Thursday, February 16, 2012

1 Corinthians 8-16

1 Corinthians 8-10 – Freedom in Love

Chapter 8:
Surrender means to give one’s self up to the power of authority.  With freedom comes responsibility.  Paul teaches us how to handle freedom.  We can only live and love like Jesus, if we surrender.  Paul teaches us some principles about relating to other Christians who are not strong in their faith.  Paul said he knew the Corinthians had knowledge and that knowledge had made them conceited and proud.  He calls attention to their pride and said that love trumps knowledge.   Paul said that “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.  (1 Cor. 8:1)  Paul tells us even though we have freedom in Christ; we are not to do anything that might cause a weaker Christian to stumble.  

The Corinthians had some questions about eating meat offered to idols.  A Christian knows eating such meat is ok, but some new to the faith thought that eating food sacrificed to idols was a sin and didn’t want to take any chances.  Paul said, “We know an idol is nothing in the world at all and that there is no God but one” (1 Cor. 1:4).  Food does not bring us closer to God, so we should not participate in eating such food for the sake of causing others to stumble.  We should not do anything that might cause them judge our actions.  He also says we should not be conceited about our knowledge.  We should be sensitive to our fellow brothers and sisters.  Love always supersedes freedom.

Are you puffed up in your knowledge and look down on others who are not as knowledgeable as you?

Chapter 9:
Paul had the right to receive financial support from the Corinthians as all people in the ministry do.  He chose not to accept any pay.  He said he was compelled to preach and does it voluntarily.  He didn’t want anything to hinder the gospel.  He only seeks heavenly rewards.

We learn many lessons by Paul example.  One being he reached people with the gospel by being all things to all men.  He met them where they are so he could better relate to them and gain their confidence.  Then they would be more apt to listen when we told them about Jesus and how they should live.

Chapter 10:
Paul gave the Corinthians warnings from Israel’s history.  In Exodus 32, Numbers 16-17, Numbers 21 and other Old Testament scriptures we learn that the Israelites were idolaters.  They were sexually immoral, tested the Lord, and continually grumbled.  As a result they were killed by the destroying angel.  These things happened to them as warnings for us.  We act the same way today – grumbling when things don’t go the way we think it should.   Many people test the Lord by living together outside the covenant of marriage.  We as a nation have become sexually immoral.  Just look at the movies and TV shows we watch.  Sexually immorality is everywhere and we are tempted everyday.

So Paul says if you think you are standing firm and can’t be tempted, be careful.  God’s promise to us is that He will provide an escape when we are tempted.  “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”  (1 Cor. 10:13) 

This escape is available to all, but involves surrender.  Does that describe the reign of God in your life?  If you think you are strong enough and not to be tempted – you’re not.  If you think you can’t possible begin to doubt Him – you’re wrong.

So what are we to do? – recognize our weaknesses, recognize the dangers around us, be alert to our enemy recognizing Satan and his demonic forces, avoid temptations, be prayerful, study His Word, listen to the Holy Spirit and keep the right association with fellow Christians.   God is faithful.  He loves us and wants what’s best for us.  He will protect us.

Paul gives us more principles that we can practice today:
We have freedom in Christ, but that doesn’t mean we should do all things, because it may not be good for us.  It might cause others to stumble. “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.” (1 Cor. 10:23)

Have you accepted Jesus Christ as savior, but not let Him be Lord in your life?
When is the last time you denied yourself for the sake of others?
Do you do everything for the glory of God?

We can’t hear Him because we are arguing with Him over who is in charge.

Principle:
True freedom is submission to Jesus as Lord.

1 Corinthians 11-14 – Church Life in Love

Chapter 11:
Paul also talked about men not covering their heads and women covering their heads while worshiping.  In Corinth the culture influences were in the church.  Women went around bared headed which was identified with prostitutes.  They were enjoying their freedom to do so, but Paul said they should cover their heads in order to be a witness. 

I also think this means that we are to be focused on true worship without any physical distractions.  We should not dwell on male-female attractiveness and should dress modestly not drawing attention to ourselves.

Paul gives God’s appointed order of authority for husbands and wives: 
The head of Christ is God.
The head of every man is Christ.
The head of the woman is man.

Women, are you honoring your husband and your church in the way you dress?

Paul addresses their participation in Holy Communion.  As their custom they gathered together for a meal and followed it with the Lord’s Supper.  There were clicks in the church.  They ate with friends instead of merging with others in Christ.  There was a lot of drinking and by the time they celebrated the Lord Supper, they were drunk.  This didn’t look very well outside the church.  Was there anything different from believers and nonbelievers? 

