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"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is both helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible often doesn't tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


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Thursday, December 24, 2015

1 Corinthians (Lesson 05)



Home Bible Study ©
Established November 2008
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
(2 Timothy 2:15)
www.2Tim215.Net                                             

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4

1 Corinthians                                                                    (Lesson 05)

I have a couple of announcements for the class before we get started this week.  At last count 730 people read (hopefully studied) last week’s lesson, including first time visitors from Canada, China, Iran, and Romania.  Praise God for these individuals who have shown an interest in gaining knowledge concerning the word of truth, the gospel, and let’s all pray that they may continue in the Word.

I’m thrilled when I learn that people want to know more about what “God said” in this book we call the Bible, and that they’re returning here regularly for that information, but that’s about as deep as it gets for me.  Please don’t misunderstand, I would love to get to know each one personally but the important thing is that they get to know their Savior and why they believe what they profess to believe.

I’ve held memberships in a couple of churches and served in others that were more than a bit preoccupied with “numbers,” in regards to weekly church attendance or how many children professed belief in Jesus during VBS.  Perhaps this data had to be submitted to the home office or something; still, I never understood the reasoning behind this, since Jesus Himself said it’s not the “many” who will find eternal life but the “few” (Matthew 7:13-14).  I’ve always operated from the principle that “It’s not about the quantity of people who show up; it’s not even about their response to the words.  But it is about the quality of one’s teaching” that really matters to God (Ezekiel 13-14; Matthew 14:13-21, 15:32-39).

One of the things to understand about Ezekiel is that he’s operating in exile at the same time Jeremiah is operating in what is left of the tribe of Judah at Jerusalem.  Ezekiel and Jeremiah were not known for executing signs or miracles - they were preachers of God’s Word.  God provided powerful messages to His people about the dangers of “false prophets” through the prophet Jeremiah, even instructing Jeremiah to write them down and send them to be read to those already in exile with Ezekiel and Daniel.

These false prophets all prophesied peace and restoration “prosperity” when the true prophets of God conveyed His truths of coming judgment.  The church today is facing the same problem, whether to harken to what it would like to hear or remain steadfast to the Truth of God’s Word.  As I said, in the end it’s not about “gaining market share” or “playing the numbers game;” what really matters is being dedicated to speaking God’s Truths and the spiritual battle for individual hearts.  (1 Corinthians 3:11-15; Colossians 4:3a)

I pray this Christmas Season the unsaved world will come to know that Christmas won’t be found at a cocktail lounge, it won’t be found at the shopping mall, or at an annual Christmas gala; Christmas isn’t even under the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve.  May the Holy Spirit open their hearts to understand that Christmas lives in the heart of a Child born this day as revealed to mankind through the prophet Isaiah with these words:  Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign:  Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a Son, and she will call His name Immanuel (God with us).  Isaiah 6:14

The final piece of business is this:  Home Bible Study© is closed for Christmas and as per our custom will re-open for business the first week of January 2016.  We do this so that you and your loved ones will enjoy the holidays and each other abundantly.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Please open your Bible at 1 Corinthians 1:17.

1 Corinthians 1

17: For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void (1 Corinthians 2:1-2). 

For Christ did not send me to baptize – Paul encountered two detractions from “preaching Jesus Christ crucified” (the gospel that saves) to the gentiles.  The first was cleverness of speech.  In the “religious realm” people often assume the more complicated or mysterious something is the more spiritual it is.  However, this approach causes problems in the church because it often elevates the spokesman above the Savior. 

But Paul had a different point of view.  When Paul spoke he wanted his words to be straightforward; meaning he preferred to keep it simple.  The gospel Paul preached was about Jesus Christ, specifically, His death, burial, and resurrection, and the good news that we can be saved by believing in what Jesus Christ accomplished at the cross, plus nothing else.  Paul kept God’s invitation simple so that everyone could understand his message and their salvation would rest solely on the power of God (1 Corinthians 3:6; 2 Corinthians 2:1-5). 

The other detraction is baptism.  Paul knew it was one of the reasons behind the divisions in the church and this is the reason for his declaration:  For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel (1 Corinthians 1:17).  Here Paul explains his true mission in only 4words “to preach the gospel” – to bring people to a united faith in Christ Jesus minus any and all the religious trappings or works of the flesh. 

When water baptism was a part of God’s kingdom program, it was always for salvation (Mark 1:4, 16:16; Luke 3:3; Acts 2:38).  As you can see from these Bible verses, baptismal regeneration is clearly taught in Scripture, and so naturally it was an integral part of God’s program, at that time.  However, dispensational change took place when God later called our Apostle Paul and sent him to the gentiles - “not to baptize” (1 Corinthians 1:17).

