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Fools for Christ's Sake

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
July 20, 2021 8:00 am

Fools for Christ's Sake

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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July 20, 2021 8:00 am

A church struggles to come to terms with what it means to serve the Lord. But it's not easy. All around are greedy and debauched people. Inevitably some of sinfulness has begun to infiltrate the church. Sound familiar? This scenario is not just our own; the early church of Corinth faced many of the same problems! Dr. Boice's study in 1 Corinthians reveals a striking similarity between own battles and the struggles the early church, today on The Bible Study Hour.

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Welcome to the radio and Internet ministry of confessing Evangelicals featuring the Bible teaching of Dr. James boards. 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 studying first Corinthians together and we come tonight to the fourth chapter. There was a church which, as Paul says in the first chapter of this book was enriched with all spiritual gifts and had a great deal of theological knowledge and other good things but which was divided over loyalty to one leader another within the church were people who said while we follow Paul in their work. Others who said well we follow Paulus there were still others who said we follow Peter and then there were people who said, well, we follow Christ.

I thought they were spiritual lives, and Paul speaks in chapter 3 about those divisions. The central point he makes as the deals without problem is that ministers are servants of the church. Therefore, for the Corinthians to be divided up among the servants is just about as silly as a family that had many servants being divided up in loyalties over the people who they had hired to serve them.

I pointed out that in the history of the church using the outline.

John Stott develops in his book one people there have been three long views of the relationship of ministers to laypeople is clerical is him, which is the view that the clergy is in charge and they should do it all is anti-clerical is him, which is certainly understandable, salable, in view of the former people who say we don't need the clergy at all. Let's get rid of them and doing ourselves. There's dualism where people say, all right. The clergy have their role and they have to stay within that role. And then the layman have their role in the within that role in either one should transgress on the turf of the other three wrong use but then as we looked at last week the right view which shows that the relationship is one service. John Stott says in that book that the time eroded. There was a popular saying in the Roman Catholic Church about the service that was involved in Catholics that he knew used to say the bishops are the servants of the priests, the priests of the servants of the laity. The laity are kings with the servant problem.

Well, sometimes it works that way it would appear from Paul's writing here in first Corinthians of the problem was the other way around. The difficulty, as he explains it was not that Paulus was out of line. On the contrary, he affirms Paulus and his work or the Peter was out of line or that he was in the chapter was about to read. He says he was blameless before the Lord. No, it's for the Lord ultimately to decide wasn't that the problem was among the people. And Paul is trying to overcome that erroneous and unnecessary condition. The divisions now in view of that there are people who have said, turning to chapter 4, the chapter 4 is somewhat unnecessary because after all, here in chapter 4 is talking about the ministry yet in chapter 3 in dealing with the divisions he has described what the ministry is its ministry of service but having said that, why does he have to say anything else. In chapter 4. What he does for this reason when he ends.

Chapter 3 is talking about the ministers being servants of the people is very clear boasting about men. He says all things are yours whether Paul or Paulus or Cephas all things are yours making that very clearly repeats the idea twice.

There is a point to say that someone might raise reading that they might say.

Well that that's the case if the ministers of the Church of the apostles. This particular case or are servants that we have the right to tell them to do what we want, we can say go here, go there. We can hire one we can fire another, and if we choose to divide up among them, who's to say anything to the contrary, I think it's in view of that, the Paul writes chapter 4 because in this chapter without the slightest repudiating what he said before saying that the ministers of the charge are not servants, having just said that they are that they have a service to the people which is just that they have just add a further dimension went from his perspective and the perspective of his authority is all important gas servants.

He says servants of the people above all servants of Jesus Christ.

What is going to develop from that is that he ultimately is answerable to Jesus and it's before him and his standards that the ministry of Paul stands or falls. Look how he says it so that men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. You say all areas. Now he said he was a servant but now he's getting big ideas is going to exalt himself weld all Paul doesn't do that either.

Marvelous how we keep the balance he wants to say here that is a servants of Christ is responsible to Christ, he does say that he says it clearly. But as he says it is that he says he's a servant of Christ and minister one entrusted with the mysteries of God. We suffer from a weak translation.

