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1 Corinthians 4:1-2; The Must of Christian Ministry

07/28 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 The Must of Christian Ministry; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20130728_1cor4_1-2.mp3

1Cor 4 [SBLGNT]

1 Οὕτως ἡμᾶς λογιζέσθω ἄνθρωπος ὡς ὑπηρέτας Χριστοῦ καὶ οἰκονόμους μυστηρίων θεοῦ. 2 ὧδε λοιπὸν ζητεῖται ἐν τοῖς οἰκονόμοις ἵνα πιστός τις εὑρεθῇ. 3 ἐμοὶ δὲ εἰς ἐλάχιστόν ἐστιν, ἵνα ὑφ’ ὑμῶν ἀνακριθῶ ἢ ὑπὸ ἀνθρωπίνης ἡμέρας· ἀλλ’ οὐδὲ ἐμαυτὸν ἀνακρίνω· 4 οὐδὲν γὰρ ἐμαυτῷ σύνοιδα, ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἐν τούτῳ δεδικαίωμαι, ὁ δὲ ἀνακρίνων με κύριός ἐστιν. 5 ὥστε μὴ πρὸ καιροῦ τι κρίνετε, ἕως ἂν ἔλθῃ ὁ κύριος, ὃς καὶ φωτίσει τὰ κρυπτὰ τοῦ σκότους καὶ φανερώσει τὰς βουλὰς τῶν καρδιῶν, καὶ τότε ὁ ἔπαινος γενήσεται ἑκάστῳ ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ.

1Cor 4 [ESV2011]

1 This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

Paul is correcting the misunderstandings of Christian leadership in the church in Corinth. They viewed Christian leaders as figureheads to rally around. There was quarreling and division, jealousy and strife, each believer identifying himself with one Christian leader over against any other. Paul is eager to correct this misunderstanding. Only Christ was crucified in your place as your substitute, so only Christ deserves your devotion (1:13). No human leader, not Paul, not Apollos, not Cephas, has earned your allegiance. Each of them was sent to preach the gospel, to announce the message of the cross, of Jesus Christ and him crucified. We proclaim the message to everyone, but it is God’s power, God’s choosing, God’s calling that saves. God is the source of life, and we must boast only in God.

Paul has re-framed their thinking about leadership in the church. He has painted himself as a nurse-maid, faithfully feeding the infant believers what they most need to be nourished (3:1-3). He has framed himself and Apollos as fellow field hands, one planting, another watering, each fulfilling his unique role, both looking to God to give the growth (3:5-9). He has illustrated himself as a wise master-builder, having laid the one and only foundation for the church, who is Jesus Christ, and other builders continue to build upon it, and will be held accountable for the quality of their work (3:10-15). At the end of chapter 3, he told the Corinthians that they had it all backward, and they were cutting themselves off from the blessings that belong to them in Christ. The Corinthians were saying ‘I belong to Paul,’ or ‘I belong to Apollos’. Instead, Paul and Apollos and Cephas belong to the church, and are given by God to serve them and bless them.

Here in chapter 4, Paul tells them how they should view Christian leaders. He gives them two descriptions of Christian leadership, and one characteristic of Christian leadership, and then he confronts their critical judgmental attitudes with some corrective balance.

Servants of Christ

‘This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ’. We are not apostolic celebrities, to be waved as a banner over your competing ships. We are servants. The word here translated ‘servants’ is different than the word translated ‘servants’ back in 3:5. There, the word was diakonos [διάκονος], from which we get our word ‘deacon’. A deacon was a server or a table waiter. The word here is [ὑπηρέτης] huperetes, literally an under-rower. The word has its origin in Greek military ships, which were propelled by oarsmen who rowed from below the main deck. In the gospels we see this word used most often of guards or officers sent to carry out the orders of a superior. In John 7, the chief priests and Pharisees sent ‘huperetes’ to arrest Jesus. They returned without him, and were asked why they did not carry out their orders. They replied ‘No one ever spoke like this man!’ Jesus uses this term to describe servants who would fight to defend their king (Jn.18:36). Luke uses this word in chapter 4 referring to the synagogue attendant responsible for the care and storage of the scrolls of scripture. In Luke 1:2, he describes the eyewitnesses of Jesus as ‘huperetes’ of the word who delivered them to us. In Acts 13:5, Barnabas’ cousin John Mark accompanied Paul and Barnabas as an assistant or ‘huperetes’ on their missionary journey, but he later deserted them. In Acts 26:16, Jesus appointed Paul as a ‘huperetes’ and witness of him. This is how Paul says that the believers should consider their Christian leaders, not as the ones in charge on the deck shouting out orders, but as the ones down below, propelling them forward. They don’t act on their own, they are a team, working in unison. They are servants acting under authority. They are officers carrying out the orders of their superior.

