V. 2, pg7 Just keep the lions away! July, 91 MO
V. 5, minister of God, not of church or of people. Applies to civil magistrates. Civil magistrate is a servant of God, not a servant of the people. Needs to be developed some more.
V. 5, It is the Spirit putting on the individual. The word of God records the acts of the Spirit as He uses people to accomplish His plan here on earth.
V. 9, the transition from the OT types and symbols, temple, building, vineyard, to the New.
v.10, according to the grace given us,
Vs 10-23, caution for Parker's hint of humanism
V. 17, God will destroy those who mix Christ with humanism, because they have defiled the temple. (Thus, we teach this verse from its application, not its context.) God's wrath is against those who would pervert the pure truth of His word.
V. 23, corporation, hale vs. hinkle.
V. 23, Red letter Christians! We follow the words of Christ, thus excluding the OT and much of the New. Good MO
This is at the heading of each chapter, and is extremely important to keep in mind. These people who Paul is writing to were well versed in the OT. They had been saved through studying the OT Scriptures, they had grown in Christ through these Scriptures, Christ had been formed in them through the OT Scriptures. Therefore, everything that is presented here MUST be taken in the context of the OT. We cannot over emphasize this fact. We cannot read these NT books with the idea that the people had any NT book yet. Every thing must be taken in the context of the OT.
The complaint against Paul had been that he and his message did not measure up to the wisdom of the prevailing Greek philosophy. He preached the cross of Christ and the kingdom of God in the most simple manner that he possibly could, because of the immaturity of the believers at Corinth. The indication is that if he has preached the kingdom of God in philosophical terms which the world's wisdom loved, the people would not have understood, nor would the Spirit of God have been able to work.
3:2, people must be ministered to where they are, to bring them to where they should be. The basic doctrine is the same, because it never changes. God dose not change for man, man changes for God, by the power of God. But the amount of that doctrine which is presented is dependant upon the maturity of the hearer. Thus, the plan of Salvation to a child is still the redemptive, substitutionary death of Christ, but the words do describe this substitutionary death and payment for our sins must be words which they can understand. (Not, "Ask Jesus into your heart." There is no salvation in that in any way, shape or form.)
Paul had presented a complaint against them. They were divided among different ministers, each group holding their favorite up as the best. Then the next thing he deals with is in 1:17. Evidently the Greek thought and 'wisdom' had infiltrated, in fact overtaken, this church. Maybe their pastor, or some members had united with them who felt that this wisdom was the proper way to present Christ. To these folks, education in the worldly wisdom and philosophy was the way to go. They desired to have a church which would impress the philosophers of their day. (Remember, this was a headquarters for Greek philosophy.)
A thought here in passing. I know of a church [Lifegate Baptist Church, now in Beech Grove], who is proud of their pastor. The reason? Because he attracts 'college professors' and intellectuals to the church. I know of another church who did some strange things (strange in the light of the word of God, but wise in the light of human understanding) to attract a particular class of people to it.
Not only does Paul deal with this foolishness in 1 Corinthians chapters 1 & 2, but James deals with this situation. Evidently this was as prevalent of a problem in this first church.
James has a great amount to say about wisdom, as he makes the comparison between true, godly wisdom and false wisdom. His commentary on the two wisdom is worth our time to look at. His comments correspond extremely close to what Paul says to the church at Corinth. You would think that thy both read the same book, they are so closely connected.
1. James identifies the source of true wisdom, 1:5. It is from God and is given as a result of humility, prayer and diligent search of His word (OT, cf. Pro. 2:1-6). (The world sees wisdom as a good accumulation of facts, maybe totally unrelated to life situations.)
2. He warns of the danger of trying to seek after both the world's wisdom and the heavenly, unstable in all his ways, 1:8. Included in James' call of 5:16 is to confess the sin of trying to serve two masters (the world's wisdom and God's), and included in 4:8, is for the child of God to cleanse his hands, and purify his heart, and quite trying to follow after the two wisdom.
3. True wisdom comes from above, 3:17. Those indued with knowledge from above show evidence of the true wisdom by good works and meekness, 3:13. He further describes the works of this true wisdom, v.17: purity, peace, gentleness, easy to be entreated (it is easily persuaded to cast off anything and everything which might interfere with following Biblical principles), full of mercy and good fruit (fruit of the Spirit, Gal. 5), without partiality, and without hypocrisy. (These good works are described in the Book of Wisdom, Proverbs, as well as the law, which is the wisdom of God.)
4. James also gives us the source of false wisdom, not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish, v. 15. Its works consist of bitter envying and strife, pride, lying, and actions against the truth of the word of God, v. 14.
5. Then the results of this worldly wisdom: wars and fightings among the people of God, 4:1, confusion and every evil work, 3:19. It also has hypocrisy and partiality, 3:17. It sits in judgment upon the law-word of God, as it speaks evil of a brother who is trying to serve God faithfully, 3:11. It is presumptuous, 3:13-17, and allows one to be taken in a snare of the devil, 4:7.
Now, to gather some things together concerning the world's wisdom.
Chapter two, it seeks after people because of their social
standing. It shows partiality or respect of persons, especially
for their worldly wealth. We know of churches who place men on
the Board (or places of decision making) because of their possession
of attributes (wealth, abilities) which the world holds important.
This is the world's wisdom at work.
It offers a faith without the works of the law of God (cf. 4:17). This faith may emphasize belief in God for salvation, but not a Sovereign God for life.
To seek wisdom of any kind, apart from a Christian perspective, is foolishness. need to pursue this a little. remember the tape on the communist view of science!
Chapter three, it uses words to accomplish the desired goal. It tells people what we think, rather than bringing our thinking in conformity with Philippians 4:8.
Chapter four, it sees the Sovereign Lord God of heaven and earth as a servant of man, to give man whatever he desires (lusts after). James identifies any attempt by Christians to follow after the world's wisdom as adultery and lust, vs. 4, 5. This effort is a call for morning and weeping, not rejoicing, v. 9. We know of groups of professed Christians who rejoice because the world's crowd considers them wise.
It sees friendship with the world as a means of reaching the world. It is lifted up with pride in self and what self can do, and uses others to obtain self's goal. It is confident in man's ability to control the future.
(Isn't it strange how the natural man will fight against the doctrine of God controlling all of history [predestination, Divine providence, election, etc.], yet he will go borrow against the future as though he can control it? The natural man will fight against God controlling the future, yet he will build a society on the faith that man can control the future!)
Chapter five, it takes advantage of every one it can, every time it can. "Do unto others before they do unto you, as quickly as you can." It gets even with others by holding grudges. It flees from suffering and affliction rather than patiently enduring by the grace of God.
James ends his letter with the exhortation to confess our faults one to another. Such confession would be the peak of worldly wisdom vs. Godly wisdom. The world's wisdom is proud of what it has done and can do (proud that it has no faults and that it can pray for others who do have them). Therefore, it will fight with all its might against any kind of humbling experience, especially confessing a fault.
Notice 5:16b. It is possible to pray for others without the one praying confessing faults? Prayer without this confession would result in the individual thinking that they have followed James instructions, when actually, they are deeper into their pride. Is this confession connected with the humility of 4:6-10? Without a willingness to do this: can we expect an answer, are our prayers resisted by God, are they turned into a snare of the devil?
On the other hand, the wisdom of God is humble, realizing that nothing can be accomplished apart from God working in him, grace. Therefore, it will confess faults and pray for others with Godly fear, lest they also be tempted.
The spiritual man of Gal. 6:1 is the one who follows the wisdom of God as presented by James, 5:16. If a person sees no faults in himself to confess, or no need to confess his faults to those who he has affected (to no more or no less), he has no right to approach others. He is proud and lifted up, and himself in the snare of the devil. We all know folks who feel that their calling is to convert the sinner from the error of his way, while they themselves have no errors that they might need to confess one to another.
Paul's chief complaint against the church at Corinth was over their fightings and divisions, but he included a great many other worldly actions. The carnality, envying, strife, and divisions were a result of the influence of the worldly wisdom which had been allowed to come in, 1 Corinthians 3:3.
It would appear that most of our churches today are under the spell of Greek wisdom. But, the applied wisdom of God is the power of God to dispel the wisdom which causes such ungodliness.
So much for the introduction of Ch. 3. Now to move on.
V. 1. (Carnal (4559)... having the nature of flesh, i.e. under
the control of the animal appetites, Ro. vii.14..; governed by
human nature not by the Spirit of God, 1 Co.iii.1,3, also 4...)
Parker points out that "carnal" has no reference whatever
to the flesh; it is the antithetic word to "spiritual"..
The complaint by many of the people here was that he spoke to them like babies. Evidently he did not get into the deep things of God with them, rather his preaching was 'shallow.' Here he gives them the reason that he treated them like children. They were! They were carnal, unspiritual and worldly. They were walking after the carnal nature, therefore, they were babies in Christ.
Now, they were Christians. They had trusted Christ, and as we mentioned, Paul does not question their profession here. What he is doing is contrasting how they should be acting as Christians and how they are acting. Romans 7:14 is a good description of this condition.
It looks like Paul readily recognized this condition in these people because he had been through the same thing, Rom. ch. 7. He knew what he was talking about. He too had faced the lust and desires of the flesh, and had lost his share of the battles.
The spiritual Christian's actions are Christ-like. The carnal Christian's actions are not, rather they reflect more of the world than they do of Christ. Paul deals with the works of these people, the marks of carnality, in this book.
1. The world considers maturity as able to do your own thing. To them, maturity is being as worldly as the devil. Here we see, as usual, this is just the opposite. Worldliness is a sign of being a baby. Maturity is the departure from all the things which the world holds so important. Maturity is controlling the carnal nature, not when the carnal nature controls us. And the fallen nature fights this fact with a passion.
2. Maturity is not determined by the amount of time in the faith, or even time in the word and in prayer (although this will change the heart of a child of God). It is not determined by the time spent in church. Maturity is determined by the amount of worldliness which is left behind and how much Godliness is adopted. We must take it further than outward appearances, because outward appearances can be deceiving. As Paul will point out in the next letter (2 Cor.5:17), worldliness or godliness comes from the heart. All the actions can be proper, but the carnal heart will still be in love with the things which the world holds important.
And I think this must be considered over 'the long run.' I have known more than a few people who got saved and they left all of the world behind them. But, two, three, four years down the road, they pick back up a very large portion of what they left behind. Why? From personal observation, 1.) they love those things, 2.) they find that there are no passages which say, "Thou shalt not...", 3.) they have been saved long enough now that they feel that the Lord permits this. They have matured, now it is OK to pick these things back up.
3. Further along this line. Maturity is obtained and measured by obedience to the total law-word of God, not just to the basic doctrines of Salvation, Heb. 5:14. As we act on what we know to do, we are given more knowledge and responsibility of things to do.
In other words, the college professor who is not faithful to the amount of the law-word of God which he knows and is not living a holy life, is not as mature as the layman who only went to the 6th grade, yet is faithful to what he knows of the law-word of God and is living a holy life. Maturity is measured by faithful obedience to God (true wisdom), not by knowledge (even knowledge about Bible facts). Again, this is not what we are told by our flesh and the world.
4. Quite obvious to all who have ever preached, strong preaching will offend the babes in Christ. They cannot stand much more than the basic doctrines of Salvation; they hunger after the basics, not after the 'meat of the word.' Therefore, they cannot be spoken to as spiritual, but as unto carnal.
The point here is that the more easily offended a person is, the more immature they are in the Lord. Maturity is measured here by the ease of offence.
milk... meat... This comparison is used in Heb. 5:11-6:3, where meat seems to indicate the doctrines which go past the basic doctrines of Salvation. 1 Peter 2:2 seems to be along the same line.
Although the commentaries which I checked with go along the line of Hodge. "..the difference is rather in the mode of instruction, than in the things taught. The same truth in one form in milk, in another form strong meat.. Every doctrine which can be taught to theologians, is taught to children.. The difference between milk and strong meat, according to this view, is simply the difference between the more or less perfect development of the things taught. The reference is there (Heb. 5:11-14) to the distinction between the simple doctrine of the priesthood of Christ and the full development of that doctrine. The important truth is that there not two sets of doctrine, a higher and a lower form of faith, one for the learned and the other for the unlearned; there is no part of the gospel which we are authorized to keep back from the people. Every thing which God has revealed is to be taught to every one just so fast and so far as he has the capacity to receive it."
Thus, we are to teach all of the doctrines of all the Scriptures to all people. This is Mt. 28:20. But these doctrines can only be developed according to their level of maturity.
But, sadly, I have found that the vast majority of God's people only want the basic doctrines of Salvation and redemption, and nothing with responsibility in it. If we try to teach them the implications and applications into everything of this basic doctrine, they will not stay around. Also, if we try to take them past the basic words, they will sleep through it.
