Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 2 * BOOK 27
PROBLEMS AND CONSEQUENCES OF CARNAL BELIEVERS – PART 2
Now let’s just get right back to I Corinthians 4 verse 10.
I Corinthians 4:10
“We are fools for Christ’s sake, (and remember that’s what the world thinks of us as believers. The foolishness of the preaching of the Cross.) but ye are wise (because they were believers) in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.”
They hadn’t gone through the trials and tribulations, and persecutions that Paul had endured, although when we get to Chapter 7, I think he’s telling these people they would soon come under the intense persecution the Roman Empire brought upon Christianity. And so even here I think the Apostle Paul is trying to prepare them for the time when they would literally have to die for their faith, and as Paul also would have to do in a few years after he wrote this letter.
I Corinthians 4:11-13
“Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place; (Paul didn’t have a nice big beautiful mansion to go home to after one of his missionary journeys.) And labour, working with our own hands: (we know from the Book of Acts that he worked as a tent maker with his hands.) being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: (or go along with it.) Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.”
Well that was one view, but as I pointed out so often, as Paul confronted the philosophers up there on Mars Hill at Athens with all their philosophizing, and they call Paul nothing but a babbler, but do you remember what I said about it? In reality it was the other way around. Paul was the one who really had the Words of Life, and Wisdom, and the philosophers had nothing but babble. Now it’s the same way here. He was defamed because of what he was doing to promote The Gospel.
I Corinthians 4:14
“I write not these things to shame you, (in other words Paul is not saying, `Unless you suffer like I’ve suffered you’re not really believers.’ There are some that have taken that approach, but we don’t have to suffer indignation just to prove that we are a Christian. I know a preacher who was like that and it was like he intentionally did things to bring persecution on himself. But Paul is telling these believers that he’s not telling them about these hardships to give them the idea that if they haven’t suffered like he has then they’re not a believer.) but as my beloved sons I warn you.”
How does Paul use the word “sons” here of these pagan Corinthians? The same way he spoke of Timothy. What did he call Timothy? My son in the faith. Not physically; Timothy was clear up in a different part of the world from Paul, but yet he refers to him as his son in the faith, and that is what he is doing here. They were just like children of his because he was the one that brought them The Gospel, and Salvation power that was able to bring them out of paganism and idolatry. Now verse 15:
I Corinthians 4:15a
“For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers:…”
Well I’ve struggled with this verse some. It’s kind of a tough one to see through, but I think what Paul is really saying by inspiration is that you can have all kinds of instructors, you can have Sunday School teacher after Sunday School teacher, and pastor after pastor, and television evangelist after television evangelist, but how many of those have had any real impact in bringing you to the place of Salvation? Probably only one or two people who really influence your life to the place where you became a child of God, and I think that’s what Paul is driving at here.
I Corinthians 4:15b
“for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you (how?) through the gospel.”
We haven’t explained The Gospel in quite some time so let’s look at The Gospel. We find The Gospel in I Corinthians 15:1-4. We’ll get to this chapter in a few more months, and I always lay these out as the clearest definition of The Gospel of Salvation that you can find between these two covers. And if whatever you believe for your Salvation doesn’t line up with these verses here then you had better take another look. Because here is the Gospel of Grace in all of it’s simplicity and all of it’s power.
I Corinthians 15:1,2b
“Moreover, brethren, (Paul is writing to these same Corinthian believers) I declare unto you the gospel (The one and only Gospel) which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand: By which also ye are saved,…”
I also like to use the words `made righteous’ in the place of saved. Not only are we saved from hell’s fire, but we have been declared righteous (made right with God) by imputation of God Himself. He has imputed to us His righteousness as a result of our believing The Gospel. We don’t work for it or deserve it; it’s all of God’s Grace, and of course we appropriate it by faith.
I Corinthians 15:2,3a
“By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.” And all I say to that is, you have to know what you believe. You don’t just believe some empty gobbledy-gook, but rather know what you believe for Salvation. And here it comes. And remember Paul was the first one to enter that city of Corinth with this message of Salvation to deliver these pagans from idolatry.
