BSF Acts: Week 20, Day 4: 2 Corinthians 5

Summary:

Using a tent analogy, Paul longs for his heavenly home.  He also discusses the fully transformational state of salvation.

Questions

11. a. We groan in longing for transformation, spiritual and physical, to live forever in the presence of God

b. Most of the time – Yes

12. a. to restore, harmony, to make congruous, to account for

b. allowed us to be born again, not of Adam, but of Christ, a new creation

c. Yep

Conclusion:

Once you’ve tasted the “good stuff” you long for it.  We will sometimes purchase milk from a local dairy.  This is amazing milk, rich, high in fat content, chocolate flavored so it tastes just like melted ice-cream or root beer flavored to taste just like a float.  After it, drinking normal skim milk is so pail in comparison (pail… a little dairy cow humor, there) that it just causes you to yearn for the good stuff.  The revelation of our heavenly bodies in an eternal home in the presence of God should cause us to moan in comparison with every breath we take in this body.

Paul points out that we are not just hosed down and cleaned up.  We are reborn – a new creation.  Born into Christ not Adam.

BSF Acts: Week 20, Day 3: 2 Corinthians 3–4

Summary:

Paul begins with identifying how the Corinthian church represents him – they are his resume, his “letter of commendation”.  Changed lives speak higher than scholarly works or degrees.  He then provides a contrast between the old and new covenants, the one focused on death and paying the price of sin and the new where that sin has been paid and death defeated and we are transformed into God’s likeness anew.

With this he points out how amazing God is.  This gift is not limited to kings, to vessels of hardened steel or jewel encrusted containers.  But God flows out freely into jars of clay: every day vessels: everyone.

Questions:

7.  a. Rom 7:6 Delivered from the law, died to what we held, to serve in the newness of the spirit

b. John 6:63, It is the spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words are spirit and are life

c. Ex 34:29 Moses veiled his face to shield Isrealites from God’s glory

d. John 1: 14 – The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen His glory

e. Matt 13:43 – Righteous will shine line the sun… He who has ears, let him hear

f. Holy Spirit 1 Peter 1:2 The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit

8. The only way to see the whole truth of the scripture is to see Christ – without it we are veiled and unchanged.

9. a. blinded the minds of unbelievers

b. the gospel is veiled to them

c. Jesus through the Holy Spirit

d. Treasure in jars of clay – power is from God

e. Carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body

f. We who are alive are give over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body

g. Believe and speak – renewal of the heart

10. We carry the death (payment of sin) so that we can tell others of the resurrection (rise to glory): unseen is eternal

Conclusions:

4 key points to focus on.

1. “I’m not competent/confident/comfortable talking with others about Christ.”  Have you ever heard someone say that?  Have you ever said it yourself?  I sure didn’t expect Paul to be saying it, too.  But there it is: vs. 5 and 6.  I’m not competent.  It is only through Christ.  Period.

2. We often think of Christianity in binary terms.  Saved or not.  In or out.  But Paul talks in vs 17-18 about the transforming effects of the Holy Spirit.  He talks of it as a continuing path, much like the growth in faith many of us experience, where we continue in glory to better reflect the glory of God in us.

3. vs 10+ talk about the privilege and duty to always remember.  We have been invited into this family at great cost.  And while we are to grow and love and live and enjoy the great feast and huge benefits of being brothers and sons, it is only through remembering the price that was paid (i.e., we did not earn or deserve it) that we have the ability to offer the gift to others.  To get in and grow you must first have the price of admission paid (death), then you can be transformed (spirit).

4. Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen.  Paul does such an amazing job of never looking down into the pit.  Regardless of how deep a pit he is pulled into, his eyes remain sky-bound, focused on the eternal.

BSF Acts: Week 20, Day 2: 2 Corinthians 1–2 and 7:5–11; Acts 19:21–20:6; 1 Corinthians 16:5–6

Summary:

A big chunk of scriptures.  Paul is writing to Corinth again after having received the message from Titus that they took his last letter to heart and made substantive changes.  This letter starts out as much more of a letter of encouragement than one of correction with more emphasis on the spirit and developing into a deeper and more reliant faith.  Throughout, Paul also sets his own life and perils as living examples to the church.

