Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 2 * BOOK 26
THE WISDOM OF GOD VERSUS THE WISDOM OF MAN – PART 2
Now let’s pick up right where we left off in our last lesson, and let’s review verse 7 and 8 before we pick up with verse 9. Remember in our last lesson we explained that this assembly of believers here at Corinth had been saved out of abject idolatry, paganism, mythology, the worship of the gods and goddesses, and along with that they were grossly immoral. They had no concept of what we would call Biblical morality, but as these people were saved out of that kind of background they weren’t immediately transformed into spiritual giants. They had a lot of problems, hang-ups, and failures, and in spite of that Paul teaches here so clearly that if the Lord were to come right then, all of those believers would be taken rather than just a few of them. Now I know there are a few that teach the out-calling of only the spiritual believers, and that the carnal believer would be left behind, but I can’t find that in my Bible, and I think these verses make it so plain that even the carnal believer, which of course most of the Corinthians were, will be taken up when the Lord comes, and they will be considered blameless, as we saw in verse 8, because they’re under the Blood of Christ.
I Corinthians 1:8
“Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Now verse 9. It’s not because the Corinthians were faithful, or that you and I are faithful, but Who is? God is! I’m always teaching that when I teach the Covenants. Way back in Genesis 12, where we have the Abrahamic Covenant given by God to Abraham. A Covenant that Israel broke over and over and over, but did that annul the Covenant? No, because a covenant is something that originates and ends with God, and He will never break His Covenants, and it’s the same way here. When God calls a person His own, and we become part of the elect, He will never give up on us. We may fail miserably, but as the verse says here, God is faithful, He will never forsake us or leave us.
I Corinthians 1:9
“God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”
And that of course is the same for us today as it was for the Corinthians. If we’ve entered into a genuine salvation experience then we are His and He is ours. Now let’s pick up some of the problems they were having. We’re going to deal with them as Paul dealt with them himself.
I Corinthians 1:10a
“Now I beseech you,…”
The word beseech is not a dogmatic, legalistic commandment, but rather the word beseech implies, “I beg of you.” That didn’t mean they had to or else, but on the basis of what Christ had already done, and remember this is just as applicable to us today as it was to the Corinthians. In view of all that Christ has done, common sense tells us that we should be obedient to His wishes, and so he says:
I Corinthians 1:10
“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions…”
So that should tell you that that’s one of the problems. There are divisions in this little assembly in Corinth. Now you want to remember these Churches that Paul writes to are not large congregations of several thousand believers. These were congregations that for the most part met in homes. I think maybe the Church at Ephesus may have had a separate church building. At least I feel they did, although I can’t prove it, and maybe the Corinthians had a large enough congregation to warrant their own building. But for the most part all the Churches in the Apostolic age were just simply meeting in homes, which means there couldn’t be more than 35 to 40 people involved. But however many were involved at Corinth they were to have the same mind, but they didn’t. Now verse 11:
I Corinthians 1:11,12a
“For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren (believers), by them which are of the house of Chloe (probably where they met) that there are contentions among you. (Now here come the divisions) Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul (`Paul is the one that I’m going to pay attention to. Paul is the one who really has the truth, and I’m not going to have any thing to do with anyone else, because I belong to Paul,’ and some say); and I of Apollos;…”
Now we need to stop here and go back to the Book of Acts for a moment, because we need to see what kind of a man these believers were clinging to. And you see that’s the same danger today. Never get hung up on one man, because it’s just not scriptural, and so here again these people were getting all hung up on either Paul, Apollos, Peter, or Christ. Now let’s look at Chapter 18, and verse 24 to see what kind of man Apollos is.
“And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria (down in Egypt), an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.”
Now on the surface, what kind of man was Apollos? Well, he was a speaker par excellence, and he probably had the personality and charisma to go with it, and he could just literally electrify his audiences. Verse 25:
“This man was instructed…”
Now remember Paul didn’t have any human to instruct him. Paul never had anyone outside of his background under Gamaliel under Judaism. But in the Age of Grace, and doctrines of Grace, Paul’s teachings came by revelation from the ascended Lord. But Apollos had been taught by a man, and so:
“This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, (But) knowing only the baptism of John.”
In other words he was a Jew still steeped in the “Kingdom Economy” and knew nothing of the power of the Cross, and nothing of faith in the death, burial and Resurrection of Christ for Salvation. (Ref. I Corinthians 15:1-4) But Apollos was only continuing the message that John the Baptist, Christ, and the Twelve had been proclaiming to the Nation of Israel, and that was to believe that Jesus was their Messiah, repentance for their sins, and water baptism. Now verse 26:
“And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue (place for Jewish meetings): whom when Aquila and Priscilla (long-time converts of Paul. They had these doctrines of Grace drummed into their heads by Paul, so when Apollos comes to Ephesus, and knows nothing more than the Kingdom Gospel, what do Aquila and Priscilla do? I always say they took him home for dinner, and across that dinner table they just sort of let Apollos know everything that he was missing.) had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded (detail by detail, they left no stone unturned so that it was clearly understood) unto him the way of God more perfectly.”
