I love 1 Corinthians because it's so practical. It deals with problems in the Church. It deals with the problem of spiritual growth or stunted spiritual growth. It deals with the problems of divisions between groups in the Church. It deals with the problem of sexual purity in the Church. It deals with the problem of marriage and divorce within the Church.
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Get your copy today. Okay, let's dive into today's teaching. We'll be in 1 Corinthians Chapter 1 as Skip Heitzig begins the study. enemies facing the philosophies of Greece. It was a Roman colony, but it was in a Grecian mindset with all of the philosophical background and baggage that came with it. Not only that, but it also was in competition to many of the worship systems around it. So I've been a couple times to Corinth, and I've seen the ruins of this large and imposing temple to Apollo, one of the churches that I've been to. Apollo, one of the chief gods in the Greek pantheon.
And then just above was the Acro Corinth, that hill that I told you about last time we were together. The Acro Corinth, or that hill on the southern part of Corinth, had a temple on top to Aphrodite, also worshiped. And Aphrodite was, well, it was a very active worship system that included a thousand prostitutes. They called themselves priestesses, but they would come down from that hill every night into the city of Corinth.
They would ply their prostitution trade and thereby getting money to support the temple of Aphrodite. So there were different competitive belief systems as well as the wisdom of the Greeks that this church was sort of in competition, you might say, ideologically with. Well, with that, with a growing young church, with all of the worldliness that surrounded it, Paul found it necessary not to write one, not to write two, but at least three letters. In 1 Corinthians, he refers to a former letter, and elsewhere he calls it the severe letter. So Paul wrote some kind of a letter, one that we either don't have or some believe it was actually incorporated into the writing of Corinthians itself. But then he wrote 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians. When he wrote 1 Corinthians, it is because somebody in the congregation named Chloe ratted on the congregation, actually just informed Paul to rightfully so the church that he founded, letting him know that there were some divisions, that there were groups emerging within the Corinthian church that were at odds with each other, that were rallying around the teaching style of four leaders, three human leaders and one divine leader, the Lord Jesus Christ. But then also the church at Corinth itself had written to Paul in inquiring of some problems, issues, questions. And so Paul writes 1 Corinthians to address some of these issues.
It really is a letter. I love 1 Corinthians because it's so practical. It deals with problems in the church. It deals with the problem of spiritual growth or stunted spiritual growth. It deals with the problems of divisions between groups in the church. It deals with the problem of sexual purity in the church. It deals with the problem of marriage and divorce within the church. It deals with the problem of personal liberty, what I can and can't do as a Christian.
Am I allowed to do this but not that? Certain gray area practices. It deals with public worship, problems in public worship. It deals with the abuse and use of spiritual gifts in the body of Christ. And it deals with the doctrinal issues, especially of the resurrection.
So I'm glad, honestly, that Corinth went through the problems it went through and that Paul addressed it because we have by the Spirit of God this incredible book that is so practical on dealing with some of these issues. So basically we are dealing with a church like any church, a church that has problems. Have you ever found a perfect church?
No. You can say no and go to this church. No, you'll never find a perfect church. You've heard that before, that if you ever find a perfect church, it's too late because you found it and you'll go to it and then you've ruined it.
If you ever find a perfect church, you've already ruined it because there's no such thing. And the idea behind that is that, listen, the gospel attracts sinners. And you know, some people feel, well, you know, there's hypocrisy within the church and that proves that the gospel isn't real. Actually, I think it proves the gospel is real. I think it proves that the gospel attracts the needy sinners of this world. Paul said, I'm the chief of sinners himself. Every person has failures, foibles, and the gospel takes them in and transforms them, but it doesn't transform us overnight. We are in the process of sanctification, which means we'll do good one day, bad the next day, we'll shine one day, not so bright the next day, et cetera, as we mosey our way, make our way toward the eternal kingdom.
So it's imperfect. Anyway, we left off last time where they were dividing between four leaders. Some said I'm of Paul, some said I'm of Apollos, that really eloquent speaker, some like the blue-collar preaching of Peter. He was the fisherman from Galilee. They liked his style.
How they heard of Peter exactly, I'm not sure. And then there were those super hyper-spiritual group who said, you know, we don't identify with any earthly leader, bro. We just follow Christ. And Paul said, you're all carnal.
You're all dividing. And then he says, was Paul crucified for you? You weren't baptized in my name. I didn't baptize people when I went to Corinth except for a few people, Crispus Gaius, the household of Stephanus.
