SESSION 18 — “To a Church in Crisis, With Love,” a Bible study of 1 & 2 Corinthians

Text: 1Corinthians 13 

In the first twelve chapters, Paul, who loves the church with God’s own love, has reprimanded, beseeched and instructed the troubled church in Corinth. All of what he has written, and all that they have said and done, reflects their infancy in Christ. They have not comprehended that Christianity is not about outward works or who is the greatest, but an inward work in their hearts. 

In Chapter 12, Paul stressed that the gifts are from the Holy Spirit, their ministries are from Jesus Christ, and their power is from God. And all that the Spirit gives them is for the common good. He has addressed their lack of unity and one-upmanship. 

Now, Paul teaches them the more excellent way —  a superabounding, much, much better, abundantly better, beyond measure means of walking as a Christian.

If I were to give this a title, it would be, “Compelled By God’s Divine Love.” 

I’d give it that title because nearly the entire church and almost all of its commentators miss the entire point of 1Corinthians 13, applying human love in their interpretation.  In no way does Paul intend us to define love by way of human emotion and moral sensibility, as the commentators suggest!

Here’s the truth of the matter — in order to be the church, our hearts must be filled to overflowing with God’s actual love — the same love the Father has for the Son!  Then, and only then, can we walk in this more excellent way, this way that is  superabounding, abundantly and immeasurably better! 

And it is a lovely, joyful, powerful walk. What kind of power? The power of God’s divine love, in human hearts! That is the wellspring for all of the gifts of the Spirit, beloved! Hallelujah! Is it just for some? No! Jesus Christ commands all of His followers to be filled with the Spirit and the divine love of God!

2Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ controls us (compels us, takes us prisoner — I love this!), having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 15 and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

The problem in Corinth is lack of unity, which reflects (once again) that they are infants in Christ. They are not yet filled with the Spirit, and therefore, they are not yet filled with God’s actual love. And His divine love is the means by which everything works as He requires it to work, in the church. When you are taken captive by His divine love, all ministry is then done in the power of His love and His Spirit!

Paul will spend a good portion of 1Corinthians 14 exhorting the believers at Corinth not to be children in their thinking (Verse 20 of that chapter). Why? Because they are still infants in Christ, as are many in today’s church. 

But the Holy Spirit purifies your heart, crucifies your sin nature, and fills you with God’s divine love! Then you are no longer children, but Christ’s witnesses here, compelled by and captives of that love! That is what Paul is teaching us all, in this chapter!

So, let’s get to it!

Verse 1 —

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noising gong or a clanging cymbal. Why?

So, if you are not filled with God’s divine love, yet you speak in the tongues of men (a foreign language they do not know) or of angels (a heavenly language), you make a lot of noise, but it benefits no one. It cannot, because you have not been  taken captive by, and thus compelled by, God’s divine love until the Holy Spirit has filled your heart with it!

“If I speak . . . but do not have love.” Paul repeats this phrase three times in the first three verses. The church lacks something. There is something they need that they do not have. My leader in another denomination told me I should never tell Christians they need something they don’t have. We don’t want them to feel bad about themselves. They have had a hard week. Just preach something nice. May it never be that I would follow that particular exhortation! 

Paul is not referring to natural, human love. Even pagans have that kind of love. But Paul is referring to having the divine love that God pours out WITHIN us —

Romans 5:5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

It is the love OF God, not love FOR God. It is to have within you the same love the Father has for the Son! How do we possess this love within us? It is poured out to overflowing, spilling out to everyone around us, when we have been filled with His Spirit!  Oh my! It is a whole new kind of love — selfless, outward-focused, self-giving —  that you do not possess when you are born.

It is Jesus’ prayer answered —

John 17:25   “O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; 26 and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”

I pray you understand! It is the same love with which the Father loves the Son. And it fills those who are filled with the Holy Spirit! 

And when Jesus prays about giving us His “glory” which the Father has given  Him, He is speaking of the infilling of the Holy Spirit. He is asking His Father in advance of Pentecost, so that at Pentecost, it will be made so —

John 17:22The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; 23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.”

Beloved, either you have experienced your own personal Pentecost and have His love, or you do not have His love because you have not yet been filled. I speak these words to show you that your own natural, human love will never do. It fails every time, despite your own estimation that your intentions are good. But Paul will show you that if you have been taken captive by and thus compelled by God’s divine love in your heart, His love in you will NEVER fail!

Believers in today’s church have tried to love each other with human love, and the landscape is strewn with those they wound with their words and their actions. Many have been driven away from local churches because the members are not taken captive by God’s divine love, and compelled by it.

But the Lord is ready, here and now, to fill you with His Spirit and His love, just as Jesus commands you! That is the very good news of the whole gospel of Jesus Christ!

Verse 2 — 

Again, you may have the gift of prophecy, you may know all mysteries and all knowledge, and even have faith to move mountains. But if you do not have love, you are nothing. You are not anything at all, in God’s eyes!

Again, your motive cannot be right, because you have not been filled with God’s actual love. So you have not been taken captive by, and thus are not compelled by it.

Many study for years and obtain many degrees so they can analyze and dissect the Word of God. They have plenty of man’s knowledge of the Word of God. But because they don’t know and are not filled with the Author, they twist it. Or they abnegate and disallow the truths that are in the Word. They do these things because they are not filled with God’s love. They are not its captives, and thus, they are not compelled by it!

Even if you have faith to move mountains, your mountain-moving is useless. You must be filled with God’s Spirit and His love, so that you are taken captive by it, and compelled by it! Otherwise, your motive will not be right, and what you do will not be for the common good of the Body of Christ. 

In today’s church, those who are not filled with God’s love, taken captive by it and compelled by it, will go after well educated men with seminary degrees. But in many cases, these men have no degree of experiential knowledge of the Lord, and are not filled with His love. It isn’t about “head knowledge,” but about being filled with God’s Spirit and God’s love, taken captive by it, and thus, compelled by it!

Verse 3 —

If God’s divine love has not filled your heart, then giving all your possessions to feed the poor, or surrendering your body to flames in place of another, profits you nothing. It is noble. It is an act of human philanthropy, human compassion, human love. Even pagans do such things. 

Apart from being filled with and taken captive by and thus compelled by God’s actual love, these sacrificial acts have no eternal value in the kingdom of God. Do they have eternal value if you are humble and do these things in secret? No. Unless you are filled with God’s actual love, taken captive by it and compelled by it, they will profit you nothing, when you stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 

Why? Aren’t these good deeds? Don’t poor people get fed? Haven’t I taken the flames so someone else is spared? How brave I have been! Yes, but those you have helped or those for whom you died have not received from you the very thing they need more than anything else — the gospel of Jesus Christ! 

Only through believing into Christ can they be forgiven for past sins, and be given a new heart full of His Spirit and His actual love! Only then do they gain freedom from slavery to sin. Only through Christ will they receive eternal life rather than eternal death. If God’s actual love in your heart has made you its captive, and you thus are compelled by it, you will surely tell the world this great gospel!

Verses 4-7 — 

So how do you know whether God’s actual love has filled your heart? Being filled with God’s Holy Spirit and His love is an indescribably powerful, moment-in-time experience! Then, you exhibit God’s fruit, not the human variety —

— You are patient. You are glad to suffer long, in spite of troubles caused by others, for the sake of Christ. It is His patience in you.

— You are kind (gracious). You are full of the grace of God — that is, His divine work in your heart which is reflected in your life — when you are filled with His Spirit!

— You are not jealous (envious). There is no one-upmanship in you, there is no desire to wield power over others in the church, no desire for prestige, and you do not envy anyone. All of that was taken away, when your sin nature was crucified and you were filled with the Spirit.

— You do not brag. You do not boast about yourself, but always boast in Christ, and what He has done in your heart!

— You are not arrogant, which is to inflate yourself so that you seem bigger than those who are your brothers and sisters in Christ. 

— You do not act unbecomingly. You adorn the gospel of Jesus Christ, by your words and actions. 

— You do not seek your own. You do not seek to have your rights honored and met. Your  heart was cleansed of that, when you surrendered to the Lord and asked Him to fill you with His Spirit. You gave up your rights to yourself. 

— You are not provoked. You do not quickly become exasperated and speak sharp words against those inside or outside the church. 

— You do not take into account a wrong suffered. You do not keep a tally. You forgive, because when you are filled with His Spirit, you are filled with His love and His forgiveness. You desire no retribution. Like Christ, you pray for those who spitefully use you (Matthew 5:44). You bless your enemies and do not curse them (Luke 6:28).

