1 Corinthians 2:14-4:21 - Skip Heitzig
Calvary Church is dedicated to doctrine, and we want you to experience the life change that comes from knowing God's word and applying it to your life. So we explain the Bible verse by verse, every chapter, every book. This is Expound.
Now, first things first. If you have served in our armed forces or you're a family member of somebody who has, would you rise to your feet please? Would you stand up?
All right. Some of you wore your jackets, your uniforms. No, no, wait a minute. Stand up. Not so quick. Stay standing. In fact, through the entire message I'd like you to stand up. I'm kidding.
No, but stay standing. No, no, no. I want you to be recognized. I want you to be seen by people. I want them, if they're sitting next to you, thank you for wearing your uniforms, by the way, those who did. And we want you to know and hear from us how-- you heard the applause, but how much we appreciate you for your service.
Thank you for your dedication. We are honored, and we want you to feel honored for what you do. And before you sit down, we'd like to pray for you. Thank you, Father, for these, who have served this great country of ours. Father, we pray that your hand of peace would be upon them, that you would continue your protection. Thank you, Lord, that they're with us. Thank you, Lord, that they have dutifully served, they have performed their task, their calling.
And, Father, we thank you for what they stand for, and that we can-- during this season of the year, this day of the year, tomorrow, Veterans Day-- thank them publicly. And it's really not enough just to say thank you, but we do honor them and pray that you would gladden their heart and you would fulfill what you have called them to from this day forward. We ask in Jesus's name. Amen. Thank you.
Now you can have a seat. OK, let's turn in our Bibles to the book of 1 Corinthians, where we left off at the end of chapter 2, about ready to get into chapter 3. And so we want to pick that up. Father, thank you for this time. We pray that you calm and still our hearts before you and make them attentive, for this is a day and age of distractions that we live in. We get pulled in so many directions and so many thoughts.
And, Father, we pray that we might grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, as Peter wrote. I pray that we would continue to grow and that the result of us being here tonight is that you would set in our mind-- set things in order of understanding maybe things that we have forgotten about or never known before, just to fit pieces of this puzzle together of how we relate to you while being on this Earth, this life of faith, this church life of how we do life together as the body of Christ through this lens.
We pray that you strengthen everyone who has come, everyone who is joining us on the different outlets, including local radio, and internationally through the different portals. Thank you for that technology, and pray that you bless each one in Jesus's name. Amen.
Well, from time to time, I hear well-meaning folks that will talk about how good it would be if we could go back to things like they were in the early church. And when I hear that-- and I get the sentiment because I remember saying that myself. Gosh, it would be great to be like living life like in the early church.
When somebody says that, I want to probe a little bit because I want to say, so how early are you talking about? And they'll say, well, you know, like New Testament. OK. So the church at Corinth is a New Testament church. Do you want to be like them? Now, if they know 1 Corinthians at all, they go, well, not so much like them.
And so they go usually, oh, no. You know, like the earliest church, like the church in Jerusalem. But, again, if you know your Bible, you know that the early church in Jerusalem had its own share of issues and problems. There was a problem of hypocrisy. And God demonstrated how He felt about it by killing a couple of church members because of their hypocrisy. That's a problem.
I don't want to go back to that. Do you? Every time we sing a song and we don't really mean it, there's hypocrisy in our hearts-- bam, we'd have an undertaker at every service. Or in the sixth chapter, when there was a problem between one group and another group over the daily distribution that was or was not taking place with a group of widows, there were problems even back then.
So I just want to frame this, and I think it's important that we grasp this. Is it realistic to think that you could ever find a church that doesn't have its share of problems? We have had our share of problems at this church through the years. My mind can land, as I go back, to several different issues that we have had and rocky times we have had. Every assembly will and does have issues, has problems, simply because Jesus saves sinners.
So welcome to the gathering of sinners, who are in different stages of sanctification. He loves us the way we are. He takes us the way we are. Now He loves us too much to leave us the way we are. That's the holiness process. But we come as we are, and that gets pretty messy from time to time.
So that's important to realize because 1 Corinthians is largely a letter written to a church dealing with not one, not two, but several problems, one after the other. And we have sort of laid that out before you in the past few weeks. A church member named Chloe informed Paul, who is at Ephesus, about an issue with divisions.
So Paul writes about that at the beginning of 1 Corinthians. That was sort of the first problem he dealt with, the problem of one group in the church against another group in the church. One would say, I'm of Paul. Another would say, I'm of Apollos. He was the pastor that came after Paul.