At this point I won't say a bad translation. Certainly not a wrong one but a weak one whenever you read that word servants in the New Testament. You know right off that it's a weak translation even if there's nothing else to be said about it because strictly speaking in ancient times. He didn't have servants. At least not in the sense that we have in mind when we use that word, but they had was slaves. So when you read in the New Testament about somebody being a servant. Generally that word translates the Greek word loss which means a slave. So the very least expect Paul to be saying here we are slaves of Christ, and that is certainly a stronger meeting than what we generally get when we read that word servant. Now it turns out that in this case word that is there in the Greek language is not the word loss which means slave but it's a word which is even stronger than that word is who put a taste of it somewhere word you will find it very often put together of a couple parts in the Greek language will pair means under, so the very least, it means not only a slave when and under slave.

The idea of the assistant slave rather than the slave was in charge of the other slaves begin to say what's happening here in the lease means that I get curious about these things and sometimes I dig out lexicons and begin to look up and see where the word really came from, and the first part of it.

Hoover means under, I want to know what the second part means I noticed in the common lexicons that students of New Testament Greek use lexicons are very strong in giving us the coin, a Greek common Greek in Paul's time of Jesus time generally were to simply translate it as an assistant slave system, servant, something of that nature, but in the big lexicons that really Goodwin said go back in the history of the Greek language to the way home, or use the word in the great writers in the Greek language sort of the way the Oxford English dictionary. That masterpiece of the English language does with English words you find look at it carefully enough. The word actually means, and under our I wasn't suggest you under rower well you may know, the way they got arounds most days.

Some water was by slave ships, galley ships are called triremes the big ones that meant they had three rows of lords, and I would think though my lexicon doesn't say so explicitly, but in that kind of contacts with that kind of reference under rower must be rower who operates on the lowest tier I think that means just about as far as you can get here is Paul you say saying not climate servant Jesus, not even in this case, I am a slave of Jesus, not even in this case strong is that maybe I am an assistant slave of Jesus, but saying actually I am an under rower in the galley that is bringing them the gospel of life is pretty strong. So while it is true the Paul speaking of himself as a minister is saying and saying clearly is a servant of Christ. He wants them to know that because this point is, he is responsible to Christ is nevertheless the same time not giving himself some exalted position is among all the servants of Christ. There is Paul right up at the pinnacle somebody really important always say I am an under rower in Ms. galley of the gospel. Next word he uses is not quite as colorful but it does convey wealth and meaning of its own week. Read the translation those entrusted.

Actually, it means a steward.

The Greek word is a quantum loss.

We get our word economy from that the steward was the one who manage the household economy as he took care of the business for whoever owned the house. He was a servant to and that while this word doesn't come across to us is vividly in terms of position. This the first word being under rower does speak, perhaps in a little more dramatic way of the kind of responsibility. Paul nevertheless had this responsibility of management managing for Jesus Christ as steward who had to give an accounting to him it was his master these verses that talk about the ministry. I find that although he probably wouldn't use these terms really is writing about it much the way we would write about a position in the Corporation today you're talking about a position of the Corporation you talk first of all, about a job description and then you talk about performance standards, and finally you talk about accountability for you accountable to in the position to carry out that work according to those standards. This is exactly what Paul is saying you want the job description and under rower in the steward you want the performance standards because it in the next first is required for those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. That's the standard menu unaccountability. The accountability is to Jesus Christ. He's the boss of the corporation and Paul maintains and maintains rightly that he's accountable to him.

Interesting that he says that the performance standards faithfulness. By the way, we would write it, you know that's not the way we write performance standards, we say well you been marketing our Paul this year and give sold 510 at about $20 million worth of the stuff next year we want to improve that by 15%.

So that's the standard that you're going after you meet that standard.

Well then what they do is they raise next year. We think in those terms. We think of success in terms of quantity volume and all that in the Christian life isn't quite the same thing except to say that God is interested in numbers we come to the book of Revelation we read that in that final day gathered around the throne mirrors going to be 1 millions upon millions. The old version save millions.