Questions

3. a. The uprising of the idol makers

b. Disappointment: Titus wasn’t there (no news), Triumph: Doors were opened, and Joy: Paul was able to help spread the (fragrance) knowledge of God

4. God provides compassion and comfort so Paul can comfort others (it overflows).  Paul can’t rely on himself.  The pressures and trials are too great.  He knows and does rely only on the gracious favor of God.

5. a. Anointed: To consecrate and make sacred.  Sealed: to bind with authority, to mark with authenticity

b. Having believed, marked in him with a seal, the promise of the H/S.  The anointing you received remains in you.  His anointing teaches you about all things and that anointing is real, not counterfeit.

 6. a. Because it requires a response.  You cannot hear a truth and not react.  You either accept it, reject it or ignore it (a form of rejection).  Acceptance is new life.  Rejection is accepting full judgment for sin and the penalty it requires (death).

b. With a co-worker.  He is electing to reject the gospel because he has decided he is in a position to judge God.  “I cannot believe in a God who…”  The good news of salvation also carries the burden of accepting that God is God and supreme he is not.

 Conclusion:

In verses 3 and 4 Paul gets into a lengthy dialogue on God as paraclete.  From Wikipedia: Paraclete comes from the Koine Greek word παράκλητος (paráklētos, that can signify “one who consoles or comforts, one who encourages or uplifts; hence refreshes, and/or one who intercedes on our behalf as an advocate in court”).[1] The word for “Paraclete” is passive in form, and etymologically (originally) signified “called to one’s side”

This “coming along side” is a very important element of Paul’s continued ministry.  Where before he was positioned as head/leader.  He is now showing himself as coming along side the church, teaching, encouraging, uplifting.  He encourages them to see his example.

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!

BSF Acts: Week 18: Lecture

Lecture: Rough Outline

The church in Corinth was challenged with the same thing many christians struggle with today – sin and confusion.    When we rely on human knowledge and our own world view of things it is easy to become lost – to lose our way.  We are by nature sinful, prideful and our view of things is based on this perception.

When you are lost, what helps you find your way?  Well, a map would be ideal.  The great news is that when we are lost, confused and struggling with our sin – God has a given us a map – one based on a spiritual view which sees everything.

But – here is the really amazing thing – this isn’t an ordinary map.

This is a treasure map.  And on every treasure map there is a special mark that indicates the treasure.  The X… but on this map it is turned a little bit – it is a +… a cross.  The Cross!

Division 1: 1 Cor 1-4.  Spritual wisdom is from the Holy Spirit.

Everyone may know the story of the blind men describing the elephant.  One felt only the side and described it as flat and leathery.  One felt the tusk and described it as hard and slick.  One felt the tail and described it as snake like (and a bit smelly).

The point is that each only saw things from their own perspective and, as such, they totally missed the big picture – This is the same thing that happened in the church in Corinth.  They were so busy climbing up the wall that separated them from God – looking down and gloating over how much higher up the way they were than others – they totally missed that there was a door – a gate – that led through to the other side.

Are you asking God each day to show you the way?  Do you trust your own judgment or trust in God?  Are you asking God to open your eyes as well as your heart?

2nd Division:  1 Cor 5,6  My body is God’s temple

How would you describe yourself?  6′ tall, brown hair, green eyes.  weight?  age?

Now describe a treasure chest.  If you describe the box and not the gems and precious materials inside, aren’t you missing the most important part?

In the same way, what is most important about me and you?  The outside or what is inside?

When God sees us he sees us as a soul with a physical body.  when we look at it, we see a body with a soul.  Which is more correct?  God’s view – of course.

Start seeing yourself as a soul with a body, not a body with a soul

Division 3: 1 Cor 7

Either married or unmarried – either way is a blessing from God.

