How do we really think of sin? Do we think less of it since we live on a Forgiven Side of the Cross? Well we might, but God never changes on it. As you read this keep in mind that there is no “building” yet called “the church”. Scatterings of small groups congregated in places or homes to discuss such topics. Paul is letting them know much of what they think the Cross means is wrong. For example, in 6:12 Is everything “Permissable?” They assumed since the SIN was forgiven that it was “ok” now. Ummmmm do we think the same way?
Chapter 5: “DOn’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?” Yeast is symbolic of sin. It is remembered at the Passover Festival when they Feast on bread without yeast in it. (today called Matzah)
Chapter 6: Lawsuits among believers. If both sides were truly following Jesus…why would there be a lawsuit worthy of a pagan court decision? And Sexual immorality, listen, God thinks no less of the sin of immoral sex than when he did since the beginning of time.
Chapter 7: CHristian Marriage. Remember when reading today that Paul is writing to the CHRISTIANS. We are His people, His children, and all these letters we are reading are pertaining to us. SO if you have any questions in your heart I am certain that these letters and the next few weeks will for sure give you guidance.
Chapter 8: Food sacrificed to idols. This is not just about buying meat in the marketplace that was improperly offered this is about Social Gatherings. It is about setting an example. Read the last verse, it is not about us not eating meat, it is about setting the example: if the social and “intake” you are visiting is not to the Lord’s standards THEN be a light!
I could have thrown a dart on the page and spent an hour on where ever it landed. I read Chapter 1 and thought…did I underline the whole chapter or what!
The church did not have the written New Testaments yet. So listening to a great preacher and not “following” him was difficult. The church in Corinth was divided into 4 “cliques”:
- Followers of Apollos,
- Cephas (Peter),
- Christ and
- Paul himself
(no different from today…we mask this with Denominational Following “Oh, we are ______, we believe in something different”. NO DIFFERENT! . But here is the next BIG topic on the table: The Cross. As Paul says it was their stumbling block. What does that mean? Here are the views regarding Jesus death
- The Jews expected the Messiah to restore the throne of David. A political king. A royal! They saw him as a criminal on the Cross.
- The Greeks did not believe in the resurrection. See the Greeks were followers of powerful Greek gods and goddesses.
They both considered death on the Cross weak and Defeat. We as believers see the Power of the Cross. The death and Resurrection was the Victory over Satan and death. Does everyone get this, even the most intelligent men on the planet?? No. Why? because it is a heart issue, not a head issue.
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Paul says it will frustrate the intelligent. I urge you to watch the movie “Expelled” with Ben Stein and hear the Darwinist’s try to explain their own foundation. Even they trip over their stupid theories.
Chapter 2: The Spirit. Do you fully understand that He has given us this FREE GIFT (vs 12) of the Spirit. I think of it like this, you don’t know how good a GPS is until you have it and get lost. Once you have it…you can’t move forward without it. Can you picture driving across country without a GPS (or any kind of map). Frustrating isn’t it! The Spirit is YOUR GPS (if you have the Spirit…and second, if you choose to power it up)
Chapter 3. The Division in the CHurch (IN the Church). Listen, there is no “religious” hierarchy. God is telling us that the Church is making levels in the church and that is wrong. We are ALL equal. We aer all the Temple to the Spirit, and lifting one man up over another is WRONG in the site of the Lord. (I grew up under this false Doctrine…so I am touchy about it). If you are a follower you are EQUAL, exalting a man takes the exalt of the Christ in you.
Chapter 4. True Apsolseship? Why is God writing this book for us? Every book needs to be approached with that. Why did God want us to know this?
This is so cool. See up to now we have read about the letters written to the Churches, even the General letters and they all regarded the “outside” factors that affect the church. For example, the persecution or the false teachings that were going on in the world. This time we are reading about the “inside” of the church and the troubles they are having. This book is as modern as the day it was written. (uhh they all are)
First, the city of Corinth, was a rich town just outside Athens. Consisting of about 300,000 free citizens with 450,000 slaves by the 2nd Century (yes, read that again…very wealthy city). Theaters would hold about 14,ooo and many many pagan worships went on, including the 1000 high end prostitutes in the city limits. The temple in town was a temple for Aphrodite, the love goddess! Cleary sexual immorality is a huge part of the lifestyle. The city was best know for the beauty and sexuality of the woman, they all attained to look like Greek Goddesses. (We call this city Hollywood here).
