Home Bible Study ©
Established November 2008
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
(2 Timothy 2:15)
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
Well, as mom used to say, “We didn’t come here just to stare at the lake, let’s get in the water…” My prayer for you guys has been somewhat similar. I pray you’re “getting into” your Bible, that is to say studying it and enjoying your time in the Word.
One of my goals or interests here at HBS is getting people interested in their Bible.
I want you to see for yourselves what God said and why He said it because the maturing Believer is one who knows what they believe and why they believe it.
Additionally, once you know the Truth it becomes more difficult for “the father of lies” to deceive you (John 8:44; 2 Timothy 3:16-17); for you to be tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ… (Ephesians 4:14-15).
Every parent is pleased to see their children gaining knowledge and growing (maturing). God the Father is blessed when He sees His children making the transition from “babes in Christ” into Spiritual adulthood. God expects every Believer to move from the spiritual nursery to the Spiritual battlefield. God wants us to leave the milk, bibs, and diapers behind and enter the realm of meat, devotion, and spiritual battles (Ephesians 4:11-31).
Jesus Christ sent the Holy Spirit to “enable” Believers to live a life pleasing to God (Romans 8:11). But the reality is some Believers never grow up spiritually; simply because they’re not Spirit led. The church at Corinth is an example of spiritually “stunted” growth. This church had been enriched in Him, in all speech and knowledge; they had received various spiritual gifts. Yet, in spite of God’s Grace and these gifts they weren’t growing in Christ Jesus; the majority remained “babes in Christ.”
What are some characteristics of a “babe in Christ? Aren’t they usually: unaware, undeveloped, unpredictable, unstable, and weak; i.e. easily influenced by others and regarding temptation easily led astray?
That’s a pretty good description of the Corinthian Church in Paul’s day.
Please open your Bible at 1 Corinthians 1:4.
1 Corinthians 1
4: I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you in Christ Jesus,
After Paul’s opening statement and the benediction he begins to pray for the Believers in Corinth. You’ll find a prayer at the beginning of most his letters, but there’s a remarkable difference between this letter and his letters to the Romans, the Philippians, and the church at Colosse for example. I want you to see for yourselves what this book says, so please turn with me to Romans 1:8: First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole (Roman) world.
Hang onto that thought as you turn with me to Philippians 1:3-5: I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.
Now if you will, please turn to Colossians 1:3-6: We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth,
When you look at these three prayers and compare them to the prayer he offered up for the church in Corinth (v4), wouldn’t you agree there’s a significant difference?
Let’s break them down individually.
Let’s break them down individually.
The faith of the church in Rome was being proclaimed throughout the whole world.
The church at Philippi’s participation in the gospel (among other things) brought joy to Paul always.
The Colossians received praise from Paul for their faith, the love they had for all the saints, and because the gospel was bearing fruit in them.
Paul could not praise the Corinthian Church for their character or for bearing fruit, so Paul, always the encourager, thanks God, on their behalf, that God had been gracious to them. They weren’t spiritual paupers by any means; they had received God’s Grace through faith in the gospel; they just didn’t act like it.
Corinthians is a letter of reproof, and 2 Corinthians is the follow up letter. God had saved these individuals and had enriched them with a variety of supernatural gifts, but these gifts caused them to argue amongst themselves and they became proud. They’re conduct was unbecoming a Believer! So, the Apostle Paul is only able to say, I thank my God always…for the grace of God which was given you.
[Food for thought]
This begs the question, what if our Apostle Paul, the faithful steward for the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the “revelation of the secret,” were to write a letter to each one of us today. Could he write a letter expressing thanks and joy for our testimony, our faithfulness in sharing the gospel, and for our steadfast love for all the saints? Or would he have to write cautiously, thanking God only that He had been gracious to us, knowing that we are undeserving of any praise? Worse yet, would Paul express words of reproof, questioning our very salvation?
God help us to face up to the Truth regarding the seriousness of these matters thoughtfully and prayerfully, and to act upon them with resolution so that, should we receive a letter from our beloved brother Paul, it would contain these blessed words: “I thank my God upon remembrance of you (insert your name here).”
Let’s go to verses 5-7.
1 Corinthians 1
5: that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge.
that in everything – God the Father doesn’t do anything halfway or haphazardly! Another way of putting this and in keeping with the text God’s “all in” when it comes to bestowing spiritual gifts and/or favors on His children. Favor is God’s “I’m for you” attitude. It’s the undeserved benefit of being His adopted child. The problem is most people don’t understand it.