5. This tells us that the only hope is in the Spirit of the Lord. He alone can give the increase, He alone can cause the blind to see, He alone can His word have an effect. He alone can bring fruit out of the barren ground of the carnal, natural heart. The natural man, whether saved or unsaved, will not seek after God or His ways. The Spirit of God places the desire there and then meets that desire. It is all of God, and by His grace.
I am reminded of Isa 55:10, 11 For as the rain cometh down,
and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth
the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give
seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be
that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me
void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall
prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
I think that this is one of the passages which Barnabas and Paul refired to in Acts 14:17 Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.
6. Which gives us a sixth point. The preacher/teacher must meet the people where they are and present the word of God to them at that place, 1 Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: We must present the milk, then it is the Holy Spirit which must give them a taste for that milk so they can mature (He must apply the word for their maturity).
And this question keeps reoccurring. Why does He not work in more people than He does? Why does He work in who He does? The sovereignty of God in who He deals with, how, when and where He deals with people, is a mystery totally above our understanding, Isaiah 55:6-13.
7. The people who will not grow in holiness and obedience, are stunted in their growth. 2 Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. True growth in grace is growth in a desire to know and do the will of God. Knowledge would also fit in here. Knowledge must refer to knowing the world of God that we might do it, or the whole word of God is destroyed.
Hosea 4:6 is primarily speaking of this knowing and doing of the law-word of God, although it would apply to a great many other things. God's people must desire to know and do the word of God, or they are no better than the hypocrites of Christ's day. That desire is placed there by the Spirit of God.
Where does the work of the Holy Spirit stop and the responsibility of the individual start? I do not know, but I am convinced that if a person will ask the Lord for wisdom and knowledge; will ask Him to even place this desire in their heart, the Spirit will work.
8. These people at Corinth had sat under the great apostle Paul, yet were stunted in their growth. Their immaturity was no one's fault but their own, and Paul lays the blame right where it belongs, at their doorstep.
But, sad to say, many Christians are satisfied in their immaturity. They do not want to know any more because it does increase their responsibility. They do not want to increase in their holiness and godliness (increase in grace and knowledge). They have enough to get to heaven, and that makes them happy. Therefore, they either get a pastor for their church who will not lay any more upon them, or they will seek out a church which will leave them alone in their immaturity.
They have enough to keep the lion away (so they think), and that is all they want.
There is an extremely interesting situation along this line back in 2 Kings 17.
Just keep the lions away!
(Keil's comment at this chapter is interesting. The inference that in the time of Christ and His apostles, Galilee, and in part also Peraea, was very densely populated by Israelites; and this population traced back to the Jews who returned to Jerusalem and Judaea under Zerubbabel and Ezra, cannot be upheld. He goes on to say that the only indication we have of this being a Hebrew population is because many of the customs and usages which have been preserved. "And the Mosaic manners and customs of the Nestorians (this is the name of a people he is talking about in his context, but the context of his statement would include these customs wherever in the world they are found) prove nothing more than that they are of Jewish origin. In general,.. the last traces of the old division into tribes have entirely disappeared."
In other words, any effort to maintain any distinction in the tribes of Israel since the final destruction of Jerusalem, is "untenable." Vol. 3, pg. 419-421. There is no longer a OT Hebrew race, and to use the old Mosaic manners and customs to say there is, will prove only that the manners and customs originated with Moses.)
In this chapter we have a record of Israel being carried away by the king of Assyria. This was the land of Samaria, capitaled at Bethel. This was the Northern kingdom that departed from the line of David under Jeroboam. Jeroboam is the one who drave Israel from following the Lord, and made them sin a great sin, v. 21. He even established boarder guards to prevent the Children of Israel from going to Jerusalem to worship. (See our book, Jeroboam's sin.)
Jeroboam, king of the ten northers tribes, established his own method of worshiping the Lord. This method included everything that was required at Jerusalem, with two major differences. First, he erected the two calves to worship God under. Second, the priesthood which he established was not of the line of Aaron.
Josephus points out that this caring away by the king of Assyria, v. 24, took place "nine hundred and forty-seven years after their forefathers were come out of the land of Egypt, and possessed themselves of this country, but eight hundred years after Joshua had been their leader, and, as I have already observed, two hundred and forty years, seven months, and seven days, after they had revolted from Rehoboam, the grandson of David, and had given the kingdom to Jeroboam." Book IX, ch. XIV.
Parker reminds us that the king of Assyria carried them captive to Assyria, 2 Kings 15:29. This implies that the Israel offered very little, if any, resistance. "When men have lost their soul, their spirit, their fire, they are simply carted away like so many hundredweights and tons of dead matter. We are not men if we have lost manliness..." Manliness is godliness.
This is an important point. The will to fight (for true freedom, freedom to obey God) comes from a Biblical faith. When this faith is lost, so is the will to fight for freedom. When bondage to sin sets in on a society, so does the slavery mentality. As with Israel here. So what if they were slaves in Assyria? They were slaves in their own country, slaves to sin. Slavery appears to offers cradle to the grave security, and what does it matter who makes this offer? The slave mentality (no matter what area it is in, even debt), cannot offer resistance to tyranny, no matter what source the tyranny comes from.
As we follow on, we come to chapter 16 where we have Ahaz, king of Judah, asking Assyria for help. He makes a trip to Damascus and sees the pagan alter of Assyria and sends the dimensions home to Jerusalem for a like alter to be built. Evidently, he attributed the strength of Assyria to their false gods, the same as do the Assyrian's. But, of course, the problem is not the strength of the pagans, because their gods are, as Paul said, nothing. The problem was the sin in the heart of God's people. (I deal with this in depth in my notes in Isaiah.) The alter is built and when he gets home, v. 13, he offers his sacrifices upon it.
This is 'strange.' The king makes the offerings which the Lord commands, only he makes them on this false alter. In this we see that fallen man will willingly serve false religion with vigor, as long as it is not service to the Lord in the way prescribed by Him. We will consistently work 3 times as hard at serving the gods of the pagans, than we will the Lord.
Now we come to chapter 17 and Israel's dispersion. The king of Israel, Hoshea, was oppressed by Assyria. He sent messengers to the king of Egypt requesting help against Assyria, then he refused to pay the levy to Assyria. This made the king of Assyria mad, so he imprisoned the king of Israel. Not only did he imprison Hoshea, but he moved against Samaria, and after a three year struggle, took it.
When the capital Smaria fell, the northern 10 tribes of Israel fell. Assyria then carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in many different locations throughout the Assyrian empire, v. 6.
There are several reasons given here for this fall of Israel, all of which is summed up by the Lord, Vs. 7, 8, Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods, and walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made.
Then we read this statement in v. 9, And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the Lord their God... This point is made many, many times throughout Scriptures. (Cf. Ez. 8.)
We know the devil is a liar and the father of lies, yet his lies are "most charmful!" When he reaches out his black hand, we take it with glee.
Parker: "The world has not gone so far wrong in theory as some pessimists may have imagined; if even the bad man were set down to write a book which he would like his own children to peruse, and follow out in daily practice, he would not begin his book by saying, "Serve the devil." No. Surely the very worst man having taken upon himself the task of directing his own children, would write good theories, and would come quite near to quoting and repeating God's own commandments. Yet ere he laid the pen down he would be purposing in his heart to keep and appointment with the devil!"
It is the secret love and practice of sin that destroys individuals, families and societies. Israel was judged for her secret sins, while the outward form was beautiful. Remember what the Lord told the Pharisees of His day? You are full of dead men's bones.
I have known people who could go out and satisfy the lust of the flesh on Saturday night, then come in and be an usher on Sunday morning and serve communion on Sunday night. Such a person feels that if he is not guilty of a crime in the eyes of the civil law on Saturday night, he is not guilty of sin in the eyes of the Lord. These things ought not be, and God will turn over such a person, his family and his nation to the devil for destruction.
Vs. 10-12 gives us the account of the people of God following after the manner of the heathen of the world around them. All of this provoked the Lord to anger.
V. 13, notice the answer the Lord gave which would deliver them from His wrath! He sent teachers to them, to teach them His commandments and statutes according to all the law which He had commanded their fathers.
Vs. 14, 15 they hardened their necks, did not believe in the Lord their God, rejected his statutes, his covenant, his testimonies; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them. They served the heathen gods and tried to serve the Lord God in the manner of the heathen.
This is an important point for our day of Antinomianism. The only answer which will stop impending judgment against a society is the teaching of the total law-word of God. And not just the teaching, but the implementing of it by the people.
But people do not want training in the law of God as given to Moses. They want something that will satisfy the flesh. These people did not parish for lack of knowledge, they perished for a lack of doing what they were told to do.
Is this not what happened to our Lord? His ministry was/is build upon the law of Moses, John 5:39-47. Thus, to deny the law as valid for today, is to deny Christ. To not preach and teach Moses is to fail to preach and teach Christ.
Even though Christ made this clear, we see great crowds following him. They did not follow Him because He taught the law of Moses in its proper perspective, but because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased, John 6:2. They follow Him and He feeds them in a miraculous way, vs. 5-13. The result is that they wanted to make Him a king, v. 15. He made them feel good, He supplied their fleshly desires, and the crowds went to great lengths to follow Him. They even desired to know about eternal life, vs. 16-29.
They pursue the question and want a sign, v. 30. Christ continually holds them to the total of the OT, with the manna being a picture of what was to come in Him. "To believe is nothing else but to recognize this, to perceive in Christ the Son of God, the Saviour, and the Bestower of eternal life. He who regards Him only as one who can procure for him some advantages in this life, is still in unbelief." (Hengstenberg, Commentary on the Gospel of St. John in two volumes. Klock & Klock.)
What do we have here? John 5:45, these Jews trusted in the law as given by Moses as their source of eternal life, Deuteronomy 30:19, 20. ("and by obedience to [the law] especially they hoped for the mercy of God." Romans, Charles Hodge, Banner Of Truth. pg. 120.) Now Christ is telling them that this trust is a false trust. Their trust must be in the Lamb which was slain from before the foundations of the world, Himself. He points to the manna as proof that the law was not the source of everlasting life, and the manna was a picture of Himself as their life, John 6:20.
It is important that we see that the Lord in John 6 (and Jn. 4) is referring to everlasting life. In doing this, He is giving the proper understanding to OT passages such as the ones in Deuteronomy which were misinterpreted to mean everlasting life. He is not saying that the law of Moses is now useless. He is saying that the law of Moses never did what these religious hypocrites were teaching it would do, provide eternal life. (Legalism is using the works of the flesh [the law] for salvation in place of the work of Christ. Cf. Mt. 23:23. Holiness develops in the child of God from following the law as given to Moses, 1 Peter 1:15; 1 John 3:4)
The Lord destroyed the Jew's hope in the law for eternal life in such a way as to leave the law in effect for 'success in life' on this side of death. He did not do away with Deuteronomy 27-32. He did destroy their false hope of eternal life which was based in the law.
The result? Many people left His church, John 6:66. As long as he was preforming miracles and satisfying the desires of the flesh and making them feel good, as long as there was the prospect of being able to follow Him and still have what they desired to have, the crowds were there. When He striped them of their false hope of eternal life, leaving the law in force as it was meant to be, the people fled. Compare 6:15, 25 with 7:1. The attitude changes quickly.
Christ was here to give the proper understanding to the law as given to Moses. But people do not want this training. They want something that will permit continued belief in what they want to believe. They want satisfaction for the flesh. These people of Christ's day did not parish for lack of knowledge, they perished for a lack of doing what they were told to do. They refused to trust in the One who was sent from God, John 6:29.
The next statement in 2 Kings 17:14 is interesting. This sounds like Stephen's charge against the ones who rejected Christ, Acts 7:51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
The Lord sent to them instructors in His law that they might be spared from the terrible wrath which was soon to come. They rejected the warning and served the same vain things which the heathen served. V. 17 points out that them even made their children to pass through the fire. This was a custom practiced in Moloch worship, and represented the sacrifice of the children to the state. (See Institutes of Biblical Law, pg. 30.) Vs. 17-19, what a sad commentary for a nation which claims the name of the Lord, as they turn from Him in every way.
2 Kings 17:25, 26 shows us that even the heathens are expected to fear the Lord. They will be judged if they do not. The Lord sends lions among the new people, killing some. The word is taken to the king who placed the strangers there, and he moves to provide safety for the new inhabitants, v. 27.
"He might well suppose that the people would take more kindly to his dominion if some concession were made to them on the ground of religion: Sargon said in effect--Let the people practice their own religious rites, put themselves into a proper relation to their own God, amend their character as well as they can: because the more faithful they are to their own God the less likely are they to rebel against myself." [Parker]
Now, I don't know that I would say that the people were being permitted to practice their own religion, because they were imports, pagan. They were being urged to practice the religion of the land, Jehovah God. They actually ended up serving both their own pagan gods and the God of the land, vs. 30-41.
