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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
Last week I briefly discussed how HBS functions. Continuing in that mode, this week I’m going to list a few of the foundational truths we believe and stand for. I pray this will answer some of the questions you may have regarding this subject.
We believe in the Triune God composed of three persons; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They are co-equaling Spirit beings, yet individual personalities, functioning as one. (Genesis 1:1 - Elohim is Hebrew for God in this verse; it represents a plural number; Matthew 3:13-17; 28:19; Philippians 2:5-7; Colossians 2:9; Titus 2:13)
We believe the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God and that it was verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit; holy men of God wrote the Scriptures without any other resource. (2 Peter 1:20-21)
We believe Jesus Christ is the son of God, and is the creator of everything seen and unseen and He holds all things together. (John 1:1; Colossians 1:16-17; 1Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:2)
We believe God the Son became the incarnate God in the flesh by way of the virgin birth and was without sin. (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; Galatians 4:4; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews4:15; 1 John 3:5; 1 Peter 1:18-19)
We believe the human race began with the man (Adam), perfect and sinless, but his act of willful disobedience (and not the Woman’s) precipitated the fall of the whole human race. (Romans 5:12, Romans 3:23)
We believe our heavenly Father has provided the way back to fellowship with Himself through faith (alone) in the gospel of Jesus Christ, specifically faith in his death for our sins, his burial, and his resurrection in power and glory on the third day, according to the Scriptures. (John 14:6; Romans 2:16; 16:25; I Corinthians 15:1-4)
We believe in the eternal security of the Believer, in Christ Jesus. Our eternal security (salvation) is based on God’s love for those whom He redeemed. Our eternal security is purchased by Jesus Christ, promised by the Father, and sealed by the Holy Spirit of truth. (John 3:16, 10:28-29b; Romans 8:38-39; Ephesians 4:30; Jude 24)
We believe the communion table is the time of reverential contemplating of the finished work of the cross and that there is no set schedule in practice. (I Corinthians 11:26)
We believe the true believer will live a life pleasing to God. (Titus 2:1, 2:12-14; Galatians 5:22-23)
We believe in the pre-tribulation out calling of the body of Christ, (I Corinthians 15:51-54, I Thessalonians 4:13-17), followed by a seven-year tribulation (Daniel 9:27), and the second coming of Christ to set up His thousand year reign on the new earth (Zechariah 14:1-9; Revelation 21:1).
We believe the lost (unbelievers) of all the ages will be resurrected and appear before the Great White Throne Judgment seat of Jesus Christ and then sent to their eternal doom. (John 5:28-29; Revelation 20:11-15)
As I said earlier, we believe everything that God has revealed to us in the Bible is true.
To save time I didn’t see the need to re-write the entire book here; instead of doing that I just “highlighted” a few items that we profess to believe, which means in the long run, the list above is not an exhaustive list. Last week I used the illustration of Coach Lombardi teaching the fundamentals or basics to his professional football team by simply stating, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” I believe the church should adopt his game-plan and teach the basics every now and again by holding up the Bible to the assembly and simply stating, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Word of God.
The Superiority of God’s Wisdom
Last week God the Father showed the world that His wisdom is superior to man’s first, because of its permanence; and second, because of its power. God accomplished what the accumulated wisdom of man and their works couldn’t do. The Gospel, the victory, God achieved at the cross over sin and death, is all of God; the Greek’s accumulated wisdom and the Jew’s work’s under the Law contributed nothing: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in (your) weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9a).
The unbelieving Greeks ridicule and the Jews scorn the cross of Jesus Christ. But to those who are being saved we give thanks and praise to Him who did not call down 10,000 angels to “save Himself,” but instead chose to die in agony and disgrace because of this truth, “Jesus Christ died for our sins.” Because He paid the penalty for sin, in full, God is now “just and the justifier of the one that believes in Jesus (Romans 3:26).
The Greeks literally stood in awe of human wisdom and their philosophies afraid to speak against the numerous theories (even though man’s schools of thought change as often as they change their attire) for fear of being labeled an illiterate or worse. Have they forgotten that with each passing day everyone is aging and drawing closer to death? These people aren’t as intelligent as they believe themselves to be for they persistently neglect and reject any information they might find on the subject of eternal life through faith in God’s Son and yet they still declare themselves to be intellectuals.
Man hasn’t changed much over the years. Intelligence is admired, but not like the old days. Today, the notion that “beats the drum,” or is awesome in the “hearts” and minds of most people are the people of noble birth, the very wealthy, and especially those in the music and entertainment industry… people are fixated on this stuff. But, once again, they’re not thinking straight – a life on this earth on average lasts between 70-80 years. How many of those years do you think are really good, healthy years? Half of those years, at best… We just witnessed two influential people in the music industry pass on this week. In case you missed the news coverage their names were David Bowie and Glen Frey of the Eagles; neither of these men made it to age 70.
