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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 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.

 


Yesterday we started our study of I Corinthians. We learned that Paul was an apostle, that an apostle is someone who God sent as his representative. We also learned that the church a congregation of people who are called out by Jesus Christ to follow him.

There is much more to this story, so before we continue our study of I Corinthians, let us now turn to Matthew 22:1-14.

Here Jesus is telling one of his many stories called parables. In this parable, he says the kingdom of heaven is like a king who was planning his son’s wedding and when it was time to get people to come to this wedding he sent his employees out to come to the wedding.

At that time, there were no phones, emails, and most people couldn’t read so the employees gave each and every person a personal invitation.  Most of the people the king invited said they were too busy. Some had harvest their crops, others had business that had to be done that day so they just didn’t have time. Others said they needed a vacation, they needed a break to spend time with their families, surely the king understood.

A small group (we’re not sure what they were doing, but they apparently didn’t want the king to know about whatever it was)killed the employees of the king. When the king heard about the murders, he was furious. He sent out armies to destroy the ones who killed his employees.

The king looked around and saw that the wedding was ready, but no guests. He was not about to have a wedding without guests so he sent out other employees to go out onto the highways to find anyone who was willing to come to the wedding feast.

Finally the guests arrived, but when the king looked around the room, he saw a man who was not dressed up at all. The guy was wearing the work clothes that he wore in the fields, he had not even washed, and he smelled bad.

The king asked the man why he was not wearing clothes fit for a wedding. The king wondered if perhaps the man could not afford the right clothes. The man just shrugged his shoulders and did not say a word.

The king told his servants to tie the man up and throw him out into the night. The man was crying and very angry that the king threw him out of the wedding feast.

In verse 14 Jesus finished his story by saying that “many are called, but few are chosen.”

In this parable Jesus is telling everyone about future event and in a sense he was putting out the first invitation to the Jews as he was telling the story. The future event is talked about in Revelation chapter 19, which is the marriage feast of the lamb. We’ll talk more about that in a moment, because it is very significant to this parable, but right now, let’s look at the invitation.

The king represents God the Father, and his son (Jesus) will be getting married. God the father wants to invite as many people as possible to his son’s wedding, so he offered an invitation to the Jews, but they rejected that invitation. (Luke 13:34-350, so he sent his disciples (his followers) to go out into the world and give his invitation to the son’s wedding (Act 1:8). People from all over the world from all lifestyles will accept the invitation. That is where the church comes in. People associate themselves with this group of people.

So what is the deal with this man who was thrown out, you ask? Well, I’m glad to you asked. Like I said, the significance is found in Revelation 19 during the Marriage feast of the Lamb.

In Revelation 19:8 it says: ‘And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints. And he said unto me. Write. Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.”

I could go deeper into the significance of the white linen, but as it shows here, the wedding clothes were made of this fine white linen, and it is a type (representation) of righteousness.  How do we know if we are clothed in righteousness? In Psalm 132:9, it says that the Priests are clothed in Righteousness, then in verse 16 it says that they are clothed with salvation. Therefore, this righteousness is salvation.

Acts 4:12 says: “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name (authority) under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.”

There are not many ways to salvation. There is only one and that is Jesus Christ.

Therefore, if you want to be chosen to attend the Marriage feast of the Lamb, you must first accept the invitation. You are called, because you are currently reading this post. Many are called, you have your invitation. Are you willing to be clothed in righteousness through salvation that can only come from Jesus Christ?

If you decide you want to get to know more about who Jesus is, send an email to me at cygnetbrown@gmail.com and I will get back to you to help you get plugged into a local church to help you along your spiritual journey. Also, continue reading my blog posts. I pray that the messages that I give will be timely and informative.  I will be posting a new blog post every  morning. If you have any questions, please either put them in the comments below (others may have the same questions). Feel free make comments about this blog.

 

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