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826 1 Cor.1.4-17 Enriched in Christ, Impoverished by the World

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- As I was thinking about the size of this Bible reading, I was tempted to cut it short & address only the first point I have here today, which is the wonderful richness of speech & knowledge of Christ

Enriched in Christ, Impoverished by the World

Date: 24-03-19 826 Echuca
- As I was thinking about the size of this Bible reading, I was tempted to cut it short & address only the first point I have here today, which is the wonderful richness of speech & knowledge of Christ
- That God's people would not be lacking in any spiritual gift as we await the return of Christ
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- But I thought that the next point together with the 1st brings out something that we all battle with – living differently from what God has supplied to us
Q. How can a people who are so richly endowed with spiritual gifts, speech & the knowledge of Christ be so worldly-minded & savage towards each other?
- So I have decided to keep both points together since these two different “windows” will appear throughout 1 Corinthians

1. Life in the Gifting of Christ

- When we first become a Christian, we wonder how on earth some of these statements here in the first verses of this reading can be true
- In everything, you were enriched in Him; in all speech & knowledge; not lacking in any charismata (spiritual gifts); and that God will confirm you till the end, blameless & that God is faithful & will do it
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- The word "gift" here is the Gk. word Charismata & you have probably guessed it, that the Charismatic church derives it's nickname from here
- To be clear, the apostle is not talking about SOME Christians, he is talking about ALL Christians
- If you think that you don't have Charismata then you must think that you are not a Christian, & that would be wrong
- All Christians have Charismata
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- The spiritual gifts are gifts of God's grace & as we read in : the various types of Charismata are given, at the discretion of the Spirit of God
1 Corinthians 12:11 NASB95
11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
—11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
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- These gifts are given to the body for the benefit of the whole body
- When you are missing from the body, the body of Christ misses out
- Be careful what you say about this
- Often someone will say: “I have nothing to offer anyone”
- Wow – so dangerous – because it says something about the way you are thinking
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- It is not humility to say that you have nothing to offer – it could be an excuse to get out of serving, or it could express some insecurities you have (which is sad)
- To be unwilling to serve Christ, on the basis that you have nothing to offer, also disparages Christ who has given you His grace gifts
- You may not think what you have is worth much, but it is not about you
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- You would be amazed at how you have brought blessing to people, simply because you have been willing to die to self & live to God
- So, please, be done with the nonsense that you have nothing to offer
- Let us never give the impression, that we think the word of God is lying to us at this point
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- As a new Christian, we hardly think we are experiencing enrichment by God, since we may still feel as in the past
- It could be because we have been so worldly influenced, that we are still living under its influence
- Yes, you may now be a Christian, but the baggage a person carries into the Christian life with them needs time for it to be removed
- To accept the truth of what we have been given, you need to accept it by faith & work towards grasping the reality of these wonderful blessings
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- Often times, it is the hardships that we go through that brings us to a greater appreciation of these gifts of God
When young hoons do burnouts, they like to pour oil or some other substance on the road so that the spinning wheels get very little traction & create a huge amount of smoke. This can be analogous to the Christian life. The bare road is rough & can be likened to trials; the wheel is the Christian looking to move forward in Christian growth. The oil is the slippery allurements of the world. If all we have, under ourselves, is the oil of the world, we will not get traction & move forward in maturity. Often, it is the rough road that gives us grip. I dare say, if we imagined the skin of our knees tracking on the road, we would understand that it is not generally a pleasant experience
- Those who have been through hardships will usually understand that whilst it has been difficult, they have been reaching out to God more, than had those trials not been there at all
- Of course, we don't want these in our lives & we don't go looking for them
- But often, when they come along, we have no say in the matter
- I have my own trials – being a preacher of the word is a trial in itself because often I have to bear the brunt of unhappy people who don't like my interpretation of the Scriptures – but that's my lot – what I've been called to do
- Just remember that in all these times, God will be with you & will help you through them – that is the process of growth & maturity
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- The important point to take home with us about this is that the spiritual gifting, given us by God is, primarily, for the benefit of His Church
- God has richly provided us with every resource needed to edify & build up one another
1 Corinthians 14:12 NASB95
12 So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.
—12 So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.

