Verses preaching the "Gospel of Jesus"
Part 41- PAULS FIRST LETTER to the CORINTHIANS
GREETINGS AND THANKSGIVING
41.1 GREETINGS, THANKSGIVING, AWAITING THE RETURN OF JESUS IN HIS STRENGTH
1 Corinthians 1:1-9 - Paul, commissioned by the will of God as a messenger of Jesus Christ, and Sosthenes, a Christian brother, to the church of God at Corinth - to those whom Christ has made holy, who are called to be God's men and women, to all true believers in Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours - grace and peace be to to you from God the Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ!
I am thankful for your faith
I am always thankful to God for what the gift of his grace in Jesus Christ has meant to you - how, as the Christian message has become established among you, he has enriched your whole lives, from the words on your lips to the understanding in your hearts. And you have been eager to receive his gifts during this time of waiting for his final appearance. He will keep you steadfast in the faith to the end, so that when his day comes you need fear no condemnation. God is utterly dependable, and it is he who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord.
I - MAJOR FAULTS CONDEMNED
SERIOUS DIVISIONS IN THE CHURCH
41.2 REJECT DIVISIONS; BE UNITED IN THE GOSPEL OF THE CRUCIFIED CHRIST
1 Corinthians 1:10-17 - Now I do beg you, my brothers, by all that Christ means to you, to speak with one voice, and not allow yourselves to be split up into parties. All together you should be achieving a unity in thought and judgment. For I know, from what some of Chloe's people have told me, that you are each making different claims - "I am one of Paul's men," says one; "I am one of Apollos'," says another; or "I am one of Cephas'"; while someone else says, "I owe my faith to Christ alone."
Do consider how serious these divisions are!
What are you saying? Is there more than one Christ? Was it Paul who died on the cross for you? Were you baptised in the name of Paul? It makes me thankful that I didn't actually baptise any of you (except Crispus and Gaius), or perhaps someone would be saying I did it in my own name. (Oh yes, I did baptise Stephanas' family, but I can't remember anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to see how many I could baptise, but to proclaim the Gospel. And I have not done this by the persuasiveness of clever words, for I have no desire to rob the cross of its power.
41.3 CHRIST CRUCIFIED IS MADNESS IN THE WORLD'S EYES; TO THOSE WHO ARE SAVED IT IS THE WISDOM OF GOD
1 Corinthians 1:18-25 - The preaching of the cross is, I know, nonsense to those who are involved in this dying world, but to us who are being saved from that death it is nothing less than the power of God.
The cross shows that God's wisdom is not man's wisdom by any means
It is written:
'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent' (Isaiah 29:14).
For consider, what have the philosopher, the writer and the critic of this world to show for all their wisdom? Has not God made the wisdom of this world look foolish? for it was after the world in its wisdom failed to know God, that he in his wisdom chose to save all who would believe by the "simple-mindedness" of the Gospel message. For the Jews ask for miraculous proofs and the Greeks an intellectual panacea, but all we preach is Christ crucified - a stumbling block to the Jews and sheer nonsense to the Gentiles, but for those who are called, whether Jews or Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. And this is really only natural, for God's foolishness" is wiser than men, and his "weakness" is stronger than men.
41.4 MANY OF THE CHOSEN ARE THE WEAK AND DESPISED; THEN NONE CAN BOAST OF THEIR OWN WISDOM AND STRENGTH
1 Corinthians 1:26-31 - For look at your own calling as Christians, my brothers. You don't see among you many of the wise (according to this world's judgment) nor many of the ruling class, nor many from the noblest families. But God has chosen what the world calls foolish to shame the wise; he has chosen what the world calls weak to shame the strong. He has chosen things of little strength and small repute, yes and even things which have no real existence to explode the pretensions of the things that are - that no man may boast in the presence of God. Yet from this same God you have received your standing in Jesus Christ, and he has become for us the true wisdom, a matter, in practice, of being made righteous and holy, in fact, of being redeemed. And this makes us see the truth of scripture:
'He who glories, let him glory in the Lord (Jeremiah 9:24).