Some say, I'm of Cephas, that is, Peter the apostle. We have no record of him coming to Corinth, but maybe they were influenced by his teachings. Maybe he did come through. We're not sure. And then another group just sort of saying, yeah, I'm really not tied to any human leader. I'm of Christ.
And the point is they drew off into subgroups and created more disunity by being unified over one leader over another leader. It wasn't the leader's fault. Paul, Peter, Apollos never insisted, hey, I demand loyalty to me. It wasn't their fault. It was the people's fault, who were attracted to those personalities and thought it was important enough to divide over. So that was an issue that he deals with.
Another issue that Paul is dealing with-- and it sort of bleeds into the first issue-- is that influence of Greek philosophy. They were attracted by the worldly wisdom of the Greeks. The Greeks, of course, were known for their philosophical postulates and for their philosophers, that were well renowned, and well spoken of, and could articulate matters of life beautifully.
And so with that as a background, they were attracted to being chic, and being respectable, and wanting worldly, wise people to like them. So, yeah, they wanted to follow Christ, but they wanted to have kind of the backslapping of the world at the same time. And so Paul talks about worldly wisdom. God hasn't chosen the wise or the noble but the foolish things of this world to confound the wise, the weak things of this world to put to shame the mighty.
And then those two problems of division and respectability, or worldly wisdom, led to a third problem, and that was carnality. And it's all tied together. He just sort of deals with the issue in different ways leading up to it. And that's sort of where we left off. It's the problem of stunted spiritual growth.
All of us should be growing in our faith. I've been a Christian a while. I should still be growing in my faith. You may have been a Christian just a few months. You're growing in your faith. Or a few years-- you're growing in your faith.
I remember when I was a four-year-old Christian. Not 4 years old as a human, but an adult human being who had been born again for 4 years. And I just thought, man, I've been a Christian a long time. And when I started dating this young girl who had been a Christian a few weeks, this girl named Lenya, I thought, oh, my goodness. She's just so immature, and I'm so mature.
And as the years pass, as the years go on, it's why I have that life verse-- God has chosen the foolish things of this world. I realize how foolish I was and am. But then I quickly rejoice that God selects those people.
So in chapter 2, toward the end, I made a statement as I closed last week that Paul identifies not two different groups of people but three different groups of people in the world. One is the natural person, or the natural man, he will call them. Second is the spiritual man, and the third is the carnal man. That's in chapter 3. But toward the end of chapter 2, he speaks about those first two categories, the natural person, or the natural man. And it doesn't mean in gender, just the person, the natural person versus the spiritual person.
So in verse 14, he says, But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit. Now, just again for context, he talks about the fact that the Holy Spirit knows the mind of God and has revealed the mind of God to us. Who has known the spirit of a man except-- or who knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man that is in him? Same it is with God. The Holy Spirit knows the mind of God and reveals things to us.
So we are recipients of God's revelation through the Holy Spirit. But-- verse 14-- But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. That's the first category, the natural man, the natural person.
The Greek word is psuchikos, psuchikos. And it means somebody who is governed by human nature. That's the natural man, the natural woman. It's not like, [SINGS] hey, I'm a natural woman. Not that idea of that song, although it does fit. If you're unregenerate, if you are an unsaved person, if you are a person simply governed by human nature, appetites of human nature, then that's what you are, a natural man, a natural woman.
Now, this natural man mentioned in verse 14 might be a very charming, handsome, beautiful, charismatic, intelligent, even religious person, and yet unsaved. And as an unsaved person, as a natural person, even if he or she is all of those things, they don't understand spiritual matters, real spiritual truth.
I used to get so frustrated when I would witness to people. And I would make the argument so logical, my presentation so airtight in its understanding, logically and theologically, and yet I'd have people look at me like, huh? And I would say to them, can't you see it? Don't you understand it? Don't you get it? And the answer to my questions were, no.
How can you expect somebody who can't see or understand spiritually to get a spiritual truth you're trying to convey? It's as much folly as telling a blind person, look at the beautiful sunset we've had today. Look at those colors. Um, I don't-- excuse me, Skip, but I don't know if you've noticed-- I'm carrying a walking cane. I can't see.
Oh, but look at it. Can't you get it? Don't you-- isn't that beautiful? I don't-- I lack the capacity. I don't have the capability to appreciate it.
Or somebody who's either deaf or tone deaf. You play a bit of music that is your favorite music. Oh, listen to those violins, or that cello, or listen to those harmonies. And they go, I can't appreciate it. I lack the capability.
So it is with a natural person. They lack the capability because, Paul says, they are spiritually discerned. God has to open their hearts. The Holy Spirit has to enable them to discern, to get it, to understand it.
