Posts

Showing posts from July, 2019

“The Inward Man”

BIBLE READING:2 Corinthians 4
Some religionists are materialists, contending that man is totally material.  Supposedly, he does not have a spirit or soul. The Bible does not endorse this thinking. In 2 Corinthians 4:8ff, Paul had discussed the great tribulations to which children of God are heir. In spite of these difficulties, he says, “we faint not.” Why? Although our “outward man” (the physical body) is progressively decaying, the “inward man” is being renewed day by day (energized by the divine Spirit through the Word of God). What is the “inward man”? Clearly it is the soul of the person that abides, in this case the Christian’s soul as strengthened by divine instruction regardless of what happens to the body (Eph 6:17). The Lord Himself taught that man may destroy the body, but he cannot destroy the soul (Mat 10:28). The inner man is accountable to the law of God (Romans 7:22) and is capable of being strengthened by divine influence through sacred truth (Eph 3:16; 6:17). This passage…

“Unveiled Face”

BIBLE READING:2 Corinthians 3
All Christians, not just one man as in the case of Moses, behold the glory of the Lord.  No veil is required. This has a transforming effect on all who do it. It is in the Christian looking upon the Lord in the worship of him that a miracle of transformation is wrought. Paul revealed the secret of how to be “transformed" (Romans 12:2). The word "beholding" in classical Greek means "looking at one's self in a mirror." That required steady looking when mirrors were metal, and so the word came to mean simply, to gaze steadily. G.W. McGarvey gave the importance of this to be, "Now Jesus is that Spirit, or new covenant of which I have been speaking (2 Corinthians 3:3,6,8); and where that new covenant is, there is liberty, especially the liberty of seeing (without a veil)." In this view, spirit would not be capitalized. Others also favored this understanding of it saying, "(What the Christian beholds) is the manifestatio…

“Forgive the Sinner”

BIBLE READING:2 Corinthians 2
In 2 Corinthians 2:5-11 Paul revisits a problem that was explained in 1 Corinthians 5.  A man had taken his father's wife as his own.  Paul told the brethren to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved.  From what is said here, it seems they had done what Paul prescribed. The punishment delivered had the desired effect.The man had already suffered sufficiently. Paul gave proof of his parental tenderness towards this great transgressor. The man had been disowned by the Church, he had deeply repented, and now the apostle pleads for him.He had now suffered enough.The punishment inflicted had answered the end for which it was rendered.There was some danger that if this poor offender were not restored to the bosom of the Church, his distress and anguish would destroy his life or drive him to despair. He may have felt that even though he had repented he could never be a member of the church because of his past…

“Do All Things in Love”

BIBLE READING:1 Corinthians 13- 2 Corinthians 1
Although we are very familiar with I Corinthians 13 being Paul’s chapter of love, that isn’t the only place that Paul addresses the subject.As Paul concludes his letter to the church at Corinth, he includes this summarization of love.“Let all that you do be done in love.” (I Corinthians 16.14).If you think about it, that is exactly what Paul had done with this letter.Did he rebuke them?Yes, on their issues concerning their division and sexual immorality among other things.Yet the driving force behind his rebuke was always love; his love for Christ, his love for the church, his love for the brethren in Corinth.Sometimes we must do some unfortunate and uncomfortable things because of our love for others.Solomon said, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” (Proverbs 13.24).That means if parents truly love their children, they will discipline them when needed, in hopes of teaching them.Othe…

“A Death Sentence”

BIBLE READING:2 Corinthians 1
The sentence of death in this scripture does not mean any decree of heaven, or appointment of God that they should die, nor any sentence of death passed on them by the government, but an opinion or persuasion in their own minds.They looked upon themselves as dead men.The tribulation was so violent and overwhelming that Paul had no hope of escaping death. Paul means that there was such a violent upsurge of evil against preachers of the faith that death was staring them in the face. He was expecting death, but things had not come to that point. In the natural course of events he should have died, but God did not allow that to happen so that Paul would learn to trust in God and not himself.Paul's troubles were of such a nature as to take away all expectation of help except from God alone.God does not refuse His protection to people in extreme danger, especially when they belong to Him. He rescues them when they are in deep despair. Their affliction was so…

“Spiritual Warfare”

