AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH
Lord’s Day, Sunday September 7, 2003
CARNAL NAMES, CHRISTIAN CLAIMS & GODLY LIVING
I Corinthians Chs. 3- 5:8
I. THERE IS ONE NAME, MANY ARE THE FUNCTIONS I Cor. 3:1-10
Christ is one, but carnal competition readily brings competing names, none that of Christ! This is baby work, kindergarten Christianity. Having shown the basis of Christianity in Jesus Christ crucified, and His word, and asked: Was Paul crucified for you! he proceeds to rebuke the personalised divisions.
Certainly Paul is a master-builder (I Cor. 3:10), but it is as God enables, not as man prescribes. “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one ? I planted, Apollos watered but God gave the increase.”
We, says Paul, are God’s workers, HE repays, but as to us, we merely function for Him. I have laid the foundation (I Cor. 3:11), says Paul, and Apollos builds.
2. ALL WHO BUILD NEED TO REALISE THE ASSESSMENT COMES 3:11-23
If straw is the building
material, flames may be its end! And there is loss. What is being built is a
temple of living stones, and “Do you not know that
you are the temple
of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you ?”
In view of that, the caution comes to one and to all:
“If anyone defiles the
temple of God, God will destroy
him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple are you.”
How sharply this rebukes popes and sect leaders, indeed all who growl like dogs and play with tongues as if they were a psychic instrument in church, despising the necessity to interpret all things, and be clear! (I Corinthians 14:26). Are you WISE in your understanding so that you innovate ? If so, then remember Nadab and Abihu, as in Leviticus 10, who had ‘ideas’ about how to approach God with fires of their own devising – ‘strange fire’. They perished. Moses had to instruct Aaron carefully, not to provoke God further by making too much fuss about the divine intervention against those two.
Therefore avoid efforts to join church and world in some spiritual vitamiser, as if to make a ‘happy’ mixture. The wisdom of this world is consigned to judgment (cf. James 4:4 – to have friendship with this world is to have enmity with God!). WHY SEEK from such POLLUTED SOURCES! ALL things are yours, says Paul, whether Peter or Paul, Apollos, the world, life death; and YOU are CHRIST’s. Be clear on that!
DIFFERENCES ARE FOR SERVICE NOT DISSENSION
I Cor. 4:1-7
As stewards of divine mysteries, apostles are not really under human jurisdiction, except in this, that they must follow the word and ways of Christ. Paul does not even judge himself, knowing that any sort of ‘evaluation’ comes in the end from God who knows all. Here is the integrity of the servant, before his master; God’s people must not fear men: but Paul is far from claiming exemption from responsibilities and duties in the most lowly manner.
It is God who makes us differ, so why glory in the diversity ?
4. APOSTLES ARE SUFFERERS, NOT KINGS, but if the case comes,
The Kingdom of God is not merely verbal: it is dynamic (cf. Acts 4-5) I Cor. 4:8-21
In fact, if you want apostolic difference, then these have been made “a spectacle to the world,” like condemned men, looking like “fools for Christ’s sake”, for to “the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless, and we labour, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless, being persecuted, we endure…”
Nor is this done in some sense of cold or clammy duty! Paul feels like a father with his children as he seeks to bring blessing to the people who believe; and hence he is even sending Timothy to the Corinthians church, like a son to him, to “remind you of my ways.” But if there is need, he Paul indeed comes, to remind them that if there is to be departure from the ways of Christ, the will of God, the kingdom of God will be found not only to mean apostolic longsuffering, but divine power to purify, purge, to keep and bring His people health.
Hoping for peace, he yearns to be gentle with
but must there be discipline ?
5. IMMORALITY IS NOT IMMUNE, AND GLORYING IN FLESH IS MADNESS 5:1-8
Horror then takes the apostle, for someone has had sexual relations with his own mother (possibly a step-mother, but possibly not). Do they talk and strive about this, instead of mourning as at a death! Paul has delivered the culprit to Satan for “destruction of the flesh”, so that his spirit might be saved in that day. You recall Job! Satan can be USED, even when the soul is preserved, in a test! It is ALWAYS better to suffer now the correction of the Father of lights, than to dwell forever in darkness! (cf. Hebrews 12).
Purity of heart, tongue and life is not an option. It is required. If there is error, as with cancer, it needs correction. Nothing impure can last: it is only a question of what is needed for correction, and how soon!
The “unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” is required, that of Christ, not of some combination of pleasure and pollution mixed together with purity and salvation. Salvation is TO Christ, FOR Christ, FROM Christ and BY Christ, the only foundation. Since HE lives, those who are saved in reality, not mere word, find themselves directed by His dynamic, inspected by His Spirit, fortified by His functions, willing to be at peace where truth lies, and to work without thought of gain. It is for the Lord, and in the Lord is it all to be done. “For me,” says Paul in Philippians, “to live is Christ.” Saved by God, we live in Him, as branches in their own vine. It is then, in Him, that one’s fruit is to be found (Hosea 14:8). In “bearing all things” the Christian is to do this, bear also good fruit, filled with the sap and mark of its origin.