Did you and your friends all receive the same gifts at Christmas?  Of course not – you are all different and each received different gifts.  Does that mean one received a better gift than someone else?  No, different doesn’t mean better.

In the same way – marriage is a gift from God.  Is it the same gift for everyone?  Of course not, because we are all different.  Some receive the gift of marriage.  Some receive the gift of not being married and devoting more time to spreading the gospel.  Either way – both are gifts.

Do you thank God for the gifts that He has planned for your life?

Do you thank God that he chose the gift of marriage for your Mom and Dad so they could have you?

Do you ask God to bless the marriage of your Mom and Dad so they can enjoy the gifts God gives you?

BSF Acts: Week 18, Day 5: 1 Corinthians 7

Summary:

Paul discusses issues and concerns about marriage, celibacy, divorce and widows.

Questions:

13. Chapter 7 concerns God’s gifts of marriage and celibacy.

a.

Marriage is not required: it is OK to be single and there are some benefits to being single (more time to devote to kingdom work)

Marriage is one husband one wife, man and woman

The two become one, in all ways – and that is a good and God ordained thing (not immoral)

Time apart from each other (in any way) is by mutual consent and only for devotion to prayer and only for a short duration

Except for unfaithfulness, no divorce

b. Unspoken: choose spouse wisely and prayerfully

Do not divorce over issues of belief

If unbelieving spouse is willing to stay – then stay together

If unbelieving spouse decides to leave – let them leave

It is not up to the believing spouse to choose to leave the marriage

c. Marriage is sanctioned and sanctified by God, but not required.  Paul emphasizes that it is a significant commitment and, as such, it requires time and energy that can be devoted to mission work.  That does not mean that it is wrong, it also doesn’t mean that it is required of all.

14. There is nothing casual about marriage.  Take your time.  Be prayerful.  Enter it for the right reasons.  Plan and prepare for the marriage not just the wedding.  For those who are married – be joined together as a body in Christ – building on each others strengths and supporting each others weaknesses.

Conclusion:

My wife is far more than my best friend – although she is that.  She is an amazing woman of God.  Someone who accepts my support and comfort, while at the same time praying for me and supporting me.  I understand the blessing of raising a family together and understanding first hand what it means to be a Father and Husband – which gives me such a greater appreciation of my heavenly father and the bridegroom of the church.  I also recognize that by marrying me, my wife has made a significant commitment of time and energy to minister to me.  Could she have spent that time and energy reaching out to many other people? Would that have been a good thing in terms of spreading the gospel?  Of course to both – but that doesn’t mean that she should have done that instead.  God has given us to each other because that is His plan for our lives.

BSF Acts: Week 18, Day 4: 1 Corinthians 5–6

Summary:

Paul warns against the sins of the flesh – of identifying ourselves as physical beings with a spirit rather than spiritual beings in communion with God

Questions:

11. Write a brief summary:

a. Do not continue to commune with unrepentant sinners.  When believers try to represent sin as acceptable, do not associate with such people

b. Disputes between believers should be reconciled within the body of the church with intervention by a fellow believer

c. Our words, actions and deeds as believers are the judgment of both angels and other believers, whose mission it is to minister to us.  When we fall, our actions judge their work as less than worthy

d. Food is not prohibited, but when it becomes the focus and the pleasure it derides becomes the end-all, it becomes and idol like any other

e. chief among sins of a believer is sexual immorality.  It is the only sin that is committed by us against us dishonoring God.

12. Sin of the flesh is not  challenge to a spiritual being.  We are endwelled by the spirit of God, bought at a price.

Conclusion:

Perspective.  What is your self identity?  Your view of yourself?  If it is as a physical being, then temptation abounds for the flesh.  Immorality, impurity, glutony, idolatry, pride, deceit, theft.  And these are just the surface sins a physical being must fight.  But in God’s perspective, we are not a physical being – we became a spiritual being in one with our maker.  The physical structure is nothing more than the walls of the temple – the identity is what is within.  A new creation.