BIBLE READING:1 Corinthians 16
Every Christian should realize that we are in a spiritual fight.We face an adversary that wants to destroy us.As Christians we should dedicate our lives to the defense of the church and her members."Fear not the things which thou art about to suffer: behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life."(Rev 2:10 ASV) I have heard some simplify this verse as, "Be faithful, even if it kills you." Christ has given us the equipment we need to carry out our duties:watching, standing firm in the faith, acting like men, and being strong.These can be considered masculine traits due to the military analogies, but they are not and should not be limited only to men.Feminists might concede that men are strong and courageous in some cases, but foolishly so. We are told that women are loving and nurturing, and thes…

“The Resurrection of the Body”

BIBLE READING:1 Corinthians 15
For centuries skeptics have mocked Christians for their belief in a bodily resurrection.The mockers pose examples of people who died, and their bodies decompose.As the body goes back to the earth, its molecules and atoms are absorbed by plants, the plants are then eaten by animals, and the scenario continues until the person's body is scattered into so many plants and animals that it cannot be recognized.To Christians this is no problem.We believe the God that created man is able to bring his scattered body back together again. Modern doubters raise the same questions as the Greeks had in the first century."How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?" (15:35)Paul responded that the question was irrelevant.There are bodies of all types.God created them with glory of different sorts (15:35-41).The body of the resurrected will be incorruptible, glorified, and spiritual. Since there are earthly bodies of different types, does…

“Speaking in Tongues”

BIBLE READING:1 Corinthians 14
The Corinthian church was far from perfect.They had problems in many areas but especially with speaking in tongues.Even though there were those in the church that had a variety of gifts of the Spirit, it seems most wanted to speak in tongues.People often think the language spoken was mysterious and unknown.However, “tongues” referred to speaking a language that you had never studied.
On the Day of Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples were gathered in Jerusalem along with people from every nation under heaven (Acts 2:5).As the Apostles began preaching to the crowd, everyone heard them in their own language.The crowd was astonished at this miracle."How is it that we hear, each of us in his own language?(Acts 2:8,ESV)The Apostles were speaking real languages, understood by the people gathered there.
Paul is not saying that speaking in tongues was a "bad" or lesser gift to have.He is saying if a person came speaking in tongues, the …

“That Which is Perfect”

BIBLE READING:1 Corinthians 13
During the First Century, miracles were common.They were performed by Jesus and the Apostles.There were also others given this power as well.The power to do the supernatural could be passed from an Apostle to someone else by the laying on of hands.However, that person could not pass on the gift. The main purpose of miracles was to support the word being taught, not to be used selfishly or for gain.In Acts 8 we have the account of the conversion of Simon the Sorcerer. He was baptized and then offered Peter money in exchange for the gift of being able to pass on the Holy Spirit.But Peter said unto him, "Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.  Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God."  (Act 8:20-21 KJV). These spiritual gifts were to come to an end.Paul didn't explain what "perfect" is in 13:10. As a result, the phrase …

“The Power of Influence”

BIBLE READING:1 Corinthians 8-12
When I was in high school, I enjoyed playing on the basketball team.Let me clarify, I wasn’t very good, but I did get to play a good bit.There was one day in school before one of our bigger games, coach came into our class and grabbed us players to make a visit down to the elementary building.When we first walked into the doors of the elementary building, we were greeted by what seemed like hundreds of kids.They were screaming out our names, holding up posters and asking for our autographs.I was so shocked to listen to some of the kids tell me I was their favorite player and that they wanted my number on their jersey when they grew up.I’ll admit, the thought did occur to me that coach had staged this to get us motivated for the big game, but that quickly faded when one of the kids yelled out my stat line from the night before.Again…let me clarify…it wasn’t a very good stat line, but the kid knew it nonetheless.I felt like I was on top of the world and w…

“There Goes the church of Christ”

BIBLE READING:1 Corinthians 12
A minister was visiting an elderly lady in her home.  She was crippled and couldn't get out.  After a short visit, the minister left.  As he was walking out, he noticed some boys playing in the street.  One of the boys look familiar; he had attended worship services with an aunt. As he passed by he heard the boy, who recognized him, explain to his friend, "There goes the church of Christ."  The minister didn't stop to explain to the boys that he was not "the church of Christ."    That phrase would not leave the minister’s mind.It lay there in his brain, as words from the mouths of innocent children tend to do.If he was not "the church of Christ", who was?After all, he could have been doing a number of other things when the boys saw him, maybe even something that was wrong. On this day, when a small boy pointed and said, "There goes the church of Christ," he had shown his friend a man visiting a lonely, ailing…