2. Life in the World

- Here you have a church, that is rich in charismata (spiritual gifts v.7)
—7 so that you are not lacking in any gift (chaismata), as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ,
1 Corinthians 1:7 ESV
7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ,
- And yet this church is full of schismata (schism/division v.10).
1 Corinthians 1:10 NASB95
10 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.
—10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions (schismata) among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
- It appears that Christians can be rich in grace, yet at the same time, doing the work of the devil
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- We often don't live up to our own expectations NOR the expectations of the ones we love
- We life in a fallen world with all it's trappings – a world that has been judged; a world that is destined for fire
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- In , the apostle Paul contrasts the works of flesh (that is in & of the world) with the work/fruit of the Spirit
- These are two powers/two forces at work in the world
- One has been generated by the fallenness of the world; the independence of man & his idolatrous ways & are being stirred up, says Paul, by attempts to live life by the law of God
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- The other way is when, through Christ, a person yields to God & allows the Spirit to control his passions & desires
- One of the works of the flesh is schism/division in the body
Galatians 5:20 NASB95
20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,
—20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,
- These produce train wrecks in the church & people who have not matured react in the flesh rather than in the Spirit
A man was walking across a bridge one day, and saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off – suicide, you see!. He immediately ran over and said "Stop! Don't do it!" "Why shouldn't I?" he said. The man said, "Well, there's so much to live for!" "Like what?" "Well ... are you religious or atheist?" "Religious." "Me too! Are you Christian or Jewish?" "Christian." "Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?" "Protestant." "Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?" "Baptist." "Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?" "Baptist Church of God." "Me too! Are you Original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?" "Reformed Baptist Church of God." "Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?" "Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!" To which he said, "Die, heretic scum!" and pushed him off
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- It is very important that we see ourselves as the body of Christ
- As a “champion team” rather than a “team of champions”
- A team meets together, it does not give up on meeting together
- In the past, I have used the example of a coal taken out of the fire
- Notice how quickly a coal will lose it glow & heat if it is separated from the body of coals for too long
- But there's another illustration that is also appropriate
A lone Palm tree in a paddock, being on it's own, is subject to the hostile elements. Yet, with a mass of other trees around it, there is protection, less exposure to the harsh realities that exist
- This is what the church of Christ offers to each member of the body
- There is a covering, a protection, since each one has your back
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- Sadly though, some church fellowships come closer to resembling the petty fights children have on a school playground than being the church of the living God.
- They may have charismata, but are full of schismata
- It doesn't mean that we'll never disagree, nor is Paul suggesting that we are to be carbon copies of each other
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- But we are to have the same opinion on Christ & to accept the teaching of the apostles
- The apostles themselves were different in personality, temperament, ability and gifts - but they were in one mind in church doctrine and policy
- When differences arose, the first order of business was to reconcile those differences with the will & purposes of God
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- Quite often the church is full of people with grievances against one another
- And when people have grievances it doesn't take very long before bickering starts & slanderous words get uttered
—1 What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source, your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder (figuratively speaking, because you hate). You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel...
James 4:1–2 NASB95
1 What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.
- If you have a grievance then approach the person concerned & speak with them
- Usually, because we want to get it off our chest, we tell others about it which usually fosters more resentment & division
- We tell others & don't speak to the person concerned
- Perhaps we aren't brave enough or confident enough that the person concerned will accept our grievance & not react in an even worse way
- I'm sure that is the truth & I speak this way not to upset you, but to be real in our relationships – the best remedy will always be to talk privately & graciously with the person concerned & if you are the one in the receiving line, take a breath before you respond
- A grievance or an unforgiving spirit will end up damaging your relationship with that person & eventually your relationship with God
"A Lion often prowled about a pasture where three bulls grazed together. He had tried without success to lure one or the other of them to the edge of the pasture. He had even attempted a direct attack, only to see them form a ring so that from whatever direction he approached he was met by the horns of one of them. Then a plan began to form in the lion's mind. Secretly he started spreading evil and slanderous reports of one bull against the other. The three bulls, in distrust, began to avoid one another, and each withdrew to a different part of the pasture to graze. Of course, this is exactly what the lion wanted. One by one he fell upon the bulls, and so made easy prey of them all"
—8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8 NASB95
8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
2 Corinthians 2:9–11 NASB95
9 For to this end also I wrote, so that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. 10 But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.
—9 For to this end also I wrote, so that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. 10 But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.
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- But the Corinthian church wouldn't work as a team
- The term "Corinthian Words" was a well known phrase that meant speech that was rich & polished
- Their love of wisdom had taken them beyond the cross of Christ
- Christ crucified is foolishness to the Gentiles & they loved the wisdom of the world & so each group would have their own philosophy on the meaning of Christ & it opposed the truth of the cross
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- Every age of the church has been an age in which the wisdom of the world gets swallowed by the church to a greater or lesser degree
- Only by holding fast to the teaching of the apostles will that be remedied
- The Corinthians had been relying on the wisdom of the world & that wisdom was influenced by the philosophers of Greece
- One of those philosophers, Plato, held a significant sway in the world
- Plato taught us to think a certain way
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- He taught that the body was matter, material &, inherently, evil
- The spirit or soul, in contrast, is immaterial & good
- This is called DUALISM – a sharp divide between spirit & body & it has plagued the church for two millennia
- For someone who follows Plato, no spiritual benefits can come from what you do in the body or what you do with the body, because the body, according to Plato is evil/bad
- Plato regarded the body as a prison for the soul
- The soul or spirit couldn't wait to escape from the body to be free
- This framework impacted the thinking of the early church
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- We see it in the Corinthian's denial of the resurrection of the body
- Greeks held that the body was bad/evil, like Plato, not because you did bad or evil, but because it was made of matter – that made it bad
- This is what prompted the Corinthians to reject the resurrection of the body – God can't possibly be bringing me back into a body – the body is bad
- They, therefore, held that their resurrection was limited to a spiritual resurrection & that it had already had happened
- Even to this day, many churches don't talk about the resurrection of the body – it is usually about the soul going off to heaven & that's it
- That comes straight out of Platonic philosophy
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- But Plato's influence is also felt in our practise of Christening & Baptism
- I only want to deal with one aspect of this impact – believers baptism – because Platonic philosophy has influenced how we think about this passage – so here begins another of my trials
- Some commentators that I've read say that, according to this passage, baptism is unimportant, because Paul thanks God that he baptised no one else other than a few when he first arrived at Corinth & that he came to preach the Gospel, not to baptise
- So baptism is really just optional for a person – you don't need it
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Q. Is Paul dismissing the significance of baptism here in this passage just like these commentators do?
- Firstly, I suggest that we take to heart what the purpose clause means in this verse...
1 Corinthians 1:14–15 NASB95
14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one would say you were baptized in my name.
—14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name.
- The reason for him minimising his personal baptisms is because those in the church who were engaging in factions (divisions) were using baptism as markers that divided people
- Baptism is not the problem, but the way people were using it
- It's as silly as groups developing in our church around whether I baptised you or say, James baptised you
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- One group thought they were more worldly wise, than the other & of course, rivalry began to develop – all because of the person who baptised you
- Paul abhors the thought of creating a following of his own
- Paul wanted to create oneness in Christ, not a faction around himself
- If we are going to be honest about the word of God, we will interpret it honestly & not let our petty theologies dictate what is being said
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- Let me show you where this diminished opinion of baptism actually comes from
- Ulrich Zwingli was a Swiss reformer who influenced many people during the reformation & thereafter
- He integrated Plato's dualism into his teaching
- Relying on the huge divide between spirit & body, he could not accept that what a person did in getting baptised could bring about any spiritual benefit, even though God, in His word, literally promises that it does
- For Zwingli, faith was pure/good, the physical act of baptism was like the body – bad
- Only the pure/good, the spiritual, could do anything of value with God
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- Biblical history is littered with examples of people physically obeying the Lord & it resulting in changed spiritual outcomes
- We could talk about the obedience of Abraham & the other patriarchs who understood that faith showed or proved itself in action
- The promise of applying the blood on the doorposts & lintels caused the destroying angel to pass over that home – a physical action that altered a spiritual outcome – it took faith, but it also took action
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- Zwingli's “faith only” approach is deficient because faith is never “faith only” – just look at you – you're here
- Your physical action at coming here this morning was prompted by your faith – no one can say that this is faith only
- You could certainly say that your coming today was driven & prompted by faith – spot on – but show me a saving faith that does not act
- is that great chapter on faith & the faith of these people was demonstrated through what they did in obedience to God
- If God gives the promise of forgiveness of sins through baptism, why do we deny it's truth – it's what the text says, not me
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- So baptism is not diminished here, but is misused by the Corinthians to promote one Christian leader over another

Conclusion

Conclusion

- Some important points for today
1. God has richly endowed the church with spiritual gifts & those gifts are to be used for the benefit of the church
2. God has blessed the church with leaders who are not carbon copies of each other, but have ministries that add to the growth of the church
3. The church is a champion team, not a team of champions – that thinking makes a big difference
4. The church is not divided – Christ cannot be divided
- There will be differences among us – no doubt – it's what you do with those differences that define your maturity as a child of God
- You still have a choice – but maturity is yielding to God & showing the fruit of the Spirit
- There is a right way of doing things & a wrong way – pray that we all may do the former
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