Archive for the ‘judgment’ Tag

Pleasing the Right One   Leave a comment

The Apostle Paul’s aim was to be a faithful witness of the gospel among the Gentiles. Yet, he was not what the Greeks would consider an astounding speaker. One could even say that he was the opposite of a good Greek speaker. Yet, he was faithful in spreading the gospel amongst Gentile cities, including Corinth. After some time, false teachers had crept in and were trying to turn the Corinthians’ hearts away from Paul by claiming that he was not a true apostle.

Image result for image of an eternal dwelling placeThe appeal which Paul makes in theses verses is that his ministry, as an apostle, is not discredited because of his weak appearance. Paul had a hope that even though his ministry had taken such a toll on his body, he had a future resurrection that he was going to partake of. And such a hope gave him courage to press on in faithful ministry.

For we know that if our earthly housethe tent we live in, is dismantled, we have a building from Goda house not built by human handsthat is eternal in the heavensFor in this earthly house we groanbecause we desire to put on our heavenly dwellingif indeedafter we have put on our heavenly house, we will not be found naked. For we groan while we are in this tent, since we are weighed down, because we do not want to be unclothedbut clothedso that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who prepared us for this very purpose is Godwho gave us the Spirit as a down payment. 2 Corinthians 5:1-5

In chapter 4 verse 7 Paul began contrasting the treasure of the message found in verses 4-6 of the same chapter to the frailty of the minister, “We have this treasure (the ministry) in jars of clay (the minister, i.e. himself)” (4:7). What follows in verses 8-15 are the afflictions which Paul experienced in his ministry. While the message that he carried was glorious, the trials that the ministry put him through were harsh. He got through these trials by looking back to meeting the resurrected Jesus and forward to his own coming resurrection.

Even though Paul suffered through tribulations, the ministry was being accomplished. The Corinthians came to accept the gospel.  Paul had completed this ministry of unveiling eyes to the glory of the Lord (3:1-18) among the Corinthians. He had seen the gospel do its work in their lives. He sold himself out for them. All the afflictions listed through this section was all for their sakes (15a). He poured himself out so that they could be recipients and benefactors of this veil removing ministry and He knows that they will be present with him at the resurrection of Christ.

Now Paul shifted from speaking about his ministry to his weakness of appearance. He had made this sacrifice of ministry even though it had taken a toll on His body. The key to understanding what is going on in this context is found in 5:12. His deteriorating physical condition and shameful plight caused some in Corinth to wonder out loud about his power as an apostle. The false teachers were attacking Paul on the grounds that He was weak in appearance and a minister of a covenant more glorious than Moses’ covenant could be expected to be a glorious figure. Some in the ancient world interpreted affliction as a sign of a god’s judgment and as something dishonorable. Whatever the specific reason was, the false apostles were attacking Paul about his appearance. Apparently the Corinthians were beginning to accept these charges. Could they really trust a person that had such a weak appearance?

Paul knew the truth about this world. Physical decay and abuse are not reasons to doubt one’s ministry. On the contrary”, the abuse of his body in the present was no comparison to the glory which he would receive. The afflictions of this age were preparing him for a coming glory which cannot be compared to anything on this earth (4:17). Paul kept his vision located on the future where eternal things reside (18).

 

Verses 1-5 are about a future dwelling with the Lord when one dies. The gaze of the Christian should be on what is eternal. Paul looked ahead to the resurrection which he had talked about in his first letter to the Corinthians. (1 Corinthians 15:35-57). There Paul discusses the resurrection from the dead. Regarding the body Paul refers to it as dying in “weakness”, “natural”, and “from earth” from verse 42-47.Both talk about being clothed when the believer dies. Both speak about the body as perishing. And both end the section alluding to the same passage in Isaiah 25:8.

Following the context of the pervious verse Paul is obviously talking about the eternal things which He looked to. There is a clear contrast going on through these passages.  Looking at the terms Paul used we can see the resurrection being describe. The first term that he employs is a “tent” (οἰκία τοῦ σκήνους).  Our present bodies are like a tent. A tent “is a common picture of the earthly life and its setting in the body.” Using the tent imagery, “describes only the instability, and thus the vulnerability, of one’s mortal existence.”

Then, opposed to this weak tent, the believer will receive an eternal dwelling. There have been many proposals to what the term οἰκοδομὴν means here. Thrall lists nine different understandings of this term:

  1. An individual resurrection body.
  2. A heavenly habitation in the sense of the dwelling mentioned in John 14:2.
  3. An interim heavenly body, received immediately after death.
  4. A kind of spiritual garment, received in baptism, worn beneath the ‘garment’ of the material body and preserved beyond the grave.
  5. The body of Christ.
  6. The heavenly temple.
  7. The resurrection body of Christ.
  8. An image of the glory of the eschatological age.
  9. The heavenly dimension of present existence.

Yet, the most agreed-upon immediate meaning would be the spiritual body one would receive at the resurrection.Thus, while the body that Paul possessed would be destroyed, an eternal body was waiting for Him in the future.

The final question we have to ask concerns the meaning of the word “γυμνοὶ” in verse 3. The verse begins be stating that by putting on[29] this heavenly dwelling we may not be found “naked”. So the meaning of “naked” has direct influence on the understanding of the previous terms.

There are three main understandings of this term. It is either understood as “homeless,” “garmentless,” or “bodiless.” The understanding of “homeless” is to use architectural language which matches the terms “tent” and “building” in verses 1-2. But this understanding can be dismissed due to the fact that the word does not carry such a meaning.

The term “garment” would be used to covey a moral view. Meaning, Paul does not want to be found being guilty of sin before God.Two problems become apparent with this suggestion,  however. The first is that moral judgment is not in the immediate context. We do not see judgment until verse 10. So, where it could be a possibility, it isn’t our first choice since the theme of mortal judgment is not found in the immediate context. The second problem is that the correlating word used in verse 4, ἐκδύσασθαι, is unquestionably referring to resurrection. Because when one is clothed, the mortal (τὸ θνητὸν) is swallowed up by life (τῆς ζωῆς). And such language conveys a resurrection, not a moral standing.