“Aspects of the Lord’s Supper”

BIBLE READING:1 Corinthians 11
When Christians come together on the first day of the week, they are instructed by the Bible to do certain things, commonly referred to as "Acts of Worship."  In 1 Cor 11 Paul centers on the Lord's Supper.  The Corinthian brethren were not observing this act of worship in the correct way.  They had confused the Lord's Supper with a common meal.  The rich would have plenty, but the poor might not have anything. The Lord's Supper is not about taking nourishment to sustain the body, but to nourish the soul.When Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper, He was in the upper room with His disciples.After they had eaten the Passover Meal, He gave them bread and wine (Luke 22:19-20).When Jesus broke the bread, He said, "Do this in remembrance of Me."There are three aspects to the remembering. We are to look BACK to Jesus' sacrifice on the cross.Believers are bound together as a people by their common confession that Jesus of Nazare…

“Not Seeking My Own Profit”

BIBLE READING:1 Corinthians 10
As the Apostle Paul was judged, not only for what he said but what he did, we also have to be cautious about words and deeds.  To Paul's credit, he was willing to accept that responsibility.  Throughout chapter 9, we see him appeal to his own example.  He argued that insistence on one's rights is not a top priority for Christians.  He even dared to say to the Corinthians, “I beseech you therefore, be ye imitators of me" (1Co 4:16 ASV).  It is reasonable for those who hear the gospel to expect their teachers to take it seriously in their own lives.The effectiveness of every preacher will, to some degree, be measured by his ability to state that he is not seeking his own profit but the profit of the many, so they may be saved. We see how this one passion ruled Paul's behavior in all things.He was willing to yield to men in matters where only his own comfort, but not his conscience, was concerned.He sought to please all men in all things; not…

“Everyone Can Be a Winner”

BIBLE READING:1 Corinthians 9
Paul uses runners in the Greek games as examples of how we are to live as Christians. The first thing to notice is the utmost tension, energy, and strenuous effort pictured by athletes straining for the finish line in hope of the glory of winning. "This is the way to run," says Paul, "if we want to attain our potential." In many sports today, especially among younger kids, everyone wins.At the end of the season every child gets a trophy.Is this a good idea?Maybe, but everyone knows the players who did well and those who didn't.Paul says that the runners agonize to win the crown. That crown was not gold or silver, but leaves.Just a wreath of leaves for the head of the runner was the reward for winning. When we consider the Christian race, we know everyone can be a winner.I'm not trying to "beat you out" of a place in heaven.Jesus says His Father's mansion has many rooms.We all can have one.We need to add qualities of …

“Puffed Up”

BIBLE READING:1 Corinthians 8
The words Paul uses here are seemingly benign, but they may be the central issue of the Corinthian letters.  Being puffed up was the sin that led Satan to separate from God's government.  He became puffed up about himself.  Likewise, the Corinthians were puffed up about how much they knew.  This was generally the feeling of all Greeks.  It cannot be taken away from them because their history has been full of great thinkers, but having immense knowledge is of no help if someone doesn’t know what God wants them to do to be saved. Satan thought so much of himself that he became twisted in his thinking, and he attacked God. We do not attack God directly—this book shows us that we instead attack each other! Therein lies the problem. We attack each other through gossip, rumors, accusations, etc. We may accuse those around us of committing all sorts of sins against us.We may withdraw from them.We say to ourselves, "they were mean to me", "they ar…

“Stewards of the Mysteries of God”

BIBLE READING:1 Corinthians 3- 7
Ray Steadman was a famous preacher and author from California.He passed away in 1992 and at his request on his tombstone in Grants Pass, Oregon, are engraved these words: "He was a faithful steward." As a noted author Ray had received many accolades during his lifetime, but he wanted to be remembered as simply a servant who faithfully dispensed God's glorious truth to God's people.That seems to be the same sentiment of Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:1: "Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God".A “steward” is defined as an “overseer” who has been given a responsibility to oversee the distribution of funds, or some other items.As Paul uses it here specifically, it is being an “overseer” of the “mysteries of God”.Although Paul was speaking of himself and Apollos as they had been inspired by God with the miraculous gifts from the Holy Spirit, we can also infer this to apply to us t…

“Circumcision is Nothing”