It’s time to wake up from your slumber and recognize the Truth. People, pizza, and prestige, to list but a few items, are not awesome things. Only one awesome thing has ever happened to our world and that is the cross: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again (through faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ) to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you (1 Peter 1:3-4).
The folks who are too proud to acknowledge and accept God’s free gift of Grace in this life will meet the Lord Jesus Christ at the Great White Throne Judgment and there proclaim Him Lord (Revelation 20:11-15; Philippians 2:10-11) before going on to their eternal doom. Now, that’s not a good thought and people don’t like to hear it, much less deal with it, which is why it’s “taboo” in most churches today, meaning they don’t talk about such things. They get the “cotton-candy” sermons instead – feels good going down but it is without substance or lasting value.
Please open your Bible at 1 Corinthians 1:26.
The Sovereignty of God
1 Corinthians 1
26: For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble (Matthew 11:25);
27: but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,
28: and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are,
29: so that no man (or woman) may boast before God. (Ephesians 2:9)
30: But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us (what) wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,
31: so that, just as it is written (Paul refers to the Old Testament – the Bible as we know it doesn’t exist for hundreds of years), “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:23)
Just so you’re aware, Romans chapter 9 is another chapter where Paul teaches the sovereignty of God. So is Ephesians 1. Then there is 1 Corinthians 1:19-31. If you’ll take the time to study all three, I believe you’ll discover Paul presents them differently: Romans 9 explains the sovereignty of God theologically, Ephesians 1 praises the glory of it, and his writings in the first chapter of 1 Corinthians demonstrates it practically. I mean, please consider his addressees. They’re not ready to receive anything other than the milk of the word, so Paul keeps it simple (1 Corinthians 3:1-3).
The way Paul begins this letter isn’t much different from any of his other letters, but for one thing, its emphasis on the sovereignty of God increases as we proceed to the end of the chapter, especially from verse 19 on.
V19 – “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE…”
V20 – Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
V21 – For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
V24 – but to those who are the called…
V26 – consider your calling brethren,
V27-28 – but God has chosen…, and God has chosen the weak things of the world…, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen,
After reading through verses 26-28 I’ve identified five classes of people whom God has chosen to save and to use for His holy purpose: the foolish, the weak, the base, the despised, and the things that are not (the nobodies of this world).
Now I know what you’re thinking already… something akin to, “You’re not talking about me! Don’t include me in that grouping.” But please give God a chance to explain.
The Greek word for foolish is Moros (pronounced: mo-ros) means foolish things. As it’s used here it means those who were destitute of learning, rank, power, and wealth; and therefore deemed fools and despised by the rich and the great.
The Greek word for weak is Asthenes (pronounced: as-then-ace’) meaning unimpressive or those people in the world esteemed to be too pathetic to matter.
The Greek word for base (things) is Agenes (pronounced: ag-en-ece’) meaning ignoble, low-born. Literally, this means those who are not born noble; those which the world regards with contempt.
…the things that are not – I don’t think this needs an explanation, but since we’re here. It means that which is nothing; is without value; which in the estimation of the world is below contempt itself.
So, you see, this is man’s view of man and not God’s. God sent His Son to die for all. Paul preached the same saving message to all, Jew of Greek, rich or poor, slave or free, educated or uneducated. The only thing that mattered to Paul was: …that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:10-11) and he hoped to convey these truths wherever God sent him to any and all who’d lend an ear.
Paul wants the Corinthians to understand (and us too) that God deliberately chooses and uses these kinds of individuals to shame the wise, and the things which are strong, so that He may nullify (meaning to humble and subdue the proud; in order to show them how vain and powerless they really are before their Maker) the things that are.
Nowhere in this book does it say that the wealthy, the wise, and the noble are left out of God’s plan of salvation. Anyone who opts to humble themselves before the cross of Jesus Christ has all they need: “Likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” (1 Peter 5:5-6; Proverbs 11:2; James 4:6-10).
It is also true that God doesn’t only save the foolish, the weak, the base, and the nobodies of this world. It is true He has chosen such to be used as instruments of His glory, if they are teachable and willing that is... This is one of Paul’s points in verses 26 thru 29. Most of the people in the Corinthian Church were everyday, run-of-the-muck, sun-up to sun-down working people. There weren’t many from the privileged Roman culture in this assembly but there were a few.
If the wise, the mighty, the noble, the foolish, the weak, the base, or the nobodies of this world aren’t counted among the saved it’s because they elected to shut themselves out of God’s kingdom due to their pride. Meaning these folks will be the last on this earth to bow a knee before Jesus Christ and His cross, recognizing their sin and their need of Him (Mark 10:22-23). It was also the case with intellectual Capernaum (Matthew 11:22-23).
