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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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Friday, February 5, 2016

1 Corinthians (Lesson 10)



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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 10)

A new missionary was assigned a car that wouldn’t start without a push from behind.
He pondered this problem for some time before coming up with a solution.  He went to the nearby school, received permission to temporarily remove some of the children from their classroom in the mornings, and he had them push the car to get it going.  As he made his rounds, he either parked the car on a hill or he left the engine running.

This is how he managed the car concern every single day of the two years he served in country.  Ill health forced him to leave the ministry and a new missionary was sent to replace him.

While the retiring missionary was explaining his arrangement and the problem he had getting the car started to the new man, he had already opened the hood and began looking around.  After a few minutes he interrupted the missionary’s explanation saying, “I believe I’ve discovered you’re problem.  There’s a loose cable on the battery.”  He quickly tightened the cable, sat down in the driver’s seat, turned the ignition key, and to the retiring missionary’s amazement the engine roared to life.

For two years the missionary had endured unnecessary difficulty because not only was the power there it was available the entire time; only a loose connection kept him from putting that power to work.

Food for Thought

It has been said, “What you value you will pursue.”  It’s fairly obvious that some people in the church value the gift of the Holy Spirit and some do not.  Permit me to put it this way, “What would your lives be like if you allowed the Spirit of God to live though you daily?”

True Believers understand they need both the Word of God and the Spirit of God working in their lives continuously.  When we establish a firm connection with our heavenly Father, His power flows through us …and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.  These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, (Ephesians 1:19-20).

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you (Romans 8:11).

Is a “loose” connection preventing you from experiencing God’s power in your life?

********

Please open your Bible at 1 Corinthians 2:12.

1 Corinthians 2

12: Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God,

13: which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

14: But a natural man (or woman) does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him (or her); and he (or she) cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 

15: But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.

16: For “WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM?  But we have the mind of Christ.  (Isaiah 40:13)

As usual, we’ll tackle these verses one at a time beginning with verse 12.

Now we by we Paul means to say every true Believer, in Christ Jesus, but especially the apostles or those who were called specifically by the Lord Jesus Christ to herald and explain His message of salvation to the lost.  We know this because of what Paul says in verse 13:  which things we (the stewards of God’s word) also speak  (1 Corinthians 4:1).

Every true Believer has received (past tense) not the spirit of the world – Scripture speaks about the world frequently and I mean to emphasize it whenever possible.  The present-day world is functioning without God.  Paul refers to it as a “spirit of slavery” in Romans 8:15.  The majority of people living in the world today are enslaved to sin.  They are being ruled by pathological hypocrites and liars and their father is Satan, “the father of lies” (John 8:44-47).
  
Where do I get this?  The Bible says Satan is the god of this age and has been ever since the man (Adam) willfully sinned against God yielding his God-given dominion to the evil one:  And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the price of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons (and daughters) of disobedience (Genesis 1:26; Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:21; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:1-2).

But we (true Believers) have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God.  Followers (imitators) of Jesus Christ are not subject to, or vehicles for, the evil spirit of the world.  They are instead striving, as best as they can, to be led by the Spirit of God, in order to live a life according to the Light of God, or the Word of God (Luke 4:1; Romans 8:14).  We esteem the gift of the Holy Spirit and give thanks daily for our firm connection with God the Father who has identified us as His own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything He has promised (2 Corinthians 1:22 – NIV translation).

…that we may know the things freely given to us by God – we can understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the blessings contained in that message only through the operation of the Holy Spirit.  Otherwise, we’d be “lost in space,” so to speak, along with the rest of the unbelieving world.  As I’ve said before, the message of the cross and God’s redemptive plan is complex; it’s too spiritually deep for us Believers to understand it.  Adding to that thought, even though we’ve established a firm connection with our heavenly Father, we can’t hope to know Him fully this side of glory.  But because of the indwelt Holy Spirit we know everything we need to know for salvation and godly living through the revelation of God (Deuteronomy 29:29; Psalms 119:105; Romans 8:32).