In Ephesians, chapter 2, Paul says that you were dead in trespasses and sins. If you're dead, you lack the capacity to feel. If you go up to a casket and there's a dead person lying in there and you nudge him, or talk to him, or try to hug him, they can't appreciate it. They're insensate. They have no sensations toward you. They lack any kind of ability to apprehend stimuli whatsoever.
So Paul said you were dead. In times past, you walked according to the course of this world, he continues, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience. And you were-- listen-- by nature the children of wrath, even as others, even as other unbelievers. So this is the unregenerate man, the unregenerate woman, the natural man, the psuchikos.
Verse 15 introduces us to a second category of person. But he who is spiritual-- the Greek word here is pneumatikos-- judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.
So we have the natural man. Now we have this spiritual man. Or, if you don't mind, the natural man and the supernatural man, because God has awakened his or her spirit to the things of God. They're thinking now not just in the natural world but in the supernatural world. They're interested in supernatural things, spiritual things.
I was amazed when I came to Christ. One of the indications to me that I was saved was not that I was perfect, because that still hasn't happened. Ask anybody who knows me well, especially my wife. But one of the indications that I was saved is that I had a change of appetite. The things I used to hate, I started to like. The things that I loved, I didn't have the same taste for.
Skip, let's go party. Let's go do this. That doesn't sound interesting to me. Oh, come on. What's wrong with you? No, no, no, wrong question. What's right with me? And those things I never had an interest in, like reading the Bible, praying, being around other Christians-- I hated-- I thought Christians were weird.
I still have my doubts about some, but it's God's family, and I love them. I love being around them. I love His word. I love His church. I love His plan. I don't understand it, but I love it. I have new appetites. I'm spiritually inclined, as are you, supernaturally inclined.
And I love it. In verse 15, He who is spiritual judges all things, that is, he gets it. He understands. He apprehends all things. I once was lost, but now I'm found. I was blind, but now I see.
Now I understand the darkness I was in. Now I understand the meaning of life. Now I understand where the future is going. Now I understand who's really in control of the universe, and who is at war and odds with each other. I see all that now. I didn't see it before.
Now I judge all things. I discern it. I understand it. I get it. But watch this. Though you get it, it says, Yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. You understand, but they don't understand you. You get it, but the world doesn't get you.
They think, what's wrong with you, like my friends. Skip, what's wrong with you? Well, Jesus. Oh, that's weird. They just-- they're blind to it. Again, they're the natural man. So you get it, but they don't get you.
I used to drive my coworkers nuts, not because I tried to be obnoxious. I tried purposely not to be obnoxious, but to be gracious. But I remember it was Monday, and it was toward the later part of the morning. I was working at a hospital in Orange County, California, at St Joseph's in Orange, California. And I'm doing my work and I'm whistling.
And my supervisor, she was just-- she was kind of ornery. I never really saw her happy or lit up about anything good. And so she just looked at me and she goes, why are you always whistling? You seem so-- listen. And she said it like that-- you seem so happy.
I said, well, I am happy. Well, I don't get it. I mean, we have so much work. And then there's dah dah dah, and she's listing all the things that I should be unhappy about. I go, those are true, but I've got something deeper inside of me going on that goes above and beyond that, that's irrespective and unrelated to that.
I don't get it. I understand, because of this. You get it. They don't get you. They don't understand you. You're spiritual. They're natural.
But now we get to a third category in chapter 3, verse 1. And I mentioned last week, the chapter breaks and verse numbers are not in the original manuscripts. We just have the letter of Paul to the Corinthians. He didn't write chapter 3, verse 1. He didn't do that. That came later on.
And the guy who did it was well intentioned, but he got it wrong. He's not inspired of God. He just came up-- and it's very handy to be able to say turn to chapter 3, verse 1 of a certain book. It's very handy to do that. But sometimes I think chapter breaks are better served contextually in different places than at others, but that's for another study. Let's just get into it.
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people. He just talked about the natural versus the spiritual. I couldn't talk to you as spiritual, but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. That's the third category. You have natural, spiritual, carnal. Psuchikos, if you want the original language, pneumatikos, and then this word, carnal, sarchikos, or fleshly, or the NIV translates it worldly. You are worldly.
Sometimes Christians, scholars, commentators, will say there's no such thing as a carnal Christian. There's only Christians and non-Christians. There's natural and spiritual. Well, I do believe there are carnal Christians for a number of textual reasons, and we'll just confine ourselves to the remarks of this text.
