BSF Acts: Week 19, Day 5: 1 Corinthians 15–16

Summary:

Paul addresses the core belief of Christianity – death and resurrection.  The Corinthians probably faced many of the same skeptics that exist today – alive is alive, dead is dead, those are definitions.  Some may have wanted a watered down believe – I really like the teachings, but I’m not on-board with the death and resurrection part.

But Paul helps explain that this the THE pivotal point of the faith of a Christian.  If Christ didn’t die, then the price of sin wasn’t paid.  If Christ wasn’t resurrected, then what hope do we have? If we have no hope of eternal life, then all else is moot.

Finally, Paul closes with housekeeping for the church.  Primarily that they are to stay connected to the larger church, through tithing, through receiving ministers and teachers, and through diligence, labor and listening.

Questions:

12. a. (1) He appeared to Peter, (2) then to the 12, (3) then to 500 at the same time most still living, (4) then to James, (5) then to all apostles, (6) then to Paul

b. Christ died, He was buried, he was raised on the 3rd day all done in accordance with and in fulfillment of the scriptures

13. If Christ did not rise from the dead then no one else can (if God can’t…) For if Christ did not defeat death, then He did not pay the price of sin, then there is no salvation for mankind.  From original sin all die, but Christ alone provides resurrection from that death.  His reign is over all enemies, death is the last enemy

14. a. Christ (firstfruites), those who belong to him, then the end will come: He destroys all dominion, authority and power and hands all over to the kingdom of God the Father.  Christ reigns until all enemies are defeated – the final is death.

b. there will be a physical resurrection, but as a new creation.  We will not all die, but all will be transformed.

c. trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, we will be changed

15. Stand firm, let nothing move us.  Prepare: give regularly (not just in response to urgency), give food and shelter to ministers, be on guard, stand firm in faith, be courageous, be strong, do everything in love, work, labor, listen to elders

Conclusion:

We can get so caught up in the trappings of Christianity and the church that we can lose sight of the core tenents of our faith.  God sent his only son, a second Adam but this one of spirit onto woman rather than from dust.  That son of God, Jesus, who was fully man and fully God, sinless, died and was buried (not brought back with CPR) in the tomb for 3 days.  Then, of his own accord, without any person’s assistance, came back to life from the dead.

This is the stumbling block of non-believers.  They can’t believe it could or would happen.  Why would an eternal God choose this path.  Why would a being who is the son of God, die?

But without this core element and faith and belief it in, there is no Christianity.  There is no payment of sin, there is no eternal life.

You can decide if you want to wear a hat or not to church.  You can have your own opinions about speaking in tongues.  But if you don’t believe in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, then you are not a Christian.  Period.

If you are – then, live like one.  Love your brothers, help them, work, listen, pray, learn, do, serve, contribute, use your spiritual gifts.

BSF Acts: Week 19, Day 4: 1 Corinthians 12–14

Summary:

Paul moves from surface things to deeper issues in the newly formed church.  Each believer is given spiritual gifts.  Each is a part of the body and every part is important and has a role.  Gifts are to be used, often and effectively.

The most excellent way of using spiritual gifts is love.

Paul explains what love is (not necessarily what some others may think – not lust, not obligation).  Love is a way of serving.  Love is the only gift that the more we give away the more of the same we receive and only by giving it away do we receive any at all.

Finally, Paul addresses vanity and disorder in the worship services.  It sounds like mayhem.  There was such an emphasis on speaking in tongues that people were self-focused and, to a degree, showing off.  Paul explains the highest value is not in speaking, but in saying something that is of value in helping a brother.

Questions:

9. a. At conversion we are called to profess our faith and join into the singular body of Christ, adopted into a new eternal life

b. (Personal) YES

c. We all have a gift and a part to play in the church – gifts are tools to be utilized – a gift of a hammer isn’t any good without something to build or repair with it, the gift of healing is the same way

10. Love is one of the only “whys” given in the bible – for God so loved the world.  In the same way, the tools we are given, if not used in building, do not do any good.  I can bang my hammer all day, but what do I produce?

11. Follow love, desire gifts: especially prophecy (over speaking in tongues) – It is not about me, it is about how what I do serves others.

v26 all of these must be for the strengthening of the church.  Be orderly and respectful.

Conclusion:

The verses from 1 Cor 13 are so critical to shape our lives by.  We get so goal oriented, that we can forget the most important element – first and foremost, God is love, God loves us, God wants us to love Him and love each other.

I recently read a great little book, “The Go-Giver” that I highly recommend.  It is by Bob Burg and is written as a modern day story.  The book presents the following principles.  Notice how true they are to the teaching of Paul applied to a business setting:

The Law of Value

Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value then you take in payment.

The Law of Compensation

Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.

The Law of Influence

Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people interest first

The Law of Authenticity

The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself

The Law of Receptivity

The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving

BSF Acts: Week 19, Day 3: 1 Corinthians 10–11

Summary:

Paul continues to teach and correct the Corinthians.  He begins this section with a solemn reminder that we, as believers, are not above anything – God’s own people, the jews in exile from Egypt, faced God’s wrath when they were disobedient, with thousand dying.

With this seriousness in mind, Paul then field some pressing questions:

1. eat food offered in sacrifice to idols? Nothing magical happens to the food that you can’t eat it, but don’t eat it because of a potential stumbling block to weak or marginal believers.