Let’s look at verse 13.

1 Corinthians 2

13: which things we (apostles) also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

Paul is continuously comparing the wisdom of man against the wisdom of God throughout chapter 2; we find more evidence of this in v13.  To the dying world the Bible is only a dated book written by ordinary men; according to these people it’s inconsequential and has no redeeming value. 

Should an unbeliever try to read the Bible they couldn’t hope to understand what God is saying because they don’t have a relationship with Him.  I heard it put this way years ago; an unbeliever isn’t able to understand the Bible because they’re reading “somebody else’s mail.”  But once you become a Believer the Bible begins to make sense through the operation of the indwelt Holy Spirit.  The more time you invest in Bible study the more your understanding grows.

…which things we also speakPaul says he’s going to speak; he’s going to use the words God has provided.  By this he means to say every Believer needs to share God’s Gospel (particularly those God has called for this purpose), for His Truths are Light and life to those who are lost. 

Please don’t get the idea you need to memorize 50 or more Bible verses before you’re ready for your first assignment.  You don’t need to “down-load” the entire book of Romans on an unsuspecting co-worker or family member either.  You’ll discover the method changes with each individual you encounter.  Paul knew this and he did his best to avoid sounding like a walking cliché’ or a tired door-to-door salesman when he talked to people about the cross.  Remember, you’re not in the salvation business, so let go of the stress and let the Holy Spirit guide you.  The Spirit of God does the work of regeneration in a person’s heart; it is God who saves.  Remember too that even though you may be the one who introduces them to the gospel, it often takes several such contacts in a person’s life before the Spirit helps them understand the content of its message; it did for me… (1 Corinthians 3:6; 2 Corinthians 5:11-21).

The great and glorious truths which Paul and others explain or speak are not in words taught by human wisdom.  Again, Paul speaks of the insufficiency of the human intellect to understand the things of God - because the “puffed-up,” eloquently-trained philosophers of the day, and the crowds who gathered to listen to their rhetoric, not only didn’t know God they weren’t interested in acquiring knowledge of Him.

The things, Paul speaks of are associated with God’s redemptive plan; things which had been kept hidden in the mind of God since the foundations of the earth, according to His will (Deuteronomy 29:29).  These truths were introduced to our Apostle Paul by the Lord Jesus Christ over a period of three years in the desert of Arabia; probably at or near the place Moses received the Ten Commandments from God.  I’m thinking the Lord spent most of this time helping Paul unlearn the Mosaic Law.   Making the transition from the Dispensation of the Law to the Dispensation of God’s Grace wasn’t an effortless change for a Jew.  Scripture says the Gospel of Jesus Christ was and is a stumbling block to a Jew (Romans 9:32-33; Galatians 1:11-19).  

…but in those (words) taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual wordsanother way of putting this is the Holy Spirit was involved in the development of the Scriptures from Genesis to the book of Revelation and works through Scripture to accomplish God’s purposes in Believer’s lives today.  The Scriptures are the revelation of God; God has communicated to man information that man would not have known otherwise.

Please turn with me to 2 Peter, chapter 1, and we’ll drop in at verses 20-21:  But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.  (The word prophecy as used here has nothing to do with predicting the future.  In the early church, those with the gift of prophecy simply spoke forth the Word of God (Logos); this was necessary because the Bible wasn’t in print yet.) 

In short, this Bible passage is saying the Holy Spirit is the author of Scripture; therefore there are no contradictions or errors contained within it.  The other thing its saying is no interpretation of Scripture is private belonging only to you or me.  I think a better way of saying this is, “Don’t hang your eternal destiny on just one or two Bible verses.  The Bible is a progressive revelation, meaning those things God has revealed to humanity were not given all at once but in stages and this includes increased revelation of Himself and His expressed will.  Therefore, All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man (and woman) of God may be complete, having been fully equipped toward every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17); the Scriptures contain everything we need to know!