Because notice what he says-- I'm speaking to you not as spiritual but as carnal. And then he defines it, as to babes in Christ. They're still in Christ. They're Christians. They're related to Jesus Christ, but they're immature. They're babies. They're spiritually immature. They're carnal. They're worldly.
They're between two natures, the old nature, the new nature. The world, the flesh versus the spirit. They're in between two kingdoms. You might think of it this way. They have enough of Christ to be saved. All you need is to believe in Jesus Christ. You really trust that He died for you on the cross? You believe that He took your sins on the cross? If you believe in your heart that and that God raised him from the dead, Paul said in Romans, you will be saved.
They have enough of Christ to be saved, but they also have enough of the world to be miserable in Christ. They're not really satisfied in Christ. They're not maturing, as to babes in Christ. Think of it this way-- they're saved, but they're stunted in their growth. They're not as far along as they should be.
I love evangelism. I do. I love seeing people get saved. I love calling people to faith in Christ, but so many of us just sort of make that the big event, the big deal, the culmination at a service. If you were to ask me, Skip, is evangelism your biggest joy? As much as I love it-- and I should say probably yes, because I do want to see people go to heaven and not hell.
But I think my greatest joy-- I would echo the words of John the apostle in 3 John, who said, I have no greater joy than to see that my children walk in truth. I love seeing God's people maturing, growing, getting along in their walk and in their faith with Jesus Christ. But I couldn't speak to you as spiritual people but as to carnal, to babes in Christ.
He further says in verse 2, I fed you with milk and not with solid food, for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able. One of the characteristics of a immature Christian is their diet. Like a little baby, you give a baby baby food. It's easily digestible. You don't give a baby steak and onions and whole vegetables. Their system can't take it. It's not easy for a baby to digest such material. So you give them something that's easy for them to digest.
Same spiritually. There are basic truths of Christianity. And Paul said, look, when I was with you, I could only go take you through the ABCs of Christianity. I wanted to go deeper but I couldn't. You weren't able to take it. Jesus even said to his disciples, I have more things that I want to tell you but you are not able to bear them.
The writer of Hebrews in chapter 5 said, for when you ought to be teachers, you have need that somebody teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. And you need milk instead of solid food. So one of the characteristics is that of diet. They just need easily digestible truths.
Paul said, when I was with you-- rightfully so-- you were just saved. I couldn't go deep into eschatology. I couldn't go deep into a lot of things, so I just kept it very simple. But here's the deal. It had been 4 years since the church at Corinth had been founded by Paul. And Paul says, I'm still not able. 4 years down the line, you should know something. You should be pretty adept at basic Bible doctrine.
And he tells them why. I fed you with milk not with solid food-- verse 3-- for you are still carnal, fleshly, worldly, sarchikos. For where there are envy, strife, divisions among you-- that's the whole Paul-Apollos thing-- are you not carnal in behaving like mere men? For when one says, I am of Paul, and another, I am of Apollos, are you not carnal? Doesn't that prove your immaturity?
Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos but ministers-- servants-- through whom you believed as the Lord gave to each one. I planted-- he started the church in Corinth-- Apollos watered-- he came along later and also taught them truths-- but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
This may be helpful. In Corinth, a Greek culture, they were used to schools of philosophy-- it came from their sister city of Athens-- philosophers and schools of philosophy dividing and pooling over loyalty to their favorite philosophical teacher. They were used to that kind of party spirit.
But that was Corinth. That was the world. The right assessment in the church is not to be like that. The right assessment of workers in the church is you're all servants of Christ. And so that's why he says, who then is Paul, who is Apollos but ministers. And, again the word means servants. So I planted-- he's using the agricultural imagery here. I planted. Apollos watered, but it is God who gives the increase.
Now let's say you're a farmer and you plant seed. And somebody else comes later on. You have a hired hand or something come later on and water it. You can take pride in your work but you can't boast that you really did that, because God created the Earth and put seed in it. And so it all comes from Him. Ultimately, He's the gardener.
Remember what Jesus said in John, chapter 15? I am the true vine. My Father is the husband and the farmer. So it is God who gives the increase. So I love what Paul is doing. He's taking it out of a worldly model of comparing one teacher to another teacher, one leader to another leader, and says, look, let me tell you who we really are. We're slaves. We're servants of Christ, doing our part, exercising our individual gifts, but it is God who is giving the increase.
Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. When you are preoccupied with God's servants, that will drive you apart. When you are occupied with the master, that will draw you together. They were preoccupied with the servants. Paul is trying to get them occupied with the master. We're one. It is God. We're serving Him. It's His church.