BIBLE READING:1 Corinthians 7
Three times Paul made this statement, each time concluding with a powerful statement, "keeping the commandments of God." In Galatians 5:6, it is "faith working through love"; and in Galatians 6:15, it is "a new creation." Basically, what this means is that circumcision has no bearing on final salvation. Circumcision had initially been practiced by the Jews to separate them from the rest of humanity.In the Gospel Age no one was commanded to be circumcised.Paul says it didn't matter.Let them remain as they are.However, all men were to obey the commandments of God.It is erroneously said by some that this has reference to the Ten Commandments, but those commandments had been taken out of the way.Even though this is true, all of these commandments have been repeated in the New Testament save, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Ex 20:8).  Today we are admonished to keep the commandments of God that appear in th…

“Going to Court with a Brother”

BIBLE READING:1 Corinthians 6
Paul is saying, "If you go to man's law in charging your brother, you have already lost! It does not matter how the judge decides it.  As far as God is concerned, you have lost the case!" Paul's instructions are clear. In a case involving brothers, a Christian had better be prepared to "lose," as an act of faith, out of respect for Christ, the Head of the church. By faith, we know that He will judge the situation. He has enough wisdom to do that and the power to carry out His judgments.Do we have enough faith to allow Him to do it? He owns us! We are His slaves! He purchased every one of us with His blood! He has the right to judge between brothers, and we are to submit to His authority by faith and allow Him to judge.If a judgment is reached within the church, the brothers must be willing to accept it with the knowledge that they can, by faith, appeal to a higher court, and Christ will vindicate the righteous. It may not happen o…

“Don’t Worry About Me”

BIBLE READING:1 Corinthians 5
The problem that Paul was facing was fornication, specifically, a man having relations with his father's wife.Many commentators believe "his father's wife" refers to his stepmother. "I think it most natural to conclude that the person in question had married the wife of his deceased father, not his own mother, but stepmother, then a widow." (Adam Clarke) Consider the situation as seen from the sinful man's view.Did he think he was doing anything wrong?Like so many today who deny their sin(s), this son could have said, "Don't worry about me!"Unfortunately, this was the attitude of the Corinthian church.Paul criticizes the church for ignoring the sin.The church membership knew of the situation but made no move to remedy it.They felt they were being generous, longsuffering, and loving toward this young man just by allowing the sin to go unchallenged. It would be hard to believe that the church at Corinth didn't…

“Judging Our Brethren”

BIBLE READING:1 Corinthians 4
Paul is entangled in a situation concerning how he is handling his Apostleship.   The Corinthians had even started to judge him because of some of his actions, passing judgment where they were ignorant.  Who could judge an apostle on what he was doing?  It would be a difficult thing to find a job description of an apostle.  We can see what the apostles did in the Bible, but this doesn't mean that those things were the only things an apostle was to do. These brethren wanted to judge Paul.Passing judgment on someone based on our narrow perspective and prejudice is an exercise in futility with nothing of spiritual value to be gained. The prime motivator for judging others is to elevate or justify the self.For some reason, there are people who place their value in the kingdom above others just to feel better about themselves. Paul did not even pass judgment on himself! He did examine himself because he wrote to this same church, "Examine yourselves as t…

“The Milk of the Word”

BIBLE READING:1 Corinthians 3
Paul judges the Corinthians as weak based upon their behaviors and attitudes, which reflected no spiritual progress. He "fed" these immature Christians elementary knowledge because things of greater depth would have gone unappreciated, misunderstood, and unused. Our spiritual “diet” is directly tied to growth in understanding, behavior, and attitude.We would never consider feeding an infant from our plate at the table.A baby doesn't have the "growth" to handle such food and must gradually grow into the ability to east solid food. In I Corinthians 3, the embarrassing immaturity that required him to feed the people like babies also produced strife and factions in the congregation, proving that the people were far more carnal than converted. The account in Hebrews is more complex: The people had once been more mature but had regressed. It is a situation vaguely similar to elderly people becoming afflicted with dementia, except that fait…

“Letters”

BIBLE READING: Romans 14- 1 Corinthians 2

               Romans and 1 Corinthians are interesting books to be back-to-back in the New Testament.  Paul writes a letter to the church at Rome, a church he didn’t help establish and that he didn’t have a very close relationship with.  It is followed by his first letter to the Corinthian church, a congregation of Christians that he helped to establish, visited quite often, and knew very well.  You can see that in the way he writes to each of them.  The book of Romans is a generic, detailed letter about the importance of Christianity, how we are saved, and what we should do upon obeying the Gospel.  1 Corinthians has a different tone.  Since he is very familiar with the people there, he addresses specific problems they were dealing with.  He knew they already had the foundation in God’s Word that they needed since he came “declaring to you the testimony of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:2)  And, of course, all of this helps us to deepen our faith and…

“Do You Know GOD?”