Millions of people from every tongue, every nation gathered around the throne singing praises to God. God is interested in that justly when he gives you a job to do. As a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He does not say have to have 33 conversions this month.

I would maybe but by his grace will be effective. Along those lines may be that if you're only seeing 33 you're not being very faithful because he's given you gifts and opportunities where you can see much more to see little spelled out in numerical terms for us. What Paul says is it is required that we be found faithful means that if you find your self in a difficult field of labor where there's very little receptivity to the gospel. You don't have to produce the same kind of results that Jim Kennedy can produce. For example, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where people are pouring into the neighborhood may have a good program of integrating them and bringing them into the church meeting the kind of means that they have socially as well is spiritually have to be able to produce that what is required of a minister's anemia, faithful means that you have to hang in there year after year and decade after decade. See very little results from your labor when you are not a failure in the service of Jesus Christ. That is faithfulness. God will reward that an honor it in his own time. I am far more impressed with the kind of work to begin slowly and lays the groundwork builds into people's lives. The great principles the great foundational doctrines of the gospel is not trying necessarily to get a conversion every week, but is trying to build that I'm far more impressed with that because in time it will grow.

Moreover, when it grows and the remaining will be not fruit the remains about which the Lord Jesus Christ himself spoke that's to happen. You see, the standard is Paul spells it out.

Here is faithfulness. How you speak of a number of areas in which were to be faithful. One is handling the mysteries of God right secret things of God. Verse one. That's the gospel we know from the earlier chapters. When Paul speaks of mystery series.

Not speaking of mysteries in the same sense as the Greek mysteries reset all these religions that in certain forms of even been revived in modern days they were called mysteries because the things of the worshipers didn't believe were hidden from everybody else had to be initiated before you learn the music, talking about this reason that sent cease talking about that which the mind of man would imagine left to itself, but which God is revealed in the gospel that is the mystery that is the secret things of God. House is if you're going to be faithful. One way in which you have to be faithful is with those miscreants with those crows don't play around with the gospel. WQ don't try to reinterpret it in some way that somehow you think might make it a little more palatable to your generation. You will be faithful and deliver that in the same way it was delivered to you. Paul even uses those words and first Corinthians 15 minutes talking about the resurrection.

He said brother I delivered unto you the same thing that I received the same thing that was delivered on the million that he spells out the gospel.

How Jesus was buried in God rose again on the third day of the were many witnesses. You see, that's the gospel and he didn't change it was faithful in maintaining a gospel other than he talks about is waiting for God to bring the blessing when Jesus comes he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and so on, he talks temporally in these verses have to be willing to let God work in his own speed in his own time as he is most certainly going to do, but we get restless to say which I moving fast about all I'm in middle-age. I turned 14 last week my case with little further back than that we say, my goodness, I if I'm to make it in this world to be faster than that God speaking to God works in this timetable and on our timetable and faithfulness in part is allowing God to work in this timetable and then he speaks what I think is a powerful word our time. These next verses. Verses six and seven.

The faithfulness of not going beyond what is written. What is Paul talking about when he says, don't go beyond what is written. Where is it written wiper him. It was in the pages of the Old Testament and the rest of the New Testament, together with the Old Testament. What Paul is saying is don't go beyond what God says all we are so inclined to break that admonition we read it we say, but it slowed all we say is what it's all in relevance. That's not where people are today. People don't want to know about the ministration be what I want to know about the Bible. People don't want to know about faithfulness to speak to them where they're at me say of course, the gospel is relevant does speak to people where they're at but if you start first of all we where you think they're adding you change the word in order to get to where you think their act somewhere along the line you've lost all bottle speaking a profound word to our time when he says, don't go beyond what is written, the way we go beyond what is written. We read the Bible and we got a great principle church discipline. For example, because that's what is going to talk about the very next chapter we save must be disciplined in the church so we get an idea how that should be done. We say we search the Scriptures should be exercised through the authorities in the church, but I have to do certain important things and we do that we do that very well that we get to carry with ourselves we say discipline is such a good thing really be careful to discipline people so here somebody is doing something that we don't think is quite right. We call that we soundly got to be doing that. I say well, as I search the Scriptures. I ice don't see where that's true in Scripture say that we just don't think you should be doing that well. A second were going to do that was discipline that sounds funny but that happens.