Verse 9-- For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field. Now he changes the imagery a little bit from a field where a farmer plants seeds now to a building. So look what he does in one verse. For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field. You are God's building. Now he's changing the metaphor.
And he continues that in verse 10. According to the grace of God which was given to me as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it, for no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Paul calls himself not just a builder but a master builder-- not just a master builder, but he calls himself I'm a wise master builder. You say, well, is that being arrogant? No. Again, the Greeks loved the idea of wisdom, sophos. We talked about last week the word for wisdom, sophos. And we told you the word philosophy is lover of wisdom-- philos sophos. So they love the idea of that kind of wisdom.
When Paul calls himself a wise master builder, he's using this term-- sophos architekton, architect. The reason he calls himself a wise master builder is because he laid the right foundation in Corinth. He didn't put the foundation on him. He didn't put the foundation on Peter, or on Apollos, or anybody else. The foundation was Christ alone. No other foundation can anyone lay than what has already been laid. And that is, he says, Jesus Christ.
If you try to build a church on any other foundation, it's a faulty foundation. If you try to build a church on church tradition, you're building on sand. If you try to build it on a Peter-- on a person like Peter-- I'm building this church. This is the church of Peter-- you're building on sand, because that dude was a weak dude.
If you're building it on felt needs, it's a weak foundation. If you're building it on worldly wisdom, it's a weak foundation. It has to be on the simplicity and the singularity of life in Christ, Christ and Christ alone. I have determined that I know nothing among you, he wrote earlier, except Jesus Christ and Him crucified, the simple pure truth of his sacrifice and resurrection.
Now verse 12-- If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become manifest, for the day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test each one's work of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved yet, so as through fire.
Now, what we just read has a couple of applications. One is a secondary application, not the primary application. That is, it's not the main point. And let me give that to you first, if you don't mind, because this is where most people go with this verse. And there is this application, but it's not the primary application. It's the secondary application.
The secondary application is that it refers to all Christians, that we're all going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ. That's usually how this verse is sort of-- look, we're all going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 2 Corinthians 5 says, we will all stand, all of us believers, stand before the bema seat, the reward seat, the judgment seat of Christ, that we may receive rewards for the things that were done in our bodies, each according to his own work. And Paul is referring to that here, is if you build with silver, gold, precious stones, or wood, hay, and stubble, or straw.
It is true. We are going to give an account to God, and we're going to stand before Christ not for our sin-- hello? I'm sorry. Ross, sorry. Couldn't resist. Don't worry about it. You don't even have to apologize. I get it. I apologize for making you apologize. And those of you who are watching on the screen or listening by radio, you have no idea what just happened.
So, anyway, it is true. We will all be evaluated for our service to the Lord as believers, and we'll be given rewards or we'll lose a reward. That is true. We are never going to be judged for our sin. Romans 8:1-- There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, period, period, period.
That judgment is passed. Jesus took our judgment on the cross. You will never be judged for your sin, but as a Christian you will be judged for your service to Him, if you were faithful to the gifts and callings God gave to you, and talents God gave to you, and time God gave to you, and treasure God gave to you. If you were faithful to that and if you did it with a pure motive-- all of that will be weighed before Him, and you and I will be judged because of that.
And though that's true, it is a secondary application. That is not the primary application here. The primary application is to Christian workers, evangelists and teachers. He's talking about Paul, Apollos, and some planting, and some watering, and some doing the work of the ministry.
So he's talking about those who are building the spiritual house, who are fellow workers with God, those in ministry, like himself and Apollos and Cephas, et cetera, who are building the spiritual house. And what they give, what they do, it will either endure, and you'll get rewarded for it or not.
In other words, some ministry, some teaching, is valuable and worthwhile and has lasting value. Others has little value or none whatsoever. And God will determine that and reward based on that.
So since he is talking about spiritual work and building churches, let me just tell you, there's a few ways that you can establish a church. If you're thinking, I'm going to be a church builder or a church planter, there's a few ways you can do it, and all of them have been tried. And there are many more. I could give you a longer list.
But let me just sum it up this way. Number one, sensationalism. Can build a church, build a ministry on sensationalism. It's we're going to have a miracle service. And pretty soon you have to start defining what a real miracle is or is not, because I felt a little woozy before the service and now I feel a bit better is a far cry from a New Testament miracle. Because, last time I checked, miracles are like dead people rising, and bones that are fractured instantly being healed, true miracles.
But we're going to have a miracle healing service, or we're going to cast out demons, or some sensational, supernatural signs and wonders. Or we're going to talk about prophecy updates. Everything is a prophecy fulfillment somewhere. And when you build a ministry on that kind of stuff, there are pros and cons. Here's a pro-- it will grow quickly, because people are always interested in where the fire is burning. And if there's a fire burning in that barn, we're going to go watch that fire burn. That's exciting.