Two things immediately come to mind.  #1:  I’ve alluded to the fact that certain aspects of human wisdom have merit but as the prophet Isaiah said, speaking for the LORD God, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:9).  This verse is telling us that God is infinite while man is finite.  It’s also saying the nature of God is such that man needs revelation or enlightenment from Him before they can know Him or understand His ways.

#2:  Scripture clearly indicates that man is by nature fallen (depraved) and unable to think honestly about God.  The need for a firm connection or spiritual relationship with the Creator is also stressed throughout this book.  Without the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through an individual they cannot hope to understand the things of God for they are spiritually discerned from the Father.  Paul writes …that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of (what) wisdom and of (what) revelation in the knowledge of Him (Ephesians 1:17).

After God calls us, He expects each Believer from then on to exercise their faith in seeking to draw near to Him.  If we do this we have this encouraging promise:  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).

Permit me to illustrate.  When you really want to know someone what do you normally do?  Spend time with them, right?  After I met the girl that would soon become my best friend and then later my wife, that’s pretty much all I wanted to do.  In other words, I wanted to know what “made her tick” and the only way I could accomplish this was by investing time in her and our relationship.
  
Albert Einstein said, “I want to know how God created this world.  I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element.  I want to know His thoughts; the rest are details.” 

The first step in our quest for intimacy with the Lord is getting to know Him – who He is, what He does, how He thinks, and what He desires.  Even though God is invisible and inaudible to our physical senses, a close relationship with Him is cultivated the same way human friendships are – through time spent together, communication, vulnerability, and shared interests. 
Dr. Charles Stanley.

Although God is invisible and inaudible, as Dr. Stanley explained above, He has made a way for us to know Him and that is through the spoken Word (John 1:1-4, 1:14-17, 5:18-24, 14:6-11).  This book says:  God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us (this includes you, me, and every Believer) in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world (Hebrews 1:1-2).

A Word is a thought that has been expressed.  Makes sense, right.  God’s attributes, His character, and His revealed thoughts are addressed to us in His written Word.  Put another way, the Bible is the divinely inspired, inerrant Word (Logos) of God.  However, it requires the Spirit of God to properly appropriate it. 

Now let’s go to verse 14.

1 Corinthians 2

14: But a natural man (or woman) does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him (or her); and he (or she) cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 

The Greek word for natural is Psuchikos (pronounced:  psoo-khee-kos) and means – the principal of animal life, which men have in common with the brutes; the sensuous nature with its subjection to appetite and passion.  The word natural stands in opposition to the word spiritual and symbolizes those folks who are controlled by their natural instincts or desires as opposed to those who are influenced by the Spirit of God.  This was certainly the case with the great mass of the unbelieving pagan world, which included many of the renowned philosophers (Romans 1:21-32).  

A natural man (or woman) does not accept the things of the Spirit of God – this verse has nothing to do with ignorance.  It has everything to do with an individual’s “stubborn” refusal to accept God’s Truths for no other reason other than self-pride and their love for the world (1 John 2:15-17).  Then there are those who are unable to “comprehend” or “make sense” of God’s revelation simply because:  they are foolishness to him (or her); and he (or she) cannot understand them. 

There are underlying reasons for this behavior and Scripture points them out.  I mentioned earlier that this present-day world is enslaved to sin (Romans 8:15).  Our Apostle Paul goes on to say that the devil is preventing the unsaved masses from knowing the Truth:  in whose case the god of this world has (what) blinded the minds of the unbelieving, so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4, 2:11; Acts 26:18).