But Parker makes an interesting point. Here we see the use of religion by a pagan ruler to bring stability to his kingdom. To him, religion was something to use to gain what you want, stability and safety for the state in his case. Thus, when non-Christian civil rulers permit religious freedom, they are doing it with a non-Christian motive, safety for the state. Their goal is to keep themselves in power. Any benefit for Christianity provided by a non-Christian authority must be viewed with suspicion, and the more un-Christian the authority is, the more suspicion needs to be used of their actions.
This point is worth perusing here in this context. Notice the king did not get a priest from Jerusalem who would show the true way to serve God, but he sent one of Jeroboam's corrupt priests who had been carried away captive. This priest went right back to Bethel, the home of Jeroboam's imitation worship of the Lord.
Therefore, this priest's instruction would have been corrupted, which we see in v. 29-31. His instruction permitted the service of two gods, the Lord God and the pagan gods (if such a thing were possible). But, it obtained what the king wanted, stability in the kingdom. It was not enough service to the Lord for the people to gain freedom under God, and it was not enough paganism for the lions to continue their destruction. It was just enough to stabilize the anti-God state.
"When men have lost their soul, their spirit, their fire, they are simply carted away like so many hundredweights and tons of dead matter. We are not men if we have lost manliness..."
And we must say that this loss of 'soul' keeps them from causing instability in an ungodly state. Their will to resist tyranny is lost with the lose of faith. Therefore, it is to the advantage of the non-Christian state to see that they continue in this 'never-never land,' serving the Lord just enough to keep the lions away, yet not enough to cause instability for the ungodly state with a desire for freedom under God.
Therefore, it is to the advantage of the wicked who are in authority to see that: 1. there are no teachers who will instruct according to v. 13. 2. that the people will not follow that teaching. The only hope that the ungodly can retain their power is for the people to not follow v. 13.
As we think back on the NT church, from the appearance of our Lord on. This was a concern of the wicked who were in authority. And this concern was well founded, because they wicked did fall to the godliness of the Christians in 312 A.D.
Vs. 28-33, each group of people 'adapted' the service of the Lord to fit their own brand of paganism. They serve the Lord (fear the Lord) enough to sooth their conscience and keep the lions away, but not enough to change anything. V. 34, their confusing worship of the gods of the pagans and their worship of the Lord in the manner which seemed best to them, was not considered by God as genuine fear of Himself.
Clearly, v. 34, tells us that worship of the Lord apart from His statutes, ordinances, or law is not fear of the Lord.
One more point here. V. 32, the men they chose to lead them in this 'service of the Lord' were not men who met the qualifications of the word of God. They were men who pleased the people and led them in the way they wanted to go.
What is the answer? The Lord gives it twice, 2 Kings 17:13, 34-38. A resurgence in the teaching and preaching of an obedient faith (James chapter 2), resulting in a desire to have freedom to serve God, tyranny will be resisted according to Godliness, the ungodly state destabilized and Christianity restored to the place of prominence it once had in the world.
Now, back to 1 Cor. 3:
For ye are yet carnal...
They should have grown up, matured, become more Christlike. But they were still children and acting like it, therefore, Paul had to speak to them as little children. "There is no reproach in childhood, it so be ye be growing children: but an infant thirty years old is a monstrosity." Parker.
(Notice that Paul became all things to all men. To the immature, he spoke to them as immature. To the learned, he spoke as learned.)
The people probably said, "The nerve of that man, calling us immature babes! Doesn't he know that he is the one who taught us the deep things of God? We know all of these mysteries about the Christian religion. We know as much as anyone, in fact more than most. Who does he think he is calling us babies?"
Observe that it was their actions which proved their immaturity, not their knowledge. The proof of their babyhood was in their strifes and divisions. These things were not the preacher's fault (the preacher had been Paul), but the people's fault. Even though Paul had fed them with milk, he had given them enough that they should not have been doing this. He had given them enough that they should not have been walking as men of this world.
The things they were doing were the things the men of this world do in their daily activity.
This may have been one of the best churches of their day, but the standard which Paul holds them to is the principles of the word of God. He does not compare them with anyone or anything except what God expects of them, and then it is their actions which he is calling attention to.
He held them to the standard of Christ, and they fell far short. He compared them to what Christ was, and they failed. In our working with people, even in our immediate family, we must use the word of God as our standard. Anything else will be idolatry.
They were saved. The natural result of Salvation is a love for the word of God, which Paul points out to these folks, 2 Cor. 5:17 (cf. Ps. 119:165). But the love that they were to have for the law of God was transferred to men and worldly wisdom, even to Paul.
Obviously, we are to love the man of God, but that love cannot override the love for the law of God. How can we tell the difference? There are several ways.
1. Do we remain faithful to the Lord regardless of what the
man does? How many have fallen away because a man has fallen away?
2. Do we move on to obedience and holiness whether he preaches on that or not?
3. In the context here. Fighting, envy, strife and divisions are a sure sign of immaturity regardless of how much Scripture might be known. It shows that a love for men has been exalted over God.
4. Offence over the actions of others is also a sure sign.
5. Now, not in all cases, but in many: Church-hopping is a sign of a love for man over God. Of course, this would not be true when the preacher is presenting false doctrine and will not listen to instruction. This love for man will result in seeking out a man to love. The man, not the consistent preaching of the word of God, will draw this person to the church.
But notice that Paul reasons with them. He does not come "unglued" over this, but holds them to reason. "Just look at yourselves! You know better than that."
To the natural man this love by a group of people would be great, and in the context of the Greek thought, this choosing of sides would have probably been a sign of love for the one followed.
But to Paul it was a cause of mourning and sorrow. To the man of God, love toward him that should be directed only to the Lord and His word, is a cause of mourning. Now, in Paul's letter to the people at Philippi, he complimented them on their love toward him, which was shown to him by their faithfulness in their support. But, more important, he complements them on their faithful obedience and holiness in his absence. The same faithfulness that they had when he was among them. This, he said, is what proved their love toward him.
Observe the feeling of enthusiasm over who they would follow. Many get enthusiastically worked up over the men and things of this world, but ignore the more weightier things of life, Christ-likeness and spreading the gospel.
ministers... (1249-one who executes the commands of another, esp. of a master; a servant, attendant, minister; According to Thayer's breakdown (pg. 138.), this word in our text here is used thusly:
1. univ.: of the servant of a king, Mt.xxii.13; with gen. of the pers. served, Mt. xx.16; xxiii. 11; Mk. ix.35; x.43, (in which pass. it is used fig. of those who advance others' interests even at the sacrifice of their own); .., of one who does what promotes the welfare and prosperity of the church, Col. i.25; .., those through whom God carries on his administration on earth, as magistrates, Ro. xiii.4; teachers of the Christian religion, 1 Co.iii.5; 2 Co. vi.4; 1 Th.iii.2; the same are called ..., 2 Co. xi.23; Col.i.7; 1 Tim.iv.6; .., in the cause of the Lord, Col.iv.7; .. (and etc.). [Emp. added.]
Now to look at a few of these verses to get some idea of the usage of this word.
MAT 22:13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. MAT 20:16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen. MAT 23:11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. MAR 9:35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. MAR 10:43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: COL 1:25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; ROM 13:4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 1CO 3:5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? 2CO 6:4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, 1TH 3:2 And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith: 2CO 11:23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. COL 1:7 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; 1TI 4:6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.
There are a great many more passages, but we do not need to look them up to establish this principle. The word minister when used in connection with the church, even though at times appears to refer to a servant of man or of a group of people (church) and involves serving man and churches, obviously means a servant of Christ who is head of His Church. This minister is first and foremost, a servant of The Lord Christ. He is a servant of Christ. One of the major complaints by the Lord is that human nature is so prone to serve men or mammon, rather than serving the Lord.
This leads us to conclude some things.
First, in the church. Paul here in this passage and in the
next chapter (4:1, minister.., (5257- [see my notes there, where
it means, a. an underrower, subordinate rower. b. any one who
serves with his hands; a servant;.. c. any one who aids another
in any work; an assistant..] ), points out that he is a minister
of God, not of the church, nor of any man in any way, shape or
form. This does not only apply to him, but to all who are sent
to churches as pastors. The usage of this word in regard to others,
such as Timothy and Epaphras, confirms this.
Therefore, when a group of people, a local church, views the pastor as their minister, they are violating the word of God.
Many churches look upon the minister as their minister, rather than the minister of Christ. They treat him as their employee rather than an 'employee' of the Lord.
Look at what this does. This leads to the despising of this office by the people, "After all, he is our minister, steward, isn't he?" This leads to the people exalting themselves against the office of minister. This was the problem that Moses faced with Miriam (Numbers 12), and latter, Koran (Numbers 16). Both stood against Moses as though he were their servant or steward. In both instances, Moses told the rebels that they were standing against God, because he was God's servant, not theirs.
I realize that there has not been a man since that could hold a candle to Moses in his faithfulness over the house (congregation) of the Lord (Hebrews 3), except Paul. But it is clearly told to us, these men were faithful ministers of God. Both made it extremely clear that the Lord did not make them accountable to man, but to Himself. Those who sought to make them accountable to man were judged as being in rebellion against God.
Second: The same word is used for civil magistrates: those through whom God carries on his administration on earth, as magistrates, ROM 13:4. The magistrate is a servant of God, not of man. God gives evil, covetous magistrates to a evil, covetous people, godly magistrates to a godly people, Isaiah ch. 24 (v. 2); 30:8-17; 50:1; Jeremiah 5:31; 7:10, and many more passages. Read some of the OT prophets and note the reason that is given over and over for the destruction of the people of God, Jeremiah 13:10; 15:3-7.
Now, look at the implications. The thought today with the democracy movement in the air, is that the civil magistrate is the servant of the electorate, thus our servant. This permits a rebellious attitude toward him, even in the hearts of God's people.
This is contrary to the word of God. He is God's servant just as is the minister of God's word, the pastor. (Cf. Daniel 4:17.) This means that when someone says that the civil magistrate is our servant, this is the same as saying that the minister of the Gospel of Christ is a servant of the people, not a servant of Christ. (Then we get upset that the people treat the office of minister with such disrespect.)
This means that the same regard toward his office of minister (civil magistrate) is required by God, as is to be given to the office of minister (pastor) in the local church. In other words, he is a minister of God, not a minister of the people, even though he may carry the title of "Civil Servant." Public opinion might regard him as their servant, but God's word does not. Both the civil magistrate and the people should know this. He will be judge by God according to his ministry under God, the people will be judged according to their regard and submission toward this office which God has established.
Let us be quick to add that any law which is not in conformity to the principles of God's laws, is not a law, and God does not require the people to obey it, Acts 5:29. God says quit a bit about following unjust (God's standard of justice) laws over His laws, Isaiah 51:12, 13. (Mt. 10:28, is spoken with the context of the civil magistrate persecuting the Christian who fails to follow ungodly laws, v. 18.)
This presents something to consider: The civil magistrate
derives his power and authority from God and the law-word of God,
NOT FROM THE PEOPLE. If we say that he derives his power and authority
from the people, the implications are that all power and authority
rests with the people, and that he must answer to the people and
do their will. As long as he appeases the majority of the people,
he is doing his job as he crucifies the Son of God again. We are
caught in this trap today. As the people become more corrupt,
so does their representatives with a clear conscience.
If we say that he gets his power and authority from God, then this implies that all power and authority lies with the Lord. This allows no way for him to justify corruption, because he must answer to the Lord, being judged according to righteous judgment. We believe that this is far more consistent with God's word.
Thus, the evil magistrate must be confronted with the fact that he is the Lord's servant, not the people's. If he is confronted with the humanistic argument that he is the people's servant, then majority rules and Christianity is finished. If he is confronted with God's word that he is a servant of God, this permits the Lord to work in the situation, 1 Corinthians 2:4.
Bringing us to the next step: The Lord requires those under him to regard him as a minister of God, not their servant. If we try to convince him that he is our servant, then, again, majority rules. He IS NOT THE SERVANT OF THE PEOPLE, according to the word of God. He is a servant of God, and must be regarded as such. He is the servant of God and must be reminded of this.
An illustration here would be Satan. He is a servant of God, he derives any and all power and/or authority which he might have from God (cf. Job chs. 1-3). Perhaps a better illustration of this would be the pagan king of Assyria, Isaiah 10:5-5, and the pagan king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, Isaiah 46:11; Jeremiah 25:9; 27:5, 6; Lamentations 2:17; Ezekiel 7:24. On addition, the Lord called the armies of Rome, his armies, Matthew 22:7.
(From my study in Mt. 24. Matt. 22:7. This follows the parable of the vineyard point for point. "In these terrible words, the siege of Jerusalem, the massacre of the people and the destruction of their capital are all described (C.H.S.)."
