Calling vs Worldy Wisdom

Look at you how many of you in Corinth were wise according to worldly standards, strong, high and magnified, or more than mere nothingness? Very few. What does the wise think? How do the strong act? What do the high and magnified do? Paul encourages the Corinthians to consider God’s purpose in the cross of Christ. Humans are arrogant creatures, whether quiet or loud humans have a strong sense of I’m better than you and I did this own my own. God says, I easily make the wise foolish, the strong weak, and the high and magnified low and despised. Why? So I dare not enter the presence of God claiming to arrive via my own wisdom, power, or position. But why is it so important that I know this? Would I rather find out later that my current wisdom, power, or position did not suffice for the God of the universe? How unjust is it for a sovereign God to not declare my unworthiness and then later depart from me because I didn’t measure up. God conveys the message clearly; you are nothing. Thankfully God is an artist who can make something out of nothing. I am a nothing who only found something in Christ. Christ is wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. In Christ I am God’s wisdom, unparalleled by anybody. In Christ I am righteous, which is legit power. In Christ I am sanctified, which is a fantastic position. In Christ I am redeemed, what other position could I desire more?  Dare I walk into the presence of God and boast, not by any means of my own! I may only boast in Christ.

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Sign or Wisdom?

Look around where is the wise, scribe, or debater of this age? Where is the philosopher, theologian, or rhetorician? Have they found God? God’s uncanny abilities make the wisdom of this world foolish. But why? The world did not know God through wisdom it knew Him through the folly of preaching. Jewish culture was eagerly looking for a sign while the Greek culture sought wisdom, yet the answer was foolishly right at their fingertips. It was so close they stumbled over it. The proclaiming of Christ’s crucifixion for those called is “power” (Jewish sign) and “wisdom” (Greek wisdom). I know what the Jewish and Greek culture wanted,but what does my culture want. My hunch is science and entertainment. Often speaking of God will give people good goose bumps, but mentioned the cross of Christ and people cringe and clam up. Speak of Christ’s crucifixion in an academic setting and I’m sure to destabilize the conversational. Because of God’s omniscience his foolishness is wiser than humanity and because of his omnipotence his weakness is stronger than any human. Puzzling that Paul would mention God’s weakness when he is omnipotent or foolishness when he is omniscient. Twill be something nice to meditate on today.

So now God let me rest in your sovereign plan to display your power through the cross. May my proclaimation of Christ on the cross shake the cultures of the world and may I rest peacefully in your wisdom and strength. Lord thank you for people like Keith Getty that help us think of you via music!

The Power of the Cross by Keith Getty

Human Folly Divine Wisdom

It was not unusual for Corinth to have orators roaming the harbor streets answering philosophical questions with their announced wisdom. Voices echoed from their diaphragm exclaiming discerning thoughts and instruction for the ignorant and unlearned fellows.Orators found that good content and quality delivery resulted in at least a modest income. It seemed natural for the people of Corinth to cling to Christian orators like Paul, Apollos,and Cephas. But Paul delivers a stunning blow to their activity by explaining it’s not them it’s Christ. Paul declares for those who are perishing the cross is sheer folly.However, to those being saved the cross is the power of God. The cross seems unwise and less than ideal for a leader claiming to be the Savior of the world. One with discernment would find it quite challenging to explain the cross. How an event cursed by humanity would be used to display the power of God? How in the death of an individual can life be provided for others? How does submission and humiliation grant power and authority? What seemed hopeless was actually God using His power to bring salvation through Christ.

God may my life be passionate about Christ. May I spend my life attempting to comprehend the rich power of  the gospel through the cross. Though it appears foolish may I cherish the wisdom of the cross of Christ.

Unity vs. Division

Paul’s reveals how the church is to function. The local church should be agreed, united, and without division in mind and judgment. Although, the church should be united reports had come to Paul from Chloe’s people indicating division among believers in Corinth. The subject of quarreling, leader following, must have left Paul slightly infuriated. Why? Mark Dever suggests “Paul recognized the importance of dealing with the issues at stake–blasphemy, heresy, pride, folly, immaturity, rebellion, self-deception, and judgment.”

Come on Corinth Apollos, Cephas, nor myself are capable of being compared with Christ. Were any of us crucified for you? Did any of us baptize in our own name? Can Christ be divided?