Or more completely. Well what do you suppose they were telling him? Everything that they had learned from Paul, and what had Paul taught them? That the finished work of the Cross now made all the difference in the world. They were no longer under the Kingdom economy, they were no longer under the Law and temple worship, but now all that had been set aside because Christ had died, been buried, and risen from the dead. Now verse 27:
And when he (Apollos) was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed(and how?) through grace:”
Do you see that? Apollos’ whole mind had been opened up. So later, when Apollos came on the scene at Corinth preaching and teaching much the same thing that Paul did (but probably with a little more Jewish flavor, since he had been steeped in the teaching of John the Baptist, and so forth), many of the Corinthian believers now sort of glued to Apollos, and he was the one they were going to listen to, and not Paul. Now back to I Corinthians, and verse 12 again.
I Corinthians 1:12
“Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.”
So you see there was yet another group that was still hanging onto Cephas (Peter.) Now that should tell us something, what kind of people are in the Corinthian Church other than the pagan, Gentile Corinthians? Jews whom God had opened their heart and eyes to the Gospel of Grace, and they had come out of Judaism, and they were members of the Corinthian assembly. They were believers, but Jews. Now then if you know the background of Paul’s Apostleship, and how he had persecuted those early Jewish believers back there in the Book of Acts, and how God saved him by Grace on the road to Damascus, then took him down into the desert, and revealed to him these amazing doctrines of Grace over a three-year period of time, it just sort of put a block between him and the Jewish people.
Just put yourself in their shoes. Here was one of their own, (Saul of Tarsus) taught at the feet of their most famous Rabbi, (Gamaliel) and yet when he comes back from his revelations he tells the world, “You’re not under the Law, you don’t have to circumcise your children, you don’t have to go to the temple, you don’t have to sacrifice animals, because that’s all been set aside.” Well what do you suppose religious Jews thought? This guy is nuts. There’s no way you can turn your back on our heritage. In fact, for the average Jew today, isn’t that the same argument? Sure it is – this is our heritage, this is what we’ve been steeped in, and this is what we have held together for thousands of years.
So these Jewish believers, and there’s no doubt they were believers, because Paul calls them “elect,” but who were they more prone to adhere to? Peter. Even though Peter may not have spent a lot of time at Corinth, I’m sure he stopped by on his way to Rome, or whatever. Peter never had a ministry as I said over and over, among the Gentiles, according to the Scriptures, (Ref. Galatians 2:7-9) but nevertheless these Corinthian believers, whom I feel must have been Jews, still had affinity for Peter, because after all Peter was the epitome of the Jew who had been under the Kingdom economy. So it stands to reason that most of the Jewish people just had a hang up on Paul, he was just something that the Jewish people couldn’t get over. But they were comfortable with Peter, and as a result there was division within that Church that adhered to Peter. There were those who adhered to Apollos, and of course there were some who were still true to the founder of their congregation, and that would be Paul.
Now there was one more, and who were those? Those who would say that they didn’t have anything to do with Paul or Apollos, or Peter, but rather I’m just going to follow Christ. Boy don’t you hear the same thing today? Sure you do. You try to open up Paul’s epistles to people, and tell them, “Here’s where it’s at,” and what’s their first argument? “I’m not going to listen to Paul, I go by what Jesus said.” Well bless their hearts, I know that they mean well, but they’re out in left field, because you see what Jesus said he said to the Jew under the Law. And what Jesus revealed to the Apostle Paul was from the ascended glory after the work of the Cross. And that makes all the difference in the world. You see there’s no direct communication between Jesus and sinful men, once He ascended back to glory, except through this man Paul. And Paul tells us over and over that he saw the Lord face to face, and that the Lord revealed these things to him.
Now someday when we get to the Book of Galatians we’re going to teach that verse by verse, and for a moment let’s turn over to that Book, and touch on a verse or two. I have to teach on the verse quite often because of the opposition that I run into from people who want nothing to do with Paul’s letters. And there’s more out there than you’d like to believe. And the thing that they will not recognize is that, “Yes, Paul never had a face to face confrontation with Christ in His earthly ministry, but he had quite a few of them after the work of the Cross.” And so this is where we are. In fact I had a gentlemen who wrote me a short note the other day, and he was apologizing that he couldn’t get to one of our seminars, and he made a statement similar to this:”Why can’t folks understand that before Christ died on the Cross, sinners approached God on the basis of animal blood. But on this side of the Cross we approach God on the basis of Christ’s shed blood, which tells me that the Four Gospels really belong to the Old Testament.” And he’s right, everything in the Four Gospels is before Christ was crucified, there’s nothing in the Four Gospels about faith in His death, burial, and resurrection for salvation. (Ref. I Corinthians 15:1-4) And it couldn’t be because it hadn’t happened yet. So this is all Paul knows, “Christ crucified,” and we’re going to see it a little later in I Corinthians 1:18, but here in Galatians 1 let’s begin with verse 11.