  — You do not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoice in the truth. You do not take pleasure in what is done by the world. You are in the world, but not of it (John 17:14). The things done by those who are in the world is not pleasing to you, any more than such things are pleasing to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit who fully indwell you. 

Instead, the truth, the very truth of God and the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, gives you great joy, and you cannot stop speaking of what you have seen and heard Acts 4:20)!

— You bear all things (for the sake of Christ), you believe all things (all the promises of God). You hope all things, which means you are confident in the Lord and expecting that His promises will be fulfilled, just according to His Word. And you endure all things — even persecution, imprisonment, and death for the sake of the gospel.

Verse 8 —

Human love will fail and fall. Something will happen to make you stop loving. 

But God’s actual love in your heart will never fail. Never! If His Spirit has filled you and His divine love is in you, nothing will shake you, and you will have the right motive in all things! His love in your heart will be the motive, compelling you because you have become its captive! 

Prophecies will fail; they will no longer be needed, one day. Tongues will no longer be needed. And knowledge (gnosis, first knowledge) will pass away. It will no longer be needed. Note that these are things that the believers at Corinth have become fixated upon.

Why? The end times will have come, everything will have been revealed, and a new heaven and new earth will have been created by the Lord! There will be no need to prophesy, and all believers will speak one language!

Verses 9-10 —

Now we know in part and we prophesy in part, but THEN, the perfect (the completion, the complete fulfillment of the plan for us to intimately know God the Father and God the Son) will have come. We will know Him perfectly, completely. So we will no longer need the gifts that give us only a partial understanding.

Verse 11 — 

Paul speaks to the infants in Christ at Corinth as children, and uses a metaphor to show them that they must seek to be filled so they become mature.

Children speak like children. Children think like children, and reason like children. They are children!

But beloved, when you are filled with the Spirit in a moment of time, just as Paul was in the house on Straight Street in Damascus, you no longer will speak or think or reason like an infant in Christ. You become mature in a moment of time.  When you are filled, you put away childish speech, thoughts, and reasoning. 

Yes, the Lord will continue to form His character in you, throughout your life (2Corinthians 3:18). But you will know Him intimately, and it will be a joy to continue to learn from Him! And you will no longer willfully disobey Him. In all things, His love will be the compelling force, for you have become captive to His love! Praise God!

Verse 12 — 

Do you  understand that now we see in a mirror dimly? Even those who are filled with the Spirit do not see absolutely everything of God! 

We see through a glass darkly, says the KJV. It isn’t that God hides anything, but it is just that we do not have the capacity to see it all. 

But then, when we stand before Him, we will be face-to-face with Him, and we will fully know, in a way that only a face-to-face meeting in the kingdom of heaven can provide.  We will know Him to the ultimate degree, in a way that no human, even one filled with the Spirit, can know Him. We will know Him as fully as He already knows us!

Verse 13 —

Three things remain — faith, hope and love. We must have faith to believe into Christ. That faith is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8). We must have faith to believe that He will fill us with His Spirit if we stay and wait. We have the expectation that His promise of the Spirit will be fulfilled.

But the greater — the exceedingly great, large and high, of these three — is to have God’s actual love fill your heart. That is the exceedingly greater! That is what the church at Corinth and today’s church must seek! That will cure all of her ills! That will set her on the path of righteousness! Then she will be compelled by no other motive but God’s love, to which she will be a captive forever! Then she will be Christ’s witnesses here! Amen, Lord Jesus! So be it!

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The Way of the LORD

[SW331] 6/16/2018 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2018

The Way of the Lord

Text: Jeremiah 5 & 6, etc.

Just as the Lord commanded, I searched high and low for those who know the way of the Lord, but found that many do not know His way. I used to be one of them!

What is the way of the Lord? It is to judge rightly and seek faithfulness to the Lord. 

But now that Jesus has come and died and risen and ascended and been glorified, the way of the Lord is much more than that! When you are filled with the Holy Spirit, the way of the Lord becomes fully known to you because He is in you. So you have become a partaker of His divine nature (2Peter 1:4), and a bearer of His fruit (Galatians 5:22-23)!

The way of the Lord is easy, because your heart is purified, your sin nature is crucified, and you are filled with God’s divine love. So, you are able to walk as Jesus walked (1John 2:6), and to be as He is in this world (1John 4:17). But, sad to say, much of the church does not believe these things are possible.

The Lord said to me, as He did to Jeremiah —

Jeremiah 5:1    “Roam to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, 

And look now and take note. 

And seek in her open squares, 

If you can find a man, 

If there is one who does justice (judges righteously, with the Lord’s wisdom), 

who seeks truth (seeks to be faithful to the Lord), 

Then I will pardon her.”

But among the church, I could find only a few who intimately knew the Lord. Most said, “We believe,” but the Lord said that they did not know Him or obey Him, so they swore falsely. 

I did the same, for most of my life. And just as it was with me, He said they had refused His many calls to take correction and repent, though His faithful prophets spoke for Him, to His wayward people   

Jeremiah 5:2-3 “And although they say, ‘As the LORD lives,’ 

Surely they swear falsely.”

3  O LORD, do not Your eyes look for truth (faithfulness)? 

You have smitten them, 

But they did not weaken; 

You have consumed them, 

But they refused to take correction. 

They have made their faces harder than rock; 

They have refused to repent.

But just as in Jeremiah 5:4, I thought they did not know the way of the Lord because they were poor (not in high positions in the church) and foolish (lacking understanding, infants in Christ, like the believers at Corinth, per 1Corinthians 3:1-3). It used to be the same for me.

So I said —

Jeremiah 5:5  “I will go to the great 

And will speak to them, 

For they know the way of the LORD 

And the ordinance of their God.” 

But they too, with one accord, have broken the yoke 

And burst the bonds.”

After I was saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, the Lord saw to it that I became a reverend. Therefore, like Jeremiah, I had access to “the great” — the leaders — in several denominations. So I went to them. I thought they would surely know the way of the Lord, and the ordinance (the divine law) of the Lord.

But I was greatly distressed to find that the leaders did not do these things. They walked after man’s ways, seeking man’s wisdom. And I heard no call to repentance from their lips. Why?

They did not know (yada, have extreme intimacy, as in a marriage) the Lord (Jeremiah 2:8). They did not walk and speak as He walked and spoke. They diluted or deleted portions of God’s divine law, so that the words they spoke would be more palatable to those they served.  

With one accord, the leaders made a decision. They would not be bound by the divine law any more, and they no longer needed to take Jesus’ yoke upon them and learn from Him. 

They chose to omit portions of the divine law, so no one would be offended by the Lord’s commands to His people, and so no one would get even a glimpse the condition of their heart. It is a new day, they said, and we must adapt the gospel of Jesus Christ to today’s culture and the needs of today’s people. We must think of God in a new way, they said. But the Lord does not change (Hebrews 13:8)! 

I also sought ones that stood by the ways and asked for the ancient paths —

Jeremiah 6:16-17  Thus says the LORD, 

“Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, 

Where the good way is, and walk in it; 

And you will find rest for your souls. 

But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.

17  “And I set watchmen over you, saying, 

‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ 

But they said, ‘We will not listen.’

 But many (both leaders and church members) refused to walk in those ancient paths — in the way of the Lord — so they would find rest for their souls.

They did not obey Jesus’ command to take His yoke upon them, and learn from Him, so they would find rest for their souls —

Matthew 11:28   “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest (ceasing from labor). 29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST (re-creation) FOR YOUR SOULS. 30 “For My yoke is easy (gracious, kind) and My burden is light (easy).”

The leaders chose man’s ways, instead. They reasoned that the burden of Jesus, which He says is light, was too great for the ones they served. The word “burden” sounds negative, not positive, after all.

They told me that their followers were weary and heavy laden, having had a hard week. They needed something that would make them feel good about themselves. So they needed pleasant words. 

So, with one accord, the leaders determined that natural rest — and for troubled ones, psychological assessment and counseling done by a Ph.D. or an M.D. — was better than Jesus’ rest, in which you cease from your own labor in “trying to be good” and “trying not to sin,” and ask Jesus to re-create your heart.

They determined that  their congregations did not need to have their hearts re-created by Jesus, and that it was wrong to tell people that they need something they do not have. Therefore, their followers did not need Jesus’ words calling them to repent and commanding them to be filled with the Holy Spirit so they would be holy as their Father in heaven is holy, perfect as He is perfect (1Peter 1:16, Matthew 5:48). So they avoided using such scriptures in their teachings.