Josephus gives us the record of this terrible destruction. It is beyond description and comprehension. Rome thought it was sending its armies against Jerusalem (because of its rebellion against Rome), yet Jesus clearly tells us that Rome was only a tool in the hand in the hand of an almighty God. God's patience is over. He had sent messenger after messenger to this stiff-necked people. He has warned and warned them and now the cup of His wrath is full (Rom. 2:1-6, the day of wrath is here). The Great King now sends His armies. Rome was only a tool in the hands of a almighty God as He avenges the blood of all His servants from Abel to Zacharias. Peter warned them and they beat him (and finally slew him). Philip warned them and was stoned. (Observe that these servants were not mistreated by Rome but by the Jewish nation. The real persecution even today comes from the religious leaders who think they are someone.)
God use of a heathen Roman army against his people is not new. He sent Assyria against his rebellious people, Isa. 10:5. He sent his servant Nebuchadnezzar against his rebellious people, Jer. 25:9. None of these armies were godly men. They executed the wrath of a Righteous, Holy God against a wicked, rebellious people who bore the name as the people of God. From my study, to here.)
But, just because the wicked have been given power and authority by God, this sure does not indicate that he is to be obeyed. Any order or requirement which violates the law-word of God, must be regarded as from Satan, and treated as such.
Therefore, even though the civil magistrate must be viewed as a servant of God, his power established by God and his authority derived from God's word, he is not to be obeyed in all that is required by him. His legitimate power and authority is clearly defined by God's law-word. Anything outside of that is illegitimate authority. As someone has said, "Roe v Wade is an illegitimate law, therefore, we are not bound by it." Rather we are bound to violate it.
"Civil Servant" is a term that may sound good to the human understanding and may present an appealing argument, but the Biblical term is, "God's servant." God's people must face this, and the civil magistrate must be confronted with this.
The Greek philosophers headed schools of thought, Plato, Aristotle, etc. Their followers chose up sides, then probably argued over which leader was the best, which school of thought should they follow. The Christian was not to be like this in any way, shape or form. Christ was the Founder and Leader.
Every Christian, minister or lay person, was in His school, working for Him, building His building. Each person (especially the minister or leaders) has a place in the Body and Work of Christ assigned to him by Christ. All are equal in Him, because He alone is the head. It is His work that is being done, through the individual. The minister (or whoever is being used) is only an instrument in the hands of the Lord. He is the One who gives the increase, not the minister.
The June 91 CHALCEDON Report has an important book review along this line. On the last page we read:
In an outstanding book reviewed in our Book Notes, Rudolf
Van Reest, Schilder's Struggle for the Unity of the Church, there
is an excellent excerpt from a 1950 article by Prof. Benne Holwerda,
on Judges 6:34, "So the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon."..
"If we read carelessly, we might conclude that Gideon stood up abruptly and took action, that he suddenly shook off his lethargy and defeatism, that a desire for battle welled up in him, causing him to seize his weapons. In that case we are reading the story of the deeds of Gideon, even if it was the Spirit that first set him aflame. But what we actually read in these beautiful words is something different. The Hebrew word we find here is the same one that is used when a man puts on a jacked. Now, we all know that when it's time to get to work, we put on our work clothes. The doctor has his white coat, the laborer has his overalls, and the maid has her smock. Yet no one is so foolish as to ascribe the work he is about to do to his work clothes. The act of putting on work clothes does not signify that one's uniform is about to get to work; rather it indicates the moment at which the workman himself, wearing those clothes, begins work. The patient does not look to a white coat to heal him; yet when he sees the doctor putting on that white coat, he knows that he means to get to work. Well, what we actually read here is that the Spirit of the LORD puts Gideon on; that is to say, Gideon is to the Spirit what overalls are to the worker. Gideon is only a set of work clothes -- the one doing the work is the Spirit. And so we see that it is not Gideon who springs into action, but the Spirit. The Lord arises to do battle. What we get here, then, is not the story of the great deeds of a certain person but a report about the mighty deeds of the LORD." (p.114f)
Thus, when we read passages of Scripture such as the Book of Acts, we are reading passages which describe the ACTS OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD through the apostles.
Paul, here in chapter 3, is making it very clear that he and the other ministers, were only tools used by the Spirit of God to do the work in their hearts. He already told them in chapter 2 that it was the word of God that did the work, as it was proclaimed by the preacher. He is continuing on with this thought, as he plainly tells them that the Spirit did the work, not these men which they were desiring to follow.
Note: The Spirit uses some ministers to lay great blocks of granite, while others (me) may only be used to fill in the cracks and small holes. All work for the same Master, each is empowered by the same Spirit (Who works in whom He will, according to He will, 12:47) and all will answer for their FAITHFULNESS to the job which they have been given to do and the use of their abilities which have been given to them by the Lord.
This would appear to be the primary purpose of this first letter to this church, because of the many references along this line. Chapter 4 deals with this in depth.
When I worked in construction with Tousley, one of the first jobs I had with them was at the Eagle Creek Park Project. I was an oiler on a crane when I first went to the work project. The crane I was assigned to was pouring concrete. After the forms were removed, there were holes in the concrete where the rods held the forms. They had a laborer who mixed 'grout' and had to fill in the holes. That job was just as important as the pouring of the concrete. If these small holes and cracks are not filled, the most beautiful and well-built structure in the world will crack and fall into ruin. The moisture will seep in, freeze and destroy the structure.
When the machinery was down in the Key Way, it was well below the water table. They had to keep pumps going all the time to keep from getting flooded out. The other oiler kept the pumps going. It was not as glamorous as being an operator or carpenter, but it had to be done. And he was rewarded according to his faithfulness to the job he was given to do.
The same principle is true in Christian service. Paul will talk much about this very thing as we go along.
Ministers are to be highly esteemed for their work's sake, but one is not to be exalted over another, because each is where the Lord has placed him.
Paul, probably the most educated man in the NT, makes it clear that the worker (minister) is nothing. It is all of the One who called him and gave him the abilities, 4:7. Again, the thinking he is going against would be the Greek dependance on worldly wisdom.
The comparison is to the planting of a seed. The farmer plants, but he can take no credit for the harvest. The success of the harvest may well depend upon his faithfulness in caring for the crop, but the Lord is the One who must get the credit for the harvest. And, it does not need to be the same one who planted who cares for the crop, or the crop may even be a success without tending.
Also, notice the different abilities given to each. The ability of one may be in planting, the ability of another in the watering, regardless, it is God that gives the increase.
This realization will prevent pride from developing and destroying the person and the crop.
Paul reemphasizes this again, saying that ministers are nothing more than the instruments of the Spirit of God.
A good comparison would be a planter as is pulled behind a tractor. That planter cannot take any credit for the crop. The second illustration here is of an irrigation system. That pipe or sprinkler cannot take any credit for the crop. The Lord is the Only one who deserves any credit.
Another comparison would be a mirror. The minister (and individual Christian) is to reflect Christ and the heavenly Father. What praise goes to the mirror because it does its job of reflecting the image shown into it?
Our Lord covers this very thing in Luke 17:1-10. He is talking to His disciples, but it would apply to every Christian from then on. But it is significant that He is addressing the twelve. After the resurrection these men would be the standard which all of Christianity would be measured by. This would include Paul, the apostle born out of due time. These men would sacrifice everything for the cause of Christ, even their life.
The Lord tells them that even after they have done all, they have done nothing special. All they have done is their duty in representing Christ.
Paul points out here in 3:7 that even the leaders in the church are nothing but vessels to be used by the Spirit of God. Therefore, says Paul, why would anyone act as though that particular minister saved them? Why should one man be exalted over another?
Paul places all on the same level in Christ. All are working for the same Master. All are working for the same goal, the advancement of the Kingdom of God. All are depending upon the same Spirit to work through them. All are one in Christ and His work. "Diversity and unity is the law of all God's works." Hodge.
Primarily Paul is speaking of ministers of the gospel. Each has been given a different ability by the same Spirit, 12:4-7. But, of course, the application includes all believers.
A few points:
1. One cannot be compared to the another, because each has different abilities and gifts which was given to him according to the desire of the Spirit. To compare one against another (if both are trying to be as faithful as they can with what they have been given by the Spirit) is to divide the Spirit of God. This also judges the Spirit of God and His work.
2. For one person to be envious of another over their abilities and gifts, is to be envious of the Spirit of God. To look down our noes at another because they have not obtained to our level (and they are doing their best with what the Lord has provided them with), is to look down on the Spirit of God.
3. Each will be rewarded according to his own labor, how he used what he was given by the Spirit. Every man must answer to his own master, Rom. 14:4. As we will see in 1 Cor. 4:2, the reward will be according to faithful use of what he was given, not in terms of what the world considers success. Did he use that ability according to the principles of God's word? Did he use that ability to plant or water so God could give the increase? Did he use that to advance the kingdom of God?
4. A very important point here that we have made mention of before. There are men and churches which claim to be followers of him. I would suppose we could call these, "Pauline Churches." This would cause this great apostle to weep. He would tell these people that they are dividers of Christ. He would tell them, Who is Paul? He is only someone that preached the gospel to you. The Spirit did the work, not Paul.
"Paul never wants his name quoted; he would seem to cry in spiritual agony, "Brethren, let me alone! do not quote me, quote the Lord; I am an echo, not a voice; do not seal your letters with my authority, seal them with the superscription of Calvary." (Parker)
5. Along with the above: It is so tempting to use the words of important men, or men that we esteem highly as our authority. Paul would not hear of that. He says to use the word of the Lord as our authority. The power of persuasion lies in the word of God, not in the words of men.
The list could go on and on. How was that ability which the Spirit provided, used? For self, for others, for God?
One of the hardest things to do is to mind our own business in these areas, and realize that each will answer for himself.
First we see in this verse, the exalted position of the believer. He is now a co-labour with God, not under God, although we are under Him. We are joint-heirs with Christ.
God uses people. He could have used ministering spirits, but He chose to use people. If the Word of God is going to be spread, it will be by human means of people. The Spirit uses the preached word of God to save them that will believe. This is a blessed position which the OT saints never heard of.
This is spoken to a carnal, unspiritual group of people, yet he still tells them they are co-labours with God.
This is typical of Paul. He goes from one extreme to the other. He has called them babies and told them how carnal they were with their strife, envy, divisions and worldliness. Now he tells them they are co-labours with God.
Obviously, he speaks to them as individuals that made up this church, and tells them to grow up. Then he talks to them as a church and presents some astounding doctrine to them. The Church is the Body of Christ, left here on this earth for a purpose, to preach the gospel and to represent its Head, King Jesus. In this capacity, the people making up this body are co-labours together with God.
The church is made up of a collection of individuals. "A nation is not a gathering of individuals who retain their individuality in some isolated and selfish sense; it is the friction of individuality, that clash and collision, out of which come light, motion, progress. There are those who say a church is only what its individuals are. That is wrong, or only in a very narrow sense can it be defended as right; because when the Church comes together we lose a great deal of individuality and we merge into one another; and herein is that saying true, "We are labourers together with God." (Parker)
I do not know that I agree with Parker here or not. Paul is fussing at these people as individuals, for their lack of unity, for the friction which is taking place. He called them baby Christians for this friction. But I will have to admit that even the wrath of man works to bring praise to the Lord. Therefore, the friction which takes place in a church, though it be caused by wrathful men, is working for the glory of God. All of history is God's movement toward His appointed goal.
The second part of this verse:
Ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.
To me, this is one of the most important verses in Scripture which connects the principles of the OT and the nation Israel, with the NT and the New nation Israel. The commentaries which I have make no mention of the importance of this transition here in Paul's writings.
Here Paul reaches back into the OT for these metaphors, husbandry, building, and further on, temple. Then he places them squarely upon the NT Church, even this unspiritual church at Corinth.
Let's look at these words:
First, husbandry. 1091 "Figurative: Jesus said "I am the true vine, and my father is the husbandman" (Jn 15 1). He sows, cultivates, prunes and expects fruits from His church. In the parable of the Householder (Mt 21 33ff), the wicked husbandmen were the Jews. The church is referred to as "God's husbandry" in 1 Cor 3 9 (m "tilled land")." ISBE, pg. 1442.
Before Christ, the nation of Israel was considered the vineyard, or husbandry. Psalms 80; Isaiah 5 (v.7); Jeremiah 2:21. The parables of Christ describe the transition of the care of God's vineyard from the leaders of the nation of Israel to the church, Matthew 21; 33; Mark 12:1; Luke 20:6 (all marginal references in my World Bible).
Paul, in 1 Cor. 3:9, makes the transition complete. The vineyard is now the church, which is in care of the leaders of the church under the Holy Spirit. In none of the Lord's parables is there any hint of removing the current "husbandry," or vineyard from the care of the pastors-teachers, and the return of it to the leaders of the OT nation of Israel.
After this statement by Paul, all that remained to be done was the judgment against the false shepherds.
Next is building 3619. This is the same word, building, used in Mark 13: & Matthew 24:1 to describe the temple that was at Jerusalem and was soon to be destroyed.
This word is also used in Eph. 2:21 by Paul, to describe the new building, as he did here in 3:9. The margin of my World Bible gives Zechariah 6:12, 13, which is a beautiful cross reference to this verse which Paul gives.