The other reason is this.  The natural (unregenerate) person can’t understand the things of God because they are spiritually appraised.  If you brought an unsaved friend to your Bible study class and the conversation commenced in earnest about the topic of interest, there’s no way that individual is going to be able to add to or keep up with that conversation.  It would be like me sitting down with a group of physicists at an annual gathering discussing the events of the past year.  I can spell physicists but that’s about it, folks.  Your unsaved friend may know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem and that Mary and Joseph were His parents for instance, but they’re not going to be able to talk to you or anyone else about the deeper things of God because they are spiritually appraised.

Let’s go to verse 15.

1 Corinthians 2

15: But he (or she) who is spiritual (born again of God) appraises (discerns) all things, yet he himself (or every Believer) is appraised by no one.

The Greek word for appraise is Anakrino (pronounced:  an-ak-ree’-no) and means – to investigate, examine, inquire into, scrutinize, sift, question; specifically in a forensic sense of a judge to hold an investigation.  Paul has chosen to use a legal term here to convey the meaning of examining something carefully, such as the written Word (Acts 17:10-12).  Believers are able to discern all the things which the apostles themselves had mentioned or those things which are revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.  

This is extremely important and I’ll explain why.  Considering the age in which we live, every Believer should be in the habit of asking this question:  Is this Scriptural (of God) or is this coming from the heart of corrupted man?”  I have a verse in mind, of course, so please turn with me to Matthew 24:3.  Here we have Jesus’ disciples full of questions regarding the end times, so they approach Him with this:  “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” 

Now, I want you to pay attention to what Jesus Christ did not say.  He didn’t begin this discussion talking about the depressing state of the global economy; He didn’t mention famine, floods, or the lack of safe water to drink.  He didn’t even mention the arrival of the anti-Christ.  The very first thing He mentions at verse 24 is this:  And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one (deceives) misleads you.” 

False Bible teachers are everywhere, my friends and as the Day of our Lord draws nearer their numbers will increase causing many to fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron (1 Timothy 4:1-2).

False Bible teachers use the Bible but they use it deceptively.  Listen folks.  A deceitful person can make this book say just about anything they want it to.  A couple hundred years ago they used the Bible to condone slavery in this country – get the point.  It takes a Believer with a discerning Spirit to differentiate all the things the apostles themselves had explained, or those things which are revealed to us by the Holy Spirit, from the deceitful spirits speaking untruths intent on working their own agenda and not Gods. 

…yet he himself (or every Believer) is appraised by no one.  Paul means to say there isn’t a natural (sensual) man or woman who understands a Believer’s principles or views on life.  The reasoning for this is since we’re influenced by our Savior, Jesus Christ, and the natural person doesn’t know Him, they cannot hope to understand those who are motivated to pattern their lives after Him.  Paul follows this line of thought in the succeeding verse.

1 Corinthians 2

16: For “WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM?  But we have the mind of Christ.  (Isaiah 40:13)

Paul borrows another quote from the prophet Isaiah (40:13).  I think Paul’s argument is easy enough to understand.  No one can understand the Creator God.  Breaking this down; no one can comprehend His plans and His purpose for His creation, even when they are revealed unless the Spirit of God explains all these things to those who love Him. 

But we have the mind of Christ which means we share the same perspective of Jesus Christ.  Having the mind of Christ means we understand God’s plan for His creation – to bring glory and honor to God, to restore creation to its original splendor, and provide salvation for the lost sinners (Luke 19:10).  It also means we share Jesus’ perspective of humility and obedience to the Father (Philippians 2:5-8), compassion (Matthew 9:36), and prayerful dependence on the Father (Luke 5:16). 

If we backtrack a bit, some of the verses leading up to 1 Corinthians 2:16 note some Truths concerning the mind of Christ:

The mind of Christ stands in sharp contrast to the wisdom of man (v5-6)
The mind of Christ involves wisdom from God, once hidden but no longer (v7)
The mind of Christ is given to Believers through the Spirit of God (v10-12)
The mind of Christ cannot be understood by unbelievers (v14)
The mind of Christ gives Believers discernment in spiritual matters (v15)


(To be continued)

[Published weekly on Friday]


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