Thus, the leaders broke the yoke that Jesus commanded us all to take upon ourselves. It is an easy yoke, and when we take it upon ourselves, we find that He is there with us, teaching us to be meek and lowly in heart, and giving us rest for our souls. But the leaders felt that the word, “yoke,” would not sound pleasant or positive to their hearers. So they spoke only a positive message.

Why did they not speak of the yoke? Why did the leaders themselves break the yoke? I was shocked when the Lord said —

Jeremiah 6:13  “For  from the least of them even to the greatest of them, 

Everyone is  greedy for gain, 

And from the prophet even to the priest 

Everyone  deals falsely.

14  “They have  healed the brokenness of My people superficially, 

Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ 

But there is no peace.”

I understood Verse 14 of this passage. Verse 13 shocked me, though! But it is because they do not know Him — there is no holy intimacy between them and their Lord, as the Lord showed me.

It is no wonder that, in the coming judgment, the hearts of many leaders will fail. 

It is no wonder that the priests will be appalled. It is no wonder that the prophets will be astounded —

Jeremiah 4:9 “It shall come about in that day,” declares the LORD, “that the heart of the king and the heart of the princes will fail; and the priests will be appalled and the prophets will be astounded.”

They have used their own natural wisdom to lead, and have not sought the Lord. They have sought their own gain. They do not know the Lord. 

But what is still more appalling is this —the Lord’s own people love the false words of their leaders and prophets and preachers. 

So, Jeremiah and I are appalled and weep — 

Jeremiah 5:30 “An appalling and horrible thing 

Has happened in the land:

31  The prophets prophesy falsely, 

And the priests rule on their own authority; 

And My people love it so! 

But what will you do at the end of it?

In today’s church, it is the same as when Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy. The church members seek to have their ears tickled, and they gather around themselves heaps of such prophets and preachers and leaders, so they may continue hear only good things —

2Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

Beloved, I pray you would see that even if your leaders have led you astray with a gospel that requires no change of heart, you have a responsibility to seek the Lord so you may know the truth. 

The Lord is poised to judge His church, for He says of many of today’s church leaders — 

Jeremiah 5:12  They have lied about the LORD 

And said, “Not He; 

Misfortune will not come on us, 

And we will not see sword or famine.”

The Lord is poised to judge His church, for many church leaders have determined that His true prophets are foolish and old-fashioned, and that His prophets’ call to repentance is unnecessary. So, Jeremiah and I are appalled and weep, as the leaders say — 

Jeremiah 5:13  “The prophets are as wind, 

And the word is not in them. 

Thus it will be done to them!”

And the Lord’s response to them is that He will make the words of His prophets fire —

Jeremiah 5:14    Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, 

“Because you (leaders) have spoken this word, 

Behold, I am making My words in your (Jeremiah’s) mouth fire 

And this people wood, and it will consume them.”

Jesus Christ is poised to judge His church for her sins and apostasies (turning away from the Lord). But He will not make a complete end of her. He declares —

Jeremiah 5:18   “Yet even in those days,” declares the LORD, “I will not make you a complete destruction.”

But He also commands —

Jeremiah 5:10   “Go up through her vine rows and destroy, 

But do not execute a complete destruction; 

Strip away her branches, 

For they are not the LORD’S.”

That is not just for those who lived during the Old Testament period! Jesus warns His disciples in the same way —

John 15:6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.”

Here is His call, today! His mercy is here for you today, just as it was for me! When I repented and sought the Lord, He heard and answered and saved me and then filled me with His Spirit so I would not stray any more! 

Here is what will happen if leaders and church members turn and repent! He will hear from heaven and forgive (1Kings 8:48-49)! 

But it must be done while it is still today —

Hebrews 4:7  He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, 

TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, 

DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS.”

Amen, Lord Jesus. Let it be so, I pray!

SESSION 17 — “To a Church in Crisis, With Love,” a Bible study of 1 & 2 Corinthians

Text: 1Corinthians 12:12-31

In the first eleven chapters, Paul, who loves the church with God’s own love, has reprimanded, beseeched and instructed the troubled church in Corinth. All of what he has written, and all that they have said and done, reflects their infancy in Christ. They have not comprehended that Christianity is not about outward works, but an inward work in their hearts. 

In the first eleven verses of Chapter 12, Paul re-teaches spiritual discernment and the gifts given by the Holy Spirit for the common good.

Now, Paul addresses unity of the Body of Christ, our need for one another, instructs regarding the offices of the Body, and again reviews miracles, gifts of healings, and tongues.

If I were to give this a title, it would be, “The Holy Spirit Unifies.” 

The problem in Corinth is lack of unity, which reflects (once again) that they are infants in Christ. But Paul has already rebuked them for their quarreling and one-upmanship. So here, he uses re-teaching as a method to continue his rebuke more mildly, as he did with the first part of this chapter.

Verse 12 —

The body is one. Paul is speaking of the Body of Christ here. Just as a human body is one body with many different parts (which Paul calls members), so is the Body of Christ. They are many, but are one Body. 

They are one church, and as such, they must be one, just as Christ is one with His Father — that is, of the same nature.  That is how it should be, throughout His church! Why? He tells us in His prayer to His Father —

John 17:22 “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; 23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.”

In this passage, the “glory” is the fully indwelling presence of God within us, when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. “I in them, and You in Me,” reflects His promise in John 14:23, that the Father and He would fully dwell in us! Only in this way can the Body of Christ be one with Christ and the Father!

Verse 13 — 

Who unifies the Body of Christ? The Holy Spirit, when He fills us with Himself, the Father and the Son. 

Water baptism is for repentance. Spirit baptism is for unity. Witness the difference in Peter and the rest of the disciples, who used to argue about who was the greatest. At Pentecost, they were suddenly made partakers of the divine nature (2Peter 1:4) and suddenly became servants of one another. 

It makes no difference what our background happens to be. Jew, Gentile, slave, free — all are made to drink of one Spirit. And to drink of Him is to be filled with Him; that is the intent of that word, in the original Greek.

Verse 14 — 

Paul again emphasizes that the Body is not one, but many. The Body of Christ goes way beyond your church, even to the ends of the earth! You are a part of this one Body.

Verses 15-16 — 

He uses the imagery of a human body to show them that they are not operating as one Body. The foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body.” But of course, a foot is part of the human body. Likewise, you cannot say that you are not part of the Body of Christ because your role is different from another’s.

And it is the same for the ear — it is a part of the human body, just as an eye is part of the human body. They have different functions, but they are both needed! One is not greater than the other.

But at Corinth, there seem to be demarcations, one believer considering himself to be greater than another. It is the same one-upmanship that the disciples suffered from, before Pentecost.

Verse 17 —

And all parts of the Body of Christ are needed! If we all were eyes, how would we hear? If we all were ears, how would we detect smell? Many different parts must, in unity of nature, contribute to the Body of Christ. The fact that Paul has to teach this again to the believers at Corinth reveals the lack of unity that has been reported to him by Chloe’s household.

Verse 18-20 —

Who has placed us all together, as the Body of Christ, and given each of us a different function? God! And He does it just as He desires. It is not up to us to choose our places or where WE want to contribute, but God will show it to us, by His Holy Spirit, if we are filled with Him!

As in Verse 11, the Holy Spirit distributes the gifts just as HE wills. Let us remember that our Father, Son, and Spirit know best!

Paul poses a rhetorical question now. If we all had the same role, there would be no Body. A human body does not consist only of ears, nor eyes, nor fingers, nor toes!

So, Paul concludes, there are many members, but one Body.

Verse 21 — 

Paul now addresses the difficulties in the church at Corinth. The eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you, or the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Each part is needed, but in Corinth, some are saying, by their actions and their words, that they are the only Body part needed in the Body of Christ! Again, it is prideful and boastful to say such a thing!

Verses 22-23 —

“On the contrary!” says Paul. You are mistaken, O Corinthians, and O church of today! 

My NAS Bible reads, “It is much truer.” That is a poor translation! If there is wrong thinking, then what they are thinking is not true. There are no “degrees of truth!”

The original Greek to English is, “to a much greater degree.” So, to a much greater degree, the members which seem to be weaker (strengthless) are necessary.

Do not deem one part of the Body of Christ less honorable than the other. The believers at Corinth are arrogantly judging each others’ worth, judging those they deem “weak” as “despised!” All the parts of the Body of Christ are honorable. We have no right to one-upmanship of any kind! But it will always happen in a church where none, or not all, members are filled with the Holy Spirit!