This means that the OT temple (represented by the building which Christ pointed to) is totally done away with, replaced by the church. Again, there is no indication of the new building, the Church, being replaced again by any physical building. The OT temples, buildings, pre-figured the church. Therefore, any prophecy, such as at the end of the Book of Ezekiel, which speaks of any building or temple after the coming of the Messiah, must be referring to the church. Any sacrifice which is pictured in this building, must be a picture of an aspect of Christ's sacrifice.
With this simple statement by Paul in 3:9, he did away with all of the types and pictures which the old nation of Israel presented. All is now complete in Christ and His church.
The third important word in this passage is v. 17, temple - 3485.
"Used of the temple at Jerusalem, but only of the sacred edifice (or sanctuary) itself, consisting of the Holy place and the Holy of holies... metaph. of a company of Christians, a Christian church, as dwelt in by the Spirit of God.. for the same reason, of the bodies of Christians.." (Thayer)
"From the time that the temple ceased to exist, the Talm took its place in Jewish estimation; but it is in Christianity rather than in Judaism that the temple has a perpetual existence. The NT writers make no distinction between one temple and another. It is the idea rather than the building which is perpetuated in Christian teaching. The interweaving of temple associations with Christian thought and life runs through the whole NT. Jesus Himself supplied the germ for this development in the word He spoke concerning the temple of His body (Jn 2 19.21). Paul, notwithstanding all he had suffered from Jews and Jewish Christians, remained saturated with Jewish ideas and nodes of thought. In one of his earliest Epp. he recognizes the "Jerus that is above" as "the mother of us all" (Gal 4:26 AV). In another, the "man of sin" is sitting "in the temple of God" (2 Thess 2 4). The collective church (1 Cor 3 16.17), but also the individual believer (1 Cor 6 19), is a temple. One notable passage shows how deep was the impression made upon Paul's mind by the incident connected with Trophimus the Ephesian (Acts 21 29). That "middle wall of partition" which so nearly proved fatal to him then was no longer to be looked for in the Christian church (Eph 2 14), which was "a holy temple" in the Lord (ver 21). It is naturally in the Ep. to the He that we have the fullest exposition of ideas connected with the temple, although here the form of allusion is to the tabernacle rather than the temple. The sanctuary and all it included were but representations of heavenly things. Finally, in Rev, the vision is that of the heavenly temple itself (11 19). But the church -Professing Christendom?-Is a temple measured by God's command (11 1.2ff). The climax is reached in 21 22-23: "I saw no temple therein[i.e. in the holy city]: for the Lord God the Almighty, and the Lamb, are the temple thereof... and the lamp thereof is the Lamb." Special ordinances are altogether superseded." ISBE, pgs. 2939, 40.
Now, ISBE's statement is good, bringing out some good points, but one thing that I must disagree with. Paul (nor the other authors of the NT) did not use the temple terms because he was controlled by the Jewish thinking that he was reared up in. Paul was not even a priest, as was Ezekiel who used the temple illustrations. Paul used temple terms because he was controlled by the Spirit of God. Paul is carrying on the transfer of these now old and useless symbols from the OT Israel of God, to the NT Israel of God, the Church, Gal 6:16. This transfer was started by our Lord when He used the word build with Peter to describe the putting together of His Church, and when He used the word temple to describe His body.
The Spirit of God here in 1 Cor. 3, uses these words with a purpose. The OT types and symbols pointed to Christ and His Church. He was now here, the church, as the heir to these terms, was established. Paul here in chapter 3 is making the transition. The physical was used to explain the spiritual. Now there is no more need for the physical, so it was destroyed by Rome. Our Lord warned about this in Matthew 24.
There is another word which we should examine while we are this close, even though it is not used here by Paul in ch. 3. That word is tabernacle as found in Acts 15:16. (4633)
There are several references. It refers to the movable temple of God after the pattern of which the temple at Jerusalem was subsequently built.. The name is transferred to heaven, as the true dwelling-place of God.. It referred to the portable shrine of Moloch, (Acts 7:43), corresponding to the practice of the pagans carrying with them their deities, together with shrines for them, on their journeys and military expeditions... Finally, the hut (tabernacle) of David, seems to be employed, in contempt, of his house, i. e. family reduced to decay and obscurity, Acts 15:16 (see Isaiah 15:5).
"In the Ep. to the He, the locus classicus of the tabernacle in Christian thought, the idea is more cosmical-the tabernacle in its holy and most holy divisions representing the earthly and the heavenly spheres of Christ's activity." ISBE, pg. 2892.
Thus, according to Thayer, the tabernacle of David is referring to the rebuilding of his house, or of the line of his X. And this building is the church, consisting of Jews and Gentiles. In other words, the is house of David that is referred to in Acts is now made up of all who will trust in Christ. There is now no division in Him. Faith causes us to be adopted into this house. Of course, this is consistent with Scripture. If Christ is the Son of God, the Son of Abraham and the Son of David, this makes all who are in Him sons also. Thus, by faith, all who are in Christ are part of this rebuilt tabernacle of David. (The margin of my Bible gives: Hosea 3:5; Amos 9:15; Micah 5:2.)
What a wonderful day to serve the Lord in.
Returning back to 1 Cor. 3. Paul continues on with his illustration, taking the word building and building on it.
According to the grace of God.. This is typical of Paul. He has pointed out that he is only a man and should not be followed as anything except a man. He was on equal footing with other men, Apollos. Paul and Apollos, and the recipients of this letter, were all servants of Christ and co-labourers with God.
Then in v. 9, he changes the usage from we, to ye. This would indicate that we are all builders in the kingdom of God, yet Paul had a special place in this work as an architect. The indication is that he was the major architect, yet he makes it clear that he is operating under the Spirit of God.
He continually attributes anything he might have to serve the Lord with to the grace of God. He always considers any ability or gift he might have as a gift from God, given to him completely apart from any merit on his own.
Application: This is excellent advice for us today. If we have anything, even breath itself, it is given to us by the Lord, 4:7. We do the best we can according to the grace of God which is given unto us. This is the theme of these chapters, 4:1. Our only requirement is to faithfully use the grace given to us by the Lord. Maybe a lot, maybe a little grace. We will be held accountable according to the grace of God which has given... Not according to something we do not have. Paul also covers this on over in 12:7.
I know of no one, past or present, who has been given the same amount of grace which Paul had. Therefore, we will not have to answer for as much, but we will all answer, 2 Cor. 5:10.
I'm afraid that many look at people who have been given a large amount of grace, and they are doing a great amount for God, then they look at their own selves, and maybe the small amount of grace, and they get discouraged. They do not have the gain that the other person might have, so they will say, "What's the use?"
Our standard must be Christ, and His will for us as revealed to us from His word. Anything less will lead to failure. We cannot take on more than we have the grace for, and we must do as much as we have the grace for.
"Lord, help me to be faithful, according to the grace which You have given unto me.."
As a wise masterbuilder... As a .. He was not the wise masterbuilder which laid the foundation. He watched the Master builder, he learned His ways, he now builds upon what is already laid. (See Heb. 3.)
The grace of God for him was skill, wisdom to plan, organize, explain and execute the way this building was to be built. He laid the foundation by establishing many churches.
Foundation, #2310. "metaph. the foundations, beginnings,
first principles, of an institution or system of truth: 1 Cor.
3:10, 12; the rudiments, first principles, of Christian life and
knowledge, Heb. 6:1... of the apostles as preachers of salvation,
upon which foundation the Christian church has been built, Eph.
2:20.. ..the church is apparently called.. as the foundation of
the 'city of God,' 2 Tim. 2:19, cf. 20 and 1 Tim. 3:15.."
Paul laid the foundation of the church by establishing its first principles of government and doctrine. He did this by explaining and applying the law, psalms and prophecies of the OT for the new church. He wrote 14 books in the process. He presented nothing new, only applied what was already written. In fact, he told Timothy to examine what was already written if he was to be an effective pastor.
Three points thus far with this verse. 1. Anything which Paul had he attributed to the grace of God, the Holy Spirit working through him. 2. This grace was for a specific purpose, to organize the new church, and build upon the foundation which was already in place, the law and prophets. 3. He established the basic principles of this building, laying its foundation. This church at Corinth was a good example.
(Illustration: When our battalion went to Spain to set the pre-fab houses at the Naval Station at Rota, when we got there the foundations were already in place. We built upon what was already there. This is what Paul did, and is what every Christian does.)
Then, and another buildeth thereon. Paul moved on after establishing the churches, whether to a new location or to death. Others followed him and built upon what the Spirit used him to establish. Obviously a reference back to 3:6-8. The foundation has been laid, now is the building. There were others who worked on this foundation, James, Jude, John, Luke, Mark, Peter, but Paul was the major one. Even Peter recognized the important and unique place of Paul in the laying of this foundation, 2 Peter 3:15.
Thus, he adds, let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. The context is primarily a warning to ministers which are now working on the building. The application is to anyone who is a Christian. Paul's warning so far has been to ministers, against mixing the wisdom and philosophy of the world with the wisdom of God. It will build a big, beautiful house quickly. People love the world's wisdom applied to their difficulties. The natural man is repulsed at the thought of dogmatism from the law of the Lord.
(I am reminded of a program which James Dobson had this last
week, Wednesday, 6/19/91. He had a pastor on the air with him
who's 14 year old daughter got pregnant. It was a tremendously
emotional story of how it was handled, and it all apparently turned
out for good. It was probably one of the more emotional programs
he has had, with a huge appeal to Christians especially. I would
imagine that it sucked in great amounts of money.
But, there was a problem. Not one word was mentioned about how the situation should have been handled according to the word of God. People need to know what God says in these situations. People need to know how the principles of God's word applies. People do not need some emotional story of love and good feelings, they need God's word. (I am not saying that the pastor did not handle the situation properly. I am saying that no scripture was given to back up his actions. What was given was pragmatic, not Scriptural answers. This is the mark of a false prophet.)
May the Lord in His mercy and by His grace, 1.) see fit to deliver us from the professors of false wisdom, such as Dobson. 2.) see fit to enable me to apply the principles of God's word in these areas. But, people do not seem to want something like that. They desire a good emotional pragmatic answer, not dogmatism from the law of God.)
Getting a little ahead of ourselves. This wisdom of the world, mixed with the wisdom of God is like mixing wood, hay and stubble with gold, sliver and precious stones, as this building is built. In our Lord's words, it is building upon the sand, and it will not withstand the storms of life. The appearance of the building may be golden, but upon closer examination, the straw is apparent.
Take heed how... Avoid the temptation to add straw to the gold. Avoid the use of pragmatic answers, no matter how emotional or appealing they are. The minister's (and any labourer's) first responsibility is to the word of God, not to his family, church, or nation. V. 13, every worker will be judged according to the word of God.
Now, of course, this is far easier said than done, but by the grace of God, it must be done. This is the hope of our families and of our nation.
I think one of the major causes of ministers building as Dobson
recommends (according to pragmatic answers) is described in Proverbs
2:3-6. It takes hard work and sacrifice of what we might desire
to do, to find the hid treasure of gold, silver and precious stones
of the word of God. It takes the sacrifice of Abraham and Isaac
when the word of God is found. Not many are willing to do this.
V. 11 is another very important verse in this passage. V. 9 made the transition of the Kingdom of God from the OT Israel to the Church. V. 10 sounds like Paul laid the foundation for the Kingdom, so now he clears up any misunderstanding that might have developed. He wants everyone to understand that neither he, nor his words establishes the foundation of the Kingdom of God.
than that is laid... God Himself laid this foundation in the person and the work of Christ, who was slain from before the foundation of the earth. According to this verse, the foundation was already in place when he came along and all he did was build upon it. Actually, I would say that it was laid in the Garden, just after the fall when God made the promise of the Redeemer in response to the fall. But, of course, it goes back to before the foundation of the world.
Illustration: I have seen builders work with a foundation that was already poured. This would be especially true of laying blocks. The foundation is there, and the first layer of blocks is extremely important.
The foundation is Jesus Christ. Paul presented nothing new. Rather, he applied the preexistent Word of God to the Church. He applied what was already there. This is an important point.
Hodge, "For, others can only carry on the work already begun, for the foundation cannot be changed. The foundation of the church is Christ."
Peter gives the exact same instruction as does Paul, using different words, 1 Peter 4:10, 11. He is talking about the grace of God given to his people to serve Himself with. We are required to be good stewards of that grace, using it only in accord to the will of God.
oracles.. 3051 of any utterance of God, whether precept or promise... of the prophecies of God in the OT... the ten commandments of God or the decalougue... In the NT spoken of the words or utterances of God: to the contents of the Mosaic law.. of his commands in the Mosaic law and his Messianic promises.. of the utterances of God through Christian teachers, 1 Peter 4:11.. of the words and admonitions of God in sacred Scriptures..