Discipline needs to be restored to listen, not discipline beyond where the Bible speaks I might have an idea what I think is right for you, but I have no right to impose it unless the Bible says so clearly where the moral law of God is involved. By all means we must uphold that standard where their doubtful areas where it's a question of the will of God for your life in the Bible is not specific recognize we are all servants of God. At that point it's before our master not before one another that we stand or fall out.

Paul talks about the ministry.

As I said in those first versus second portion of this chapter beginning in verse eight makes an ironic contrast because the reason is talking about the ministry and what the ministry is and should be and has been in this case metal Paulson Peter as well is to show that the Corinthians, to whom he is writing in their own self conceit.

Have quite different and therefore quite a nonbiblical idea of what it really means to succeed spiritually and so he makes the contrast the lookout he spells it out one end of the Corinthians he talks to them as you. That's how you can tell what he say what is he say about them. Well, he says there satisfied with a self-satisfied birthday. You have all you want. Nothing else you want. Got everything is a ranch already.

You become rich. He says thirdly they're raining you become kings. All that on the one hand, I usually try to work for outlines will begin with the same letter, but hard not to do it.

In this case the right rich and raining and the that's their status and how they were quite to be with what they want. I was gone they should look at us satisfied with rich raining then on the other side here.

The apostles, he refers to the apostles's loss and what is he saying about them well.

He says we've been made a spectacle means that the bad sense is referring to the Greek word is a word from which we get our word theater saffron, but what it referred to was the captives that came behind the returning Army when an army went out and captured. Someplace was victoriously brought back all the captives they came at the end of the train bedraggled dreadful discourage tearful people and who knows what was going to happen to them. Some of them are going to be sold the slaves, some of them, perhaps to be sent to the amphitheater in Paul's time, they would be support for the multitudes as they were killed by the gladiators and the animals.

Paul says that's what we've been made. We been made a spectacle only a spectacle. The Romans brought in behind the train of some Caesar would been made a spectacle to the whole universe angels as well is when people look at those which is better being brought along behind the train is captives and were standing says we are fools we know what sense in which is usually not work because that's what he was discussing in chapters 1 and two. He says the world is looking at us in the world decide to ever see such stupid people as those apostles not uneducated man. Some of them had very good educations of Paula's lair. This is a great orator. I think what he could be if he would really get in with the establishment didn't begin to pull his door with the Greek ship with a Roman ship why he could rise right up center that what is he doing what is Paul doing Peter is window around from village to village talk this nonsense about Rabbi Judy.

All places, but was supplied out there as a political offender. Believe it or not, I actually was raised from the dead and they're not very well received. Go here. There they have little groups of people. Slaves and sucks up all of them but not very well received and they go from one town to another town to another town and goodness is nothing stupider than that there fools those men and Paul says yes that's what we are and then he says also. We are dishonored spells out how to great length we go hungry and thirsty and rags were brutally treated were homeless.

We work hard with her own hands curse persecuted were slandered, we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world. When Paul was exaggerating. I don't think Paul was exaggerating at all. Second Corinthians the fourth chapter he spells out in greater detail all the things that he went through for the sake of the gospel, how he was beaten, persecuted all the hardships he endured. He talks about it more in the fifth chapter.

When you look at these words of Paul is using you compare them with the book of acts you can find stories and acts and, undoubtedly, that is not all that happened to Paul, but you can find stories to go with every one of those things.

I think the contrast that is on the one hand, the ends oh how we would say nice church with nice people. Oh, nice bones and came nicely dressed, and they said we have everything is in God wonderfully provides all our needs and they said were rich, the wonderful God promises to bless you put him first and you like to prosper and they said yes. Then we really raining as Christians in our city over here these apostles that are hungry and sick couldn't get dysentery and don't have enough to eat dinner, beaten, slandered and pounded from place to place and Paul himself was stoned, three times the almost dead they thought one occasion and you say this is the big question you say luck close to groups of people. The Corinthians. On the one hand, the apostles, on the other. Would you rather pay you know what the answer supposed to be, but I'm not asking you what the answer supposed to be. I'm asking you, who would you rather be look at your heart you say. What I would rather be like Paul what I rather be hungry when I rather be slandered abuse persecuted. Hayden pounded from place to place. When I nice people and nice homes only by Janet's peace. I asked would you rather pay. I think we look at our hearts we say I think I'd rather be with the Corinthians in just the gotten the toner that if you're thinking of it in those terms.

Because Paul is being sarcastic sake in a possibly sarcastic AND Paul is doing it. He saying already you have what you want to. Oh yes, you do already.

You become rich.

All you are rich, you become kings and you've done it all us good for you. I wish that you really had become kings so that we might become kings with you to see what he saying you think your King's but you're not raining you're a slave to the values of your world. You look at us and you say look at those poor/Davis were free because were following Christ seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena were made a spectacle to the whole universe angels as well as to been we are fools for Christ, you are so wise in Christ we are weak, but you are strong your honored with dishonored this very hour we go hungry and thirsty word and rags were brutally treated were homeless understand how his writing. I said the three things he uses to describe himself. The fact that is a spectacle. The fact that is a fool in the fact that is dishonored or impoverished. And I just throw Paul absolutely did go through those things, but walked away when she talks about it. He says we are a spectacle but notice not just that we are made a spectacle in my home by God's doing, because were his servants is what is chosen to do with us. We are fools.

What we are fools for Christ, he says, and it is true we are impoverished and dishonored.

But why sake gospel, which is a treasure above any earthly wealth you see how the contrast has to be taken. Who would you rather be. Corinthians with their wealth but their wealth just passing the way which is going to evaporate with this world when all this while all we know is to be burned up for the apostles who have nothing now to suffer abuse now hold the treasure of the gospel and who through their service to Jesus Christ or laying up an immortal treasure in the world beyond. This is why is Paul ends the chapter he says, and I'm sure you see it clearly. Therefore, verse 16.

I urge you to imitate me why because Paul is imitating Christ what Christ went through Christ laid aside the glories of heaven. The prerogatives of the Godhead in order to become like man, not even a rich man but a poor man and to take upon himself the death of Amanda. Not just any death. With the death of the cross.

Wherefore, God highly exalted him and Paul says that's the one I follow because I follow him, I say to you, imitate me in order to say that a man has to be walking close to Jesus Christ. That's what Paul was doing. Paul was walking close to Jesus Christ and so we set it and it's here in the pages of the word of God with the seal of the Holy Spirit upon I make this conclusion a double conclusion if Paul can say that God gave the Corinthians in their time, people like that that they could imitate because such people would imitating Christ look for such people today look to the television for its standards don't read the popular magazines for their standards don't look the politics for their standards. Those things are so passing they don't mean anything at all the godly people and follow them.

Those who know what it means to walk with God deliver Jesus Christ and himself necessary.

In spite of all the poverty and slander that the world can bring look for people like that in imitate. And then there's a second conclusion by the grace of God. Try to be a person like that yourself may not be like that yet.

Not may not be able to say imitate me because you know in your heart you're not imitating Christ you try to live that way become like Christ, so that as the years go by your children come along. I can say I want to be like my father, I want to be like my mother because my father follows Jesus.

My mother knows God people in the church you know you can say I want to be like Mr. so-and-so, I want to be like so-and-so and so-and-so because there's somebody who knows a lot and it's evident in what they do and by the grace of God will have a generation follow Jesus and the church will not be divided. The power of the gospel will be evident in our world how our great God and our heavenly father we read something like this the standard like bad about which we read and we almost fear – the question is it possible for somebody imitate us and in doing so actually imitate the Lord our father for not like that is what we want to be. Give us grace to be like Jesus.

So the people may see him in us and bless us all together. To that end, for Jesus, 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. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution. Please call toll-free 1-800-488-1888.

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