Those who are considered “less important” should be honored by the Body of Christ even more greatly. If they are considered by some in Corinth to be not as presentable (beautiful, elegant), Paul says those upon whom they look down are actually beautified and made elegant when they are honored by their fellow believers. But there are some in Corinth who think only they themselves are beautiful and elegant. So they honor only themselves. It will always happen in a church where none, or not all, members are filled with the Holy Spirit!

Verses 24-26 —

Who made the Body of Christ with some parts more beautiful than others? God! He (and not we) composed the Body, giving more abundant beauty to one who lacks beauty — even His Spirit in His fullness! 

And why does God compose the Body of Christ in this way? So that there may be no division (schism) in the Body, as there is at Corinth. 

But each one seeks glory for himself and from others. Jesus says this to the Jewish leaders who were doing likewise —

John 5:44 “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?”

Seek to be filled with the Spirit, and you will be cleansed from such selfish thinking! Instead, you will suffer when another member suffers, and rejoice when another member is honored!

Beloved, none of us can do anything, apart from Christ (John 15:5). We must ask Christ to make that a reality in us, by being filled with  HIs Spirit.

Our selfishness and self-importance is a product of the sin nature. But when that nature has been crucified and we receive the Lord’s divine nature, we will look outward instead of inward, and both rejoice with and suffer with one another. 

It is far beyond human sympathy or even human empathy. When we become partakers of the divine nature, we feel what the other parts of the Body of Christ are feeling, just as with my body when my foot hurts, and my head “feels” it by receiving a pain signal!

Again, it is not happening among the believers at Corinth because they are still infants in Christ, and are not filled with the Unifier, the Holy Spirit!

2Peter 1:4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

No lust, no pride, no sin. The sin nature is crucified (Galatians 5:24)!

Verses 27-30 —

Paul concludes his comments on unity of nature with a summary and series of rhetorical questions for the believers at Corinth. 

He begins with, “You are Christ’s Body, and individually members of it.”  And it is not we, but God, who appoints! Who does He appoint?

— First, apostles, 

— second, prophets, and

— third, teachers

Paul notes (first, second, third) that there is a hierarchy of offices to which God appoints those who are to lead the church spiritually. Again, HE appoints, not us!

And God appoints some to work for Him and serve the Body of Christ in this way, for the common good 

— miracles (works that defy natural and scientific laws)

— gifts of healings (many forms of healing, and many individual healings)

— helps (relief work)

— administrations (steering, directing)

— various kinds of tongues (beyond that which we experience at our own personal Pentecost)

— interpretation of tongues (again, this is prophecy)

Not everyone is appointed by God to be an apostle. Not everyone is appointed by God to be a prophet. Not everyone is appointed by God to be a teacher, or worker of miracles. Not everyone is appointed by God to work in helps or administrations.

Not everyone has gifts of healings. Not everyone has the gift of interpretation of tongues. 

Again, the Spirit gives gifts as HE wills, and appoints to offices as HE wills. Jesus Christ decides each one’s ministry. And God is the One who works everything!

Verse 31 —

Ah! Paul says there is a more excellent way that what the believers at Corinth are doing! And he will show them and us this more excellent way, when we study Chapter 13! Lord, may the church of today have ears to hear what You are 12aying. Amen. So be it!

BROKEN CISTERNS

[SW330] 6/9/2018 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2018

Broken Cisterns

Text: Jeremiah 2:1-13, John 4:10-14

Today’s church has carved for herself cisterns, but they are broken and unable to hold water. They are dried up and empty because she made them, not the Lord.

Jeremiah 2:13  “For My people have committed two evils: 

They have forsaken Me, 

The fountain of living waters, 

To hew for themselves cisterns, 

Broken cisterns 

That can hold no water.

NOTE: This is not replacement theology, which teaches that the church replaces Israel. One would have to ignore Romans 9 — 11 to say such a thing! But the Old Testament is for our instruction (see 1Corinthians 10:11).

Cisterns are caverns carved out of rock. They catch the rain that falls, and provide water to the people. But if they crack, all the water drains out.

But His living water needs no cistern, because His is a fountain that continually springs up from within you, so you are never dried up!

Verses 1-3

In the beginning of the church, in the Book of Acts, the church was devoted to her Lord, and He worked marvelously among and through her! She was filled with God’s divine love — the love of the betrothed for her Bridegroom. 

She followed after Him faithfully, through much danger. And the Lord defended her and made her victorious! Though she was continually under extreme persecution, the Lord caused her to grow by leaps and bounds!

In the beginning of the church, in the Book of Acts, the church was holy to the Lord, because she was filled with the Holy Spirit and God’s divine love. She did not turn to the left or to the right, but obeyed His voice —

“This is the way, walk in it.” (See Isaiah 30:21). It was not burdensome to follow Him; rather, it was her delight to do so (1John 5:3)! 

Verse 4 —

But now, she is like Israel, to whom Jeremiah prophesied. And so, the Lord now applies Jeremiah’s prophecies to her. So, hear the word of the Lord!

Verse 5 — 

Today’s church has gone far from the Lord, and walks after emptiness. Therefore, she has become empty, a broken cistern that cannot hold water. The Lord has done nothing to deserve her faithlessness. 

What emptiness does she walk after? She has made Jesus into her own image and feels no need to seek the real Jesus Christ. What do I mean?

Today’s church gives Jesus (and even the Father), many human frailties and flaws, and even the sin of unbelief, saying that Jesus worried and was confused and needed help. Why? So that those who attend might feel better about their own frailties and flaws, and even sins. She wants to make the attendees feel good about themselves, so the church will be prosperous. What better way to soothe their consciences than to make Jesus more “human?” 

She even goes so far as to say that Jesus had to come so He would know what it is like to be human! But He is our Creator, and knows full well! Many say Jesus came just to do good things! But He came to die for our sin, and then, He rose, ascended and was glorified so that He would then pour out His Holy Spirit into human hearts, purifying them, and destroying the sin nature within them! But this is unheard of and disbelieved, in most of the church.

She does not speak of judgment or hell, as Jesus did. She does not call God’s people to repent, as Jesus did. She does not call sin “sin,” as Jesus did. No, that would be unloving, and Jesus is love, and nothing more. She has made Him “just love.” But beloved, He will judge us all, including His church (Romans 14:10, 2Corinthians 5:10)!

Very few in the church have said, “Where is the Lord?” She has forgotten that He formed her. She has forgotten that He is her Leader, though she pays Him lip service in her prayers. 

Verse 6 —

She has not sought Him, but rather, has sought man’s wisdom to increase her numbers— business principles, personality assessments to determine who is “leadership material,” psychology, and tactics for manipulating emotions when her leaders preach, teach and counsel her attendees. In many denominations, using the Bible when counseling is prohibited.

But what kind of church can be grown, if it is based upon those things? A church that is powerless against Satan, for she has abandoned her Lord who protected her! Certainly, it is not the kind of church that understands that the Lord has the best church growth strategy! His is best described in Acts 2 — Pentecost! But that is denied, these days, by most of the church. So she seeks natural ways to increase her numbers. 

Verse 7 —

In doing all these things, she has defiled the Lord’s land and defiles His inheritance (both land and inheritance are the church, as well as Israel), just as Judah did at the time of Jeremiah. She worships the god of self, and fashions all ministry around making God relevant to her attendees, rather than calling her attendees to make themselves relevant to Him by asking Him to fill them so they can serve Him in truth! 

She pays no attention to the Lord’s judgments that have come upon many who also claim to be the church. Just like Jeremiah declares of Judah in Jeremiah 7:4, she cries, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!” I am safe, she thinks, because I am the church.

Verse 8 —

And her leaders have not sought Him, just as her attendees have not sought Him. Why? They do not know Him. This word in the original Hebrew is yada, and it refers to intimate knowledge, as in a marriage. It is a holy intimacy with God that they do not have, and so they do not seek Him. They have much knowledge about Jesus, but do not know Him. And they sin against Him! We see it in the headlines.

So, because they do not know the Lord, they walk after things that do not profit (they are not of any value). What things?

Her leaders prophesy by Baal, who was a false god prior to and in the days of Jeremiah. His worship involved sexual immorality. You may say, “But the church does not preach that!” Yet she winks at such sins. She elevates those who do them — including all that is in 1Corinthians 6:9-10 — to positions of leadership.

She does not cry out to those who sin, warning them of their sin and calling them to repentance. Most attendees to whom I have spoken do not think there is any need to repent, after they are saved. 

But look at Revelation 2 and 3, where Jesus Himself commands five of seven churches to repent! Examine the New Testament letters (epistles), and see the exhortations of the Spirit-filled leaders who wrote them!