Peter's warning then, is that anyone who speaks in the name of God, beware that he realize he is speaking as God with the same force as the commandments of God (although, not the same inspiration). Therefore, he had better be sure that what he says is in accord with the previous oracles, or he will be found a liar. The grace of God must be used according to the will of God. Anything less is wood, hay and stubble.
Foundation, #2310. "metaph. the foundations, beginnings, first principles, of an institution or system of truth: 1 Cor. 3:10, 12; the rudiments, first principles, of Christian life and knowledge, Heb. 6:1... of the apostles as preachers of salvation, upon which foundation the Christian church has been built, Eph. 2:20.. ..the church is apparently called.. as the foundation of the 'city of God,' 2 Tim. 2:19, cf. 20 and 1 Tim. 3:15.." Thayer.
Ephesians 2:20-22 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. My World Bible gives 1 Cor. 12:28 and the gifts to the church of apostles and prophets, as the cross reference. If it were the OT prophets being referred to here, the order of the words apostles and prophets would be reversed.
This passage presents something to think about. Here He is
called the chief corner stone, in Isaiah 28: 16, He is called
both the corner stone, and a sure foundation. Then in 1 Cor. 3:11,
He is called the foundation. Acts 4:11, calls Him the head of
the corner. 1 Peter 2:6 calls Him the chief corner stone.
First, Matthew 16:18, upon this rock I will build my church.. Peter's profession was that Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. The point! Thou art the Christ.. He was the One who was prophesied so many times in the OT. He was now here. He was going to build His church upon this faith that He was the promised Messiah, Redeemer and Saviour.
Second, "In the figure of the corner-stone ("joins and holds two walls coming from different directions,"), many have found the union of the Jews and Gentiles set forth." Meyers', Ephesians, pg. 395. Although he does not agree with the figure of the union of the Jews and Gentiles. My point is that a corner-stone speaks of joining and holding two walls coming from different directions. Christ joins and holds together 1. Jews and Gentiles. 2. Old and New Testament. 3. God and man. 4. Man and man. 5. He holds together all things of creation with only His word. Paul, in his letters, presents many things which Christ holds together.
Christ is all. Every important part of the building rests upon Him, and is held together by Him. Without Him, the building will not stand. The blocks of this building must rest upon Him for Salvation, and He is the one that holds it together. The person and the doctrine of Christ is the chief ingredient of anything that is built, but primarily in this context, the church. Without the person and doctrine of Christ, the church is not a church, but a social club. He is also the Head of the Church. He is its source of life as well as its source of stability.
The major problem Paul had was with the Judisers. These men followed him wherever he went. They tried to convince all converts, if Jewish, that they had to continue in the old Jewish ordinances and temple worship. If Gentile, they had to convert over to Judaism and adopt the same Jewish ordinances and temple worship. They tried to lay another foundation, Judaism. Paul places a curse on them.
In all of his letters, he deals with this false teaching. He shows how that the prophecies spoke of the Gentiles coming into the nation of God. He explains all of these many doctrines. Not only Paul, but the other apostles do the same. They take the teachings of the OT, the teachings of Christ Himself, and make the proper application for the Church, all under the direction of the Holy Spirit.
This was the big battle all the apostles has in the book of Acts. The Jews did not agree with the application of the OT that was being presented, so the persecuted all the new preachers. One such record is Acts 28:20. We have already referred to other places, v. 9.
V. 12 is interesting.
First, if any man.. Paul has been comparing false doctrine (wisdom of this world), with true doctrine (wisdom of God). This verse would continue on with that thought; primarily, ministers, false teachers who present the wisdom of man, vs. teachers of the truth who present the wisdom of God, the applied law of the Lord.
This would include Paul and those who followed him throughout the Church age. Paul took the doctrine and person of Christ and developed it for the church. Now, any minister that comes along had better take heed that they follow what he has presented. He has already made it clear that he did this under the inspiration of God. He only followed instructions from above and within.
Second, Build.. The wood, hay and stubble makes a good fire, whereas, the gold, silver and precious stone is kind of cold and hard. To the natural man, the hot fire is more appealing over the cold, hard facts of the law-word of God. People are attracted to the fire, driven away by dogmatism. The preacher who can make the word of God sound dogmatic, yet not speak out against sin, will have a crowd.
The context requires that the comparison here be between ministers of true and ministers of false doctrine, between the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God. Of course, this would apply to any Christian. Their foundation is Christ, their responsibility is to build upon Him.
Build also speaks of effort and work. Certainly, we are co-labourers with God, but here we get the impression that the building is up to the individual. We know that God must give the increase, but man must work like it all depends upon him and his effort.
In other words... We cannot sit back and say, "Well, the Lord will build.." Clearly, if any man build.. Work and effort, discipline, prayer, consistency. As I heard someone say one time. We work as if it all depended upon our own effort, but we have the attitude and faith as though it all depended upon Him. Because it does.
V. 13 for the day shall declare it..
Several things here:
1. The false doctrine of our day may appear beautiful, but it will all burn at the day of judgment.
2. To the natural eye, the size of the building, not the building material, is what is important.
3. The wisdom of man may be appealing and build great houses, but they are actually made of wood, hay and stubble. Thus, the size does not determine the kind of material used. But, it is sure tempting to use the wisdom of this world to do the work of the kingdom.
4. Many times the revelation of the type of building material
which has been used cannot be known until the day of judgment.
This would go along with the Lord's parable of the wheat and tares.
It is not until the day of judgment that they will be separated.
God has not called man to separate them, only to preach the truth.
Only the Lord knows if the building is by man's wisdom, or His. Now, the individual should know, but many times he is deceived.
5. It is far more costly and time consuming to build out of gold, silver and precious stones. Therefore, it takes far more patience to use these building materials, because the ones using wood, hay and stubble can throw together a large building in no time at all.
6. Note that in this instance, they both are being built on the proper foundation, the person and work of Christ. Thus, a large work can be built quickly on the proper gospel, but built with worldly wisdom. According to this verse, the two can be intermixed, but the judgment will be hot, and the reward lost, v. 15.
7. The fire will expose the truth. Note Peter's reference to fire, 1 Peter 1:7. Thus, this fire of separation could easily come before the final judgment, but it will come for sure then. How many churches have fallen apart when the preacher left? How many Christians have fallen away when the preacher did not live up to their expectations? They were built with wood, hay and stubble, and the fires of trial and disappointment revealed the truth.
8. But the true fire will come when the Lord comes, 2 Thess. 1:8. Faithfulness in the fiery trials here does not guarantee doctrinal purity. There has been many die for their false faith. Muslims feel that death for the cause of Allah is a guarantee of heaven. How many professed Christians feel that because they are willing to die for Christ, they are indeed ready to die?
(These same ones have never heard about the necessity of trusting Christ as their substitute. Instead, all they have heard is, "Ask Jesus into your heart.")
Notice that the reward is not given according to how hard we worked, but according to how true we were to the principles of God's word.
But, we must take this in the context of v. 12, hard work. The one who does not do his best with what he has been provided with will be judged as an wicked and slothful servant. Our Lord spoke too many times concerning the necessity of faithfully working with the gifts and talents we have been given.
They built on the proper foundation, but all their effort is burned. "The apostle is speaking of those teachers who, although they retain the fundamental doctrines of the gospel, yet combine them with error." Hodge.
We know of pastors who keep just enough of the Salvation message to keep people coming. The rest is humanism to various degrees. Notice here that Paul considers them saved.
We might mention here that Heresy "denotes (a) a choosing, choice; then, that which is chosen, and hence, an opinion, especially a self-willed opinion, which is substituted for submission to the power of truth, and leads to division and the formation of sects, Gal. 5:20; such erroneous opinions are frequently the outcome of personal preference or the prospect of advantage; see 2 Pet. 2:1, where "destructive" signifies leading to ruin;.." Vine's, pg. 547. 2 Pet. 2:1 speaks of these false teachers creeping in with the truth, then, after they are excepted, they present their errors, for the profit.
As we mentioned above, Paul warned the elders at Ephesus that as soon as he left, there would be false teachers come in to lead them astray. Here in that Church at Corinth, evidently they came in under the guise of preaching the basic doctrine to Salvation, but then they left the truth.
This reminds me of churches who preach only salvation all the time. I have been in them, Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, salvation. No wonder the people fall out when the fire burns hot.
Vs. 14, 15
1.) Actually, vs. 11-15. Clearly, the preacher's primary responsibility is to take the law of the Lord and develop it into every sphere of life. From the basic doctrine of Redemption, up. Everything else will be burned which is not on this foundation. It is not enough that a minister preach the basic doctrine of redemption, he must develop the complete word of God, law of the Lord in such a way as the people can use and apply it. Without this ability, the man is not qualified to pastor. (See past Mail-out, HOW THE MIGHTY HAVE FALLEN.)
2.) In his development of the law of the Lord, he must be careful not to mix it with the wisdom of the world. Most preachers (myself included), mix the pure word of God (the gold, silver and precious stones) with personal ideas and/or the prevalent doctrine of the day. Very few can separate themselves from everything, but this must be our goal.
3.) Very few Christians can bear the pure truth of God's word. They desire, yea demand, a mixed doctrine of prevalent worldly thought and philosophy. They search for some church which will allow them to fit into the world's mold, at least a little. In fact, the teacher who can mix the word of God and the world's philosophy, will draw a great following. Then that following is used to justify what he teaches, 1 Tim. 6:5.
4.) Primarily, Paul is speaking to ministers, but the obvious application, with no harm at all to the context, is to every child of God. He does say, if any man's works... Then vs. 17, 18 if any man.. let no man. Thus, it is the responsibility of every Christian to study and learn the word of God and how it's principles apply to his every day activities of seeking first the kingdom of God.
There will be no excuse in that day, "Lord, I didn't know." As the excuse was in Isaiah 29:9-12; the learned say, "It is sealed, therefore, I cannot understand it." The unlearned say, "I am not learned, therefore, I cannot understand it." Paul told the Romans (10:18) that the word was nigh them, even in their mouth.
In our day and time, especially, God's people are without excuse. (Before the proliferation of the printed word, or in lands where it is not readily available, such the USSR, maybe this excuse will hold up.) The word is freely given, it is our responsibility to seek out its hidden treasures for daily use. We have His word. It is our responsibility to be busy building with God, Luke 12:48.
5.) The gifts of God are given to the individual, according to the Spirit's pleasure. God provides the beginning of everything, even the earth for the sower to plant the seed. Man's responsibility is to plant the seed according to the foundation that is laid, Jesus Christ. Paul says it like this to these people at Corinth, 1 Cor. 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
Let every man take heed how he builds his life, his works, his dreams. Because anything that is not according to this principle, will be burned. How many personal dreams have gone up in smoke. How many lives have been wasted. Why? They were wood, hay and stubble. They were not to the glory of God.
6.) Another important point. Fire shall try... The fire is no respecter of persons, Romans chapter 2. Rich and poor, unknown and famous, the fire will burn alike. Thus, the poor, unknown individual who may only have one ounce of gold or silver, even precious stone, will be richer by far than the rich, famous and great individuals in the eyes of men, who has thousands of tons of wood, hay and stubble. In the end, the poor unknown person will be the rich one, Galatians 5:7.
One thing done to the glory of God will be more valuable in that day than a whole lifetime of good works done to the glory of self or man.
7.) Always remain within the gifts and callings of God. Our eyes many times, are bigger than our gifts given us by the Spirit. To go beyond is to go past the grace that has been given. The result will be sure failure.
8.) It is the Lord's job to test and reveal, not our's (not even the minister's). When we try to become one who tests another's works, we become a judge of the law, not a doer, James 4:11. (We can know them by their fruit, Luke 6:43.) Every man will answer to his own master, Romans 14:4. Our job is to do our best in our area of the building, and when His time is right, He will send the fire. And, sad to say, sometimes even the individual who is working on the building doesn't know what sort his work is until the fire comes. This is why Ph. 3:15 is so important, as is the consistent study of God's word.
We will be judged according to how we build. We need to pray that the Lord will reveal any false building to us.
9.) Apparently, a person can intermix humanism and Christianity, because Paul considers this person saved. The problem here is the mixing of the truth of God's word with the wisdom of man. The mixture is so effective that the saved and unsaved teacher cannot be distinguished. But the fire will burn the humanism away, the unsaved to eternal perdition, the Christian barely speared. (Again, the parable of the wheat and tares.)
Keep in mind, this applies to all Christians, not just ministers.
We are all co-labors with God. We are all working on the building,
we are all to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Here the apostle seems to ask in amazement: "Know ye not.." This is an important statement for several reasons.
1. He EXPECTED them to know that they were now the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelt in them. Evidently, Paul had instructed them in this doctrine when he first visited them. Obviously then, this instruction would have had to been from the OT, because there were no NT Scriptures in existence yet. Paul had taken the OT teachings about the rebuilt temple, expanded and applied them to the Church, and surprised that these people had failed to continue on in that instruction. Know ye not..
