1Corinthians 1-3

Sunday Evening Bible Study

January 9, 2000

Introduction

Paul went to Corinth in Greece on his second missionary journey. Corinth was a thriving commercial center and a very corrupt city.

The church in Corinth was the first church where Paul had not only planted, but spent an extended amount of time there. He knew these people. He had spent time there. He had spent a year and a half in Corinth before he had moved on.

Paul wrote his letter to the Corinthians around AD 55 while he had spent his three years ministering to the city of Ephesus (Acts 19).

He will be responding to a number of issues that are going on in the church.

1Corinthians 1

:1 and Sosthenes our brother,

Sosthenes Ė Possibly the ruler of the synagogue mentioned in Acts 18:17, who had become a believer.

:2 to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints

We are set apart to serve God (sanctified). God calls us saints.

:4 for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ

grace = charis.

:5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;

enriched Ė ploutizo Ė to make rich, enrich; to be richly furnished

Paul is using words that speak of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (utterance, knowledge)

:7 So that ye come behind in no gift

gift = charisma

This church was one which operated in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

But before you jump to the conclusion that this must have been the most spiritual church in the world, keep in mind that at the top of Paulís list of things to write to these folks is to rebuke them for their carnality.

Lesson

Spiritual gifts do not bring spirituality.

They can be a testimony of the Spirit working in a church, but God wants to do a work thatís even deeper in your life than just the gifts.

As weíre continuing to learn about the gifts on Wednesday night, and some of you are beginning to receive some new things from the Lord, donít think that youíve arrived. Youíve just started.

:8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(1 Cor 1:8 NLT) He will keep you strong right up to the end, and he will keep you free from all blame on the great day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns.

:10- First issue - Division

:11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.

Chloe had sent someone to inform Paul of what was going on in Corinth.

:12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.

People had split into little groups, each claiming they were more spiritual than the other.

Paul Ė those who stood by the original guy.

Apollos Ė who came through Corinth after Paul. He was a polished preacher, a good speaker.

Cephas Ė Peter, some claimed superiority by claiming to have come to Jesus through Peter.

Christ Ė the most "spiritual" people of the church, those who claim to only pay attention to Jesus.

We can see this sometimes among denominations. We also see this today with people taking pride in where their spiritual connection came from.

:13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

These are silly things.

:14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;

Gaius was the name of Paulís host in Corinth when he wrote to the Romans.

(Rom 16:23 KJV) Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you.

:16 And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.

Itís like Paul adds this as an after thought, "Oh yeah, I remember I actually did baptize one other batch of folks at the house of StephanasÖ"

:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel:

Lesson

Baptism isnít necessary for salvation.

There are churches that claim that you have to be baptized to be saved. There are other churches that claim that if you arenít baptized by them, then you canít be saved either.

They get this from verses like:

(Acts 2:37-38 KJV) Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? {38} Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

It sounds like you have to be baptized to be saved. But Paul is just laying out a process for people, a process thatís all woven into the fabric of becoming born again.

What we miss is some of what Peter has already said to these people -

(Acts 2:21 KJV) And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Peter has already told them that itís simply a matter of calling on the Lord. Itís simply a matter of trusting that God is going to save you. Itís a matter of faith.

What Peter is now telling them in telling them to repent and be baptized is to give them practical steps that will demonstrate their faith in Jesus.

When Paul was in prison in Philippi, an earthquake opened up the prison, and freaked out the jailer Ė

(Acts 16:29-31 KJV) Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, {30} And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? {31} And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

For this man, this was the first heís heard anything from Paul, and so Paul starts at the starting point, which is believing.

We are saved through our trust in Jesus, trusting Him to pay for our sins.

(Eph 2:8-9 KJV) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: {9} Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Baptism is important not because it brings the actual act of salvation, but because it is a physical way of demonstrating the kind of change that Jesus has made inside in your heart.

If baptism is so necessary for salvation, then why does Paul clearly say here that he didnít think baptism was that important. Jesus sent him to preach, not baptize.

:17 not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

I think there is a place for thinking about what youíre going to say and being prepared.

But the bottom line is that we donít want people coming to Jesus because we talked them into it. We want people to come to Jesus because He died on a cross to pay for their sins.

:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

For an unconvicted unbeliever, talking about the cross is nonsense.

For us, it saved us.

:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

In Godís wise plan, men canít come to find Him by simply becoming real smart. Itís only through believing in Jesus.

:22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

Watch how Paul will now weave these two concepts through the passage, of a "sign" (as in wonders, miracles) and "wisdom".

:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

Ryrie: "Christ crucified was a stumblingblock to Jews, who expected a political savior, and foolishness to Greeks, who considered anyone who would be crucified of no account."

:24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

To those that will trust in Jesus, they find out that Jesus can do miracles, signs, having power; and they find out that in Jesus there is wisdom way beyond what ordinary humans can cook up.

:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

Iím not sure this is a compliment to the Corinthians. I take comfort in it myself.

:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

Lesson

God can use anyone.

Donít think that youíre not good enough for God to use.

Sometimes we can be so impressed by someone who is pretty sharp with their facts, and we can think that we could never be like that.

But God loves to use ordinary, foolish people. People who will follow Jesus.

When Peter and John had been arrested at the beginning of the church, they were put on trial before the exalted Jewish religious leaders. Peter and John blew them away with what they said.

(Acts 4:13 KJV) Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

:28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

(1 Cor 1:28 NLT) God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important,

:29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.

Thatís the whole point. God doesnít want us going and taking credit for what Heís done.

We read this morning:

(Isa 42:8 KJV) I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.

Let God get the credit.

:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

It is Godís doing that has placed us "in" Christ Jesus. As a result of being "in" Jesus, we gain a whole wealth of stuff: wisdom, righteousness, holiness, salvation.

1Corinthians 2

:2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

Preach Jesus crucified.

Iíve heard Greg Laurie talk about what heís learned from Billy Graham. There is power to save people in nothing else. We need to tell people that Jesus died on a cross to pay for their sins.

:3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.

I find comfort in hearing Paul say this. Last week I heard Mike McIntosh talk about several experiences heís had in confront people who were actually demon possessed. I had to laugh to hear Mike talk about how scary and unnerving it was. I feel like that a lot.

:5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

Lesson

Help them trust God, not you.

We want to be there for people, but in reality, we have very little to offer them.

Teach them to trust Jesus, not you.

:12 that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

God wants us to know the things He has for us. Itís through the Holy Spirit we receive these things.

:13 comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

Ryrie: This difficult phrase may perhaps mean "interpreting spiritual truths to spiritual minds."

:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him

Lesson

Spiritual truth is learned by spiritual people

A person who has not come to trust Jesus is not equipped to understand things about God.

It would be like describing a symphony to a deaf person. How could you really explain it to them?

1Corinthians 3

:3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

What does it mean to be carnal (fleshly)?

We often think of sexual things. It really refers to any kind of life that is lived with our human sin nature being in control instead of Godís Spirit.

The mark of their carnality was the divisions in the church.

:5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?

ministers Ė diakonos Ė one who executes the commands of another, esp. of a master, a servant, attendant, minister

:7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

The only person of any value in the process of growing things in the church is God.

:8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.

God will reward you for what you do for Him.

:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.

husbandry Ė field

:10 I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon

Paul laid the foundation of the church. Apollos built on that foundation.

:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

The only real foundation that a life can be built on is Jesus.

(Mat 7:24-27 KJV) Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: {25} And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. {26} And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: {27} And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

:12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;

Different kinds of materials you might be using in the building of this building, your life.

What is the difference between something build of gold and something built of wood?

One of the factors is our motive.

(1 Cor 13:1-3 KJV) Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. {2} 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, and have not charity, I am nothing. {3} And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Even if we are appearing to be doing a great work for God, if it isnít done in love, itís stubble.

:13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.

This is the bema seat of Christ, the judgment seat of Christ.

(Rom 14:10 KJV) But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

(2 Cor 5:10 KJV) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

Paul describes the process as that of a fire. Everything is thrown into the fire and whatever survives the fire is yours.

:15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Kind of like the guy thatís had his clothes burned off of him, his hair is singed, but heís survived.

:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

There is a common mistake made here about this passage. The "ye" is plural. Paul is talking about the church gathered together being as a temple of God.

The idea of the individualís body being a temple of the Holy Spirit is found in:

(1 Cor 6:19 KJV) What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

:17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

Keep in mind that heís been talking about the danger of the divisions that have been in the church.

Though God does not condone suicide, this is not a verse to be using to convince a person not to take their life. Instead use:

(Exo 20:13 KJV) Thou shalt not kill.

This verse is giving a clear warning to those who bring division in the church and thus defile the church.

God promises to destroy that person.

Be VERY careful if you find yourself in a place where you are bringing division. Be very, very careful.

:18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.

Donít think you are so smart.

:22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;

We all belong to each other. Donít get so territorial.