41.5 PAUL CAME IN WEAKNESS AND FEAR AND PREACHED NOTHING BUT THE DEATH OF JESUS ON THE CROSS
1 Corinthians 2:1-5 - In the same way, my brothers, when I came to proclaim to you God's secret purpose, I did not come equipped with any brilliance of speech or intellect. You may as well know now that it was my secret determination to concentrate entirely on Jesus Christ and the fact of his death upon the cross. As a matter of fact, in myself I was feeling far from strong; I was nervous and rather shaky. What I said and preached had none of the attractiveness of the clever mind, but it was a demonstration of the power of the Spirit! Plainly God's purpose was that your faith should not rest upon man's cleverness but upon the power of God.
41.6 ONLY GOD'S CHOSEN PEOPLE CAN UNDERSTAND THIS MYSTERY; THE WORLD CAN NOT
1 Corinthians 2:6-10a - We do, of course, speak "wisdom" among those who are spiritually mature, but it is not what is called wisdom by this world, nor by the powers-that-be, who soon will be only the powers that have been. The wisdom we speak of is that mysterious secret wisdom of God which he planned before the creation for our glory today. None of the powers of this world have known this wisdom - if they had they would never have crucified the Lord of glory! But as it is written:
'Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love him' (Isaiah 64:4).
But God has, through the Spirit, let us share his secret.
41.7 GOD'S SPIRIT, GIVING US THE MIND OF CHRIST GRANTS US THIS UNDERSTANDING
1 Corinthians 2:10b-16 - For nothing is hidden from the Spirit, not even the deep wisdom of God. For who could really understand a man's inmost thoughts except the spirit of the man himself? How much less could anyone understand the thoughts of God except the very Spirit of God? And the marvellous thing is this, that we now receive not the spirit of the world but the Spirit of God himself, so that we can actually understand something of God's generosity towards us.
This wisdom is only understood by the spiritual
It is these things that we talk about, not using the expressions of the human intellect but those which the Holy Spirit teaches us, explaining things to those who are spiritual.
But the unspiritual man simply cannot accept the matters which the Spirit deals with - they just don't make sense to him, for, after all, you must be spiritual to see spiritual things. The spiritual man, on the other hand, has an insight into the meaning of everything, though his insight may baffle the man of the world. This is because the former is sharing in God's wisdom, and
'Who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?' (Isaiah 40:13)
Incredible as it may sound, we who are spiritual have the very thoughts of Christ!
41.8 YOU MUST BE MATURE ENOUGH TO UNDERSTAND THAT THOSE WHO PREACH THE GOSPEL ARE NOT IMPORTANT; THEY ARE MERELY GOD'S SERVANTS
1 Corinthians 3:1-9 - I, my brothers, was unable to talk to you as spiritual men: I had to talk to you as unspiritual, as yet babies in the Christian life, And my practice had been to feed you, as it were, with "milk" and not with "meat". You were unable to digest "meat" in those days, and I don't believe you can do it now. For you are still unspiritual; all the time that there is jealousy and squabbling among you you show that you are - you are living just like men of the world. While one of you says, "I am one of Paul's converts" and another says, "I am one of Apollos'", are you not plainly unspiritual?
After all, who is Paul? Who is Apollos? No more than servants through whom you came to believe as the Lord gave each man his opportunity. I may have done the planting and Apollos the watering, but it was God who made the seed grow! The planter and the waterer are nothing compared with him who gives life to the seed. Planter and waterer are alike insignificant, though each shall be rewarded according to his particular work.
We work on God's foundation
In this work, we work with God, and that means that you are a field under God's cultivation, or, of you like, a house being built to his plan.
