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July 19, 2021 8:00 am
Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet Ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals featuring the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce for more information please contact us by calling toll-free one 804 88 18 and now the alliance is pleased to present the Bible study our preparing you to think and act biblically, my Bible, which is a new international version is very appropriate section heading to first Corinthians 3 it's called on divisions in the church yet. It's a funny thing. As I read this chapter that the chapter, which is probably the greatest statement of all the Bible against divisions in the church of Jesus Christ is actually when the cause of at least two more of them say that because there are two themes in this chapter that have divided Christians one is this matter of the carnal Christian or is this translation has at the worldly Christian in the first section of the chapter and the other is this matter of being saved, yet so as by fire. Both of those passages, there are significant divisions and some have grown almost in the Orthodox or which may well be the case. Paradox theologies. Now the chapter as a whole is in four parts. There's this first part that deals with the worldliness of these Corinthian Christians describe why they were worldly. We want to see what that means. There's a second section beginning in verse five deals with a Christian ministry. That's very significant because that is really the context in which all of this occurs and there's 1/3 section, verse 12 through 17, which has to do with the subject of being saved, yet so as by fire. We want to see what that means, and then finally verse 18 of the end. There's a conclusion which is an important one.
Sort of a wrap up of the section and in the certain sense a wrap up of everything we've looked at in the book so far.
Now what is this problem with the carnal or the worldly Christian.
The real issue is whether there are two types of Christians are not. We know that there's a big difference in the world between those who are not Christians and those who are one are unregenerate others are born again and Christians. The life of God exists, the question arises, is it possible to speak properly within that second set of people. Those who really are born again of those sore going on with God and or spiritual and on the other hand, those who were not going on with God and the carnal.
Now I say there to theologies about this is represented in two works among students, I suppose we might as well get that hat on and say what they are. I do because some of the student workers have been talking to me about it this past week, knowing it was coming out. They were saying. I hope you're not going to take inter-varsity side against campus Crusade and conversely I hope you're not going to defend campus Crusade in not picked by inter-varsity. They point is that in that in campus Crusade, the answer to my question is yes they say there are two types of Christian carnal Christian and then there are spiritual Christians and on inter-varsity side. The emphasis is against that and they say no. There are only Christians send in their unbelievers… One of those issues where in my judgment, there's a lot more smoke than fire and it's one of those subjects just have to think through clearly. Often in the division of this nature. People are talking at cross purposes what each one is saying is true, but they're using language to say at that means something different in the other camp. Now let's look at it that way. First of all what you say on the side of campus Crusade where you're talking about the carnal Christian. One thing you can say quite positively. Is this the language here in first Corinthians 3 certainly suggests it, and if Crusade worker at that point would say well I'm just being biblical because what verse one brothers talking to Christians brothers. I couldn't address you as spiritual but is worldly mere infants in Christ are you not acting like mere men we have to say yes your certainly being biblical at that point, Paul certainly does use the word in that context, and moreover, we have to acknowledge that there's a certain meekness about that because when we look at Christians, we say well certainly ones don't seem to be going on with the Lord, nice to be able to put them in a certain category and say well there carnal Christian send what they need to do is get out of there worldliness and begin to get serious about the Lordship of Jesus Christ on the other hand, I want to criticize what flows out of that position. What comes out of that position. Is this a certain smugness.
I think unintentional. Perhaps the kind of smugness on the one hand, which says well you can live in the worldly way and still be a Christian. It's okay L Paul speaks of carnal Christians at a smugness on the other hand, which says yes there carnal and aggressive there carnal, I'm not, I'm spiritual and therefore I don't have to worry about worldliness in my life. That's what I think are the strengths and weaknesses of that position. I go to the other side. Here's inter-varsity inter-varsity says no you can't distinguish between Christians in that fashion because if you're born-again you must be going on with the Lord you must acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Christ is no Savior of Christ is not the Lord, and at that point I should positively dinner varsity. I say that is absolutely right, you're Christian you regenerate it impossible to think of the regenerate person not going on with the Lord in some fashion beginning to grow beginning to hunger and thirst after righteousness. Things are present in your life. You're not saved, say just because you give mental assent to something or say because you have the life of Christ within the life of Christ because it is the life of Christ hungers and thirst after righteousness. So there must be growths there must be discipleship. All those emphases of inter-varsity are absolutely right, and I suppose there is a certain sense in which there can be smugness here to the smugness perhaps is along these lines here somebody who makes profession of faith but who is living in what is apparently a non-Christian way we can be very superior.