2. freedom: you are free to do whatever, but, that whatever should be done for the glory of God

3. Enter worship with reverence.  God wants us to come to His house with a humble heart, not showing off with pride nor weeping and wailing in self deprecation.

4. Partake of the Lord’s supper with respect and preparation.  This is to be done “in memory of Christ”  not as an all-you-can-eat buffet.  The point isn’t the food or drink, it is Christ.

Questions:

5. a. V7 idolatry: Ex 32:6 and Num 25:1-3;

V8 sexual immorality: (Ex 32:28=3000 + women?  or Num 25:9=24000);

V9 test the Lord: Num 21;4-9;

V10 grumble: Num 14:27

b. Ads parade desire, greed and sexual impurity.  We are surrounded by temptation to have more to build ourselves up, often paraded to us by scantily clad models

c. The temptations I face are “run of the mill”.  God is faithful, will not allow beyond what I can bear and will always provide a way out so I can stand up under it.

6. We are not barred from any food or drink, but non-believers may not grasp it is only food and drink and if anything we do is done out of righteousness and not out of focus to God, then we should not do it.

7. (Challenge) a. Headship Eph 5:23, husband head of wife as Christ is head of church

b. Custom has changed – head covering is not a sign of rebellion or submission

c. A voluntarily submissive heart is still what God wants

8. A time of self examination and preparation is required before communion.  When taking it – remember Jesus.

Conclusion:

A great and jam-packed lesson.

It strikes me as so interesting.  We are so seldom given the specific “whys” that God does things.  The fact of the matter is that He loves us, He knows everything, and He does what is right.  While we love to question that, it doesn’t change any of those facts.

But, on the other side of the coin – what God really wants from us is the “why.”  Did you abstain from that meal because of faith in God and the desire to do right, or because you wanted to make a scene.  Did you eat the food offered to idols because you felt uncomfortable doing otherwise or because it would somehow bring glory to God?  Do you wear certain clothes to church to show off or to show respect.

I think we can become too casual in our churches.  Let’s face it, if I can’t find the time to change out of sweat pants and a t-shirt – have I really found the time to thoroughly examine and repent of my sins and seek God’s direction for the wants and needs I should seek from Him?  I’m saying that for me to judge me not as a benchmark to judge others.

BSF Acts: Week 19, Day 2: 1 Corinthians 8–9

Summary:

Paul addresses questions and grumblings he is hearing from and about the church in Corinth.  The first is in relationship to eating food sacrificed to idols.  The second is in relationship to Paul and Barnabas and provisions for them.  The second is pitting behavior of some apostles against others, clearly not a healthy place to be.

Questions:

3. a. Knowledge puffs up, love builds up – Our goal should be to become big hearted, not big headed.

If what I do causes my brother to fall into sin, then I should not do it – even though it is not wrong or a sin – eating food to idols

b. Drinking in public, gambling, wearing certain clothing

4. a. v12 rather than hinder the gospel of Christ – Paul’s focus in only on eternal reward in heaven, any earthly recognition or reward that he would receive would only slow him down in the long race he is running.  Better to forgo it than to take eye off of fulfilling all God has for him to do.

b. Effective Mission work is never a “drive-by”. Like Paul, we must become neighbors to those we seek to save. That does not mean we take on their sinful practices, but that we come along side them in service and friendship and recognize them as full brothers and sisters in Christ (none better or worse). 

Conclusions:

There are some interesting links to what we have been studying that are only lightly presented in the questions. 

First, we need to remember Acts 15:20.  This is the conclusion of the discussion on whether circumcision was required to become a Christian.  The answer from the counsel was that it was not, however, there were still a few rules they needed to follow:

Don’t eat food dedicated to idols

Abstain from sexual immorality

Don’t eat strangled animals and blood.

From the letters to the Corinthians it sounds like this was an ongoing challenge.  In Acts 19 we saw the mob initiated by the craft guild of metal workers who created statues. 

From a business standpoint, the craft guilds were important organizations.  They met for training, for trade.  They shared work and vendors and probably financial support as well.  However, many of the meetings had religious overtones.  The food prepared was dedicated to an idol and there were other activities and events in the community.

The people were having a difficult time being accepted but being different.  This is not so different than a Christian living in an area populated by others of a different religion (sometimes our block in the United States seems that way).  What if you were visiting a neighbor and, right before serving the food, the neighbor offered to the food as a blessing to some false God.   Do you still eat the food?  Do you abstain?

This is a big question and one we still grapple with today.

Paul cut to the chase, but was clear in his direction.  He said, there isn’t anything that changed in the food because somebody said some words to a made up idol while waving their hands over the food.  It is not any better or worse for you, physically, than it was before.  Nor will eating it constitute a major sin before God.  But (you knew there had to be a but), he says that isn’t the point.  The point is, if you truly believe in Jesus Christ as the savior and you accept what that means, that you are obligated to live a life that witnesses of the spirit than now indwells you, then you cannot do anything that would cause another to be confused.  If you eat food offered to a false god, then others see you as endorsing of seeking the blessing of that false god when you do it.

I’m not sure, but some of the Corinthians might have preferred circumcision – at least you can cover it up and blend in.  But we weren’t meant to cover up our faith.  Being in an uncomfortable position is nothing new to the Apostle Paul – they probably were not going to get much sympathy!