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In my last post,  as we finished Chapter One of First  Corinthians, we learned that the Greeks used logic and the Jews used their understanding of the law  to understand everything. We learned that, because of their limited thinking, they did not understand God’s plan of salvation through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Today, in chapter two, we will discover how the Corinthians, and consequently, how we can develop wisdom of his powerful grace and love.

In the first few verses of this chapter (2:1-5) Paul refuses to take credit for the insights into God’s word that he gave them. He said that he was weak and fearful. I can imagine how he felt. I know that anytime I stand in front of an audience, my mouth gets dry, my hands shaky and sweaty. and i am afraid that I will make a serious mistake. But Paul did not depend on his own abilities.

Paul knew that he wasn’t the eloquent speaker. He depended on the Holy Spirit to guide him in all wisdom. Because he chose to follow the Holy Spirit, his  contribution to our understanding of God’s plan for humankind is outstanding. He wrote much of what became the New Testament. I believe this is in a large part, as he says in verse 2:2,  because he decided that he would put his focus on Jesus Christ and him crucified. I believe that if we also learn the power of Jesus and his crucifixion, our lives would be revolutionized as well.

In verses 6-9, Paul humbled himself to the wisdom of God. The wisdom of God is the gospel of Jesus Christ. None of the rulers of this world system recognized this revelation. If they would have known, they would not have had him crucified. The prophets, nor the angels understood, but God made clear the mystery of the gospel through the apostles. God gives his wisdom to those who love him.

We discover in the remainder of the chapter that we can only understand God through his spirit. Our puny little minds cannot possibly compare to God’s wisdom.

The closest comparison I can give concerning this is by comparing the processing capabilities of our personal computers with the the knowledge of the internet. Our home computers have memory and they are truly amazing at what they can do, but compared to the internet, our computers are very limited. When we plug into the internet, we have access to so much more. .

Think about how foolish God must see us when we try to rationalize and explain away God. That’s why our minds are not sufficient to understand God. We need his spirit guiding us and revealing his truth in our lives. Just as our computers are inferior to the internet in supplying us with knowledge, so is our minds are inferior to what God’s spirit has to offer us. By having God’s spirit, we gain the mind of Christ.


So far we have basically covered just two verses in I Corinthians. We have learned about Paul who wrote the book. We learned about the church, and we learned about Corinth. Today we are going to discuss the Bible’s central person–Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 1:4-9

4) I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you  by Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ gave us God’s Grace when he died on the cross.

5) That in every thing you are enriched by him, in all utterance and in all knowledge;

Paul told the Corinthians that he wanted them to be enriched by Jesus Christ. In other words, Jesus Christ is the source. The term “all utterance” in the Greek is logos–the spoken word of God.. (Another Greek term for utterance apophtheggomal is used in Acts 2:4 on the day of Pentecost when the Spirit of God came down with tongues of fire, and the worshipers in the upper room spoke in other tongues. This term here therefore is not referring to that kind of utterance.) What this word “utterance” refers to is the idea that God will speak to you in very real terms and as the next phrase states, he will give you all the knowledge you need to make decisions that he approves.Our knowledge comes from Jesus Christ. I remember the first time I  the Bible through.  I didn’t really understand what I was reading, but on each subsequent time I have read it, the Lord speaks his secrets to me. I encourage people to read the Bible all the way through as often as possible. Like me, you may not get much out of your first reading of the Bible, but you will gain insights into how the word relates to you with each subsequent reading. A lot of people get bogged down in Bible reading because they begin in Genesis and read from there. I suggest that you begin in the Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the first four books of the New Testament in which they write about Jesus’ life here on earth from four different perspectives. There are parts of it you won’t understand and that is okay. (I don’t understand all of it either.) Don’t just read it through once and call it quits, instead, read it numerous times. Each time you will discover something new and relevant to your current situation. Focus on how Jesus thinks. This will help you know whether you are hearing him in your every day activities.

6) Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you

As you read through the Gospels you will discover an amazing thing happening. The things you read about concerning Jesus will have direct bearing on what is going on in your own life. Questions you had yesterday, he answers today out of his written word. The word testimony is maturion (Strong’s 3140) which means evidence, in other words, you will witness the truth in your own situation. His testimony will be backed up by events in your own life.

