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.

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The LORD’s Discipline

[SW328] 5/26/2018 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2018

The LORD’s Discipline

Text: Luke 22:31-34, passages from Job

Remember being disciplined by your parents? They always said, “This is for your own good. You’ll thank me later!” Well, the Lord disciplines His children for their own good, too. The difference is this: your parents can’t change your heart, but He will! And you will endlessly thank Him, when He does it!

Do you know that the Lord disciplines those He loves, so we can share in His holiness?

Hebrews 12:6  FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, 

AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.”

Hebrews 12:10 For they (our fathers) disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness (that is, become partakers of His divine nature, per 2Peter 1:4).

The Lord asked me to show you the Lord’s discipline of Peter in the New Testament, and then of Job in the Old Testament. Note that at the time they were disciplined, Pentecost had not happened.

Both Job and Peter love the Lord and are doing their level best to obey Him. It is the condition of every believer, until Pentecost happens!

So, in Luke 22:31-34, Jesus calls Peter “Simon,” his birth name, rather than “Peter,” the name Jesus gave him. Why? Peter is about to be disciplined through a trial, so he may know his own heart! 

NOTE: God the Father and God the Son know our hearts already, and know exactly what needs to be done in order to change them! Hallelujah! 

Jesus already knows that Peter and the rest of the disciples are prideful, by their words and actions. Here is just one example —

Luke 22:24   And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest.

So, Jesus says this to Peter — 

Luke 22:31   “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to (literally, has obtained by asking to) sift you like wheat; 32 but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” 33 But he said to Him, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” 34 And He said, “I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.”

Why does Peter say that? He has told Jesus that he loves Him like a brother. But pride was revealed in his heart, in the dispute the disciples had just had, and elsewhere in the gospels. Note that, in Mark 14:31, ALL the disciples say the same to Jesus. They were ALL prideful.

So, for Peter’s own good, Satan will be permitted to sift him like wheat. He will feel like he has been pounded with a wooden hammer, and violently shaken back and forth. But then, at the coming Pentecost, the chaff — the useless and unfruitful things in his heart — will be blown away by the wind of the Spirit!

The Lord will shake everything that can be shaken in Peter, so nothing remains but that which cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:27).Then Peter will be unshakeable!

Now, let’s look at how the Lord disciplines Job. The Lord says to Satan, who has in mind to test Job —

Job 1:8 And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” 

Why does Job need to be disciplined? The Lord gives him an A+. But the A+ is for what WILL be in Job, for the Lord already knows the outcome of it all.

Satan accuses Job of worshiping God for selfish reasons. God blessed Job, but if God removes his blessing, Satan says Job will sin.

So Satan asks permission to test Job, and Job loses everything — even all of his children died when the house they were in collapsed. His response?

Job 1:20   Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 He said, 

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, 

And naked I shall return there. 

The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. 

Blessed be the name of the LORD.”

Job 1:22 Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God. 

Then the Lord permits Satan to touch Job’s body, but does not allow Satan to kill him —

Job 2:7   Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils (ulcers on his skin) from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 

When his wife suggests to Job that he should just curse God and die, Job’s responds this way —

Job 2:10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. 

But here’s where Job is about to learn what is in his heart. His three friends come to visit, having heard of his adversity. By this time, Job is unrecognizable (Job 2:12), covered with sores. He has been afflicted for months (Job 29:2).

After his friends mourn with him in silence for seven days, Job begins to curse the day he was born, and to blame God for his condition, saying — 

Job 3:23Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden,

And whom God has hedged in (shut up, fenced in)?”

Over the next many chapters, his three friends accuse him of flagrant (conspicuous, obvious) sin, but Job has not sinned in the ways in which they accuse him. They cannot see it, and neither can Job — yet. So they stop answering his complaints. Why?

Job 32:1   Then these three men ceased answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. 

Why does God allow Satan to test Job? To show Job what He wants to change in him. Job is blind to it, but the Lord will reveal it to him — first, by the words of Elihu, a fourth man who enters the scene, and then the Lord Himself will speak to and reprove Job!

Elihu has heard Job’s words, and repeats many of them —

Job 33:9‘I am pure, without transgression;

I am innocent and there is no guilt in me.” 

Job 34:5 “For Job has said, ‘I am righteous,

But God has taken away my right;” 

Job 34:9 “For he has said, ‘It profits a man nothing

When he is pleased with God.’”

Then he asks Job —

Job 35:1   Then Elihu continued and said, 

2 “Do you think this is according to justice?

Do you say, ‘My righteousness is more than God’s’?”

Job has accused God, and is relying on his own righteousness — his own evaluation of his reverence toward God and the many good deeds he has done. Job even reminds the Lord and his own three friends of just how good he is, in Job 29! The whole chapter is a hymn to Job!

What is the Lord’s response to Job’s accusations that He is being unjust toward Job?

Job 38:2 “Who is this that darkens (dims) counsel (advice)

By words without knowledge (ignorant words)? 

3 “Now gird up your loins like a man,

And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!” 

Job 40:2 “Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty?

Let him who reproves God answer it.” 

Then Job begins to see —

Job 40:3   Then Job answered the LORD and said, 

4 “Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to Thee?

I lay my hand on my mouth. 

5 “Once I have spoken, and I will not answer;

Even twice, and I will add no more.” 

But the Lord continues —

Job 40:8 “Will you really annul My judgment?

Will you condemn Me that you may be justified?” 

Now we are at the heart of Job’s heart! He trusts in and relies upon his own righteousness, and condemns the Lord, so the courts of heaven will say, “Job was in the right, and God was in the wrong!” That is pride!

And as we have seen, pride is the same problem Peter had, when he said, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” Just as Jesus told him, he denied Jesus three times, that very night.

Finally, in Chapter 42, Job speaks rightly of the Lord, and repents — 

Job 42:1   Then Job answered the LORD and said,

2  “I know that You can do all things, 

And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.

Job 42:3 “‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ (quoting the Lord)

“Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, 

Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”

4  ‘Hear, now, and I will speak; 

I will ask You, and You instruct me.’ (quoting the Lord)

5  “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; 

But now my eye sees You;

6  Therefore I retract, 

And I repent in dust and ashes.”

And the Lord confirms that Job now speaks rightly of Him —

Job 42:7   It came about after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has.”

But note that Elihu was not corrected by the Lord, for he had rightly discerned Job’s heart, by listening to Job’s words. Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks (see Matthew 12:34).

After Job repents and prays for his friends, the Lord restores Job and gives him twofold for all that had been taken from him. NOTE: He had 10 more children, and not 20, because the rest were with the Lord!

And after Peter and the others were filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, he was restored fully. There was no more pride in his heart, and he proclaimed Jesus Christ boldly, no longer denying Him!