Paul is very clear to specify who they report to as servants under authority. They are servants of Christ. They are under the direction of Christ. They will answer only to Jesus for how they carried out their orders. At the end of the last chapter, Paul said to the Corinthians that

1 Corinthians 3:21 …all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours,

Here Paul is careful to clarify. Paul, Apollos and Cephas, apostles and Christian teachers and leaders are given to the church, they belong to the church, they are all given by God to bless the church, but they will not answer to the church. Both the church and her leaders belong to Christ and will answer to Christ. Paul warns Timothy

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

Sometimes what the church needs to hear is not what the church wants to hear. There is a dangerous temptation for a church to hire someone who will tell them what they want to hear, someone who won’t challenge or confront or reprove or rebuke or exhort, someone who won’t expose the sin in their hearts and force them to deal with it. There is a deadly desire in ministers to be liked by their people. Don’t say anything that will offend or rock the boat, people won’t like you, and they might even fire you.

The first thing the church needs to understand about her ministers is that they are servants of Christ. They have one Lord and Master, and his name is Jesus. I will not answer to you for how I have served you. I will stand before Jesus and give an account of how I served you.

Stewards of the Mysteries of God

The second thing the church must understand about her ministers is that they are stewards of the mysteries of God. Paul has used this word ‘mystery’ already in this letter,

1 Corinthians 2:7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.

Mystery in the New Testament refers to something that had been hidden and undiscoverable, that has now been revealed and made known. Paul claims to communicate the hidden mystery wisdom of God, which he says is “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (2:2). The message of the Scriptures is that the great King will ultimately triumph over evil and reign in righteousness and justice, but that which was hidden and is now openly proclaimed is that this great King would triumph over evil by stooping to become part of his creation, taking that evil into himself and dying. Jesus, the promised Messiah, crucified in the place of the sinners he came to rescue. The cross is the hidden mystery wisdom of God.

Paul calls himself and all ministers in the church stewards of this gospel message. A steward is a servant who was entrusted with the management of household affairs. Jesus helps us understand what this steward or household manager was.

Luke 12:42 And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 44 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 45 But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. 47 And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.

The household manager was a servant appointed to oversee the preservation and expansion of the estate, including the care and supervision of the other servants. Paul says that is how you should view leaders in the churches. Fellow-servants entrusted with a greater burden of responsibility. This is how one should regard us, stewards or household managers of the mysteries of God. We are custodians of the gospel message. We have been entrusted with the preservation and expansion of the kingdom of God, which advances through the proclamation of the good news, good news that the King was crucified to bring the rebels home.

It is clear that even an apostle, even an angel is not at liberty to change the gospel message in any way. Paul uses the strongest possible language to make this point in Galatians 1

Galatians 1:8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

The second thing the church must understand about her ministers is that they are entrusted with the preservation of the gospel message. It is absolutely critical that we cling tenaciously to the historic gospel message once for all delivered to the saints (Jude3);

1 Corinthians 15:3 …that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared…

We must add nothing to it, we must take nothing away from it. We are not authorized to alter it in any way. We have received it; we must hold fast to it, we must stand firm in it, we are being saved by it.

The Requirement of Faithfulness

1 Corinthians 4:1 This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.

A Christian leader, an under-rower of Christ, a household manager, entrusted with the care of the gospel message, must be trustworthy. This is the one absolutely critical characteristic of Christian leadership. It says nothing about being smart or good looking or persuasive, a good communicator, with good people skills, able to make great decisions, raise money, or manage people well. Those may all be helpful, but without faithfulness, they are worthless. The one characteristic that Paul tells young pastor Timothy to look for when passing on the gospel message is faithfulness.

2 Timothy 2:2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Someone entrusted to guard the gospel must be trustworthy. He must be faithful; he will do what he said he would do. You can believe him, depend on him, count on him, rely on him, trust him.

1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful…

God is the ultimate standard of faithfulness. God is worthy of our trust, our belief, he will always do what he said he would do. God is faithful to himself and to his promises. Christian leaders must reflect God’s character of faithfulness.

Jesus repeatedly highlights the importance of faithfulness in those who would be entrusted with responsibility.

Luke 16:10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

Faithfulness is a character trait that does not increase with the size of the responsibility. Many people feel that they can be irresponsible with the little things, but if only they were trusted with something really important, they would rise to the occasion. It simply doesn’t work that way. A faithful person will be faithful with a very little or with much.

Jesus goes on to say that faithfulness is knowing who your master is. In order to be found faithful, you need to know who you are being faithful to. Your allegiance must be clear. A Christian leader cannot serve both God and his people. He can serve God by serving his people well, but he must know who his true master is. When a conflict of interest comes, and it will come, it must be resolved which is the one master. As Paul says in Galatians:

Galatians 1:10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

If a minister or leader wants most of all to please his people, he will end up being unfaithful to God and harming his people. But if he has determined to be relentlessly faithful to God and his word, he may deeply hurt and offend his people as he speaks the truth in love, but as the Proverb says:

Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

Every Christian, and especially Christian leaders are under-rowers, sent to carry out the orders of our superior, who is Christ. We must have no question who our master is. We are household managers, custodians of the gospel, the message of Christ crucified for sinners. As stewards of this most important of all messages, it is essential that we be found faithful. We must faithfully obey our one master, Christ, and we must faithfully cling to the one message, the message of the cross.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

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July 28, 2013 Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 3:21-23; Stop Short-Changing Yourself!

07/21 1 Corinthians 3:21-23 Stop Short-changing Yourself! Boast Only in God; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20130721_1cor3_21-23.mp3

1Cor 3 [SBLGNT]

18 Μηδεὶς ἑαυτὸν ἐξαπατάτω· εἴ τις δοκεῖ σοφὸς εἶναι ἐν ὑμῖν ἐν τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, μωρὸς γενέσθω, ἵνα γένηται σοφός, 19 ἡ γὰρ σοφία τοῦ κόσμου τούτου μωρία παρὰ τῷ θεῷ ἐστιν· γέγραπται γάρ· Ὁ δρασσόμενος τοὺς σοφοὺς ἐν τῇ πανουργίᾳ αὐτῶν· 20 καὶ πάλιν· Κύριος γινώσκει τοὺς διαλογισμοὺς τῶν σοφῶν ὅτι εἰσὶν μάταιοι. 21 ὥστε μηδεὶς καυχάσθω ἐν ἀνθρώποις· πάντα γὰρ ὑμῶν ἐστιν, 22 εἴτε Παῦλος εἴτε Ἀπολλῶς εἴτε Κηφᾶς εἴτε κόσμος εἴτε ζωὴ εἴτε θάνατος εἴτε ἐνεστῶτα εἴτε μέλλοντα, πάντα ὑμῶν, 23 ὑμεῖς δὲ Χριστοῦ, Χριστὸς δὲ θεοῦ.

1Cor 3 [ESV2011]

18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

There is a problem in the church in Corinth. There are divisions. There is disunity. There is quarreling. There is a party spirit. Each one has their own favorite leader. Some follow Paul. Some follow Apollos. Some Cephas. Some, who think themselves above all the rest and beyond the need for any human teacher, claim to follow only Christ. The believers in Corinth are enamored with wisdom. They want to be thought wise, to be admired by the world. They want to be following the right leader. Paul has pointed out that the wisdom of the world is worthless with God, and God uses that which the world considers foolishness to shame the wise. He warns of the danger of being self-deceived, and he comes back around to this issue of true wisdom at the end of chapter 3 and applies it to the foolishness of pitting one godly gifted leader over against another.

Boast Only in the Lord

This is a clear statement. No more boasting in men. In verse 18 he says ‘stop deceiving yourself’; here he says ‘stop boasting in men’. This picks up a theme from the end of chapter 1 (v.26-31). God chose in a specific way and for a specific purpose. Not many wise, noble or powerful were chosen; instead, God chose the foolish, weak, low and despised, the nothings, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. No one can say ‘God chose me because I am wise, I am powerful, I am something’ No, I have nothing to boast in. All boasting must always only be boasting in the Lord. We have no legitimate grounds for boasting in ourselves. Here Paul applies this to prominent leadership in the church. If no believer can boast in himself, then no Christian leader has legitimate grounds to boast in himself, and so we should not boast in them either. Paul proudly wears his title of first place in 1 Timothy 1:15; first or foremost, or chief of sinners. Paul reveled in the fact that he had been shown mercy, that God’s unmerited grace had overflowed toward him. In Philippians 3 Paul lists his natural reasons for boasting, and concludes that it was all worthless and less than nothing. In chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians, Paul claims to be last and least of all the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle because he persecuted the church of God. But God’s grace is not related to what we deserve. None of us, not even the most gifted and prominent leader in the church, has any valid ground for boasting in self. The only boasting that is legitimate is boasting in the sheer undeserved unearned overwhelming grace of God.

Do Not Short-Change Yourself

The reason Paul gives here for not boasting in men is stunning. He doesn’t again highlight the negative, that there is nothing in any leader worthy of boasting in. Rather, he points us to the positive with this staggering statement: ‘all things are yours’. That is hugely comprehensive. ‘All things are yours’. Why would anyone ever limit themselves to one thing when everything belongs to you? If all the trees in the garden are yours, why would you limit yourself to eating from just one tree? Boasting in one gifted teacher over against all others cuts you off from the blessings intended by God to be yours from all of them. To limit oneself to only follow Paul or Apollos or Cephas would be to miss out on much of the benefit God meant to be yours. But this statement goes far beyond teachers. All things means all things, as the apostle will elaborate in three sets of opposing pairs to specify that he really does mean all things. He starts by pointing to these three gifted teachers over against the world; then life and death; then the present and the future; both sides of each equation belong to the believer.

Christian Teachers and the World

We can understand that all Christian teachers belong to the church. They have been given by God to the church. In Ephesians 4, Paul says

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,

All the differing roles in ministry are gifts from God to his body the church. All the apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers belong to the church. They have been given to the church for her good. Jesus invited his followers to pray:

Luke 10:2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

It is the Lord who sends laborers. It is his harvest. It is his field. As Paul has said earlier in this chapter:

1 Corinthians 3:5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.

It is the Lord who assigns the different laborers to carry out different roles in his field. God gives the growth, and he employs various servants as implements to bring about that growth. To limit yourself to only one favorite worker or school of thought would be to refuse so much that God is giving to you for your good. Paul and Apollos and Cephas are all yours in Christ!

But it doesn’t stop with gifted Christian leaders. The world is yours. This is the world Paul says in Romans 12:2 that we are not to be conformed to. Jesus says we are not of this world but were chosen out of the world. This is the world that hates us because we don’t belong to it (Jn.15:19; 17:14-16). This is the world that Jesus promises:

John 16:33 …In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

The world, this world that hates us and brings us tribulation belongs to us. Just as God gave us gifted leaders for our good, so God gives us this hostile world for our good. God even gives us the tribulation in this world for our good. Romans 5 tells us:

Romans 5:3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings (or tribulations), knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Even the worst things in this world are given to us by our good God for our benefit. Jesus has overcome the world, and now the world belongs to us and everything in it serves us for our good.

Life and Death

He goes on to say that life and death belong to us. Our life, according to James, is ‘a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes’ (4:14). So much of our energy is spent grasping to hold on to our precious life and living in the constant fear of losing it. But in Christ, life and death are ours! Jesus said ‘I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly’ (Jn.10:10). Life is ours! So we can release our grip on life and focus on living it for the honor of Christ. As Paul contemplates his own life and death in Philippians, he says:

Philippians 1:20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Paul is freed to live with full courage for the glory of Christ. Jesus has so saturated his existence, that he can say ‘to live is Christ’. He goes on:

Philippians 1:22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

Death, the final foe, the last enemy, has been decisively defeated at the cross. Now we can say with confidence ‘to die is gain; to depart and be with Christ …is far better’. In Christ, life is ours and death is ours.

The Present and The Future

The present and the future are ours in Christ Jesus. The urgent tyranny of the present often feels like it will crush us, and the future looms unknown and uncertain just past the horizon.