You “favor” someone that you want to be with because there’s a special connection between you and them. You want to be with this person because you delight in them. Your spouse is a good example of this teaching.
God shows favor to the ones who delight in, connect with, and give honor to Him (Isaiah 66:2). God’s response to those who love Him and His commands is to bless, guide, and protect them (Psalm 18:2, 37:23, 119:105; Proverbs 3:5-6; Philippians 4:19).
Please don’t take this to mean that those who God favors will never suffer difficulties.
The Bible is filled with the accounts of God-fearing people who suffered hardship.
…you were enriched in Him, this means the Corinthians abounded in these spiritual gifts and favors. In addition, they are conferred abundantly upon all Believers.
But what does this book say?
Please turn to Ephesians 2:4-5: But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by (what) grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
Does this sound as if God the Father “held” anything back? I don’t think so.
Do you not know that as an adopted child of God you are “joint heirs with Jesus Christ?” (Romans 8:14-17; Galatians 4:7) As a joint heir with Jesus Christ, you and I inherit everything that He is. Does this begin to explain how precious you are to God the Father? The same way God loves His Son is the same way God loves you and me!
Now let’s review 2 Corinthians 6:10: as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things. The mercies of God are not only conferred abundantly upon His children they are gifts of immeasurable value.
If you ask someone what they consider “valuable,” you’re going to get a wide-range of responses because people are “chasing” after different things. Summed up it could resemble this: people today want a six-figure salary, a growing stock portfolio, 2 BMW’s in the drive-way, zero percent body fat, and a super-model for a spouse living in their 6,500 sq ft home.
Our Apostle Paul had a much different attitude. He said: But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ… (Philippians 3:7-8).
Paul is saying (counting all as loss), if I have a choice between Jesus Christ and anything else I choose Christ. He’s also saying (counting all as loss), when we deal with the things of this God-hating world we’ll do this in such a way as to draw us nearer to Jesus Christ, so that we gain more of Christ, by the way we relate to everything.
…in all speech – the church at Corinth was given the gift of tongues or the ability to speak multiple languages. They fact that they valued this gift highly is evident from 2 Corinthians 8:7: But just as you abound in everything, in faith and utterance (speech) and knowledge and in all earnestness and in the love we inspired in you, see that you abound in this gracious work also. Paul regarded the power of speaking in tongues as a subject of “thanksgiving,” because it provided proof of God’s Divine favor to them (1 Corinthians 14:5, 1Corinthians 14:22).
…and all knowledge – Paul’s referring to Divine Truth and not worldly wisdom. This body of Believers had heard and understood his teachings (Church Age Doctrine) and they “took them to heart,” well, some of them did, and Paul was thankful for these folks. As for the rest, he hoped they would listen attentively to his prayerful words of thanksgiving, and with open hearts and minds remember who they were called to be in Christ Jesus.
1 Corinthians 1
6: even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you,
“What is the testimony of Christ which was confirmed in them and us?”
Some people think it’s the way they live their life after being born again. They talk about the things they are doing or not doing anymore. The Bible says the way we live our lives as Believers should “adorn the gospel,” in the same manner you decorate your Christmas Tree, but in Truth it’s not our testimony: Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect (Titus 2:9-10).
In verse 6 we learn that the Corinthian Believers had the testimony of Christ confirmed in them. The Corinthians’ testimony is their acknowledgment of God’s Gospel by faith. The Lord Jesus Christ warned Paul that he should, “Make haste, and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your (what) testimony about Me.” (Acts 22:18)
Please note that Paul’s testimony was concerning Jesus Christ and what He had accomplished at Calvary. The Lord told Paul that the Jews in Jerusalem would not receive his testimony, but later on in his letter to the Thessalonians Paul tells us that the Gentiles in Thessalonica believed his testimony (2 Thessalonians 1:10).
When Paul speaks of the Corinthians’ testimony, he’s referring to the Lord Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, which satisfied God’s perfect justice and saves all who believe on it. To be brief, the gospel is your testimony, and it was confirmed in the church in Corinth, and it was confirmed in you and me, when we believed.
If someone asked you if you were saved today, hopefully, you would give testimony to the fact that you had trusted in the shed blood of Jesus Christ for your sins.