But there's a law of diminishing returns. And so here's the con. Once you build on that, you have to keep building on that, and your fire has to get bigger and bigger each week, or you're going to lose credibility and you're going to lose people. That's one way to build a ministry.
Another way to build a ministry is by strategy. We're going to take surveys of the neighborhood. We're going to find out what the felt needs are, the median income, the desires professionally, and we're going to strategize and build according to that. And so we're all geared up to reach that segment, that demographic. These things can work. The problem with that is I find people who approach ministry that way get burned out very, very, very quickly. They crash and burn hard, because it's always about their insight and their strategy, and their work, and working around.
There's another way to do it, and that is through the systematic teaching of God's word, teaching the Bible-- OK, listen, listen. But, listen, it gets real boring-- verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book, Genesis to Revelation, all 66 books. That's long and laborious.
Now, here's the downside of that-- the growth will be slower usually than the sensational ones, but it will be solid. That's the plus. That's the positive. It will be solid growth, because you're growing people's lives. You're taking them from carnality to spirituality.
You're not just haranguing them and having a pep rally where you say some profound thing, and you shout it, and go from one part of the stage to another, hoo, shout, and people clap at every little thing you say. It's like a little holy pep rally. And you're even impressed with what you say. But you're building deep spiritual truths. You're building them up in truth. And you're going deep, and it will show and it will last. Ah, we'll go on.
If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, yet as though by fire. Do you not know that you are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple. are you.
Now, a couple of things about these verses. He's not speaking about the human body individually. He's not speaking about your body. We call ourselves individually-- I'm the temple. Personally, this is the temple. Got to take care of the temple, and usually we speak individually.
And it is true. You are individually the temple of God. God gives dwell in you. But when Paul says you here, it's a plural you. He's writing collectively to the church. He's not thinking of individual Christians that have individual personal relationships with Christ and our individual little temples. He's saying all of you together as the church, the body of Christ, that is where God was. You are the temple of God. God dwells in you.
And it says, If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. This is a warning. Evidently, there were people coming into the Corinthian church who were trying to divide. They were false teachers, and causing havoc, and ruining things. That's why they had the issues that they had. And so he says, look, if anybody's messing with the church, God's going to mess with him. You're trying to destroy or wreak havoc on the church, look out. You're touching the apple of his eye.
Like Saul of Tarsus. 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?' 'Who are you, Lord?' 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.'
And I've told you so many times that Jesus so identified with his people that if you're going after them, Jesus says, I'm taking it personally. You're messing with my people. I take it personally. You're coming after me. So you try to defile the temple of God, God will destroy you. But the temple of God is holy, which temple you collectively are.
Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, 'He catches the wise in their own craftiness.'
Now, that's a quote from the Book of Job, chapter 5, where one of the friends of Job named Eliphaz the Temanite said this, and Paul pulls that out. And though Eliphaz gave a lot of bad advice to Job, he did make a few statements that were right on and true, and this is one of them. And he pulls that out-- He catches the wise in their own craftiness.
And again, quoting now from Psalm 94, 'The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.' Therefore, let no one glory in men, for all things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come. All are yours, and you are Christ, and Christ is God.
Just so you know, if you're interested-- if not, have another thought, I guess, for the next few moments-- but this is a figure of speech called a merism. And Paul does this a few times. He does this at the end of Romans, chapter 8-- For I'm persuaded neither life nor death, or principalities, or powers, or things to come, or things present-- remember when he does that-- nothing will separate us from the love of God.
It's called a merism. And a merism is a figure of speech whereby you have objects that are poles apart, opposites apart. And the idea is you're putting a pole here and a pole there. Things present, things to come. Life, death. This, that.
And you're putting them, and he's saying that it encompasses everything between all of those poles. It's just a way of saying nothing can separate us from the love of God in Romans 8. Or this is another way of saying everything you need, God will give to you. You're not going to be lacking in anything. All are yours. God gave you Paul. God gave you Cephas. God gave you Apollos, all for your spiritual benefit. And you are Christ, and Christ is God.
So he's summing up unity and the need for unity. So you belong to Christ. And your brother in that church of Corinth that you're arguing with because you're in a different group than he or she is, they also belong to Christ. And since you both belong to Christ, you should figure that out and get along. It's a good reason for unity.
When Jesus taught us to pray, he said, When you pray, say this. What's the first words he said?