2. He had told (vs. 14, 15) of the destruction of the works of the false laborers, those who were building apart from the glory of God. Now he gives the justification for their loss of reward. They are working, not on a ordinary building, but on the temple of God. If anything deserved gold, silver and precious stones, it does.
3. He reminds them of the truth which they had apparently forgotten, that they were involved in building the temple of God, not a temple of man. Their only goal was to advance the kingdom (dominion) of God on earth, not the kingdom of men. Therefore, they were to use the wisdom of God, not the wisdom of man in its building. (Again, Paul taught this from the OT Scriptures, not from the Book of 1 Cor, or any other NT Book.)
4. To me the thought is something like this. These people, under the Greek influence of the love of wisdom, were seeking these men who had this wisdom. They valued their ideas, thoughts, teachings and instructions, more than they valued the instructions from the word of God.
And this is sadly the case today. People will set time aside to hear the wisdom of men under the name of Christianity, yet, if you establish a good Biblically sound Bible study course to deal with maybe the same subject, they will not come. Why? Because this wisdom of man appeals to the flesh, therefore, the flesh will not fight following after it.
They had been swayed by the world's philosophy and appealing words, which was as much of a problem in Paul's day as it is today. Paul also deals with this problem in Colossians 2:1-10. Notice that he does not condemn all philosophy, but philosophy that is not after Christ. In Him is all wisdom an knowledge. We must not allow enticing words to sway us from this truth, as these people at Corinth had done.
It is so easy to forget that our wisdom and knowledge is found in Him and not in this world. Any wisdom and/or knowledge which is not based in the word of God, is the result of men of corrupt minds.
dwelleth in you... This is an obvious reference to the Shechinah glory of the old Jewish temple, and these people would have made that connection immediately. And he starts off this verse with, Know ye not.. He had used the OT to teach them that the indwelling presence of God was no longer in the temple made with hands, but in the body of the believer.
Therefore, the holy place must be kept holy.
1 Cor 3:17
defile... Interesting. The context is talking about false doctrine, the mixing of humanism and Christianity, and the false doctrine is being presented by ministers of the gospel. It is talking about use of worldly wisdom to present the Gospel. Paul clearly says here that to mix the two, and the use of worldly means to do the work of the building of the temple, is to defile the temple. This is the worse kind of idolatry.
Why? First, it is the pure truth that sets men free from sin, John 8:32. Without this unmixed truth, people will be left in their defilement. Second, without the foundation of the pure truth, the building will fall. Therefore, the destruction promised here is against those who were mixing the truth of God's word with the errors of human wisdom, the mixture of Christ and humanism.
Note the marg. on the word, defile.. It is destroy. Thus, the mixing of humanism and Christ destroys the temple of God, which is holy. Is it any wonder that the Lord promises to destroy those who make this mixture.
Now, obviously, the application would be sin as we think of sin, defiling the body, Romans 6:16. And these people were doing plenty of that, Ch. 5. I wonder if the reason they were so involved in wickedness would be because their teachers had mixed the truth which should set them free from the power of sin, with humanism with no power to set one free? I wonder it their emphasis on Mysticism permitted their remaining in sin?
6/29/91 I notice that because I will not compromise the truth, I have lose several families. Three that I know of because I would not compromise on salvation. I insisted on the substitutionary death of Christ. I stood against the war in the Gulf and lost two more. It would appear that we are on the verge of losing another over the salvation issue.
The temple... which ye are. He presented this basic thought in v. 9, with ye are God's building. He peruses it more here with this. This statement must be taken in the context of who Paul is addressing here. These believers only had the OT. They knew the basic doctrines about Christianity from the OT. This statement, with v. 16, shows us that they had been taught that the Church and the believer replaced the OT temple. Paul is reminding them of this truth.
The defiling of the OT temple would result in very harsh punishment.
How much more did the defiling (which in this context is mixing
humanism and Christianity, but this would apply to sin in general)
of this temple deserve punishment.
Let no man deceive himself. The deception here is thinking that the wisdom of the world can be used to build the kingdom of God.
Evidently, there were those among them (remember, this is Corinth, an important Grecian city) those who were proud of their worldly attainment in wisdom. See v. 16. These teachers were attracting quite a following. Here Paul tells these teachers that if they are really as wise as they make themselves to be, they will lay it all of the world's wisdom aside for the wisdom of God.
In saying this, Paul made two points:
1. In this statement in v. 18, he tells the ones who are attracted to these teachers, that if the teacher continues in their current way, that teacher is deceived. The student had better get away from him.
2. He told those who were attracted to these teachers that if they continued to be attracted to these teachers, they were following the wisdom of the world.
3. It these men are really wise, they will become as a fool.
Now, this does not mean they will become a blubbering idiot, or without reason. Paul has already described this fool back in 1:18-27. As a fool is referring to becoming as a fool in the world's eyes. The world considers any instruction which is based upon the principles of God's word and the applied cross of Christ, foolish. They consider instruction based upon man's understanding and observation, wisdom.
Paul is calling on these people to quit using their wisdom. This would make them fools in the world's eyes. The wisdom of men's reason and understanding of situations were to be totally laid aside. In its place is to be the applied principles of God's word. This would make these false teachers fools in the eyes of the world, but they would then have the true wisdom. They would become truly wise.
This is exactly what Paul, by the grace of God, was able to do. This was King Agrippa's charge against Paul, much learning doth make thee mad, Acts 26:24. He had been trained in the very best of the wisdom of this world, as well as in the law of God. His training in the law, though, was from the Pharisees standpoint. This was worldly wisdom under the guise of the law. It was so much tradition and human understanding that it had rendered the law of none effect.
A person is deceived if they think this worldly wisdom will solve anything.
(See my message on Isa. 40, June 19, for more on this.)
Let him become... "We must be empty in order to be filled. We must renounce our own righteousness in order to be clothed in the righteousness of Christ. We must renounce our own strength, in order to be made strong. We must renounce our own wisdom in order to be truly wise. The is a universal law. And it is perfectly reasonable. We are only required to recognize that to be true, which is true. We would not be required to renounce our own righteousness, strength, or wisdom, if they were really what they assumed to be. It is simply because they are in fact worthless, that we are called upon so to regard them." Hodge.
One point though that Hodge missed. "We are only required to recognize that to be true, which is true.." I know several folks who will recognize this to be true, but they will not do it. Therefore, there is more than just admitting. We must act and start searching the word of God for our wisdom.
In fact, here Paul describes the true fool, the ones who use the wisdom of the world. Who are we or those who profess to be wise, trying to impress, God or man? Then, typical of all the NT authors, he quotes the OT, Job 5:13. The whole context which Paul quoted from is interesting.
Job 5:6-16, Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground; Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward. I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause: Which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvellous things without number: Who giveth rain upon the earth, and sendeth waters upon the fields: To set up on high those that be low; that those which mourn may be exalted to safety. He disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise. He taketh the wise in their own craftiness: and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong. They meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope in the noonday as in the night. But he saveth the poor from the sword, from their mouth, and from the hand of the mighty. So the poor hath hope, and iniquity stoppeth her mouth.
Some things from Job:
A. The weakness and inabilities of man.
B. The greatness and abilities of God.
C. The condition for God to work in behalf of man, low.. mourn, Matthew ch. 5.
D. What He does to the ones who are wise in their own eyes and in the eyes of the world.
1. He disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprises.
2. Then Paul's statement: He taketh the wise in their own craftiness: and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong.
3. He blinds them so they cannot see the obvious results of their evil.
E. Then the final statement which is God's promise to the
poor (Mt. 5:3), v. 16, So the poor hath hope, and iniquity stoppeth
This is the theme of this first part of Paul's letter to the Corinthians. Our hope does not lie in the wisdom, might, strength or abilities of man. Our hope lies in the promises of God which He made to the lowly, mourners and the poor. These are inner attributes before God which the Lord described in His sermon on the mount in Mt. 5.
Notice this is the hope, the promise given, and it might be well off in the future. In other words, the ones who meed the conditions of Mt. 5, may never see the results of their proper attitude before the Lord.
Paul draws his quote from this principle, telling the ones who professed themselves to be wise and the ones who followed them, that their wisdom was going to be greatly disappointed, God was going to bring all that wisdom which they held in such esteem, to nothing. They were following after foolishness in the Lord's eyes, that if they did not give it up, the Lord would bring them to destruction.
For me: This is the hope that the poor have. Our hope is not
that we can match the wise on their own ground. Our hope is not
that we can out-plan, out-think, out-'wisdom' them. Our hope is
in the fact that the Lord will bring all of that wisdom to nothing.
Our hope is in the Lord, His wisdom, His might!
Paul doesn't let it rest here. He adds another quote, Ps. 94:11 The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity. The context of this verse is very similar to the one in Job. It is talking of the use of the wisdom of this world to accomplish evil desires. It is talking of the distress of the righteous in the face of the 'wise wicked.' Then the promise of God to the righteous, v. 9, 10 He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see? He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct? he that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know?
Then the Lord brings the wisdom of the wise to nothing. The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity. Just as Paul said, all their wisdom is vanity to the Lord.
Both of these passages which Paul quotes are followed by an interesting statement.
Job 5:17, Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: Followed by a promise of deliverance and protection by the Lord, v. 19, 20 For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole. He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee. (Followed by some things the Lord will deliver us from.)
Ps. 94:12 Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law; Followed by a promise of deliverance and protection by the Lord, v. 13, That thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit be digged for the wicked. V. 14, For the LORD will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance. (Followed by some things the Lord will deliver us from, although different from the above.)
There are many other places which Spirit could have drawn the principle from which He wanted to establish, but He chose these two locations. This was not an accident, but purpousfull. What is He telling us here? There is far more to this than just the promise that the wisdom of the world will be brought to nothing.
I think the Lord is telling us that His people will face His chastizement for using the wisdom of the world to peruse godly goals. His judgment and wrath is against worldly wisdom, regardless of who is using it. He will cast it down in His time, in His manner and by His wisdom (according to His law, Ps. 94:12), and anyone connected with it is doomed.
He will not only bring their worldly wisdom to nothing, but He will chastise His people for turning from His law to worldly wisdom, that the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. He will not only bring the pagan's wisdom to nothing, but He will cast them into the lake of fire.
Once again we see that the Spirit of God, through Paul, holds the reader to the principles already established in the OT. We are not being presented with any new doctrine. The Spirit is building on the foundation which is already in place. He had worked on it since Adam and He is not plowing it up and starting all over again.
Some points here in 3:19, 20.
1. We cannot meet the wise of this world, even professed Christians (as these false teachers were), on their own grounds. They must be met on the Scriptures. We renounce the wisdom of this world, "You shall be as gods, knowing good and evil," for God's wisdom, the applied word of God. Then they can say that our answers are simplistic all they want to, but the Lord will take them in their own trap.
2. Even 'godly wisdom,' if used apart from 1 Cor. 10:13, the glory of God, is corrupted wisdom. It is foolishness, even though based upon Scriptural principles.
Example: I will tithe because the promise of God is to bless
my finances. But then I turn around and use the blessing of God
upon my finances to consume upon my own lust. This turns the wisdom
that tells me to tithe into foolishness, as God then places His
curse against my finances.
What should it be? Obviously, the blessings of God upon my finances must be used to seek first the kingdom of God. And this seeking may be in any area, not just 'religious work' as we would identify religious work, because I am to do all things for His glory.
3. Any attempt to reach people (even "convert the world") and make them "holy or happy," is folly if worldly wisdom is used. This also fits within the above point. If not for the glory of God, it is foolish.
4. Any means to accomplish godly goals apart from godly methods, is foolishness in the eyes of God. This goes back to 2:4. Worldly means to accomplish godly goals will result in men trying to stand without the power of the Spirit of God.
How many have responded to an emotional call rather than to the Spirit's call as a result of worldly means?
I was watching TV last night (6/27/91) and saw a TV evangelist, Pentecostal, to say the least. He was really building the emotions, and had a big crowd. An emotional appeal will draw people by the thousands into the hands of the speaker. He never even had a Bible open, nor did he quote a verse. His message was only for an astatic experience. His message was urging his hearers to 'give themselves to the Lord," is some emotional sense. It was obvious that he was opening up his hearers to demonic activity.
Worldly means to reach a godly end is folly in the eyes of the Lord. It will be destroyed, and His people who are using it will be chastised.
The Lord gives the results. I will take.. And this is the story of churches and pastors by the hundreds today. The deception of being able to use worldly means for a godly end is reaping nothing but the chastening hand of God.
The best laid plans of men and their wisdom are coming apart.
What is the answer? It is strange indeed, but Isaiah 26:9, With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
In the wisdom of God, we need to pray for His judgment against such foolishness. Why? So the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
"To glory in any person or thing is to trust in him or it as the ground of confidence, or as the source of honour or blessedness. It is to regard ourselves as blessed because of our relation to it." Hodge.