7) So that you come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:

This verse tells us that Paul wanted the Corinthian church to have the testimony of Christ so that they wouldn’t miss out on the gifts that Christ’s testimony had to offer. He also says that part of those gifts will come at the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. The same is true for us. Jesus is returning and he has presents for us! It will be better than Christmas! (The celebration of the gift of himself his first time on earth.)

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

The word “confirm” here is the Greek word bebaloo  (Strong’s 950) which means stands firm. Jesus will stand firm that we are held blameless because we have accepted his provision for salvation.  As it says in  Romans 8:30-32 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? And in Colossians 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross. Isn’t this cool, Jesus is willing to blot out anything that is held against us. Jesus is on our side!

9) God is faithful, by whom you were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Just like the Corinthians, you are called into fellowship (friendship) with Jesus Christ, the son of God. You are called, he wants you to have fellowship with him. He wants to be your friend. He isn’t looking for ways to trap you into hell (no fine print!)  Are you ready to accept his call?


So far in our study of First Corinthians we have examined Paul–the author, we have looked at the church, and the city where the church was located. Today I would like to look at the rest of Paul’s introduction and discover what we can about how to look at others in the church with whom we may not agree.

In today’s study, we are going to examine I Corinthians 1:2 a little more closely, because there is an important jewel to be discovered here:

Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be Saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.

I want to point out that the words  in my Bible “to be” are italicized. Whenever I see words in my Bible italicized, I know that those words were not in the original language (in this case Greek), but were added by the translator to help clarify the words meaning. However, in this case the words “to be” change the meaning of the passage. The phrase originally read:

” to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus called Saints“.

In other words, those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus are already called Saints. In order more completely understand what this verse means, we need to learn what a couple of words actually mean.

What does Sanctified mean?

The word sanctified here is haglozo (Strong’s 37) means to mentally purify, or to go through the process of making your mind holy. It is a process that you do in your mind. It is different than the spiritual change that occurs at salvation. Your spirit becomes a new creature at salvation (II Corinthians 5:17), but your mind is under a constant renewal process. (Romans 12:2).

Who are the Saints?

This Biblical term is not referring to the canonization of people by the Roman Catholic church. The word “saints” here (and all of the New Testament) in the Greek is hagios (Strong’s 40) which means consecrated thing, one who is held blameless. If you are a born again believer, you are called saint because if you remember from earlier lessons, your righteousness doesn’t come from your own merits. The righteousness that covers you comes from what Jesus Christ did for you on the cross. You are held blameless for your sins because of what he did for you.

Both of these Greek words haglozo and hagios come from the same Greek root hagos. As I pointed out, Haglozo refers to the fact that every day there is a renewal in our minds that should go on every day. Hagios is different in that we are made blameless through making Jesus Lord of our lives.

Paul still called them Saints because they called upon the name (authority) of Jesus Christ.

Let’s go on to Verse 3:

3) Grace be upon you, and peace, from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ,

Paul gave the church at Corinth a blessing in his greeting. He offered them grace and peace. Paul gave this blessing in all of his letters except for his letters to Timothy and Titus. He did not agree with everything they were doing, but he always blessed them anyway.

Perhaps we too need to learn to bless those in the church who we don’t always see eye to eye with or even those we believe are in error. We need to learn to pray grace and peace over them every time we think about them. When we pray grace and peace over other people, we are rewarded with the same thing. If we want more grace and more peace, we need to begin praying the same for others, especially those with whom we do not agree.

If this has blessed you or if you have any questions or comments about this post, please comment below. If you have any questions about any matter regarding salvation or growing in Christ, please contact me at cygnetbrown@gmail.com. I would love to help.


So far, In our study of First Corinthians we have learned that Paul wrote the book. We studied that the word church meant “to be called”, and we discovered that those who were “called”, also had to choose to accept the invitation. We also learned that we had to accept the provision of righteousness that only Jesus Christ can give us, Today, we will learn about Corinth,  the city to him this book (actually a letter) was addressed in this book. We will also learn how this city is a mirror of our society today.