And now that Pentecost has come, we are commanded by Jesus Christ to stay and wait (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5, 8), for he will fill us with His Spirit and purify our hearts so that we never again trust in our own righteousness! Hallelujah!

Beloved, I have no righteousness of my own. I am righteous because His righteousness has filled me! I am holy because His Holy Spirit is in me! I obey the Lord and hate sin because He is in me, giving me the power to do it! What good news!

But this good news, and Jesus’ command to be filled with the Spirit, is scoffed at by many in today’s church — even entire denominations. So I call them to repent, like Elihu called Job to repent, for they are trusting in their own righteousness, just like Job! 

Now, I am surely being taken on with the Lord, from one degree of Christlikeness to the next and the next and the next (see 2Corinthians 3:18), but it is character development and not, “sin and repent, sin and repent!” It is a great joy and pleasure to have Him continually make me more like Him! 

And what is the ultimate purpose of Peter’s amazing transformation at Pentecost, and the amazing transformation of all who experienced their own personal Pentecost and had their hearts made completely pure? So that the world will know that the Father sent His Son —

John 17:21 & 26 . . .  that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe 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.”

Amen, Lord Jesus. May Your church repent of her unbelief!

SESSION 14 — “To a Church in Crisis, With Love,” a Bible study of 1 & 2 Corinthians

Text: 1Corinthians 11:1-19

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 wrote, and all that they said and did, reflected their lack of understanding that Christianity is not about outward works, but an inward work in their hearts. He has written one final time regarding their interaction with the idolatrous culture in which they live. Now, he addresses issues regarding their relationships.

If I were to give this a title, it would be, “We Have No Such Practice.”

Verses 1-2

Perhaps this first verse should have been included at the end of Chapter 10. But it is a strong reinforcement of his role as an example of a Christian who has died to his selfishness and self-centeredness. Indeed, Paul is crucified with Christ, and he no longer lives (Galatians 2:20), but Christ lives in him! 

The meaning of “imitate me” is not to imitate Paul by outward actions. May it never be! But it is an exhortation to the believers at Corinth, to ask God to do the same inward work in their hearts that He has done in Paul’s! Amen! Then they will be like Christ, as Paul is like Christ!

In Verse 2, he encourages the Corinthians, praising them because they remember (are mindful of) Paul in everything. They have not forgotten his teaching regarding the traditions established for the church — rules of conduct and of conducting worship. They have been faithful to follow them, just as he taught them.

Verse 3

But they are unclear on some things. So Paul specifies that 

— Christ is the head (Greek kephale, source) of every man

— Man is the head (source) of a woman

— God is the head (source) of Christ

Many would say “head” refers to authority. But if that were true, the Greek word exousia would be far better here. Why do I say head means, “source?” It is from Gordon Fee’s commentary on First Corinthians in The New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT). He researched the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek kephale, and it means “source.” 

Fee writes that if commentators say that kephale means “authority,” they are misinterpreting it. If Paul meant, “authority,” in Verse 3, he would have used exousia. And he does, in Verse 10, when he refers to a false teaching regarding the symbol of authority on a woman’s own head. I will speak to that verse later. 

So, God the Son is the Source of every man. The Father gave the Son the plans, and His Son created it (John 1:3, Hebrews 1:2). So, God the Son created Adam, who is the father of the human race. Therefore, Christ is the Source of Adam, and of every man.

And man is the source of every woman, in that the first woman came from the first man, Adam. God the Son made Eve from Adam’s rib (Genesis 2:21-22). Indeed, male and female, He created them (Genesis 1:27). So, in this way, man is the source of Eve, because she was created by Christ from the first man’s rib. 

And God is the Head (Source) of Christ. Jesus Christ is eternally existent (John 1:1-2), and not a created being. But it was the Father who sent the Son. So, in that way, the Father is the Source of the Son. Jesus is not God the co-Father, but God the Son.

Verses 4-6 

Now Paul launches into some false teaching/lack of understanding that the believers at Corinth are exhibiting. I will show you why it is false, when I take apart Verse 16 for you.

Men praying or prophesying while they have something on their head? That being an affront to God? What on earth is Paul talking about?  He speaks of a tradition created by the believers at Corinth, the source of which may have been false teaching.

Jewish men always have a prayer shawl over their heads when they pray, so this has nothing to do with Judaism. He is mocking the practice the church at Corinth is following. 

Again, in Verse 5, women are supposed to have their heads covered when they pray or prophesy? Why? The believers at Corinth say that if women pray and prophesy with uncovered heads, they disgrace their head, because a woman with a shaved head is a disgrace. Huh? Again, this is something the believers at Corinth have adopted that is NOT part of Paul’s teaching.

I must note here that women in the church at Corinth are not expected to be silent in church. They both pray (audibly and inaudibly) and prophesy (which is always audible). 

And in Verse 6, Paul writes of the woman having her hair cut off, but if it is disgraceful to have her hair cut off or to shave her head, she must wear a covering on her head. Again, this is a practice the church at Corinth has adopted, but Paul does not teach this!

Verses 7-10

He concludes by repeating what he wrote in the first few verses. What the church at Corinth is doing is not according to Paul’s teaching. 

Man is being portrayed as the image and glory (praise) of God, but woman is portrayed as the glory (praise) of man, and not created in God’s image. But according to Genesis 1:26-27, both man and woman were created in God’s image. Regarding woman being the glory of man, Gordon Fee says that means that man is not complete without woman, beloved!

And man does not originate from woman, but woman from man. True. And man was not created for woman, but woman for man. Also true. 

But what has that got to do with head coverings? These are outward practices and traditions that the believers at Corinth have created. They are not what Paul teaches. Such things are nowhere in his letters to the churches. 

It is true that, in his first letter to Timothy, he does not allow the women in Ephesus to teach, because they have come from Artemis/Diana worship, in which women are priestesses. Paul’s intent was that they be thoroughly weaned from that practice, and that WILL happen if they are kept from teaching until they are filled with God’s Holy Spirit. 

Remember that Paul considered many women to be co-workers — Priscilla and her husband, Aquila (church planters), Junia (a female fellow prisoner for the sake of the gospel), Phoebe (identified as a  Christian teacher and pastor who the believers in Rome should assist in her work), and others. 

Paul concludes his reiteration of these newly minted traditions in the church at Corinth by repeating the final, strange statement that a woman should have a symbol of authority (exousia) on her head, because of the angels. There is nothing in God’s Word to suggest this be practiced, but again, the believers at Corinth have established some of their own rules of worship, or have been taught by false teachers. 

Verses 11-12

Now, Paul says, “But, however, IN THE LORD . . . ” The traditions which he has just repeated, the traditions the believers at Corinth have established, are not IN THE LORD. Verses 11-12 explicitly qualify that the word “head” is not to be understood as “authority over.” 