Our Father. Hah. American evangelicals love to talk about personal relationship with God. OK. Why didn't Jesus say, when you pray, say my Father? Make it personal. It was always our Father. Why? Because Christianity came to take out words like I, me, and mine, and replace it with ours, us, and we.
By the way, you know what? There's something fascinating in the book of Revelation. There are several different anthems of praise, songs, in the book of Revelation. Not one song in the book of Revelation is a solo. You have 24 elders singing, praising. You have the angels of heaven joining them in singing together praising God.
You have those who overcome the beast after the tribulation period singing together with harps in their hands, giving praise to God. There's never a solo. There's always anthems of people singing together. And so Paul is dealing with the area of unity. You are Christ. Christ is God.
And he continues the theme. If we can make part of it, let's try it. Let a man so consider us as servants of the Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself.
Now, I know that some of you know the answer to this, and so I'm going to ask you, and you just shout it out if you know. Usually, in the New Testament, when Paul says, I'm a servant of Christ or I'm a bond servant of Christ, what is the word, the Greek word, that he usually uses? Anybody know? Shout it out.
Doulos, or doulos, or doulos, or douloi for plural. So that's typical, Paul as servant of the Lord. He often begins his letters that way. Here he calls himself a servant. It's translated servant here in verse 1-- Let a man so consider us servants-- but he uses a different word. It's the word that means under-rower, under-rower, or under-oarsman.
It speaks of being in a large ship, a galley ship, run by slaves, who have oars, and they're pulling on those oars in a synchronized fashion, and they're taking orders from a supervisor. And so they are under-rowers. They're under the galley of the ship. They're galley slaves.
So that's a picture Paul wants to put in our minds, that none of us are the boss of the church. We're slaves. We're galley slaves. It's Christ's church. He's the one shouting out the orders. I'm just the under-rowsman.
So Let a man so consider us as servants, huperetas, under-rowers, or under-oarsmen. So servants and stewards-- so we're given a trust. That's the idea of a steward. You manage that trust-- stewards of the mystery of God.
That is, we, as God's servants, whether we're planting the church or we're like Apollos or Cephas, whatever, we come and we unravel the meaning of the text. We explain the meaning of the text. We make it clear to you. We're stewards of the mysteries of God.
We told you before that mystery here doesn't mean like murder mystery. It means it was a secret hidden in the Old Testament but now revealed in the New Testament. So Paul and others are stewards of that mystery.
Now, something about a galley slave. Because Paul says-- when you think of us, when you think of a Paul and Apollos, you don't think of, wow, they're like superheroes of the faith. No. Actually, we're like galley slaves.
Do you know that in a ship the hardest job was to be a galley slave? It was the hardest position you could have in an ancient ship. In other words, Paul is saying, I just got to tell you something. If you're going to work in the ministry, like Paul or like Apollos or like Cephas, it's not going to be easy. If you do it right, it's going to be hard.
I remember my mom when I was a kid. She had to feed four obnoxious boys, of whom I was the last. And we would have food, and we would complain about it. I'd say, yeah, I don't like this. [MUMBLES] And I remember sometimes she'd kind of lose it.
Moms ever do that here? Any of you moms ever lose it? OK. So my mom looked at us and she goes, you know what? She'd say something like this-- I slave over a hot stove all day long for you four boys.
And I'll never forget that, because I see that as my job, to slave over a hot stove, so to speak, to really labor in the word and in doctrine, to spend hour after hour digging into the text, understanding so that it can be made plain. But I just feel that's the job of the under-rower. Work hard. Make it easy for people to digest the truths that are in the scripture. As it says in Nehemiah, make sense of it, give the sense, give the understanding.
Moreover, it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. But with me it's a very small thing that I should be judged by you, Corinthians, or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. Paul knew that he was being evaluated by them. He heard the reports.
It's the way it is. If you are in public anything, you are scrutinized in public. And if you're in public ministry, you get scrutinized in public. Live with it. Next. That's just the way it is.
But let me just say the easiest activity in the world-- takes no effort at all, no brains at all-- is to be a critic. Just remember that. And I just explained to you in a nutshell the world of social media, pretty much.
The easiest thing in the world is just to make-- because once you develop a critical eye toward people and toward things, it's hard to stop. It's hard to reel it in. It's hard to use restraint. It's hard to govern yourself. So it's best to think the highest of someone, realizing you don't know their motives, and they're not going to have to stand before you-- thank god-- for future rewards or disapproval.
So though Paul did have a tender conscience-- and he said, I lived in conscience, good conscience, before God and men unto this day-- he goes, I don't even judge myself. I know nothing against myself. That is, I don't know that I'm doing anything wrong in ministry that I can pinpoint. Yet I'm not justified by this.