Corinth had originally been part of the Greek empire before the Romans’ conquered the region in 146 BC. The Romans under Julius Caesar rebuilt it in 44 BC. When Paul wrote this first letter to the church at Corinth, the city had again become a cosmopolitan city of wealth and trade.  First century Corinth was an environment of varying social classes, numerous and varied spiritual influences and with a culture shaped primarily by both Greek and Roman historical influences.  Situated in a key geographical location that supported prosperity, Corinth developed a wealthy economy but a significant divide between rich and poor, resulting in a social elitism. It had a varied polytheistic approach to religion, but also supported a Jewish population and the emerging Christian movement. All of these factors contribute interpretation of First Corinthians, but understanding Corinth can also help us in understanding what we need to do as the church in today’s society.

Culture

By the time, Paul wrote this letter, the city supported diverse cultural influences. As a Roman colony, Rome’s influence upon culture, economy, and religion were in evidence, but the re-habitation of the city under Julius has included Italians and “dispossessed Greeks”, then later Hellenistic Jews. This multicultural society became a virtual melting pot. We can say the same for our culture. As our society becomes more globally influenced, our culture becomes a melting pot of cultures where cultural tolerance rules.

Economy

Economically Corinth’s society ranged from wealthy elite down to the lowest social classes. The city sponsored the Isthmian Games that brought revenue into the city.  Merchants and traders supported other occupations in the city. Not all inhabitants of the city lived well. The socially disadvantaged and slave class, prostitutes, and a criminal element also lived there. Diseases amongst the population caused a high turnover of staff which warranted employment opportunity to newcomers. Our world culture also has the extremely rich, and the extremely poor.  In extremely poor countries around the world, 25  thousand die of starvation every day, whereas  in the United States, approximately 40% of food is thrown away because food’s overabundance.

Spirituality

Corinth was one of the most religious diverse cities of the Roman Empire. Roman Gods, Greek Gods, gods of new religious, philosophers, and  Jewish Rabbis developed a religious society that sported a “just in case” spiritualism. Corinth was also known as the cultural center for the fertility goddess Aphrodite. Her temple in Corinth was rumored to be home to a thousand prostitutes. Some may have participated in church activities. This cult is said to have contributed to Corinth’s reputation  for licentiousness.  As we look at these religious issues, we get a better understanding about what Paul was up against. He certainly had serious issues to confront when we consider all the religious practices, associated with a plethora of pagan religious entities, including eating foods dedicated to other religious gods. In our culture religious ideologies also abound.

According to David Barrett of the “World Christian Encyclopedia: A comparative survey of churches and religions – AD 30 to 2200,” there are 19 major world religions which are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, and many smaller ones.”

Paganism is probably the fastest growing religion in the west, paganism, and it is becoming a widespread cultural phenomenon. Anchored in ancient culture, paganism is the result of many different anti-establishment ideologies uniting and providing a pliable, culturally rich spiritual system seemingly suited to life in the modern, western world.

Whether Isis or Ma’at to Kemetic practitioners, Freyja to the Asatru, the Lady to Wiccans, or Artemis, Athena, or Hecate to Hellenic Reconstructionists, some aspect of the feminine Divine has become central to most if not all neo-pagan religions. Though individual practitioners may not choose to follow or honor a particular goddess, especially those who follow a henotheistic path, the religion that they identify with is still loyal to certain images of feminine divinity. The same goddess centered system is thriving in our current society.

The Church

As recorded in Acts 18, Paul brought Christianity to Corinth. He propagated the good news that Jesus Christ was Lord while Paul worked as a tent maker. Paul exploited the opportunity influence the spiritually insatiable hunger of the citizens of Corinth. He became socially imbedded into the culture. At this time the Church of Corinth was just a small seed beginning to sprout.

Today the churches of the world are divided on a number of fronts. Barrett states that 34,000 separate Christian groups have been identified in the world. “Over half of them are independent churches that are not interested in linking with the big denominations.

Just as the Church at Corinth squabbled over social issues, the church of today does the same. Even those sitting next to you in church on the same pews may not have the same social ideology as you do. The church is divided along the lines of  women in ministry, capital punishment, the homeless and refugees, abortion, nuclear deterrence, medical technology, public education, homosexuality just to name a few. Some groups believe that congregations should be homogenous. In other words, they believe that everyone should be alike. They believe that churches should be divided by social class, by culture, or by whatever societal denomination you choose. (Personally, I think that if we did that, we’d each eventually find ourselves sitting alone), but as we read I Corinthians, we will discover that Paul had a different idea about how the church in a culturally diverse place like Corinth should conduct service.