Paul says before taking the Lord Supper we should examine ourselves first making sure we have confessed our sins and are right with God.  We should not take it in an unholy manner, which is a sin against the body and the blood of the Lord.  We should remember its purpose – Jesus shed His blood for our sins.

Where is your focus when you partake in the Lord Supper?  Is it a mechanical thing for you? There is nothing routine in what Jesus did for us.  We should be in awe every time we partake in the Lord Supper.

Chapter 12:
Paul reminds them that spiritual gifts are used to build up the body of Christ not individuals.  There are varieties of spiritual gifts like snowflakes or fingerprints are different from every other.  God has gifted you to do what He wants you to do.  Christ not only died to give you the gift of eternal life, but also so you could serve Him with your spiritual gift.  Your gift could be service, wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in tongues, and interpretation of tongues. (1 Cor. 12:4-11)  There are other gifts mentioned throughout scripture.

What is your spiritual gift?

How do you know your experience is true conversion?  1 Corinthians 12 says you have the Holy Spirit.  Romans 10:9-10 says that you must confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead.  Galatians 3:26-28 says you are baptized into Christ and have clothed yourself with Christ.  Have you submitted to Jesus and is He your Lord?

Every Christian should be active in some way in the body of Christ.  “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” – (1 Cor. 12:27) We each have different gifts and we should all work together in unity.

Chapter 13:
What is love?  We love our children.  We love shopping.  We love America.  We love chocolate cake.  Love is very overused today.  We think love is a warm fuzzy feeling, but in chapter 13 love refers to action.  Love is something we do rather than something we feel.  Love in the Bible refers to how we treat people.  Love should be evident, because God is love and He commands us to love.  Paul says this is the greatest gift of all.  If we have not love, we have nothing.  “Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.” – (1 Cor. 13:4-8)

Do you love your elderly neighbor?  Then go over and shovel snow off their sidewalk.  Do you love your church?  Then get involved.  Send a get well card to a sick brother or sister.  Do you love Jesus?  Then lead someone else to love Him.

Chapter 14:
Paul gives principles about the use of spiritual gifts:
All spiritual gifts should be used to build up the church.
The gift of speaking in tongues – if you speak in tongues, there should be someone to interpret or you should be quiet.
When speaking in tongues, you’re not speaking to man, but to God.
With the gift of prophesy you are speaking to men for their strength, encouragement and comfort.
When you speak in tongues, you are edifying yourself; but when you prophesy you are edifying the church.
The gift of tongues is secondary to the gift of prophesy.

Principle:
God gives each believer spiritual gifts to build up the body of Christ for His glory.

What is on your mind when you take the Lord’s Supper?
Are you focused on self when you go to church?
Is church just not working for you?  It’s not about you.  It’s about God.  We all have needs and we want them fixed.  Start serving others and you will be changed.
What’s your attitude about your church?
Are you willing to serve even if no one thanks you?  Jesus thanks you and He is the only one that counts.

1 Corinthians 15-16 – Eternal life in Love

Chapter 15:
Jesus appeared six different time after His resurrection:  (1) To Peter, (2) To the 12, (3) To more than 500 of the brothers at one time, (4) To James, (5) To all the apostles, (6) To Paul. 

There are 3 basic beliefs of a Christian found in 1 Cor. 15:3-4:
Christ died for our sins according to scriptures.
He was buried according to scriptures.
He was raised on the 3rd day according to scriptures.

Do you believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus?  If not, there is no hope.  You cannot be a Christian and deny the resurrection of Jesus.  If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  If Christ has not been raised, preaching is useless and so is your faith.  If there is no resurrection of the dead, we have been found as false witnesses about God.  If the dead are not raised, then neither was Jesus. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then your faith is futile, you are still in your sins and those fallen asleep are lost. (1 Cor. 15:13-18)
We are secure in that one day that we shall rise from the dead. 

The order of events from Christ’s resurrection until God is all in all:
Christ, the first fruits, then when He comes those who belong to Him.  Then the end will come when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.  He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death.  Satan will be made subject to Him who put everything under Him, so that God may be all in all. – (1 Cor. 15:23-28)

When the Lord Jesus Christ returns, the believer’s body will be raised imperishable raised in glory and power, and raised a spiritual body.  It will bear the likeness of Jesus and will be changed in a flash, in a twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality. – (1 Cor. 15:42-54)

Chapter 16:
How can you show you believe in the power Resurrection?  You could stand firm, let nothing move you, always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, be on guard, standing firm in faith, be men and women of courage, be strong and do everything in love.

Principle:
Jesus’ resurrection gives believers hope and power to stand firm in faith and do everything in love.

Are you gratefully surrendering to Him as Lord?
What is going on in your life today that you need to call upon God?
Does the body of Christ look any different than the world?

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