It is quite natural for people to latch on to different leaders in their church. Some want to follow the senior pastor, while others want to follow the student ministries pastor, while even others want to follow the college pastor, and others may want to follow the missional living pastor. Perhaps one is more educated then the other or one is well spoken from the podium. Another may have exceptional social abilities and does well interacting with every member of the body. Perhaps the other makes wise executive decisions. Each of these leaders may stand out more than the other and little groups in the church easily succumb to gathering support for the personality they like the most. Yes it is despicable and the opposite of God’s designed unity for the local church. We can take this to another level with the extensive reach of TV, radio, and the internet. It is easy for a local church to be divided by prominent preachers they may listen to be it David Jeremiah, John MacArthur, Chuck Swindoll, James MacDonald, Erwin Lutzer, Tim Keller, John Piper, Mark Dever, CJ Mahaney, Mark Driscoll, or DA Carson. For the record Paul states, none of these leaders were crucified for you nor can they baptize in their own name. This isn’t about the leaders this is about a failure to properly display the unity of Christ to a world in desperate need of Him.

Paul’s mission is discerned in verse seventeen where he argues this is not about me; I came to preach about the good news of Jesus Christ. The passion and cry of Paul’s heart is a local body of believers united around the power of the cross of Christ. Paul suggests that the power of preaching is not in my eloquent words of wisdom, but in the crucified Christ.

God may I understand the dangers of causing division in my local church. May I avoid injuring others by magnifying Christ and not people. Your Son CHRIST is the ultimate unifier.

 

Sustainer

SustainerPaul writing to the believers being sanctified in Christ Jesus in Corinth. Those in Corinth and throughout the ancient world were recognized by “calling upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Do those outside of Christ recognize that I am one who calls on Jesus Christ? Is evident at home? Is it evident at work? Is it evident at the park? Is it evident at the restaurant?

Paul delights in the church nestled in the harbor at the city of Corinth because spiritual gifts were not lacking among them. Paul deems the gifts important to validate that their speech and knowledge was enriched by Christ Jesus who is the Sustainer until His day. In the time being trust God’s faithfulness in the fellowship of of His Son. Ah the encouragement that must come to pastors who observe their bodies enriched by Christ so that their knowledge and speech reveal the work of Christ. Individuals are no longer seeking selfish desires, but are utilizing their spiritual gifts to give to those in fellowship with the Son.

Several things stick out in this passage to me:

  • Those who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ are bound together.
  • Christ enriches the knowledge and speech of those who follow Him.
  • God provides spiritual gifts to bring nourishment until the revealing of Christ
    • This is the first time I remember recognizing “spiritual gift” in chapter one. Penciled that in at chapter twelve.
  • Christ is a Sustainer.
  • There is an everlasting fellowship in Christ.
Wordle: I Thessalonians

I Thessalonians by Wordle

Paul’s eternal encouragement is nothing short of an awesome motivational finish. Let God sanctify you completely and may your spirit, soul, and body be blameless when Christ returns. Our God who calls you will certainly do it. I must be intentional about allowing God to perform the sanctifying work in my life recognizing His faithfulness He will do it. Paul invites the Thessalonians to pray for him. I should be constantly praying for those serving the church. Paul puts them under oath to read this letter to all the followers of Christ in Thessalonica. May God’s grace be with you.

Essential Relationships

Paul encourages his brothers to respect those laboring, leading, and admonishing. God finds it pertinent that followers of Christ “know/recognize” their leaders and to think of them with great love. As a follower help me to properly recognize and love those working hard on my behalf to grow in Christ. So Paul invites me to analyze my relationship to leadership. Now he invites to me to analyze my relationship with others. I am called to be peaceful in the local church, although some are idle, fainthearted, and weak. On occasion I am quite likely to succumb to these fleshly troubles and in that case help me to accept the exhortation, encouragement, and help. Patience will help accomplish this well. Good patience will maintain peace among brothers and sisters in Christ. Okay Paul gets even more precise in how to relate with one another. No evil for evil only seeking seeking to be good to one another and everyone in Macedonia. Wow when relationships with leaders and brothers/sisters in Christ are well I will rejoice,pray constantly, and be grateful in every situation. I must look to the Lord to maintain appropriate relationships otherwise I will lose balance and focus taking matters into my own hand. This is part of God’s will in the sanctification process and failure to pay particular attention to these details has devastating consequences, quenching the Holy Spirit. Paul encourages the Thessalonians not to despise prophecies, which must suggest there were some prophesying and others unwilling to accept. Accept but test (I Cor 14:29; I Jn 4:1-3; I Cor 12:10;14:39) holding fasting that which is good and abstaining from every form of evil. The Spirit nor prophecy is going to lead me away from good and toward evil. Paul gets in a mouthful at the end of this letter. What incredible advice for the persecuted Thessalonian church called to be the hope for those in Thessalonica and Macedonia.

God I ask that you help me to maintain honorable relationships with spiritual leaders in my local church. May I also give special attention to exercising patience to maintain peace,which is what you God have willed on your church. May my life thrive in rejoicing, praying, and thanking!