She does not warn those who sin, nor does she tell her attendees that if anyone asks the Lord, He will make the asker a “such were,” per 1Corinthians 6:11! No, she says, sin is incurable. Thus, she calls God a liar, for He says He will do it! (See Ezekiel 36:26-27, John 8:31-36, and many other scriptures!)

The church is filled with unprofitable prophets, who say things of no value! But why do the church’s prophets say things that are of no value? 

They do not know the Lord. They have no holy intimacy with Him. They are not married to Him. They have left Him at the altar and sought the altar of the god of self.

Verse 9 —

And so, as one of the Lord’s watchmen for the church, I warn her that He will yet contend with her. He will chide her, He will rebuke her. He will do this for a long time, even generations — even their children’s children. If she does not respond by repenting, He will toss her away, as a branch that does not bear fruit (John 15:6).

Oh, beloved, these are the words of Jesus Christ, not Pastor Sue!

Verses 10-11 —

Everywhere, it is said of her, even now, “I have never seen anything like this!” She has changed gods! She has altered and removed the biblical Jesus Christ and His Father. She does this even though the god she now worships is not a god at all, but is simply the empty god of self!

The church has thrown away her glory (Jesus Christ) for that which is completely unprofitable (again, of no value), but appeals to her attendees. Ichabod is written over the doors of many of her buildings, for the glory of the Lord has left her (1Samuel 4:21)! 

He is on the outside, knocking and speaking, and will not come in until individual attendees hear His voice, open the doors of their hearts, and ask Him to come in —

Revelation 3:20 ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”

And dining with Jesus is a picture of holy intimacy. You have a two-way conversation with a dinner companion. And you will with Jesus, O church, if you ask Him to fill you with His Spirit and His love! He is waiting to seat you at His table, but He will only do it if you repent!

Verse 12 —

Because the church has gone after the completely useless, the heavens (skies) will be appalled (devastated, destroyed). They will shudder (shiver) and be dried up and laid waste. They already do such things.

Why does God’s creation react in that way? Because the church has forsaken her Lord, who is the fountain of living waters! Instead, she has hewn for herself cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water!

But right now, if the church repents and confesses that she is broken and dried up, He will hear her cry. If any or all of her attendees ask to be filled with His living water, here is His promise, the same one given to the woman at the well —

John 4:10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.; 14 . . . whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

Do you see it? The “well” is a poor translation. It is really “fountain,” a never-ending source that comes from the everlasting Lord! She will become and remain full of His living water, full of His Spirit, and she will no longer forsake her Lord!

Will she do it? She must!

Some will be angry with what I have said. But I do not hold back from speaking the words he gives me. I am compelled and held captive by the divine love of God, which He has poured out in my heart. (See 2Corinthians 5:14, Romans 5:5.) My brothers and sisters, I cannot stop speaking of what I have seen and heard (Acts 4:10)!

When the church comes against me, I still do not hold back, for the Lord has spoken to me, just as He spoke to Jeremiah, in Jeremiah 1:17-18! And I love her too much to leave her in her present state, and not warn her!

In the love of Christ, I beseech the church to repent of her unbelief and many sins! And I exhort her to obey Jesus’ command that she stay (Luke 24:49) and wait (Acts 1:4-5, 8), until she is equipped with the one thing needful in order to be true to her Lord — the infilling of the Holy Spirit and God’s divine love, and the permanent indwelling presence of God the Father and God the Son. Only then will she be the church, empowered to do all that Jesus Christ formed her to do!

Amen, Lord Jesus. So be it!

SESSION 16 — “To a Church in Crisis, With Love,” a Bible study of 1 & 2 Corinthians

Text: 1Corinthians 12:1-11

In the first eleven chapters, Paul, who loves the church with God’s own love, has reprimanded, beseeched and instructed the troubled church in Corinth. All of what he has written, and all that they have said and done, reflects their infancy in Christ. They have not comprehended that Christianity is not about outward works, but an inward work in their hearts. 

Now, Paul addresses the misuse of the spiritual gifts by the believers at Corinth. He does not exhort as strongly as in the last chapter, but re-teaches them what the gifts are, and Who gives them!

If I were to give this a title, it would be, “The Spiritual Gifts.”

Just a couple of reminders —  

— The greatest gift from God is Jesus Christ Himself, and the second greatest is God’s actual love poured out to overflowing in our hearts when we are filled with the Spirit. It is the more excellent way (1Corinthians 12:31)!

— The Father gives the world His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus gives the church the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit gives the church His spiritual gifts. 

Now, Paul speaks to the Corinthians (and us) about the gifts given by the Spirit! 

Verse 1  

Paul begins by saying, concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want  you to be unaware (ignorant, not understanding, ignoring through reluctance or lack of enthusiasm). They misunderstand or are ignorant concerning them, despite his prior teaching. 

But they are his brothers and sisters in the Lord, so he begins by calling them his brethren. There will always be infants in Christ in the church. They are our brethren, even though there is much they do not yet understand. It is an important truth for those who patiently teach them.

Verse 2  

The believers at Corinth used to be led astray (carried away to be put to death) by the mute idols — for idols are nothing, they cannot see or hear or speak (Psalm 115:5-8), but there are demons behind them, as Paul has already taught. It is the same for today’s believers, until Jesus becomes Lord in us! And if you are led astray, you are carried away to be put to death! May it never be!

Verse 3 

So Paul gives them, and you, the warning signs to observe, so that no believer is led astray —

—The Holy Spirit will never say “Jesus is accursed (excommunicated, banned, cursed)”

— The Holy Spirit is the only means by which someone says, “Jesus is Lord,” that is, Jesus is — 

My Authority

My Master

My Owner

My Controller

The King who reigns in my heart

I must add that, “Jesus is Lord,” is said by many, but every time, a believer’s actions speak louder than their words.

Why does Paul begin that way? Who will lead you astray so you are carried away to be put to death? False teachers and false prophets who will always direct you to worship other gods (including yourself), and thus disobey the Lord.

But you will know them by their fruits, says Jesus in Matthew 7:20 — a good tree will produce good fruit (righteousness and purity), but a bad tree will produce bad fruit (lawlessness, which is defined as sin).

Having reminded not just the believers at Corinth, but all of us, that we must be aware and wary of false teachers, he now teaches us about the gifts: 

— Who operates them (Verses 4-7), then

— why the gifts are given (Verse 7), and then

— what the gifts are (Verses 8-11).

Why does he need to again teach this to the believers at Corinth, and even to the church today? Many are infants in Christ who possess what appear to be spiritual gifts, the most prevalent of which is the gift of tongues. But they are using them pridefully, boasting about the gifts, which means the Spirit is not the One operating them. 

Who gives and works them:

Verse 4

Though there are varieties of gifts (distinctions between them, there are different gifts), the Holy Spirit works all of them (they are His gifts, and it is by His power that they are worked). 

Verse 5 

Each gift is used differently in ministry (used as a servant to the Body of Christ), but in all cases, the ministry is worked by and for the Lord. 

Verse 6 

Each gift has a different effect (works differently), but God is the one working them.

Why the gifts are given:

Verse 7 

The gifts are given to each one (everyone receives at least one), and each bestowment of a spiritual gift is for the common good — that is, for the total good and profit of the Body of Christ, to bring them together, to bring them to unity of nature with God the Father and God the Son. 

All spiritual gifts are to be used for upbuilding! And they will be, if they are truly the gifts of the Spirit, for the Spirit will work them, not you. But if gifts are being used for divisions and factions or one-upmanship or for self-glorification, then it is not the Spirit who is operating the gifts.

What they are:

Verse 8 — Word of wisdom

This gift is defined as a word (something said, an utterance) of wisdom from God,  imparted through His Word and also, directly by His Spirit, enabling Spirit-filled believers to counsel with His wisdom as the Spirit gives utterance.

Example: Acts 15:7-11, when God’s wisdom is spoken through Peter at the Council at Jerusalem.

Example: Acts 27:10, when Paul perceives and then tells the captain of the ship that the voyage will be with great loss.

Example from me: A person comes to me asking for spiritual advice to help them out of a difficult situation or out of a spiritual desert. The Lord gives me His wisdom, so I may counsel them. 

Once, a woman came to me. I did not know her. She said, “I was in the bathroom, and God said you’d have an answer to my problem.” She explained her situation. She was tangled up in sin. I had no idea what to say, but prayed for the Lord to help me. When I opened my mouth, the Lord spoke through me, and I said, “The Lord says, ‘You have left your first Love; return to Me!’” She wept and repented and was forgiven and healed of her sin!