So while Paul was in Ephesus, 2 things happen.
- One, he receives a report that the Church in Corinth had party divisions, has a known case of incest going on, there were court cases between members, they were abusing the “freedom” in Christ, and general chaos including poor respect for the Lord’s Supper.
- Second, he received a letter from them on advice concerning marriage, problems over food and social functions held at church, proper prayer, spiritual gifts and finally the true meaning of the Resurrection.
So Paul is going to write back and address the Churches of Corinth, and they will be called 1 and 2 Corinthians
We will be in both 1 and 2 Corinthians for eight days (It’s going to be good!). Here is the schedule:
Baptism and Circumcision seem to be HOT topics then…and HOT topics now. I would say it is the number one topic under my “hate-email” category. Yes, I get hate email from readers. WHen you think about how often it is talked about in the Bible you have to conclude how IMPORTANT it is to the Lord. Why was it done? Who should do it? When? It’s purpose?
Today’s read is very important. Today we read about the danger of false teaching and doctrines on several levels. First, Baptism. It is very clear that it had been taught as a use of Salvation, and Paul quickly clears that up and says “no, it is a sign of Repentance”. The other false teaching here was teaching the Old Testaments way without the fulfilment of the Messiah, this was done from lack of knowledge, another huge problem in our Christian world today.
Third Mission trip:
Apollos. First, the name alone should grab your attention. Remember when we’re talking the other day about how hard it is to preach in Athens with their thick Greek culture. Well, who better than one of their own. The problem was he only had half the story, he knew the Old Testament Law and ritual and the promise of the Messiah through the prophet of John the Baptist, so Aquila and Priscilla took him in and taught him in of the Resurrection and Salvation through Faith. (Maybe we should send him to some churches around here) unfortunately the people actually started following Apollos not God. I heard a speaker once say “you know you are doing your job when after people hear you talk about Jesus, they want less of you and more of Him”.
Let’s talk about Ephesus for a minute. Ephesus was ugly! It is the center of Black Magic and sorcery. Listen to me..anything black magic like ouiji boards, horoscopes, palm reading, fortune-telling, superstition, “luck” is completely detestable to the Lord. Anyway, back to the Bible, when the sorcerers burned the “junk” it was a huge statement in town and the converts or the ones following “the Way”(Did anyone reseach that name….THE WAY? I will tl,k about it in comments to save space) put some business of “idol making” at risk. By the way, I am not trying to beat up the Vatican (again) but know that this same EXACT problem happened in the 1500′s to them during the Protestant Reformation. The use of carved Saint sales was to restore the bankruptcy from St. Peter’s Basilica and when Luther Preached about their “lack of power”, the Vatican ordered him to be killed. Just sayin.
Anyone curious about the Goddess of Fertility Artemis??
Where is Victoria Secret on this one??
We can tell from the reading that Paul is greatly in love with the church and the people in Thessalonica. It is obvious that they are being persecuted not only by man, but Satan has camped out in town too. However, this church remains a model for other churches. Just like when we read Galatians, Paul is addressing false teachings on the heels of his departure. SO Paul repeats the standards of living a life according to the Lord and comforts them on the “fallen asleep”.
See many Christians had been persecuted to the point of death, and false teachers are spreading word that the dead will miss the second coming of Christ. Paul here does not use the words Life/Death since Jesus used them to mean the eternal states, so Paul refered to the believers who have passed as: “fallen asleep”.
Take a quick look at 1 thess 4:17, underline the phrase “will be caught up together”. This ONE of two places in the whole bible that the Rapture is clearly stated! The Latin vulgate uses the word rapiemur which is a verb translated Rapture! (You know I loves me a little rapture talk!)