41.9 YOU CAN ONLY BE BUILT UP ON THE FOUNDATION THAT IS CHRIST; ANY OTHER WAY WILL FAIL
1 Corinthians 3:10-15 - I, like an architect who knows his job, by the grace God has given me, lay the foundation; someone else builds upon it. I only say this, let the builder be careful how he builds! The foundation is laid already, and no one can lay another, for it is Jesus Christ himself. But any man who builds on the foundation using as his material gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or stubble, must know that each man's work will one day be shown for what it is. The day will show it plainly enough, for the day will arise in a blaze of fire, and that fire will prove the nature of each man's work. If the work that the man has built upon the foundation will stand this test, he will be rewarded. But if a man's work be destroyed under the test, he loses it all. He personally will be safe, though rather like a man rescued from a fire.
41.10 EVERY CHRISTIAN IS GOD'S HOLY TEMPLE AND HOME TO HIS HOLY SPIRIT
1 Corinthians 3:16-17 - Don't you realise that you yourselves are the temple of God, and God's Spirit lives in you? God will destroy anyone who defiles his temple, for his temple is holy - and that is exactly what your are!
41.11 BECOME A GODLY FOOL, NOT WORLDLY WISE; IN GOD THROUGH CHRIST, YOU HAVE EVERYTHING
1 Corinthians 3:18-23 - Let no one be under any illusion over this. If any man among you thinks himself one of the world's clever ones, let him discard his cleverness that he may learn to be truly wise. For this world's cleverness is stupidity to God. It is written:
'He catches the wise in their own craftiness' (Job 5:13).
'The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile' (Psalm 94:11).
So let no one boast of men. Everything belongs to you! Paul, Apollos or Cephas; the world, life, death, the present or the future, everything is yours! For you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God!
II - ANSWERS TO SPECIFIC QUESTIONS FROM CORINTH
THE MATTER OF MEAT SACRIFICED TO IDOLS - RELATIONS WITH PAGANS AND CHRISTIAN FREEDOM
41.12 YOU CANNOT ATTEND BOTH THE LORD'S SUPPER AND PAGAN SACRIFICES
1 Corinthians 10:14-22 - The lesson we must learn, my brothers, is at all costs to avoid worshipping a false god. I am speaking to you as intelligent men: think over what I am saying.
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a very sharing in the blood of Christ? When we break the bread do we not actually share in the body of Christ? The very fact that we all share one bread makes us all one body. Look at the Jews of our own day. Isn't there a fellowship between all those who eat the altar sacrifices?
Now am I implying that a false god really exists, or that sacrifices made to any god have some value? Not at all! I say emphatically that Gentile sacrifices are made to evil powers and not to God at all. I don't want you to have any fellowship with such powers. You cannot drink both the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils. You cannot be a guest at the Lord's table and at the table of devils. Are we trying to arouse the wrath of God? Have we forgotten how completely we are in his hands?
41.13 THE LORD'S SUPPER - ITS FOUNDATION AND MEANING; THE NEED FOR SELF-EXAMINATION BEFOREHAND
1 Corinthians 11:23-34a - The teaching I gave you was given me personally by the Lord himself, and it was this: the Lord Jesus, in the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread and when he had given thanks he broke it and said, "Take, eat, this is my body which is being broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me." Similarly when supper was ended, he took the cup saying, "This cup is the new agreement in my blood: do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.
This can only mean that whenever you eat this bread or drink of this cup, you are proclaiming that the Lord has died for you, and you will do that until he comes again. So that, whoever eats the bread or drinks the wine without due thought is making himself like one of those who allowed the Lord to be put to death without discerning who he was.
No, a man should thoroughly examine himself, and only then should he eat the bread or drink of the cup. He that eats and drinks carelessly is eating and drinking a judgment on himself, for he is blind to the presence of the Lord's body.
Careless communion means spiritual weakness: let us take due care
It is this careless participation which is the reason for many feeble and sickly Christians in your church, and the explanation of the fact that many of you are spiritually asleep.
If we were closely to examine ourselves beforehand, we should avoid the judgement of God. But when God does judge us, he disciplines us as his own sons, that we may not be involved in the general condemnation of the world.
Now, my brothers, when you come together to eat this bread, wait your proper turn. If a man is really hungry let him satisfy his appetite at home. Don't let your communions be God's judgment upon you!