So what does the LORD say? Neither is woman without man, or man without woman. They are not independent of each other. Why?

Because the woman originates from (her source is) the man, because the first woman came from Adam’s rib. But also, men are born of women. And the Source of all things is God! 

Paul seeks to bring them back to reality, and reiterates what the Word of God says, and what has been established from the beginning. 

Certainly, we all are to submit to one another —

Ephesians 5:21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ (in reverential awe of Him).

Ephesians 5:22   Wives, be subject to (a voluntary action of cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden) to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head (again, source — kephale) of the wife, as Christ also is the head (again, source — kephale) of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything (that is, they are co-laborers, carrying burdens, sharing responsibility). 

So wives are subject to (they cooperate with and are co-laborers with) their husbands, in the same way wives are subject to Christ (as co-laborers with Him). Jeff and I can attest to the fact that, if husband and wife are filled with the Spirit, they are very effective in their co-ministry!

Verses 13-15 

Paul returns to the traditions established by the church at Corinth. They HAVE judged for themselves — it is IMPROPER for a woman to pray with her head uncovered! 

They have judged for themselves — Nature itself teaches them that if a man has long hair, it is disgraceful!

But for a woman, her hair is like a crown, they have judged. Therefore, if it is long, it can serve as a covering for her head!

Verse 16

Now Paul writes, in one simple statement, that the things the church at Corinth have established are NOT to be practiced. Why?

The original Greek -to-English reads like this —

But if one is inclined to be (thinks to be) contentious (fond of strife and disputes), we have no (the absolute negative, never) such practice, nor have (again, absolute negative) the churches of God!

For those who want to be contentious, who are fond of strife and disputes, and have established such practices out of their own imaginations, Paul has this very stern word —

These things have never, ever been part of Paul’s practice, or that of the church of God. What they have established as church practice has not been practiced anywhere else, but those who have created these practices have done so in order to create strife. God is not pleased with such ones! If you are in that category, repent!

Verses 17-19

Again, Paul corrects them strongly. He should not have to give the instruction he has just given. So he does not praise them! They come together not for the better (to encourage each other) but for the worse (to stir up strife)!

Paul has heard that there are divisions (splits, gaps, tears in the fabric) among them, when they come together as a church. In part, he believes it, because he knows that many are still infants in Christ.

Paul goes on to write 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. 

Those who are fond of strife and disputes are NOT approved by God. May this serve as a warning to teachers of heresy, gossipers and tale-bearers in today’s church!

Next time, we will look at the rest of 1Corinthians 11, because I need to spend quite a bit of time reviewing the manner in which the church at Corinth takes the Lord’s Supper. Their lack of understanding of the purpose of His Supper is downright deadly!

WASH AND BE PURE

[SW327] 5/19/2018 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2018

Wash and Be Pure

Text: 2Kings 5:1-19

Naaman and I have a lot in common. Wash and be pure? What a foolish instruction! But we would say to you that this instruction is from the Lord, and if you follow it, you will see that He will do it!

Naaman was highly respected among the Arameans, who were sometimes friends and sometimes foes of Israel. He held a high position, as captain of the army. He was a great man, in his master’s eyes. He also was a valiant warrior. By Naaman, the Lord had given Aram victory in battles. [NOTE: The Lord gave Israel’s enemies victory, to discipline His people and turn them back to Him.]

I had a great career, was highly respected, valiantly upheld my leaders. I won many victories for them.

But Naaman had a deadly form of leprosy. I say, “deadly” because of the response of the king of Israel in Verse 7. And I had an incurable disease, MS, which would lead to my death, most likely from aspiration pneumonia, which happens when food and drink go into your lungs instead of your belly, because you can no longer swallow properly.

But let’s continue with Naaman’s experience. Some bands of Arameans raided Israel, captured a young Israeli girl, and made her a servant of Naaman’s wife. Seeing Naaman’s leprosy, she said to Naaman’s wife, I wish he was with the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would cure him of (take away, remove) his leprosy. As I have said, Naaman’s leprosy was deadly.

Naaman’s wife told him, and he told the king of Aram what the Israeli girl had said. So the king sent him to Israel, with a letter to the king of Israel — Ahab’s son, Jehoram (2Kings 3:1) — asking for the king of Israel to cure Naaman of his leprosy. But Jehoram rebelled against the Lord and worshiped other gods. The Lord will not use such ones!

Naaman took with him a large contingent of men on horses and in chariots, amid much pomp. He also took a small fortune with him, as a tribute to King Jehoram, and to pay to be cured of his leprosy. He was desperate for a cure.

In today’s currency, Naaman’s gift would be $12.5 million in silver, $386,000 in gold, and ten changes of clothes, of unknown value. Again, Naaman’s desperation is in view, because his leprosy was going to kill him!

But when Naaman presented King Jehoram with the letter, the king tore his clothes as a sign of mourning, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man is sending word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? He is seeking a quarrel against me! 

Elisha was the prophet in Samaria referred to by the young Israeli girl. He heard that the king tore his clothes. And he rebuked the king, saying, Why have you torn your clothes? Now let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet (one who hears from, speaks for, and is used by God) in Israel!

King Jehoram then sent Naaman to Elisha. He wanted to avoid war with Aram.

Naaman came to Elisha’s house with great pomp, accompanied by his vast array of men on horses and chariots. He stood at Elisha’s door, waiting for him to come out. But Elisha did not come out! Instead, Elisha sent out his servant with a message.

And what was the message? Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean (pure). 

What? He needed to be healed of this deadly form of leprosy. What was this about being purified? What a foolish instruction!

Well, the message from the pulpit was this — I have had a vision, and in it, Sue, you are healed! What a foolish vision! Healing is not for today!

Now I must tell you that my response was not anger. All the fight was gone. My situation was hopeless. There was nothing more that my neurologist could do. So I did not rage. After my pastor spoke, I thought, “Could it be?”

Naaman, though, was furious (filled with wrath) and went away. He sputtered —

— Elisha should have come out to see me, and should have stood and called on the name of the Lord his God, and he should have waved his hand over the place and cured me! 

— I am an important man! Elisha, you should have done as I expected you to do! 

— What’s more, you want me to dip seven times? Why seven? And where? In the muddy Jordan? Why not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus? They are better than all the waters of Israel! I want to wash in them, and be purified — not in this muddy river. 

So he turned and went away in a rage (a fury, great anger). He almost missed it.

But his servants spoke to him, saying, My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? It was a rhetorical question. Of course Naaman would have done it. 

They asked Naaman, How much more, then, should you do what Elisha instructed you to do? If he says, Wash and be pure, then why not do it?

So Naaman set aside what he thought he knew. I did, too. I read the Word of God, and saw that Jesus still heals. I humbly accepted my pastor’s teaching. 