Thus, the “bodiless” understanding is the best.[34] It fits with the over all context of resurrection. It, also, fits with the specific terms Paul uses in this section. Thus Paul is saying that by putting on this heavenly dwelling he will not be found in a bodiless state. [35] So, Paul is looking forward to the day when he will receive his resurrection body.

Paul used the metaphor of buildings and clothing to describe the future resurrection that awaited him. When Paul wrote that he was currently living in a ἡ ἐπίγειος οἰκία τοῦ σκήνους we understand him saying that he lived in a fragile body. Yet he knew that when the tent was destroyed he would posses a οἰκοδομὴν ἐκ θεοῦ which is a future resurrected body. And because he knew he would posses it, there was no fear that he would be γυμνοὶ, or bodiless.

Therefore, while some may consider a battered and bruised body something to be ashamed of, Paul saw it as only temporary, because he looked forward to a heavenly dwelling that would clothe him for eternity.

Therefore we are always full of courageand we know that as long as we are alive here on earth we are absent from the Lord  for we  live by faithnot by sight. Thus we are full of courage and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So then whether we are alive or awaywe make it our ambition to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christso that each one may be paid back according to what he has done while in the bodywhether good or evil. 2 Corinthians 5:6-10

Because of the future hope that was before him Paul could make it his aim to be pleasing to God. In verses 6-10 Paul expressed the courage which he had because of this promise and what he was working toward before he reached that hope. He could give himself to gospel ministry because of this future hope, which was a base for the courage to do his ministry.

Paul had a courage to accomplish the ministry which streams from the faith on the guarantee of the Spirit. Paul was still in this temporary body and not with the Lord, but the promise was enough for him to keep going forward. Paul expressed having faith in the promises of God and not on what he saw. He could face the afflictions upon his body by the ministry because he was confident that God would supply a superior replacement for his body. Thus, courage fills Paul as he performs his calling as an apostle.

Paul’s courage was directed at the single aim to be well pleasing to Jesus so that he could stand confidently before the judgment seat of Christ. Whatever his condition, Paul sought to be pleasing in his actions. This is completely contrary to the critics who would try to discount him based on weak appearance. For Paul, what ultimately mattered was God’s view of his ministry, not man’s, because it would be before Christ’s judgment seat where the deeds done in the body would be judged as to whether they were good or bad.

 

 

Safety, security, and peacefulness are words that can describe too much of American evangelicalism. We think of preachers, we see them nicely dressed in the attire we deem appropriate — whether it be a two-piece suit or shorts with a T-shirt. We want them to look the way we want them to look. Given those reasons Paul would probably be an outcast in our churches. He was not safe, and he did not look the part.

Image result for image of the bema seat judgmentYet, that is how true gospel ministry is suppose to look. We’re supposed to give ourselves to the glory of God and love people by telling them the gospel message, even when it hurts. Paul understood that. His eyes were centered on being well-pleasing to God and his heart was poured out for the Corinthians. He did this no matter if it took him to places where he abounded in material things or to places where death seemed imminent.

The encouragement that was set before him in all of this was the hope of the resurrection. He knew that the suffering, caused by being faithful to God, would be compensated in full by his Lord. Thus, he pressed on no matter how much it cost.

Posted January 28, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity

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Welcome One Another   Leave a comment

Being a parent is an amazing thing! Nothing I have ever done has given me more joy and rewards than being a parent. Do good to my children and you have my undying gratitude. Hurt one of my children and … mama grizzly. This is true even though they are now adults. My kids never really fought against one another. They were six years apart and a boy and a girl, so there just weren’t a lot of territorial issues. But I’ve observed friends’ kids who fight among themselves all the time. My cousins used to actually leave bruises on each other. I could never manage how I would feel if one of my kids hurt the other. Who would I be mama grizzly to? I suspect I would have taken Kiernan’s side because he was so much younger than his sister. How dare the big person pick on the little person.

Image result for image of christian fellowshipDid you know that God the Father feels the same way I do? He absolutely loves being a parent. He cares about each of His children in the deepest way imaginable. What grieves Him is when one of His children hurts another one of His children. Worse yet, He is deeply grieved when one of His children who has been given much dishonors one who has little.

God will not tolerate divisions and distinctions within His body—the church — because it is His body, the dwelling place of the Most High God and He is serious about defending it, even from itself. In 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, Paul provided three exhortations for us to follow.

Include the Entire Body of Christ in Worship

Now in giving the following instruction I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. For in the first placewhen you come together as a church I hear there are divisions among youand in part I believe it. For there must in fact be divisions among youso that those of you who are approved may be evident. Now when you come together at the same placeyou are not really eating the Lord’s Supper. For when it is time to eateveryone proceeds with his own supperOne is hungry and another becomes drunk. Do you not have houses so that you can eat and drink? Or are you trying to show contempt for the church of God by shaming those who have nothing? What should I say to you? Should I praise you? I will not praise you for this! 1 Corinthians 11:17-22

Let’s remember, that Paul has just concluded his remarks on the role of women in the church with praised mixed with some correction. Now, he rebuked the church at Corinth for being divided. The conjunction “but” (or “now” in the NET translation) serves to contrast the worship events of 11:17-34 with 11:2-16. The equality the Corinthians were misusing in 11:2-16 was resolutely denied when it came to the observance of the Lord’s Supper. This is confirmed by the use of the verb “praise.”7 In 11:2, Paul praised the Corinthians because they remembered him in everything and maintained the teachings he passed on to them, while in in 11:17 he did not praise them on account of their class divisions. Instead, he declared that they gathered together not for the better but for the worse.