BIBLE READING: 1 Corinthians 2
“We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior.” – Stephen Covey                It is very hard to know what’s going on inside the mind of someone else.  No matter how hard one may try, we just cannot know what’s in someone else’s mind.  You could spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year with someone, and learn all about them, and a lot of times be able to predict their responses to situations, or their behavior.  But, no matter how well you think you know them, you will never know for sure what’s going on inside their own mind.                1 Corinthians 2:10-11 says, “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.  For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.  For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?  Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.”  No one can really know what’s going on in your mind unless you reveal to them your true …

“UNITY”

BIBLE READING: 1 Corinthians 1

               Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things, but just look at what they can do when they stick together. – Vesta Kelly
               There can be union without unity: tie two cats together by their tails and throw them over a clothesline.  – Unknown
               Unity is a common theme throughout the Bible.  It is something that can be seen as extremely important to God.  As Paul opens his letter to the church at Corinth, this is the first topic that Paul proceeds to bring their attention to.  You can imagine that the church at Corinth would face a lot of problems.  The city itself, was located on an isthmus, a narrow stretch of land that connected two landmasses, and was also a port city.  So, land traffic, and sea traffic was very high in this city.  This means that there was a lot of opportunity for other people/cultures/religious beliefs to influence the people of this city.  Paul emphasizes that they must be on guard and pr…

“Do You Care?”

BIBLE READING: Romans 16
               Remember the board game Memory?  It had a bunch of tiles all with the same artwork on the back and a different picture on the front.  There were always two of each picture.  To play, all of the tiles were laid face down in any order, and on your turn, you had to turn over two tiles.  If they matched, you got to keep the tiles and go again.  If they didn’t, it was the next person’s turn.  You had to pay attention to all the little details of what every player’s turn was.  What was the picture?  Where was it located?  Because when it was your turn, you had to remember every little detail so you could find a matching pair.                 I used to be good at that game.  As I get older, I’m not so sure I am anymore.  I have a hard time remembering things, especially people’s names.  Romans 16 encourages me to do better though.  Paul, in writing this letter to the church at Rome has now reached the part of his letter to “wrap things up”.  And, he addr…

“Do You have HOPE?”

BIBLE READING: Romans 15
               What happens to people when they lose hope? They give up. They quit. Hope and perseverance go together. (Romans 5:3-4)  Hope is a future promise that keeps us going. It is the carrot before the donkey. Hope knows that there is a goal, and that goal is worth pursuing.  It doesn’t matter how difficult the path is. If we don’t have hope, we won’t have perseverance.                Paul writes in Romans 15 that everything in the Scripture—the Old Testament—was written to instruct us in the Christian hope. Throughout the Old Testament we see God’s faithfulness, in spite of, man’s sin. We see the saints going through times of suffering and discouragement. We see the saints trudging through the wilderness, aimless with no direction.  We also see that, in time, God brings them back for greater service than before. The kingdom of God never shrinks.  It may seem to disappear for a season, but it always emerges mightier than before.                With the enc…

“Our Conscience”

BIBLE READING: Romans 14
               The story is told of a magic ring among the ancients which had the appearance of any other ring, but which was possessed of extraordinary qualities.  Whenever an evil thought passed through the mind of the man who wore the ring, or when he was tempted to do evil, the ring pressed painfully upon his finger.  This is only a story, but each of us does have such a “ring” – the conscience.  We should respect it.                A small boy defined conscience as, “Something that makes you tell your mother before your sister does.”  Conscience is an umpire.  The umpire reacts on the basis of values previously acquired.  An umpire without knowledge of standards is a poor umpire.  The conscience is not a guide.  It is an umpire that reacts on the basis of previously acquired standards.                Romans 14 deals a lot with the issue of conscience and how we relate to our brothers and sisters in Christ.  But how important is conscience?  The Bible gives u…