1 Corinthians – Paul’s Rights

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“This is my answer to those who question my authority. Don’t we have the right to live in your homes and share your meals? Don’t we have the right to bring a believing wife with us as the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers do, and as Peter does? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have to work to support ourselves? 1 Corinthians 9:3-6 It seems that even here at the church that Paul had started, some had begun to question Paul’s authority. Paul is explaining to them that the apostle’s living should come from the people he ministers to. They ministered to the people with no strings attached, but the people must support those who minister to them.  Paul was a tentmaker and supported himself. “Paul lived and worked with them, for they were tentmakers just as he was.” (Acts 18:3) Paul was letting the Corinthians know that he and Barnabas had as much right as others to receive full financial support from their work. Except for help from a few churches, they paid their own expenses not because of obligation or necessity, but voluntarily. The privilege that Paul might have claimed was support from the Church. Not only could he have claimed such support for himself but also for a wife. In fact, the other apostles did receive such support. The Greeks despised manual labor; no free Greek would willingly work with his hands. They felt that those that worked with their hands were not well educated. This is some of the problems within the church at Corinth. Even the Jewish Rabbis was to teach for nothing, but they found ways that they were supported in their work. I do believe that those that minister should receive support from those in the church, but I also […]

1 Corinthians – Claim to be an Apostle

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“Am I not as free as anyone else? Am I not an apostle? Haven’t I seen Jesus our Lord with my own eyes? Isn’t it because of my work that you belong to the Lord? Even if others think I am not an apostle, I certainly am to you. You yourselves are proof that I am the Lord’s apostle.” 1 Corinthians 9:1-2 In the very beginning, we must remember that Paul is answering letters that had been written to him from this church at Corinth. He is reminding them that his authority had come from him being an apostle of Jesus Christ. He also, reminds them that his calling was a dramatic call when he actually came in contact with the Light of the world. Jesus Christ Himself, who had sent Paul to minister to these people. It is with no small authority then that he is doing this. Paul even reminds them, that he was the one who founded the church in Corinth. He goes on to remind them that they were Christians through his ministry. He says, you are my children in the Lord. Paul is saying to them that in some other places, he might not be accepted as the voice to the Gentiles, but here at Corinth the church established was through his preaching. He is saying, you cannot deny me without denying your own salvation. The Jews in nearly every city had rejected Paul, but he had been accepted here at Corinth by these believers. The existence of the church in Corinth was evidence of Paul’s apostolic authenticity. The Corinthians who considered themselves mature Christians have been claiming that they are in such a privileged position that they are free to eat meat offered to idols if they like. Their Christian freedom gives them–as they […]

1 Corinthians – Freedom Part 4

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“So, because of your superior knowledge, a weak believer for whom Christ died will be destroyed. And when you sin against other believers by encouraging them to do something, they believe is wrong, you are sinning against Christ. So, if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live—for I don’t want to cause another believer to stumble.” 1 Corinthians 8:11-13 We are continuing with Billy Graham’s writings on Christian freedom. “Jesus came to free us from death, sin and anything that enslaves us. The core message of the Christian faith—the Gospel—is that Jesus Christ rescues us from the slavery of sin and offers true freedom in this life and beyond. This is what Jesus said: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The Good News—the best news ever—is that faith in Jesus frees us from the death we deserve for sinning against God. It frees us from the punishment that would be inflicted upon us at the end of our lives for the evil things we’ve thought and done. While Christ followers still battle with sin, they are no longer slaves to it. Through the power of Christ, His people can be set free from the bondage of greed, vanity, pride, pornography, addiction, abusive behavior, gluttony, selfishness—and any other sin under the sun. Here’s what Jesus said about the freedom He offers: “Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32) God gives us freedom to choose our own path. God created human […]

1 Corinthians – Freedom Part 3

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“So, because of your superior knowledge, a weak believer for whom Christ died will be destroyed. And when you sin against other believers by encouraging them to do something, they believe is wrong, you are sinning against Christ. So, if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live—for I don’t want to cause another believer to stumble.” 1 Corinthians 8:11-13 We need to understand our Christian freedom. Billy Graham wrote on Christian freedom. Here are some of his writings. “The quest for freedom is a theme found throughout the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. Just three chapters into the story of God’s creation, humanity gave up its freedom by choosing to rebel against God. From that time forward, the perfect freedom God created in the Garden of Eden was gone, and the long-term effects were both physical and spiritual. The loss of physical freedom was often tied to spiritual disobedience like worshiping false gods. But time and again, the one true God forgave His people and rescued them. When God freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, He was foreshadowing the arrival of Jesus Christ, who came to free humanity from sin—the spiritual slavery that leads to death. Today, many people are living in spiritual slavery without realizing it. They chase false gods of money, success, personal comfort and romantic love—only to realize they still have an emptiness that can’t be filled by any of those things. God’s answer to our loss of freedom has always been Jesus Christ. When Jesus began his short period of ministry on the earth, He announced He was the One that God’s people had been waiting for since the fall of humanity. He did this by reading a particular passage from the book […]

1 Corinthians – Freedom Part 2

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“But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble. For if others see you—with your “superior knowledge”—eating in the temple of an idol, won’t they be encouraged to violate their conscience by eating food that has been offered to an idol?” 1 Corinthians 8:9-10 In Christ, we are free from the Law’s oppressive system, we are free from the penalty of sin, and we are free from the power of sin. Christian freedom is not a license to sin. We are free in Christ but not free to live however we want, indulging the flesh: “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13). Believers aren’t free to sin, but free to live holy lives in Christ. Before I was saved, I liked to party and drink. When Jesus came into my life, I had no desire to continue living my life the way I was. To me drinking is one of the gray areas of our Christian life. It is not a sin to drink. I will not drink because I feel that I could lead a weak Christian into problems. “Everything is permissible,” the Corinthians were saying. True, Paul says; Christians have a great deal of freedom in Christ. However, not everything is beneficial or constructive. Our freedom in Christ must be balanced by a desire to build up and benefit others. When deciding how to exercise our Christian freedom, we ought to seek the good of others before our own good. True freedom means willingly becoming a slave to Christ, and this happens through relationship with Him. When a believer accepts […]