THE VALUE OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS, BUT THE PREEMINENCE OF LOVE
41.14 ONLY THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT CAN WE REALLY KNOW WHO JESUS IS
1 Corinthians 12:1-3 - Now I want to give you some further information in some spiritual matters. You have not forgotten that you were Gentiles, following dumb idols just as you had been taught. Now I want you to understand, as Christians, that no one speaking by the Spirit of God could call Jesus accursed, and no one could say that he is the Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.
III - OTHER MATTERS
DEATH AND RESURRECTION
41.15 KEEP TO THE GOSPEL YOU HAVE BEEN TAUGHT - CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS AND ROSE AGAIN; THE MANY WITNESSES INCLUDE AN UNWORTHY PAUL
1 Corinthians 15:1-11 - Now, my brothers, I want to speak about the Gospel which I have previously preached to you, which you accepted, in which you are at present standing, and by which, if you remain faithful to the message I gave you, your salvation is being worked out - unless, of course, your faith had no meaning behind it at all.
For I passed on to you Corinthians first of all the message I had myself received - that Christ died for our sins, as the scriptures said he would; that he was buried and rose again on the third day, again as the scriptures foretold. He was seen by Cephas (Peter), then by the twelve (apostles), and subsequently he was seen simultaneously by over five hundred Christians, of whom the majority are still alive, though some have since died. He was then seen by James, then by all the messengers (apostles). And last of all, as if to one born abnormally late, he appeared to me! I am the least of the messengers, and indeed I do not deserve that title at all, because I persecuted the Church of God. But what I am now I am by the grace of God. The grace he gave me has not proved a barren gift. I have worked harder than any of the others - and yet it was not I but this same grace of God within me. In any event, whoever has done the work whether I or they, this has been the message and this has been the foundation of your faith.
41.16 IF THERE IS NO RESURRECTION CHRIST CANNOT HAVE RISEN FROM THE DEAD; OUR FAITH IS FUTILE, OUR HOPE PITIFUL
1 Corinthians 15:12-19 - Now if the rising of Christ from the dead is the very heart of our message, how can some of you deny that there is any resurrection? For if there is no such thing as the resurrection of the dead, then Christ was never raised. And if Christ was not raised then neither our preaching nor your faith has any meaning at all. Further it would mean that we are lying in our witness for God, for we have given our solemn testimony that he did raise up Christ - and that is utterly false if it should be true that the dead do not, in fact, rise again! For if the dead do not rise neither did Christ rise, and if Christ did not rise your faith is futile and your sins have never been forgiven. Moreover those who have died believing in Christ are utterly dead and gone. Truly, if our hope in Christ were limited to this life only we should, of all mankind be the most to be pitied!
41.17 AS DEATH CAME THROUGH ADAM SO LIFE COMES THROUGH CHRIST; HE HAS DESTROYED DEATH
1 Corinthians 15:20-28 - But the glorious fact is that Christ did rise from the dead: he has become the very first to rise of all who sleep the sleep of death. As death entered the world through a man (Adam), so has rising from the dead come to us through a man (Jesus)! As members of a sinful race all men die; as members of the Christ of God all men shall be raised to life, each in his proper order, with Christ the very first and after him all who belong to him when he comes.
Then, and not till then, authority and power, hands over the kingdom to God the Father. Christ's reign will and must continue until every enemy has been conquered. The last enemy of all to be destroyed is death itself. The scripture says:
'He has put all things under his feet' (Psalm 8:6).
But in the term "all things" it is quite obvious that God, who brings them all under subjection to Christ, is himself excepted. Nevertheless, when everything created has been made obedient to God. Then shall the Son acknowledge himself subject to God the Father, who gave the Son power over all things. Thus, in the end, shall God be wholly and absolutely God.
41.18 AGAIN, IF THERE IS NO RESURRECTION, IT IS POINTLESS BEING PERSECUTED FOR PREACHING THE GOSPEL
1 Corinthians 15:29-34 - Further, you should consider this, that if there is to be no resurrection what is the point of some of you being baptised for the dead by proxy? Why should you be baptised for dead bodies? And why should I live a life of such hourly danger? I assure you, by the certainty of Jesus Christ that we possess, that I face death every day of my life! And if, to use the popular expression, I have "fought with wild beasts" here in Ephesus, what is the good of an ordeal like that if there is no life after this one?
'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!' (Isaiah 22:13)
Don't let yourselves be deceived. Talking about things that are not true is bound to be reflected in practical conduct. Come back to your senses, and don't dabble in sinful doubts. Remember that there are men who have plenty to say but have no knowledge of God. You should be ashamed that I have to write like this at all!
41.19 A RESURRECTION ANALOGY - THE SOWN SEED DYING TO GROW INTO NEW LIFE; OTHER PARALLELS IN NATURE
1 Corinthians 15:35-41 - But perhaps someone will ask, "How is the resurrection achieved? With what sort of body do the dead arrive?" Now that is talking without using your minds! In your own experience you know that a seed does not germinate without itself "dying". When you sow a seed you do not sow the "body" that will eventually be produced, but bare grain, of wheat, for example, or one of the other seeds. God gives the seed a "body" according to his laws - a different "body" to each kind of seed.
Then again, even in this world, all flesh is not identical. There is a difference in the flesh of human beings, animals, fish and birds.
There are bodies which exist in this world, and bodies which exist in heaven. These bodies are not, as it were, in competition; the splendour of an earthly body is quite a different thing from the splendour of a heavenly body. The sun, the moon and the stars all have their own particular splendour, while among the stars themselves there are different kinds of splendour.
41.20 RESURRECTION TRANSFORMS THE WEAK AND MORTAL BODY INTO A GLORIOUS SPIRITUAL BODY
1 Corinthians 15:42-44a - These are illustrations here of the raising of the dead. The body is "sown" in corruption; it is raised beyond the reach of corruption. It is "sown" in dishonour; it is raised in splendour. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.
41.21 AS WE HAVE SHARED THE NATURAL BODY OF ADAM, SO WE WILL PUT ON THE SPIRITUAL BODY OF CHRIST
1 Corinthians 15:44b-49 - As there is a natural body so will there be a spiritual body.
It is written, moreover, that:
'The first man Adam became a living being' (Genesis 2:7).
So the last Adam (Jesus) is a life-giving Spirit. But we should notice that the order is "natural" first and then "spiritual". The first man came out of the earth, a material creature. The second man came from Heaven and was the Lord himself. For the life of this world men are made like the material man; but for the life that is to come they are made like the one from Heaven. So that just as we have been made like the material pattern, so we shall be made like the Heavenly pattern.
41.22 ONLY THE IMPERISHABLE SPIRITUAL BODY WILL ENTER HEAVEN
1 Corinthians 15:50-53 - For I assure you, my brothers, it is utterly impossible for flesh and blood to possess the kingdom of God. The transitory could never possess the everlasting.
The dead and the living will be fitted for immortality
Listen, and I will tell you a secret. We shall not all die, but suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye, every one of us will be changed as the trumpet sounds! The trumpet will sound and the dead shall be raised beyond the reach of corruption, and we who are still alive shall suddenly be utterly changed. For this perishable nature of ours must be wrapped in imperishability, these bodies which are mortal must be wrapped in immortality.
41.23 DEATH IS DEFEATED, SIN OVERCOME AND WE HAVE TOTAL VICTORY THROUGH CHRIST; LET NO ONE CHEAT YOU OF THIS TRUTH
1 Corinthians 15:54-58 - So when the perishable is lost in the imperishable, the mortal lost in the immortal, this saying will come true:
'Death is swallowed up in victory' (Isaiah 25:8)
'O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?' (Hosea 13:14)
It is sin which gives death its power, and it is the Law which gives sin its strength. All thanks to God, then, who gives us the victory over these things through our Lord Jesus Christ!
And so brothers of mine, stand firm! Let nothing move you as you busy yourselves in the Lord's work. Be sure that nothing you do for him is ever lost or ever wasted.
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