But he who judges me is the Lord. Therefore, judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the heart. And then each one's praise will come from God.
So we're all going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ, right? But let there be no prejudgment before the judgment seat. You're not like the prejudge before that. I know they're going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ, but they got to go through me first. I'm going to make sure they hear this first. Uh, we don't need that ministry. Thank you very much.
Now, these things, brother, in verse 6, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, and that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against another. For who makes you to differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now, if you indeed did receive it, why do you glory as if you hadn't received it?
Remember what John the Baptist said when his disciples, his own followers, said, this guy named Jesus is gaining a whole lot more popularity than you. John said, listen. Nobody can do anything unless he receives it from God. And then he said, he must increase, I must decrease.
Now Paul in verse 8 gets into some holy sarcasm. You are already full. You are already rich. You have reigned as kings without us. And indeed I could wish that you did reign, that we also might reign with you.
It's sarcastic speech, obviously, as you can tell, because he's writing to people he just said you are carnal. And now he says, oh, You're already full. You're already rich. You've reigned as kings without us.
Let me rephrase it for you. You guys are already acting like it's the millennial kingdom and you have received your reward and jurisdiction of reigning with the messiah. You're already acting that way. Boy, boy, I wish I was rich like you guys. I wish I was in the position you are, but I'm too busy being an apostle, preaching the gospel, and getting beat up for it. That's the sarcasm he's using.
For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death, for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. Now, keep this in mind, because later on, 1 Corinthians chapter 12, Paul will give a list, and he says, God has put the apostles first. The apostles are first. First, the apostles, then the prophets, then teachers. He kind of lists the order.
But here he says, I think God has displayed us, the apostles, at last, as men condemned to death, as we have been made a spectacle. Now, that is a word picture. For a Roman general, after a Roman general won a battle, they would go to Rome and they'd have a triumph procession through Rome. Some of the monuments to those are still in Rome to this day. You can walk under these arches that were put there a couple of thousand years ago.
So the general, after winning a battle, would make a parade, a victory parade through Rome. The people would be applauding the general as he was lifted up on his throne and carried by his royal guard. And then behind them was displayed all the spoils of war that were collected, the things they stole when they plundered the different people they had war with. Behind that, last in the procession, were prisoners of war, men condemned to die. They were usually taken to the arena and either competed or fed to wild beasts.
And Paul says, it seems like God has allowed us to be those people. We aren't rich and influential. As awesome as you guys, who have all the critique in the world against people like us, I'm too busy getting beat up, and I am displayed last.
We are fools-- verse 10-- for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are distinguished, but we are dishonored. Even to the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless.
And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless. Being persecuted, we endure it. Being defamed, we entreat. We have been made the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.
That's Paul's life. I do not write these things to shame you. Now, if I'm in Corinth, I'm kind of hanging my head by now, going, oh wow. I feel pretty busted by that. I didn't write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. For though you might have 10,000 instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
Paul said he was a servant. Paul said he was a steward. Paul said he was a planter. Paul said he was a builder. Now Paul pulls out kind of the card of authority and says, yeah, but I'm also your father, because I was the one who led you to Christ. And he wasn't using this as because of that I have more authority. He's saying that because of that I have more responsibility. And that's why he's taking this tone, this parental tone with them.
I have begotten you to the gospel. Therefore, I urge you, imitate me. For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church. Now, some are puffed up as though I were not coming to you, but I will come to you shortly if the Lord wills. Remember, he's in Ephesus, writing this letter.
If the Lord wills, I will know not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?
You make the choice. I'm coming. And those guys who are stirring up all the trouble, I'm going to see them face to face. I'm going to see if they're as big as what I'm hearing they are. Because I'm going to kind of get in their grill and get eyeball to eyeball with them. And I can come gentle, or I can come kind of hard. You make the choice.
So Paul kind of ramps back up his authority as the apostle, as the founder of the church. And we'll tell you why next time. I want to finish the chapter. We'll take a few of the thoughts as we get into chapter 5, but at least I wanted to say that I finished chapter 4.
Father, thank you for these two chapters. Thank you for this hungry group of your people, gifted, called, anointed. And, Father, I pray that you will change the world through them, change the world in which we live, in our city, in our neighborhoods, in our state. Use us as warriors, warriors of truth, some who are planting, some who are watering, all who are working in Jesus's name. Amen.
For more resources from Calvary Church and Skip Heitzig, visit calvarynm.church. Thank you for joining us from this teaching in our series, Expound.