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1 Corinthians 4







As described in previous chapters we see the frustrations of Paul for the church in Corinth coming out. Here we don’t see Paul’s frustrations get the best of him like most us would allow them to (um, like me punching a wall and breaking my hand), Paul keeps a cool attitude in his words. As we read let us seek not only to discern the strong words of this apostle, but also his warmth of heart and his gentle spirit. Here is a man who is a model leader, a model for all to follow.

We read in verse 3 Paul telling the church that he doesn’t really care about the churches judgment of him. He even states that he doesn’t even judge himself. Paul is not being arrogant or saying anything that he is above fellow ministers, other Christians, or even certain unbelievers. He is saying that the human verdict of his life is not the one that matters, not even his own verdict. Most of us are unaware of some of our sin, like Paul states in verse 4. But does us being unaware of our sin make us justified from it? Absolutely not! Does this allow others to judge us for our sin that we are unaware of? Absolutely not! I love Paul’s statement at the end of verse 4, “It is the Lord who judges me.”

Verse 5 is one that can haunt us. Paul says, “So don’t judge anything prematurely, before the Lord comes, who will both bring to light what is hidden in darkness and reveal the intentions of the hearts.” This refers to the inner motives, thoughts, and attitudes which only God can know,  since final rewards will be based not just on outward service, but on inward devotion as well. Maybe some food for thought, huh?

We see in verses 6-13 Paul telling the church in Corinth that everything he has told them so far in his letter, he and Apollos have applied to their life as well. Just like the church in Corinth, we as a church have nothing to boast about. Everything we have has been given to us. What do we have that we didn’t receive? And when we receive something, what gives us the right to call it our own? Like Paul describes his life in verses 9 -13, should we also be displayed in the same manner? Should we live our lives as if we have received nothing? What God has given us, we should be good stewards of. God gave us resources so we could reach a community, county, state, country, and world for His name.

As Paul states in verse 14, “I am not writing this to shame you,” I too, am not writing this shame us. As I write this God is doing a number in my life as well. It’s never easy to say things to others that God lays on your heart when you too are in the same boat. Paul calls the church in Corinth to imitate his life. A life that is fully devoted to giving everything he has for the sake of the Gospel. We too, as a church and Christian must imitate not only the life of Paul, but first and foremost the life of Jesus Christ.

Posted by Roy Lanten with

1 Corinthians 3






So far in our journey through Corinthians in just 3 chapters we have already learned a lot about the church in Corinth. As Joe described the church got off to an incredible start with Paul and Apollos laying the foundation, we even see mention of this in our chapter together this morning. Another thing we see is how messed up this church is. They have lost sight of the things that led them to their great success. Here is a hint, it wasn’t Paul or Apollos. Stay tuned to find out more about that. I believe there is a lot we could learn from this passage because in a lot of ways the American church is strikingly similar in a lot of ways, so lets dig in.

We open up this chapter with a rather stark statement from Paul in verse 1-3. It is clear that Paul is disappointed with the church and speaks very plainly about it telling them that he would not even characterize them as spiritual people. For a church that has done some great ministry, this cannot be easy to hear. In verse two Paul is using an illustration we find quite often in the New testament, Hebrews 5:12, 1 Peter 2:2, and John 16:12 are just a couple of examples. When we come into a saving relationship with Jesus we start a spiritual journey. The point of this journey is not to stay the same, but move on to maturity in Christ. In the same way a baby moves from a liquid diet to solid food as they grow. He then tells they church that they should be ready to move on, but they are still worldly people, or of the flesh.

The word flesh is used 3 times in this opening statement so there is clearly something important here we must stop and think about. When we read this passage in English all we see is the word “flesh” but Paul actually uses two different words here. The first case is in verse 1. the greek word is sarkinos, which means “characterized by the flesh.” The second word is sarkikos, which means “made of flesh.” I think Paul is using both terms here simply to further express his disappointment with the church. Although the church is filled with Christians, they are living and acting like the lost world around them.

We have spent most of our time so far on just the first three verses but it is important for us to develop these thoughts before we move to the heart of this passage. In verse 4 Paul gives us a clue as to what some of the issues in this church have been. Some of the division in the church has been over which pastor they like better. I believe we find the heart of this passage, or the turning point if you were in bible study last Wednesday in verses 5-9.

It is clear as we observe the life of Paul that the Lord worked in some truly magnificent ways through him, but we know without the saving grace of Jesus, and the work of the Holy Spirit none of this would have happened with the man once known as Saul who killed Christians. This is exactly what Paul is saying in this section. He uses terms like planting and watering because we are the laborers God has placed in the field. Paul wants to make it clear that even though we labor, the real miracle of salvation is the work of God. He is the foundation for our faith. He is the only foundation on which our lives, families, and especially churches should stand on.

In verse 10 Paul tells us we should all take care of how our foundation is built. He then goes on the talk about how the fire will test the fork that we have done. This message goes out to anybody who contributes in any way to build up the church. Although as Christians we will not face condemnation on the final day of judgement, God will surely judge our works as we labor here on earth.

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells in you?” As we bring this to a close, will you simply take a moment and let the words of verse 16 rest over you. The very Spirit of God dwells in you and equips you for ministry. That is Good news! This means we do not have to lean on our own understanding, but we can lean on His who is a firm foundation. Take a moment and observe where your foundation is. Is it built in a preferred pastor, or worship style? Or is it grounded in the truth of the scripture. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve with some incredible people at this church and to do some amazing ministry with them. But let us not ever forget why we do ministry and where our foundation is.

Posted by Josh Boles with

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