Besides that, I don't know if I baptized anybody else. So it was a problem of division, and that is why the letter was written to Paul to inform him of this problem, and Paul took it upon himself to address all the other problems that I just mentioned. There were divisions. Now, there still are divisions, again, because we are people, and I get it all the time. Hey, have you heard the preaching of this guy?
And I listen and follow that guy, and we all have our favorite radio people that we like. But even before there was radio people, the church has been divided. Some people divide over the doctrine of John Calvin and how he articulated predestination. Others like Jacobus Arminius and many others. And so they call themselves Arminians, or they call themselves Calvinists. With all due respect to Calvin and Arminius, they're both dead.
Who cares? Jesus Christ is alive. Follow him. And I've discovered the more spiritual a person becomes, the less denominational that person becomes, the less divisive that person becomes. So he has been writing about that, and then at the end of verse 17, or verse 17, For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with the wisdom of words.
Now he's going to introduce this idea of wisdom because that was really important to these Greeks. Not with the wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross, the word message could be translated for the word of the cross.
The Greek word is logos, for the logos of the cross, word of the cross, message, it is translated here. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. Every now and then you'll find somebody goes, oh, this whole concept of Jesus dying in my place is ridiculous.
I had a gal that I worked with years ago in the hospital. I was sharing the gospel with her and she just laughed that concept to scorn. The whole idea, she said, of Jesus dying for me in my place is ridiculous.
Well, that was a dead giveaway that she was perishing. When somebody thinks it's nonsense, it's ludicrous, it's an indication that person is a person who is spiritually separated from God, and it's not going to bode well for that person. They are perishing. 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. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. We in our modern Western mindset find it difficult to understand just how reproachful the idea of a crucified Savior was to the Roman mind, the Greek mind, and for that matter, the Jewish mind of the first century. The idea that we would follow an unemployed carpenter who grew up in Nazareth and then died a shameful death, it's like, huh?
Who would do that? That's a dumb message. They didn't get it. It was nonsense to the Roman mind, it was nonsense to the Greek mind, and it was a stumbling block, he will say, to the Jewish mind. Now why is he bringing this up? Well, one of the things he's just been talking about is unity, how people divide into four different groups. And now he's going to talk about those who are perishing and the worldly wisdom. So one of the reasons that you and I shouldn't fight each other, one of the reasons that we shouldn't pull out our Bibles and have sword fights with our spiritual sword, the Bible, is because people are perishing. There's people who need to hear the gospel, and if we're using our words to fight each other and divide into little camps, those are less words we're using to share the gospel with people.
So because people are perishing, it should be one of the motivations for our unity. 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. Now today, the cross, everybody in the world knows the cross represents Christianity, but go back 2,000 years. The idea of a cross, nobody would wear a cross in those days around their neck. Nobody would do that.
Oh, I'm going to get a little piece of jewelry of a cross, like a little iron cross. Nobody would do that. That would be like somebody wearing a mushroom cloud of an atomic blast in Japan. It would be like somebody decorating their building in a Jewish neighborhood with motif from the concentration camps of World War II. It was such an offense. It was an offense. Cicero, one of the Roman writers, said to even mention the cross is an offense. This is why Roman citizens, if they could prove Roman citizenship, could not be crucified.
Paul didn't get crucified because he could prove Roman citizenship. They, instead of leaving him on a cross to suffer in agony for hours or days, did the merciful thing. They beheaded him. They cut off his head.
So it was a quick, easy death. Where is the wise, verse 20? Where is the scribe?
Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. The Greeks spoke much about wisdom, and they prided themselves in wisdom. They boasted that they had wisdom, that it was passed down through their philosophical constructs. And so they glorified almost wisdom. Sophia is the Greek word for wisdom. And somebody who is a lover of wisdom is a philosophia. Philosophy means lover of wisdom.
Somebody who loves wisdom. The Greeks believed that through human wisdom, they could explain the meaning of life. Just through the natural process of human reasoning, we can explain life. Even though there was much of life they could not understand, they believed that they could at least get their minds adequately around an explanation. And so the Greeks would look at the universe. They looked at life on earth in the biosphere. They looked at the heavens, what they could see of it, and they noticed that there were patterns of life that existed every day.
There were four seasons, that the day was so many hours long, et cetera. They saw that there was a predictable pattern. And they sought to come up with an answer, a reason for this predictable pattern, and they called that reason the logos, the word, the message. So it's interesting that Paul says for the logos, or the message of the cross, the real explanation of salvation through Christ and the meaning of life based on that is foolishness to them. And this is why John begins his book, the Gospel of John. In the beginning was the logos, the word. And the word was with God and the word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
Nothing was made that he didn't make. He begins with the mindset of the Greek way of thinking. Well, Paul asks, where is the wise? And in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God.