1 Corinthians – Freedom

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“However, not all believers know this. Some are accustomed to thinking of idols as being real, so when they eat food that has been offered to idols, they think of it as the worship of real gods, and their weak consciences are violated.  It’s true that we can’t win God’s approval by what we eat. We don’t lose anything if we don’t eat it, and we don’t gain anything if we do.” 1 Corinthians 8:7-8 In chapter 8 Paul is dealing with Christian freedom. We need to understand what Christian freedom is all about. The next few devotions is going to be on Christian freedom. “So, Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” (Galatians 5:1) This verse is Paul’s gospel claim to freedom.  It could be printed on posters and mounted prominently in every church. It is easy, however, to pervert Paul’s message if we do not take time to understand what he means by freedom. We especially do so when we Americans bring to Paul our own prevailing understanding of freedom. When America issued its Declaration of Independence in 1776, it stated that all human beings are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Ever since, Americans have made liberty one of their most cherished—if not the greatest–value. But what does freedom mean to most Americans today? When I hear my fellow citizens talk about freedom, I get the sense that what freedom means for them is license to do whatever they please. No external compulsive power is able to tell us what to do or how to live. We say we live in a free country, but with this […]

1 Corinthians – The True God

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“So, what about eating meat that has been offered to idols? Well, we all know that an idol is not really a god and that there is only one God. There may be so-called gods both in heaven and on earth, and some people actually worship many gods and many lords.  But for us, there is one God, the Father, by whom all things were created, and for whom we live. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created, and through whom we live.” 1 Corinthians 8:4-6 As Paul says, there are many gods in the world and there are many things that people worship. We don’t call them idols in our modern world, but they are idols. Anything that we show more adoration to, more than God is an idol. Some people worship sport figures. Some people worship movie stars. There is only one true God. He is the God of the Bible. The one that created the world and the one that lives in my heart. I don’t think that I ever felt that God was not real. I was raised in the church, but I did get away from the church for a time, but during that time I always knew that God was real. Yes, I know that I worshipped other things when I was away from God. I did not call them idols, but they were more important to me than God. We need to trust in whatever we worship. “I hate those who worship worthless idols. I trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 31:6) I trust the one true God, because He has proven to me that He is the true God. Satan wants you to worship idols. “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, […]

1 Corinthians – Christian Liberty

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“Now regarding your question about food that has been offered to idols. Yes, we know that “we all have knowledge” about this issue. But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church.  Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much. But the person who loves God is the one whom God recognizes. 1 Corinthians 8:1-3 Paul has changed subject from marriage to food that is offered to idols. This really does not affect us today, but what Paul is talking about is Christian liberty. Today this is very important. The problem today some of the teaching about Christian liberty is that we are free to do whatever we want. It is fine to sin all you want because Jesus died for your sins. Yes, it is true that Jesus died for our sins but the Bible tells us that we must turn from sin and change our lives. The Corinthians were enriched in spiritual knowledge and were very proud of their achievement. They knew that an idol was nothing. They had a superior attitude. A know-it-all attitude is only an evidence of ignorance. The person who really knows the truth is only too conscious of how much they don’t know. It is one thing to know doctrine and something else to know God. It is possible to grow in Bible knowledge and yet not grow in your personal relationship with God. Paul is telling us that we need to not only have knowledge, but love. They knew that the idol was not real. A nonexistent god could not contaminate food. This is very logical, but at times logic does not work. The little child who is afraid of the dark will not be assured by a logical argument.

1 Corinthians – Put God First

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“But if a man thinks that he’s treating his fiancée improperly and will inevitably give in to his passion, let him marry her as he wishes. It is not a sin. But if he has decided firmly not to marry and there is no urgency and he can control his passion, he does well not to marry.  So, the person who marries his fiancée does well, and the person who doesn’t marry does even better. A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. If her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but only if he loves the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 7:36-39 Paul addressed here the fathers of the unmarried girls. In that day, it was the parents who arranged the marriages, the father in particular. Paul had already said that he was not laying down an ironclad rule for everyone to follow, regardless of circumstances. Now he made it clear that the father had freedom of choice whether or not he would give his daughter in marriage. Even though our modern approach to dating and marriage is completely foreign to the Corinthians, the counsel Paul gave them still applies today. It is a wise thing for couples to counsel with their parents and with their Christian leaders in the church, lest they rush into something which afterward they regret. It is God’s will that marriage union be a lifetime, permanent commitment. There is no place in Christian marriage for a trial marriage, nor is there any room for the escape-hatch attitude. If it doesn’t work, we can get a divorce. This is not God’s way for marriage. Marriage must be built on a firm foundation. That foundation is Jesus Christ and God’s Word. The main message that Paul is trying to get […]

1 Corinthians – Concerns of Life

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“I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him.  But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit. But a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband.  I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.” 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 One thing about Paul’s writings, they are practical. Here Paul is looking at the practical side of marriage and serving the Lord. Paul is telling us that we can serve the Lord better when we don’t have the concerns of life to worry about. We can devote more time to serving God if we don’t have a wife and children that we need to worry about. I know that this is true, but in my case, I don’t believe that I could serve the Lord as well if I did not have my wife as my partner. She has been my partner for fifty-three years. I have no doubt that God put us together. I can look back at my life and see that God has been leading us to this point in our lives. “Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21) No matter if we […]