“But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me (do you see how he brings that in? This Gospel that originated with this man) is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” And then Paul goes on down to say in verse 16 that the whole purpose of God bringing this man into the world was:
“To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; (Gentiles) immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood (so who’s Paul referring to? Peter and the eleven): Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.”
And if you go over into Chapter 4 you will see the Arabia that he’s talking about is Mount Sinai, and that’s where I always make the point that God revealed the doctrines of Grace at the same mountain that He revealed the Law to Moses. And then in Galatians Chapter 2 verse 1 and 2. How anybody can misunderstand this I’ll never know, because its as plain as English can be.
“Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. And I went up by revelation (Who led him? The risen Christ did. The Lord Jesus Himself instructed the apostle, “You go up to Jerusalem, go to this meeting with the Twelve, and with the Jerusalem leaders”), and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles,…”
Now why does he make, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that kind of a stipulation? Because that Gospel that Paul preached among the Gentiles was totally different than what Peter and the eleven preached to the Jews. Oh it’s the same God, don’t ever lose sight of that, but now God is going to deal not just with Israel under the Law and Kingdom economy, but now He’s going to go to the Gentile world as well as the Jew, not with the Gospel of the Kingdom, but rather with the Gospel of the Grace of God. And that Grace as I said earlier is something that very few people comprehend. And that is: how could a Holy, Righteous, God in His own Person come down among sinful men, walk among them, take on human flesh, and go to that Roman Cross to be tortured, crucified, to shed His blood, to be raised from the dead, and for what purpose? To save lost humanity, and that’s all Grace, and yet we see multitudes of humanity going up and down our streets and highways, and yet how many of them ever stop to think of eternity? It just boggles the mind that few stop to think any more that there’s a life to come, there’s an eternity to be faced, and God has made provisions that every human being could spend it in His presence, if they would just simply believe the Gospel. But most will not, they don’t won’t to be bothered.
Now back to I Corinthians, where he says that some don’t want anything to do with Apollos, or Paul, or Peter, but just go by what Jesus says. Well listen, they wouldn’t get very far because the words of Jesus were confined to the Jew under the Law. (Ref. Romans 15:8 and Matthew 15:24) But now as He speaks to the Apostle Paul of course then Grace takes it’s pre-eminence. Now verse 13, and Paul says, “How can you divide yourselves this way? Does God have this little group over here, and another one over there and deals with each one individually?” No way, and that’s why I like to reach across denominational lines, but I won’t compromise in order to have unity. But oh, God knows that in every group there are people that He wants for His own, absolutely there are, so Paul says:
I Corinthians 1:13,14
“Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? (Paul says, “how dare you people say that I’m the object of your faith, how dare you say you’re going to glory because you’re a student of Paul. I wasn’t crucified for you.) or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;”
Because what was the danger? Well they were getting puffed up and saying, “Well I was baptized by Peter, I was baptized by Apollos, I was baptized by Paul.” Paul tells them, “Don’t you ever do that with my name. because I thank God that I baptized none of you for that very reason.” And then Paul comes back on a second thought and says well maybe I did baptize the house of Crispus and Gaius, but other than those, Paul put no importance on the water baptism because of the dangers that are so evident. And it’s the same way today. My, the dangers that are involved in some of these things that tend to divide the believers. And then verse 17:
I Corinthians 1:17
“For Christ sent me not to baptize but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.”
Now what’s he saying? Well in plain English Paul says, “We’re going to put priorities on these things. First things first, and what in the world is the use of all the various kinds of baptisms if they know nothing of the Gospel, because the Gospel has to open the door. It’s the Gospel that made these pagan Gentiles finally come out of their gross immorality. It was the Gospel that made them new creatures in Christ. It was the Gospel that transformed the Jewish believers from legalists to people of Grace. And it’s the Gospel that Paul is constantly referring to throughout his letter, and especially in I Corinthians 15:1-4.
I Corinthians 15:1-4
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”
Now that’s Paul’s Gospel, and our Gospel and we must believe that for our salvation. So this is the primary thing, it supersedes anything else in all of Christendom. Then of course other things follow in their rightful place. Naturally we are to grow in grace. We are to grow in knowledge of the Word. We are to grow in our works and our activities for the Lord’s business. Absolutely we’re to be givers, and to be witnesses, and this is why we’re left here. Because otherwise, would to God, that the moment that we’re saved, He’d take us out of here. It would be far better. When Paul said that after seeing the things in glory that eyes have not seen, nor ears heard, the things that were prepared for those that love Him, I have to think we’ve got some glorious things awaiting us. It’s going to be so glorious. Joy unspeakable, righteousness, music (I think), like mortal ear has never heard and it’s all awaiting us once we enter into His presence.