2 Thessalonians is another letter from Paul clarifying some of the first. See Paul had said that the second coming of Christ will come without warning…etc. And false teachers and prophets were telling them that it already happened and they missed it. Sound stupid? Well it’s not. Look at half the crap people believe these days, But in 2 thes 2:2 (Hey 2:2:2) Paul let’s us know that it has not happened and there is still a rising of Satan that will occur claiming to be God himself. (This could happen in 1000 years or tomorrow but it will be a surprise so don’t try to point fingers on current events, yes we will recognize the season and signs but to point exacts you are fooling yourself)
SO in conclusion of this read I want to peel out the 15 exhortations from 1 thess 5
- Live in Peace with each other
- Warn those who are idle
- Encourage the timid
- Help the weak
- Be Patient with everyone
- Make sure nobody pays back wrong for wrong
- Be kind to each other
- Be joyful always
- Pray continually
- Give thanks in all circumstances
- Do not put out the Spirit’s fire
- Do not treat prophecy with contempt
- Test everything
- Hold on to the good
- Avoid every kind of evil
My thought of the day: These letters are to Believers who are being persecuted. These are in the Bible to comfort us in our modern day persecution. The Bible clearly says that if we are truly going against the world and truly living as Christ would call us to we WILL be persecuted. So if you are dealing with persecution for work, fiends or a family member take comfort in this. COntrary, if you are not dealing with it at all, take to consider you may look too much like the World. (let me get my mirror out). You may not look like a CHrist Follower so there may not be persecution.
We are reading 2 books today! I am sure you paid attention that one of the towns Paul visited was Thessalonica. Paul founded a church there after a very brief visit on his second missionary journey. In the Macedonia area, this town was very large, second to Athens, with a population of about 200,000. Why was this town so crowded? Remember when I described several times the “Dispersion” (Diaspora) after the Jews were released from exile, well this area was very wealthy and rich in culture so many Jewish descendant migrated there rather than back to Jerusalem. However it seems the church was predominantly Gentile.
This is a time of great persecution to the believers. There were zealous Jews, and Roman authorities that would torture a believer in Christ. I remember hearing once a story in church about Christians were dipped in tar, tied to stakes and then lit on fire to light up the gardens in the Palaces. Professed believers in Christ risked being stoned, beat, crucified and tortured. Paul knew this well since he once sat on the council that voted FOR it. He now stood on the other side of the Cross.
This letter was to encourage the believers of Thessalonica AND to assure them of Christ’s return. Actually, Christ’s return will be mentioned over 20 times in just todays’ read. Paul gives us a way of living that will prepare us for the Second coming of Christ with exhortations and ends with benedictions and prayers.
We have a hope. Not we hope, we have A HOPE that Christ will come back and we as believers will spend an eternity in his presence.
Keep scanning down to that big map from Acts 15-16 to get your geographical bearings. So they continued to Thessalonica, a very large wealthy town, where much persecution was going on to the Christians. After a short visit Paul and Silas continued to Berea. After an uproar occurred there Paul continued on to Athens leaving Silas and Timothy behind. As we see Athens was a major false god city full of idols. After all, Athens was the center of Greek Mythology, also home to all the great philosophers, and a city know for pluralism.
Here is a painting by Raphael of Paul in Athens at the Areopagus. The Epicureans (isn’t that like a razor for hair removal?) were actually contrasts of the Stoics. The first, had a “if it feels good…do it, you live life once mentality” while the Stoics were philosophers of the mind. So to read there were a “few” that converted was actually a great success considering all obstacles.
Paul left and went to Corinth and stayed with Aquila and Priscilla (Priscilla Shirer, is named after her) and stayed a year and a half. While there Paul wrote 2 letters to the Christians back in Thessalonica (uhhh want to guess what they are called?)
This read really needs to go back one CHapter if you ask me. Chapter 3 talks about the purpose of the law? And it is answered, that it was required UNTIL the law was fulfilled by the Promise made to Abraham for ALL people. This read continues to describe that there is no difference to God whether you are a slave or a free, a descendant of Abraham or an adopted (Gentile).
Hagar and Sarah. Both had children with Abraham. The child of Hagar was born under slavery, representative of the Law. Sarah on the other hand, and impossibility for her to get pregnant, was born from a Promise God made with Abraham. It is believing in the promise that gives us freedom.