HOW WONDERFUL FOR THE BODY OF CHRIST TO DO THIS FOR ONE ANOTHER!

Verse 8 — Word of knowledge 

A word (something said, an utterance) of God’s knowledge, which is absolute knowledge. It is a word that sets free or convicts. 

Example:  Peter with Ananias and Sapphira — why do you lie to the Holy Spirit? (See Acts 5:3.)

Example: At a church leadership conference, there was an intercessory prayer group that met before sessions started each day. So on the first morning, I was in the Word, looking for a lead from the Lord on what to pray. 

I opened to Matthew 19:9, which says, “Whoever divorces his wife, except or immorality, and married another woman commits adultery.” 

 

That can’t be You, Lord! These are pastors! This isn’t the right venue for such a thing! So I prayed something else. 

The next day, the Lord again took me to Matthew 19:9 when I opened my Bible. So, I prayed, eyes closed. I spoke the scripture, and said, “Someone here is planning to divorce his wife, and the Lord says you need to repent.” 

Later, the prayer leader came to me and said a pastor came forward and repented, on his knees. His marriage was saved. He had not told anyone about his plans to divorce his wife. So, he knew it was the Lord!

Verse 9 — Faith 

This is not the faith we have when we believe, for that is a different kind of gift from God. But it is faith that is given in an instant for a particular situation. Or it can be a conviction of the truth, as it was for me when the Lord gave me faith to believe that Jesus would heal me of secondary progressive MS, and He did, almost 17 years ago!

Example: In Acts 14:10, Paul fixing his eyes on a man lame from birth, seeing the man had faith to be made well (he had received that faith as a gift), and saying, “Stand upright on your feet.” The man leaped to his feet!

Example: Jeff believing I was healed by Jesus when I spoke it to him on September 2, 2001. He was given the gift of faith at the very moment I told him, and he has never doubted (nor has he had cause to doubt)!

Verse 9 — Gifts of healings

I believe this means healing more than one, but it also can refer to more than one type of healing gift — it may be physical, or spiritual, or both.

Example: Peter and John heal the beggar at Gate Beautiful (Acts 3).

Example: Philip in Samaria, lame and paralyzed healed (Acts 8:7).

Example: A woman was having a severe asthma attack. I laid hands on her, prayed, and within minutes, she was healed.

Example: I often get an instruction from the Lord, or a scripture for someone, and the Lord heals in that way, through me. 

When Jeff had a heart attack in 2011, the Lord gave me Romans 8:11, and told me He would give life to Jeff’s severely damaged heart muscle, by the Spirit who indwells Jeff. 

And then, I received a word from the Lord! On the third day after his heart attack, the Lord woke me and said in my heart, Take your guitar and music, and go and worship with Jeff in his hospital room. I obeyed, and as I began to play and sing, he was healed! The hospital released him to go home later that afternoon, and he never has had a pain or complication. 

It took a while for the doctors to catch up to what the Lord had done. They gave him a beta blocker at a high dose. It slowed his now healthy heart, so they put in a pacemaker he didn’t need. 

But the Lord is continually glorified in it, because the pacemaker records that he never uses it, thus providing a great opportunity to testify of what He did!

Verse 10 — Effecting of miracles

Effecting (working) by the Spirit, using Spirit-filled believers  to perform miracles, in which God’s power (dumamis) is employed to do something that only He can do, defying natural or scientific laws:

Example: Peter raising Dorcas/Tabitha (Acts 9:40).

Example: Elymas the magician struck blind (Acts 13:11).

Example: Extraordinary miracles from Paul at Ephesus (Acts 19:11), handkerchiefs carried to sick ones, and they were healed and freed from evil spirits.

Example: Paul falling upon Eutychus and bringing him back to life when that young man fell from the open window (Acts 20:9-12).

Verse 10 — Prophecy

Prophecy refers to prophetic utterance, both FOREtelling (future events) and FORTHtelling (from the Word of God or directly from the Spirit when ministering to someone). 

This is not new revelation from God of a “new truth” — the Bible is complete!

Example:  Agabus (Acts 11:28) regarding the coming famine.

Example: Philip’s daughters are prophetesses (Acts 21:9).

Example: Barnabas and Simeon at Antioch, identified as prophets and teachers (Acts 13:1) .

The Lord uses the prophetic gift to exhort the church to return to Him, and to warn the church of an impending crisis. My preaching is prophetic in that I don’t try to figure out what to preach and how to preach it — the Lord instructs me!

And as with the pastor at that prayer meeting, the Lord uses such words to bring an individual to repentance for something no one knows about but them and God. Then they know it is God!

Verse 10 — Distinguishing of spirits

John speaks to us of false prophets and spirits — 

1John 4:1  Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test [judge] the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 

So, the Spirit gives this gift so you are able to JUDGE a spirit — to determine whether it is a good or an evil spirit. Sometimes, the Spirit will show you a physical manifestation that you can see, but no one else can see. Both Jeff and I have experienced such things, even showing both of us the same thing, one time. We cautiously asked each other about it afterwards, and found we had both seen it!

Examples: The spirit of divination discerned in the fortune-telling slave-girl (Acts 16:16ff). 

Verse 10 — Tongues

The ability to speak in a heavenly language, or a language you do not know. They may be —

— “heavenly,” “to God” (1Corinthians 13:1, 14:2) or

— foreign languages the speaker does not know  (Acts 2) 

But remember, Paul says this about tongues —  

1Corinthians 14:18-19 I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all;  19 however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue. 

Tongues have a place in the church, and they are a gift of the Spirit, so do not forbid them (1Corinthians 14:39). But among the believers at Corinth, tongues are being misused, and some of the believers there are boasting about how much they are able speak in tongues! That is definitely not of the Spirit!

Example: Both Jeff and I spoke in a language we did not know, when we were filled with the Spirit. It was not THE evidence of being filled, but an evidence. The fruit of the Spirit confirms that we are filled (Galatians 5:22-23)! And we still speak in tongues, generally in our private times of prayer and worship.

Verse 10 — Interpretation of tongues

If you have the gift of tongues, Paul exhorts you to pray for the gift of interpretation of tongues, so you are able to translate what is said in a tongue. The church cannot understand your tongues, but if you are able to interpret yours or someone else’s utterance, it is prophecy, and will build up the body (1Corinthians 14:13).

Example: When I speak in tongues, I usually know what I spoke, after I speak it. When others speak something in tongues, I am sometimes able to translate what they have said. 

Verse 11 

Paul reminds the believers at Corinth that THEY do not work and distribute the gifts, but the Holy Spirit distributes them, just as HE wills. I wonder what that says about today’s church, in which you do an inventory to see which spiritual gifts you have? The Spirit turns them on, not you, beloved! And you will know it when He does. 

Next time, we will look at Verses 12-31, in which Paul exhorts and re-teaches the believers at Corinth that the unity they need comes only by way of the Holy Spirit. 

He will also re-teach them what it means to be a member of the Body of Christ, which is the church.  And he will re-teach the believers at Corinth regarding the offices of the church (not the spiritual gifts, but abilities given by the Spirit to organize and build up the church to maturity.

May today’s church hear what the Spirit is saying, through Paul’s excellent letter to the church at Corinth! 

THE VIEW FROM THE WALL

[SW329] 6/2/2018 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2018

The View From the Wall

Text: Ezekiel 33:1-6, Ezekiel 2 & 3, etc.

A watchman stands on a city’s wall, and looks out. When that one sees danger coming he blows a trumpet to warn the people (see Ezekiel 33:1-6). And the Lord has made some, including me, watchmen for today’s church.

I would love to say that the view from the wall is wonderful — no trouble or danger in sight, just peace and prosperity! But that is not what I see, and so I must warn my fellow believers!

So, what do I see? Judgment is coming to the church! John Wesley and his missionaries were watchmen who warned England and her church of coming judgment. Many repented, and England was spared from civil war. Sending a watchman is an act of mercy from the Lord! And yet, he still prayed this, to which I add a hearty “Amen!” —

“Oh that God would give me the thing which I long for! That… I may see a people wholly devoted to God, crucified to the world, and the world crucified to them (Galatians 6:14). A people truly given up to God in body, soul and substance! How cheerfully would I then say, ‘Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.'”

Why is judgment coming to today’s church? For this reason — just like God’s people in the days of Ezekiel, she has become part of the world around her, worshiping what they worship. In many churches, sin is rampant, wickedness is winked at, and Jesus’ command that all believers be filled with the Holy Spirit is scoffed at. 