At that point and say well they're just on-site. In point of fact, they may be what they need. This Christian fellowship and help nurture and so forth that they might grow and perhaps enjoy the kind of spiritual advantages that we ourselves have when you put that in the context of what Paul is saying this is not all that difficult.
What Paul is saying is that these Christians in Corinth were acting like unbelievers and I asked the question, don't you ever know if Christians will act like unbelievers. Well there worldly interacting in the carnal way that doesn't mean that there's a second separate category of Christians as Christians acting the way they should be acting have to do is get out of that they do have to change anything. I really born-again. They will change and you say well in what way are they acting like unbelievers. Paul spells it out. He says are different things that they're doing. They have shallow teaching that is they think the world's wisdom is great. I don't know any of the deep things of God and he says I have divisions in the church, which grow out of their own pride, that's bad, and there acting like the world in that respect. And they are very very proud of what they know. I would say that characterizes much of the modern church want to talk about the modern church and I don't mean the modern liberal church. I mean the modern evangelical church characterizes much of the modern evangelical church. Shallow doctrinal teaching divisions based on arrival rates among men and parties and pride of the world's wisdom and perhaps is why the church is so weak that's why the church has been failing to make a stronger impact upon the world is proper to say that the evangelical church today is a worldly church in many many ways, yet it is a true church of Jesus Christ of the kind of things that Paul says in the first chapter of first Corinthians can certainly be said about doesn't do any good to say to say well it's not a true church. What you have to say is come on. Those of you who are really believers start acting like believers and stop acting like the world and of course, that's precisely what Paul is writing the letter to get them to do now goes on the second section to talk about the Christian ministry.
The reason he talks about the ministry and is going to do it more in the next chapter is that part of their worldliness has been seen in their dividing up of loyalties within their church in terms of whether they preferred Paul in his teaching and methods or Apollo's in his teaching methods or perhaps Peter Cephus for his teaching is methods. I guess it we looked at what these men taught did so very clearly we could say there were certain differences among them.
Paul himself acknowledges certain differences in saying that he came to lay a foundation on the ball is came to build on the foundation that has something to do with the doctrines that are taught building foundations as opposed to foundational foundations. But you see point Paul is making here when he talks about the Christian ministry is at the ministry is one first thing he says about ministers as ministers or service area Ironside in his discussion of this passage says that that alone should rebuke the Corinthians, and rebuke anybody today divides up among loyalties to different teachers or pastors are leaders within the church says imagine a family a large family that has a lot of servants and the families all divided because some of them prefer one servant motors prefer another servant is just ludicrous at all backwards yet that's what happens in the church when men and women line up over against one teacher and in favor of another in the history of the church up in various approaches to this matter of ministers in a relationship to congregations.
John Stott discusses that very carefully.
One of his books called one people. He says it's not like this. Third is an error on the one side that he terms clerical exhibits where the ministers run the show. It's their church. They do what they want that has historical roots probably grew out to a tendency in the early church to try and pattern the Christian ministry on the Old Testament priestly system.
Certainly that's where the Roman Catholic Church got its ideas of the priesthood because in the Old Testament system. The priests alone had the right offer the sacrifices and Catholicism. It was assumed by a carryover that the priests alone had the right offer. The mass conceived as a sacrifice. And so the priests took that to themselves and because they could dispense the man's they could dispense salvation and the whole body of theology grew up to support this kind of clerical approach then there have been reactions against data and the reactions against that have been what John Stott calls anticlericalism that is the clergy are not bad messing things up as they do when they try to take over in a way they shouldn't take over. Then the proper thing to do is get rid of the clergy, so there have been movements in the church and of done that. They said we don't want to have ministers. That's not biblical ministers get in the wind. Ministers are no good at all of us are ministers. Let's get rid of the clergy. That is, in any good either because the Bible is established clergy for certain roles will then people have come along and said well and we gotta have both. We have have clergy and laity is at least divided up and say, look, you got your job here. This is your defined role in you got your job here and this is your divine role. You stay off my turf and I'll stay on your turf and that's all will have harmony of the church of Jesus Christ as dualism. That's not the biblical pattern either. What is the biblical pattern. Paul says at verse five when after all, is Apollo's and what is Paul only servants, through whom you came to believe that his emphasis ministers in the church of Jesus Christ our servants in the role we sustain one another is that of servant, even as Jesus Christ himself who came not to be ministered under what to serve and to give his life a ransom for many of the sickening says about the ministries of unity is what I mentioned a moment ago servants yes but servants for the same in here he brings into interesting images. One is an image of farming uses it elsewhere. He says look it's true that there are different functions in the ministry. Some are called to do one thing and some another. Some common plant. I supposedly elaborated. He could've said some common break up the soil before the planning even as Don some do those jobs and then once the planning takes place. There are others who come along and they read and some who come along and water, which is why the policy did.
He says who is it that makes it grow.
Is it all like to see grow always had a policy basis. He brought all Apollo's can't make it grow anymore that I Like to see grow and makes it grow so not only are we servants of the church. We are servants of God we serve the same purpose, namely the seal harvest and we all bring whatever gifts God has given us in whatever assignments that he is assigned to us in order that might happen in the second image uses is the image of building gets into it briefly in verse nine sort of carryover one image spilling over on another. We are God's fellow workers, you were God's fields, he says, God's building and now he goes on to talk about the building because mine is love in that direction. He says you know when you put up a building or architects or people lay foundations and those who build upon Latin. He says well that's all it is. That's all that happens in the church was in God gives us as servants of the church in the ministry simply take those different parts.
Now I come to the third section and this is the second area in this chapter where people have been so divided they were talking about people being saved and is the old King James Bible said saves Boaz by fire, and the question is can anybody be saved. That way, that is, without any good works whatsoever.
This is the way that passage is normally been taken. I want to suggest that that's a wrong interpretation of and explain how it is taken because many people approach it that way. I was in a discussion here so ago with the president of the major seminary on the West Coast president of the seminary in the West Coast. We were talking about regeneration one on the mean and I think we got into the discussion because we were talking about the Lordship of Christ.
As I was saying you can't have Christ the Savior, Leslie's Lord, if you believe in a Christ who is not Lord your believing a false Christ. You can't have salvation without discipleship is opposing that he was saying that that is salvation by works, you're saying that you're saved by what you do and in support of his position, namely that you could be saved without showing any smidgen whatsoever of the evidence of the grace of Christ in your life merely by believing that Jesus is the Savior. He quoted this passage, he said, look, here is Paul talking about the Christian any saying he does so in emphatic language. It's possible to spend the whole life building a worldly building and have it all perish in the final judgment so you don't have a single thing to show for a lifetime of what you pretend it was Christian service you're saying but so as by fire.
You get into heaven by even less than the skin of your teeth you get in there, leaving absolutely everything behind and I was appalled that anybody suggest that I was appalled theologically because regeneration has to mean that your different you know it's true were justified by grace through faith but nobody is justified was, not regenerate. Jesus said you must be born again you're born again must be differences. The very fact that you're born again is a difference and certain things after flow from that new life of Christ, the thief on the cross we was saved to the last extremity showed a difference in his life. It would be interesting to study what that thief said point to the evidences of the grace of the Spirit there in his life, even in the last few minutes before he died, but look at this again. I said now if that theology is right what is Paul talking about when he talks about a person building on this foundation one case building something gold, silver and precious stones is going to last and in the case building, wood, hay and stubble, all of which is going to be burned up in the judgment. I read it carefully and I read it in the context of what Paul is saying that I discovered the Paul is not talking about personal salvation is not talking about an individual in good works and all of that is talking about the Christian ministry talking about a minister who, for the sake of argument shows absolutely no evidence of the grace of God in his life. What you say doesn't have evidence of the grace of God in his life is not talking about that of all he's talking about a man in the ministry who bills improperly in his responsibility for building the church of Jesus Christ. In other words, conducts his ministry on a worldly basis. I want her to be the result of that work is not going to last. I said you know anybody who builds like that.