As we will discover later in this first chapter of First Corinthians (verse 10), Paul wanted no divisions in the church. He desired that we believers be united having the same mind and judgment. We will see however,  that He did not think that all churches should be clones of one another. We will discover that he wanted The Church to be relevant to their overall society, and he knew that in order to do this, the church had to be united. This is a lesson of which we can all benefit.

What is your viewpoint concerning our diverse social structure? Do you think the church should be more tolerant?  Do you feel that the church should be diverse or do you think that we should divide up into “relevant” social groups? Feel free to comment below.  If you have any questions, feel free to email me at cygnetbrown@gmail.com. I am here to assist you in any way I can.

 


No one ever uses the word “sin” any more. What is sin anyway? The term is definitely not politically correct. Our society discourages anything that has negative connotations, and the idea of sin definitely has negative connotations. When we are willing to acknowledge the existence of sin, we think about it as terrible things that “evil people” do  like murder, child abuse, or armed robbery. We are quick to say that whatever we did was “not that bad” or God knows my heart and even he knows I am really a good person.

However, God does not see sin that way. He sees sin is anything that we do that takes the place of him in our lives. He admits that he does not want us giving what he considered his place to something or someone else, even if just temporary.

We are not responsible for the existence of our sins.  We are all born sinners. In Genesis chapter 3 we learn that Adam and Eve made the decision to disobey God. They listened to the serpent when he encouraged Eve to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil (not an apple). They caused a death sentence for their physical bodies.

In the New Testament, in Romans 5:12-17 Paul explains what happened spiritually to Adam. In this passage, Paul explained that through Adam all humankind have a sin nature (sinning comes naturally to them) because sin ruled over Adam down to his DNA causing each person living to have sin in their DNA. The law of “wages of sin was death” was put into effect from that time forward.  We cannot simply just do what we think is right in our own eyes and get a pass. We are doomed to death.

However . . .There’s good news. . .

The verse talking about “the wages of sin” does not end with death. The verse finished with “BUT the GIFT of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”.

Because Christ allowed himself to become our sacrifice, we are able to receive the gift (free for the asking)  of Grace through his sacrifice. Our part is that we accept his sacrifice as being enough for us to receive eternal life.  His grace gives us the ability not to sin.

We can receive this gift if we believe on the authority by Jesus Christ to forgive sins. Acts 4:12 says that there is no way for man to get eternal life except through Jesus Christ. You cannot earn it, you will never be able to do anything that will be good enough. You must accept his provision.”

This does not mean that the law that “the wages of sin is death” no longer exists. It does. If you do not accept his provision, you will die in your sins. You must accept his provision if you want eternal life. Think of it this way. We have the law of gravity. Gravity results from the magnetism of the earth. You jump; you come down. However, we have another law. It is called the law of lift. When we go up in an airplane, the law of lift takes effect. This law of lift supersedes the law of gravity and as a result, the heavy metal plane with you in it can rise above the clouds. In the same way, the Law of Grace supersedes the law of sin and death.  But there is one way that the law of grace is different. Under the Law of Grace, you do not ever have to come down. Once given, God will not take it back.

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.” (Act 16:31) Jesus did not come into this world to condemn us. He said that he came to the world to save the whole world (John 3:16+17,               I Timothy 4:10). The truth is, he said that he did not want anyone to die in his or her sins. He has done all that he can do to rid you of your sin. The ball is in your court. The choice is yours. As Joshua said (Joshua 24:15), “Chose you this day whom you will serve. . .” Will you choose to serve God or serve your sin? Will you chose continue on your road to death, or will you choose life?

If you want to know more about the Law of Grace, I would like to help you. Send an email to me at cygnetbrown@gmail.com and I will get back to you. Also, I would like  to help you connect with someone locally to help you along your spiritual journey. Also, I ask that you continue reading my blog posts. I pray that the posts I share will be timely and informative.  I will be posting a new blog post every Tuesday morning. If you have any questions, please either put them in the comments below (others may have the same questions). Also, feel free make comments below.

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