Even in those churches where there is much excitement about being filled with the Holy Spirit, and many people say they are filled, I see that the fruit of the Spirit is absent, and sin is considered to be unstoppable and incurable. 

Like the church at Laodicea, today’s church believes she is in need of nothing! But judgment is coming, troubled times are coming, and are already here! On the surface, she looks rich and wealthy. But Jesus reproves her! She is lukewarm rather than on fire for Him! She does not see that she is wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked (see Revelation 3:17). 

So, along with Jesus, my fellow watchmen and I warn today’s believers and today’s church that they must repent, just as Jesus told Laodicea, but they must do so quickly, while it is still today!

Why do I have to be on the wall? Who do I think I am?

I am nothing, and the last thing I would have thought was that I would be standing on a wall. I tell you the truth! I had no plans to become what I am. But the Lord had plans to make me a watchman for the church, to warn her to repent. And who am I to say, “Oh, no, Lord. You are mistaken! I cannot do it!” 

I could not refuse, for He has filled me with His love and His Spirit. And so, from the day He called me, back in 2001, I have obeyed. 

But, just like God’s disobedient people in the days of Ezekiel, much of the church does not heed the words of her watchmen, when we tell her the view from the wall! 

She is of the same rebellious stock as God’s people in Ezekiel’s day, because she clings to her sin nature, even though Jesus promises to set her free, if she will believe (see John 8:31-36). But she remains a slave to sin. So, the god of self continues to reign in her, just as it did in God’s people Ezekiel’s day!

Can you imagine the Lord calling you and saying what He said to Ezekiel? Go to My people and tell them, whether they listen or not!

In Ezekiel 2, the Lord describes His people as rebellious, stubborn and obstinate sinners no less than 10 times in just 10 verses! Ezekiel’s assignment promises to be thankless, and his warnings unheeded. Such is the lot of all of His watchmen!

Note that he is speaking to the exiles — Ezekiel and some of the people of Judah were ALREADY in captivity in Babylon because they disobeyed the warnings of God’s prophets.

More of God’s people would be captured in future invasions, but Ezekiel was taken captive early, so that the Lord could speak through him to His wayward people, even in their captivity. And just like Laodicea, today’s church is in exile, and I and others are among them, urging them to repent.

Did God’s people not realize that they were in captivity, and why? It is true of much of today’s church. Again, they think they are rich and wealthy and in need of nothing. Even though the Lord is on the outside, knocking to come in, He will not enter until they open the door. So open the door, my brothers and sisters!

Even in captivity, Judah still thought the Lord would bring them all back to Israel quickly. And even in captivity, they continued to disobey Him. So the Lord appointed Ezekiel to call them all to repent!

He has shown me in a vision that He will bring His light into the church, and everyone will say, “What is this light? We have not seen it!” And they will all fall down and worship Him. They have not seen His light, but He will bring it, one day, in answer to the prayers of those who have seen and have cried out to the Lord for revival!

So, then, go with me to Ezekiel 3!

Verses 1-6 —

He tells Ezekiel that He is sending him to those who should listen to him. Then he gives him a scroll, and tells him to eat it. Ezekiel does so, and it is as sweet as honey — the very Word of God, sweeter than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb —

Psalms 19:10  They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; 

Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.

11  Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; 

In keeping them there is great reward.

Verses 7-9 —

But God’s people won’t be willing to listen to the words the Lord puts in Ezekiel’s mouth. Why? It is because they have not been willing not listen to the Lord, though He has spoken to them many times, through His prophets!

They are obstinate and stubborn, with hard foreheads and faces, and stiff hearts. 

They will try to strike fear in his heart, and cause him to be dismayed (confused, beat down, discouraged). But the Lord promises, “I will make your forehead as hard as theirs.” He does the same for all of his watchmen.

Verses 10-11 —

All whom the Lord appoints as watchmen, take into our hearts the Lord’s words. We listen closely, then go and tell, whether they listen or not.

Verse 14 —

And like Ezekiel, His watchmen in today’s church are grieved at the church, and greatly displeased with her, for the Lord has shown us what she looks like in His eyes. I could not even speak, when He first showed me. 

Verse 17 — 

But then, the Lord told Ezekiel, as He has told me, what He has appointed us to do. He gave me my assignment —

— I am a watchman. Again, the watchman is on the wall, scanning the terrain for signs of trouble. When he sees it, he blows the trumpet to warn the people.

— When He gives me a word from His mouth, I warn His people. The warning I speak is from Him. 

It is not my warning, but His, and it comes from His mouth. But what are the consequences, if I do not warn?

Verses 18-19 —

If He gives me a word to His wicked and rebellious people, that they shall surely die, and I do not warn them to turn and repent, the wicked one will die, but I will be held accountable for his blood. I was told to warn and did not obey. I did not do what he called me to do. May it never be!

But if I warn God’s people, and they do not turn, they will die in their iniquity, and their blood will be on their own heads. 

What? Where is, “Once saved, always saved?” We are in the New Testament, Pastor Sue. Get out of that Old Testament!

My fellow believer, do you think you are free to continue to sin (willfully disobeying God), after coming into the knowledge of the truth? Do you think that the Lord will simply wink? A fellow pastor once told me that Jesus smiled when she sinned!

But what does the Word of God say? Shall we continue to sin? Does that please Jesus and make Him smile?

Paul says no, and says we are to die to sin —

Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?

Romans 6:6  . . . knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;

The writer of Hebrews says no, and warns the church that her sin nature must be crucified —

Hebrews 12:4 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;

Peter says no, and exhorts the church to be holy —

1Peter 1:14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;

And he tells the church how to become holy —

2Peter 1:4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

John says no, and says if you continue to practice (do) sin, you are not of God —

1John 3:8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.

So, in what ways to Christians willfully disobey the Lord, in today’s church? Greed, sexual perversion, pornography, cheating, lying, all the deeds of the flesh (that is, the sin nature) —

Galatians 5:19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Do you see it? So I warn, repeating what the Lord speaks to me! 

It may be that you will rebel and refuse to listen. But I must speak it! And if you continue, after you have been warned, you will die because of your choice to disobey. But I am delivered (preserved, rescued). I have done what the Lord commanded me to do. If I do not warn, I will be held liable for your death.

I tell you the truth, I have a great love for the church, the same love that Christ has for her. If He and I did not love her, we would not warn her! The Lord says —

Ezekiel 33:11 “Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’”

So, for those who have hardened foreheads and faces, and stiffened hearts, the Lord issues a warning. Turn! Repent! If you ask Him to cleanse your heart and fill you with His Holy Spirit, He surely will do it, just according to His promise —

Ezekiel 36:25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”

Return to your Lord, believer! Stay (Luke 24:49)! Wait (Acts 1:4-5, 8)! He will fill you with His Spirit, if you will turn and repent before Him! 

Amen, Lord Jesus! So be it!

SESSION 15 — “To a Church in Crisis, With Love,” a Bible study of 1 & 2 Corinthians

Text: 1Corinthians 11:19-34

In the first ten chapters, Paul, who loves the church with God’s own love, has reprimanded, beseeched and instructed the troubled church in Corinth. All of what he has written, and all that they have said and done, reflects their infancy in Christ. They have not comprehended that Christianity is not about outward works, but an inward work in their hearts. 

Now, he rebukes them strongly regarding their abuse of the Lord’s Supper, the resulting judgment of them by the Lord, and its consequences.

If I were to give this a title, it would be, “Dishonoring the Lord.”

Verse 19

I am repeating what I said last time — Paul writes that there MUST be factions (heretical teachings) within the church. Those who stir up strife and disputes by teaching or following heresy are known by their actions. And those who are approved (who are proven acceptable) by God are known by their actions. 

As I did last time, Paul and I warn Christians that those who are fond of strife and disputes are NOT approved by God. May this serve as a warning to teachers of heresy, power-players, gossipers and tale-bearers in today’s church!

Verses 20-21 

And now, Paul speaks of the Lord’s Supper. Their abuse of it is evidence of their lack of understanding, of their infancy, and of the strife and disputes among them. 

He chides them, for when they gather, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper (that which some call “communion”), because in their eating, each one takes his own supper first, and one is hungry and another is drunk. What does he mean? 

According to some commentators, some of the rich believers may be bringing their own privately prepared meals to the service of the Lord’s Supper, not sharing their meals with poor believers who cannot afford to do so. The commentators reason that when the Lord instituted the Supper, it was a meal.