Now the good stuff. Chapter 5 and 6. Now that we got the circumcision issue out of the way read about your Freedom in Christ and more importantly the Fruit of the Spirit. Don’t just read them, think about them. These are the fruits that have been given to us by the Spirit. They are in you. (whether we feel like it today or not) We have the ability to USE these Spirit given fruit for HIS PURPOSE. Stop: let me rephrase, God has the ability to USE US with the fruit of the Spirit. So as you do the work of the Lord or are advancing the Gospel for the Lord pray that the Spirit be obvious through Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Let others know you are a Christian NOT by “religion” but from the Spirit.
Todays verse for ME from God was : “Let us not become weary in doing good, for the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up”. (6:9) I am in a season of feeling worthless when it comes to being his hands and feet. I feel lately that my judgement is heavy and what He is giving me is wasted. I compare my deeds this year to a different season of servitude that I once had a passion for that seems to have slipped and I felt this verse strong today say, “We all have seasons, don’t give up, I will use you again”.
I am taking this Book extremely serious! Listen to me, the reason God wrote this book through Paul was HE knew that people and Churches were going to add and take away from the Gospel. Let anything you have been taught from your parents, the elders, your priest, your pastor, your friends, be filtered through this Book. Last week I had an extremely scary conversation on the phone with someone who truly truly thinks in her heart that she needs to “do something” to see heaven. The worse part about it is, the church taught her it. You can see how all of this started even in the beginning of the church origin.
God said through Paul:”I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” (Gal 1:6-9) God is so serious about this He repeats it!
The Gospel says nothing about Circumcision, 10 commandments, sacraments, not drinking, baptism, deeds, donation, service, sacrifice, confession…anything we do after accepting the Gospel is an obedience. Is it a big deal to think otherwise? Does it hurt anything to think you must follow the law of your Church, YES, God says it is condemnable. SO pay attention and repent from any false teachings and doctrines you have learned.
For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!
Let me tell you how serious this is. I have 3 kids under the age of 8. Two were Baptized as babies. I was told this act now allowed them to enter Heaven. Think about this, had I never fully understood the Gospel, I was at a huge risk of allowing my children to grow up with that false ideology and they could have never accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and spent an eternity in Hell. That is how serious I take the book of Galatians.
For those of you who read the Old Testament with me this year, did you underline Chapter 3:24…”The Law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we may be justified by faith. Now that faith has come we are no longer under the supervision of the law.” Everything we read for 9 months was to LEAD us to the Christ. It was all ONE BIG FORESHADOW!
Galatia is the area of Southern Turkey. It was a Roman Province. On a map it will be the Lysrta, Icomium and Derbe area. Paul was extremely successful on his visits to the area of Galatia (he visits it all 3 mission trips) because many would convert to Christianity. However Judaizers, a sect of the Jewish Christians, were not willing to accept that believers did not have to be circumcised.
The “Judaizers” seem to be a group of Jewish Christians in the first century CE who preached to the recently founded churches of the Gentiles the need to conform to the Law of Moses, even after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This group originated in Jerusalem; we know little about them, only that at least some are likely Pharisees (Acts 15:5).
Somewhere in your comments you may have the title “Jewish Proselyte”, meaning converted gentile. The Judaizers made it their job to stamp Christ as a Jew so anyone who believes must follow the Law. I find this fascinating since just this past Thursday I was in a conversation with a friend of mine who is a 7th Day advents. They are so strict to adhering to the Old Testament Law, I get concerned with the notion that they do not understand what the “fulfilment” actually meant.
So Paul writes this letter to Galatia. By the way a letter is called and Epistle. (Just the fancy Greek word for letter) (I feel like Fancy Nancy today)
The book of Galatians shows a believer that we are no longer under the law but saved by Grace through Faith in Jesus Christ.
Galatians 2 says “know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified…. For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
Romans 11:6 “And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”. What does that mean? It means if you ADD to Grace. If in your worship you ADD an act to salvation….baptism, prayer, sacrament, ceremony, fasting ….for Salvation purposes, THEN it is no longer Grace and you truly do not understand the fulfilment on the Cross.
I pray God OPENS all our hearts on this Book.
There is a reason God is going to collapse the Temple…people won’t stop worshiping as if Jesus didn’t free us!! Are you free? Ask God to rebuke you if your taking Christ off the Cross.