“For (Paul says) I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received,…”
He’s defending his apostleship again here. Remember he didn’t pick this up from the Twelve in Jerusalem, because they didn’t have this Gospel, but rather he had received this Gospel from the ascended Lord in glory. That’s why you can’t find this Gospel in the Four Gospels. It’s not back there, and couldn’t be, because Christ hadn’t died yet. Now here’s The Gospel!
I Corinthians 15:3,4
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; (Old Testament) And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”
Now back to Chapter 4 again. Whenever Paul makes reference to his bringing the Corinthians The Gospel that we just read, that’s also what we must believe for our Salvation even today, and nothing else. How that Christ died for our sins, how that He was buried, and how He arose again for our justification. That’s The Gospel, and notice there’s nothing in there concerning a mandated baptism, there’s no mandated joining something, there no mandated doing something, it is just simply believing it. And that is so hard for a lot of people to comprehend. Although I’ll have to admit that our television response has become unbelievable of people who are beginning to see that it is this simple. In fact our next newsletter that we put out will have a couple of testimonies from people that have come out of spiritual darkness, and into a Salvation experience because of this television program. And so we know that The Gospel still has that tremendous power to bring people out of the darkness. Now since Paul was the one that brought The Gospel to the Corinthians, and remember this is Holy Spirit inspired, I’ve had people become angry, and say, “Les where do you get that we should be followers of Paul.” Look at verse 16.
I Corinthians 4:16
“Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of (Jesus Christ. Is that what it says? No, but that’s what most think it should say. But rather Paul says be ye followers of) me.”
Now let me show you another one, and there are many throughout his Epistles, but the one I can remember the best is in Philippians Chapter 3. And this is a precious little letter just full of this believer’s experience, and how in spite of adversities this man could write “rejoice evermore, I say rejoice,” and that’s the whole theme of Philippians. Let’s look at verse 17: And remember here Paul is writing to the Church at Philippi.
“Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.”
Most people think we’re supposed to be following Jesus. Who is Paul following? Jesus Christ, and we’re right at his heels. And so as we follow the teachings of Paul, Who are we following? Jesus Christ, but again not the Jesus of Nazareth, and the dusty roads of Palestine, but rather the “Crucified, Risen, Lord of glory is the One we follow.” Secondly, if I were to follow Jesus as some people think we should, then I say, “Now wait a minute, when I get to the shore of Galilee, and He takes off on foot, what am I supposed to do? I can’t walk on that water, Peter proved that. But Jesus did, and over and over He went through circumstances as the God-Man that I as a human can’t comprehend, so how am I going to follow in those footsteps?” But listen, The Lord Jesus that Paul follows, I can follow in Paul’s steps, because Paul was just as human as you and I. Paul hurt just as much when that whip fell on his bare back as it would hurt you and I. Paul got just as cold on those wind swept plains of Turkey as you and I would get, and if he could take it, then by God’s Grace you and I can take it. Do you see what I’m driving at? While we’re in Philippians look at verse 10, and this should be the prayer of every believer as we follow this Apostle.
“That I may know him, (intimately on a person to person basis) and the power of his resurrection, (if you can’t believe the resurrection then you have no Salvation, you have no power, you’re destitute, because the very heart of The Gospel is, `That He Rose From The Dead.’ They can claim reincarnation, but they know nothing of resurrection.) and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;” Now back to I Corinthians:
I Corinthians 4:16,17
“Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.” Paul is the example, he was willing to suffer and die for the sake of the Cross.
“For this cause (because Paul is the leader of this whole concept of Christianity, the Body of Christ) have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, (spiritually) and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.”
Now even Timothy, when he comes, would remind the Corinthians of what Paul had done on their behalf in bringing them the knowledge of the crucified, and risen Christ. Do you see that? Now in verse 18 he’s having to deal with some problems again. But Paul says in spite of all the things that they had going for them – they had the apostle himself as their spiritual father, they had his spiritual son Timothy, who’s going to come and enhance the work. So they had all these things going for them. It was much like Israel back in the Old Testament. Do you realize how much Israel had going for them? And yet what did they do with it? They failed miserably over and over. Well the Corinthians are doing the same thing. They’ve had the strong preaching and teaching of the greatest Apostle that ever lived. They even had dear old Timothy come along and yet:
I Corinthians 4:18a
“Now some are puffed up,…”
Now when Paul speaks of being puffed up, what do you suppose is their main problem? Pride. I’ve heard sermon after sermon, and I imagine you have also. Pride is the one thing more than anything else that keeps people from Salvation. Because most people don’t want to admit that they’re a sinner. Pride stands in the way, they say, “I’m not that bad, in fact I’m pretty good.” And they refuse to see what God says. God says:
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”
And that’s what we have to go by whether we feel like it or not, and it’s that way in all the realms of faith. It doesn’t matter how you and I feel about something, but rather what the Book says. And if the Book says it, then whether I feel like it or not that’s what I have to go by. So Paul tells the believers at Corinth:
I Corinthians 4:18
“Now some of you are puffed up, as though I would not come to you.”
Now don’t forget Paul is across the Aegean Sea from Greece, over there in Western Turkey at Ephesus. He’s probably about 150 – 200 miles from Corinth, and these believers are saying, “Oh Paul will never show up here again. He’s not going to put forth the effort to take a ship and come across the Aegean and come and dress us down.” So in so many words Paul is telling them that they’re getting kind of cocky, you’re getting puffed up, and you think I won’t come to you, but I will, and when I get there I’m going to do some straightening out.
I Corinthians 4:19
“But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.”
See even the Corinthians were not that far from Athens, – only about 50 miles. So they were in easy communicating distance even in the ancient days. And all the philosophy, and the paganism of Athens was also indicative in Corinth. So these believers were used to hearing the philosophers with all their smooth talk and big words, and that still impresses people even today doesn’t it. Oh they like to hear people who can use all this big “high falutin” language and what have you. That’s what they call, “You have arrived.” But Paul says that he’s not going to come to them with a bunch of smooth talk. I’m not going to come to you with the big long words of the philosophers. But rather I’m going to come to you with, “Power.” And that’s the word that Paul uses over and over, “The wisdom and the power of God.” That’s what brought these people out of paganism. It’s wasn’t Paul’s fast talking, or language, but the power of God when he preached the simple Gospel of Christ. And the Holy Spirit helped those people to understand that, yes, they were sinners for whom Christ died, and rose from the dead. Now verse 20.
I Corinthians 4:20
“For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.”
Now let me take you back to the first Chapter, as it’s been a while since we were in I Corinthians Chapter 1, and then we’ll go to Romans Chapter 1. These are verses that I like to use over and over because they are so simplistic, and yet they say everything that needs to be said.
I Corinthians 1:18
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish (lost people) foolishness; but unto us which are saved (or made righteous) it is the power of God.”
I’ve had people ask me, “What does Someone that died 2000 years ago have to do with me today.” And the answer is: Everything! And remember good works will never save anybody, good works do not have the power of God. Good works are something that we can do in the energy of the flesh. Now let’s drop down to verses 21 through 25.
I Corinthians 1:21-25
“For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. (Plus nothing, and people can’t understand that. We’re saved by believing The Gospel + nothing. Otherwise it becomes legalism, a works religion.) For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; (then the word I really wanted you to see is in the next verse) But unto them which are called, (into the Body) both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” But people don’t like to admit that. Romans Chapter 1, verse 16. And remember we’re still speaking of the power of God.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; (that same Gospel we looked at in I Corinthians 15:1- 4) for it (The Gospel) is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth;…” God is always looking for someone who has the faith to believe The Gospel that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again. Now come back to the last verse in I Corinthians Chapter 4.
I Corinthians 4:21
“What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, (with wrath and anger) or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?”
Which one do you think Paul will come to them in? Well he will go in the spirit of love and meekness, because it just wasn’t Paul’s nature to go in there, and start taking harsh measures if he doesn’t absolutely have to. So this letter is going to be, I think, preparatory to his coming to the congregation in Corinth so that he can appeal to them in love and meekness.