This brings us back to the idea that this church was proud of the wisdom that they and their leaders had attained to. They advertized his and their accomplishments and people were attracted because of this attainment. They were trusting in this attainment for their source of blessing and honor.
This is a perfect description of the Church of Jesus Christ today! With few exceptions, it is proud of, trusting in education, wisdom, knowledge and reasoning ability which it has obtained to from the world. The world has established a standard of learning before it (the world) will pay any attention to the 'religious right.' The Church has gone 'all out' to obtain to that standard, and is proud that it can boast of the approval of the world of its educational institutions.
Every Christian institution of higher learning that I know of, boasts of their educational excellence. This I have no problem with, DEPENDING UPON THEIR DEFINITION OF EDUCATIONAL EXCELLENCE. I assume they refer to educational excellence in terms of the world's definition.
The Christian community today glories in the wisdom of men,
while they sacrifice the power of God.
Paul makes reference to himself, to Apollos and to Cephas. We know that this Church had divided up into parties, each with their favorite man. Evidently, they were puffed up, maybe even comparing attainments and abilities of each group's favorite.
Again, Paul tells them not to glory in this attainment by men. These men are only servants of the Most High God, each trying to do his best by God's grace, at what the Lord called them to do. This Church insisted on following men instead of God.
Paul tells them again, "Don't glory in men's (the world's) wisdom. Rather, glory in the Lord, glory in the cross, glory in the wisdom of God (the word of God), not in what the flesh can do or know. Christ is the source of blessedness, not the attainments of men.
Again, today's Church has lost all sight of this as we hotly peruse the wisdom which the world holds in such high esteem.
Then he gives them another reason not to be all puffed up about these men or the world's wisdom, for all things are yours. In the context of the gospel this means, "ALL THINGS ARE YOURS (the Church's), THROUGH CHRIST, and His work on the cross. In Him is hid all wisdom and knowledge, therefore, whatever we might have, is due to Him and His Spirit working within us. Therefore, why are we glorying as though it was obtained on our own? If you have any light at all, it is of Him." 4:7 & 2 Cor. 4:4.
Here he is not necessarily speaking to individuals, but to the Church, the body of Christ. God's plan today is to work through His covenant people, the Church. He could have uses any means, but He chose to show Himself strong through the Church, the body of Christ.
We could easily get into the doctrine of the Church, local or universal. I see no conflict between the two. All the redeemed are baptized into the body of Christ by the Spirit, the universal. All the obedient redeemed are baptized by water into the local. The Spirit is not restricted to the local in order to show Himself strong. Eph. 3:8-12, would indicate the entire body of Christ, not just a local assembly. (In fact, the Spirit is not restricted to the redeemed, Ps. 76:10.
I would say that the context here in chapter 3 would be speaking of and to God's people in general. There are many other passages which speak of the church in this light, Rom. 4:13; Rom. 8:17; John 17:22; Eph. 1:20-2:9. The church, made up of imperfect individuals, sinners saved by grace, is not yet perfected (it does not yet appear what we shall be), but the individuals are to live in the manner befitting children of the Most High Holy God, Eph. 2:10.
This verse expands the all things of v. 21, to include all things. This would include the ministry of the gospel of redemption and all it entails. Check the promises given by the Lord in Matthew 5, as He took the blessing and the curse from Deut. 28-38 and transferred them from the old nation of Israel to the New Israel, the Church. God's plan is to work through the Church, or Christ would not have had to die.
Again, this would correspond to the passage refereed to above in Ephesians.
Then he gives the reason that all things are theirs. They belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God. "As the church is subject only to Christ, so Christ is subject only to God." Hodge
This verse, as are a great many more, is firmly against incorporation. Incorporation reverses what the Church of Rome has attempted to do down through the ages; subdue the state to itself and its laws. Through incorporation, the state seeks to quietly subdue the church to itself with the many promises of benefits which it makes connected with incorporation.
(To see what even the world has to say about this, here we have a court case, Hale vs. Hinkle.)
"Here God is the employer and the priest is the employee. God is free to violate "public policy" on "equal employment opportunities" and "affirmative action." Businesses are required to follow "public policy" because of Corporate status, licenses and permits. Specifically, in the case of a corporation, the government is the ultimate employer and therefore, that employer can set the standards of employment. The government does not violate our rights, we just voluntarily, perhaps unknowingly, waive them through incorporation, permit, license and so on. In Lesson 11 we said:
"If a church incorporates as a non-profit corporation, then it waives some of its Constitutional rights because the church now exists in contractual relationship under its new sovereign, the State. Unknown to most ministers, an incorporated church with a state licensed minister and I.R.S. permission to be tax-exempt is a "State" church. (Not state religion) This is the process whereby the State gets the authority to tell clergymen what they may not preach. (Bob Jones University tried to preach against inter-racial dating and lost their tax exempt status.) This corporate status is the course of authority to tell church schools that they must have State approved teachers. In addition, the marriage license and marriage before a State licensed clergyman make our children State property. Therefore, the State regulates the education of 'its children'." The legal term is "parens patriae." Here is, in part, the authority for that statement made in Lesson #11:
In this case Mr. Hale, an employee of a corporation, was demanding for the corporation Constitutional rights due to an individual under the Bill of Rights. He did not want to show the corporate books to bureaucrat Hinkle. The Fourth Amendment read, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
The Court held that Mr. Hale had no Fourth Amendment right to privacy due to corporate status. Here is what the court said concerning individual rights vs corporate rights:
"Conceding that the witness was an officer of the corporation with respect to the production of its books and papers, we are of the opinion that there is a clear distinction between an individual and a corporation, and that the latter (the corporation) has no right to refuse to submit its books and papers at the suit of the State. The individual may stand on his rights as a citizen. He is entitled to carry on his private business in his own way. His power to contract is unlimited. He owes no duty to the State or to his neighbors to divulge his business, or open his doors to investigation, so far as it may intend to incriminate him. He owes no such duty to the State, since he receives nothing therefrom, beyond protection of his life and property. His rights are such as exist by law of the land long antecedent to the organization of the State, and can be taken from him by due process of law, and in accordance with the Constitution.
Upon the other hand, the corporation is a creature of the State. It is presumed to be incorporated for the benefit of the public. It receives certain privileges and franchises and holds them subject to the laws of the State and the limitations of its charter. Its powers are limited by law. It can make no contract not authorized by its charter. Its rights to act as a corporation are only preserved to it as long as it obeys its creator. There is a reserved right in the legislature to investigate its contracts and find out whether it has exceeded its powers. It would be a strange anomaly to hold that a State, having chartered a corporation to make use of certain franchises, could not in its sovereignty inquire how these franchises had been employed..."
(Bible Law Course, Lesson 14, Page 4. Bill Strittmatter, Box 481, Lakemore, Ohio 44250.)
Obviously, the body of Christ (universal), cannot be submitted to any other authority. Therefore, Paul and the other NT authors who deal with this principle of authority, would be speaking to the local assembly and to individuals. When these are submitted to another authority, the lordship of Christ is compromised.
The question would be, "How is this done?" The answer is obvious; Whoever we regard as our primary responsibility to obey, they are our god. Through Incorporation, the local church agreed to obey the state first and primarily. They agreed to obey the word of God only as far as the state permits this obedience (the corporate charter).
The church (local assemble) of all things, should and must be subject only to Christ, and this is accomplished by making the word of God (O & NT) its only rule of action. Also included here is not subject to a board of members (Congregational rule), or even to the whims of the pastor, although the pastor must present the word of God in such a way as to direct the church in the way it must go.
and Christ is God's. Myers makes an important point here (vol. VI, pg. 83). One of the parties which Paul is correcting was the Christ-party, 1:12. If Paul had not made this statement, he would have appeared to be in favor of this party. Although right enough in idea, yet they were practically objectionable on the ground of the schismatic misuse made of it. In rejecting the three parties claim of human authority, Paul also had to call attention to the error of Christ-party. Therefore, Paul points out here that even Christ is subject to the Father. "Christ, again, is--not the head of a party, as many among you would make Him, but--belonging to God, and consequently exalted in the highest possible degree above all drawing in of His name into party-contentions. In this way, with no little delicacy, Paul sets the relation of the fourth Corinthian party also-of which ver. 22 did not allow the mention-in the light of the true Christian perspective.."
The objection of Paul to the Christ-party was not against their doctrine, which was no doubt correct. The objection was the pride, the divisions which it brought about.
This gives us some very important points:
First: Persons can be totally correct in their doctrine, even according to the whole of Scripture, yet be creators of schisms by exalting themselves above others they might feel are inferior to their attainment.
Second: Next, we could identify the group we could call, "Red Letter Christians." This would be the idea that we are NT Christians, followers of the words of Christ. This appears to be the majority of professed Christians today, who see the OT as merely a book with some good illustrations in it. This would be the Christ-party which Paul is standing against. He points out that Christ was subject to God the Father of the OT. (One of my 'pet peeves' are Bibles which only are available in "Red Letter Editions.")
The electronic media abounds with preachers and teachers of the word's of Christ. There is nothing wrong with this, except when the "teachings of Christ" are exalted above the rest of Holy Scripture. All Scripture is given by God.., and if it is not viewed and taught thusly, the violators are dividing Christ.
(I heard on the news, 7/15/91, that Chuck Swindal was honored by the Christian Bookseller's Association for his book, The Grace Awakening, as one of the best of 90. May God have mercy upon us, but I am afraid He is going to judge this apostasy.)
Third: This would be against those who would exalt the teachings of Paul over any author or part of Holy Writ. Think a moment, if Paul condemns the Christ-party, how much more the Paul-party, the Apollos-party or the Cephas-party?
Forth: Some that we know of would seem to be on the verge of anarchy, claiming to be followers of Christ, or even directly under the Father, yet have very little, if any, ties with a local church ("I haven't found any which teach the Scriptures." They don't add, although they should, "As I see them," or "which will allow my anarchy").
Here in v. 23, God establishes the 'chain of command." The church, Christ, then God the Father, thereby preventing the exaltation of the Christ-party in pride over their fellow believers. We commonly meet folks who feel they have arrived at a level of closeness to God where they no longer need civil or ecclesiastical (church) authority.
Paul, in the opening of this first letter to the Corinthians, clearly tells them that Christ Himself was subject to the proper authority. If He was, how much more important that we also.
Now, some closing points here:
1. All believers are equal in Christ. They are different in respect to the place in the body of Christ where they have been placed. God ordained those places, God placed each where He desires for them to be. (Paul will deal with this as he goes on.) God established the responsibility of that place, and He established how each office is to be regarded. He tells us the respect which each office is to receive, for their work's sake, 1 Thess. 5:13.
2. All things are yours. This could refer to Rom. 4:13. This could refer to the relationship of the Believer to Christ who is the heir of all things, Rom. 8:17; Jn. 17:22
I am inclined to see this in the context of the world's wisdom vs. God's wisdom. In this context, Paul tells us that the child of God has God's wisdom because they have Christ, the wisdom of God, Eph. 1:8, 17; Col 1:9; 2:3; 3:16; Ja 1:5.
But most obvious is the verse which we have already looked at, 1 Cor. 1:30, 31 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
a. Thus, it is ludicrous for the Child of God to seek after the world's wisdom because the wisdom of God is available to him for the seeking in the Word of God. But, it is so much easer to seek the world's wisdom, it appeals to the flesh.
b. We should not exalt one man above another, because each has been given the measure of grace (and wisdom) according to the will of the Father. Therefore, we do not exalt man, but God.
c. The church is subject to it's head, Christ, who is subject to God. When this order is established and adhered to, the very power and wisdom of God is bestowed at His good pleasure.
Now, this is not teaching subordination. The Tri-une God is equal in all points, but in this present plan which is being worked, They have established an office for each. The Father, the Son, the Spirit.
"The Scriptures speak of a threefold subordination of Christ. !. A subordination as to the mode of subsistence and operation, of the second, to the first person in the Trinity; which is perfectly consistent with their identity of substance, and equality in power and glory. 2. The voluntary subordination of the Son in his humbling himself to be found in fashion as a man, and becoming obedient unto death, and therefore subject to the limitations and infirmities of our nature. 3. The economical or official subjection of the theanthropos. That is, the subordination of the incarnate Son of God, in the work of redemption and as the head of the church. He that is by nature equal with God becomes, as it were officially subject to him." Hodge.
3. Paul is calling sin sin. The sin is exalting one man over another, which also even included himself. "We are followers of Paul." Any idea which departed from making the total word of God the ideal, is condemned, even following the words of Christ.
4. As the American editor of Meyer's points out; "The church was not made for teachers, but the teachers for the church. Paul and Apollos and Cephas, however variously gifted and however diverse their spheres or their modes of action, were yet united by being the common property of all believers."
It would be well if ALL believers, teachers especially, would remember this.
In conclusion: Why should we rejoice in man and his wisdom? It will be brought to nothing. And besides, we have available the wisdom and power of God for the seeking.