Before I go much further with this please note there is no consensus in all of Christendom as to who should be baptized with water, how this should be done, or why this should be done.  In other words, there’s no unity on this subject; and from my experience people can’t even agree to disagree… 

My role, as a Bible teacher, is to guide you through the Scriptures; to show you what God has revealed to us.  I’m not trying to build my own “little kingdom” here on earth, I’m not trying to persuade people or upset people, and I’m certainly not interested in bringing about division or causing discord within any church group, so as they say, “Don’t shoot me; I’m only the piano player.”   

Baptism is not a N.T. command, it is an O.T. ordinance.  When Hebrews 9:10 speaks of the “various (diverse) washings) of the Old Testament, the Greek word for “washings” here is baptismos.  This means that the “various washings” described under the law were actually baptisms.  This explains why the Pharisees didn’t ask John the Baptist what he was doing, they asked him “why then are you baptizing?” (John 1:25).  You see, they understood what he was doing from the Old Testament Scriptures, and they themselves had been practicing water baptisms (plural) since the days of Moses. 

One of the many O.T. baptisms was performed to prepare men for the priesthood.  Speaking of Aaron and his sons that is (Exodus 28:43, 29:1-4), and this is why John the Baptist baptized the Jews in “all the land of Judea and they of Jerusalem” (Mark 1:5).  Just as the tribe of Levi served as priests for the other eleven tribes of Israel, it was God’s intention that one day all twelve tribes would be “a nation of priests,” “salt and a light,” to the gentiles, once the kingdom of God had been established on the earth (Exodus 19:5-6; Isaiah 66:20-21; Zechariah 8:20-23; Matthew 5:13-16). 
 
When John the Baptist began his ministry he came preaching the message, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2), and he meant the kingdom , the very one the LORD God promised Abram, around 2000 BC; the very one in which Israel was destined to be a “nation of priests.”  This is why John baptized them, to prepare them for the priesthood.  This also explains why water baptism was necessary for salvation in the O.T. economy.  God insisted that all His priests be saved!

The Dispensational Change

On this side of the cross, we know from Scripture that the nation of Israel rejected their King (the Messiah) and His kingdom message.  But they also rejected the Apostle Peter’s offer of the kingdom (Acts 3:19), when they stood by their rejection of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit with the murder of His prophet Stephen by stoning (Acts 7).

This is when God put His Prophetic Program or the Kingdom Program on hold, if you will, and called the man named Saul, later known as Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46, 18:6, 28:28) with a new message that did not include baptism.  After the Rapture event brings an end to the present Church Age, or God’s Dispensation of Grace (Ephesians 3:2), the prophecy of Revelation 1:6 will become a reality, and a new redeemed nation in Israel will be baptized and become God’s priests to the world, speaking of the 144,000 specifically (Revelation 7:3-8; 9).

In this present age, God is not preparing Israel, or anyone else for that matter, to be “priests” to “reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:10) in the millennial kingdom (Revelation 20:6).  But He is preparing members of the Body of Christ to reign in the heavens (Ephesians 1:18-23) over the angels (1 Corinthians 6:3).  This is why our Apostle Paul tells us at 1 Corinthians 1:17 he was not sent to baptize because people today do not need to be prepared for the priesthood, and water baptism is no longer necessary for salvation.  Today Believers are saved by the “washing of regeneration” (Titus 3:5), not the washing of water baptism.  Water baptism is a “work” and salvation is “not of works” in God’s Dispensation of Grace (Romans 4:5; Ephesians 2:8-9; 3:2).

If you’re wondering why Paul would speak of “one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5), I would suggest that he is not speaking of water baptism, but rather the baptism by the Holy Spirit that places each Believer into Christ Jesus the moment they believe the gospel;  For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body… (1 Corinthians 12:13). 

Ask yourself, does the Holy Spirit baptize a person with water?  No, of course not; so 1 Corinthians 12:13 isn’t talking about water baptism at all.  Yet just about every Christian organization requires and will not accept a person for membership without water baptism or a baptismal certificate. 

Ask yourself another question:  do you really believe every person sitting in your assembly is a Believer – a born again child of God?  Once again, of course not!  Even if everyone of them sitting there on Sunday morning underwent the rite of water baptism, by whatever means, there’s no way to test if they’re salvation experience was genuine.   The ceremony was performed and they become a member.  However, God the Father determines who is and who is not saved and Scripture says there are no “unbelievers” in the Body of Christ because this is the work of the Holy Spirit. 