But it was the Passover Seder that He shared with His disciples on the night He was to be arrested. It was just as He commanded them, and Matthew 26:18-19 records His instructions and their response. As they took of the unleavened bread and the wine that He gave them, He expanded upon the meaning of the Seder, for He is the Passover Lamb, and it is His blood on the doorposts of our hearts that causes death to pass over us. And the unleavened bread is pierced, just as He was, on the cross. 

So, the Lord’s Supper is not about sharing food, but sharing in the Lord, as a memorial to Him and His work on the cross! But if the commentators are correct,  the focus of the infants in Christ at Corinth is on the food they bring, not on the Lord whom they are to remember. 

When I look at this passage, though, I believe Paul means that in Corinth, the Lord’s Supper is a frenzied “me first” kind of affair. Everyone comes in, and some go forward and grab the wine and bread and eat and drink it up, leaving none for those who do not beat them to it. 

I know that koinonia (fellowship) times, which included meals, were part of the church, in the Book of Acts. But the Lord’s Supper (breaking bread) is a separate activity (i.e., discipleship, fellowship, breaking of bread, prayer, meals) —

Acts 2:42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer . . . (the breaking of bread refers to the Lord’s Supper, and fellowship and breaking of bread are spoken of as separate events)

Acts 2:46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart .  . . (if breaking bread is a meal, why would Luke speak of breaking bread as a separate activity?)

So the believers at Corinth are greedy, gobbling up and guzzling down the elements (bread and wine) and the service of the Lord’s Supper is frenzied. It is yet another indication that they are infants in Christ. In their conduct, there is no evidence that they grasp the significance of the Supper. 

For the believers at Corinth, the Lord’s Supper has become just another church event at which they push and shove others away, and eat and drink, even to the point of drunkenness! Ezekiel prophesies — 

Ezekiel 34:21 “Because you push with side and with shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns until you have scattered them abroad, 22 therefore, I will deliver My flock, and they will no longer be a prey; and I will judge between one sheep and another.

Verse 22

For their behavior, Paul resoundingly rebukes them. What???? He has never heard of such a thing! And so he asks them why they don’t eat at home, and then come to take the Lord’s Supper. By eating in front of the poor, they shame the poor who have nothing. 

What shall Paul say to them? Shall he praise them? In this he will not praise them.

You may wonder what this has to do with the church today. I do not see a frenzy at the Lord’s Supper, but I see that many take the Lord’s Supper simply as a ritual and have no grasp of its spiritual significance. Some complain that they should have extra wine or grape juice because the bread is dry! And I have yet to see a tear-stained face, when (or if) the congregation is asked to evaluate themselves and repent for sins they have committed, prior to coming forward to take the elements. In this, I will not praise today’s church. 

Why must sinning believers repent? We will soon see!

Verses 23-25 

Paul now re-teaches the believers at Corinth regarding the Lord’s Supper. His teaching came from the Lord — Paul received it from the Lord, directly. And Paul had already faithfully delivered the Lord’s instructions to the Corinthians. They simply are not obeying what Paul has taught them.

The instructions from the Lord Jesus are — 

The Lord Jesus, in the night in which He was betrayed, took bread.

And when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

In the same way, He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

There is no evidence, by the actions of the believers at Corinth, that they are taking the Lord’s Supper as a memorial to Him, and to His work on the cross. It is simply bread and wine which they greedily devour! 

But they are greedily devouring something which represents His body and blood, disregarding the significance of it, and of Jesus’ instructions, and thus, they profane the Supper and offend the Lord.

There is no repentance, no getting right with the Lord, no asking for forgiveness for the sins they are committing, ones which Paul has already enumerated. Thus, they “abuse the Lord’s Supper.” Through their actions, they reveal the state of their hearts, and in their disregard for the true nature of the Lord’s Supper, they sin against the Lord!

Verse 26

Paul reminds them that as often as they eat this bread and drink the cup, they proclaim the Lord’s death until He returns. But the believers at Corinth are not proclaiming the Lord’s death and memorializing what He did to reconcile them to God and forgive their past sins! 

Be sure to note that Paul speaks here of the Lord’s return. He is coming again, but not as Savior — He is coming to judge the earth! I will ask the Lord to help me teach it in 1Corinthians 15, where I will reference Revelation 19:11-16.

How does the act of taking the Lord’s Supper proclaim the Lord’s death until He returns? 

We are obeying His instructions — 

He has commanded us to take of His body, as a spiritual act of unity with Him and memorial of His sacrifice.

He has commanded us to drink of His blood, as a spiritual act of unity with Him and memorial of His sacrifice.

By obeying His instructions, we are proclaiming, “Yes! Jesus died on a cross and rose again, and we are the evidence that He has done it. We are the evidence that He rose from the grave, ascended, and poured out His Spirit! We have new hearts, and we do this as a memorial to His great sacrifice on our behalf!”

So, every time the church properly takes the Lord’s Supper, it is a proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! I pray you understand that this is not some empty ritual, but a command from the One who is returning as Judge (John 5:25-27).

Verses 27-28

Paul continues, saying if you take the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner (that is, disregarding both its significance and His sacrifice, thereby taking it irreverently), you shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord! 

The believers at Corinth are taking the elements in a sinful way, and thus are guilty of sinning against the Lord Himself! And He has been judging them for their sin, as we will soon see! 

O church, never treat the Lord’s Supper as rote, never take it lightly, never take it when your heart is not right with the Lord. Do not profane the memorial of His incomprehensible sacrifice!

Verses 28-30

Paul now teaches them that they must examine (test, discern) their hearts. They must repent for whatever the Lord shows them. Then, they may eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

They must judge the body (of Christ) rightly. In the Greek-to-English, it is “discern the body of the Lord.” If it is simply food to them, they are not discerning it rightly. If they do not want to examine their own hearts and get right with Him, they disobey the Lord and sin against Him.

So, if they do not examine their hearts and take the elements as a representation of the body and blood of Christ, a memorial to His great sacrifice on their behalf, they eat and drink judgment on themselves. The Lord will find them guilty of sinning against Him!

In what way has the Lord judged the believers at Corinth? Many among them are weak and sick, and a number sleep (have died). 

Do you see that it is downright deadly to take the Lord’s Supper irreverently, with a heart that is not right toward the Lord, disregarding His sacrifice? 

What happens in today’s church, during observations of the Lord’s Supper? Are you exhorted to examine your heart and repent? Or is the call to repentance deleted from the Lord’s Supper, at your church?

Beloved, you must reverently take the Supper, after repenting for the sins you have committed (as an infant in Christ), so that you may not become weak and sick, and even die. May it never be that I would hold back from rebuking today’s church in this! And by all means, pray to be filled with the Spirit so you no longer willfully disobey God!

Verses 31-32

But if believers judge themselves rightly, asking the Lord to examine their hearts and repenting for the sins they commit as infants in Christ, they would not be judged by the Lord when they take of His Supper, for they would reverently take it, honoring the Lord for His sacrifice.

The purpose of the Lord’s judgment is discipline of His church. His goal in disciplining them through judgments of them is that they repent! The Lord does not desire that they be condemned along with the world (2Peter 3:9)!

What? They are believers. Aren’t they saved? They have been saved. But if they do not repent, their names will be erased from the Book of Life. Jesus exhorts the church at Sardis —

Revelation 3:3-5 “So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. 4 ‘But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 ‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”

Wake up, O church, and repent for what you are doing. Nothing is hidden from the sight of Him with whom you have to do —

Hebrews 4:13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

The Father, the Son, the Spirit, Paul and I do not want you to be condemned with the rest of the world!

Verses 33-34

Paul closes with very simple instructions to the infants in Christ at Corinth — 

When you come together to eat, give everyone a chance to take of the body and blood of Christ. Do not be greedy! Do not push others away so you can eat and drink until you are full and your thirst is quenched or you become drunk!

And if you are hungry, eat at home. Gathering to take the Lord’s Supper was never meant to be about food. Your greed and lack of discerning the body and blood of Christ will surely result in judgment upon you — even sickness and death!

And Paul speaks of coming to them again. This letter is not enough. He will come in person, to see to it that the church at Corinth has taken his words to heart. A reference to that sorrowful visit is in 2Corinthians 2:1. Between the letters of 1Corinthians and 2Corinthians, he indeed pays them a painful visit. 

Next time, we will begin to look at other errors committed by the infants in Christ at Corinth, in 1Corinthians 12. In it, Paul and I will address discerning false teachers, the working of the gifts of the Spirit, and their lack of understanding that these gifts are for the common good.