Naaman set aside what he thought he knew, and went down to the Jordan and dipped seven times, according to the word of the man of God. And his flesh was restored like the flesh of a child — unblemished — and he was purified.

Wash and be pure! It isn’t only Naaman that thought that was absurd. I used to think that way. Many in the world today, and even in today’s church, would sputter and protest against such a foolish instruction. They protest against the Lord, just as Naaman protested against Elisha —

— That is nonsense! This disease is incurable and fatal! 

— Purification is not for today.

— Purification is fiction. This event is a myth, a legend, a fable. 

— To be purified of a disease by dipping seven times in muddy water is ridiculous! It is not logical, and science says it is impossible.

— Yes, I want to be healed of my fatal disease. But I don’t want to obey your instructions on how it is to be done. I do not believe in your God. So I want it done my way, not your way!

But if you follow the Lord’s instructions, it is very likely that you will do what Naaman did, after he was purified! Accompanied by all his men on horses and chariots, he returned to Elisha and stood before him, purified. 

When the Lord heals you of your sin, it is quite likely that you will go back to Him and stand before Him, healed, and then fall down! I say, “quite likely,” because most do, but not everyone. Nine of the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19 did not return to praise Jesus Christ for healing them. Only one returned and fell at Jesus’ feet and worshiped Him, and he was not even a Jew. All were healed as they went, but that one was saved!

And what did Naaman say to Elisha, as he stood before him, purified? Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel. So please take a present from your servant now. 

“Your servant!” He no longer raged against Elisha. He was humbled, and now he knew that there was no other God but one.

When the Lord heals you, it is quite likely that you will do the same. Once touched by Jesus, you will no longer rage against Him. Instead, you will humbly approach Him. And you will say there is no God but One, and that you have been healed by His Son!

After He has healed you, it is difficult to go away and continue in your sin and unbelief, but it is not impossible. Witness the man at the pool in John 5, who continued to sin after Jesus healed him. Jesus’ words are for those who continue to sin, after being touched by Him —

John 5:14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.”

Elisha refused Naaman’s gift, despite Naaman’s repeated offer. He said, As the Lord lives, before whom I stand . . .” That was Elisha’s position — my Lord is a living God, and I stand before Him, in His presence. And by the grace of God, I am likewise in that position now. It is a gift far greater than anything Naaman could offer!

Naaman then asked Elisha for a very unlikely gift — two mules’ load of earth. He said he would no longer offer burnt offerings and sacrifices to other gods, but to the Lord. Why did he ask for soil from Israel? When worshiping the Lord in Aram, he wanted to kneel on the soil of Israel.

He had become a believer! Now, he was REALLY purified — not just from a deadly disease, but from his idolatry! 

When the Lord heals you, it is quite likely that you will want to offer yourself fully and entirely to Him, as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing. It is your spiritual act of worship (see Romans 12:1). 

It is quite likely that you will ask your Father in heaven to fill you with His Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13). Then you will be purified through and through, for He will make your heart pure, and your sin nature will be crucified (Galatians 5:24)! 

Naaman also asked Elisha for the Lord to forgive him when he, as his king’s servant, would have to enter the house of Rimmon, the god worshiped in Aram. And indeed, Elisha said, Go in peace. The Lord knew Naaman’s heart. He would bow only as an act of service to his master.

After you have been healed, it is essential that you interact with the world. But in order to be His witness, you must obey the Lord’s command to be filled with His Spirit ( (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5, 8). Then, you will be in it, but not of it. You will no longer worship what it worships. But filled with His Spirit, you will have a purified heart and will be equipped to be His witness in the world! 

It is possible that you may have to return to your job, in order to feed your family. But be sure to ask Him, before you return to it. 

After I was healed and then filled with the Holy Spirit, I prayed and fasted, and asked the Lord if I should return to my career. He said no. Jeff and I trusted Him, and He has met— and exceeded — every need. 

Because He has purified my heart, I am able to stand before Him and continually minister to Him and serve Him. Because I am filled with His Spirit, I am able to walk about, carrying within me the very presence of Jesus Christ and my Father in heaven!

It sounds foolish! Wash and be purified? But do what He says. If you obey His instructions, you will learn that He is real! He will heal you, and you will believe into Him and know there is no other God but One. Then, when you obey His command to be filled with His Spirit, He will purify your heart, and you will REALLY be pure, inside and out!

Amen, Lord Jesus. So be it!

SESSION 13 — “To a Church in Crisis, With Love,” a Bible study of 1 & 2 Corinthians

Text: 1Corinthians 10

In the first nine 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 wrote, and all that they said and did, reflected their lack of understanding that Christianity is not about outward works, but an inward work in their hearts. He exhorted them that they must be equipped by the Lord, in order to be victorious in running the race toward heaven. Now he continues his exhortation.

If I were going to give this a title, it would be, “The Cup of Demons.”

Verses 1-4

Paul has just exhorted the Corinthians, at the end of Chapter 9, to run the Christian spiritual race in such a way as to win. Now he’s going to remind them of some who lost the race.

Israel had the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. They passed through the Red Sea as if on dry land. By the Spirit, Paul sees Israel’s passing through the sea and the pillar of cloud and of fire as being symbolic of baptism, into the Law of Moses. 

And the manna, the bread of heaven that they ate in the desert? That was spiritual food, originating from heaven and given to them by God. Who is the real bread of heaven? Jesus Christ —

John 6:35   Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. 36 “But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. 37 “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. 38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”

And the rock which followed them in the desert, giving enough water to feed their millions? That was spiritual water. Paul says the rock from which it sprang was Christ, before He was sent to the earth by His Father. He will give living water —

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.” 

What blessings God gave to Israel! He led them, performed miracles to deliver them, fed them, and gave them drink!  And His presence went before them! 

And the believers at Corinth have those same blessings, for Christ does all of these things for them! It is the same today, for those who believe into Him! 

But I see that many in today’s church do as the believers in Corinth and Israel did, if they are still infants in Christ and are not filled with the love of God by His Holy Spirit whom He has given us (Romans 5:5). Like Paul, that’s why I’m speaking to you!

Verses 5-6

As unbelievable as it might seem, despite all of those wonderful blessings, Israel spurned the Lord and craved evil things. And the believers at Corinth and many believers today crave evil things!

All of God’s blessings? Not enough! Just as Israel was ungrateful, so are all carnal Christians. I was like that, before I was filled! And just as many of God’s people were laid low then, God will indeed lay many low, even today. 

The Lord is faithful to perform all His promises. When you truly see the wickedness of your sinful nature and cry out to your Father in heaven, asking Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit, He will do it! Then you will no longer crave evil things, beloved.

Verses 7-10 

“Do not be idolaters.” So what was Israel’s idolatry? A golden calf, sex, drinking and carousing? That was what they outwardly worshiped. But idolatry of self was behind it all, and it is the same with infants in Christ in today’s church. I will borrow from Dr. Dennis Kinlaw’s message on idolatry —  

“Idolatry is a system for getting pleasure and security, but not from God. We don’t want a God we can’t touch, though it is through His Son that our hunger and thirst will be met. We want something we can fondle. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as we can fondle it. 

“It can be a person with whom we have an immoral relationship. It can be money. It can be property. It can be food. It can be anything, but in all cases, we love our idol more than we love God. 

“Our idol will fail; God will not fail. Our idol represents our selfishness, and selfishness was rampant in the church at Corinth and the church today.”

Oh, how we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit! Oh, how we need the sin nature crucified! Today’s carnal church gives Jesus a bad reputation. We need an extreme makeover, one only God can do!

The Old Testament (OT) shows us how God deals with immorality, even today. If you act immorally (per 1Corinthians 6:9-10), you are in the same category as the 23,000 who died in one day in the wilderness. God hates sin. 

Remember the fiery serpents in Numbers 21? God had just given Israel a great victory over a Caananite king, delivering Israelites he’d captured. But once God had given them victory, they immediately complained because of the length of their journey. Do you?

God’s people came against Moses whom God had called to lead them! They complained about no food and water, and loathed the manna God had sent them. 

Don’t test God by complaining. He’ll send fiery serpents on you! But He will give you a way of escape — look to the serpent on the pole (a type of Jesus Christ, as He Himself says in John 3:14), and you will be saved!

Then there’s grumbling. There was so much grumbling by Israel in the wilderness, it’s hard to tell which instance Paul is referring to in this passage. But Korah’s rebellion, in Numbers 16, is a good example of grumbling. 

Korah and his men said to Moses and Aaron, “The whole congregation is holy! Who do you think you are? Are you exalting yourself above us?” God was not pleased. Moses fell on his face, interceding for them. 

Korah and his men were told to assemble before the Lord, and they refused. Moses fell down before the Lord again, because He wanted to consume them instantly. They still rebelled. So the ground split open and swallowed them. Fire came out and consumed Korah’s men who presumed they were holy and burned incense to the Lord. 

And what are the believers at Corinth doing? Like Korah, they question Paul’s apostleship, they grumble at what Paul teaches and about his admonishments of them, they claim their whole congregation is holy. But they act in a very unholy manner! 

I wonder if, reading Paul’s words, the believers at Corinth felt the ground trembling? 

Do you? Can we not learn from the OT examples here?

Verses 11-14 

For those who say the OT is not for today, hear Paul’s words — ALL these things were written for our instruction! Remember that the OT was the only Bible the early church had! The NT had not yet been written!

Paul now applies the OT examples directly to the believers at Corinth, just as I apply them to today’s church. The believers at Corinth think they’re holy, but they are sinning. Paul says, Be careful, or you will fall, like Korah. They are tempted, and they say they cannot resist sin. They do not turn from it.

In response, Paul says they are subject to the same, common temptations all Christians experience. God is faithful when they are tempted. He will not allow them to be tempted beyond their ability to resist. He has provided for them a way of escape from the temptation. 

What is the way of escape? First, you must flee from temptation. Then, be filled with the Holy Spirit and you will no longer be a slave to sin! Jesus came to set you free from slavery to sin. He whom the Son sets free is free, indeed!

One more admonition about God providing the way of escape (v. 13) — do not use His “escape clause” when you have dug a hole for yourself by sinning. Don’t keep sinning and say, “Oh, well, the Lord will help me escape the mess I’ve gotten myself into by sinning.” That will not work at all. 

But cry out, as I did, for mercy, seeing your sorry state, and ask Him to clean you up inside. That’s the way of escape, glory to God! He’ll gladly do it!

Therefore, flee from idolatry! God is not pleased with it, and He will deal with you just as He did Israel in the OT.

Verses 16-21 —

Some of the believers at Corinth are going to the table of idols, per Chapter 8. Paul says they cannot share Christ’s supper and yet, in the next moment, drink the cup of demons. In the Lord’s supper, they are sharing in the body and blood of Christ. But they share in sacrifices to idols, behind which are demons, when they eat at pagan temples!

Idols aren’t anything; they are false. What is sacrificed to them isn’t anything, it is meaningless because it is sacrificed to a false thing. BUT there is a demon behind the sacrifice; unbelievers in Corinth sacrifice their food to demons. 

So, again, Corinthian Christians who eat at their temples are sharing in the cup and table of demons. They can’t have it both ways. 

There is a spiritual transaction going on when they share the body and blood of Christ. Rest assured that there is a demonic spiritual transaction when they share the table and cup of demons. 

What are today’s Christians spiritually eating and drinking? Do we drink in the world, and eat everything it’s serving up? Do we take it all in? Are we not supposed to be in the world, but not of it (John 15:19)?

Do we not sin against the Lord by partaking of the world and thereby becoming part of it?

Verses 22-24

God is a jealous God — He does not desire any to perish, but all to come to repentance. Chasing after false gods leads to death. He zealously desires that we allow Him to change our hearts. And Christ commands it in Acts 1:4-5! 

Sin breaks that fellowship (Isaiah 59:1-3). Being filled with the Holy Spirit gives us intimate, 24/7 fellowship with the Father and the Son. It is the way out of sin!

When we have fellowship with demons, His zeal for our souls kicks in. Will we provoke Him by snubbing Him? 

He is God, and I am not! And if I am filled with His Spirit, my only desire is what He desires. Everything else is dung to me (Philippians 3:8)! His love has been poured out to overflowing in my heart (Romans 5:5). 

Is it that way for you, too? 

Paul goes back to the “all things” sing-song that the believers at Corinth are being taught by false teachers. Beware, Corinthians! Beware, today’s church! Get a heart transplant, get filled with the Spirit so your selfishness is removed and replaced with God’s self-giving, selfless love! 

Then you will no longer be interested in “what’s in it for you.” You will no longer say, “I have my rights; I can do whatever I want.” You will say, “Your will be done, Father.” 

Then God’s desires will be your desires. And then, your neighbor will see Christ in you and come to faith. That is what Christianity is all about, beloved!

And then, per Verse 24, you will not seek your own good, but that of the other. That is the original Greek-to-English. You will be selfless! 

It is just as he exhorts the church at Philippi in Philippians 2:4, but words have been added to that passage, ones that are not in the original Greek. There is no “merely,” and no “also!” It is, “Do not look out for your own personal interests, but for the interests of others.”

Verses 25-30 

Now Paul turns to a question from the believers at Corinth. Is it acceptable to eat meat which is leftover from sacrifices to idols and sold in the meat market? 

Well, God created it; the meat in itself is fine to eat. If you’re in the marketplace, buy whatever is there, without asking where it came from. 

And when you go to an unbeliever’s house, don’t question where the meat came from. But if they announce that it was sacrificed to idols, don’t eat it, for the sake of their conscience (their sense of right and wrong). 

Your conscience tells you that if it is not eaten in a worshipful way, and you are not eating it in the temple where you might cause your brother to stumble (per 1Corinthians 8:9), it is fine to eat it. You ask the Lord to bless it when you eat it, and He does. His blessing cleanses it. 

The unbeliever, though, does not know the Lord. So if you eat it, you give your tacit approval to what he’s doing. But if, instead, you reveal his heart to him when you refuse to eat it, he may be saved.

Verses 31-33

Whatever you do, do it to the glory of God. What a great word! Is the conduct of the believers at Corinth God-glorifying? It seems they’re always giving Jesus a bad name, doesn’t it?

How about you? Do you do EVERYTHING to the glory of God? Maybe you believe you glorify God by going to church. Or maybe you believe you glorify God by attending Bible study, or when you are singing in the choir. That’s what I used to believe.

But if you are like I was, when you’re not doing church things, you do your own thing, and God is not at all glorified by what you are doing. You seek your own pleasure and everyone around you can see your self-centeredness. It was the same for me, before the Lord filled me with His Spirit! 

Paul says glorify God in EVERYTHING. But if you are not filled with His Spirit, you cannot glorify God. Your carnal actions will betray you. Be filled, and He will make you selfless and self-giving, like Jesus! That is Christianity, beloved!

Giving no offense to Jews or pagans or the church of God means this — you are free to eat food sacrificed to idols, but there is a legitimate limitation of your freedom. You are not to “purposefully take a path that leads to the detriment of another . . . Do not behave in such a way as to prevent someone from hearing the gospel, or alienate someone who is already a believer.” per Gordon Fee, in the New International Commentary on the New Testament. Don’t cause offense to the gospel!
Pleasing all men in all things must not be taken out of context. Believers are to please in this way — by being selfless, by walking as Jesus walked, by being like Him in this world, and thereby, being Christ’s ambassador (2Corinthians 5:20, Ephesians 6:20). These things can only be done when you are filled with the Holy Spirit — I know from my own time of infancy in Christ!

And what is the end purpose of this “pleasing?” that they may be saved! Be filled as Paul was, and you will do it. And you will be blessed to have a front-row seat to see the salvation of souls!

Try yourself up against this teaching. Your father in heaven is ready to respond, if you will cry out. May you have ears to hear what the Lord is saying today. 

Amen, Lord Jesus! So be it. I pray!

LIKE A TREE

[SW326] 5/12/2018 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2018

Like a Tree

Text: Psalm 1

Are you like a tree, transplanted by the Lord to the banks of streams of living water? Blessed are you, if you are His tree!

What the Lord’s trees are like — 

Visible from afar

Standing above their surroundings

Always in position

Never thirsty

Vigorous (full of His life)

Bearing fruit that gives life

Never falling, never failing, never withering

Verse 1

To ask the Lord to make you like a tree is to be blessed by the Lord! So, how do you become His tree? 

The writer of this Psalm tells us the “how” of the time in which he lived. But now, because of Christ’s coming and death and resurrection and ascension and glorification, there is more to the “how!” 

Then, it was by believing in God, and doing your best to obey Him. Now that Christ has come, it is to be reconciled with God by believing into Jesus Christ and asking Him to forgive your sins. Then, you obey Jesus’ command to seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

The difference? The Father gives what He has promised — a new, pure heart that loves to obey Him! Hallelujah!

When you are the Lord’s tree, you do not walk in the counsel (advice) of the wicked, those who oppose and disobey God the Father and God the Son. You walk with the Lord! Your counsel, your wisdom comes from God, and not from man (John 16:13 and forward).  

Nor do you stand (dwell) in the path (way) of sinners. You hate sin like God hates sin. And when you are filled with His Spirit, sin no longer dwells in you, because your sin nature has been crucified (Galatians 5:24)!

You speak the glorious gospel to sinners, and tell them of the great love of God for the world, that He would send His Son, so that if they will believe into Him, they will not perish but will have everlasting life!

Nor do you sit (dwell) in the seat of scoffers — those who scorn and mock the Lord, thereby sitting in judgment of Him, as if they sat in the judgment seat. But it is the Lord who will judge.

There is an exclamation point here, to close Verse 1! These are the first conditions by which you become like a tree of the Lord!

Verse 2

When you are the Lord’s tree, your delight is in the law of the Lord. You take pleasure and joy in obeying God’s Word. You love to obey the Lord. 

Indeed, you have delighted in (wrapped yourself around) the Lord (Psalm 37:4). Therefore, your desires are His desires, and He and you are greatly pleased as you watch Him fulfill them!

And because you delight in the law of the Lord, you meditate on it day and night. Your Bible is not on the shelf, but in your lap, and you read it with great delight! It is a gift that you endlessly open! 

Through it, He speaks to you continually. Even when you are not reading it, you are speaking it, and absorbing what He has taught you, pondering it in your spirit, throughout each day. 

To you, it is a love letter from your Father and His Son. You read it over and over, savoring every word.

Verse 3

So, having met the conditions — ones which you cannot work in yourself, but the Lord will work in you — you are like a tree, firmly planted (transplanted) by the Lord, beside channels of water (His living water)! 

Because you are firmly transplanted by Him, you are always in position to do His work. You are steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord (1Corinthians 15:58)! You are an oak of righteousness, the planting of the Lord (Isaiah 61:3), that He may be glorified!

Just as trees are visible from afar, and tower above the vegetation around them, you are visible from afar, not because you are anything, but because the One who planted you is in you! 

Just as trees bear fruit that provides sustenance and life, you yield fruit in your season. When is your season? It begins when you are filled with Him so His fruit is in you. Then you continually produce the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

Because you are a tree of the Lord, transplanted by Him beside the stream of His living water, you are always vigorous and never thirsty, so none of your leaves wither (fall away), because His supply is continuous! From the NIV —

Jeremiah 17:7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,

whose confidence is in Him. 

8 They will be like a tree planted by the water 

that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes;

its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought

and never fails to bear fruit.”

And all which you do will prosper (the original Hebrew-to-English). You will send His life out from yourself to others, as you share the gospel of Jesus Christ. It will push forward out of you and toward them. It will break out from you,  and powerfully move toward them.

Verse 4

But it is not that way with those who refuse the Lord and scoff at Him. They are not steadfastly transplanted, but blow away like chaff, the discarded shell of the wheat. They are driven away by the wind.

Verse 5

Why are they driven away? Because they have disobeyed, refused, rejected and scoffed at the Lord. So, they will not stand (rise) in the judgment that is coming. They will fall away and perish when the Lord judges them, for it was their decision to reject Him. 

He does not desire that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance (2Peter 3:9). But they have rejected Him.

So, such ones are not able to stand and be part of the assembly of those who are right in God’s eyes, unless they turn to Him.

Verse 6

For the Lord discerns the road of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish (be destroyed). He sees you just as clearly He sees me, and He sees which road you and I have chosen to take.

How is it with you? 

Do you reject Him and scoff at Him, as I did for 42 years? I testify that it is not too late to turn to Him and ask Him to forgive you. He surely forgave me, when I humbled myself before Him, repented, and believed into Jesus Christ! And when I asked Him to fill me with His Spirit, He did!

If you are a Christian, have you asked Him to make you a tree? 

Are you firmly transplanted by Him? Are you always in position to do His work?

Are you steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord? 

Are you  an oak of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified (Isaiah 61:3)? Are you visible from afar?

Do you bear the fruit of the Spirit? Are you filled with His Holy Spirit so you continuously yield His fruit?

Are you always full of His life, vigorous and never thirsty? Do you receive His continuous supply?

Does all that you do prosper? Do you send His life out from yourself to others, as you proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ? Does it push forward out of you and toward them? Does it break out from you,  and powerfully move toward them?

If not, beloved, cry out for Him to make you like a tree! Ask Him to fill you with His Spirit, O believer! You cannot make yourself a tree that partakes of His living water, you cannot transplant yourself. He transplants you! He will make you what you cannot make yourself, when you ask Him to fill you with His Spirit. Ask Him to do it today!

So be it, Lord Jesus. Amen.

SESSION 12 — “To a Church in Crisis, With Love,” a Bible study of 1 & 2 Corinthians

Text: 1Corinthians 9

In the first eight 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 wrote, and all that they said and did, reflected their lack of understanding that Christianity is not about outward works, but an inward work in their hearts.

If I were going to give this a title, it would be, “Who and What Are You Judging?”

Verses 1-2 —

Now Paul directly responds to those who judge him, questioning his apostleship, with three rhetorical questions. Here are the answers: 1) Paul is free; 2) he has seen Jesus; and 3) the Corinthians are his work in the Lord. 

He certainly has been freed from the penalty and bondage of sin. The proof of that is the power in which he speaks and the signs and wonders that follow. God will not work through sinners, nor hear their prayers, per the testimony of the man born blind who now sees —

John 9:31 “We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him.”

In addition, he has seen (stared at, discerned clearly) Jesus our Lord. Because many came to Christ in Corinth through Paul’s missionary work, they themselves are the seal (the mark of genuineness) of his apostleship.

It is likely that among those who judge Paul, questioning his apostleship, are the so-called “super-apostles,” the “most eminent apostles” —

2Corinthians 11:5 For I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles.

2Corinthians 11:13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.

2Corinthians 12:11   I have become foolish; you yourselves compelled me. Actually I should have been commended by you, for in no respect was I inferior to the most eminent apostles, even though I am a nobody.

He may not be an apostle in the eyes of the “super-apostles,” but the believers in Corinth should know better; they have been with Paul, and have watched the Lord work through him in miraculous and life-changing ways! They are his work in the Lord!

But some are listening to the super-apostles, and heeding their false words. And some judge him simply because they resent his reprimands. It is the same in today’s church.

Verses 3-6 —

Paul is being examined (scrutinized, investigated, discerned and judged) by some of the Corinthian believers. So now, he turns the tables on them,  and questions them! It is not out of anger, but out of love, to bring them to their senses.

As an apostle, why shouldn’t the church at Corinth provide him with food and drink? Shouldn’t that be true in today’s church, too?

Why should anyone look askance at him if he wants to marry and bring along a wife to co-minister with him (that is the meaning of “take along a believing wife,” per The Expositor’s Bible Commentary), and for both him and her to receive provision from the believers?  

All others who are serving as apostles, even the Lord’s half-brothers, receive some compensation. But Paul and Barnabas are forced to work at secular jobs and provide for themselves, with Paul working at tentmaking (see Acts 18:1-3).

Verses 7-10 —

Paul exhorts them for not financially supporting Barnabas and him, with rhetorical questions —

They are soldiers for Christ, sent to do battle for souls. Don’t soldiers receive pay? Of course they do!

They have planted the good Word of God at Corinth. Should they not have a portion of the produce? Of course they should!

They have tended and fed the flock spiritually. Shouldn’t the flock give them something in return? Of course they should!

Paul is applying God’s standards here, not human standards. God’s standards are revealed in the Law of Moses (see Deuteronomy 25:40) —  

If you muzzle an ox, it will be unable to eat the grain it’s threshing. As a result, it will either: 1) protest by stopping its work when it becomes hungry, or 2) continue to thresh until it becomes weak and no longer able to thresh because of lack of nourishment. 

If you want your grain threshed, you allow the ox to eat as it works. If you want to be fed the word of God, you provide sustenance for those who provide it, while they work.

You might argue, “The Law of Moses doesn’t pertain to Christians.” But God does not change. If He saw to it that the people provided for the priests in the Old Testament (OT), why would He change His mind and not require the same for the New Testament apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers? 

Indeed, God speaks to us even today, for our sake. Why is it “for our sake?” So that we do not disobey God! And to refrain from  providing for those who minister to us, we disobey Him. Everyone who works for the Lord should receive some provision from the ones whom he or she serves.

What, then, do we say about the vast number of “bi-vocational” pastors these days? It may be a matter of lifestyle choice for some (because some want a higher standard of living, above and beyond the norm). But the church must examine her ways carefully, to be sure that she does not sin against God by withholding provision from His servants.

Verses 11-14 —

Paul and Barnabas sowed spiritual things into the Corinthians, things which gave them great benefit –– the salvation of their souls. Why, then, do they resist providing material things to them? 

Apparently other workers (perhaps the super-apostles) have received provision from the Corinthians (see v. 12 “if others share the right with you”). Why not Paul and Barnabas even more, since they first carried the gospel to Corinth? 

But Paul and Barnabas refuse to hinder the progress of the gospel of Jesus Christ by making such demands. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary says the word “hinder” means literally to cut into a road to hinder others from using it.  

Paul and Barnabas will not hinder, but rather, they will endure (patiently suffer) all things — even lack of compensation to help them pay for the expenses of simple sustenance, which is the meaning of “food and drink.”

Paul goes back to the OT once again, describing provision for the priests in the temple. Even the pagan priests receive such provision! So the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get support (food, clothing, shelter) from the gospel. Here are Jesus’ instructions, as He sent them out —

Matthew 10:9 “Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, 10 or a bag for your journey, or even two coats, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support.”

Verses 15-16 — 

Paul has not taken advantage of any of the principles he’s just described. He isn’t even asking for them to provide for him now. 

He preaches the gospel free of charge. He’d rather die than receive money and have some say he preaches the gospel for personal gain. 

But Paul preaches the gospel under compulsion — he is pressed upon and compressed, pressed tightly. What compels him? Not his own ambition, but the love of Christ —

2Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ controls (compels) us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died (that is, all are dead until they come to Him);

Again, it is not his own love FOR God that compels him, but God’s actual love that has been poured out in his heart to overflowing, by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). 

He cries out, calling for woe to descend upon him if he does not preach the gospel. Why? By not preaching this great gospel, Paul would be a rejecting the call and the love and power that Christ has given him! 

Verses 17-18 — 

Paul has a reward if he preaches the gospel voluntarily. But some who preach the gospel are hired hands (John 10:12-13), and are not true shepherds of the household of God. 

Paul’s reward is that he may offer the gospel without charge (as do Jeff and I), even though he has a right to receive provision so he doesn’t have to work at anything else. But is that all he means by “the reward?” Look ahead to Verse 19, and you will see that by making himself an unpaid slave, he wins more to Christ!

Paul is absolutely driven to share the gospel, at any cost to himself. His is selfless love, the mark of being filled with God’s love! He does not consider his own needs, but has made himself (in a once-and-for-all, moment-in-time decision) a slave to all, so he may win more. He goes on to expand upon this idea.

Verses 19-22 —

If he wants to win a Jew to Christ, the Holy Spirit shows him how to speak to the Jew from a Jewish perspective to show him Jesus is the Christ. If he is speaking to Jews under the Law, he’ll use the Law to show them Jesus is the Christ. 

Paul makes it clear that he is not under the Law of Moses, now that he is in Christ. But he will express the gospel in the Holy Spirit’s power and wisdom, in a way that will show Jews under the Law that Christ is the fulfillment of the Law. 

For those who do not have the Law (Gentiles, who are non-Jews), Paul will show them that they can be set free from the power of sin, just as he is directed by the Holy Spirit. For those who are weak (strengthless), Paul will relate the gospel to them so that they see Christ’s strength. He will do it in the Spirit’s power.

Do not misinterpret the last verse, as some have. They say Paul is saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” 

But Paul simply is speaking of the different methods the Holy Spirit shows him, in order to most effectively proclaim the gospel. His ability to minister Christ is always by the Holy Spirit, and never out of his own thinking, beloved!

And know this — we are not asked to join the world to save it! On the contrary, Christ has chosen us out of the world, which makes the world hate us (John 15:19).

But we must ask the Holy Spirit to give us His words when we speak to people. Paul and I are not at all saying you must “make the gospel relevant.” It already is, for all have sinned and lack the glory of God (Romans 3:23)! 

Verses 23-25 —

Everything that Paul does is for the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is his purpose and his calling from Jesus Christ (Acts 9:15-16). He does this so he may become a partaker of it. 

What? Isn’t Paul saved and filled with the Holy Spirit? The Expositor’s Bible Commentary says this: Paul wants to be a co-sharer (having communion, fellowship) in the gospel, sharing in its blessings personally, including the blessing of seeing others come to Christ. But I believe he is also speaking of the full redemption yet to come, because of the verses that follow. 

In a natural race, many run, but only one receives the prize at the finish line. Paul wants the believers at Corinth to run their spiritual race well, so that they all can share in the prize at the end. Ask Christ to make you like Him, and you will win souls. Run so you will win souls, and you will win the ultimate reward, too.

Paul specifies that those who have self-control (exercise self-restraint) in all things are able to compete in the natural games. It takes practice and hard work to compete in natural games, like the Olympics of today, and the Corinthian version of them at the time of Paul’s writing.

In natural games, he winner receives a perishable wreath. But for those who ask their Father in heaven to fill them with the Holy Spirit, and thus are controlled by the Holy Spirit, there is an imperishable reward! The sin nature is dead in such ones, and Christ reigns in them. And so they are able to run freely, as the writer of Hebrews exhorts the Hebrews who have been scattered because of persecution —

Hebrews 12:1   Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside (cast off, throw off, renounce) every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us . . .

And what is the prize for such ones, who run freely and are Spirit controlled? The prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14)!

AND . . . 

2 Timothy 4:8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

James 1:12   Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

1Peter 5:4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

AND . . .

Revelation 4:10 the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”

Glory to God!

I want to say something more about our spiritual race. It is the responsibility of every Christian to share the gospel —  

Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

If you are filled with the love of God, you can’t help but share it! If the gospel is real to you and you believe you have been saved from a real hell so you may have life in a real heaven and truly share in Christ’s riches (even now), and if you are His witnesses here (Acts 1:8), filled with His Spirit, you cannot stop speaking about what you have seen and heard (Acts 4:20)! 

But if you really don’t believe all of it, you won’t be interested in helping anyone else come to know Jesus. And for you, James has these words — 

James 2:20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?

James 2:26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

The works he speaks of are more than feeding and clothing people — they are the very works of God that He will work through those who go forth and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit! These works are not done in order to achieve your own salvation. They are done BECAUSE you are saved, and they are the evidence of your salvation.

Verses 26-27 —  

So Paul runs with purpose. He doesn’t box like he’s beating the air. He disciplines his body (striking under the eye), bringing it under his control.

The commentator for this portion of the Expositor’s Bible Commentary is a Presbyterian professor who does not believe it is possible to die to sin. So he writes that we have dominion over sin, but we must still battle it, or it can still beat us and disqualify us. His comments directly contradict Paul’s words —

Galatians 5:24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh (carnal nature, sinful nature) with its passions and desires.

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?

So, I believe and have experienced what John Wesley believed and experienced. Temptations will come, even to the Spirit-filled. Even Jesus was tempted, in Matthew 4! But those who are filled with the Spirit are able to discern temptations and respond to them as Jesus did. Why? Because such ones are dead to sin and filled with God’s holiness, they do not succumb to temptations, and do not willfully disobey God. Jesus has set them free from slavery to sin (John 8:31-36)! Hallelujah!

The final verse of this chapter has caused controversy and misinterpretation. Some have become ascetics — physically abusing their bodies in order to “keep down” the sin nature in them! That will never work. The sin nature must be crucified!

In the New International Commentary on the New Testament, Gordon Fee has the best interpretation of Paul’s statement, “I discipline my body and make it my slave” — 

Such ‘bruising of the body’ probably refers to hardships to which he voluntarily subjected himself for the sake of the gospel, so that he, along with them, might share in its promises. (The proof) that this is Paul’s intent is to be found in the final words of this sentence — “so that when I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified from the prize.” 

Far be it from Paul — or us — to flinch at or run from hardships, as we go about proclaiming the gospel! We expect persecution, and gladly endure it, just as the Twelve did, after they were filled with the Holy Spirit —

Acts 5:41 So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.

Lord Jesus, may your church have ears to hear this teaching. Amen! So be it.