The Holy Spirt - Learning from 1 Corinthians
Paul preached the Gospel, ‘not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power’ (1 Corinthians 1:17; 1 Corinthians 2:4). He preached ‘Christ crucified’ with a determination ‘to know nothing except Jesus Christ crucified’(1 Corinthians 1;23; 1 Corinthians 2:2). This is the message of our salvation - ‘Christ crucified... Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God’ (1 Corinthians 1:23-24). All the glory belongs to God. We have no right to steal away any of the glory for ourselves: ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord’ (1 Corinthians 1:26-31). Our faith is ‘not based on human wisdom but on God’s power’ (1 Corinthians 2:5). ‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace’ (Mission Praise, 712). Christ is our full salvation. ‘Let us rejoice and be glad’ in Him’ (1 Corinthians 1:30; Psalm 118:24).
We come to know God when ‘the Spirit’ leads us to ‘Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 2:10-13; 1 Corinthians 3:11; John 16:14). We must not attach too much importance to the preachers - ‘What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants ...’. When we make too much of the servant, we draw attention away from the Saviour. There is a very important lesson here - ‘Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth’ (1 Corinthians 3:5-7). We are not members of a ‘mutual appreciation society’ - ‘You pat my back, and I’ll pat yours’! We must learn to point to Jesus, saying, ‘He must increase, but I must decrease’ (John 3:30). Let ‘Jesus take the highest honour’. Let His Name be ‘the Name high over all’. ‘’Tis all my business... to cry Behold the Lamb!’ (Mission Praise, 378,385) - Let’s say it and mean it!
As ‘servants of Christ’, we must concern ourselves with one thing - being ‘found faithful’. This is not a matter of pleasing people - ‘it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you...’. Pleasing God - this is the most important thing (1 Corinthians 4:1-4). Serving Christ is not easy. There are always those who are quick to pass judgment on the Lord’s servants. What does God say about this? - ‘Do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes’ (1 Corinthians 4:9-13,5). Being ‘found faithful’ is not just a matter of ‘saying the right words’. We must be the right people. This is what Paul means when he says, ‘The kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power’ (1 Corinthians 4:20). ‘You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses’ (Acts 1:8; Romans 12:11).
5:1-6:11 - ‘Your boasting is not good’ - May we never become so taken up with ourselves that we forget Jesus Christ and all that He has done for us: ‘Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us’, ‘you were washed... sanctified... justified in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God’ (1 Corinthians 5:6-7; 1 Corinthians 6:11). There were problems among God’s people - ‘sexual immorality’, ‘lawsuits’ (1 Corinthians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 6:7). In all of this, Christ was being forgotten. There are no depths to which we cannot sink when we take our eyes off Christ. There are no heights to which we will not be raised as we look away from ourselves to Him. Christ is able to lift from the guttermost and ‘save to the uttermost all those who come to God through Him’ (Hebrews 7:25). Let it be more of Christ and less of self!
Paul speaks about ‘gifts of the Spirit’. They are ‘given for the common good’ (1 Corinthians 12:4-7). We’re not ‘to show off’: ‘Look at me. The Church can’t do without me’. When we draw attention to ourselves rather than Christ, we are not living ‘by the Spirit of God’. He moves us to say, with our whole heart, ‘Jesus is Lord’ (1 Corinthians 12;3). We live in fellowship with one another: ‘the body does not consist of one member but of many’ (1 Corinthians 12:14). ‘I’m happy - as long as I’m getting my own way’: We can do without this kind of attitude! What about ‘the common good’? Sometimes, things don’t go according to my plan. Perhaps, my plan needs revising - to take account of ‘the common good’. When self raises its ugly head - ‘It’s my way or no way at all’ - let’s not forget the ‘still more excellent way’ (1 Corinthians 12:3). It is the way of love - Christ’s love!
‘Be eager to prophesy’ (1 Corinthians 14:39). Preaching God’s Word to the people is important. It is not everything. It is to be accompanied by prayer and praise. Many come to hear ‘the preacher’. Few gather to pray that the whole service of worship will be filled with the presence of the Lord. Some come to hear a ‘sermon’. They show little real enthusiasm for worshipping the Lord. They want ‘the Word’. There is no real heart for worship, witness, and work. The preacher’s public performance becomes more important than the prayerful praise of God’s people. ‘All things’ are ‘done decently and in order’ yet the atmosphere is forbidding. The Spirit of God is not moving freely among the people of God (1 Corinthians 14:39-40). Let there be less talking about the preacher and more concern with giving all the praise and glory to the Lord.