Since there are many different baptisms in the Bible (Matthew 20:22; Luke 12:50; 1 Corinthians 10:1-2; etc.), when Paul says there is only “one baptism,” he must mean that there is only one baptism that is a part of God’s program today, in the Dispensation of God’s Grace.  To add water baptism to the baptism by the Holy Spirit would make two baptisms, and this runs contrary to Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:5.  According to Scripture with the Spirit baptism:  in Him (Jesus Christ) you (insert your name here) have been made complete (Colossians 2:10a):  completely circumcised with a spiritual circumcision (v11), and completely baptized with a spiritual baptism (v12).

It is often argued that Believers should be baptized with water to represent our spiritual baptism, but if this is true, then to be consistent Scripturally we should also be circumcised to represent our spiritual circumcision – but the book of Galatians clearly forbids this (Galatians 5:2-3).

Digging Deeper

The meaning of baptism is identification.  To demonstrate this, we’ll search the Bible to find the very first baptism.  The Apostle Paul explains that the people of Israel were “baptized into Moses… at the Red Sea” (1 Corinthians 10:1-2).  This is one of the many baptisms in the Bible that have nothing to do with getting “wet.”  After leaving Egypt the Israelites were facing the divided Red Sea and to their rear Pharaoh’s advancing army.  They had a decision to make.  If they entered the divided Red Sea, the waters towering high above them on both sides might close around them as mysteriously as they opened up.  But they knew what would happen once Pharaoh’s army caught up with them.  Faced with this “no-duh” decision, they said in effect, “We’re with you Moses,” following him into the divided Red Sea.  Meaning:  they were baptized into him; or the nation of Israel “identified themselves with him. 

This then is the Holy Spirit’s definition of the very first baptism in the Bible, therefore it’s highly significant.  One of the most remarkable evidences of Biblical unity is the internal consistency, and nowhere is this more evident than in the phenomenon which Bible students refer to as “The Law of First Mention.”  This simply means that the first time any important word is mentioned in the Bible (usually in Genesis, but not always), Scripture gives us that word’s most complete Biblical concept; it defines it, and sets the tone for how it will be used in the Bible thereafter. 

Now, let’s see if other baptisms in the Bible are also associated with identification. 

Israel’s priests were baptized to consecrate (set them apart) and to cleanse them (Exodus 29:1, 4; Numbers 8:5-7).  This initiation ceremony would of course identify them as priests in the eyes of the people, just as the Lord was identified as Israel’s Messiah when He was baptized and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him.  Similarly, the sons of Aaron were identified as Israel’s priests when they were baptized with water (Exodus 29:4) and then anointed with oil (Exodus 29:7); oil being a type of the Spirit in Scripture.  In Acts chapter 2, Jesus Christ’s disciples were similarly identified as God’s priests to the world when they were baptized with water, then anointed with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Christ’s baptism by John also identified Him with us.  Jesus was no sinner, but if He was going to die for the sins of all, He was going to have to be identified with sinners.  The “baptism of John” was a sinner’s baptism (Matthew 3:6), so the Lord submitted to it “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:13-15).  Jesus’ baptism identified Him with every sinner so that later “we might become the righteousness of God in Him.  (2 Corinthians 5:21).  

Jesus Christ’s death on the cross was also a baptism and identification without the use of water.  Years after His baptism by John with water, He spoke of another baptism that He had yet to be baptized with (Luke 12:50), an obvious reference to His approaching death at Calvary.  We know from Scripture that His death was also an identification, for the prophet Isaiah says, that He “was numbered with the transgressors” – when “He poured out Himself to death.”  (Isaiah 53:12)  The Apostle Mark quotes these words and affirms that they were fulfilled when the Lord poured out His soul between two thieves (Mark 15:27-28). 

I’ve stood at the Lion’s Gate on the eastern side of Jerusalem, leading into the Christian quarter.  This marks the beginning of the Via Dolorosa and from this spot Calvary is easily seen.  In fact anyone coming or leaving Jerusalem by that gate could have easily looked up and seen our Savior hanging there on His cross.  But to them, they would have assumed He was just another lawbreaker, just another “transgressor,” who had met His fate like those crucified on either side of Him.  Thus our Savior, Jesus Christ, was numbered with the transgressors as He was identified with the thieves hanging on His right and on His left, and with all mankind for that matter, in the baptism of His death (2 Corinthians 5:15).

The Bible speaks of yet another baptism, when James and John asked Jesus if they “may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left “(i.e. be identified with Him in His kingdom) in Your glory.  Jesus lovingly responded, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be (what) baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” -  meaning James and John must first be willing to be identified with Him in death (Mark 10:35-40).