Image result for image of the lord's supperThe verb translated here “come together” (sunercomai) is used five times in this passage (11:17, 18, 20, 33, 34). Elsewhere, the verb referred to either coming or going with one or more persons — basically to travel together with someone). Additionally, sunercomai is used in sexual contexts to describe coming together to unite in an intimate relationship. There’s some irony when Paul repeatedly described the Corinthians as coming together in one location, knowing full well that their eating was anything but “together” as a unified body. The ritual that was intended to celebrate the gospel and symbolically act out their oneness in Christ had become an occasion for splitting the church on the basis of status.

What were they doing that Paul disapproved of? Instead of treating one another with brotherly love and acting as the family of God, there are divisions among them. Some had more than enough to eat and drink at the Lord’s Supper while others got insufficient quantities. The “have-nots,” were humiliated by the actions of their counterparts. A situation like that in the Body of Christ deeply grieves God.

“Factions” or “divisions” can have a positive side. They serve to clarify whom God approves as faithful and who He doesn’t. God’s approval (dokimoi) contrasts with what Paul had written earlier about being disapproved (adokimos; 9:27) by God. Mature Christians will become evident in times of crisis.

The Lord’s Supper was usually part of a meal the early Christians shared together—the “love feast.” In Corinth, instead of sharing their food and drinks, each family was bringing its own and eating what it had brought. The result was that the rich had plenty but the poor had little and suffered embarrassment. Not exactly a picture of Christian love and unity. They were eating their own private meals rather than sharing a meal consecrated to the Lord. Worse, some with plenty of wine to drink were getting drunk and we all know how drunk people act.

Instead of partaking of the Lord’s Supper, the Corinthians devour their food while the poor go hungry. It’s not really the eating that is the issue, so much as the refusing to share food and drink. The grammar suggests that the “devouring” took place during the meal itself. The wealthy members of the Corinthian church were guilty of gluttony and drunkenness while the poor went without. This notion can also be supported from the customary practice at Greco-Roman banquets where wealthy hosts—those with homes large enough to host the communal meal—would have assigned the biggest and best portions of food to the more privileged.

Paul refused to tolerate what was socially acceptable in ancient Corinth. He felt grieved at the behavior of the church and the only appropriate response of the Corinthians was repentance. A meal designed to express unity was being abused in a way that highlighted  the disunity of this church. The cliquish behavior of the Corinthians reflected significant social and economic differences. What should have been an inclusive community meal had become an occasion for simultaneously private meals. This was an affront to Christ and His gospel.

Guess what? The 21st century churches are no more immune to divisions than Corinth was. Take a look around your congregation when you attend church. Does everybody pretty much look like you? Because of American zoning regulations, we often go to churches that are very homogenous. We all make about the same amount of money and often work in very similar industries. Because of our history of doing ethnic ministries as church starts, most congregations speak the same language and have a similar skin color. We struggle to reach out to those who are different from us. Maybe if we go to a “white” church, we feel guilty that there are only Caucasians in the congregation, but many ethnic congregations see absolutely nothing wrong with their ethnic insularity. Paul would have and I can assure you that God does.

Recapture the Significance of the Lord’s Supper

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to youthat the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread, and after he had given thanks he broke it and said“This is my bodywhich is for youDo this in remembrance of me.” In the same wayhe also took the cup after suppersaying“This cup is the new covenant in my bloodDo thisevery time you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For every time you eat this bread and drink the cupyou proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Paul gave a brief theology of the Lord’s Supper, reminding the Corinthians and us to remember the Lord’s Supper symbolizes Christ’s self-sacrifice on behalf of His people. Twice, Paul urged the Corinthians to remember the death of Christ. By partaking of the bread and the cup, we remember that Jesus Christ took our hell that we might have His heaven. It is His “body on our behalf.” The Lord’s Supper is God’s way of getting us to keep the cross of Christ central in the life of the church. We use the Lord’s Supper to draw close to Jesus in gratitude for what He has done for the entire church through His cross. As we draw near to Him through His Supper, He will draw near to us.

Image result for image of a multicultural church

The new covenant represents God’s declaration of His devotion and commitment, even though the other covenant partner, His people, had not remained faithful. When we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we remember what Jesus has done for us in spite of ourselves. The proclamation of the Lord’s Supper is to show forth the Lord’s death until He comes. The Corinthians were to use the Lord’s Supper as an illustration of the death of Jesus and what it accomplished for their salvation and corporate fellowship. The Corinthians shouldn’t overindulge themselves, despise and shame others, or allow brothers and sisters to go hungry, for all those behaviors are selfish.

Judge Yourselves to Avoid God’s Judgment

For this reasonwhoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself first, and in this way let him eat the bread and drink of the cup. For the one who eats and drinks without careful regard for the body eats and drinks judgment against himself. That is why many of you are weak and sickand quite a few are dead. But if we examined ourselveswe would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lordwe are disciplined so that we may not be condemned with the world.  1 Corinthians 11:27

The opening word “therefore” (also seen in. 10:12; 11:33) indicates that Paul was resuming his main discussion from 11:22. He was drawing a conclusion from what he had said and giving an explanation to his teaching. Since the Lord’s Supper is a proclamation of Christ’s death (11:23-26), eating and drinking “unworthily” is unconscionable. The word rendered “unworthy manner” is not an adjective describing the condition of the one partaking of communion, but an adverb, describing the manner in which one partakes of the Lord’s Supper. The Corinthians themselves are not unworthy. They’re God’s children. The sin of the Corinthians was that they were observing the Lord Supper in a way that was unworthy of it.

Paul didn’t command the Corinthians to examine themselves to see whether or not they are Christians, or even to see if they have sin in their lives, but to see if they are properly discerning the body of Christ. One who treats fellow believers poorly fails to discern that they are members of Christ’s church, His body. One may also fail to discern the significance of Christ’s death since by His death He created a people; and therefore one who mistreats fellow believers at the Lord’s Supper reveals that he or she has little understanding of why Christ died. If you are not in fellowship with another believer, you should strive to resolve the schism in your relationship before you partake of the Lord’s Supper. In Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus told His disciples not to worship God until you have first reconciled with your brother. Fortunately, Paul provided a supplementary note … “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18). It’s not always possible to attain this, but God’s goal is that there not be any outstanding balance in your fellowship bank account. Instead, we are to pursue peace.

It always amazes me that people still believe God doesn’t judge us and doesn’t want us to judge ourselves. What Bible are they reading? Not the same one I read. Here in 1 Corinthians the judgement is physical and progressive: weakness, sickness, death. The word “weak” refers to illness of any kind (depression, anxiety could be included) while the term “sick” refers to weakness and on-going poor health. The verb “sleep” refers to the death of a believer. Paul was dealing with illness as a physical divine judgment; but not all illness is a judgment. These verses apply only if and when the problems of weakness, sickness, and death are problems resulting from divine discipline because of unconfessed sin.

Paul clearly stated that the Corinthians would not be judged if they judge themselves. Our goal must be to judge the sin in our own lives before God must expose it. We must humble ourselves before we are humbled or humiliated. I don’t know about you, but I have enough issues in my life to keep me busy.

But we humans are so good at judging others. Some of us look down on people who listen to worldly music, watch R-rated movies, drink alcohol, dance, play cards, spend money on things we wouldn’t buy. The ability to see sin in others and ignore it in your own heart is one of the distinguishing characteristics of a Pharisee, and being a Pharisee is so easy. It’s great to make rules to guide our own behavior, but when we extend those rules to everyone around us, we’re in danger of becoming pharisaical.

The verbs “judged” and “disciplined” are both present tense verbs indicating on-going activity. This suggests that the goal of God’s discipline is remedial. It’s not a punishment. It’s meant for our good, not for a pound of flesh. God disciplines us because He is a loving Father (Hebrews 12:5-11) Who desperately wants our good.

Scripture speaks of three levels of God’s chastening, or discipline:

  • Internal Chastening. God deals with us in our hearts and nobody knows it is happening except us. If God is disciplining you at this moment, that is the best way to have your problem solved. If you and I can come to the place that God puts His finger on something, and we say, “Thank you, Lord, for loving me this much,” then we are judging yourself. If this level of discipline is not effective, God moves to…
  • External Chastening. The consequences of our sin become obvious because God’s discipline goes public. This is where Jonah ran from the Lord, and God chastened him. He was not weak or sick. He was swallowed by the fish. Had Jonah not surrendered to God’s will the second time, God had another plan. If this second level of discipline fails, God will up the ante.
  • Terminal Chastening. In this level, God calls the believer home prematurely.

 

Welcome One Another

So thenmy brothers and sisters, when you come together to eatwait for one another. If anyone is hungrylet him eat at homeso that when you assemble it does not lead to judgmentI will give directions about other matters when I come. 1 Corinthians 11:33-34

Instead of some gorging themselves while others go hungry, each should share what they have, and all should eat together. In this way the Corinthians would have reflected the unity of the body (“they judge rightly,” 11:29), and averted the judgment of God.

The phrase (ekdechomai) translated “wait for one another” really means something more like “welcome one another.” When used in relation to people, it usually means “to take or receive from another” or “to entertain”. And this makes logical sense. Taking your turn would not solve the problem in the Corinthian church of that poor being without food. The rich “waiting” for the poor to arrive and then partaking together will not remedy this difficulty. Paul was saying “care for one another by showing hospitality to one another! Receive each other as equal members of the body of Christ.” If the Corinthians are just there to indulge their appetites, Paul advised them to stay home. If the church’s gathering is to be meaningful it has to be an expression of real fellowship, which includes sharing.

 

Judging the Church   Leave a comment

The first four chapters of 1 Corinthians focus on the problem of fleshly divisions within the church. Little factions, each with their own leader, had arisen. Worldly wisdom was embraced in place of the wisdom of God in Christ. Pride was a distinguishing feature of these Corinthians. In their false pride, the Corinthians began to judge Paul (and other apostles) unfairly, and to look down upon him, his ministry, and his message. Paul had gently rebuked these saints, and at the end of chapter 4, he urged them to heed his admonition so that he would not have to come to them “with a rod” (4:21).

Image result for image of christian courtsWhile the Corinthians were wrongly dividing over petty distinctions, they were unwilling to separate themselves from a church member who persisted in a sin so abominable that even the pagans of very rowdy Corinth were shocked. Paul rebuked the church for failing to exercise church discipline on a man who was living with his father’s wife. Paul informed the church of his action, even from afar, and urged them to follow his example. They had somehow misunderstood his previous letter, supposing that he was teaching that Christian separation is separation from unbelieving sinners. Paul corrected this misconception not just for them, but for us as well.

The divisions Paul spoke of theoretically in chapter 4 are now addressed specifically in chapter 6. Paul sought to show the Corinthians the “higher road” of morality, which doesn’t come from civil laws but from the gospel.

When any of you has a legal dispute with another, does he dare go to court before the unrighteous rather than before the saints? 1 Corinthians 6:1

Paul had been exceedingly gentle in the previous chapters, only indirectly introducing the problem of divisions in the church. How dare the Corinthian Christians air their disagreements out before the unrighteous rather than go before the church!

Paul was distressed on many levels in this topic:

  • Disputes were erupting between believers in the church. Christians were at odds with one another.
  • These disputes between believers were being taken to the secular courts by these Corinthian believers.
  • Unbelieving judges were being asked to arbitrate between Christians.
  • When these disputes were taken before unbelieving judges, the whole ugly ordeal was carried out before the curious eyes of unbelieving spectators. The world gets to watch these Christians fight with one another in court.
  • These disputes had not been taken to the church, where they belong.

Remember what Jesus said about church discipline in Matthew 18? Disputes between believers should be resolved as privately as possible within the church, unless the wayward saint chooses to disregard the church, in which case that individual should be publicly disfellowshipped. Instead of these two individuals at Corinth going through this process, they took their grievances to the local courts to seek a judgment from an unbelieving judge. Paul was flabbergasted.

Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you not competent to settle trivial suits? Do you not know that we will judge angels? Why not ordinary matters! So if you have ordinary lawsuits, do you appoint as judges those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame! Is there no one among you wise enough to settle disputes between fellow ChristiansInstead, does a Christian sue a Christian, and do this before unbelievers? 1 Corinthians 6:2-6

Paul asked a sequence of questions which indirectly exposed the pathetic condition of the saints at Corinth. Five times in this chapter Paul asks the question, “Do you not know…?” This strikes a very hard blow at the pride of the Corinthians, who think themselves so very wise, and Paul so very naive and provincial in his thinking. I suspect Paul had already taught on these subjects and was flabbergasted that they had forgotten.

Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?” (see Daniel 7:21-22, 27;  Matthew 19:28; Revelation 20:4.

Paul assumes they do know it, and that their actions are completely contradictory to their theology. If Christians are going to reign with Christ and participate in the judgment of the world, how in the world could these Corinthians turn to the unsaved for judgment? If the righteous will judge the unrighteous at the Second Coming, how could the Corinthian Christians look to a heathen to judge the righteous

Do the Corinthians not know that they will be judging the angels? (See Isaiah 24:21-22; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6; Revelation 20:10)

If they know, why would they feel they are unable to judge in trivial matters of this life?

Both the Old and New Testament scriptures are clear that the saints will judge the world. However, there is no clear statement in the Old or New Testaments (other than this statement by Paul) that the saints will judge the angels. It is not a great reach to infer this, however. The saints will reign with Christ when He comes and establishes His kingdom. When Christ judges the world, we will participate. Through Jesus, God will also judge the angels . If this judging of the angels is also a part of Jesus’s reign, and if we shall reign with Him, then we too will judge the angels. Furthermore Paul, as an apostle, was given the authority to reveal that which is a mystery in the Old Testament. If the Corinthians had begun to trust in other (false) apostles, then perhaps it was time they reconsidered their source of authority and revelation. If they were listening to Paul, they would know such things.

Verse 4 is understood in a number of different ways, depending upon the translation. I prefer the translation (paraphrase) of J. B. Phillips: “In any case, if you find you have to judge matters of this world, why choose as judges those who count for nothing in the church?”  If the saints will judge both the world and the angels at the coming of Christ, why in the world would they turn to the world’s judicial system to pronounce judgment in a dispute between two believers? Paul had just written in 1 Corinthians 2:14-16, that natural men cannot understand thing Spirit of God, so why would church members turn to them for judgment in spiritual things?

Wasn’t there even one wise person among the Corinthians who was qualified to judge the dispute between these two believers? This church thought it was very wise. They were so quick to judge Paul and find him wanting. They proudly followed one leader and condemned the rest. Where were these Corinthian “wise men” when they were needed? They were very good at judging when they wanted, so why was no one able to judge such mundane matters? Believers were at each other’s throats before the world.

The fact that you have lawsuits among yourselves demonstrates that you have already been defeated. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? But you yourselves wrong and cheat, and you do this to your brothers and sisters!

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God. Some of you once lived this wayBut you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:7-11

For the competitive Corinthians, life was all about winning and losing. Lawsuits are certainly about winning and losing. Paul argued that any Corinthian Christian who took another believer to court had already lost. Going to court with a fellow-believer is a no-win situation. The better way is to take the loss. Yeah, Paul is telling us that it is better to be a victim than a victor. We want to argue against that because we don’t want to take a loss because of our pride. We don’t want to let the other person get the better of us. We don’t want to lose — money, possessions, prestige …. We protect and exercise our rights, no matter what the cost to others. Our rights are unlimited … the other guy’s can be limited.

Christians are supposed to have an utterly different value system from the unbeliever. When Jesus invited men to follow Him, they were instructed to “take up their cross daily” to follow Him. Thus, the Christian is a person whose life is dominated and directed by the cross of Calvary. It was on the cross of Calvary that Jesus was wronged to bring about our salvation.The wrongful death of Christ is the model for the Christian (see 1 Peter 2, 18-25). This is the reason Jesus taught His disciples not to retaliate, but to return good for evil (Matthew 5:43-48). Paul teaches us similarly (Romans 12:17-21). Jesus taught that if a man forces you to go a mile, you should go two miles instead (Matthew 5:41). The one who asks of us should receive from us (Matthew 5:42). Our goal in life is not to accumulate possessions or to protect and preserve them. We are to give all these things up, gladly. Our attitude should not be to seek our own interests ahead of others, but rather to seek the interests of others ahead of our own (Philippians 2:1-8). This being the case, we should be willing to be wronged and defrauded, especially for the sake of the gospel and for the testimony of the church.

Yes, I am an individual rights advocate, but the non-aggression principle teaches that my rights are not more important than the other person’s rights.

It is a terrible thing for a Christian to take another Christian to court. In verses 1-7, Paul addressed the plaintiff, the one who felt offended or ill-treated and urged him to take his grievance to the church and to risk suffering loss rather than damage the reputation of the church and hinder the gospel by exposing the sins of a brother to the world. Love covers a multitude of sins (Proverbs 10:12; 1 Peter 4:8). Paul then turned to the defendant, who might have been feeling self-satisfied at that moment, comforted by Paul’s rebuke of his adversary. Paul didn’t left him off the hook, though.

If the plaintiff must be willing to be wronged and defrauded, it’s not an invitation for others to wrong and defraud. Some of these Corinthians Christians are crooks, and they prey upon their fellow Christians. Paul warned them that heaven is not a haven for sinners, but a blessed sanctuary for those who have been saved, whose sins have been forgiven because they have forsaken their sins. Some Corinthian Christians were once sinners with sinful lifestyles, but that was the past, and this was the present. Paul provided a broad and all-inclusive list of their sins that include:

  • those who commit sexual sin outside of marriage (idolaters),
  • those who serve other gods of various kinds (idolaters),
  • those who commit sexual sins against their partner in marriage (adulterers),
  • passive (effeminate) and active (homosexuals) sexual deviates.
  • thieves
  • those who lust for what others possess (the covetous),
  • alcoholics (drunkards),
  • those who speak against others (revilers), and
  • con artists (swindlers).

