1 Corinthians – A Divided Church

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“I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters. Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.” Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter,” or “I follow only Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:10-12

Paul identifies the four parties that were causing the division in the church. These people have not left the church, but they are causing problems within the church. Paul, Cephas and Apollo had nothing to do with the division in the church. It was not the man causing the problem it was their supporter. When we worship the man and not Jesus, it will cause problems in the church.

 There were those who claimed to belong to Paul. No doubt this was mainly a Gentile party. Paul had always preached the gospel of Christian freedom and the end of the law. It is most likely that this party were attempting to turn liberty into license and using their new found Christianity as an excuse to do as they liked.

There was the party who claimed to belong to Apollos. There is a brief character sketch of Apollos in Acts 18:24. He was a Jew from Alexandria, an eloquent man and well versed in the scriptures. Alexandria was the center of intellectual activity. It was there that scholars had made a science of allegorizing the scriptures and finding the most recondite meanings in the simplest passages. They were in fact the people who intellectualized Christianity. Those who claimed to belong to Apollos were, no doubt, the intellectuals who were fast turning Christianity into a philosophy rather than a religion.

 There were those who claimed to belong to Cephas. Cephas is the Jewish form of Peter’s name. These were most likely Jews; and they sought to teach that a man must still observe the Jewish law. They were legalists who exalted law, and, by so doing, belittled grace.

There were those who claimed to belong to Christ. They must have been a small and rigid sect who claimed that they were the only true Christians in Corinth. Their real fault was not in saying that they belonged to Christ, but in acting as if Christ belonged to them. It may well describe a little, intolerant, self-righteous group.

We see some of these same people in our churches today. They cause all kinds of issues in our churches. We must be as one, because we all belong to Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians – The Lordship of Jesus

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“I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters. Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.” Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter,” or “I follow only Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:10-12

Corinthians is a book that talks about how we are to operate as Christians. We see in this verse Paul again mentioned the Lordship of Jesus. Today we hear talk of the Lordship of Jesus, but we see little examples of this Lordship. This was part of the problem with this church. If Jesus is Lord of your life, we will not see divisions in the church. This church had gotten their eyes off Jesus and on the Lord’s servants. Just as our churches today.

“Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11) This scripture in Philippians tells us that at some point everyone will bow to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. What is the Lordship of Jesus Christ?  It is following the example that Jesus gave us. “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8) If we humble ourselves as Jesus Christ did and be obedient to God, this is the Lordship of Jesus Christ. If as Jesus did, we think of ourselves as servants, there will be no division in our churches.

1 Corinthians – The Necessity of Thanksgiving

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“I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus. Through him, God has enriched your church in every way—with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge. This confirms that what I told you about Christ is true. Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:4-9

Paul starts this difficult letter reminding the people what they need to be thankful for. We all need to realize how much that Jesus Christ did for us. There is the promise which came true. When Paul preached Christianity to the Corinthians, he told them that Christ could do certain things for them, and now he proudly claims that all that he pledged that Christ could do has come true. We cannot argue a person into salvation, they have to try Jesus Christ and see that it is true.

God has given us such a wonderful gift. The gift of salvation, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) This gift put us in a right relationship with God. It is the only way that we can have this relationship with God.

Now because of Jesus Christ we have every spiritual gift that we need so that we can endure until the coming of Jesus Christ. “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.” (1 Peter 4:10-11)  Such skills as we possess are not our own achievement, they are gifts from God, and, therefore, they are held in trust. They are not to be used as we want to use them but as God wants us to use them; not for our profit or prestige but for the glory of God and the good of men.

1 Corinthians – Paul’s Authority

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“This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Sosthenes. I am writing to God’s church in Corinth, to you who have been called by God to be his own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.” 1 Corinthians 1:1-3

Paul starts this letter as he usually stared his letters. The first thing that he wants to establish is his authority. He wants the people in the church to know that he had the authority to write them on the problem that was part of the church. Paul was an apostle. He was not one of the apostles that walked with Jesus when Jesus was on earth. Paul was chosen by Jesus on the road to Damascus. We can read about this in Acts 9. He then tells the people that he is writing this letter to a holy people that is chosen by God and made holy by Jesus Christ. Yes, Paul is establishing authority, but he wants everyone to understand that this authority is given to him by Jesus Christ.

