for that is what applies to us.
But, we need to understand what that New Covenant entails, and that can be found in understanding what it means to love God wholly, and to love our fellow humans, which is how Jesus summarized the law of God for us.
1 Corinthians 1:18-25 ESV
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Too many people are trying to intellectualize scripture. They are overcomplicating its basic message. So, many people end up “straining out a gnat while swallowing a camel,” i.e. they focus on the smaller (nonessential) things while they ignore the larger more important (essential) things of God’s Word (See: Matt. 23:24).
If I had to summarize the whole of scripture and its overall message, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, it could be summarized in this one verse, 1 Peter 2:24 ESV:
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
Did you know that no one under the Old Covenant was saved by keeping the law? For, if they could have been, Jesus would not have had to come to earth, to take on human form, and to die on a cross for our sins. The law was powerless to save lives. All it did was make us aware of our sin and point us to Jesus. So, they were saved the same way we are, by faith in Jesus, the Messiah, who was the promised seed of Abraham.
And, what did that faith entail in the Old Testament? The same as it entails in the New Testament. The message has not changed. For, the Jews who died in the wilderness did not get to go into the Promised Land because of unbelief and disobedience. They would not forsake their idols, and they would not follow the Lord in obedience to his commands. And, we are warned in the New Testament not to follow their example and end up like them, too (Hebrews 3-4; cf. Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:19-21; Lu. 9:23-25).
The New Testament couldn’t be more clear that to love God means to obey him, and that if we don’t obey him, we don’t love him, and we are not his, and he is not in us, and we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God (Jn. 14:23-24; Rom. 6:16; Heb. 5:9; 1 Jn. 2:3-6; 1 Jn. 3:24; Jas. 1:21-25).
So, to love God is to forsake our lives of sin, to put them behind us, and to follow our Lord in obedience to his commands, one day at a time, and all in the power and wisdom of God who is living within those of us who have, by faith, died with him to sin that we might live with him to righteousness. And, in this way, we love our fellow humans, too (Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).
1 Corinthians 1:26-31 ESV
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
It is not how much we know that is important, but it is what we do with what we know that matters. We can have all kinds of biblical knowledge, and have graduated from Bible college or seminary. Some of us could even be pastors of churches or elders in the church (not roles for women, I believe), or we could be teachers of the Word of God, or those who write daily devotionals. But, if we don’t apply the truth of scripture to our own lives, then all that knowledge is useless. It amounts to nothing, for it is just head knowledge.
But, it is important who we know, i.e. that we know Jesus Christ intimately, by faith in him via death to sin and living to righteousness – all in the power and wisdom of God who saved us from our sins and who lives within us. And, it is important that we study his Word, but not to win arguments, but to understand what God requires of us in word and deed, and then that we follow him in surrender to his will and we obey his commands (Jas. 1).
We can learn from others, though, for that is how the body of Christ is designed, that we each have a part, and that each part is necessary to the building up of the body of Christ to maturity in Christ and to unity in the faith. So, it is good that we are having opportunity to share with one another what the Lord is teaching us through our times with him in his Word. For, in this way we can encourage one another, and help strengthen one another in the faith.
But… and this is very important here! We should never let the words of humans replace God’s Word. We shouldn’t take anything any human says as gospel truth unless what they are sharing is God’s Word and we can read it for ourselves, and we can let the Holy Spirit speak to our hearts through it. But, we should examine everything against the Word of God (in context) to make certain what we are hearing lines up with scripture.
For, there are many false teachers out there who are saying what itching ears want to hear, and what they are teaching is human philosophy mixed in with scripture, and often those scriptures are taken out of context. And, nowadays many of them are even mixing in other religions and New Age philosophy and what is opposed to the nature and character of God and his gospel message. They are twisting the scriptures to their advantage and are using mind games and trickery in order to persuade people to believe lies.
So, we need to be very discerning about what we are accepting as gospel truth. And, we can only be discerning if we are bathing our minds in God’s Word, and if we are walking according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, so that we are in tune with God’s voice, and so we can discern truth from error.
So, don’t let yourselves be drawn to those who are wise according to worldly standards, although they may be quite winsome, but ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to the truth, and then follow the truth. And, the truth is going to be in agreement with the nature, character, and wisdom of God, which is righteous, holy, and pure in all respects.
Song: I AM (based off multiple scriptures):
Tuesday, May 21, 2019