This is a sampling of those who won’t make it into heaven because heaven is a holy place, because God dwells there. Consequently, unholy people will not be there.

The Corinthian church included people who had previously lived such sinful lives, but when they were saved, this became a past, which should be forgotten and forsaken. Salvation includes repentance. Repentance means that we not only agree with God that we are sinners, doomed to eternal torment, and that Christ’s righteousness will save us, but also that we turn from a life of sin to a life of righteousness. Of course this does not mean that we will live a life of sinless perfection. It means we can’t keep on living in sin, as we once did while we were unsaved. Salvation is the process of turning from darkness to light, from death to life, from sin to righteousness. Salvation means that we should never consider continuing on in sin, even though God’s grace is greater than all our sin (see Romans 6:1).

That’s a sobering thought! The gospel is about sinners who are turned from sin to righteousness. It is one of the greatest comforts for the Christian. What we were as unbelievers, we are not now as Christians. Our sins of the past are not only forgiven, they are forgotten by God. God doesn’t treat us like felons on parole. The Christian who was once a thief is not just an ex-thief; he is a new creation. Old things have passed away, replaced by a new person (2 Corinthians 5:17). What we once were as an unbeliever, we will never be again. No sinner is too far gone for God to save.

Paul had a very different view of the relationship of the past to the present than that popularly held by many psychologists and psychiatrists today. In the psychological world of our day, what one was in the past determines what he is in the present. This is why so much time and money is spent digging up the past. It makes a great excuse for sin in the present. Paul’s thinking was just the opposite for Christians. What we were in the past does not determine what we are today, because the cross of Christ separates us not only from our sins but from our past. Christ stands between us in the present and us as we were in the past. What we were is not what we are. The cross of Christ is the reason why we can be now what we were not then. Christians cannot and must not be crooks. It is not because Christians cannot sin, but because they must not sin. For a Christian to be a crook is for a person to return to that wicked state from which he or she was delivered by the grace of God in Christ.

When we were saved, we were completely saved, severed from our past identity and given a new identity. We were washed, cleansed of our sin and our guilt. We were sanctified, set apart from sin unto holiness. We were justified, legally declared righteous through the righteousness of Jesus Christ, imputed to us by faith. All of this transpired in the name of Jesus Christ.

Paul rebuked the Corinthian saints for failing to resolve their disputes with one another within the church. Paul wanted his readers to see the folly of taking spiritual matters before unbelievers, who have no grasp of the real issues. Paul knew, as the Corinthians should have known, that the legal system deals with the protection of men’s rights and the seeking of one’s self-interest, while the gospel is about the surrender of one’s rights and the seeking of the best interests of others. If the dispute cannot be resolved within the church, Paul advocated that the offended party suffer the loss, for the sake of the gospel. In no case should any Christian think that breaking the laws of man or God is something a person can continue after coming to faith in Christ, as though this doesn’t matter. Crooks do not go to heaven. Only saints do.

Why did Paul take this situation in Corinth so seriously? He was gentler with them over condoning sexual immorality in the church than he was about lawsuits between Christians. The issue is the unity of the church, the body of Christ. The church is one body, and believers are all brothers. The focus of each believer is to build up the body of Christ, which means that he must build up individual believers. Taking a fellow-believer to court is not what building up is about. Generally, we take another person to court to take him apart. The church is a temple, the dwelling place of a holy God. To destroy the temple by attacking its members is to invite divine destruction (3:16-17). Lawsuits in Corinth were a denial of the gospel. To continue to act as we formerly did as sinners denies the radical change the gospel makes. We were sinners; we are now saints, a holy nation, declaring the excellencies of Him who saved us (1 Peter 2:1-11). As Christians, we cannot persist in thinking and acting as we formerly did, apart from Christ.

Let God Judge   Leave a comment

The Corinthian church had a leadership crisis. Small cliques had attached themselves to leaders in whom they took pride. Highly regarded in the secular world, these leaders were chosen because of their message and their methods. Their content was thought to be the essence of wisdom. Their methods were powerful. In the 21st Century we’d be expecting the church at Corinth to be experiencing significant growth.

Although each clique appears to have been a personally following of one of the apostles — of Paul, Apollos, or Peter — it wasn’t the apostles themselves who were the problem. They were not competing with one another for positions of power and prominence. If we think the rivalry at Corinth was between the followers of certain apostles like Paul or Apollos or Peter, Paul has a surprise for us in chapter 4. Here, in verse 6, Paul indicates that the real cliques have been established around personal allegiance to certain unnamed men, who are not apostles. As the two letters to the Corinthians continue to unfold, it becomes increasingly clear that some of these leaders were spiritual (1 Corinthians 14:37-38), and some were not even believers, but rather “false apostles” (2 Corinthians 11:12-15).

One should think about us this way – as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Now what is sought in stewards is that one be found faithful. So for me, it is a minor matter that I am judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not acquitted because of this. The one who judges me is the Lord. So then, do not judge anything before the time. Wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the motives of hearts. Then each will receive recognition from God. (1 Corinthians 4:1-5

The Corinthians had given themselves to one leader, whom they elevated to the place which rightly belongs only to our Lord. Speaking for himself and for the other true apostles, Paul sought to revise their perception of leaders. Even those whom God had appointed as apostles were to be regarded as servants, not as masters. Paul made this point earlier in chapter 3, verse 5: “What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one.”

Image result for image of god as judgeIn this verse (3:5), Paul employed the first of three Greek terms for a servant, which he would employ in reference to himself and the other apostles.

