That The Spirit Might Be Saved

Studies in First Corinthians – IX

In chapter five of First Corinthians, we come to a major sin issue that was infecting the Corinthian church. The church was tolerating the sin of a brother and it was destroying their testimony in the world. Not only that, but their tolerance exposed their pride in worldly wisdom and human philosophy. Rather than mourning the sin of their brother, they were patting themselves on the back for being “open minded.”

This was not simply a breakdown in the life of one individual, but the wide influence that sin was having on the life of the church that tolerated it. The purpose for which they existed, to reach the lost, was in danger of total collapse because of the sin they had allowed to remain in their midst.

Alan Redpath paraphrases Paul:

“And ye are puffed up,” Paul accuses them, “you are haughty and proud, so occupied with your discussions and theological arguments that you are closing your eyes to this terrible thing that is going on right in the very center of your church life.”

Paul makes it clear that the church should judge the sin of the offending Christian (5:3-5). We do not judge the world; God will take care of that judgement in the future. We do however judge the conduct (not motives or ministry) of those who are inside the church.

His words may seem harsh: “taken away from among you” (5:2), “deliver such an one unto Satan” (5:5), “purge out” (5:7), and “put away” (5:13). This was the action to be taken regarding the guilty party, however, he was not left to be abandoned. He was, after all, a sinner for whom Jesus had died. The remainder of verse five gives the goal: “To deliver such an one…for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”

Church discipline is never easy but it is necessary to maintain our testimony in the world and to achieve its ultimate purpose — the salvation of the erring believer. According to 2 Corinthians 2, that is exactly what happened in this case.

If the church allows sin to remain, it paralyzes its witness, takes away the power, and removes the power of the Holy Spirit. An unholy church is a defeated church. The extent to which sin is permitted is the measure in which appetite for the Word of God will depart.

The Christian who is pure is powerful, but the man who is compromising is spiritually impotent. – Redpath

The Light of God’s Wisdom

Studies in First Corinthians – IV

Right through this first chapter of First Corinthians Paul contrasts wisdom and foolishness: the wisdom of men and the foolishness of God, then the foolishness of men and the wisdom of God. It was the wisdom of men that had seduced this church. Division was a plague that was destroying the spiritual health of the people. The remedy for the situation was not philosophy or “the wisdom of words,” but the wisdom of God given through revelation by the Holy Ghost.

The moment any Christian departs from the principle of revelation, relying rather on human intellect for understanding God’s Word, all spiritual authority is lost. If we submit the Word of God to our own intellect and refuse to believe in the possibility of absolute authoritative revelation, we lose the power and authority. It’s not in us; it’s in Him.

If the church in our day is to invade a city for God, then it must get back to a place of absolute dependence upon the wisdom of God.

-Alan Redpath

Each of us is faced with a choice every day. Will we depend upon our human intellect and education to meet the need of the day? Or will we depend on the wisdom of God? Will we trust human wisdom and reasoning? Or will we trust the Spirit to lead and guide us? Please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t downplay the importance of reason and thinking. I only intend to question the source: the wisdom of God or the wisdom of man.

Alan Redpath makes a challenging statement, “The moment a man begins to put his confidence in his own mind… in his personal criticism of Scriptures, he is finished as far as divine revelation is concerned.” You must choose the principle on which you will guide your life, on which you will study the Word, and on which you will serve the LORD.

Come to the cross. Take the place of death to self. Glory in the LORD. The Holy Ghost will illuminate the Word in a way that human wisdom cannot and give you understanding.

We Are The Church

Over the last few weeks, I have been reading and studying First Corinthians. There is so much wisdom packed into this letter for the Church today. I have especially enjoyed the timeless applications of these scriptures written by Alan Redpath in The Royal Route To Heaven. Over the next few weeks, I am going to be giving some of my thoughts and reactions as I have studied these Scriptures. It is my hope that in reading these posts you will be blessed as I have by the truths contained in God’s Word.

Studies in First Corinthians

Corinth was a proud and wealthy city. It has been called the “Vanity Fair” of the Roman Empire. In fact, the word “Corinthian” had become synonymous with loose living. The Corinthians were famous for their fleshly appetites, their love for arguing, and the pride of their knowledge.

It is here that Paul plants a seed of the Gospel and works to build a church for approximately eighteen months (Acts 18). Even though the church at Corinth had many problems, there is no doubt that Paul considered these people to be the “ekklesia” (called out) of God. As Raymond Woodward points out, “Paul calls them “sanctified” (1:2) in spite of their many problems. They were genuinely saved (1:4), generously endowed with teaching (1:5), securely established by preaching (1:6), spiritually gifted (1:7), and prophetically alert (1:7-8). Yet they were carnal, and were at risk of forfeiting it all!”

Paul deals with this carnality in the first eleven chapters. He exposes the tragedy of their living in sin and worldliness, and applies the positive remedy of the cross of Jesus Christ. For carnality, Paul prescribes the full message of the Gospel of Christ.

There are many today who do not follow Paul’s example here. We must preach and practice the gospel of forgiveness of sins but it must be accompanied by the gospel of deliverance from sin. We must move beyond pardon to purity!

Rather than lashing out at the Corinthians, Paul begins by lifting them up and reminding them of the glory of their salvation and of the great privileges that are theirs in Christ. He reminds them that they are “the church” (1:2), the “called ones”. They have nothing to be ashamed of. They were to live godly in the midst of an ungodly people. He called them “sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints” (1:2). This is what they were in the sight of God, and not them only, but every member of His Church. We are God’s separated, called-out ones to a position of authority; a position in which we know what we believe, live it, and proclaim it.

In verse three, Paul begins to list a few of the things that God has given us for the journey; “Grace and peace” (1:3). There is grace to make me like the Master, grace to give me triumph when I would fail, grace to enable me to glorify God in every situation. His peace brings perfect harmony. It brings balance and unity to every part of my life.

Not only has He given us grace and peace, but we are “enriched by Him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge” (1:5). We have a message to proclaim! God has given us His Gospel to preach, His Word to live by, and His life to live out.

Finally, in verse nine, Paul completes the list of the Christian’s great privileges: “you were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (1:9). The Greek word for “fellowship” here is koinonia, which means having everything in common. This is your victory over flesh and carnality, all He has belongs to you! His victory is at your disposal now. All He asks is that all you have be at His disposal in return.

Let us not forget who we are. We are the Church!

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