In the first ten verses of Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians the name of Jesus Christ occurs no fewer than ten times. This was going to be a difficult letter for it was going to deal with a difficult situation, and in such a situation Paul’s first and repeated thought was of Jesus Christ. Sometimes in the Church we try to deal with a difficult situation by means of a book of laws and in the spirit of human justice; sometimes in our own affairs we try to deal with a difficult situation in our own mental and spiritual power. Paul did none of these things; to his difficult situation he took Jesus Christ, and it was in the light of the Cross of Christ and the love of Christ that he sought to deal with it.

It tells us something about the Church. Paul speaks of The Church of God which is at Corinth. It was not the Church of Corinth; it was the Church of God. To Paul, wherever an individual congregation might be, it was a part of the one Church of God.

1 Corinthians – Introduction

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“This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Sosthenes. I am writing to God’s church in Corinth, to you who have been called by God to be his own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.” 1 Corinthians 1:1-2

Paul is writing this letter to the church at Corinth that was in trouble. I believe that we will learn a lot from our study in Corinthians. There are many churches today that are in the same condition as this church. This church was a defiled church.  It had lost its purity and holiness. It was a divided church, at least four groups were competing for leadership. Instead of glorifying God it was hindering the progress of the gospel. This church permitted the sins of the city to get into the local church. Corinth was a polluted city, filled with every kind of vice and worldly pleasure. About the lowest accusation you could make against a man in that day would be to call him a “Corinthian.” People would know what you were talking about.

Corinth was a proud, philosophical city, with many itinerant teachers promoting their speculation. This philosophical approach was applied to the gospel by some of the members, and this caused division. The congregation was made up of different school of thought instead of being united behind the gospel message. Sounds like some of our churches today. If you want to read a good example of what Corinth was like read Romans 1: 18-32. Paul wrote the Romans epistle while in Corinth. When you have a proud people depending on human wisdom, adopting the lifestyle of the world, you are going to have problems.

The thrust of 1 Corinthians is that of a pastor concerned with spiritual warfare of a wayward assembly. We must be very careful that Satan does not cause this to happen in our churches.

The Book of Hebrews – The Peace of God

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“Now may the God of peace— who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.” Hebrews 13:20-21

This devotion ends our study in Hebrews. I have enjoyed the journey and I pray that you have. I also pray that you are walking closer with God because of our study. I know that I am. In our next devotion we will be starting our study in 1 Corinthians. I believe that in this study God will enlighten our minds in how we should live as Christians in this world.

A short summary of Hebrews. Hebrews makes it clear that Jesus Christ exceeds all other people, pursuits, objects, or hopes to which human beings offer allegiance. Hebrews pictures Jesus as better than the angels, as bringing better lives to humanity through salvation, as offering a better hope than the Mosaic Law could promise, as a better sacrifice for our sins than a bull or a goat, and as providing a better inheritance in heaven for those who place their faith in Him. Jesus is indeed superior to all other. With Jesus we can have the peace of God in our lives.

The Book of Hebrews – Pray for Us

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“Pray for us, for our conscience is clear and we want to live honorably in everything we do. And especially pray that I will be able to come back to you soon.” Hebrews 13:18-19

The most important thing that we do is pray for our Christian leaders. In this day that we are living in I see more and more of our Christian leaders falling for the lies of Satan. They are living as the world and they feel that the world has more to offer than God.  It is so easy to fail in our walk with God when we stop working at growing in the Lord.  I know that I have to have my personal time with God as well as writing my devotions. As I write and share with you what I feel like God is telling me, I want my conscience to be clear. I want to be sure that I am hearing God and not myself. There is only one way that can happen and it is if you will pray for me and lift me up to God. More than anything else I need your prayers.

“Prayer is our only hope. Our nation is doomed and damned unless born again Christians, with backs to the wall, fall upon their knees beseeching a holy God for mercy in this hour when America’ ship of state, torpedoed by the enemy within, is poised for the final plunge” (Leonard Ravenhill).

“Prayer is a privilege, a sacred, princely privilege. Prayer is a duty, an obligation most binding, and most imperative, which should call us to it.” (Leonard Ravenhill)

I cannot stress enough how much I need your prayers. I can only continue this ministry with God and your prayers.

The Book of Hebrews – Obey Your Leaders

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“Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.” Hebrews 13:17

Did you know that one of the functions of our spiritual leaders is to persuade us with the truth? They are to teach and show us the truth from God’s word so that we will listen, yield to it and obey it. In the same way we are to trust and be convinced by the teaching and persuasion of our leaders. It is their job to teach the Word of God to us with authority and power. Then we are to receive it, be convinced by it and yield to it. In this way, these truths become evident in our lives and in return bring joy to our leaders when they see change occur. 1 Thessalonians tells us, “Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other.” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13)

Many places in the Bible God tells us that spiritual leaders are responsible for teaching the Word of God and showing the people the truth. If a spiritual leader fails in telling the truth, he will pay for that failure. When I write my devotions, I do a lot of digging and praying that what I write is God’s truth, not my truth. I know at times I make mistakes. My fear is that I may lead someone down the wrong road if I don’t write the truth.

“When the watchman sees the enemy coming, he sounds the alarm to warn the people. Then if those who hear the alarm refuse to take action, it is their own fault if they die. They heard the alarm but ignored it, so the responsibility is theirs. If they had listened to the warning, they could have saved their lives. But if the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, he is responsible for their captivity. They will die in their sins, but I will hold the watchman responsible for their deaths.” (Ezekiel 33:3-6)

The Book of Hebrews – Give Jesus Praise

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“Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.” Hebrews 13:15-16

When I was young, I remember at Wednesday night service the Pastor would ask people to stand and give God the praise. To me this was some of the best services that we had. Most of the time it was the same people telling the same thing, but to me it was still wonderful. I don’t know why I enjoyed it so much as a child, I guess it was just that they were praising God and I always felt that we needed to praise God more. I still enjoy hearing someone give God the praise and the story they tell about how much God loves and takes care of them. We should all remember that without God we are nothing so we need to always praise Him not just for what He does for us, but because of who He is.

We are not to offer up a sacrifice of blood of bulls or of rams; it is a sacrifice of praise that we offer Him under the new covenant. We offer this praise because Jesus sacrificed it all for us. We offer this praise to God through Jesus Christ. These are the sacrifices that please God. What does the sacrifice of praise look like? “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10) The greatest praise we can give God is to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

The book of Hebrews – This is Not Our Home

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“We have an altar from which the priests in the Tabernacle have no right to eat. Under the old system, the high priest brought the blood of animals into the Holy Place as a sacrifice for sin, and the bodies of the animals were burned outside the camp. So also, Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood. So, let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore. For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.” Hebrews 13:10-14

The author again stops to reinforce one of his main points. Christ is the mediator of a new and better covenant enacted on new and better promises. He points back to the Tabernacle to inform the readers that those who serve at the old altar have no right to eat at the new altar. The believers do have a right to eat at the new and better altar, for they enjoy fellowship with God through the blood of Jesus Christ.

The author brings up the bodies of the animals that were sacrificed under the old covenant. We don’t think about what happened to carcasses. They were taken out of the city to be burned. It would have defiled the city if they had been burned within the walls. Just like the old covenant Jesus suffered outside the gate. “So, they took Jesus away.  Carrying the cross by himself, he went to the place called Place of the Skull.” (John 19:16-17)  Jesus suffered outside the gates so that He might sanctify the people by His blood. This was pointing out that the old covenant sin offering pointed to a better new covenant offering. This is telling us that we can go outside the city and suffer with Jesus as He suffered. We can suffer in this life because this world is not our home. Our home is in heaven with Jesus.