Diakonos is a common term for servant, which on a few occasions refers to the office of deacon. The term for servant in 4:1 is hyperetes, which refers to a slave who was seated under the deck of a ship and was one of a number of rowers, by whom the ship was propelled. It was not a position of status, and thus Paul employed this term to emphasize the humble service of the apostles. The third term, oikonomos, is rendered “steward.” The steward was also a slave, but one given a higher authority, under his master. He was the responsible head of the estate, assigning to each slave his duties and entrusted with the administration of the stores. He was a slave in relation to his master, but the epitropos or overseer in relation to the workmen.

Even apostles are mere men, who have been chosen and appointed by God to be His servants, and to whom He has given authority to serve as “stewards of the mysteries of God.” Servants do not own things; they are owned by their Master. As servants, the apostles did not own or possess their followers as the false teachers seemed to do, and as their followers even boasted (“We are of …”). As stewards, the apostles had a certain authority to act in behalf of their Master, but they were still servants of Christ. As slaves and stewards, the apostles were not intent on pleasing men (see Galatians 1:10), but on pleasing the Master. The Lord was their Master, and He will be their Judge. They will give account to Him for their stewardship, and the standard for judgment will be their faithfulness in fulfilling their stewardship.

In verses 3 and 4, Paul pursued the matter of the judgment of himself and the other apostles as God’s stewards. He conveyed to the Corinthians the inherent weaknesses in human judgment. Paul informed them that he was not overly influenced by their judgment of his faithfulness to his calling as an apostle. He didn’t directly attack their ability to judge him, but pointed out his own limitations in judging himself. If Paul couldn’t rely completely on his own self-evaluation, then how could he be heavily influenced by the judgment of the Corinthians, whose knowledge of Paul was much more limited? Paul could search his conscience to see if there was something worthy of an indictment, but even if his conscience gave him a clean bill, his conscience might be ill-informed. Consequently, the only One who is completely qualified to judge Paul is his Master. It is the Lord Who examines him.

If human judgment is fallible, then Paul could rightly instruct the Corinthians to refrain from making final judgments, which should be left to God. When he wrote, “do not go on passing judgment,” we know that the Corinthians were passing judgment, and Paul was instructing them to cease doing so.

Let us pause for a moment to consider what the Bible as a whole has to say on the subject of judging. It does NOT say we shouldn’t judge. That’s a manipulation of Scripture. We are required to judge many things. The Book of Proverbs is written to enable us to discern character, and various character types are vividly described: the naive, simple or gullible, the fool, the sluggard, and the scoffer — all contrasted against the wise. We are to deal with a person according to their character, and thus we must judge character, based upon the descriptions given in Scripture. We are to judge sin, which is clearly defined in the Scriptures, and clearly evident in our life (1 Corinthians 11:17-31) and in the life of another (1 Corinthians 5). We are also to make judgments on spiritual matters involving believers (1 Corinthians 6). We are to judge the doctrinal truth of what we are taught (Acts 17:10-11).

There are also things we must not judge. We are not to judge the convictions of a brother in the Lord, since these are not matters of biblically defined sin, but of liberties (Romans 14:4). Neither are we to judge or speak against a brother in any matter which the Scriptures have not defined as sin, and for which we have no biblical support. To do so is to place ourselves above the Word of God and to pass judgment on God’s law and God, the Lawgiver and the Judge (James 4:11-12).

When God calls upon the saints to judge, they do so in God’s behalf (Matthew 18:18-19). When we wrongly judge, we judge in God’s place (James 4:11-12). In our text, Paul is forbidding men to judge in God’s place, passing judgment upon those things which God alone can judge. The judgment which does not belong to men is that which will be done by God in the day of judgment, when He returns to the earth to establish His kingdom (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). We dare not “go on passing judgment” before “the time” (4:5). This judgment is God’s judgment alone, because it is that which only God can perform.

Human judgment is temporal and incomplete; it is not final, nor can it be. Consider this. During the recent elections, television networks continued to give updated results, as the precincts closed and votes were counted and reported. After a while, certain trends became apparent, and winners were “predicted” and announced as such. While such predictions are usually accurate, the final outcome cannot be determined until all the precinct voting places have closed and all the ballots have been counted. Our judgment is not the final verdict. Such pronouncements belong only to God.

Paul instructed the Corinthian saints to cease judging their fellow servants because they did not have sufficient data on which to base a judgment. The arrogant, boastful Corinthians who were judging actually thought they were wise enough to judge in God’s place. They based their judgments on outward appearances, which is a very dangerous thing to do (see Luke 16:15). Later Paul insisted that not all gifts produce visible results (1 Corinthians 12:29-30). The boastful Corinthians preferred the gift that were visible because they felt it put them in higher esteem that their fellow-saints.

One thing remains vague in what Paul says, something we must infer from the context. What judgment is Paul instructing them to cease? It seems evident that it is making a final and decisive judgment on the success and quality of the ministry of an apostle of God. Paul warned these Corinthians, who are also mere servants of Christ, not to continue passing judgment on the service of the apostles, condemning apostolic leadership, while choosing to follow a particular favorite leader.

What Is Love?   Leave a comment

Modern society will tell you that God is love and then go on to define love in very specific ways that justify their own deeds. What did Jesus, Who is God in the flesh to walk on earth among humans, have to say about love?

For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

This is perhaps the most recognizable Bible verse in the world. There are two things modern man gets wrong about this verse. One — they really hate that God sacrificed His child for our salvation. They are actually angry with God for this. What they fail to understand is that Jesus is God. I don’t fully understand how it works, but Jesus made it clear that He and the Father are one in the same. God sent Himself to earth to die for our sins, so that we might be reconciled to Him. Why was that necessary? Maybe so the sinless spirit God could understand why human beings are so weak against sin. Or maybe to show us that frail humanity can stand against sin for 30-odd years and die a horrible death and still not sin. Or, maybe just to show us that He loves as THAT MUCH that’s He’s willing to endure anything so that those of us who believe in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.

Because I am not a Bible translator, I’m providing the notes on this verse from the NET Bible.

Although this word is often translated “only begotten,” such a translation is misleading, since in English it appears to express a metaphysical relationship. The word in Greek was used of an only child (a son [Luke 7:12, 9:38] or a daughter [Luke 8:42]). It was also used of something unique (only one of its kind) such as the mythological Phoenix (1 Clement 25:2). From here it passes easily to a description of Isaac (Heb 11:17 and Josephus, Ant. 1.13.1 [1.222]) who was not Abraham’s only son, but was one-of-a-kind because he was the child of the promise. Thus the word means “one-of-a-kind” and is reserved for Jesus in the Johannine literature of the NT. While all Christians are children of God (τέκνα θεοῦ, tekna qeou), Jesus is God’s Son in a unique, one-of-a-kind sense. The word is used in this way in all its uses in the Gospel of John (1:14, 1:18, 3:16, and 3:18).

The other thing they get wrong is not to read the rest of what Jesus said. This was a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. It wasn’t a string of unrelated verses.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him. John 3:17

During His earthly mission, it wasn’t Jesus’ job to condemn those who sin in the world. His job was to offer salvation through belief in Him e the world. If He’d stopped there, modern man wouldn’t have much to worry about, but Jesus had more to say on the subject.

The one who believes in him is not condemned. The one who does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. John 3:18

We really like the warm fuzzies of 3:16-17, but we really don’t like this verse because it creates choices. It demands choices. Believers in Jesus Christ as Savior are not condemned. Yay! That’s great! But what of the nonbelievers? I can almost hear Nicodemus asking that question. Jesus explained that their lack of belief condemns them. Jesus doesn’t need to do any condemning because they have made their choice to not believe in the name of Jesus

Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world, but as God, He will judge the world and this will be his criteria.

Now this is the basis for judging: that the light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil deeds hates the light and does not come to the light, so that their deeds will not be exposed. But the one who practices the truth comes to the light, so that it may be plainly evident that his deeds have been done in God. John 3:19-21 

At a prior point in John’s gospel, Jesus is identified as the light. Apparently Nicodemus knew this. The Light has come into the world, but instead of embracing the Light, people preferred darkness because their deeds were evil.

So what does that mean … their deeds were evil? Those who come to the Light (Jesus) are not afraid to be associated with Him because it is plain their deeds have been done in the light. This is evident because they are not ashamed of their deeds.

Again, the margin notes from the NET Bible are helpful.

sn John 3:16-21 provides an introduction to the (so-called) “realized” eschatology of the Fourth Gospel: Judgment has come; eternal life may be possessed now, in the present life, as well as in the future. The terminology “realized eschatology” was originally coined by E. Haenchen and used by J. Jeremias in discussion with C. H. Dodd, but is now characteristically used to describe Dodd’s own formulation. See L. Goppelt, Theology of the New Testament, 1:54, note 10, and R. E. Brown (John [AB], 1:cxvii-cxviii) for further discussion. Especially important to note is the element of choice portrayed in John’s Gospel. If there is a twofold reaction to Jesus in John’s Gospel, it should be emphasized that that reaction is very much dependent on a person’s choice, a choice that is influenced by his way of life, whether his deeds are wicked or are done in God (John 3:20-21). For John there is virtually no trace of determinism at the surface. Only when one looks beneath the surface does one find statements like “no one can come to me, unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44).

Love it that Jesus was God Who took on human form to live among us and to die for our sins so that those of us who choose to believe will not be judged, but will be saved from eternal condemnation. We can choose to reject Him, but if we prefer the darkness rather than the light, there are consequences.

Posted September 4, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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Illustrated Man   1 comment

This is part of a series. Check it out!

 

So lest we think that I’m perfect, I’m going to tell a tale on myself and I hope I’ll make you laugh while I’m proving a point about obscuritism in the Christian faith.

 

Brad and I love to go to Chena Hot Springs, a natural hot springs near Fairbanks that has been developed into a resort. The last time we were there, I had the opportunity to obscure the Christian faith with some cultural baggage of my own … but I didn’t … accidentally.

 

I was sitting in the hot tub when a man came out of the dressing room who deserved the title of Illustrated Man. You know the type. He was covered in tattoos. I consider tattooing to be a form of self-mutilation. I don’t have any and I don’t get why anyone would want to have one. If there’s an image you especially love, put it on a t-shirt and wear it. If you love it a lot, have multiple t-shirts made. Tattoos are painful and while they’re no longer exactly permanent, they aren’t easily removed. They also are implicated in some auto-immune disorders and, since my dad had psoriasis, tattoos are a dumb idea for me. I just don’t get the entire fad.

This guy’s tattoos were artistically lovely, by the way. Really nice colors and well-drawn images. But my brain was silently judging him as he sat down on the edge of the hot tub. The water was particularly hot that night as CHS is a variable spring and it took him several minutes to acclimate to slide into the water. This gave me an opportunity to actually look at his tattoos and be corrected by God just a little bit.

Every image — and he had many — was Biblically-based. He had Daniel in the lions’ den, the three amigos in the fiery furnace with the angel, Paul the apostle holding the cloaks at Stephen’s murder, then blinded on the road to Damacus, being stoned outside of Lystra, preaching on Mars Hill …. I didn’t mean to stare, but I couldn’t help myself.

So, just as I was working up the courage to ask him about his ink, a college student came over to do just that. This kid had tattoos too, but they weren’t nearly so uplifting. The Illustrated Man then shared the gospel with this kid using his ink. I sat in awe, judging myself, as I listened to him. According to Brad, the two exchanged phone numbers in the locker room and the Illustrated Man was going to take the kid to church on Sunday.

So, I’m still not going to run out to get a tattoo or three and I still hope my family members don’t either, but it was a lesson in obscuritism for me.

My cultural bias is against tattoos, but God apparently doesn’t care and this guy is using his ink as a means for evangelism. Sometimes we need to re-evaluate our positions based on what God is trying to teach … which does not mean we should go so far to the other direction that we enter into syncretism.

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