And he's going to tell you why it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believed. For the Jews request a sign, but the Greeks seek after Sophia, wisdom. The Jews did demand a sign. When Jesus was doing his ministry, when he was up in Galilee, up in Capernaum where he headquartered his ministry for three and a half years, the Jewish leaders came to him one day and they said, Rabbi, we want you to show us a sign that we may believe.
They just came right out and say it. We seek a sign. We want to believe, but we need you to prove that you're the Messiah. Now here's why. They believed the Messiah was coming, but the Messiah they believed in was a conquering Messiah, a conquering hero.
Why? Because their Old Testament predicted that in the Messianic era, the earth would be made new, there would be longevity, that the animal kingdom would be tamed, et cetera, et cetera. Just an entire kingdom age is predicted. But the Old Testament also predicted a suffering aspect to the Messiah. Isaiah 53, Psalm 22.
And so what happened? One of two things happened. As Judaism came into being in the New Testament, there was a school of thought in Judaism that either spiritualized the suffering aspect of the Messiah. Isaiah 53, Psalm 22 said it must refer to Israel, not to the Messiah, not to a person. But there was another school of thought that believed that there would not be one but two Messiahs. There would be a suffering Messiah, but then there would be a glorious Messiah.
And so there was a division in Jewish thinking at the time of the New Testament in Judaism as to which this was. So we, who are New Testament believers, we believe that Jesus will fulfill both in two comings. He came once to deal with sin. He'll come again to rule and reign with those who have been saved and forgiven of sin. That's how we see it.
We get that picture. But the Jews of Jesus' time were expecting a conquering Messiah, so they wanted a sign. Show us a sign. If you're the Messiah, if you're the guy, show us a sign. And it's interesting that Jesus said a wicked and an adulterous generation seeks after a sign. No sign will be given except the sign of the prophet Jonah, for as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.
That's your sign. Death, burial, and resurrection. Of course, they didn't understand that at the time. The Jews request a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified to the Jews a stumbling block. Stumbling block is because they expect a conquering Messiah, a king who will set up a kingdom, who will overthrow the yoke of Rome and let the Jews be predominant and preeminent in the world. And to the Greeks, foolishness. The idea that you would follow a god who came down to die for people, the Greek ideology of the gods is that they were capricious, powerful through tantrums, followed the same lust as humans do, and you had to appease them. So the idea that God would humble himself and become a person and die for humans was foolishness.
They didn't get it. No wisdom to them in that at all. But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called. We're getting into what I call my life verse. I get asked, what is your life verse? I always have difficulty with that one because I base my life on all of the verses, or many of them, not one of them.
But this comes pretty close. I remember when I first discovered this section, it was so freeing to me. First of all, it says, look around, brethren. You see your calling, brethren. Not many wise, not many mighty, not many noble after the flesh were called. And it's true, the majority of the people who were saved in Corinth, the Christians of Corinth, were probably either slaves or what they called freedmen, former slaves who had been made free. They were not high-born people.
They were not of the Roman nobility. So you see your calling. You can look around your church in Corinth, brethren. Not many mighty, not many wise, not many noble are called. And we look around. Now, some of you are really super smart and advanced.
I get all that. But then there's the rest of us. We're just simple people. And I think if you look throughout church history, you find there are exceptions to the rule. There are some noble, some mighty, some really brilliant people.
I've known a few. Paul the Apostle certainly was of that ilk. But for the most part, people that get saved are plain old Joes, people like us. That wraps up Skip Heitzig's message from the series Expound First Corinthians. Now, here's Skip to tell you about how you can keep encouraging messages like this one coming your way as you help connect others to God's love. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the message that opens the doors of heaven to all people. And today, you can help share that message with many others so they can live boldly for Christ, knowing they'll be with Him for eternity. Your gift is so important to keep these teachings coming your way on the air and going out to connect others to the gospel. So I hope you'll give as generously as you can to make that possible. Here's how. You can give online at connectwithskip.com slash donate. That's connectwithskip.com slash donate. Or call 800-922-1888.
800-922-1888. Thank you. Tomorrow, Skip Heitzig shares incredible insight with you about the wisdom of God. God uses normal dudes and dudettes, average Joes, average people, so that when an amazing thing happens through that life, you go, it's the Lord.
It's the Lord. Make a connection. Make a connection at the foot of the cross. Cast all burdens on His word. Make a connection. A connection. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-20 01:01:48 / 2023-03-20 01:10:40 / 9