Jesus invites us to come in simple dependence and childlike trust and say ‘give us this day our daily bread’ (Mt.6:11). He says:

Matthew 6:31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 …your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.

Jesus says:

John 14:27 …Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Matthew 28:20 …behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Revelation 1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

The God who is sovereign over every human event, who turns the hearts of kings like water in his hands (Prov.21:1), at whose word things that are not leap into existence, at whose voice the wind and the waves are silenced, will work every present circumstance, every future event for our good and his glory. In Christ, the present and the future belong to us and will serve us for our good.

Romans 8

Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

All things work together for my good. Every Christian leader, the whole unbelieving world, my life, in sickness or in health, my death, every present circumstance, every future hardship, every future victory, all things are mine. They belong to me and they will serve me for my eternal good.

Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God is for me, working every single thing together for my good. God is for me. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Even tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, and sword are my servants sent by the hand of a loving God to do me good. Not one thing in the whole universe can separate me from God’s sovereign resolve to do me good.

I Belong to Christ

1 Corinthians 3:21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

This is not true of every person. Romans is clear that all things work together for good only for those who love God, only for those who are called according to his purpose. Here, Paul makes it clear that all things belong only to those who belong to Christ. In the same way that everything is mine, all things belong to me, everything exists to serve me for my good, so I belong to Jesus, I am owned by him, I exist to serve him for his good.

1 Corinthians 6:19 …You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (cf. 7:23)

Peter tells us:

1 Peter 1:18 knowing that you were ransomed …not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

Around the throne in heaven we see Jesus being worshiped:

Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,

We were purchased by Christ on the cross. We are now owned by Jesus. We have become the property of God almighty. Because you belong to Christ, all things now belong to you. All things exist to serve you for your good, as you exist to serve Jesus. Since all things were created by Jesus and for Jesus, (Col.1:16; Rom.11:36), as we live lives to serve and worship Jesus, all things serve us to that end.

If today you do not belong to Jesus, then you need to surrender to the King. Jesus paid for you with his blood. Acknowledge that you are a slave of sin and need to be ransomed. There is nothing you can contribute. Simply trust Jesus, receive the free gift he purchased for you.

Christ is God’s

1 Corinthians 3:22 …all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

As we exist to serve Jesus and bring glory to Jesus, so our Lord Christ eternally exists to serve and glorify his Father. There is within the triune God both absolute equality and mutual adoration and glad submission. The Son is equal to the Father in every way, fully divine, sharing the same nature and existence with his Father, and yet the Son willingly subjects himself to the authority of the Father. Jesus said “I always do the things that are pleasing to him” (Jn.8:29). Jesus said “I honor my Father” and “it is my Father who glorifies me” (Jn.8:49, 54).

Just as Jesus lived totally surrendered to his Father, always doing the things that are pleasing to him, honoring him in everything, so we who belong to Christ should honor Jesus, living lives totally surrendered to him, gladly submitting to his will in everything. And in sheer amazement, we will realize that “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom.8:32). We will find our boast only in the cross, where infinite love was demonstrated, and where we were given all things in Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 3:21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. 

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

July 21, 2013 Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

20130714; 1 Corinthians 3:18-20; Stop Deceiving Yourself!

07/14 1 Corinthians 3:18-20 Stop Deceiving Yourself! Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20130714_1cor3_18-20.mp3

1Cor 3 [SBLGNT]

18 Μηδεὶς ἑαυτὸν ἐξαπατάτω· εἴ τις δοκεῖ σοφὸς εἶναι ἐν ὑμῖν ἐν τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, μωρὸς γενέσθω, ἵνα γένηται σοφός, 19 ἡ γὰρ σοφία τοῦ κόσμου τούτου μωρία παρὰ τῷ θεῷ ἐστιν· γέγραπται γάρ· Ὁ δρασσόμενος τοὺς σοφοὺς ἐν τῇ πανουργίᾳ αὐτῶν· 20 καὶ πάλιν· Κύριος γινώσκει τοὺς διαλογισμοὺς τῶν σοφῶν ὅτι εἰσὶν μάταιοι. 21 ὥστε μηδεὶς καυχάσθω ἐν ἀνθρώποις· πάντα γὰρ ὑμῶν ἐστιν, 22 εἴτε Παῦλος εἴτε Ἀπολλῶς εἴτε Κηφᾶς εἴτε κόσμος εἴτε ζωὴ εἴτε θάνατος εἴτε ἐνεστῶτα εἴτε μέλλοντα, πάντα ὑμῶν, 23 ὑμεῖς δὲ Χριστοῦ, Χριστὸς δὲ θεοῦ.