1 Corinthians 1
7: so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,
The word gift in the Greek language is Charisma (pronounced – khar’-is-mah) and means a favor with which one receives without any merit of his or her own. A good deal of this letter is about the Corinthians spiritual giftedness, i.e. knowledge, prophecy, speech, etc. for this is how God enriched them.
Let’s “dig deeper” as we consider v 7. Why did God bestow these spiritual gifts upon the church at Corinth? I believe the answer lies partially in what Paul said at 1 Corinthians 1:22: For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks (Gentiles) search for wisdom…
If you’ll recall from the introductory lessons, and from Scripture, this church had begun in a Jewish synagogue. It was moved to the home of a Gentile Believer and was now a fairly large city church, composed predominately of Gentiles and some Jews. The Corinthian Synagogue didn’t close their doors; it was still functioning as before. There’s no question the unsaved Jews were observing the “goings on” of this church group, and this begs the question what did they think of the Corinthian Church? Their dissension and immoral conduct would not convince them that this was a “work of God,” but their miraculous demonstrations certainly would, or should have. When miracles occur, they give evidence that God is truly at work and they serve to advance the gospel. They also authenticate God’s message and His messengers (John 3:1-2).
It could be said then that God was leaving the Jews without an excuse for further “unbelief; “for continuing to reject Paul’s testimony. Despite their carnality, the divisions among the Believers, their permissiveness, and the pride of the Corinthian Church the Jews could not dismiss the fact that they had been enriched in knowledge, prophecy, and speech, among other things – these were signs that God was with them.
I’d be remiss as your “guide” through the Scriptures (Acts 8:31), if I failed to point out that these spiritual gifts, a term that’s been adopted and widely used by the Charismatic Movement of today, continued only as long as God continued dealing with the nation of Israel. There’s not one word of them in any of Paul’s later epistles. He even says in 1 Corinthians 13:8 they will be done away with.
1 Corinthians 1
7b-8: …awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
There are 8 dispensations overall and we are presently living in the 7th, which is the Dispensation of God’s Grace. We covered this material while studying the book of Romans, but for those who are relatively new, this dispensation is an interruption of God’s Prophetic Program where He is dealing primarily with the nation of Israel, and the establishment of His earthly kingdom has been put on hold. But now during this parenthetical period of time God is sending forth His invitation of Grace and Peace to all and forming His church which is Christ’s body. The Body of Christ is to be saved from the wrath of God to come during an event we call the rapture (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, 4:13-18).
Therefore, the primary expectation of these Believers, and every true Believer, ought to be the appearing of our Lord: …but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons (and daughters), the redemption of the body (Romans 8:23; Titus 2:13; Jude 1:21).
We can learn more than a couple of things from these verses, but I’ll highlight two:
#1: The majority of these folks were ”babes in Christ,” they were carnal (worldly) in their thinking, and in their behavior, but Paul’s saying should the Lord Jesus Christ return this very day, despite all their failings, God would consider them blameless - “washed white as snow” in the blood of the lamb! Put another way, they’re as righteous as God’s Son. If this were not true, Paul would have so.
#2: Our Lord Jesus Christ who will also confirm you to the end. This is true because every Believer in Corinth, as every true Believer, is under the blood of Jesus Christ.
Scripture teaches the Doctrine of Eternal Security or as you may have heard it, “Once Saved Always Saved.” Once an individual has accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, they are “saved” forever. This experience cannot be undone:
And I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. (John 10:28)
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).
All Believers are “born again” (regenerated) when they believe God’s Gospel. For you or me to lose our salvation we would have to be un-regenerated or “un-born again.” The Bible does not provide any proof that the new birth can be taken away (John 3:3; Titus 3:5).
The teaching of “once saved always saved” is in complete harmony with the Scriptures and leaves no room for doubt: For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us (Believers) from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
1 Corinthians 1
9: God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
God never fails, He never gives up, He never runs out on me (and you) – Jesus Culture
God will not commence anything which He will not perfect and finish. This is why Paul introduced this thought here. The reason these “flawed” Believers will persevere to the end depends solely on the faithfulness of God who called them into fellowship with His Son (Philippians 1:6-11).
The same God who saved this church in Corinth is the same God who will keep them; He will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(To be continued)
[Published weekly on Friday]
© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved