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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
I want to welcome everyone back to Home Bible Study© I pray you all had a wonderful time with family and friends these past two weeks and I pray you remembered to keep our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the core of all your joyous celebrations.
But we all know not everyone experienced a joyous Christmas Season this year.
Our nation was ravaged by extreme weather during the week of Christmas and this continued during New Year’s Week. Many people lost their homes and many people lost their lives due to these storms. Houses can be rebuilt; rebuilding a home is another matter altogether for the loss of a loved one changes everything.
I am reminded that tomorrow is promised to no one and today is but borrowed.
Although these unfortunate people are no longer front-page news, believe me when I say they are worthy of our attention and our prayers. So, please take a minute and consider the people who have suffered greatly this holiday season; and ask the Father of mercies and God of all comfort to comfort all those who have been pressured by these storms, especially those family members who are grieving the loss of loved ones. Thank you
It’s truly been a mixed-bag these past two weeks with Christmas’ arrival, the celebrations accompanying it, and then the severe weather which swept our nation, among other negative newsworthy items, but the media thrives on bad news so I try not to get too much of that. Time marches onward, as they say; the year 2015 is now the subject of history while the year 2016 waits to bloom - much like an artist’s blank canvas with each one of us holding the painter’s brush.
I’m one of those people who haven’t surrendered to the “come-on” regarding the New Year holiday which means in part that I won’t be up at midnight exploding things and getting inebriated is never on the menu. For yours truly the arrival of the New Year simply means Believers are one day closer to the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ and I need to start thinking about my taxes.
That being said, I know millions of people will revisit a New Year’s tradition where individuals make resolutions; i.e. make changes in one or more areas of a person’s life - for the better. Dieting, exercising, and forsaking cigarettes are three areas of concern, so they normally appear on this short-list but there are many others. When all things are considered, I believe people make resolutions, seek changes, because they want to be happier than they currently are.
There is no common consensus as to what will bring the greatest happiness, but people everywhere long to have it… and this is good, in a round-about way, actually. I say this because evil lurks in trying to find happiness in ways that dishonor and displease God. But goodness consists in finding happiness in ways that honor and please God.
Everybody’s trying to please somebody either self or someone else.
Living to please God should be the goal of every Believer. The desire of Paul’s heart was for the Thessalonian Church (and every Believer) to live this way: Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and (do what) please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more (1 Thessalonians 4:1; Ephesians 4:1).
To walk and to please God are not two separate and distinct activities.
Walk always emphasizes one’s personal behavior or godly lifestyle.
Pleasing God is the outcome of walking (living) properly before a Holy God.
This means the more we choose to live our lives in ways that bring honor and glory to God the Father, the happier we’ll be.
Therefore I pray one of the changes you’ll consider this year is an enthusiastic commitment to Bible study for Godly wisdom brings happiness to the Believer. This isn’t my opinion this is what the book says: Happy is the person who finds (the) wisdom (of God). And happy is the person who gets understanding. Wisdom is worth more than silver. It brings more profit than gold. Wisdom is more precious than rubies. Nothing you want is equal to it. With her right hand wisdom offers you a long life. With her left hand she gives you riches and honor. Wisdom will make your life pleasant. It will bring you peace. As a tree makes fruit, wisdom gives life to those who use it. Everyone who uses (Godly) wisdom will be happy -Proverbs 3:13-18. (International Children’s Bible)
Please open your Bible at 1 Corinthians 1:18.
The Wisdom of God
1 Corinthians 1
18: For the (what) word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the (what) power of God.
19: For it is written, “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.” (Isaiah 29:14)
If you’ll recall from an earlier lesson, I mentioned that our Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the church in Rome from the city of Corinth, Greece, while he was on his third missionary journey. He was wintering there and collecting an offering from the Gentile Believers in the region for the poor church in Jerusalem, around 55-56 AD.
I mention this again for those who are just joining us, to remind the regulars (group), and for these two reasons:
#1: Before Saul (Paul) was chosen to be the steward of God’s Grace, he caused other Believers to suffer greatly (Galatians 1:13, 1:23; Philippians 3:6). Now suffering would be connected to Paul’s life as a Believer and for the gospel (2 Corinthians 6:3-10; 2 Corinthians 4:8-12). No matter what city or town Paul entered he had to contend with those who opposed the gospel of Jesus Christ, those who placed an undying faith in the Law of Moses, and he had to defend his apostleship.
2: The city of Corinth was no different. Paul had spent 18 months ministering there during his first visit but as I said before these Believers forgot some of Paul’s teachings and they ignored some of his doctrinal instructions outright. In addition, Paul had to defend his apostleship: Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord (1 Corinthians 9:1-2).
All this quarreling led to disagreements within the church which caused dissension. The most serious being rival factions. Believers in Corinth turned against each other by identifying themselves with whichever teacher they held in high esteem. Paul expressed this theme in 1 Corinthians 1:11-12 saying: each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.”
Two common reasons for a divided church are differences over doctrinal beliefs or one or more faction’s devotion to a particular personality… today it could sound like this: “I choose to follow Franklin Graham,” “Well, I prefer Joyce Meyer, she speaks my language,” “If you want solid preaching, you need to hear T.D. Jakes, because everybody’s chasing him,” “Not true, Joel Osteen has the largest church following in America and lives in a $10 million dollar home; he’s the man!” – kind of thing. But Paul is saying, Be ye followers of me, even as I also am (a follower) of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1 – KJV translation)
Paul addressed the most important problem of division in this church at verse 17 and he makes his case starting in verse 13 by emphasizing unity with these 3 points:
Christ is one v13;
Christ is the one who died for His church v13;
Christ is the one saved individuals are baptized into v17.
It’s all about Jesus Christ. This is the common thread that binds these verses together and it should be binding all the Corinthians together as well. Furthermore, there is one cross, that binds His church together – one Lord, one faith, one baptism (Ephesians 4:5).
Now the second most important thing on his list of things to discuss with these carnal Christians is the wisdom of God vs the wisdom of man.
Paul is in effect warning these Corinthians not to put their faith in the wisdom of men but in the power of God with these words: …and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the (what) power of God (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).
When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he wanted them to know that there are only two camps in this world those who are perishing and those who are saved. Scripture teaches us that an individual is either an enemy of God or a saved child of God. Contrary to popular belief, there is no safe-ground in between – no “fence-sitting.” It is one or the other (Romans 5:10; Colossians 1:21; James 4:4)
Those in the camp of the perishing consider the word of the cross foolishness. Paul uses the word foolishness five times in the next 8 verses. In case you’re unaware, when a word or phrase is repeated in a Bible verse, paragraph, or even in the same book it means we need to sit up and pay attention; the writer of Scripture is emphasizing it.
1 Corinthians 1
18: For the word of the cross is foolishness (Moria in the Greek language) to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Paul writes all those who are perishing (literally, speeding along on the highway to hell) consider the cross foolishness. The basic Greek word for foolishness is Moria (pronounced: mo-ree’-ah). Our English word moron comes from this word. The Greek word conveys the idea of something that is despicable, ignorant, ridiculous, and stupid. I’m sure you know what moron means or indicates. If someone called you a “moron,” you’d probably be insulted; you might even become upset. But this is the word Paul has chosen to use here, and he’s directed it to his audience not just once but 5 times.
The majority of people down through the ages have considered the cross to be moronic.
Now I’m not smart enough to determine the #1 reason why people reject the cross or its message, but if put on the spot I would surmise the cross offends people’s pride more than anything else! By this I mean to say people can’t earn a place in God’s heaven (salvation) through human effort or intellect, and they resent the notion. Salvation can only be accomplished by appropriating God’s free gift of Grace; this removes man’s works from the equation altogether.
In addition to this, God’s invitation of salvation is extended to all people, knocking down every barrier erected by man. God the Father leveled the “playing field,” if you will, at the foot of the cross. Everyone, Jew or Gentile, black or white, yellow or red, college graduate or high-school drop-out, rich or poor, comes to God through faith (alone) based on the work of Jesus Christ, at the cross, where “it is finished;” and this ruffles men’s feathers too. It was one of the issues that brought about division in the church at Corinth.
Let’s not forget that these Corinthian’s were steeped in idolatry and immorality. They were saved but never jump to conclusions believing them to be “spiritual giants.” They lived their lives with both feet firmly planted in Satan’s playground (the world) causing their spiritual growth to be underdeveloped.
One of the signs of this was the Gentiles love for philosophy and human wisdom. Greeks, after all, were the great philosophers. They would go about spreading various philosophies and attracting listeners to themselves. Often the more eloquently a person spoke in public forums the more influential they were perceived to be and so the whole Greek culture was philosophically divided into a number of groups.
America’s political party is divided into two main parties, the Democrats and the Republicans, for example. In Greece, however, there may have been as many as 50 dominating philosophies, so the populace was split into groups that held varying viewpoints regarding man’s meaning here on earth and his destiny. By the way, the word “philosophy” simply means “man’s wisdom.” In the Greek language, the word literally means, “the love of wisdom” (Sophia and Phileo = “to love wisdom.”)
So, one of the issues our Apostle Paul had to deal with in Corinth was the various philosophies regarding “the cross.” Even though these Corinthian Believers were united in Christ Jesus by faith and they identified commonly with the cross, they still held stubbornly onto the varying philosophies that they originally believed in. I call this baggage. Each one of these people brought their baggage into the church when they became a Believer and wouldn’t turn lose of it! Just as Democrats and Republicans fail to see eye-to-eye on many political issues, the people in the church never agreed on things either because they held to their particular philosophies, a.k.a. baggage.
Unbelievers are a different story. - For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing… i.e. those who have chosen not to know God, those who have elected to spend eternity in hell, those for whom God’s heart is grieved – the cross is utter foolishness. It’s foolishness to those who are perishing because they have elevated their own worldly philosophies above the one true God.
Permit me to deliver a simple message: God who took on human flesh died on the cross, He paid the penalty for your sin and mine, and by putting your faith in that act and in His bodily resurrection you can be saved, and your eternal destiny forever secured in heaven. But 9 times out of 10 this message will bring a mocking response; something akin to: “How stupid to believe that the death of one man on one hill on one piece of wood at one moment in time is the determining factor of destiny for every man and woman who ever lived… that’s ridiculous (moronic).
The vast majority of people in these last days (Hebrews 1:2a) when they’ve come face to face with Jesus Christ and the subject of His cross have walked away from God’s invitation of salvation in unbelief. However, to the Believer the word of the cross… is the power of God unto salvation... Because in it “the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith” (Romans 1:17) – that is why the gospel is the power of God to salvation.
The cross is everything to a Believer and to His Church. Paul writes: But for me, may it be never to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world (Galatians 6:14).
The NIV translation uses the word message in verse 18 and the KJV translation uses the word preaching at verse 18. It is the Greek word Logos (pronounced: log’-os) and literally means “the word,” and this is how the Bible translators have it in the NASB translation: “For the word of the cross…”
Now I want to show you something. Let’s go back to verse 17 where Paul emphasizes preaching the word (gospel) of wisdom. The Apostle Paul contrasts the word of wisdom (the gospel) with the word of the cross – whereas human wisdom is set defiantly against the cross.
To clarify, the word of the cross means all that the cross entails; by that I mean to say everything written in Scripture before the actual event points to it (Psalms 2:1-3), and everything written in the Bible after the cross explains it (Romans 6:3-14). The word of the cross is the revelation of God the Father to sinful man and woman.
I am reminded again of what our Apostle Paul said at Romans 1:16-17: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Gentile). For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written (or what did God say) “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man (and woman) SHALL LIVE BY (what) FAITH.”
The best definition of Faith I’ve ever heard is taking God at His Word or God said it, I believe it; and that’s that (Hebrews 11:6)! The other thing worth mentioning here is this, although people love to rationalize and compare their philosophies while reading through God’s Word, remember the Bible is addressed to faith and not to reason.
The word of the cross, which appears to be foolishness to a dying and unsaved world, is in fact the power of God unto salvation. I liken this to a swimmer caught in a strong riptide, too far from shore and too weary from trying to break free from the current’s pull to save himself, refusing a life-preserver thrown to him by a passing fisherman, saying pridefully, “No thanks, I got this; I can make it back to the beach on my own,” when the truth is without the help of a Savior he will perish.
Men and women because of their rationalism, their elevation of the human ego, and their desire for their own philosophies, won’t stoop so low as to accept something as simple as the message of Jesus’ cross. But what does this book say?
and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you (insert your name here if you believe) were healed (1 Peter 2:24).
Let’s move on to verse 19.
1 Corinthians 1
19: For it is written, “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.”
Paul borrows a brief message from the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 29:14) here. In this passage Isaiah is referring to “political shrewdness.” Paul applies it broadly to every form of human wisdom which seeks to exalt its own cleverness. The point Paul is making is this: all human schemes that fail to take the Creator God into account will ultimately come to ruin: Woe to the rebellious children,” declares the LORD, “Who execute a plan, but not Mine, And make an alliance, but not of My Spirit, In order to add sin to sin; (Isaiah 30:1-2).
Isaiah mocked the failed scheming of the worldly-wise Jerusalem politicians who sought to ensure Israel’s safety – minus the LORD God’s assistance. But their efforts came to naught, because their alliance with Egypt so alarmed Assyria that it sparked the invasion they sought to avoid. Isaiah reminds them that God is the Creator and humans are mere creations, and that God will turn their world upside down (Isaiah 29:16). God doesn’t require human assistance to accomplish His plan and His purpose for His creation, and He sets aside the cleverness of the clever.
Paul has illustrated the word of the cross with this reminder from the O.T. of how God works with His people in terms of redemption. God doesn’t need anyone but Himself to accomplish His plan of salvation, as Scripture clearly indicates He is an all-wise God (Romans 11:33).
(To be continued)
[Published weekly on Friday]
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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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