The application ought to be obvious but in case some people missed it – no matter your station in life, upper-class, middle-class, or lower-class, you need to adopt the right attitude before God, for God will not tolerate pride or the boasting of men and women: For though the LORD is exalted, Yet He regards the lowly, But the haughty He know from (where) afar (Psalm 138:6). (Daniel 4:37; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5-6).
Why? Paul gives us the answer in verse 31.
1 Corinthians 1
31: so that, just as it is written “LET HIM (or her) WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”
Paul borrows a quotation from the prophet Jeremiah (9:23-24). It appears to be a condensed quote and not a literal translation but I think the message is clear enough. Not one single person will be hanging around the water-cooler in heaven bragging about how he or she got there. All boasting will be in the Lord because we come to the cross empty handed, so to speak; we have zero strength in and of ourselves, and zero righteousness of which to boast. This book says all our good deeds or righteousness are like filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6; Ephesians 2:1-5). Therefore, God the Father receives the glory, the honor, and the praise!
This book says God will not share His glory with anyone else: “I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images” (Isaiah 42:8, 11).
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
Let’s go to chapter 2.
Some of these folks in the Corinthian Church were very intellectual (following after the Sophist’s agenda); however, they put way too much emphasis on human wisdom and human performance omitting Paul’s teachings on God’s Grace, specifically the cross.
Paul freely admits that wisdom and knowledge are also counted among the gifts of God and he continues to carry this theme on into the next part of his letter by choosing to emphasize God’s revelation versus human discovery.
Paul’s Reliance on the Spirit
1 Corinthians 2
1: And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. (1 Corinthians 1:17)
2: For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
3: I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling,
4: and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
5: so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
We briefly looked at this paragraph sometime back, but I’m all for reviewing dated material; perhaps the Holy Spirit has something new to show us. Our Apostle Paul didn’t arrive on scene speaking eloquently and profoundly, spewing forth abstract arguments concerning the wisdom of the world, which was all the rage and in vogue at that time. Rather, when Paul arrived in Corinth, Greece he came proclaiming the testimony of God (v1) or as he stated it at 1 Corinthians 1:17, to preach the gospel, as it was revealed to him by the glorified and risen Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:11-19).
Not many people today are aware that Paul is the apostle to the Gentiles and this is unfortunate. One of the goals of this ministry is to educate people about such things. When God saved and commissioned Saul of Tarsus, later to be recognized in Scripture as the Apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 9), He began a new program and relationship in which He could bless Gentiles in spite of the nation of Israel’s rejection of their Messiah, Jesus Christ, and His offer of the kingdom. With Paul’s commission God created the church, the Body of Christ, and brought in a new age, the Church Age. The Church would not operate under the Law of Moses as Israel had but instead under God’s Grace (Romans 6:14). Thus, Paul stands at the “doorway” of God’s new program or dispensation. As such, our Apostle Paul is the founder of Christianity. He is to the Church as Abraham and Moses were to birth and nurturing of the nation of Israel. When people begin to understand this biblical truth, then they’ll begin to understand Church-Age theology.
Our Apostle Paul writes: Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery (secret is a better word) which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested (shown the spotlight on it), and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith (and not works); to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen. (Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:1-7; Colossians 1:26)
…proclaiming to you the testimony of God – the Greek word for testimony as used here is Marturion (pronounced: mar-too’-ree-on) and means – testimony, or witness. So, Paul is saying, “I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, I simply bore witness to what I knew to be the truth.” This makes perfect sense, because we all know a person’s testimony, say in a courtroom setting for example, is not to be based on what he or she thinks, but on what they have seen or heard. What we learn from this is when the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Paul, He told him, “For you will be a (what) witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard.” (Acts 22:15)
How important is our testimony? If you’ll turn with me to Acts 4, we have the biblical record of Peter and John, several months after Jesus’ resurrection, before some of the Jewish religious rulers of their day, the Sanhedrin, and they were in trouble. They were brought before them for “healing” a lame man without proper authority. After Peter’s defense the Sanhedrin responded thusly: Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and began to recognize them as (what) having been with (the risen) Jesus (v13).
At first the Sanhedrin weren’t all that impressed with John and Peter, but their boldness in speaking about Jesus made them stop and think. They both talked about having been with their risen Lord doing normal things together. This boldness of testimony, coming from such men as these, convinced these religious rulers in their hearts and their minds that they had indeed been with Christ since His crucifixion, and that He must have risen from the dead, and is therefore ALIVE!
In like fashion our Apostle Paul took the testimony of God wherever he was sent and spoke boldly. Even though he was an educated man, Paul knew that one ounce of honest testimony is worth more than a pound of oratory, which is why he kept God’s message simple, preaching Jesus Christ, and Him crucified (v2).
(To be continued)
[Published weekly on Friday]
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