I want to name names, but I can think people who do that. They look at the task of ministering the word within the context of a particular church and they say all this is moving fast enough for me. I look at the world and put such a premium on success and growth, and they say all we gotta see better results in this fast results in this so they say. What can we do to get the people in so they begin to think of the world's ways of doing it.
They say well you know people are interested in concerts.
Today, rock music, and such that some concerts in the church so they give Sunday night over the concerts and then they get people for a while.
The comfort concerts and fadeaway and they say, why isn't it isn't quick enough. Let's do something else.
And so they look out to the world they say well let's try this. That seems to work so they put on the big show works for a while but you know doesn't last.
I observed churches go downhill that way sometimes.
Churches that have been the hallmarks of godliness and pillars of theological and spiritual strength.
In past years, get somebody at new.
Well I would say doesn't quite have it least not way the men, the proceeded and it doesn't know the word well enough to preach it well, but he does know the theology well enough to really communicated to his people and so we goes after these other things, the world's method send only maintains a certain level of excitement in this way, but the spiritual content and strength of the church shifts in the godly fadeaway and others come in to take their places and then he soon he goes, nothing falls off. They bring somebody else in the lower level and within two or three generations of ministers. The church is gone it doesn't have anything anymore. He's building is built with wood hay and stubble. But it's all burned up.
You say in the world. That's what pulse talking about the same look. If you have any responsibility as a minister is a teacher.
As a parent. Be careful to build well.
You have to build the flashing manner, but you do have to build with solid material you to take time to do it person can throw up a straw building in a hurry where it is then the big bad Wolf comes along and huffs and puffs and all blows down, takes much more time to lay bricks and to do it well, but Paul says that's what you do you realize that you're not building for one year or two years, six months or even 10 years your building for eternity.
What you're trying to do is build the theology of the word of God's the dynamic of the gospel in the individuals who are eternal souls to see it right away. You just building right to take your time you teach it carefully, you, Sharon, you lay that brick by brick. When you allow God to bring the increase in his own time. God will do that. This is why I'm convinced the churches have to be built. What's important is not how fast we do it whether we do it right. We do it right. God does bless it over the years. This growth solid growth of the people were trained and grow within that context go out to influence people far beyond any expectation that you might've had is what pulse talking about.
That's what we want to do what I come to the very end, and this is the conclusion and Paul brings it back to this matter divisions again to the world's wisdom and the unity of the church is all wrapped up. What is really a very brilliant paragraph saying look I leave you with this. Think how foolish these divisions are first of all, there based upon the world's way of doing things, and the world's way of doing things is probably in the sight of God.
You want to be like that. He says he says you want to follow after God looked God catches the wise in their craftiness.
He turns the wisdom of the world to self-evident foolishness before everybody.
So these divisions are part of that is going to be part of that many says secondly when you choose in the church between one man and another man or one thing and another thing he says what you're really doing is opting for a part rather than for the whole because if Paul is a true minister of Jesus Christ, and that the policy is a true minister of Jesus Christ, and Peter and whoever else. It may be ministering at that particular time than they are all yours. The gifts God has given her all yours in your richer by having all of them in poor light choosing one. Unless we look at that merely on the human earthly level.
He wraps it all up in the Godhead saying look, then boast about man.
Why, because everything is yours whether Paul or Paulus or Cephas or the world or life or death, or the present, future orders and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God there no greater riches than that are no greater destiny on that and there's no greater cure for the kind of divisions that harm our church and discredit our ministry. Let us pray our father, we thank you for this teaching about the necessary unity we need within the body of Christ our father granted Mike not be true of us that we provide over one thing or another and so fail to see the gifts that have been given the various ones of your ministers. Rather, our father granted me my grow each part supplying that which has been sent by you to supply that together we might see the grain ripened in the field and come to a great harvest and together we might see the building grow a great temple in which Jesus Christ is worship and honor. So exist here on earth. Even in our imperfect state is a testimony to your great grace. We pray in the name of Jesus our Lord and our Savior. You are listening to Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Aiken, God's living word with pastor, the Rev. Richard Phillips and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse.
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