1Cor 3 [ESV2011]

18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

Have you ever been deceived, misled, lied to? You spend a lot of money on something only to find out it is not as it was advertised to be. In a relationship you find out that the other person was not being totally honest with you. You were misled. Whether intentional or unintentional, you end up hurt, feeling ripped off, used, abused, taken advantage of.

Have you ever tried to put yourself in the sandals of blind old Isaac, whose own wife and younger son through eavesdropping, fine cooking, goat’s hair and borrowed clothes, conspired to deceive him into giving the blessing to his younger son Jacob (Gen.27)?

Or have you ever imagined what it would have felt like to fall deeply in love with a beautiful woman, to work hard for your uncle for 7 years to earn the right to marry your heart’s desire, ‘and in the morning, behold, it was Leah’ the ugly older sister (Genesis 29)?

Helpless frustration, offended outrage, betrayal, broken trust. We resonate with the Psalmist when he prays:

Psalm 43:1 Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me!

Our passage today is about deception, but of a worse kind than even these examples portray. In each of these, there is the one who is deceived, and someone else who is deceiving them. Even worse to be the one being deceived and also the one to blame for the deception! This passage warns of the danger of self-deception.

1 Corinthians 3:18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.”

This could be translated ‘stop deceiving yourself!’ Self-deception is something that is currently going on, and the command is to break the pattern.

The Deceptiveness of Self-deception

Does anyone here think you are deceiving yourself? Of course not! If you were lying to yourself and you knew you were lying to yourself, you wouldn’t be deceived, you would see right through it. Deception happens when you believe the lies you tell yourself are true. No one thinks a passage like this is addressed to them. That is part of the deception. ‘I know some of those kind of people, the self-deceived. Too bad they’re not here today to hear this!’ No, this is for each one of us. God is speaking directly to you, for your good, because he loves you, and he says ‘stop deceiving yourself’. He is alerting you to a destructive pattern in you that you are not aware of. We can argue with him, and say ‘no, you are wrong, I am not deceiving myself’, or we can say ‘God, I believe you only speak what is true. Thank you for loving me enough to point out the painful truth that I was not aware of, to spare me from greater pain. In what way am I deceiving myself, and what can be done to stop it?’

Jeremiah 17:5 Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. 6 ​He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. 7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. 8 ​He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” 9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

God says that the person who trusts in himself and whose heart turns away from the Lord is cursed, but the man who trusts in the Lord is blessed. We tend to trust in ourselves, in our own strength, in what we can do, more than we realize. That’s why God goes on to say

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? 10 ​“I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”

We know we need to depend on God. We know that our only hope is to trust in God alone and not ourselves. But our own hearts are treacherous and fraudulent. Our own hearts are twisted and sick. We are biased; only God is objective and fair. Only God can truly discern who or what we are trusting in. The appropriate response is:

Jeremiah 17:14 Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise.

We need a good physician to point out and address the sickness and sin in us that we cannot see.

Matthew 7:3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

Self-deception is Still Wicked

Notice that this is not an innocent ignorance. To deceive someone is evil. Satan is called ‘the deceiver’ (Rev.12:9). But the one who is deceived is still held accountable for listening to a lie. Think back to the garden of Eden. Eve was deceived by the serpent, but she was still held accountable for listening to his lie, and she was disciplined for it (Gen.3:13, 16). To deceive someone is wicked, and to allow yourself to be deceived will have consequences.

Paul quotes two Old Testament scriptures (Job 5:13; Psalm 94:11) to reinforce this truth. God is seen to be the one who fights against the deceiver. Eliphaz says in Job 5 ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness.’ This is good news if you are being deceived and need someone to rescue you. But this is very bad news if you are the one who is doing the deceiving. In our self-deception, we are both. Psalm 94 begins by calling on YHWH the God of vengeance to rise up and repay the proud and arrogant wicked what they deserve. He will entrap the cunning in their own wicked schemes. As deceivers who are deceiving ourselves, we are doubly guilty.