Our Baptism into Jesus Christ

Paul teaches Believers that we were “baptized (not into a non-denominational denomination or church group but rather) into Jesus Christ” (Romans 6:3).  Paul is saying if you’ve been placed in Christ Jesus, before you can get there you had to be identified with His death.  I prefer to put it this way:  When Christ died, God the Father saw every one of us hanging on that cross, in the Person of Jesus Christ, because He died in our place:  I (insert your name here if you’re a Believer) have been (what’s the next word) crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; (Galatians 2:20a).    

Just as surely as God saw each one of us hanging on Jesus’ cross, in the Person of Christ, He also saw us buried in the tomb with Him, and not by water, but by virtue of God, once again, determining that now since He’s paid the sin debt for all who believe, and appropriate it then God can say, “I saw you crucified with My Son, I saw you buried in the tomb with Him, in His death, and so we’re also resurrected along with Him to a new life, in Christ Jesus.

Therefore, I believe Scripture is clearly saying that we were “baptized into His death” (Romans 6:3), i.e. by being identified with Him in His death for our sins.  Just as Jesus Christ was identified with sinners in our unrighteousness when He was baptized by John with water and later “numbered with the transgressors,” so now Believers are identified with Him in His righteousness when we are baptized into His death for our sins. 

We know that Romans 6 cannot be speaking of water baptism, for the subject in the context here is power over sin (Romans 6:1-2, 6-13).  Water baptism gives us no power over sin, but our baptism into Jesus Christ affords the possibility of overcoming sin (Romans 7).  Put another way, it’s not that our baptism into Jesus Christ makes it easier to choose not to sin, it’s just that salvation makes it possible for us not to sin.  A Believer can choose not to sin whereas before we were saved we probably didn’t consider sin at all. 

I know how sensitive the subject of baptism is throughout the Christian world, this is why I preempted my teaching on this topic with an aside.  As I said, it’s not my intention to “attack” those who practice water baptism or to cause discord among the brethren. But there are a couple more things worth mentioning. 

First I greatly admire and respect those of the Baptist faith.  Their stand for the fundamental truths of God’s Word is historic in nature and practice and their emphasis on soul-winning command the respect of every Believer, in Christ Jesus.  In demonstrating my respect for this organization, I’ve held a membership in one of their local churches for many years and have served there faithfully.  I’ve been baptized too, but this occurred in another faith-based denomination.  I opted to undergo the rite of water baptism by immersion because it was the only way to gain membership and I wanted to teach Sunday school. 

However, I disagree with the church on the necessity of water baptism for whatever reason and I’ve done my best to demonstrate why using the Scriptures.  There was a time when I taught the need for water baptism many years ago.  This was before I learned to rightly divide the Scriptures (2 Timothy 2:15).  I was basing the need for water baptism on Jesus Christ’s marching orders given to His disciples at Matthew 28:19 (The Great Commission). 

What I’ve learned from studying Scripture, rightly divided, is these instructions from Jesus Christ are no different from God’s Prophetic Program.  In fact, it was a further development of it.  In the records of our Lord’s command to “go and preach the gospel,” there is no indication that He meant a different gospel from that which His disciples had been preaching, which concerned the Messiah and the kingdom.  This gospel is specifically and repeatedly called “the gospel of the kingdom” (Mathew 4:23, 9:35, 24:14; Mark 1:14; Luke 9:2, 6, etc.).

To assume that our Lord now sends His apostles, and us, out into the world proclaiming “the Gospel of the Grace of God” is wholly unwarranted and doesn’t align with Scripture.  In fact, Paul’s gospel is not even mentioned or preached until Paul is raised up and sent forth to declare it (Acts 20:24; Romans 3:21-28; Ephesians 3:1-3).

Ask yourself, if Matthew 28:19-20, was the Lord’s Great Commission, it was certainly a command, why did the twelve apostles remain in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1)?  And why did they, through their leaders, later decide to confine their ministry to Israel alone (Galatians 2:9)?  Were they out of God’s will or was a change in dispensation taking place?  The answer is rather obvious.  Saul’s conversion was the first step in the ushering in of God’s Grace; Paul writes:  I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor.  Yet I was shown (what) mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 1:12-14).

Summing up

The Gospel of the Kingdom was proclaimed by John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and the twelve apostles.  It was the “good news” of the promised kingdom and required repentance, baptism, and faith that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah.  This gospel was proclaimed by the Jews to Jews only (with a few exceptions such as the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:21-28) and the Roman centurion (Matthew 8:5-13).  This gospel failed due to the nation of Israel’s unbelief.  But God will reinstate it after He completes the Church, the Body of Christ, (at the Rapture).  A future generation of Jews will embrace the Gospel of the Kingdom, believe it, and fulfill Romans 11:26:  and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB.”  In the meantime, the gospel that saves today is the Gospel of the Grace of God (Acts 20:24; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Secondly, there’s no harm in undergoing water baptism just so long as someone, somewhere is not requiring it as a means for your salvation (works).  In effect these folks are saying Jesus didn’t mean what He said just before He died on the cross, “It is finished.”   They’re saying Jesus Christ left “works” for us to do… 

Anyone who “adds” anything to Jesus’ finished work of the cross, i.e. join a specific church group, pray a certain prayer, tithe a certain amount, climb a high mountain, swim a raging river, etc., is in effect saying Jesus’ death wasn’t enough to satisfy God’s demand for payment of mankind’s sins.  None of these things are mentioned in this book; they are inventions of man (Matthew 15:9).  This book says:  For by grace you have been saved (how) through faith (alone); and that not of yourselves; it is (what) the (free) gift of God; - (If someone provides you with a gift and you turn around and hand them $50 dollars is it still a gift?  No.  Now it’s a purchase.  You can’t buy your “stairway to heaven.”   You can’t be good enough and you can’t perform enough “good works” to purchase one minute in God’s heaven, let alone spend an eternity there with Jesus Christ; but you can appropriate God’s free gift of grace by faith).

Let’s look at the rest of Paul’s statement in verse 17:  so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.  Our Apostle Paul was an educated man but when he preached he didn’t come with superiority of speech or of (human) wisdom.  Paul’s referring to the “eloquent” ways of persuasion which the Greeks highly valued and the people sought to imitate.

Paul means to say the success of the gospel did not depend on such things.  He wasn’t interested in them and he hadn’t sought to exhibit them while preaching.  As I said a bit earlier, Paul came speaking the gospel with simplicity - so that the cross of Christ would not be made void (or ineffective).


(To be continued)


[Published weekly on Friday]

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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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Friday, December 18, 2015

1 Corinthians (Lesson 4)



Home Bible Study ©
Established November 2008
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
(2 Timothy 2:15)
www.2Tim215.Net                                             

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4


1 Corinthians                                                                    Lesson 04

I’m going to take a minute to welcome you, the church, to HBS and to give thanks to our Lord for your commitment to the study of God’s Word, and if that’s not here necessarily on a regular basis, I pray it’s wherever you believe the knowledge of the truth is being heralded.

A couple of weeks ago I announced to the group that “readership was down.  I thought I would inform you the trend over the past two weeks has shown a reversal; “readership” is steadily increasing here at HBS.  More than 600 people from Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Romania, Spain, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Unites States, Viet Nam, and Russia read (hopefully studied) last week’s Bible lesson.

All glory and praise go to God and the working of the Holy Spirit; and the Lord Jesus Christ because Scripture clearly says without Him we can do nothing of any eternal significance.  Jesus said, “”…apart from Me, you can do nothing.”  (John 15:5b)

When I announced a few weeks back that readership was down, I wasn’t disappointed and I didn’t bring this to your attention because I was dismayed.  I was simply remarking on a “trend,” and I noted a plausible reason for the downturn.  The Stock Market rises and falls; so does church attendance and Bible study attendance and with all of these variables come into play.

Most of us are aware that human beings are creatures of habit.  This means we tend to continue acting as we have acted in the past.  Like a river flowing through a canyon, the longer a habit continues, the deeper it becomes, and consequently the harder it is to change.  This is true of all habits both good and bad.

Becoming a Believer requires change; a fact the majority of the Believers in Corinth failed to understand completely...  We must discard our bad habits and develop new ones.  Paul writes:  in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed (changed) in the spirit of the mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the (what) truth.  (Ephesians 4:22-24; 2 Corinthians 5:17)

Knowing the changes we need to make and making them – two different things.
Dropping bad habits doesn’t come easily.  This is where studying your Bible becomes essential.  If you’re seeking answers on how to live a life pleasing to God, the Bible is the only book you’ll need.  It’s the best self-help book sitting on the shelf (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

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Last week I mentioned Paul’s message to the churches (this included the Believers in Corinth) in relation to being of one mind and one spirit; with a united testimony re: the gospel of Jesus Christ, and how this communication was specific to the Church Age.

If the Body of Christ (the church) isn’t speaking the same things, if the church isn’t complete in the same mind and in the same judgment (Spirit), how can there be Scriptural unity?  This is why our Apostle Paul urged them in v10 saying, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ… that there be no divisions among you.  If the church in Corinth is speaking the same things, referring to doctrinal subjects, then there is no cause for divisions – they’re all on the “same page,” so to speak.   

If you’ll recall from the introductory lessons, I remarked that if a Believer was traveling and attended a house church in Antioch, Ephesus, or Colosse they not only “heard” the same doctrinal message they could rely on it.  I liken this to a person entering a McDonald’s in Dayton, Ohio and ordering a Big Mac “knowing” it would look and taste the same as the Big Mac he had ordered and eaten for lunch before leaving Orlando, Florida. 

Putting this into the proper perspective, the church in Corinth was in danger of disrupting God’s doctrinal truth because they weren’t speaking the same things.  This is illustrated by Paul in the next few verses, where some Corinthian Believers were saying they were of Paul, or of Apollos, or of Cephas (Peter), or of Jesus Christ.  Paul’s response to this divisive attitude was, “Is Christ divided?” 

Please open your Bible at 1 Corinthians 1:12.

1 Corinthians 1

12: Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I am of Apollos,” and “I am of Cephas, and “I of Christ,”

Now I mean this – Paul was astounded to hear of the disruptive behavior in Corinth.  If you stop to consider it, Paul, Apollos, Peter, and Jesus Christ all spoke the same things.
Put another way, Paul, Apollos, and Peter only did what the Lord Jesus Christ appointed them to do (Galatians 1:11-12; Ephesians 3:1-11).  They were the servants of Jesus Christ.  They weren’t acting independently building up rival schools of thought; they were building up the body. 

I prefer to let this book do the talking as much as I can, so please turn with me to 1 Corinthians chapter 3.  We’ll drop in at verse 3:  for you are still fleshly (Paul’s still speaking to the Corinthian Believers).  For since there is jealously and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?  For when one says, “I am of Paul, and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men?  What then is Apollos?  And what is Paul?  Servants (the conduit) through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one.  I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth… - For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:3-6, 11).

Paul says in chapter 3, verse 5, that there is jealously and strife among you.  Another word for this type of behavior is discord.  I want to show you something.  Let’s look at the 7 sins God “hates” the most:  There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to Him:  haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, A false witness who utters lies, (read carefully this is why we’re here) And one who spreads strife (discord) among brothers (Proverbs 6:16-19). 

Before I go any further with this teaching I want to remind the group when we see the writers of Scripture assigning “human emotions and actions” to Almighty God such as hates here or God being jealous at Exodus 20:5 it is man’s attempt to apply “human attributes” to God.  Man also applies “human traits” to God such as ““He set His face against evil” at Leviticus 20:6 and “He keeps His eye on the land” Deuteronomy 11:12.

This practice is called Anthropomorphism - the purpose being to describe God in terms more understandable to humans.  Since God is Divine and a Spirit, without anthropomorphism we would not have a framework on which to understand Him.
  
Moving on… there are more sins than the 7 listed above but at least two of these sins were being practiced by the Corinthian Believers.  One of them should be obvious; one who spreads strife (discord).  Chloe and her people wrote to Paul informing him there were quarrels (discord) among them and she explained why they were arguing.   

As I understand the way Proverbs 6:16-19 is written, the greater emphasis is placed on the last sin mentioned, “…and one who spreads strife.”  Please take this to heart.  If you’re guilty of spreading discord among the brethren, confess it now and make plans to change because God says it’s the sin that He hates the most. 

Let’s move on to verse 13.

13: Has Christ been divided?  Paul was not crucified for you, was he?  Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 

In response to Paul’s rhetorical question, “Has Christ been divided”, the answer is no.  Please turn with me to 1 Corinthians 10:16-17:  Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ?  Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?  Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread. 

Here we find one of Paul’s fundamental teachings about the church.  Just as a physical body is one, even though it is made up of many members, so also is the church, which is the Body of Christ, and it cannot be divided (1 Corinthians 11:29).

Paul said, the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body.  People expect Paul to finish this declaration up by saying, so too is the church, as the Body of Christ.  But that’s not what he said.  Paul said Christ is the church with this statement:  so also is Christ.  (1 Corinthians 12:12)

By this Paul means to say the glorified Jesus Christ who ascended into heaven is no longer physically present on earth.  But the Holy Spirit (the Helper) is active in the church.  The church is now in Christ, in heaven, and Christ is now in the church, His body, on earth (Ephesians 1:3, 1:18-23, 2:6; 1 Corinthians 12:27; Colossians 3:1-3).

Summing up, Jesus Christ doesn’t wish to be divided, and therefore, He won’t be.  That is to say there is only one Head of the Church; either we are completely in alignment with Him and His Word, or we are not.  (Colossians 1:18-20)

Nothing but the Truth

The Apostle John writes:  And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and (what) truth (John 1:14).

Jesus said, “…I have come into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37b).  God wants everyone to know the truth.  He gave us the Bible to help us understand the truth.  It is the Bible that separates Truth from untruth.  
  
…But the Truth Divides us

Jesus Christ also said, “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth?  I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three…”  (Luke 12:51-52)

This is one of Scripture’s hard Truths but it’s in the Bible so we have to deal with it.  By the way this isn’t one of “those” contradictions in Scripture; our Lord is saying the Truth divides us.  Jesus Christ never intended to be “politically correct.”  He didn’t walk the land speaking things people wanted to hear.  He spoke the Truth and He expected people to “adapt” to it.  After all, the words He spoke were given to Him by His Father (John 12:47-50). 

Today each Believer receives the Holy Spirit and is baptized into the Body of Christ the moment they believe (1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:13-14).  The Holy Spirit unifies us, and He does this by leading people into all truth:  “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come (John 16:13). 

The promise from our Lord Jesus Christ to all Believers is not that He will help them find some truth or assure them of limited truth but that He will guide them into all Truth!  (Psalm 119-105)

John 17:17 says:  “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word (God’s Word) is truth. 

Church unity is attained and maintained via actual doctrinal agreement, by faith in what God said,  through the working of the Holy Spirit in the minds and the hearts of the redeemed, as He helps people to grow complete, maturing in Christ Jesus - Remember those who led you (Paul, Apollos, and Peter), who spoke the word of God (the truth) to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith (1 Corinthians 4:16, 11:1; Ephesians 4:11-16).  

The Lord Jesus Christ calls everyone to be saved through His gospel, and then to unity in His body.  God planned it (Ephesians 3:2-6), Christ Jesus prayed for unity and provided the means for it (John 17:21), the Holy Spirit produces it (Ephesians 4:3-6), and our Apostle Paul pleads for unity (1 Corinthians 1:10). 

Paul was not crucified for you, was he?  Obviously, the answer is no. 
Only Jesus Christ could pay the price God required for mankind’s sins (1 Corinthians 1:23).  In actuality, the Corinthian’s were guilty of “preacher worship.”  As good as Apollos, Paul, and Peter were, they were merely servants of Jesus Christ, appointed by Him to teach His doctrines and to build up the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).  

However, the Corinthian’s problem runs much deeper.  They held stubbornly onto their bad habits one of which was their attraction to worldly wisdom.  In so doing, they overlooked a couple of Paul’s teachings #1:  Jesus Christ’s finished work of the cross is absolutely vital to one’s salvation.  #2:  No one else could have accomplished the crucial work of redemption (John 14:6; Romans 5:6-9; Philippians 2:1-9; Hebrews 10:11-14).
    
Not much has changed over the centuries.  People are still attracted to worldly wisdom a.k.a. “fluctuating opinions.”  Today human philosophy (Relativism) and science (Darwinism) are warmly accepted by society and promoted in our educational system while attempts to teach Intelligent Design or Creationism face stiff opposition from the private sector and the Supreme Court who declared it to be “unconstitutional.”  The trend of “pushing” God away continues in America unabated but God said this would happen.  (2 Peter 2:1-10, 3:3-9).

The Lord Jesus Christ said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6).  

But what do the people say?  A recent Pew Research Poll revealed that 70% of Americans, including evangelical church attenders, stated they believe many religions can lead to eternal life… meaning Christianity isn’t the only one; refuting Jesus’ statement above.  President Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Joel Osteen openly expressed agreement with them.  One of the things the church needs to learn from this is, if Christians believe there are many “paths” to heaven, the church is failing in its mission and other nations might want to consider sending missionaries here. 

I’m not the only one who’s noticed the signs of apostasy in America.  Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the west, including the U.S.A., for abstaining from Christian values and opting instead for a “path to degradation” in his State of the Nation speech on January 29, 2014.  In this speech he said, “Many Euro-Atlantic countries have moved away from their roots, including Christian values… Policies are being pursued that place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan.” 

Remarkably, it wasn’t that long ago the United States accused Russia of being a “god-less nation…”  Ronald Reagan said this to an audience of evangelicals on March 8, 1983…

As the old saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.”
I believe people should remember the words of Jesus Christ who said that His words would be the “test” by which men and women would ultimately be judged (John 12:48). 

Let’s move on. 

In verse 13 Paul asked another rhetorical question:  Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?  Some people put a lot of emphasis on a name that is to say I was baptized by “so and so.”  But Paul teaches it isn’t who performed the baptism that matters but who the saved individual was baptized into:  Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?  Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.  For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.  (Romans 6:3-5).

Paul is effectively making the case for Christ is these verses by stressing the need for unity by emphasizing these three points:  Christ is one, Christ is the one who died for His church, and He’s the one each Believer is baptized into.

Then in verses 14-15 Paul says, I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no would say you were baptized in my name.  For those who are visiting or new to HBS, Crispus was the Jewish leader of the synagogue in Corinth before he became a Believer; along with all his household (Acts 18:8).  At Acts 18:8 it also says, and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing and being baptized.  Since Paul said he only baptized Crispus, Gaius, and the household of Stephanas, this probably means other people performed the baptism ceremony. 

1 Corinthians 1

16: Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other.

Perhaps Gaius and Stephanas were Gentile Believers but Scripture is silent on this. What we do know for certain is that Paul’s gospel did not include the religious ceremony of baptism.

Now I know most of you out there will say John 3:16 is the gospel if I asked you, and that’s because this is what you’ve been taught over the years, but it’s not in alignment with Church Age Doctrine or the Scriptures rightly divided (2 Timothy 2:15). 

I believe in the inerrancy and the harmony of Scripture and I make no apology for this.  When Paul says, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets (sins) of men (and women) through Christ Jesus it is by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  In other words, what he says is Scripture and we all need to pay attention.  Ignoring Paul would be equal to you choosing to ignore the words of our glorified Lord Jesus Christ, if I may be so direct.  (2 Peter 3:14-18)


1 Corinthians 15:1-4 is the clearest explanation of Paul’s gospel by far and here it is:  Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are (what) saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.  For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures… (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Compare the paragraph above with John 3:16 and you’ll discover there’s no mention of Jesus Christ dying for our sins or the need to believe in His death, burial, and resurrection to be saved.  The Apostle Paul and the Apostle Peter each preached the gospel.  But upon examination of what they were saying, it is quite apparent that their messages were different from one another.  Yet, they did not contradict one another, because they spoke their “good news” to two separate audiences. 

The churches gospel, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, gave his life voluntarily, as the perfect sacrifice to pay for the sins of all mankind, was crucified, buried, and rose from the dead on the third day, according to the Scriptures is the message preached by Paul and his co-workers.  This is the only gospel being proclaimed today!

The Old Testament Kingdom Program is based on the LORD God’s promise to Abram of a land, a King, and a nation or kingdom.  Their nation was to eventually become a nation of priests to bring salvation to the Gentile nations.  In the Old Testament, it was no mystery that Israel would someday spread the Word of God to all nations.  But, it was prophesied to be after the Messiah had come and set up His kingdom centered in Jerusalem.  The people of Israel would then be sent to all nations to lead the Gentiles to their God in Jerusalem.  But all Israel did not receive and has not received Him yet.  So the fulfillment of the old program has been postponed.  The mystery was that God planned to go to the Gentiles (through the apostle Paul), when Israel rejected their King.  After this dispensation of grace ends at the rapture, God will resume the old program.

Per Jesus Christ, the gospel message for that particular dispensation was:  Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  (Matthew 4:17, 10:7)  But before the nation of Israel could realize her King and the kingdom could be ushered in the entire nation of Israel had to believe that Jesus was the Messiah – the Son of God (Acts 8:25-37). 

Let’s look at the account of Peter’s confession of Christ at Matthew chapter 16.  I’m not going to go over every word with you; most of you are familiar with the story.  This is what I want you to see:  Jesus asked Peter this question at verse 15:  “But who do you say that I am?”  (Did Peter answer, you’re the One who is going to die for my sins, be buried, and rise from the dead?  No.  What does the book say?)  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  (Did Jesus scold Peter for his answer?  Did Jesus say, Peter you got it all wrong?  Did Jesus say I need to see you after class?  No.  Jesus said) “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

It’s worth mentioning the twelve apostles had no idea that Jesus Christ was going to die and then rise from the dead, even though He told them He would (Luke 18:31-34).

Further proof of this is recorded in Scripture for us.  On the day of His resurrection where were His disciples?  Were they sitting out in front of His tomb on the third day waiting to greet Him?  No.  They were behind a locked door in hiding:  for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead (John 20:9).

(To be continued)


[Published weekly on Friday]


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