Self-deception of Human Wisdom

The self-deception Paul addresses among the believers in Corinth is that they think they are wise. In chapter 1, he pointed out that the gospel he preached was the foolish message of a crucified Messiah, and that God’s message and method of salvation run contrary to the so-called wisdom of this world. He quoted scripture to show that God opposes the wisdom of the wise. He stated that the same message of the cross comes to those who are being saved as the power of God, but to those who are perishing, foolishness. God’s foolishness is wiser than men. Here he states that the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.

Folly of Human Wisdom

What does the wisdom of this age, the wisdom of the world look like?

*This age says that truth is relative. As long as we are all nice to each other, and don’t judge anyone, it doesn’t matter what anyone believes. We will all be alright in the end. God says, Fool,

Proverbs 14:12 ​There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. (also Prov. 16:25)

*The world’s wisdom says the bible is a great work of ancient literature, full of good moral lessons and entertaining bedtime stories, but as a whole it is outdated, unreliable, and even offensive in points, and it would be foolish to simply accept it as true. Fool, Jesus said:

Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

*The wisdom of this age says that morality is relative. God won’t judge homosexuals or liars or gossips or people who have sex with someone they’re not married to. We can’t help it, we were made that way. We can’t be held responsible for our actions. God says, Fool,

1 Corinthians 6:9 …Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

*This age says that God is all love and forgiveness and hell is just a scare tactic thought up by uptight preachers to keep people from finding out how much fun sin is. Fool, God says, Jesus is coming

2 Thessalonians 1:8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

*The wisdom of this age tells us that religion is OK, as long as we don’t get carried away with it. If a little religion helps you be a good and productive member of society, that’s nice, but you should keep your religion in church and don’t let it tamper with other areas of your life. Fool, Jesus said:

Mark 8:34 …“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?

*Human wisdom says you don’t need to gather with other believers. You can connect with God at home or in the mountains or wherever you are. Fool, God says:

Ephesians 5:25 … Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

*This world’s wisdom accuses us of arrogance if we claim that there are no other valid paths to God.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

What it takes to be Truly Wise

We all have a tendency to be self-deceived. Our self-deception is not innocent ignorance but willful and wicked rebellion against God.

Romans 1:21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images…

We want to be thought well of, and we want to appear wise, so we often adopt the wisdom of this world. God tells us to stop deceiving ourselves. What can be done about our deadly self-deception? The remedy is clear.

Become a Fool

1 Corinthians 3:18 …If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.

The remedy is to become a fool. What does it mean to become a fool?

*Empty

To become a fool means to be emptied of all the world’s wisdom. I cannot cling to the wisdom of this age and also hope to become wise in God’s estimation. ‘We must be empty in order to be truly filled. We must renounce our own righteousness, in order to be clothed in the righteousness of Christ. We must renounce our own strength, in order to be made strong. We must renounce our own wisdom, in order to be truly wise.’ (Hodge, p.60)

*Humility

To become a fool means to be truly humbled. I must be willing to be thought a fool. I must let go of reputation, of what people think of me. I must be humbled in my own estimation of myself. To become a fool is to humbly acknowledge that my self-deception runs so deep that my own heart and mind cannot be trusted to rightly discern the truth.

*Become like a little child

To become a fool is to become simple, to become dependent, trusting. To acknowledge our need and to admit there is no way we can fix our own situation. Jesus said:

Mark 10:15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (cf. Lk.18:17)

We must have the foolishness of a child if we will enter the kingdom.

*Embrace the Cross

To become a fool in the eyes of the world means I must embrace the foolish message of the cross. To freely confess that I am a sinner who deserves to die seems foolish. To admit that I can do nothing and contribute nothing to my own rescue is pathetic. To believe that the eternal invisible God became human so that he could die for my sins seems the pinnacle of gullibility. The good news that Jesus died in my place as my perfect substitute is viewed as a weak, foolish, and shameful message. But that is the gospel message, and it is the wisdom of God and the power of God for salvation to all who believe.

Be emptied, be humbled, become like a little child, embrace the cross and you will find Jesus to be your wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption (1Cor.1:30) 

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

 

July 14, 2013 Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment