1 Corinthians Commentaries 3



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1 Corinthians Commentaries 1
1 Corinthians Commentaries 2

1 Corinthians Commentaries 3


1 Corinthians Resources
Part 3 of 3
From Our Daily Bread (ODB) unless otherwise designated
(Our Daily Bread Devotionals Copyright by RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
Includes selections from F B Meyer's Our Daily Walk
(Note: These generally do not duplicate the
ODB Links)
Click here for links to additional devotional illustrations from Moody's Today in the Word)

1 Corinthians 1

Along the western coast of Ireland, fishermen use a round bottomed keelless craft known as a currach. This boat has a tarred canvas over a wooden frame. Because of its unique construction, it is vulnerable to sharp rocks or floating objects, and it requires the oarsmen to cooperate completely, rowing in perfect unison.

Out of this need for unity has come the Irish expression, "You will have to pull with the crew" Or, as another Irish proverb states, "There is not strength without unity"

What is true for Irish fishermen is especially true for believers in Jesus Christ. Unity is so important to the success of the cause of Christ that Paul pleaded with the believers in Corinth to eliminate division and to work as one. In our ministry efforts, are we striving to work together in harmony? If not, let's ask God to give us the spirit of unity so that we will always "pull with the crew" J D Brannon


1 Corinthians 1:1–9
Faithful to the End: Faithful as We Wait
Today in the Word

A video circulating on the Internet showed a huge black Labrador whose owner, a soldier, had just returned from an extended term of service. The animal could not stop leaping on his master, wagging his tail, and crying in small barks of joy. Finally, the man made it to an easy chair where the animal jumped on top of him, crying dog tears because the man he had waited so patiently for had at last returned.

In today’s passage, the apostle Paul writes to the church at Corinth. The letter specifically addresses them in verse 2 along with “all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Together we are followers of Jesus Christ, and we should be people who are longing for His return. Paul expresses his thankfulness for this community of believers (v. 4).

Paul is reminding the church that they are to remain faithful as they “eagerly wait” for Christ’s return (v. 7). Our behavior should be influenced by our desire to please God, because we know that we will see Him soon. Paul mentions the use of our spiritual gifts in verse 7. These God-given gifts are evidence of the faith within us and of our relationship with Him. We are not to sit aimlessly waiting for Christ’s return, but rather we should be serving Him with the abilities He has given us.

We are to remain faithful. Notice the dynamic here: while we are remaining faithful, God is keeping us “firm” in our faith so we do not stumble and sin. The wait may seem long as we serve God in this fallen world, but He has promised us His Holy Spirit to guide us and keep us “blameless” to the end (v. 8).

Apply the Word
Faithfulness is a characteristic that pleases God. How can we show our faithfulness to Him? Paul suggests here that when we serve God with our spiritual gifts, we are following Him well. What are the gifts God has given you? Are you using them to serve Him? If not, can you find a way to exercise those abilities as you wait for His return?

1 Corinthians 1:4–9
Thanksgiving: Gratitude for the Way Christ Enriches Lives
Today in the Word

A 2011 survey by the United States Postal Service indicated that the typical American home receives a personal letter—not including greeting cards or invitations—once every seven weeks. It was once every two weeks as recently as 1987. A stream of advertisements still arrives; but personal letters have largely been replaced by email, Facebook, and Twitter.

In Paul’s days, letter writing was the only option if you wanted to send a message to far-flung friends. In the Greco-Roman world letters followed certain conventions. They would begin with a salutation followed by prosaic words of thanksgiving. Concrete directions of some sort (called the parenesis) often sat sandwiched between the main body of the text and the closing. Paul largely stuck to this convention when writing his letters, but he included modifications that underscored his Christian commitments. Among these was making the thanksgiving a strategic, dynamic force in his message.

In today’s passage, Paul directed his thanksgiving to God for the gifts of grace He had given the Corinthians—“all kinds of speech and with all knowledge” (v. 5). This was an interesting choice for Paul; as the letter continues, it becomes clear these very gifts were at the root of the problems causing discord within the Corinthian church. It might seem that Paul was using sarcasm when he thanked God for qualities he then went on to critique. But this fails to appreciate the range of Paul’s thought. As one scholar wrote, “Paul . . . believes in, practices, and celebrates the reality of God’s spiritual gifts. He can easily distinguish between the use and abuse of spiritual gifts.” God’s gifts are real and Paul’s confidence rests in the Giver, who is worthy of thanks for these gifts, even when they’re being misused.

Apply the Word
Getting a personal letter in one’s physical mailbox is a thrill. Consider taking time today to hunt down paper, an envelope, a stamp, and a pen and bless a fellow believer’s life with a prayerful note. Perhaps you can write about a way in which your friend’s faith has encouraged you. Or use this as an opportunity to testify about what God is doing in your life.

1 Corinthians 1:1-9
Today in the Word

In October 2009, a spate of articles in publications like the New York Times and The New Republic as well as on numerous parenting blogs all debated the same question: Is shouting the “new” spanking? As the practice of spanking children has declined in segments of the American population, parents admitted that they resorted to yelling and shouting instead. Now they wondered if that was really better than corporal punishment. When children misbehaved or exasperated them, was it okay to scream at them?

Every parent can relate to the occasional frustration caused by their child’s actions and attitude—and as a spiritual father, Paul felt this toward his beloved church in Corinth (4:14,15). Yet in this letter to the Corinthians, which we’ll study this month, Paul sent a message that is paternal and firm but never harsh or screeching. There was just cause for a tongue-lashing. The problems in the Corinthian church—including disunity, pride, misuse of spiritual gifts, and abuse of the Lord’s Supper—were serious indeed.

In the opening portion of this letter Paul remains realistic in his appraisal of the Corinthians’ spiritual life and practice, but he does not play the part of the scolding father. In fact, his tone is confident and expectant, because his hope for the Corinthians is rooted firmly in the unwavering faithfulness of God. Despite all their problems, Paul knows that in the end, they will be declared blameless on the day of Jesus’ return. In these opening lines, he has full confidence that God has given the Corinthians a sure calling and hope, an enriching of their mouths and minds, and spiritual gifts for every need and occasion.

Exuberance abounds in the “every” and “all” of verse five. These words are only possible for those who call on the name of Jesus. In Christ, everything depends on grace, not on human performance. No one then, not even this strife-torn first-century church, falls beyond the reach of grace. God’s rescue of salvation is evidence that He is committed to saving us and changing us.

Apply the Word
Like the Corinthians, we are followers of Jesus who sometimes struggle to get along with each other. Their problems, as we’ll see throughout the month, aren’t unlike ours. Divisions have grown up in the church, and the community is fractured and broken. A place to begin when broken fellowship seems irreparable is the unfailing grace of God: He never gives up on us. He has declared what we should be (saints), and He is determined to make our holiness a reality. If God doesn’t give up on us, can we give up on one another?

1 Corinthians 1:10–17
Today in the Word

In an article in Sports Illustrated, sportswriter Rick Reilly dryly mocks today’s self–esteem generation: “I know what all these NPR–listening, Starbucks–guzzling parents want. They want their Ambers and their Alexanders to grow up in a cozy womb of noncompetition where everybody shares tofu, and Little Red Riding Hood and the big bad wolf set up a commune. Then their kids will stumble out into the bright light of the real world and find out that, yes, there’s weak and there’s strong and teams and sides and winning and losing.”

As the spiritual father of the Corinthian church, Paul struck a balance between coddling and competition, for he knew that either extreme was unhealthy spiritually. He was not afraid to talk to his spiritual children about where they were weak and where improvement was needed. His letter began with gracious words of encouragement, but he turned quickly to address the problems. Serious disunity plagued this church, producing quarrels and factions. The Christians in Corinth had divided themselves according to different allegiances and loyalties: “I follow Paul,” “I follow Apollos,” “I follow Cephas,” and even “I follow Christ.”

We aren’t told the reasons for these factions. Apollos was an eloquent teacher of the Scriptures and may have been favored for his rhetorical talents (cf. Acts 18:24–28). Peter, or Cephas, was of course a prominent member of Jesus’ original twelve disciples. Paul himself founded the church at Corinth. No doubt each faction argued why their guy was the best.

Notice that what is at stake here was more than the Corinthians simply not getting along or someone’s hurt feelings. The disunity threatened the integrity of the gospel and the message of the Cross. The Cross of Christ wields the power to bring wildly diverse people into agreement of mind and thought. The Cross exchanges ethnic and cultural identities for the name, Christian. At the Cross, forgiveness is freely offered to all, and together the people of God are baptized into one name: Jesus Christ. When disunity prevails, it makes a mockery of the Cross.

Apply the Word
The church of Jesus Christ has yet to fully live into and claim the power of the gospel for which Paul fights fiercely in his letter. The gospel does not simply give us the capacity to be nice to people unlike us; far more than just niceness, it teaches us to work toward common goals and perspectives with people of different skin color, different social status, and different cultural backgrounds. Do you need to “reach across the aisle” in your church and community in the name of Jesus Christ?

1 Corinthians 1:18–31
Today in the Word

Aesop’s fables give keen insight into the human condition; they expose the folly of human vanity and pride, laziness and trickery. A lesser–known fable, that of the olive tree and fig tree, warns against boasting due to the possibility of reversals of fortune: the olive tree taunts the fig tree for having lost all her leaves in the winter. She brags of her own year–round beauty. As she boasts, a thunderbolt strikes her and burns her to ashes, while the fig tree stands safe and sound.

The Bible is full of reversals of fortune like the one suffered by the olive tree. The story of Jesus Christ is the most powerful of all. God the King is born as a baby in a dirty stable into a carpenter’s family. He enjoys no superior privilege, position, or education. He chooses ordinary fishermen and despised tax collectors to follow Him and preach His message. And eventually, He dies a criminal’s death. The resurrection and exaltation of Jesus is the ultimate reversal in all of history. The good news of this God–Man’s story subverts everything that the world esteems.

The culture of Corinth is similar to our culture today. They loved power and status, and in such a culture, a crucified Savior is absurd. How could the power and wisdom of God be executed on a cross with nails in His hands and feet? This portrait compels only those who believe. The Jews demanded a grand celestial display of God’s power; the Greeks demanded carefully conceived and persuasively argued ideas. But the God–Man died without miraculous rescue from God and without eloquent philosophical treatises.

The purpose of God’s plan is clear: He reserves all glory for Himself. Not one person deserves to boast in His presence. Man’s abilities and achievements do not impress Him. This is a sobering message for the Corinthian church, whom Paul indicts for their boasting here and in later points in the letter (cf. 1 Cor. 1:18, 21; 2:7, 18; 5:2, 6). There’s no room at the Cross for pride.

Apply the Word
The gospel, as we’ve seen from our reading today, tells us about the heart of God but also the methods of God. They aren’t pragmatic, or necessarily clever and compelling. In fact, it seems that God wants to make sport of what matters most to foolish human beings, things like achievement, success, power, and influence. It’s a sobering reminder to us as we “build” our churches today. Do we do so according to the foolishness of the world or the wisdom of Christ?

1 Corinthians 1:10
It is said that when the British and French were fighting in Canada in the 1750s, Admiral Phipps, commander of the British fleet, was told to anchor outside Quebec. He was given orders to wait for the British land forces to arrive, then support them when they attacked the city. Phipps’ navy arrived early. As the admiral waited, he became annoyed by the statues of the saints that adorned the towers of a nearby cathedral, so he commanded his men to shoot at them with the ships’ cannons. No one knows how many rounds were fired or how many statues were knocked out, but when the land forces arrived and the signal was given to attack, the admiral was of no help. He had used up all his ammunition shooting at the “saints.”

1 Corinthians 1:10-17

Being much concerned about the rise of denominations in the church, John Wesley tells of a dream he had. In the dream, he was ushered to the gates of Hell. There he asked, “Are there any Presbyterians here?” “Yes!”, came the answer. Then he asked, “Are there any Baptists? Any Episcopalians? Any Methodists?” The answer was Yes! each time. Much distressed, Wesley was then ushered to the gates of Heaven. There he asked the same question, and the answer was No! “No?” To this, Wesley asked, “Who then is inside?” The answer came back, “There are only Christians here.” (1 Cor. 1:10-17)

Martin Luther said, “I pray you leave my name alone. Do not call yourselves Lutherans, but Christians.” John Wesley said: “I wish the name Methodist might never be mentioned again, but lost in eternal oblivion.” Charles Spurgeon said, “I say of the Baptist name, let it perish, but let Christ’s own name last forever. I look forward with pleasure to the day when there will not be a Baptist living.”

1 Corinthians 1:18

Repelling and Compelling - The cross of Christ is both repelling and compelling. To the Oxford professor and philosopher Sir Alfred Ayer, the idea that Jesus died on a cross for our sins is “intellectually contemptible and morally outrageous.”

For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 1:22-23).

When the Lord Jesus came to live on the earth, He came at the Word of the Father (John 1). Everything He said and did was in obedience to God's will and therefore was a true expression of His Father's loving heart. Yet it was not by Christ's great teaching nor through His as­tounding miracles that He best represented the eternal purposes of God. Rather, He proclaimed the Father's love most eloquently by His sacrificial death on the cross.

A furniture maker trying to explain the theory of his designs to a blind yeoman said that he believed he could express himself best through his craft.

"Artists," he said, "express themselves in colors, in words, in stone; well, I don't see why a man can't express himself in wood."

The yeoman, with unusual spiritual insight, responded, "In wood? It has been done, sir; yes, the mightiest expression of a man ever the world knew has been in wood!"

"What, yeoman?" asked the craftsman.

"Sir," the yeoman replied, "the cross of Christ!"

(Arthur Hutchinson, One Increasing Purpose).

The sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus was the supreme expression of a loving God. That death, that sacrifice, that proclamation of un­ending love, was for you and for me. —D C Egner

Christ took the guilt of our sin that we might have the gift of His salvation.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25
WHEN Harvard University was founded, its motto was Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae—"Truth for Christ and the Church." Its crest showed three books, one face down to symbolize the limitation of human knowledge. But in recent decades that book has been turned face up to represent the unlimited capac­ity of the human mind. And the motto has been changed to Ver­itas— "Truth."

The pursuit of knowledge is praiseworthy, yet learning can lead to pride and a refusal to acknowledge the limits of our mental abilities. When that happens, people ignore biblical truth.

What, then, is the truth about truth? A wise king wrote cen­turies ago, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge" (Proverbs 1:7). We must recognize the relationship between God and truth. They are inseparable. Without the work of God's Spirit and the instruction of God's Word, people will be ever "learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Timothy 3:7). When we acknowledge and obey His truth, however, we will be set free from spiritual ignorance and error (John 8:32; 17:17). The reason we must be diligent in studying the Bible (2 Timothy 2:15) is because it is the only book that tells the truth about truth.—Vernon Grounds

1 Corinthians 1:20-31
AT a British university, a group of students asked one another,

"What do you want to be?"

Among the answers were these: champion athlete, influential politician, noted scholar. Shyly, yet definitely, one student said something that brought silence:

"You may laugh at me, but I want to be a saint."

Imagine—a saint! What an eccentric ambition. Yet for Chris­tians, that ought to be our primary goal. To be a saint means to be like Jesus. Paul declared that the overarching purpose of God the Father is to make us like His Son (Romans 8:29). That's the essence of sainthood.

Of course, every believer is guaranteed conformity to Christ in the world to come. But God does not want us to wait passively until we enter eternity to begin that supernatural transformation (1 John 3:2). We are to cooperate now with the Holy Spirit and become more and more like Christ "in this world" (1 John 4:17).

Just as natural birth entitles infants to be called by their par­ents' name, spiritual birth entitles us to be called saints (Philip­pians 1:1). But we still have a lot of maturing to do to before we become saintly, just as children must mature before they become like their parents.—Vernon Grounds

1 CORINTHIANS 1:26-2:5
A RENOWNED violinist announced before a concert that he would play one of the world's most expensive violins. He played the first composition flawlessly, and the audience was thrilled at the performance.

After taking his bows, the musician suddenly smashed the instrument, completely demolishing it, as the audience watched in horror.

The violinist explained that he had been playing a cheap vio­lin, and then, picking up the expensive instrument, he drew the bow across the strings. The sound was beautiful, but most of the people couldn't tell any difference between the music from the expensive violin and the cheap one. The quality of the instru­ment was secondary to the skill of the violinist.

It's something like that in our service for the Lord. The Master can take ordinary instruments like us and produce beautiful music from our lives. The results of our service depends not so much on us as it does on Him. The apostle Paul said that "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise" (1 Corinthians 1:27). God did so "that no flesh should glory in His presence" (v. 29).

Like that cheap violin, we can be instruments in the Master's hands to declare the beauty of the Lord and to bless others.—R W DeHaan

1 CORINTHIANS 1:26 A noblewoman once told the great Methodist preacher John Wesley that she was saved by an “m.” When Wesley asked for an explanation, she pointed him to 1 Corinthians 1:26, which in the King James Version reads, “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.” “God did not say ‘Not any noble are called,” she explained, “but ‘Not many noble.’ Were it not for that letter, I might be lost.” -Today in the Word

1 Corinthians 1:27 Numbers 22:1-35
God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. - 1 Corinthians 1:27

The popular 1960s television show, Mister Ed, featured a horse who could talk. But Mister Ed would only talk to his owner, often putting the long-suffering Wilbur in embarrassing situations. A talking animal in Scripture also embarrassed her owner - story of Balaam and his donkey.

A renowned violinist announced before a concert that he would play one of the worlds most expensive violins. His first composition was played flawlessly, and the audience was thrilled at the performance. After taking his bows, he suddenly smashed the instrument, completely demolishing it. The audience was horrified—that is, until the violinist explained that he had been playing a cheap violin.

Then, picking up the expensive instrument, the virtuoso began to draw the bow across the strings. The sound was beautiful, but most of the people couldn't tell any difference between the music from the expensive violin and the cheap one. The quality of the instrument was secondary to the skill of the violinist.

It's something like that in our service for the Lord. The apostle Paul said that "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise" (1 Cor. 1:27). Like that cheap violin, we can be instruments in the Masters hands to magnify the Lord and bring blessing to others. —R W DeHaan


1 Corinthians 1:27
During a Billy Sunday evangelistic campaign, a mentally impaired boy came faithfully each night to sing in the choir. “Joey was not very bright,” said Homer Rodeheaver, the well-known song leader for Billy Sunday, “but he never missed any of our meetings and wouldn’t leave until he shook my hand. Sometimes I was embarrassed by the way he constantly tailed me, and I secretly wished he’d go away.”

Then one evening a man came to Rodeheaver and said, “Thank you for being kind to my son Joey. He’s not right mentally, but never has he enjoyed anything so much as singing in the choir. He worked hard doing simple chores for people so he could contribute to the collection. Through his pleadings my wife and five other children came to this evangelistic campaign and have now received Christ. Last night his 75-year-old grandfather, who has been an atheist all his life, was saved, and tonight his grandmother also came forward. Now our entire family is converted!’” Joey was one of God’s faithful servants.

1 Corinthians 1:2
Francois Fenelon was the court preacher for King Louis XIV of France in the seventeenth century. One Sunday when the king and his attendants arrived at the chapel for the regular service, no one else was there but the preacher. King Louis demanded, "What does this mean?" Fenelon replied, "I had published that you would not come to church today in order that Your Majesty might see who serves God in truth and who flatters the king."

Why do you go to church? To meet your friends, to hear the preacher, to fulfill an obligation? These reasons are not wrong, but they do not represent our highest motivation. Our primary reason must be to worship Christ.

When we gather with God's people, let's not do so to be seen, nor to flatter the preacher. Let's be united in heart and keep Christ preeminent. Make worshiping Him your primary reason for going to church. —Paul R VanGorder


1 Corinthians 2

1 Corinthians 2:5-11
DESPONDENT woman remained after a church ser­vice to talk with the minister. "For years I have been unable to pray," she began. "A woman came between me and my husband, and I cannot forgive her. Can you help me?"

The minister answered kindly, "You cannot forgive the woman for her own sake, but couldn't you forgive her for Christ's sake?"
At first the question did not register with the woman, but the light broke through as she thought about how much Christ had forgiven her. "You're right," she said. "I can't forgive her for her own sake, but I can for His sake—and I will!"

To forgive someone who hurts us is difficult. The offending person does not deserve forgiveness. If we focus on the injustice, forgiveness will not come. We must look beyond the offending person to the Savior and the work He has done on our behalf. He will dissolve our hatred if we will forgive for His sake.

When treated unfairly, we say, "That person doesn't deserve my pardon." But when we consider what it cost God to forgive us, we sense how undeserving we are. Then we begin to see the possibility of doing it for Jesus' sake. When we are willing to say, "I will," God's Spirit works in us and through us to do what we cannot do for ourselves.—D J DeHaan

1 Corinthians 2:6–16
Today in the Word

A kindergarten teacher wanted to understand her students’ struggle to master the fine motor skills of writing, cutting, and tying their shoes. For a period of time, she decided to use her weaker hand for all of her own fine motor tasks. She soon understood how it felt to fumble clumsily with a pair of scissors or a pencil.

In his own ministry, Paul purposefully “disadvantaged” himself for the purpose of upholding the integrity of the gospel. There were methods and means he could have used that might have arguably been more persuasive, but he made the deliberate decision not to employ them. “I resolved to know nothing . . . except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (2:2). Paul did not avail himself of the rhetorical devices he could have used to make compelling arguments about Jesus. Instead, for Paul, there was only the cross and the God–Man, Jesus.

From portraits of Paul in the book of Acts, we know that he was capable of powerful oratory. He was well–versed in the Hebrew Scriptures as well as the contemporary poetry and literature of his day. Notice his address to the scholars and philosophers of Athens in Acts 17! But Paul, for all his academic and religious training, gave up the tactics of logical persuasion and argumentation, at least in Corinth, to focus all the power of his message on the Cross. And the Cross, as we’ve seen yesterday, doesn’t fit neatly into common–sense categories.

In the culture of Corinth (and the Roman empire at this time), men were admired and esteemed for their rhetorical abilities. If one succeeded in public speaking, he earned the iconic status that movie stars and professional athletes enjoy in our day. Today, beauty and athletic ability are the currency of fame; in the Roman empire, philosophical wisdom and rhetorical eloquence were sought–after gifts. The Corinthians obviously held these in high esteem, which is why Paul would not, in his preaching, capitulate to their terms and compromise the gospel in any way.

Apply the Word
Everything seems upside–down in the kingdom of God. Weakness is power. Humility is strength. Foolishness is wisdom. But the force behind preaching that centers on this “foolish” gospel is the Spirit’s power. When the Spirit of God animates His Word with power, there is healing, conviction of sin, and worship. There are real encounters with the living God, and in His presence everything is possible. Must we, like the Corinthians, repent of worldly values that displace our allegiance to the crucified Christ?

These things we also speak, in words which the Holy Spirit teaches (1 Corinthians 2:13).

Aphasia is a loss of the ability to speak, a condition that results when the message from the brain cannot get to the tongue because of an injury or illness.

A similar spiritual malady affects many Christians. They know Jesus Christ, but they never speak of Him. They are familiar with God's plan of salvation, but they never tell it to others. They do not demonstrate the impelling force of the early Christians who said, "For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20). This faulty connection between knowledge and testimony must be cor­rected. Often fear causes the breakdown, or sometimes sin blocks our freedom to speak about Christ. Only as believers rely on the power of the Holy Spirit and forsake their sin can they consistently share Christ with others.

Just before His ascension, the risen Christ assured His disciples of power to transmit His message to the world (Acts 1:8). That power is the indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit. Every believer has this source. But if we quench or grieve the Holy Spirit, our witness in words will be either ineffective or nonexistent.

We must keep the message of the gospel flowing to those around us who need to hear it. We can't let spiritual aphasia silence our witness.—Paul R VanGorder

If we have God's Word in our minds, He can put the right words in our mouths.

These things we also speak, in words which the Holy Spirit teaches (1 Corinthians 2:13).

Aphasia is a loss of the ability to speak, a condition that results when the message from the brain cannot get to the tongue because of an injury or illness.

A similar spiritual malady affects many Christians. They know Jesus Christ, but they never speak of Him. They are familiar with God's plan of salvation, but they never tell it to others. They do not demonstrate the impelling force of the early Christians who said, "For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20). This faulty connection between knowledge and testimony must be cor­rected. Often fear causes the breakdown, or sometimes sin blocks our freedom to speak about Christ. Only as believers rely on the power of the Holy Spirit and forsake their sin can they consistently share Christ with others.

Just before His ascension, the risen Christ assured His disciples of power to transmit His message to the world (Acts 1:8). That power is the indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit. Every believer has this source. But if we quench or grieve the Holy Spirit, our witness in words will be either ineffective or nonexistent.

We must keep the message of the gospel flowing to those around us who need to hear it. We can't let spiritual aphasia silence our witness.—Paul R VanGorder

If we have God's Word in our minds, He can put the right words in our mouths.

Switzerland is known for its scenic mountains and beautiful waterfalls. A visitor to that picturesque country observed:

"Some guidebooks name the time when rainbows may be seen on many of the waterfalls in Switzerland. One day, when I was at Lauterbrunnen, I went to the famous Staubbach Falls and watched and waited. Others did the same, and we all went away quite disappointed. The next day one of my friends said he would show us how to find the rainbow. So I went again and saw a lovely one, and stood almost in the center of it. Then I found that not only were sunshine and spray necessary to produce a rainbow, but also that it could be seen and enjoyed only at a certain point."

The same is true in the spiritual realm. A person who knows Jesus as Savior is "in Christ," and from that vantage point he can see Jesus as He really is. The Holy Spirit lives in believers and enables them to appreciate and understand the treasures of the Bible. But those who have not received Christ as their Savior remain blind to eternal truths (1 Cor. 2:14). They can see the waterfall—but not the rainbow —R W DeHaan


1 Corinthians 3

1 Corinthians 3:1,3
Paul uses two different words. The word used in 1Cor 3:1 is sarkinos and the one used twice in 1Cor 3:3 is sarkikos. Some see no difference in the meaning of the two words, but probably most do. If there is a difference, it is this: Sarkinos means “made of flesh,” that is, weak but without attaching any blame to that condition. In the case of the Corinthians, their weakness was due to their immaturity. On the other hand, sarkikos does have an ethical or moral connotation. It means “to be characterized by the flesh, something that is willful and blameworthy.” The first word means “made of flesh,” while the second means “controlled by the flesh." - So Great Salvation What It Means to Believe in Jesus Christ  Charles C. Ryrie

1 Corinthians 3:6
I planted . . . but God gave the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6).

A deacon rebuked an elderly preacher one Sunday morning before the service.

"Pastor," said the man, "something must be wrong with your preaching and your work. There's been only one person added to the church in a whole year, and he's just a boy."

The minister listened, his eyes moistening and his thin hand trembling.

"I feel it all," he replied, "but God knows I've tried to do my duty."

On that day the minister's heart was heavy as he stood before his flock. As he finished the mes­sage, he felt a strong inclination to resign. After everyone else had left, that one new boy came to him and asked,

"Do you think if I worked hard for an education, I could become a preacher—perhaps a mission­ary?"

Again tears welled up in the minister's eyes.

"Ah, this heals the ache I feel," he said.

"Robert, I see the Divine hand now. May God bless you, my boy. Yes, I think you will become a preacher."

Many years later an aged missionary returned to London from Africa. People spoke his name with reverence. Nobles invited him to their homes. He had added many souls to the church of Jesus Christ, reaching even some of Africa's most savage chiefs. His name was Robert Moffat, the same Robert who years before had spoken to the pastor on that Sunday morning in the old Scottish church.

Our service for Christ may sometimes seem fruitless. We wonder if anything significant is happening. But if we are faithful, God will give the increase. —D J DeHaan

Faithfulness is God's requirement, fruitfulness is His reward.

1 Corinthians 3:1-4
Today in the Word

Recently, some Christian colleges loosened rules for how students dress and spend their leisure time. One reversed its no–dancing policy for students and no–drinking policy for faculty and staff—a long overdue decision, some supporters argued; a harbinger of moral laxity, opponents disputed.

Centuries after the church in Corinth, groups still use different criteria to evaluate spirituality. How do we preserve moral standards and a spiritual climate in our Christian communities? Some denominations value the manifestation of certain spiritual gifts to show that someone is spiritually mature. In other churches, the mastery of biblical knowledge is highly prized. For still other churches or denominations, someone is judged by how moral he is and how well he avoids certain highly visible sins.

The Corinthians judged one another by worldly standards of wisdom and eloquence and classified one another by these false categories. As Paul had argued, their standards were informed by the values of the culture, not the values of the cross. The result was factional in–fighting and attitudes of haughty superiority. Many within the church believed that they had attained a superior wisdom and spiritual standing, and this inflated their sense of self–importance.

Paul takes direct aim at their pride in the opening verses of chapter three. For those who take pride in their supposed spiritual maturity, he calls them worldly and infantile. In fact, he notes that he cannot even address them spiritually when they don’t have the spiritual maturity to understand or embrace what he says?

Paul radically redefines worldliness here. It isn’t the absence of spiritual knowledge (as the Corinthians might have thought) or moral laxity (as we tend to think). Worldliness is stubborn willfulness and inflated self–importance when it comes to matters of opinion. This attitude of pride and superiority leads to division and to jealousy. Haughty arrogance and self–certainty destroys the health of a Christian community. This is in direct contrast to the attitude of our Savior (see Phil. 2:5–11).

Apply the Word
When we think about advancing in our spiritual life, we often set our sights on knowing more Scripture, serving more vigorously, and avoiding sin. And all these are good! But we also need to take inventory of our relationships. Do any of those relationships suffer from a willful pride in our heart? Do we esteem ourselves better than another? Have we valued unity in the body of Christ as much as Paul does in his letter to the Corinthians? If there are relationships in your church that you can take a step toward mending, do that today.

1 Corinthians 3:5–17
Today in the Word

Wheaton College recently hosted a panel of business leaders to discuss the topic, “Business as Mission.” They considered what it might look like to affect issues of global poverty and social injustice by establishing businesses in the poorest countries. One African man, when asked how to most effectively address the dire needs in Africa, answered, “Come and build relationships. Change happens in the context of relationship.”

His answer might not surprise us if we know a little something about African culture. It reflects the high priority Africans place on relationship and community. But it’s not the way we Americans think. We tend to prize the individual—his rights, his freedoms, and his potential.

That lens is one we have to readily acknowledge (and shed) when we come to a passage like the one we’ve read today. Paul isn’t addressing individual believers in this passage. The testing he alludes to in verses 13 through 15 isn’t the testing of one’s own individual spiritual life. The temple he refers to in verse 16 isn’t the individual body of the believer. This entire passage intends to defend the sacredness of the community of believers, the church. Paul uses three metaphors to explain this: the church as God’s field, the church as God’s building, and the church as God’s temple.

The field, the building, the temple—all belong to God. Although Paul, Apollos, and others have contributed to the work of building the church in Corinth, ultimately it’s been fully and completely the work of God. Paul planted, Apollos watered, but the church grew because God made in grow. Paul laid a foundation, others are building on that foundation, but the church stands because Jesus Christ Himself is the foundation. The church is the dwelling place of the Spirit of God, and none can destroy that temple without the judgment of God falling heavy upon him.

This means that the factions into which the church at Corinth has splintered are ridiculous. They deny the unity and sacredness of God’s church.

Apply the Word
How often do you think of your identity beyond individual categories? What would it look like to consider more seriously the importance of your participation in your church? Would you treat the relationships you share with your brothers and sisters as more sacred? Would you expend more energy toward building up and serving the local church of which you are a part? It is all too easy to have a consumer mentality toward church: what does it provide me? How am I growing? What different questions does the passage beckon us to ask?

1 Corinthians 3:18–23
Today in the Word

Beauty pageants, Disney princesses, and Barbie: in recent generations, they’ve fueled the ire of some and sparked cultural debate. The ideal of feminine beauty plastered on magazine covers and media screens seems dangerously unattainable, and considering the power of digital photo enhancement, altogether false.

The standard we use to compare ourselves matters. We judge ourselves by how we look, how smart we are, and how successful we deem ourselves to be.

What about in the church? The point that Paul makes in the final verses of chapter three is that we can’t be too careful when choosing the standard by which we judge ourselves, especially in the area of spiritual maturity.

The Corinthians had imbibed the cultural values of their day. They bought into the lie that what matters most is how eloquently one speaks and how much one knows. What mattered most in Corinthian culture was the so–called wisdom one had attained. This had created a dangerous disunity in the church. Each faction boasted of their superiority, and the church divided into “haves” and the “have–nots.”

Paul’s criticism is clear. Their self–judgment was deluded. They had been deceived. By judging themselves according to false, worldly standards, they had arrived at erroneous conclusions. They were not wise; they were fools. And if they thought themselves to be wise, they needed to cling more closely to the foolish message of the cross and to Jesus Christ, the supreme Fool.

In these final verses of chapter three, Paul inverts a popular saying of Greco–Roman philosophy of that time: “The wise man possesses all things.” It was a way of saying that wisdom, or Sophia, mattered more than anything else. Paul’s argument goes something like this: “All things are yours, but you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.” It encapsulates his whole argument of chapter three: everything belongs to God, and this truth unifies the church and defeats human pride.

Apply the Word
It is so easy to judge ourselves by false standards, isn’t it? The world defines our worth by our physical attractiveness, our earning power, and the success of our families. When we judge ourselves by these standards, we can be led falsely into either shame or pride. But the standard Paul sets up throughout the entire letter of 1 Corinthians is radically defined by God: we have the standard of Christ crucified, the foolish wisdom of God who is “our righteousness, holiness and redemption” (1:30).

1 Corinthians 3:8
I was thumbing through one of the national periodicals and happened upon a picture of President Reagan sitting in the Oval Office. He was behind his desk, signing some documents. I noticed a small sign on his desk that was too small to read. It intrigued me. I found a magnifying glass and looked closer; the print was blurred. The next morning I had my secretary telephone the White House and talk with someone who could give us the information.” She found out that the sign on the President’s desk said: THERE IS NO LIMIT TO WHAT A MAN CAN DO OR WHERE HE CAN GO IF HE DOESN’T MIND WHO GETS THE CREDIT.

1 Corinthians 3:9
"For we are laborers together with God." 1 Corinthians 3:9

Some years ago R. T. Moore penned an interesting parable based on the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:9. "It seems," he says, "that the Carpenter's tools had a conference. Brother Ham­mer was in the chair, but the others had just informed him that he must leave because he was too noisy. `All right, I'll go, but if I leave, Brother Screw must go also. Why, you have to turn him around again and again to get him to go anywhere.' To which Brother Screw replied, `If you wish, I'll go, but Brother Plane must leave as well. All of his work is on the surface. There is never any depth to it.' To this Brother Plane replied, `Well, Brother Rule will also have to withdraw if I do, for he is always measuring folks as though he were the only one who is right.' Brother Rule in turn complained about Brother Sandpaper, say­ing, 'I just don't care, he's rougher than he ought to be, and he's always rubbing people the wrong way.' In the midst of the dis­cussion the Carpenter of Nazareth walked in. He had come to perform His day's work. He went to the bench to make a pulpit from which to preach the Gospel to the poor. He employed the screw, the sandpaper, the saw, the hammer, the plane, and all the other tools. After the day's work was over and the pulpit was finished, Brother Saw arose and said, `Brethren, I perceive that all of us are laborers together with God.' 0, how many Chris­tians are just like those tools, fussing at each other because we think someone does not do things just the way he should. There was not an accusation made against any one of the tools but that was absolutely true; yet the Carpenter used every one of them; and there was not a place where He employed them that one of the others could have served as well."

Let us be careful not to find fault with any of God's chosen tools, for all of us are "laborers together" in the holy task He has assigned.

Alone our work is of little worth,
Together we are the "salt of the earth."
So it's all for each and each for all;
United we stand, divided we fall! —Anon.

Remember, the fellow looking down his nose at others usually has the wrong slant!

1 Corinthians 3:1-10
PERHAPS some Christians are at odds with each other due to unresolved "agreements." In a book titled Logic, author Lionel Ruby makes a distinction between a verbal dispute and a real dispute. In a verbal dispute the parties believe that their statements cannot both be correct, when in fact they may be. Here's an example.

Bill claims, "People are not all equal. They differ in their phys­ical and mental abilities. Thomas Jefferson was all wet when he said that all men are created equal." Jim argues, "All human beings are equal. They have equal dignity and are entitled to equal opportunities regardless of race, color, or creed." Bill and Jim don't really disagree. They are merely defining the word equal in different ways—one in terms of inherited traits and the other in terms of inherent value.

When a Christian brother or sister says something with which we disagree, we should try to understand what the person is really saying before we react. God gave us the ability to reason for a rea­son; He wants us to use it. But we often jump into a dispute before looking for the common ground of agreement.

To please God, we need to get rid of "envy, strife, and divi­sions" (1 Corinthians 3:3) and be committed to understanding one another. –D J DeHaan

1 Corinthians 3:1-11
LOOK at the church page in a large city newspaper and what do you see? Advertisements for dozens of different churches representing various doctrinal positions and methods of worship.

Diversity was already present in the first-century church. Some believers in Corinth favored Paul, others Apollos, still oth­ers Peter. The fact that they were drawn to a certain leader wasn't necessarily wrong. Different temperaments account for different preferences. Some people are spiritually uplifted in a liturgical service, whereas others are enriched in an informal setting of praise, testimony, and preaching. But when these differences cause envy, strife, and divisions, they are bad. Paul reminded first-century Christians that he, Apollos, and other leaders were coworkers and that all believers constitute one body.

To prevent diversity from creating divisions, we must study the Scriptures with humility and with open minds. We must guard those teachings that cannot be compromised, holding fast to the essential doctrines of the Bible. We should be loyal to the local church to which God has called us, but we must also love and respect our brothers and sisters in Christ who don't see every-thing exactly as we do. —FM

1 Corinthians 3:5-11

PEOPLE in the helping professions often become what some psychologists call burned-out Good Samaritans. After listening to so many people's problems and trying to help, they get to where they can't take it anymore. Doctors, ministers, psy­chiatrists, and police officers are especially vulnerable. To save themselves emotionally, they must either quit their jobs, stop caring about people, or readjust.

Christians can burn out, too, because helping others is part of our calling. When we continue to take on more and more prob­lems, we eventually have a load too heavy to carry. But if we quit helping, we're not doing what Christ told us to do. And if we become unfeeling, we fall short of His example. But we can make changes. For example, Moses heeded the good counsel of his father-in-law and began delegating responsibility (Exodus 18:18). We too must recognize our human limitations and learn to act wisely.

Some believers assume that spirituality means pushing our-selves until we wear out for the Lord. According to the Bible, however, it's wiser to get more people involved in doing good things and thereby get more done with less effort.—M R DeHaan II

1 Corinthians 3:9
"For we are labourers together with God."-- 1Corinthians 3:9
F B Meyer. Our Daily Walk

IN THIS chapter the Apostle describes the Church as a garden or vineyard, in which the Divine Spirit is ever at work, superintending, directing, inspiring, and calling to co-operate with Him all His servants, whether they be Paul, Apollos, or Cephas; or as a vast temple, rising through the ages, requiring labourers to lay the foundations, others to build the walls, and others to put the final touches in the light of an accomplished purpose. In each case, the design, the successive stages of advancing progress, the engagement of the workers, the direction of their labours and their reward is entirely with the Husband-man and the Master-Builder. It is not our work, but His; we are not responsible for the results, but only to do His Will; He repays us by generous rewards, but there our responsibility ends. When the Garden stands in the Matture beauty, and yields the prolific fruitage of autumn; when the Building is completed and stands in symmetrical glory amidst the wrecks of time, then those who have co-operated will stand aside, and "God will be All in all."

All through human industry there is this co-operation between God and man. He stores the cellars of the earth with gold or coal, and it is for man to excavate it; He fills the hedgerows and woodlands with wild fruits and flowers, it is for man to cultivate them; He fills the earth with iron, copper, and other priceless treasures, it is for man to work them into all manner of useful implements. In every harvest-field, garden, orchard, industry, and employment of natural law for the purpose of civilization, there is this combined effort of God and man. God's energy works according to laws, which man must study as the key to the unlocking of the forces which he uses to flash his messages, guide the aero plane or motor, or speed him across the ocean.

In the Church the same law prevails. God has given the Word, but the company of preachers has been needed to proclaim it. The Words of inspiration burn with the fire of God, but man is called in to translate them into every language under heaven. The saving power of Christ waits to heal and bless, but He needs the co-operation of the human hand and life as the medium through which His virtue passes. Those whom God calls into fellowship in serving others may count on Him for the supply of all their needs (1Co3:21-23).

PRAYER - Heavenly Father, show me how I may work with Thee, and in what direction are Thy energies going forth that I may walk and work in fellowship with Thyself. AMEN.

Outside a Minneapolis church several years ago, as the chairman of the board was about to enter the building, he saw an elderly man standing at the corner of the building. He seemed to be caressing the bricks. The chairman was fascinated by the action of the man, so he approached him and said, "Pardon me, sir, but you seem to have some special interest in this corner of our building. I'm curious to know what's so interesting about those bricks?" The old man answered, "Yes, I have a special interest. You see, when this building was erected many years ago, I was a workman on the project." Patting the bricks, he said, "These bricks—I set them here." With a smile of satisfaction, he added, "And I think I did a pretty good job." He had used good materials and had built well. The building was solid, and "his corner" was plumb to the line. His work stood approved.

How about the corner where God has placed you? Whether it's your work in the church or your daily occupation, a task done well can be a clear testimony of God's work in your life. —Paul R VanGorder


1 Corinthians 3:10-17
In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. - Ephesians 2:21
During His earthly minis
try Jesus predicted that Herod’s temple would eventually be destroyed. Jesus responded with a dire warning when His disciples marveled at the beauty of the temple. “ ‘Do you see all these things?’ he asked. ‘Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down’” (Matt. 24:2). The apostle Paul’s description of the church as “God’s temple,” penned just a few years before Jesus’ prediction was fulfilled, indicated that a change had already occurred.

The Greek word that is translated “temple” in verses 16 and 17 referred to the sanctuary. In tomorrow’s study we will see that Paul used this term to refer to the individual believer. Here he has the whole congregation in view. God’s people are collectively the temple of God. This is because God’s Spirit “dwells” in their midst.

When God’s people come together as the church, the result is both sacred and unique. The gathered church is unlike any other human gathering. The church does not have to do anything to achieve this status. It does not require a particular ritual, prayer, or incantation. Paul states it as a fact. We are God’s temple.

Paul describes the church as a building that is still under construction. The foundation, Jesus Christ, has already been laid by preaching the gospel (v. 11) but the quality of the workmanship by those who build upon this foundation may vary. Two categories of people are in view. One consists of those who labor in “building” the temple, presumably those who exercise spiritual gifts to “build up” the church (cf. 1 Cor. 14:12). These are all believers who will be “rewarded according to their own labor” (v. 8).

The other category of people consists of those who attempt to destroy the church. The Greek word that is translated “destroy” also means to corrupt and appears elsewhere in contexts that refer to false teaching (2 Cor. 11:3; 2 Peter 2:12; Jude 1:10). These unbelievers will eventually be punished for what they have done to the church (v. 17).

The church is at risk on two fronts. One is the danger posed by false teachers who attempt to corrupt the church’s teaching. They distort the gospel and substitute their own ideas for Scripture. The other threat is posed by the church’s own members who build on the right foundation but employ shoddy workmanship. As part of Christ’s church we are workers and we are those who are “worked upon” by those who teach. Pray for their work as well as our own.

1 Corinthians 3:10-15
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him. - 2 Corinthians 5:10

C. T. Studd (1862-1931) gave up a sports career to join six of his Cambridge University classmates in taking the gospel to China. Studd was considered the best cricket player in England during his college days, and at age 25 he inherited a great fortune. But he said no to cricket and gave away his fortune, spending many years on the mission field in China, India, and Africa. He also traveled in the U.S. recruiting students to the work of world missions, and the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade Studd founded is still active today as the WEC International.

C. T. Studd is a wonderful example of someone whose work for the Lord has survived the test of hardships and the passage of years. This committed missionary understood and practiced a ministry of stewardship on a level most people never reach. Studd gave away his inherited fortune, because he did not want to make the same mistake as the rich young man who came to Jesus, but rejected His call to follow Him.

It's encouraging to learn about people who live with Christ's judgment seat in view. This is the only judgment we will ever face as believers. Paul is clear that even the person whose work fails the test of fire will be saved. This is an evaluation of the quality of our stewardship--the Master saying to His managers, ""Give an account of your management"" (Luke 16:2).

The picture of fire and the possibility of suffering loss make this a judgment we need to take seriously. It's great to talk about the rewards we are storing up. But we also have to recognize that those things done for any other motive but to serve and please Christ will disintegrate.

That's why Paul cautions us to be careful about the kind of building material we lay on the foundation of Jesus Christ. It will all come to light on ""the Day"" (v. 13), the return of Christ for His church. The amount of our blessing and management responsibility in the kingdom will be based on the verdict we receive at the judgment seat.

Rather than causing us to pull back, the truth of Christ's judgment should give us determination to give all we have for Him. After all, there is a reward ahead for faithful service.
Just before he wrote the words quoted on this page, Paul stated that his consuming goal was to please Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:9).

That sounds pretty straightforward, and it really is. Pleasing the Lord isn't just some pious-sounding phrase we use when we want to sound spiritual. It's a real goal we can use to help us decide how we manage our lives. What decisions are you facing next week? Put your options to the test of whether they will result in ""fruit that will last"" (John 5:16).

IN 1992, Hurricane Andrew destroyed thousands of homes in South Florida. Yet in an area where the wreckage looked like a war zone, one house remained standing, still firmly anchored to its foundation.

When a reporter asked the homeowner why his house had not been blown away, he replied, "I built this house myself. I also built it according to the Florida state building code. When the code called for two-inch by six-inch roof trusses, I used two-inch by six-inch roof trusses. I was told that a house built according to code could withstand a hurricane—and it did."

Jesus talked about the importance of building our lives on a solid
foundation. He said that the person who obeys His Word is like "a wise man who built his house on the rock" (Matthew 7:24). If we build according to His code, we will not be swept away when a crisis hits with hurricane like force. The tempests of temptation and the storms of suffering cannot sweep a sturdy structure off a solid foundation. Adversity will come, but a life constructed of virtue and goodness and built on faith in Christ cannot be destroyed.—Vernon Grounds

1 Corinthians 3:19, 2 Samuel 14
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. - 1 Corinthians 3:19

A small plane carrying a computer expert, a pastor, and a boy scout was going down. The pilot announced that there were only two other parachutes left after he took one for himself. The computer expert, claiming to be the smartest man alive, quickly grabbed a pack and jumped. The pastor began explaining to the boy scout that he would sacrifice his own life for the young kid, when the boy scout interrupted: “Relax pastor, the computer whiz took my backpack and jumped out!”

Sometimes cunning and smarts are not the same thing as true wisdom, and today’s reading hints at that reality. David’s advisor, Joab, saw the king’s anguish over Absalom and sent for a “wise woman” from Tekoa. Much like the so-called “wise” Jonadab from chapter 13, this woman appeared to have practical cunning and intelligence. With Joab’s help, she told a heart-wrenching story to parallel David’s own situation. She had two sons; one killed the other; now the murdering son had been banished and his life was threatened by the people. She sought his return and secured David’s oath that her son would be protected from harm.

1 Corinthians 4

1 Corinthians 4:1-5
A PERSIAN king wanted to teach his four sons never to make rash judgments. So he told the eldest to go in winter to see a mango tree, the next to go in spring, the third in summer, and the youngest in the fall. After the last son returned from his autumn visit, the king called them together to describe what they had observed. "It looks like a burnt old stump," said the eldest. "No," said the second, "it is lacy green."

The third described it as "beautiful as a rose." The youngest said, "No, its fruit is like a pear." "Each is right," said the king, "for each of you saw the tree in a different season."

How often we forget that brothers and sisters in faith are not all alike; they are at different stages of spiritual growth. Conver­sion to Christ is just the beginning. Spiritual maturity requires a lifetime of replacing old thoughts, attitudes, habits, and actions with new ones created by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

To avoid making unfair and unfounded conclusions about people, we need to realize that each one of us is a work in progress. To judge prematurely is to judge wrongly. When we take the time to get to know people, understand them, learn their back-grounds, and find out what season of spiritual development they are in, we will be less hasty in our judgments and more kind in our attitudes and actions. God sees the whole picture, and He never draws hasty conclusions. Neither should we. —D J DeHaan

1 Corinthians 4:1-5
Those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. - 1 Corinthians 4:2

An estimated 26 percent of Americans now choose to be cremated rather than buried in a coffin—and, according to ABC News columnist Buck Wolf, there are a growing number of offbeat options for what to do with the ashes. They can be mixed with fireworks and shot off as part of the funeral service. They can be scattered from a high-altitude balloon. They can be compressed into synthetic diamonds, mixed into an artificial coral reef, shot into orbit, or, of course, kept in a traditional urn.

People are apparently desperate to give meaning to their lives in the face of death. For believers, however, death holds no sting (1 Cor. 15:51-57). Our goal at the end of the day is not to make a “dramatic exit,” but to be found faithful (v. 2). In today's reading, Paul referred especially to apostles and church leaders as stewards of the gospel (v. 1), but this foundational principle of stewardship is the same for all of us.

In the end, human judgment of our life's endeavors has no value; only God's opinion matters (vv. 3-4). Paul didn't worry about human verdicts on his leadership skills or ministry success, and he didn't make his own opinion primary either. His conscience was clean—but conscience is fallible. Only God is wise and perfect, so only His evaluation matters. Paul was no individualist, marching to his own drumbeat, but rather a man called of God. He knew the proper authority who deserved our submission and who would not be distracted by lesser tribunals.

From this perspective, our assessments of value and success are tentative (v. 5). God alone can render final judgment. Only He sees all and knows all (Heb. 4:13). A day of accountability is coming when all words, thoughts, actions, motives, and consequences will be revealed. This is a positive truth—faithful believers can look forward to God's “praise” or “commendation” (esv) for a life well lived in Christ.
Today take some time to make a list of all that you steward. For what items or resources has God given you responsibility? These should be things that can be spent or used in one way or another. Things over which you hold a significant decision-making authority on when, how, and why to use them. Money and time are two large examples, of course, but examine your life for other resources as well. Make your list as specific as possible. It will help you apply the themes and principles of our month's study.

1 Corinthians 4:1–7
Today in the Word

This year, Toyota executives have been called before congressional panels to answer questions regarding the safety of their vehicles. Reports of unintended acceleration (and injuries and death) have obviously alarmed the general public, and these executives were called to give an account for their products.

All of us are accountable to someone. If we work for a company, we’re accountable to our boss. When working for the government, we’re accountable to the taxpayer. But as servants of the Christ, we’re accountable to the Lord. Paul makes the case that neither he nor any other apostle can or should be judged by the Corinthians. Later in the letter, we learn that the Corinthians were in fact second–guessing his authority and performance as an apostle (cf. 9:3). But Paul dismissed their criticism by explaining that he and the other apostles have been appointed by God and are ultimately accountable to God. No other judgment but God’s matters. The Corinthians, who think they are so wise, are not in a position to judge Paul, and Paul certainly doesn’t make it his goal to please them or curry their favor. The tone of the letter and the force of his criticisms are evidence enough of that.

Paul even disqualifies himself from the task of judging his own heart. Though his conscience is clear, he does not presume to be the final word in his own judgment. When Christ returns, He will judge. He is the arbiter of what is true. He can evaluate the motives of our hearts. And He is the only one whose commendation matters.

Again and again, Paul deals a blow to human pride and arrogance. Our ability to judge the hearts of others—even to judge our own motives completely—is flawed. Everything we have, we’ve been given by God. There is no reason for boasting of the privileges and gifts we’ve received. And there cannot be boasting before the Lord’s return, for only then will we finally know the truth of the content of our character, our conduct, and our service.

Apply the Word
This passage teaches us never to presume that we are fully blameless in any given situation. We can rationally analyze any situation and deduce that our methods and motives have been pure. But the truth is that we cannot with certainty understand ourselves. There are unexplored places in our hearts and minds we do not know. Peter was an example of this. “Lord, I will die with you!” he declared emphatically when only a short time later, he denied the Lord three times. Pray the words of Psalm 139:23–24 and trust God to be the judge.

1 Corinthians 4:8–20
Today in the Word

In A.D. 155, Polycarp, the 86–year–old Christian bishop of Smyrna, was brought into the city arena where the Roman governor demanded he swear allegiance to Caesar. The crowd murderously chanted, “Death to the godless! Death to Polycarp!” Refusing to renounce Christ, Polycarp was tied to the stake, and the straw and wood kindling were doused with oil and the fire lit.

Many Christians still suffer violent persecution across the globe, and the possibility of martyrdom was real for apostles like Paul, who suffered innumerable hardships. Commitment to Christ and missionary work cost them material comfort and personal reputation. Hunger, thirst, homelessness, public ridicule—these followers paid a high price for faith in Jesus.

Contrasted with the willingness of the apostles to suffer hardship for the gospel is the Corinthians’ attitude of entitlement. They saw themselves as meriting the treatment of kings! We’ve already seen how the Corinthians had been lured into the corrupt and godless value system of the culture around them. They prized the wisdom of the world rather than the Cross. And because they saw themselves as already possessing this worldly wisdom, it had only served to inflate their self–regard. In fact, Paul notes that they are so self–satisfied that they have no hunger for the things of God (v. 8). Paul had to challenge such arrogance, and he does so by holding up as example the suffering of the apostles.

If God had meant for each of His followers to achieve the stature of kings and queens, why had He subjected the apostles to such public humiliation? In verse nine, God is compared to a victorious Roman general who parades triumphantly after battle through the city, His enemies trailing behind Him in procession. Surprisingly, those at the end of the procession aren’t the enemies of God. They are the apostles themselves! No special, privileged treatment is reserved for the apostles. Instead, they are humiliated in the worst kind of way, having become “the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world” (v. 13).

Apply the Word
What demands have we put on God? Do we believe that we deserve certain things from Him or that we should be exempt from hardship? Would we rather be content with the trappings of the world’s comfort and success than eagerly pursue the kingdom of God? The suffering of the apostles proves that while God is certainly good and faithful, bad things can happen to His people. In fact, the Bible promises suffering to those who want to follow Christ faithfully (2 Tim. 3:12). Our hope is that God’s strength is made perfect when we are most weak.

According to a legend, a desert wanderer found a crystal spring of unsurpassed freshness. The water was so pure that he decided to bring some to his king. He filled a leather bottle with the water and carried it many days beneath the desert sun to the palace.

When he finally laid his offering at the feet of his sovereign, the water had become stale in the old container. But the king would not let his faithful subject even imagine it was unfit for use. He tasted it with expressions of gratitude and delight, and the loyal man left with a happy heart.

After he had gone, others sampled the water and expressed their surprise that the king had pretended to enjoy it. "Ah," said he, "it was not the water I tasted, but the love that prompted the offering."

Our service may be marked by many imperfections, but the Master looks at our motives. He rejoices in our loyal actions, no matter what others may think. —H. G. B.


1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Timothy 3:1-13
My way of life in Christ Jesus . . . agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church. - 1 Corinthians 4:17

“Do as I say, not as I do,” is one of the worst kinds of parenting. Children left with no clear example to follow don't know what to do or who to be! The angry retort of a child infuriated by his parents' hypocrisy is: “Practice what you preach!”

The example of leaders is powerful in the church, whether for good or for bad. When leaders make bad choices, churches are deeply wounded by their hypocrisy, sometimes even causing people to doubt the gospel. But when leaders make good choices and lead exemplary lives, this inspires all those watching. That's why the issue of personal conduct is the root of many of these qualifications for overseers and deacons. Surprisingly, this list in 1 Timothy has little to say about what leaders should believe. But it has much to say about how they should live. While it's often easy to assert what we believe, it's much harder to prove it by our actions.

1 Corinthians 5

1 Corinthians 5:1–13
Today in the Word

In recent years the Roman Catholic Church has been riddled with scandal and charged with complicity in numerous accounts of child abuse by clergy. Victims who were sexually abused as children by their priests have come forward to say that church leaders knew of the abuse and yet refused to do anything about it. Are silent church leaders any less guilty than the abusers themselves?

Paul levels a charge of complicit sin against the Corinthians in today’s reading. With the knowledge of the church, a man was still publicly enjoying an incestuous relationship with his father’s wife. It’s a grievous sin that even the pagans themselves would have disdained. The church had done nothing about it. In fact, Paul describes their attitude as arrogant (once again)!

What we have in this passage are solemn words of instruction. First, Paul wants his readers to understand what it means to be the church. The blood of the Passover Lamb, Christ, has given us a distinct identity as God’s covenant community. The moral standards to which we are held are different than the moral standards of the prevailing culture. Not only that, but the way we treat church members who compromise those standards is different than the way we would treat those outside the church.

When flagrant sin has been committed in the church, and when there has been no remorse or repentance (as seems to be the case here), the church’s first reaction should be grief (v. 2). We hardly need explosive, self–righteous tirades. We need tears. We are called to grieve the power of sin to destroy fellowship with God and the integrity of the church’s identity.

Grieve, we must, and with that sorrow we must also exclude the guilty person from our fellowship (v. 9). This is an act of hope. By handing “this man over to Satan” (v. 5), by removing him from the protection and privilege of one belonging to the church community, we pray fervently that his new vulnerability will renew a fear of God and ignite repentance.

Apply the Word
Church discipline is rare today, probably because we’re confused about our responsibilities and the biblical commands. This case from 1 Corinthians contains several elements to guide us. First, this man’s sin was egregious; second, he was continuing in that sin publicly and shamelessly. We don’t need to be scouring each other’s lives to find places of moral failure, but when there is shameless, unrepentant, and public sin in our church, that must be dealt with. Matthew 18:15–20 gives us further instruction for this process.

1 Corinthians 6

[Jesus] bore our sins…that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness (1 Peter 2:24).

Counseling, mood-altering drugs, psychosurgery, and other forms of therapy are often needed to help and cure people with emotional disorders. But these treatments can't make them good. Charles Col-son tells of a frustrated prison psychiatrist who exclaimed, "I can cure a person's madness, but not his badness." To do that calls for getting to the heart of the problem—sin.

The only way to make bad people good is to expose them to the gospel. Even Charles Darwin, the man who contributed so much to evolutionistic thinking, admitted this. He wrote to a minister: "Your services have done more for our village in a few months than all our efforts for many years. We have never been able to reclaim a single drunkard, but through your services I do not know that there is a drunkard left in the village!"

Later Darwin visited the island of Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America. What he found among the people was horrify­ing—savagery and bestiality almost beyond description. But when he returned there after a missionary had worked among the people, he was amazed at the change in them. He acknowledged that the gospel does transform lives. In fact, he was so moved by what he saw that he contributed money to the mission until his death.

First Peter 2 reminds us that Christ's sacrifice on the cross not only paid sin's penalty but also broke its power. The apostle Paul, listing some terrible sins, wrote to the Christians in Corinth, "Such were some of you. But you were washed" (1Pe 2:9-11). Praise God. Jesus does make bad people good. —H. V. Lugt.

God formed us; sin deformed us; Christ transforms us

1 Corinthians 6:1–11
Today in the Word

In 2009, Jonathan Lee Riches earned the honor in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most litigious man: he had sued scores of people, including the coach of the New England Patriots and Martha Stewart. How did Riches handle the prestigious nomination to a world record? Why, he sued, of course.

In the United States, the most litigious nation in the world, we’re well acquainted with the subject of today’s reading: lawsuits. The Corinthians also lived in a litigious culture. There are some differences between the historical context and what should be true today. The majority of plaintiffs in the Corinthian context would have been wealthy and privileged. The judges, too, would have shared a high social status. This corrupted the legal system. court cases were a sham. Lawsuits were decided in favor of those with the most money, power, and social standing.

The Corinthians participated in this unjust system. Apparently, believers within the church were taking other believers to court. And based upon the historical evidence, the privileged and wealthy were cheating and defrauding their poorer brothers. Paul would not tolerate such behavior in the community of saints, and he gives a number of reasons why.

First, he frames the issue as an eschatological one, calling to mind eternal realities. In eternity, we will judge the angels. Can it be, then, that no believer in the Corinthian church is competent for judging disputes of “trivial matters” today? (Notice Paul’s ironic use of the word, wise, in verse 5.) Can these cases be rightly discerned by “the wicked,” those who will not inherit God’s kingdom?

The real question concerns identity. Just as in the case of flagrant sin in the church, unlawful court cases between believers compromised the church’s identity. We are God’s people, God’s family. We are brothers and sisters. Not only does this bear on our relationship in heaven, but it must impact the way we relate to each other here and now.

Apply the Word
Paul challenges the Corinthian believers to be willing to suffer wrong and be cheated rather than do anything to compromise the unity and integrity of the church. Whether or not you’ve actually brought a formal lawsuit against another believer, maybe it’s true that you’ve drawn up a list of “charges” against another brother or sister. You’ve spent time enumerating the ways you’ve been wronged. You’ve tallied the offenses and declared a verdict. What might God say to you today through today’s reading?

In a children's story popular during the middle 1800s, a small boy disobeyed his mother by taking a piece of cake when she wasn't look­ing. The book referred to him as "mean," "contemptible," and "with-out one particle of honorable or generous feeling." It asked, "And can anyone love or esteem a child who has become so degraded?" A description of "the deceitful child" at the judgment of the great white throne followed, and we learn of his harsh sentence, "Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matt. 25:41).

Unwise Christians get like that. They emphasize God's wrath so much that they lose sight of His mercy. On the other hand, some put so much stress on God's love that they lose sight of His holiness. Neither extreme is healthy. Wisdom keeps truth and love in proper balance.

The story disturbs me because it gives a distorted view of God. It was right in warning against disobedience, but it said nothing about forgiveness. How unlike 1 Corinthians 6:1-11. There we see the sol­emn warning about unrighteousness and immorality followed by the words, "And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified" (v. 11).

We must take seriously God's holiness and wrath against sin. But we must not forget His love and grace. We will live right and guide others correctly only as we gain wisdom and learn to hold the truth in balance. —H. V. Lugt.

We must be careful not to teach the wrath of God apart from the grace of God.

1 Corinthians 6:12-20
A NEWSPAPER carried an article entitled "Victimless Crimes Get Second Look." The writer stated that practices such as prostitution and gambling are being reevaluated by state and federal authorities. Because laws governing these activities are hard to enforce, some think they should be legalized. Some states no longer consider drunkenness a crime. And a few have no laws against illicit sexual acts between consenting adults. It's claimed that such behavior is victimless because no one gets hurt.

We must not be fooled by this faulty reasoning. Sin always hurts people, the one committing it as well as others. No person lives in isolation, and a society is only as strong as the individuals in it.

Pressing even deeper, we see that sin offends a holy God who made us in His image and who tells us what's right and wrong. His commands are always for our good. To disobey them is to miss knowing His best for us.

As Christians, we do not belong to ourselves—we are the pos­session of another. To violate body, mind, and soul through indulging the lusts of the flesh, therefore, is to strike out at God who made us and indwells us by His Spirit.

We may think some things are harmless. But even when no one else is directly affected, we hurt ourselves and grieve the One who created us. —DID

1 Corinthians 6:12-20
You were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your body. - 1 Corinthians 6:20

Robert's doctor had been urging him for years to watch his diet, exercise more, and lose some weight. Robert declined to follow his doctor's advice, however. He reasoned, “I'm not sinning by drinking soda or eating french fries, and I'm going to die sometime anyway. It will be my time to die whenever God is ready to take me.”

Robert reflects common thinking among Christians and non-Christians alike. It's not a sin to eat doughnuts and tater tots—so what's the big deal? Who cares if I don't take care of my body as long as I'm taking care of my soul?

Scripture doesn't support this way of thinking. God is concerned about the way that we use our bodies—we are often ready to acknowledge this regarding obviously sinful behavior, but we're less likely to consider the same concerning actions that are not in themselves sinful. The context of our passage is Paul's exhortation to the Corinthian believers to live so as to bring glory to God. By professing to be Christians but acting like the unsaved world brought shame on the entire church and dishonor to the name of Christ.

We see several principles in our text. The first relates to whether something is beneficial. A particular action (like eating) may not be a sin, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea to eat whatever we want (v. 13). God cares about how we care for our bodies.

Second, we must be alert to the price we pay for using our bodies for sin. Sexual sin in particular is in view here, but the principle applies to other sin as well. We damage our bodies, spirits, and the name of the Lord. Third, we must understand the depth of this exhortation. The entire Trinity has a relationship to our physical being: God will raise our bodies in the resurrection (v. 14); our bodies are part (or members) of the body of Christ (v. 15); and our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (v. 19).

Our bodies belong to God, and how we use them matters for our health, His glory, and the testimony of the church.
Have you been content to “take care of your soul” while disregarding your body? Church attendance, prayer, and Bible study are surely important, but God also cares about such everyday matters as how we eat or how much television we watch. In a world that seems caught between the extremes of either worshiping or ignoring the human body, Christians can be a witness to the way that the triune God impact the way we view our physical beings.

1 Corinthians 6:12–20
Today in the Word

Uncle Tom’s Cabin, published in 1850, provoked a maelstrom of public outrage at the institution of slavery. The novel gives voice to the suffering of slaves, such as this Kentucky slave named George: “Why, now comes my master, takes me right away from my work, and my friends, and all I like, and grinds me down into the very dirt! And why? Because he says, I forgot who I was. . . . I am desperate. I’ll fight for my liberty to the last breath I breathe!”

To George, freedom was something worth dying for. And freedom is central to the gospel of Jesus. Paul preached and wrote extensively about the freedom Jesus Christ purchased for us on the cross: the freedom from sin and the freedom for restored fellowship with God. But the Corinthians had been abusing their freedom in Christ. Today’s reading brings us to the first of several examples of that abuse.

Their freedom had been used to justify sexual misconduct. It might have been that the Corinthian men were continuing in the accepted cultural practice of visiting prostitutes. But their promiscuity might also have been broader than that. The line of defense by which they had justified their actions sounds something like this: In Christ, we are free to do what we want. There is no law that forbids us these sexual pleasures. And of what consequence is it really, for do our physical bodies matter? The stomach for food, food for the stomach—and well, we know why we have our sex organs!

Paul counters their rationalizations with a theological framework. Here he seizes yet another opportunity to address the subject of identity: every Christian believer is part of the body of Christ. This isn’t merely a symbolic or mystical reality. It means that our physical bodies, every appendage, organ, and skin cell, belong to God. Our bodies do matter. They will one day be resurrected just as Jesus was raised bodily.

Do we dare join what is holy to what is defiled? Can we carelessly desecrate the dwelling place of God?

Apply the Word
We easily slip into Gnostic thinking, a danger many of the early Christians also faced. Gnosticism taught that the spiritual was good and the material was bad. With such a view, it would be easy to diminish the importance of the body. But this passage today clearly challenges that kind of thinking. Our bodies matter to God, and this will force us to confront a number of things in our own lives: body image, sexual behavior, eating practices, and addiction to unhealthy substances.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Winston Churchill - A wealthy English family once invited friends to spend some time at their beautiful estate. The happy gathering was almost plunged into a terrible tragedy on the first day. When the children went swimming, one of them got into deep water and was drowning. Fortunately, the gardener heard the others screaming and plunged into the pool to rescue the helpless victim. That youngster was Winston Churchill. His parents, deeply grateful to the gardener, asked what they could do to reward him. He hesitated, then said, “I wish my son could go to college someday and become a doctor.” “We’ll pay his way,” replied Churchill’s parents.

Years later when Sir Winston was prime minister of England, he was stricken with pneumonia. Greatly concerned, the king summoned the best physician who could be found to the bedside of the ailing leader. That doctor was Sir Alexander Fleming, the developer of penicillin. He was also the son of that gardener who had saved Winston from drowning as a boy! Later Churchill said, “Rarely has one man owed his life twice to the same person.”

What was rare in the case of that great English statesman is in a much deeper sense a wonderful reality for every believer in Christ. The Heavenly Father has given us the gift of physical life, and then through His Son, the Great Physician, He has imparted to us eternal life.

May the awareness that we are doubly indebted to God as our Creator and Redeemer motivate us to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto Him. - D J DeHaan

1 Corinthians 6:20
Your Body is Not Your Own (Secular Version) - In 1910 Olav Olavson, a Swedish citizen, fell upon hard times and decided to sell his body for medical research to the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. The following year he inherited a fortune and resolved to buy himself back. The institute refused to sell its rights to his body, went to court, and won possession of it. Moreover, the institute obtained damages, since Olav had two teeth pulled out without asking their permission as ultimate owners of his body.
Why Christians Sin Avoiding the Dangers of an Uncommitted Life J. Kirk Johnston

1 Corinthians 6:18-7:9
A SITUATION that most people once considered immoral has become commonplace. According to the National & Interna­tional Religion Report, before the majority of American marriages take place, the man and woman have lived together.

The report points out the devastating effects of this practice. "Marriages that are preceded by living together have 50 percent higher disruption [divorce or separation] rates than marriages without premarital cohabitation."

Even among Christians there is no shortage of those who think they can violate God's moral standards without conse­quence.

The temptations were similar in the first century. That's why Paul had to make it clear to the believers at Corinth that they had no business being involved in sexual immorality. If their passions became so strong that they could not control their sexual desires, there was an answer. But the answer was not an immoral rela­tionship; it was marriage.

In a day when immorality continues to devour people with its lies, Christians need to live out the kind of love that honors God—the love that is shared in marriage. There is no substitute for pure, unadulterated love. —J D Brannon

1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness. - Romans 6:13

In a lecture given at Multnomah Bible College, genetic engineer John Medina observed that the human heart pumps more than a thousand gallons a day and more than 55 million gallons in a lifetime. The heart beats 2.5 billion times in the course of our life. The lungs contain a thousand miles of capillaries. But for those who know Jesus Christ as Savior, the most amazing fact about the body is its status as the temple of God.

What is true of the church collectively is also true of the individual believer. Every believer is a temple of the Holy Spirit (v. 19). The same God who manifested His presence in the tabernacle and the temple is also present with the individual believer. This means that there is spiritual significance to what we do with our bodies. Some in the Corinthian church did not think that the body had any spiritual significance. The slogans of verses 12 and 13 reflect their approach, which combined extreme views of liberty with a dualistic philosophy that regarded the spiritual as good and the physical as inconsequential.

Paul corrected their thinking on both counts. They were under grace and therefore not bound by Mosaic Law. But that did not mean that they were free to do anything. As for their strict dichotomy between the value of the spirit and not the body, they were partially correct in this thinking. It is true that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 15:50). But they failed to realize that the capstone of the believer’s redemption will be bodily resurrection (1 Cor. 15:42-58). The body is meant for the Lord both now and for all eternity. The practical implication of this theological truth is to see our bodies as “members of Christ himself” (1 Cor. 6:14).

In his book The Spirit of the Disciplines, Dallas Willard characterizes our relationship to the body as a kind of dominion. “In creating human beings in his likeness so that we could govern in his manner, God gave us a measure of independent power. The locus or depository of this necessary power is the human body.”

You exercise control over your own body. But you do not have the freedom to do whatever you please with it. Your body is not truly your own: “you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Cor. 6:20). We confront messages that tempt us either to worship our bodies (instead of the Lord who created and indwells them) or to ignore our bodies and disregard them as God’s good gift. Think of a way today that you can intentionally honor God with your body.

1Corinthians 6:19-20 (F B Meyer. Our Daily Walk).
THE FACT that we have been bought with a price, not with corruptible things, as silver or gold, but with the precious Blood of Christ, lies at the foundation of all consecration (1Pe1:18). In consecration we do not make ourselves Christ's but recognize that we are His by an unalienable right. In the slave market human beings were sold like cattle; but this institution is set forth as the first step in our devotion to the service and person of Jesus Christ, the Lord who bought us. Slaves pass from one master to another. Among the Hebrews an Israelite would sometimes sell himself into slavery until the year of Jubilee, or until one of his kinsmen redeemed him (Lev25:47-50). So our Kinsman, Christ, bought us back from sin and guilt and condemnation; He says, as He buys us: "Ye shall be for Me, ye shall not be for another."

Our Lord's claim upon us is built on His own supreme sacrifice. "He gave Himself for us," says the Apostle Paul, "that He might redeem us from all iniquity" (Tit2:14). He gave Himself up to the Death of the Cross, that we might reckon ourselves to be dead unto sin. The Apostles constantly speak of themselves as "the slaves of Jesus Christ." Oh, that we might all live like this, counting nothing as our exclusive possession, but believing that all we have has been given to us to use in trust for our Lord and Master. He assigns to us each and all the work that we can do best. Some are called to work for Him in the high places of the Church, and others to toil in lowly obscurity, but everything is important in the great House of the Master, and all He requires is faithful service. I shall never forget when I first entered into the realization of the Ownership of my Lord; that I was His chattel, and had no longer any option or choice for one's enjoyment or emolument. The life which was commenced then has been one of perfect freedom, for this is the enigma of His service, that Christ's slaves are alone free; and that the more absolutely they obey Him, the more completely do they drink of the sweet cup of liberty!

PRAYER - O Lord, I give myself to Thee. I am born to serve Thee, to be Thine, to be Thy instrument. I ask not to see--I ask not to know--I ask simply to be used. AMEN.

1 Corinthians 7

1 Corinthians 7:22
The image of a duck flying through the air with an arrow embedded in her body is still fresh in my memory. A local newspaper carried the story and picture of a mallard duck that had eluded rescuers who wanted to remove the foreign object. A couple of months later a Canada goose flew into Wisconsin with the same problem. A young bow hunter had hit his mark, but his arrow hadn't stopped the bird. She had evaded game wardens, avoided tranquilizer-laced grain, and even dodged cannon-fired nets. After about a month, apparently ex­hausted from her injury, the goose was caught with a fishing net. Soon after surgery, veterinarians returned her to freedom. If geese could think, she probably wondered why she had tried so hard and for so long to elude her captors.

The experience of these reluctant captives reminds me of the men Christ spoke to in John 8. They too were slow to realize the serious­ness of their condition. They didn't understand Christ's motives. To them, He looked like a captor. He wanted them to surrender their lives to Him. He asked them to become His disciples. He implored them to become spiritual bond-slaves. They were unable to com­prehend that by surrendering they could "be made free" (v. 33).

Is it possible we have forgotten that real freedom is found only in being secure in Christ? This relates not only to our ultimate salvation but also to our daily walk with the Lord.

As servants of Christ, we are bound to be free. —M. R. De Haan.II

Salvation produces a change within that releases the chains of sin

1 Corinthians 7:3; Song of Solomon 2:1-7
The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. - 1 Corinthians 7:3

The British mathematician Charles Babbage wrote to Alfred Tennyson complaining that two lines from his poem “The Vision of Sin” were inaccurate. The lines went, “Every moment dies a man / Every moment one is born.” Babbage argued that if this were true, world population would never change. Instead, he wrote, the lines ought to read: “Every moment dies a man / Every moment one and one-sixteenth is born.”

1 Corinthians 7:1–24
Today in the Word

Legalism is an ever–present danger in the church. It’s tempting to find confidence by the rules we’re keeping. Legalism confuses universal biblical truth with the preferences of any one community, and then asserts its own spiritual superiority over others not adhering to its rules and preferences.

The struggle of the Corinthians with legalism in today’s reading might seem surprising, given our earlier study of their abuse of freedom. In fact, both problems plagued this church. Someone (or some faction) in the community had reportedly been teaching that it was best for everyone, married and unmarried alike, to remain abstinent. And just a chapter earlier, Paul was forbidding the Corinthians from having sexual intercourse with prostitutes! It may be that because the Corinthian community was fractured by dissent, one faction had been reveling in their “freedom” in Christ while another had been forbidding every kind of sexual activity. Notice that both extremes are rooted in a disregard for the bodies God has created.

To set the record straight about sex and marriage, Paul answers a letter that the Corinthians had written to him previously. He had been asked to either validate or refute this teaching on sex. Paul answers this way: first, sexual intercourse is reserved for marriage. Second, within the confines of the marriage relationship, husbands and wives should enjoy sex frequently.

The reasons are two–fold. First, a wife’s body belongs to her husband, and the husband’s body belongs to his wife. Second, the temptation to sexual immorality is real. When husbands and wives enjoy healthy and meaningful sex in their marriage, this serves to protect them from sinfully pursuing their passions and pleasures in illicit relationships.

The key verses of today’s reading are verses 17 and 24. They explain in part how it is that we must understand and live out our identity in Christ. One godly saint echoed Paul when he said, “Our sanctification does not depend as much on changing our activities as it does on doing them for God rather than for ourselves.”

Apply the Word
This weekend, take some time to think through your own identity. On a sheet of paper, make a list of the words you would use to describe yourself. When you have finished, review your words in light of what 1 Corinthians has said about our identity. Are there any attributes that you rank too highly? Do you need a stronger grasp of your membership in the body of Christ? In your prayer time, ask God to shape your understanding of your actions and attitudes as a Christian.

1 Corinthians 7:29
"... brethren, the time is short." 1 Corinthians 7:29

It was the last day of the month. Taking my desk calendar and reviewing the engagements fulfilled, the projects accomplished, and the obligations met, I tore it from the pad, rolled it up into a wad and threw it into the wastebasket. As I did so, however, I was arrested with the thought: that which I'm disposing of repre­sents an entire month of my life. Have I been faithful in accom­plishing that which the Lord has given me to do during those days? Were those precious minutes and hours utilized in the very best way? Or could it be that time has been squandered, oppor­tunities disregarded, and the minutes wasted? Could it be pos­sible that the month itself had been spent in such a way that God considered it fit only for the "wastebasket" of broken vows and dead works?

Frequently we categorize our misdemeanors, putting some down as greater than others. If we are at all justified in doing this, I believe one of the worst sins on the list is that of wasting time. Those hours, minutes, and seconds which are given to us must be considered as a treasured trust. They must not be wasted nor put to improper use, for they can never be recalled. On various occasions I have been startled by the sudden realization that the immediate, passing seconds would soon be beyond recall. This particular moment which is mine right now will never come again. Each passing second slips away, never to return. Especially Chris­tians, who believe the coming of the Lord draweth nigh, and that we are living in the midnight hour of this age, should en­deavor to spend every day in pursuits which are profitable and which glorify God.

Yes, another month is gone! It's time to tear that current page from the calendar and throw it into the wastebasket. May that act, however, not characterize the quality of its activity. Rather than throwing away the months, let us give them to the Lord.
Don't just count days, make the days count; for "lost time" is never "found" again!

1 Corinthians 7:25–40
Today in the Word

The movie, The Bucket List, is the story of the unlikely friendship between two men, one a corporate executive, the other an auto mechanic. They’ve landed in the same hospital room, and both are facing unwelcome diagnoses and their own mortality. But courageously and humorously, they set off together on the adventure of doing what they had both always meant to do before “kicking the bucket.” Every dream and ambition mattered now that time was short.

Paul writes with a similar kind of urgency in the second half of 1 Corinthians 7. In verse 26, he refers to “the present crisis.” In verse 29, he emphasizes, “The time is short;” and in verse 31, he concludes, “This world in its present form is passing away.” Sooner rather than later, he expects Jesus’ visible, bodily return to earth, and time is running out to tell the world about the good news. He passionately wants the church to be on a mission in the last days.

Because Paul anticipated Jesus’ imminent return, he encourages unmarried believers in the Corinthian church not to marry. As he answers their questions from the previous letter (this time about those single or betrothed but not yet married), he does so with the sole aim of securing their “undivided devotion to the Lord.” He is not, as some have argued, against marriage. He does not promote celibacy as the most spiritual of choices. But he does teach that an unmarried person is free from the distractions of a married person and more able to concern himself with the things of God.

From our vantage point, we now know what Paul did not: that Jesus would not return in his generation. That doesn’t mean, however, that the Scriptures are somehow in error. Paul even tempers the tone of this discussion with disclaimers like, “I think that it is good,” and “In my judgment.” He has reasoned that if one can choose freely not to marry, exercising self–control in the area of sexual purity, this is best. However, no one sins by choosing to marry (v. 28).

Apply the Word
The church can be a very difficult place for singles. They see the ideal of marriage and family promoted (as it should be), but they often feel exempt from the blessings of God. The church needs the biblical understanding provided by today’s passage. Singleness is also a gift from God! If we’re married, we should be satisfied in our situation and seek to glorify God through our marriage. And if we’re single, we can embrace the freedom and flexibility we have to serve God.

1 Corinthians 8

But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak (1 Corinthians 8:9).

Many states in the U.S. allow motorists to make a right turn when the traffic signal is red—if the way is clear. This gives drivers liberty and keeps traffic moving. At some intersections, however, signs say, "No turn on red." These corners are exceptions because they are potential danger spots. By turning on red there, a motorist could cause a se­rious accident.

In 1 Corinthians 8, we have a similar situation concerning Christian liberty. Paul had perfect freedom to eat meat offered to idols. He knew that there was only one true God and that idols were nothing. Eating meat offered to them was neither right nor wrong. But not all be­lievers felt that way. A person who had a weak conscience believed that the meat was defiled by the idol, and therefore it was off limits. Paul recognized the need to take special care lest by eating he would influ­ence such a person to eat, thus violating his conscience. Concern for weaker believers kept him from exercising his liberty.

As Christians, we are free in Christ—free to engage in social prac­tices and customs not specifically forbidden by biblical commands. Yet the Holy Spirit may prompt us to refrain from some legitimate prac­tices. Then the principle of love must take precedence over the principle of liberty. A mature Christian will heed the "no turn on red" sign to keep from causing a weaker believer "to have a serious accident." —D J DeHaan

None of us has a right to do as we please,unless we please to do right.

1 Corinthians 8:1-6
Every tongue [will] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. - Philippians 2:11

The popular television series Bonanza followed the adventures of the Cartwright family, owners of a huge ranch in Nevada called the Ponderosa. In one episode, Little Joe Cartwright (actor Michael Landon) was bringing a visitor from back East out to the ranch. At one point in their long ride from town the man looked around at the countryside, then turned to Little Joe and said, ""I'm looking forward to seeing the Ponderosa.""

Little Joe looked at the man and said, ""Mister, you've been on Cartwright land for the last two hours."" The Cartwright family was master of everything as far as the visitor could see.

That's a good picture of what the name ""Lord"" means. The Lord is the owner, the master, the one who decides how things are going to be. It is also a title of respect and reverence. When this name is applied to Jesus Christ, it speaks of His supremacy as the Master, the only One deserving of our reverence. There is room in the universe for only one Lord.

The New Testament contains several illustrations of the way this name is used to express ownership. Jesus is ""Lord of the harvest"" (Matt. 9:38) and ""Lord of the Sabbath"" (Matt. 12:Cool, meaning He decides how the harvest will be reaped and what is appropriate to do on the Sabbath.

Paul was writing to the Corinthians about a real-life issue, whether to eat meat offered to idols. But he also pointed out the truth that although there were pretenders to the title ""Lord,"" they were nothing (v. 4). ""There is but one Lord, Jesus Christ"" (v. 6) is a powerful doctrinal statement.

You may recognize today's verse as the conclusion to one of the Bible's great passages about Jesus Christ, tracing His life and ministry from the glory of heaven to the humiliation of death on a cross. His exaltation will be universal when every person bows and admits that He is Lord.

For some people, that confession will be too late in terms of their eternal destiny. But we who know the Lord as Savior are privileged to bow before Him now in humble repentance and worship, rather than later when He is revealed for all the world to see. For this, we'll be eternally grateful to Jesus.
If Jesus is Lord of your life, you can join the rest of the Today family in thanking Him for the gift of salvation. This is the focus of our praise the day before Thanksgiving. But it's possible that some of our readers have not yet bowed before Christ in repentance and faith. If that describes you, there's no better season to enter into a relationship with God. Put your faith in Christ alone today to save you, and you'll have the best reason for thanksgiving you've ever had.

1 Corinthians 8:1–6
Today in the Word

Like any major city in the Roman Empire, Corinth’s streets were lined with shrines and statues of pagan gods. Feasts in the pagan temples celebrated birthdays, weddings, and other important social events. These feasts would have been hard to avoid, especially for the wealthier members of the Corinthian church. The question the Corinthians posed to Paul in their letter was a real problem: Could they eat meat that had been used in the pagan sacrifices?

In Pauline fashion, he takes the next three chapters to answer their question fully. Based on an understanding of what happened at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, the question might have warranted a straightforward answer. There, the apostles and elders had gathered to decide whether or not the Gentile Christians should obey Jewish law and tradition. They formally decided no, but they did author a letter asking the Gentile Christians to abstain from eating of meat that had been sacrificed to idols. Apparently, they feared that this issue had the potential to divide Gentile and Jewish Christians.

In Corinth, the church was pre–dominantly Gentile, but the issue of eating idol meat was still divisive. One side touted their own position: idols are nothing; consequently, eating idol meat is also nothing. Paul seems to agree with them on the matter of whether it was sinful to eat the meat, but he was concerned about a deeper issue in the church. Rather than delivering a simple black–and–white decision, Paul challenged the attitude of arrogance he saw fueling this debate.

As they have on other issues, the community has fallen into the trap of valuing what they know over and above everything else. Knowledge has trumped Christian character, and Paul wants to reorient them towards the priority of love. His reasoning goes something like this: You can know something, but if you have used that knowledge to become proud, you have missed what is most important. Pride is the evidence you failed to know love, which is what really counts in God’s economy. Whether they ate or didn’t eat the meat was less important than how they treated their fellow believers.

Apply the Word
Paul is building towards the climax of his letter in chapter 13 where he describes what Christian love looks like. His teaching on love echoes some of the last words of Jesus: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). Consider the spiritual practices of your life. Are you simply seeking more knowledge? Or do you desire to become more loving? Humbly ask someone who’s known you a long time whether he or she sees you growing in your ability to love.

1 Corinthians 8:7–13
Today in the Word

The language of rights is woven into the fabric of American identity. Our Declaration of Independence asserts inalienable human rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our Constitution offers a Bill of Rights, guaranteeing freedom of speech, religion, and the press. Valuing freedom has been central to being American.

Our readings the next few days will explore the subject of “freedom” within the context of Christian community. Paul intends to show us that there will be occasions where we’re called to forfeit certain rights in deference to another believer. The opening of chapter eight launches us into the question of whether or not it is permissible to eat meat that has been sacrificed to idols. A certain faction of the Corinthian church proudly claimed to have the answer. They are “free” to eat meat sacrificed to idols. With such knowledge, they have acted in careless disregard to their brothers and sisters. They boldly attended public feasts in the pagan temples, and their actions have emboldened the “weaker” believers to compromise their conscience and follow suit.

On the one hand, these “stronger” believers have reasoned correctly: idols are nothing. Eating meal offered to idols was morally neutral ground. But this did not acquit them—there was more to this question than simple definitions of right and wrong. Paul is clear. Freedom and knowledge are not to be prized and protected above anything else. Indeed, the “strong” must lay down their freedoms for the purpose of protecting the unity of the community and the spiritual health of each of its members, especially the “weak.” In the process of reasoning out the answer to the question of eating idol meat, the Corinthians overvalued knowledge and neglected love.

Disunity, factions, and pride had impaired the church in Corinth. They threatened the integrity of the gospel and the message of the Cross. And now, Paul raises this issue of unity to even higher stakes. When we sin against one another, we sin against Christ.

Apply the Word
Paul is not saying in this passage that each of us must be bound by the conscience of every member of our church. Consider the difficulty and impracticality of having to understand all the varying (and conflicting!) convictions held by even a small group of believers. Paul challenged the Corinthians’ behavior, not because they had disagreed, but because the stronger brothers flouted their freedoms and “emboldened” the weaker brothers to sin. “Make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way” (Rom. 14:13).

1 Corinthians 9

1 Corinthians 9:3-14; 1 Timothy 5:17-18
The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor. - 1 Timothy 5:17
Warren Wiersbe, well-known Bible teacher and former pastor of Moody Memorial Church here in Chicago, writes that when it comes to the giving of Christians, ""Our first obligation is to our local church....Our own pastor is our shepherd, and he ought to have our spiritual and financial support."" Dr. Wiersbe goes on to say, ""We should put our church first and then, as the Lord directs, share with those ministries He has laid on our hearts.""

Dr. Wiersbe's advice is solidly biblical, as usual, and he expresses well the commitment of our hearts at the Moody Bible Institute. Paul drew on every example possible to prove the principle that Jesus taught when He said, ""The worker deserves his wages"" (Luke 10:7). The Lord made this statement in the context of sending the disciples out to minister and to receive support from their hearers.

Paul himself did not use this privilege in Corinth, but that was because of the Corinthians' attitude problems, not because he didn't deserve the support. Taking care of the pastoral staff in the local church is another basic obligation we need to fulfill as the managers of God's resources.

God has always taken pains to take care of His servants. As Paul reminded his readers, the Old Testament law taught the same principle, because ""those who work in the temple get their food from the temple"" (1 Cor. 9:13).

In 1 Timothy 5, Paul added the concept of ""double honor"" for elders, or pastors, whose work is ""preaching and teaching."" This is a reference to the respect we are to give our spiritual leaders (Heb. 13:17), and to the financial support they deserve for their ministry.

The word translated ""work"" is a strong one. The idea is ""laboring to exhaustion,"" a picture of a pastor who gives all his energies to teaching the Word to his people. Pastors can't give full attention to the work of God when they are distracted by having to earn a living on the side.

It's obvious to Paul that this is the way things should be in the church (1 Cor. 9:11). It's not ""too much"" for a spiritual leader to expect a fair salary. After all, the rest of us expect to get paid for our work.
First Timothy 5 gives us two ways we can help take care of the leaders God has given to the church as His ""gifts."" The first is the respect we mentioned above. Don't worry about ""overspending"" on prayer and encouragement for your pastor! In fact, God says our pastors are His gifts to us--and when you receive a gift, it's good manners to say ""Thank you"" to the giver. In addition, your generous giving, and urging other Christians to do the same, will help provide for your pastor's needs.

1 Corinthians 9:1–14
Today in the Word

In the musical, The Music Man, con man Harold Hill waltzes into River City, Iowa, posing as the organizer of a boys’ band. He wins over the townspeople who pay money for instruments and uniforms, money with which Harold intends to skip town. He’s a fraud, and the town librarian, Marian, knows it and determines to expose him.

Just as Marian questioned Harold, some skeptics had raised doubts about Paul and questioned the legitimacy of his apostleship. In chapter four, Paul announced that he was unwilling to subject himself to the scrutiny of others; God alone would judge his ministry. In chapter nine, however, he seems to offer, if not a defense, then an explanation for his ministry methods.

While it may seem like a digression from the argument of chapter eight regarding the eating of meat in pagan temples, chapter nine is purposefully connected to that conversation. Paul cites his own ministry as an example to imitate when it comes to deciding issues where personal freedoms collide. Though Paul had the right to collect financial compensation for his work as an apostle, he forfeited it for the sake of the gospel.

He gives many reasons for this apostolic right. First, many other apostles received support from the churches where they ministered. Second, he gave the examples of the soldier, the vineyard grower, and the keeper of the flock. Could they be expected to work at their own expense? Then, he asks them to consider the Law of Moses. It prescribes that oxen not be muzzled when treading out grain. Such treatment would be inhuman and cruel. Even the Jewish temple rituals provided for the food of the priests who served there.

By offering himself as an example of setting aside his rights, Paul answers what it might look like to address the questions and divisions emerging from the issue of meat sacrificed to idols in chapter eight. What if the “strong,” like Paul, forfeited their freedom to eat idol meat and chose not to attend feasts in the pagan temples, simply for the sake of the gospel and the community?

Apply the Word
This passage teaches the right every minister of the gospel has to earn his living through his ministry; in fact, on the question of pastors’ salaries, verse 14 sends us right back to the teaching of Jesus! Questions for us to consider: do we pay our pastor(s) a fair and living wage? Do we expect our pastor to work tirelessly for meager compensation? Each of us should be contributing our money generously to a local body of believers as well as to other Christian ministries where the gospel is being preached.

1 Corinthians 9:15–27
Today in the Word

When Amy Carmichael began her missionary assignment in Japan, she insisted on wearing traditional Victorian dress: multiple petticoats, stockings, laced–up shoes, and a bonnet. But one day, bundled up in her thick woolen coat and her fur gloves, she made a visit to an older Japanese woman with the intention of sharing the gospel. The woman paid no attention to the message Amy shared. She was distracted by the curious gloves that Amy wore. Amy wept on her way home, saying, “Never again will I risk so much for so little! She traded her lace petticoats for a kimono.

Both Amy Carmichael and Paul are in a long line of missionaries who made these cultural choices about how they will live and behave in foreign contexts. The question prominent in the apostle Paul’s mind was, “Will what I choose advance or hinder the gospel?” He was committed to spreading the gospel and refused to make any choice that might cause someone to reject Christ on the grounds of his personal behavior.

First, he chose not to receive financial support from the Corinthian churches. Other churches did in fact give Paul money, but in Corinth he refused such support. His reasons may have been to avoid either being accused of greed (which characterized certain philosophers in Corinth) or of losing the independence of thought and action he had, were he to depend on either the church or a handful of wealthy patrons. Instead, he worked his day job, making tents. He had the right to earn his living from his ministry, but Paul determined to offer the gospel free of charge.

Not only did Paul forfeit his salary for the sake of the gospel, he forfeited other rights and freedoms, humbling himself to win as many converts to Christ as he can. As a minister to the Gentiles, he no longer subjected himself to the constraints of Judaism. And yet, when it was required of him to make adaptations so as not to offend a Jewish audience, he did so (cf. Acts 21:17–26).

Apply the Word
Paul showed tremendous flexibility in his choices. He did not abandon faithfulness to Christ, but he was able to discern which issues mattered and which didn’t. He asked the same of the Corinthians, especially when it came to eating meat sacrificed to idols. Some might accuse Paul of relativism, but Paul isn’t teaching that moral choices don’t matter. He demonstrated that love for Christ and others is more important than rights and preferences. Do we have such a disciplined commitment to Christ, which advances the gospel?

1 Corinthians 9:24
Do you not know that ... one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it (1 Corinthians 9:24).

A computer study of five thousand racehorses has revealed a way to predict whether or not a young horse will develop into a good runner. According to an article in USA Today, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology used computers and high-speed cameras to find out how a good horse runs. He discovered that the legs of a fast horse operate much like the spokes of a wheel. Each leg touches down only as the leg before it pushes off, resulting in peak efficiency. Later studies disclosed that a horse's manner of walking changes little after the first few months. Therefore, motion analysis when a horse is young can predict how well it will run when it matures.

In the Old Testament, Isaiah talked about running well in the course of life. He said that the people who run the best are the ones who learn to wait on the Lord (ISAIAH 40:27-31). They don't waste energy trying to do things on their own. They make the Lord their strength and hope.

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul compares the Christian life to a race. He said that those who run well are characterized by effi­ciency of effort. For the Christian, this means running with control and self-discipline (1 Cor. 9:24-27). The author of Hebrews said that a good runner gets rid of anything that adds extra weight (Neb. 12:1).

To earn an imperishable crown we must wait on the Lord, practice self-control, and lay aside sinful burdens. These are the secrets of running well. —M.R.D.II

Those who wait on the Lord will run without the weight of sin.

1Cor 9:25 (F B Meyer. Our Daily Walk)

IN HIS early life Paul must have been keen on sport! He uses the phrases for the gymnast, the boxer, and the racer. He had probably stood, many times, watching the great games, which were held in various parts of the Greek-speaking world. He knew the long and arduous training through which competitors had to pass.

Paul was running a race for an imperishable wreath. He had no doubt as to his goal, and therefore did not run uncertainly. He went straight as an arrow to its mark, and his mark was to win souls for Christ. To gain some, to save some, was his passion (1Co9:22). He needed to discipline himself, putting aside much that was innocent in itself, and which others could enjoy without reproach (Rom14:13-21). The Apostle was also engaged in a boxing-Mattch, his own body being the antagonist. He knew that spiritual power existed for his appropriation in Christ, but to have it he must be a spiritual man, and to be that necessitated the subdual of his fleshly appetites.

We must exercise "self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control." It is best to hand over the whole of our nature to the Master, and ask Him to direct, control, suggest each day whatever we think, or do, or say. It is infinitely happier to be Christ-controlled than self-controlled. Happy are they who from the earliest are able to subordinate the delights of sense, however innocent, to some high quest of the spirit. The soldier has to forfeit many things which are legitiMatte for the civilian, because he must be able to march rapidly from place to place. He has to forego the use of many comforts, but he is compensated if his name is placed on the honours list. The husbandman has to submit to hardships of weather, and to encounter difficulties and discomforts which do not occur in the lives of others; but there is no other way if he is to procure the fruits of his toil. These deny themselves for lower considerations, but we have an infinitely higher object in view; but by so much the more should we lay aside every weight. Never forget Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, your great Exemplar and Life-giver--the source of all spiritual power.

Heavenly Father, engraft Thy Son, Jesus Christ my Lord, inwardly in my heart, that I may bring forth the fruit of holy living, to the honour and praise of Thy Name. AMEN.

In the film Chariots of Fire, just before the first turn in a 400-meter race, Eric Liddell was shoved off balance and stumbled onto the infield grass. When he looked up, he saw the other racers pulling away. With a look of intense determination, Eric jumped to his feet, and with his back cocked and his arms flailing he rushed ahead. He was determined not only to catch up with the pack but to win. And he did!

This was the kind of fervor the apostle Paul brought to his ministry In 1 Corinthians 9:24 he said, "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it." Paul saw himself as an Olympic athlete competing for a gold medal, straining every muscle, nerve, and sinew to get to the finish line. And what's the prize? Not a temporary reward but "an imperishable crown" (v. 25). —HWR.


A world-class woman runner was invited to compete in a road race in Connecticut. On the morning of the race, she drove from New York City, following the directions—or so she thought—given her over the telephone. She got lost, stopped at a gas station, and asked for help. She knew that the race started in the parking lot of a shopping mall. The station attendant also knew of such a race scheduled just up the road and directed her there.

When she arrived she was relieved to see in the parking lot a modest number of runners preparing to compete. Not as many as she’d anticipated; an easier race than she’d been led to expect. She hurried to the registration desk, announced herself, and was surprised by the race officials’ excitement at having so renowned an athlete show up for their race. No, they had no record of her entry, but if she’d hurry and put on this number, she could just make it before the gun goes off. She ran and, naturally, she won easily, some four minutes ahead of the first male runner in second place.

Only after the race—when there was no envelope containing her sizable prize and performance money— did she confirm that the event she’d run was not the race to which she’d been invited. That race was being held several miles farther up the road in another town. She’d gone to the wrong starting line, run the wrong course, and missed her chance to win a valuable prize. - From Thinking and Acting Like a Christian

Thinking And Acting Like A Christian, D. Bruce Lockerbie, p. 52

1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? - 1 Corinthians 9:24

At the 1908 Olympic Games in London, Italian runner Dornado Pietri collapsed in exhaustion just a few yards from victory in the marathon. Two helpful British Olympic officials dragged Pietri across the finish line but the Italian was disqualified for using 'external support' and denied his gold medal.

Imagine giving a race everything you had for more than twenty grueling miles, but then falling short of the finish line by a few yards and losing the prize. That kind of finish would be an athlete's worst nightmare.

Being disqualified in the Christian race was Paul's worst nightmare, because he was running for an eternal prize. Paul figured that if the competitors in the Isthmian Games held near Corinth every two years could discipline themselves to win a wreath that would fade, he could discipline himself for the eternal prize of God's approval and rewards in heaven. We need to adopt the apostle's attitude.

We don't know exactly how Paul would have handled all the millennium hype and legitimate concerns this month. But based on passages like today's, we think his advice to Christians today would be something like this: 'Just keep running the race God has given you to run. Don't let all the distractions throw you off track. God will take care of those, and you.'

Running a winning Christian race has never been that easy. It has always required discipline and a strong focus on the goal. In that sense, December 1999 is no different than any other month in any other year. Running around 'aimlessly' (v. 26) won't get us anywhere. Let's keep running to win!

Paul then changed athletic metaphors, but the message stayed the same. 'Beating the air' was probably a reference to a boxer throwing wild punches that hit nothing during a match.

Running around aimlessly and wildly punching the air is an accurate picture of the way some people have reacted to the Y2K issue and the fears it has generated. Rather than panic, Paul prescribed the practice of solid discipline the kind that enables a runner to finish the race.
How disciplined has your 'practice schedule' been lately?

We hope you're making prayer and Bible study a daily priority. It's a great way to maintain an eternal perspective. Given the unusual nature of this December, and the importance of our subject, why not plan now to meet with God in His Word every day? Whether this is simply the continuation of a regular practice for you, or a relatively new form of daily discipline, we encourage you to make this commitment today.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27
“Everything is permissible”--but not everything is beneficial. - 1 Corinthians 10:23

The Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, this year gathers the elite athletes of the world in one place to compete for the most prestigious prize in sports–the coveted gold medal. Most of these men and women have focused their entire lives on reaching this goal. They have been willing to eat certain foods and avoid others, schedule their lifestyle to ensure enough sleep, and undergo intense physical training. They exercise this amount of discipline because they want their bodies to be able to respond perfectly during competition.

Few of us could ever be described as elite athletes. But we are still called to exercise self-control over our bodies and minds. We are running a spiritual race, and every part of our lives needs to be in conformity with this goal (Rom. 12:1–2).

In our passage today, Paul explicitly uses this athletic metaphor to discuss self-control. To begin, he stresses that our finish line brings greater rewards than a gold medal. Our eternal future is in view here (v. 25). Paul continues to emphasize the high stakes of self-control: if we fail in this way, we are discredited and our potential for ministry compromised.

Sadly, we can think of numerous examples of high-profile Christians whose ministries were ruined through sexual or financial misconduct. Paul uses strong language here to describe his approach toward self-control: “I beat my body and make it my slave” (v. 27). Paul is not recommending self-flagellation, the practice of literally flogging oneself. He uses these intense images of beating and slavery to make sure that his readers understand what is at stake. We discipline our bodies, not in order to look good or win athletic glory, but so that we can serve God.
The Christian life isn’t just about our souls and spirits–it includes our bodies and minds, too. Is there an area where you need to exercise more self-control?

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 It is a most lamentable thing to see how most people spend their time and their energy for trifles, while God is cast aside. He who is all seems to them as nothing, and that which is nothing seems to them as good as all. It is lamentable indeed, knowing that God has set mankind in such a race where heaven or hell is their certain end, that they should sit down and loiter, or run after the childish toys of the world, forgetting the prize they should run for. Were it but possible for one of us to see this business as the all-seeing God does, and see what most men and women in the world are interested in and what they are doing every day, it would be the saddest sight imaginable. Oh, how we should marvel at their madness and lament their self-delusion! If God had never told them what they were sent into the world to do, or what was before them in another world, then there would have been some excuse. But it is His sealed word, and they profess to believe it. - Richard Baxter.  (See FINISH THE RACE - Sermon by Joe Guglielmo)

1 Corinthians 9:27
Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed. 2 Timothy 2:15

In Paul's exhortation, "Study to show thyself approved unto God," he encourages us to avoid the very thing he feared might happen to him personally; namely, that he might be set aside and no longer used in the Lord's service. He says in 1 Corinthians 9:27,

"I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."

This word is a translation of the same Greek root rendered "approved" in 2 Timothy 2:15, only in 1 Corinthians 9:27 it appears in a negative form and means "dis­approved."

When the apostle speaks of his dread of being a "castaway," he is really thinking of the shame of being a "dis­approved" one, not of being lost again. His fear is that he might not receive approval as a workman. He has service in mind, not salvation!

I have been told that a huge block of stone lies in a Syrian quarry near Baalbek. It has been carefully cut, hewed, and squared. Sixty-eight feet long, fourteen feet high, and fourteen feet wide, its size is overwhelming. And yet, in spite of all the labor and effort which went into this gigantic piece of rock, there it stands. It was never fitted into that place in the temple for which it was intended! This massive stone seems to lift a voice of warning, repeating the words of the apostle, "lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."

May we be faithful in our devotional life, obedient to the will of God, and zealous in our service for Him. In so doing, we will stand "approved"!

I want among the victor throng
Someday to have my name confessed;
And hear my Master say at last,
"You stand approved, you did your best!"—Simpson

Serving the Lord is much like riding a bicycle—either you keep moving forward, or you fall down

1 Corinthians 9:19-27
AN overweight woman, displeased with what she saw in the mirror, prayed, "Lord, why don't You take away my desire to eat?" But she heard this answer in her heart: "What would be left for you to do?"

God doesn't make it easy for His children to develop character and overcome their weaknesses. He has so ordered the world that we must discipline ourselves in every area of life. To lose weight, we must discipline ourselves in matters of diet and exercise. If our goal is spiritual maturity, we achieve it through personal and cor­porate worship, fellowship with other believers, Bible reading and meditation, obedience, prayer, and worthwhile conversa­tion and behavior.

A young boy asked me to pray for him because he habitually failed to get his homework done. Bobby spent most of every evening eating junk food and watching television. I refused to pray with him because prayer alone wouldn't solve his problem. He needed self-discipline. I suggested, "Ask God to help you and then start disciplining yourself."

Paul compared the Christian's life to that of an athlete who trains hard to win a prize. The coach tells the athlete what to do, but the athlete has to get out there and do it. Likewise, we must depend on God for His help, but we must also do our part—the difficult part of self-discipline.—HVL

1 Corinthians 10

God is faithful, who...with the temptation will also make the way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13)
In 1346, during the Hundred Years' War, the English army of King Edward III met a French battalion at Crecy, France. The King's son, Prince Edward, led one vital division of the British force while Edward III stood nearby with a strong band of soldiers, ready to send relief if needed. Soon after the battle started, the prince thought he was in danger, so he sent for help. But the king didn't come. Young Edward sent another message, pleading for immediate assistance. His father responded by telling the courier, "Go tell my son that I am not so inexperienced a commander as not to know when help is needed, nor so careless a father as not to send it."

This story illustrates the heavenly Father's relationship with believ­ers as we battle temptation and sin. Often we cry out for help, but it seems that God sends no relief. Yet at no time does He withdraw His eye from our precarious position. He never allows us to be tempted beyond what we are able to bear, and when He sees that we are about to be overcome He rushes to our aid or provides a way to escape. So we need not get frantic—our Father is aware of our situation. In 1 Corin­thians 1:9 the apostle Paul said, "God is faithful." Commenting on this, Ambrose Serle noted, "He is wise to foresee and provide for all my dangers. He is faithful to perfect and perform all His promises."

No matter how hot the conflict, the Lord is ready to intervene at the right moment. He is always standing by. —Paul R VanGorder

When God sends us, He also goes with us.

1 Corinthians 10:1-13
LITTLE Jeff was trying his best to save enough money to buy his mother a present. It was a terrible struggle because he gave in so easily to the temptation to buy goodies from the ice cream vendor who came through the neighborhood in a brightly colored van.

One night after his mother had tucked him in bed, she over-heard him praying, "Please, dear God, help me to run away when the ice cream truck comes down our street tomorrow." Even at his young age he had learned that one of the best ways to over-come temptation is to avoid what appeals to our weaknesses.

All believers are tempted to sin. Yet we need not give in. The Lord provides the way to be victorious over evil enticements (1 Corinthians 10:13), but we must do our part. Sometimes that involves avoiding situations that would contribute to our spiri­tual defeat.

Writing to his son in the faith, the apostle Paul admonished Timothy to run away from the evil desires of youth. He was to keep his distance from temptations that might, because of their strong appeal, cause him to yield. That's good advice!

If possible, we should never let ourselves be in the wrong places or with people who will tempt us to do the things we should be avoiding.—R W DeHaan

1 Corinthians 10:1–22
Today in the Word

Judaism is a religion where meals have always mattered. The Passover Seder is a ritual meal commemorating the deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. The tithes, which God commanded His people to bring to the temple, were consumed as meals in the presence of God (cf. Deut. 14:23). Christians, having inherited a rich tradition of meal–sharing from their Jewish forefathers, now celebrate Christ’s death and resurrection through the Lord’s Supper.

In today’s reading, Paul draws parallels between the story of the Israelites and the experiences of the first–century Gentile Christians of Corinth. Not only is Paul teaching the content of the Old Testament Scriptures to the Corinthians, he also introduces a method for reading those Scriptures, whereby the Corinthian Christians are invited to find themselves in the history of Israel. While theirs is not a shared ethnic heritage (the Christians in Corinth are Gentile, not Jewish), spiritually they share the same ancestry. What happened to the Israelites serves as examples and warnings to Christians of the first century and to Christians today.

The parallels between the generation of the Exodus and first–century Corinthian Christians are unmistakable: both shared experiences of spiritual privilege. The Israelites tasted the divine Presence, drank spiritual drink from the rock in the desert, ate bread from heaven, and were baptized under the leadership of Moses. Similarly, the Corinthians had the blessings of baptism and participation in the Lord’s Supper. Nevertheless, just as the Israelites suffered the fierce wrath of God for their idolatrous practices, so, too, the Corinthian Christians needed to tremble at the prospect of God’s judgment.

God would not tolerate divided allegiance, and the Corinthians were on the precipice of idolatry. Paul warns them against sexual immorality, testing the Lord, and grumbling (vv. 8–9). Later in the chapter, Paul will denounce the act of feasting in pagan temples. For now, he illuminates their precarious spiritual standing. Their pride has given them a false sense of confidence, and Paul illuminates the Old Testament Scriptures as a word of warning.

Apply the Word
The Corinthians lived in a pluralistic culture, just as we do. The word Paul speaks to them is relevant today. In what ways do we compromise our allegiance to God? Do we participate in idolatrous practices? We might want to consider our culture’s gods of sex, money, and power. Where have we casually shared fellowship with these gods? And what would uncompromised obedience to God look like in a culture like ours?

1 Corinthians 10:23–33
Today in the Word

In the past few decades, American churches have staked out positions on whether women could wear pants, whether drums or hand–held microphones could be used in worship services, whether Christian parents could send their children to public schools, and whether only the King James Version of the Bible could be used. Since the first century, the church in every time and place has had particular cultural issues that have prompted strenuous disagreement.

In today’s passage, Paul quotes Psalm 24:1: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” (v. 26). One issue dividing the Corinthian church concerned eating meat that had been offered to idols. Rather than characterize the issue as right and wrong, Paul provides an explanation for both the strong and the weak positions.

On a certain level, Paul agrees with the strong. They’ve been arguing that eating idol meat is ultimately meaningless since idols themselves are nothing. Yes, Paul says, the earth is the Lord’s. Everything belongs to Him. As long as we eat and drink with thankfulness, we are free to enjoy all that God has created and should not be denounced for the exercise of this freedom.

Paul doesn’t close the argument there, however. He is careful to retrace some ground, tempering the freedom of the strong for the protection of the weak. To the strong, he warns: don’t exercise your freedom in such a way that you cause a brother or sister to fall into sin. Don’t just think of yourselves, as if your rights and your freedoms were all that mattered. Think about the good of others. Does your freedom build them up or tear them down?

The way for the church to navigate these questions of conscience isn’t simply to determine what’s absolutely right and what’s emphatically wrong. For a Christian, Paul is quite clear that we’ve got extensive freedom. God invites us to enjoy His good creation. They key, however, is to always think of others first instead of ourselves. Our highest calling is love.

Apply the Word
Paul’s given us a series of questions to ask in ambiguous situations. Going beyond the question of right and wrong, we can ask: How does this affect my brothers and sisters in Christ? Does it offend them and cause them to fall into sin? Does it burden them with regulations beyond the truth of Scripture? How does this affect God’s reputation? Does it ultimately glorify Him? And does this serve to advance the gospel? We must remember the example of Christ, who forfeited His rights for the good of others (see 1 Cor. 11:1).

Several years ago a severe ice storm hit southern lower Michigan, causing great damage to trees. As I surveyed the destruction, I checked the two large white birches in my backyard. One had lost some of its limbs, but its partner had suffered a worse fate. The entire tree had toppled over and was completely uprooted. Why the one and not the other? The answer was simple. Instead of standing straight up, this thirty-five-foot tree had grown at a pronounced angle. So when the heavy ice accumulated on its branches, it fell in the direction it was leaning.

If we don't live in fellowship with the Lord each day, our lives will lean toward some weakness or besetting sin. Then if a crisis comes or if we are caught off guard, we will be unable to resist the pressure of our circumstances. Let's stand tall in the strength of the Lord so it won't happen to us. —D. J. D.


The Castle That Thought It Would Stand - Anyone who travels to Edinburgh, Scotland will find Edinburgh castle a tower of seemingly insurmountable strength. But the truth is that the castle was once actually captured. The fortress had an obvious weak spot which defenders guarded--but because another spot was apparently protected by its steepness and impregnability, no sentries were posted there. At an opportune time, an attacking army sent a small band up that unguarded slope and surprised the garrison into surrender. Where the castle was strong, there it was weak. - Today in the Word

1 Corinthians 10:13
In July 1911, a stuntman named Bobby Leach went over Niagara Falls in a specially designed steel drum and lived to tell about it. Although he suffered minor injuries, he survived because he recognized the tremendous dangers involved in the feat, and because he had done everything he could to protect himself from harm. Several years after that incident, while skipping down a street in New Zealand, Bobby Leach slipped on an orange peeling, fell, and badly fractured his leg. He was taken to a hospital where he later died of complications from that fall. He received a greater injury walking down the street than he sustained in going over Niagara. He was not prepared for danger in what he assumed to be a safe situation.

Some great temptations that roar around us like the foaming cataract of Niagara will leave us unharmed, while a small, insignificant incident causes our downfall. Why? Simply because we become careless and do not recognize the potential danger in it. A victorious Christian is an alert Christian. —R W DeHaan


1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Concerned about his personal life, Ed went to his pastor for help. After listening to the young man's mild list of supposed sins, the wise preacher felt that he had not been completely honest. "Are you sure that's all?" the preacher asked. "Yes, pastor," Ed said. "Are you positive you haven't been entertaining any impure thoughts lately?" the pastor continued. "Oh, no," Ed replied, "but they've sure been entertaining me."

Temptation may be defined as a desire for sinful pleasure. If it didn't offer pleasure, it would be easy to resist. Perhaps that's why we under-stand the truth behind the cartoon in which a man says, "I don't mind fleeing temptation—as long as I can leave a forwarding address." And, if we're honest, we admit that sin often takes place first in our mind. For many people, illicit sexual thoughts provide pleasure.

Temptation is not sin. For it to develop into sin, we have to wel­come it, dwell on it, and enjoy it. For example, the temptation to get back at someone who has hurt us is wrong only when we begin to think about ways to harm that person and get revenge. Paul said that every thought must be brought "into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5).

When we allow wrong thoughts into our minds, we must confess them as sin, ask God to help us, and then fill our minds with good and pure thoughts. When we submit to God and resist the devil, we can say no to tempting thoughts. —D C Egner

Character is shaped by what the mind takes in.

1 Corinthians 10:23-11:1
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. - 1 Corinthians 10:31

No doubt you’ve heard of a “Puritan work ethic” or a “Protestant work ethic.” At its best, such an ethic can contribute to professionalism, integrity, and compassion in the workplace. But what about the other side of the coin? What about a Christian “play ethic”? The phrase may sound strange, but that’s essentially what we’ve been developing during this month’s study. As much as we need wisdom to guide us when we’re on the job, we also need wisdom to guide us when we’re at play!

In light of today’s reading, we might frame the question this way: how can we play to the glory of God? Paul reiterated two truths we’ve found central all month long: freedom, “everything is permissible,” and love, “but not everything is beneficial.” Even in leisure, we are to seek the good of others (10:23–24).

“That’s just great,” you may be thinking. “Even in my free time I have to worry about God’s glory and others’ edification. What about me?!” So deep runs the influence of our me-first culture that we might actually think this is a legitimate question. We must grasp that loving God and our neighbor will bring us all that really matters in life.

How did Paul apply these truths? Freedom meant that anything could be eaten to the glory of God, even meat sacrificed to idols. But love meant that strong believers might abstain from eating such meat under certain circumstances for the sake of those with weak consciences. While it may not be easy to distinguish between weaker believers who need a helping hand and those who are judging us based on their own convictions or choices, our priority is to seek the good of our fellow disciples. The bottom line: “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (10:31).
In light of our study this month, set a specific godly leisure goal for next month. We know that this season can be a busy “back to school” time for those with kids, and it’s the “end of vacation” season at the office as well. All the more reason to set a leisure goal! Otherwise, God’s gifts of rest, beauty, and pleasure might get neglected in the rush of urgent needs and tasks. What-ever goal you choose, ask that it would glorify God and fulfill the principles we’ve studied.

1Corinthians 10:23-31 (F B Meyer. Our Daily Walk)
THE WORD Recreation is preferable to Pastime, for as one realizes the priceless moments, with all their opportunities, getting fewer, one is averse to hear people talk of "killing time." But "recreation" is a good word, and we all need to find some way of re-creating the exhausted grey-Matter of the brain which is being used up in long application to study or work.

We must not be the "dull boys" of the old adage, but as Christians our faces should shine like the morning sun; we should be quick, bright, intelligent, and in no danger of being reckoned among the "back-numbers," of which the piles are generally shabby and dusty!

"All things edify not" is one of the first conditions of healthy recreation. There is really no limit but this to the recreations in which a Christian person can indulge. He may play at manly games, row, skate, swim, drive a motor, sail the ocean, or scale the mountain snows! The more the better, so long as they are recreative; and are not the end, but the means to the end of a healthy manhood and womanhood. That is, they must edify, build up physique, muscle, brain, to be used afterwards in the main business of life. Nothing is a greater curse than when people neglect their real business in order to get to their sports and games. Then, so far from edifying, these in turn begin to pull down and destroy.

Probably the words "edify not" put in a plea on the behalf of others. We are not to do things which in themselves may be lawful and innocent enough, but which might have a prejudicial effect on those who are watching every movement of our life.

"Do all to the glory of God." So many seem afraid of joy! They fear if they are too happy, God will send some trouble as make weight. How different is the command in Deut26:11 and Phil4:4. Even when things do not appear to be good, let us dare to be thankful in all things, and give praise for all. All our Father's gifts are good, whatever be the wrappings or packing-cases in which they come to hand.

PRAYER - May the Holy Spirit so fill us with Christ our Lord, that there may be no room in our life for anything inconsistent with His perfect purity and love. AMEN.

1 Corinthians 10:23
IS IT PROFITABLE? - J. Wilbur Chapman said, “My life is governed by this rule: Anything that dims my vision of Christ or takes away my taste for Bible study or cramps my prayer life or makes Christian work difficult is wrong for me, and I must, as a Christian, turn away from it.”

This was how Susannah Wesley defined “sin” to her young son, John Wesley: “If you would judge of the lawfulness or the unlawfulness of pleasure, then take this simple rule: Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, and takes off the relish of spiritual things—that to you is sin.”

1 Corinthians 10:31
Drifting snow and bitter cold threatened the lives of Indian evangelist Sadhu Sundar Singh and his Tibetan companion as they crossed a Himalayan mountain pass. Fighting the "sleep of death," they stumbled over a mound in the trail. It was a man, half-dead. The Tibetan refused to stop but continued on alone. The compassionate Sadhu, however, shouldered the burden the best he could. Through his struggling, he began to warm up, as did the unconscious man. But before reaching the village they found the Tibetan—frozen to death.

Jesus taught that if we put our selfish desires first, we become losers. But if we use our lives for His sake, we receive life in abundance. Only when life's energies are put into the cause of Christ do we know the joy of being finders instead of losers. —D. J. DeHaan.


1 Corinthians 10:23-33
DATING and drinking are spiritual as well as physical activities. One  reader wrote about a Christian couple who get upset at church suppers when their table can't go through the serving line first. Then, when their turn comes, they "rush up and pile their plates full and never speak to anyone till they are done." She mentioned another couple who admit that they "live to eat." The woman bulges in her tight dress, and the man's buttons strain to hold his shirt together. "Can they be effective witnesses?" she asked.

People whose weight is due to health problems need encour­agement not ridicule. But I am bothered by Christians like the couples mentioned above who exercise no self-control because self-control is evidence of a Spirit-controlled life. I never feel good about myself when I eat too much, and I shouldn't, because self-indulgence of any kind—whether it involves food, alcohol, sex, or anything else—is evidence that I am putting my desire for physical gratification above my need for spiritual satisfaction, which comes only when I decide, for the sake of my relationship with God, to exercise self-control.

When thanking God for food, perhaps we also need to ask Him to show us how to eat and drink in a way that glorifies Him. —D J DeHaan

1 Corinthians 11

William Carey a simple cobbler who knew that he was not his own but God's possession, changed the history of world missions and the face of India over 200 years ago. However what is little known is that William Carey’s sister was paralyzed and bedridden for 50 years and unable to speak much of that time. Nevertheless she allowed herself to be propped up in bed to write encouraging letters to her brother. And even more powerful is the fact that she prayed for her brother several hours per day during that 50 years! Her body may have been paralyzed but not her soul and spirit.

1 Corinthians 11:1–16
Today in the Word

Augustine St. Clare, a Louisiana slaveholder in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, claims he’s not religious. He’s cynical about religion, since preachers defend the institution of slavery from the pulpit. “Well, suppose that something should bring down the price of cotton once and forever . . . don’t you think we should soon have another version of the Scripture doctrine?”

Has each generation simply sought to interpret the Scriptures in such a way as to favor what we already want, and then to silence it should it challenge something we cherish? Today’s passage is difficult to interpret, and the temptation might be to qualify what Paul says in the opening verses of 1 Corinthians 11 as entirely cultural and in effect, dismiss what he is saying.

Without denying the text’s complexities, we can begin with what is clear in today’s passage. First, on the basis of the creation account as well as the dynamic of the marriage relationship, Paul explains that gender distinction does in fact matter. And though men and women are different, they are still interdependent. Neither inherently occupies a more important role in the church. In fact, Paul does not challenge here the practice of women praying and prophesying in the church. He wants to ensure, however, that they do so in suitable and seemly ways.

Women whose heads are uncovered while they pray (the original Greek language here suggests not that she lacks an actual veil but that her hair falls loosely on her shoulders) would resemble women praying in the pagan temples, where they did so with their hair unbound. This actually had serious implications, because women whose hair was not bound up might be mistaken for the equivalent of temple prostitutes. Thus, the discussion here about head coverings is consistent with the earlier exhortations regarding sexual immorality and Christian freedom.

Just as he has in many other places in his letter, Paul is identifying the church as unique and separate from the world. The preservation of that identity matters for the integrity of the gospel.

Apply the Word
C. S. Lewis once noted that Christians need to distinguish between social and cultural norms that change in different times and places (he gave the example of modesty in Victorian England and the Polynesian Islands) and biblical principles that are true in all times and places (for example, chastity). Are you able to tell the difference between a principle and a preference? Are you willing to give up a preference for the sake of church unity and the advancement of the gospel?

1 Corinthians 11:17–33
Today in the Word

The Lord’s Supper, or Eucharist, is observed in many different ways in various church traditions, but one point upon which all Christians agree is its special significance. One theologian noted that in Jesus’ final moments with His disciples, He did not impart theory to them, but instead, gave them a meal. In the Lord’s Supper, we have a picture of redemption: Jesus, Son of God, is the bread of life who was broken for the sins of the world. We remember His life and death in a very earthly sort of way: at the table.

The Lord’s Supper in the times of the early Christians was celebrated as a communal meal. In the case of the Corinthians, this is exactly where the problems emerged. In Roman culture (and Corinth was a Roman colony), social conventions dictated that those of highest rank and social standing should be served the largest portions and better quality food. Instead of challenging those social conventions, the Corinthians capitulated to them. (They’ve been guilty before of accepting wholesale the messages of culture rather than reinterpreting their worldview according to the gospel. See August 3, 10, 11, 12.)

As the Corinthian Christians gathered for the Lord’s Supper, the rich were humiliating the poor by not sharing their food with them. The divisions in the church (which Paul has been boldly confronting throughout his entire letter) were falling along socioeconomic lines. The situation was so dire that Paul says their worship gatherings do more harm than good. They would be better off staying at home!

Paul brings them back to the gospel, to the message of Jesus Christ crucified. The new covenant community is called to unity and to selfless sacrifice, following in the footsteps of their Lord. The Lord’s Supper is an occasion for remembering and reflecting on their call to live as the body of Christ. To “recognize the body of the Lord” has a double meaning: first, we acknowledge the sacrifice of our Savior. Second, we recognize that we are part of His body, the church, in the practice of participating in the Lord’s Supper.

Apply the Word
On a personal level, each of us must try to reconcile our grievances with one another in our local community before we eat the Lord’s Supper. But on a more global level, the Lord’s Supper is also an invitation to think of other brothers and sisters in Christ in poorer parts of the world whose burden we are called to share. We must not be like the Corinthians, wallowing in our affluence without thought to Christians in distress. Could the Lord’s Supper provoke in us greater generosity to those in need around the globe?

1 CORINTHIANS 11:17-26
"This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me" (1 Corinthians 11:25).

Every year Americans observe a holiday called Memorial Day to re-member those who gave their lives that others might live in freedom. Remembering their sacrifice should be the emphasis of the day, but many citizens forget, and think only of themselves.

In a Detroit Free Press article, Jack Kresnak wrote about a Memo­rial Day service near the Detroit River where 150 people were listening to a Naval Reserve captain lament the fact that the meaning of the day had been lost. A short distance away a young man in a safari hat and a three-piece suit rode a decorated bicycle dubbed "Spotlight." This "super-customized Schwinn" was covered with cardboard, gold spray paint, and pictures of girlfriends. It had two radios and twenty flash-lights shining in all directions. Later, when asked about his escapade, the biker said, "I do this to get attention."

In 1 Corinthians 11 we read of a different kind of memorial day. It too lost its true meaning because people treated it casually. Instead of remembering Christ, who had died so that sinners could live, many Corinthian Christians thought only of themselves. The memorial meal became a time for eating, drinking, and making merry.

A similar thing can happen in churches today. When we partake of the Lord's Supper, we must examine ourselves to make sure we are not preoccupied with our own desires instead of thinking of Jesus' death. We must be sure to focus our attention on Christ. —M.R.DeHaan. II

The host at the Lord's supper is the Lord of hosts

1 Corinthians 11:17-34
State employment officials in Tucson, Arizona, posted an interesting sign over a full-length mirror. Directed to all job hunters, it read, “Would you hire this person?” In another office a mirror and sign posed this question: “Are you ready for a job?”

Self-evaluation was what the apostle Paul called for in 1 Corinthians 11. Believers in Christ need to judge themselves, he said, to avoid being judged by the Lord as unfit for His service. In the Corinthian church, the “appearance problem” was especially serious. Those Christians “looked” awful. They were actually getting drunk and quarreling among themselves while going through the motions of celebrating the Lord’s Supper. So Paul said, in effect, “Look at yourselves. What a mess! If you don’t get your lives straightened out, the Lord will have to do it for you.” Then the apostle added the sobering fact that God had already begun to cleanse the church by sending some of them to an early grave. This is a hard truth, but one the church still needs to hear today.

1 Corinthians 11:24
I once heard my friend Roger Rose tell this story He said that when he was a boy, his family lived on a farm alongside a dirt road. Only on rare occasions would an automobile pass by. But one day as Roger's young brother was crossing the road on his bicycle, a car came roaring down a nearby hill, struck the boy, and killed him. Roger said, "Later, when my father picked up the mangled, twisted bike, I heard him sob out loud for the first time in my life. He carried it to the barn and placed it in a spot we seldom used. Father's terrible sorrow eased with the passing of time, but for many years whenever he saw that bike, tears began streaming down his face." Roger continued, "Since then I have often prayed, `Lord, keep the memory of Your death as fresh as that to me! Every time I partake of Your memorial supper, let my heart be stirred as though You died only yesterday. Never let the communion service become a mere formality, but always a tender and touching experience."'

As we partake of the Lord's Supper, meditating on His suffering and death should always fill us with a deep sense of gratitude to God for providing our redemption. -H. G. B.


Matthew 26:17-30; Revelation 19:6-10
Do this . . . in remembrance of me. - 1 Corinthians 11:25

For many people, the ideal Thanksgiving looks a lot like the Norman Rockwell painting, “Freedom from Want,” which appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post in 1943. This famous painting depicts a grandmother in a bright, white apron placing a large turkey before a grandfather in his Sunday best, who stands ready to carve the roasted bird. Happy faces surround a bounteous table, eager for the meal to begin. What an endearing image of a Thanksgiving feast!

The disciples anticipated a special meal when they made preparations for the Passover meal described in today's passage. The Passover setting is important because it recalls the Exodus (God's previous act of deliverance), and anticipates Jesus' death and resurrection, which would be God's supreme and final act of deliverance.

This Passover meal began similarly to many previous meals. It soon became apparent, however, that this was not a normal gathering. Jesus' statement that one of the disciples would betray Him sounded a sorrowful, confusing note. As Jesus fulfilled the role of the household head and gave thanks for the various elements of the meal, tension and fear resurfaced when He began to reinterpret the traditional Passover symbols in terms of His own sacrificial death (vv. 26-28). Jesus' claim that He would not drink the fruit of the vine again until the disciples were in the Father's king- dom (v. 29) troubled and perplexed the disciples.

We know that Jesus commanded His followers to celebrate communion, or the Lord's Supper, as a way of remembering His sacrificial death. And Jesus' final meal with His disciples not only looked back to the first Passover, it also looked forward to a future meal, the joyous marriage feast of the Lamb. Today's passage from Revelation sets the stage for this heavenly celebration that will be beyond anything we could ever imagine.
Perhaps for you, Thanksgiving, or any other holiday meal, is far from the seemingly perfect Norman Rockwell painting. Maybe these are times of tension or loneliness instead of joyous celebration. If so, you can be thankful that there will be no disappointment or pain at that final heavenly celebration with our risen Lord. In the meantime, if you are facing Thanksgiving alone, consider volunteering to serve at a local rescue mission, rejoicing in the ability to share with others because of the certainty of your own future.

C. H. Spurgeon wrote...

The Lord's Supper is not for all men, but only for those who are able spiritually to discern the Lord's body. It is not meant for the conversion of sinners, but for the edification of disciples. Hence the need of examination, lest we intrude ourselves where we have no right to be.  (Application: Examine Your: Company, Habits, Thoughts, Affections,  Motives)

1 CORINTHIANS 11:27-34
For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged (1 Corinthians 11:31).

In the 1960s, a respectable club in New York State refused member-ship to a young Jewish man. A minister who belonged to the club took a strong stand against this prejudice by denouncing it from the pulpit, even though many members of his congregation also belonged to that club. In his sermon, he said, "I must insist that the members of my congregation take a stand against a policy that is morally reprehensi­ble." He ended by saying, "Anyone who has in any way—by thought, word, or deed—acquiesced with this position . . . is no longer wel­come to receive holy communion . . . until he has worked out his own peace with God."

That clergyman had scriptural backing for citing unconfessed sin as a barrier to coming to the Lord's Supper. Some first-century Chris­tians had made a mockery of the Lord's Supper by splitting into little groups and getting drunk on the wine (1 Cor. 11:21). The apostle Paul therefore made individual self-examination a part of the preparation for the communion celebration.

This requirement still holds true today. Although we all approach the bread and the cup as unworthy people, we must not harbor sinful thoughts, attitudes, and deeds. We dishonor our Savior's shed blood and broken body if we refuse to renounce and turn from what we know is wrong. The communion service is a blessed time—but first it is a judgment time. —D J DeHaan

The Lord's table is first a test, then a testimony.

1Corinthians 11:28-32
Have You Tested Yourself?

Lindsay was busily preparing for the toughest test of her life. She would spend all day taking the examination to see if she qualified as a lawyer. To get ready, Lindsay wrote down every question she could think of, and she didn't rest until she could answer them all. When the day of the exam arrived, she passed it because she had tested herself beforehand.

Paul told the Corinthian Christians something that applies to us as well. In preparation for the Lord's Supper we should examine ourselves (1 Cor. 11:28). Any sin, any deficiency in love, any spirit of bitterness should be confessed and taken care of before proceeding with Communion. Why? Because ultimately, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are accountable to God.

How do we test ourselves? We can begin by looking at two issues: First, are we expressing and demonstrating our love for God and for others? (Mt. 22:36-40). And second, are we seeking to please God more than anything else? (Mt 6:33).

As Lindsay tested herself in order to be prepared for her exam, we too must test ourselves so that we can pass the toughest exam—God's evaluation of our lives (1 Cor. 11:29-32). Then we can participate in the Lord's Supper and worship Him with a clear conscience. —D C Egner

I want to bow before You now,
Dear Lord, without chagrin;
So search my heart and soul today,
And make me pure within. —Hess

To know where you stand before God, test yourself by His standards

1 Corinthians 12

Champion figure skater Paul Wylie is a cum laude Harvard graduate and a born-again Christian. His mother always wanted him to be a minister, but he has decided to study law He believes he does not possess the gifts required to pastoral ministry. But he insists—and rightly so—that whether he's performing on the ice or reading in the library of Harvard Law School, he can serve his Savior Jesus Christ.

"I think that every Christian is called to be a minister in his place of work," he says, "So I try to be a minister wherever I am. When people come up to me and ask questions, I tell them the truth."

Whether we are figure skaters, law students, homemakers, mechanics, nurses, bankers, or have some other job, we can serve Jesus Christ. The New Testament doesn't assign the task of ministry only to those who are officially recognized as pastors. First Corinthians 12 indicates that every believer is spiritually equipped for some kind of service (v7). —V C. Grounds.


1 Corinthians 12:1–11
Today in the Word

In his 2006 book, The Blind Side, Michael Lewis examines the hidden heroes of football. For example, the virtually unknown players at the left tackle position are some of the highest paid players on the team. It’s their job to defend the blind side of the quarterback. The offense depends on their strength and agility. The left tackle doesn’t get the acclaim the quarterback does, but he’s arguably just as important.

To carry the team analogy further, the church is made up of all kinds of players: quarterbacks, running backs, offensive linemen, and kickers. Just as Paul teaches here in the first verses of chapter 12, the community of believers is a wide assortment of people whose gifts and service are equally as diverse. In the Corinthian church, there is clear confusion on the matter of spiritual gifts, and Paul dedicates the next three chapters of his letter to answering questions the Corinthians have posed to him on the subject.

The Corinthians have some fundamental misconceptions about spiritual gifts, which Paul must address. They had elevated certain gifts above others, most notably the gift of tongues (cf. 1 Corinthians 14). And no doubt those with the gift of tongues were boasting of some spiritual privilege and position. Perhaps they had even come to doubt that all members of the community were indwelt by the Spirit and endowed with gifts from Him.

From the beginning, Paul wants to establish why and by whom the gifts are given. Spiritual gifts are given by the Holy Spirit, and everyone who confesses the lordship of Christ has the Spirit. Nothing more is required to demonstrate the indwelling of the Spirit—no spectacular or miraculous manifestation. Every believer has a spiritual gift, and the gifts differ in expression. The list, which Paul gives in our reading, is not meant to be exhaustive. Rather, it’s to confirm the point that spiritual gifts are diverse! And the purpose for spiritual gifts is that their exercise would enhance the common good, not simply to feel important or good about ourselves.

Apply the Word
Each believer has been given an ability from God to help others and to proclaim the lordship of Jesus Christ. Not all will preach or teach, but everyone has the capacity for influencing the lives of others for good and for reflecting the glorious body of Jesus Christ. Are you exercising your gift to help the church and bring glory to God? Or do you doubt that you are one of the “gifted” Christians? Numerous inventories for discovering your spiritual gift exist, but a good place to start is by asking trusted Christian friends what gifts they observe in your life.

1 Corinthians 12:12–31
Today in the Word

The church in Haiti was not destroyed when the buildings collapsed in the January 12 earthquake. Gersan Valcin, pastor of a church in Port–au–Prince, was visiting one of his church members when a destitute woman approached whose shoes had fallen apart. The church member took off her own shoes—the only pair she owned—and gave them to the woman, who still had many miles to travel.

Here is a picture of the kind of actions and attitudes to which Paul calls the Corinthians in verse 26 of our reading today. As the church of God, we must compassionately identify with those among us who hurt. Moreover, when members of our body are honored, we celebrate together. This isn’t mere sympathy or polite applause. With the kind of a radical unity in the body of Christ that Paul has been urging, we actually feel for one another. As followers of Jesus, we become like Him and take on each other’s pain and celebration in an incarnational way. In Christ, our stories and our lives really matter to others.

We can see what Paul is doing as he answers the questions the Corinthians have posed to him on the subject of spiritual gifts. He’s using his answer as an occasion to retrace some of his themes of the letter. We must remember that the fundamental problem the Corinthian church faced was its disunity. The disunity has expressed itself in multiple ways: believers had taken one another to court, the community had divided over the issue of whether one can eat meat sacrificed to idols, factions developed between sexual immorality and sexual asceticism, and the Lord’s Supper had become another occasion of the rich shaming the poor. Spiritual gifts were another arena where the Corinthians had despised one another.

Paul teaches that every member of the body is indispensable. We cannot do without what might seem to be the weakest of our members. As infinitely complex and beautiful as the human body, the diversity of the church is there by God’s creative design.

Apply the Word
Seminary president in Port–au–Prince, Jean Dorlus, spoke of the cooperation between Americans and Haitians in the relief and rebuilding efforts in the wake of the earthquake. For all the praise he offered, he also noted, “Oh, Americans—they would be almost perfect people except for one thing: if they would listen!” His words challenge us to remember that as the body of Christ, in order to function in a healthy way, we’ve got to listen to one another. Real listening is the prerequisite for real compassion and unity.

1 Corinthians 12:7
A well-known coach was once asked, “How much does college football contribute to the national physical-fitness picture?”

“Nothing,” the coach replied abruptly.

“Why not?” the startled interviewer asked.

“Well,” said the coach, “the way I see it, you have 22 men down on the field desperately needing a rest and 40,000 people in the stands, desperately needing some exercise.”

A similar situation exists in many churches today. When you compare the members who actively participate, you often find a rather pathetic situation. It’s not unusual to have a small group of diligent Christian workers struggling “down on the field” while others in the congregation are acting like spectators, “sitting on the sidelines, eating hot dogs and popcorn.”

God’s strategy for the accomplishment of His program is not like a sports event. It does not call for the job to be done only by the “professionals.” In the game of life, all believers have their own positions and spiritual gifts that they must exercise “for the profit of all” (1 Cor. 12:7).

My friend, if you’ve been sitting in the stands, you’re badly needed down on the field! -MRD II

God calls into action today
All those who are children of light;
Whatever our hand finds to do,
Let’s do it with all of our might. - Hess

Christians should be on the frontlines, not the sidelines.

1 Corinthians 12:12ff
Sir Michael Costa was conducting a rehearsal in which the orchestra was joined by a great chorus. About halfway through the session, with trumpets blaring, drums rolling, and violins singing their rich melody, the piccolo player muttered to himself, “What good am I doing? I might just as well not be playing. Nobody can hear me anyway.” So he kept the instrument to his mouth, but he made no sound. Within moments, the conductor cried, “Stop! Stop! Where’s the piccolo?” It was missed by the ear of the most important person of all.

1 Corinthians 12:12ff
A talented, young concert pianist was drafted in WWI and sent to the front line. In a fierce battle he was badly wounded in his right arm. The doctors decided that unless they amputated that arm, which they did, the soldier would die. Although this was devastating to the musician, he was determined not to let it destroy his future. After recovering, he went from composer to composer, asking for compositions for the left hand only. No one was willing to help until he visited Maurice Ravel, the brilliant French composer of Bolero. He responded to the young man’s need and wrote the moving Concerto in D Major for Left Hand. Audiences everywhere were stirred by the pianist’s rendition of this beautiful music.

1 CORINTHIANS 12:12-31
But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased (1 Corinthians 12:18).

The name of the extinct dodo bird has long been used to speak of someone who is foolish, stupid, and worthless. Larger than a turkey, this ash-gray bird had a fat and lumpy fifty-pound body and a ridicu­lous tuft of curly feathers for a tail. Its stubby wings sported no more than three or four black feathers. It had a hooked beak, large legs, and heavy feet. The dodo lived in obscurity on three islands in the Indian Ocean until settlers came along and wiped out the defenseless crea­tures. These ugly birds seemed destined for ridicule. Their discoverer wrote of them in his journal, "We called these birds walghvogels [disgusting birds] for the reason that the more and longer they are cooked, the less soft and more unpalatable their flesh becomes."

But then came a surprising discovery. In 1977 scientists learned that the beautiful calvaria tree, which grows on the dodo's native island, depended on the bird for its survival. The tree's seeds had such thick hulls that they could sprout only after being run through the rigors of the dodo's digestive system. Just in the nick of time, some turkeys were imported to take the dodo's place and perpetuate the thirteen dying calvaria trees that remained.

In the church, as in nature, the Lord doesn't make worthless things. Every one of us is an important part of the body. Some of us might not look like much, but God has placed us "just as He pleased." Each has a purpose, and in Christ that purpose is eternal. —M.R.DeHaan II

Those who appear small in our sight
are often giants in God's sight.

A sea captain and his chief engineer were at odds about whose job was the most vital on their ship. They decided that the best wav to settle the question would be to exchange positions. The captain «vent below deck to run the engine room, and the chief engineer climbed to the bridge and grabbed the wheel.

Several hours later the captain appeared on deck, his clothes covered with oil and grease. "Chief," he yelled up to the bridge as he swung a wrench in hand, "come down here. I can't make 'er go!" "I know," yelled the chagrined chief engineer, "I've run 'er aground!"

The effectiveness of the Christian church is dependent on the cooperation of its members as each one does what God has equipped him or her to do best. Then, serving under the lordship of Christ, they will labor together in harmony What task has God given you in His program? Stick to it. It's a job He intends just for you. —Paul R VanGorder


What does the word Yankee mean to you? Robert W Mayer, in a Wall Street Journal article, writes, "To people in other parts of the world it simply means someone from the United States; to people in the United States it means someone from north of the Mason-Dixon Line; to us Northerners it means someone from New England; to New Englanders it means someone from Vermont; to Vermonters it means someone from the Green Mountains."
The term Christian has taken on a wide range of meaning too. Some have even equated being a Christian with being an American. That's far too wide! But we who believe in Jesus Christ often make the definition too narrow. We describe as "real Christians" only those men and women who believe and worship exactly as we do.

Certainly sound doctrine is vital! There is no room for disagreement over the fundamentals of the faith. But a "real Christian" is anyone who relies on God's grace and puts his trust in Christ alone as his only hope of salvation. —HWR


A visitor was being shown around a leper colony in India. At noon a gong sounded for the midday meal. People came from all parts of the compound to the dining hall. All at once peals of laughter filled the air. Two young men, one riding on the other's back, were pretending to be a horse and a rider and were having loads of fun.

As the visitor watched, he saw that the man who carried his friend was blind, and the man on his back was lame. The one who could not see used his feet; the one who could not walk used his eyes. Together they helped each other, and they found great joy in doing it.

Imagine a church like that—each member using his or her strength to make up for another's weakness. We need each other. —D. J. DeHaan.


1 Corinthians 12:22
From an experience of her childhood, Mrs. Floyd Crook recalls, “I came home from school one day crying because I had been given only a small part in the children’s program, while my playmate got the leading role. After drying my tears, my mother took off her watch and put it in my hand. “What do you see?” she asked. “A gold case, a face, and two hands.” I replied. Opening the back, she repeated the question. I told her I saw many tiny wheels. “This watch would be useless,” she said, “without every part—even the ones you can hardly see.”

1 Corinthians 12:22-26
On February 29, 1964, about 150 Christians were gathered for a service in the house of Aleksandr Gushcin in Barnaul, Siberia. All at once, five swearing, half-intoxicated officers broke into the meeting and ordered them to disperse. Instinctively they huddled closer together, forming a human barrier between the uniformed men and their pastor. Angry and frustrated, the officers forced some of the Christians out into the cold night and herded them into a waiting truck. Just then the pastor shouted, “Wait! If you are going to take some of us, you must take us all. We’re one family. What happens to one will happen to all!” Of course, the police vehicle was too small for everyone, so the whole group marched behind it until another truck was sent. The ordeal ended at the Region Executive Committee building with all 150 members singing praises to the Lord. The solidarity of these believers was so bewildering to the authorities that they released them a short time later.

During a rehearsal at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, Toscanini, the famed maestro, offered some constructive criticism to a featured soloist.. She was too proud to accept his help, however, and expressed her resentment by exclaiming in anger, "I am the star of this performance!" Toscanini responded wisely and firmly. "Madame," he said, "in this performance there are no stars."

Even though each Christian has his own unique traits and his own individual duties, taken together we comprise one body. We can make no advances with only solo work. All of us, from the greatest to the humblest, should work together in harmony and devotion. The Lord isn't looking for soloists to be stars; He needs workers who are willing to be servants. God's work calls for teamwork! —R W DeHaan


1 Corinthians 13

1 Corinthians 13
TRACY Morrow, who goes by the name of Ice-T, delights in his role as a controversial rap singer whose lyrics are blasphe­mous and obscene. Yet, inspired by a truce between two violent gangs in Los Angeles, the Crips and the Bloods, he wrote a sur­prisingly sentimental song, "Gotta Lotta Love."

Orphaned when young and brought up by relatives who con­sidered him a burden, Ice-T never experienced loving care. "I first found the word love in a gang," he told an interviewer. "I learned how to love in a gang, not in a family atmosphere."

No matter how little or how warped was the love we knew in childhood, it is never too late to learn how to love. We may catch a glimpse of love through an individual or a group (even a gang!), but to learn the full meaning of love we need to find it in Christ. "By this we know love, because [Jesus] laid down His life for us" (1 John 3:16). The death of Jesus expresses the heights and depths of love.

The only way to learn how to love is to find out what it means to be loved by God.—Vernon Grounds

1 Corinthians 13:1–13
Today in the Word

William Wilberforce, one of the more well–known members of the Clapham Sect, worked tirelessly in Parliament to abolish the British slave trade. But it was Hannah More, a lesser known member, who wrote this on the subject of notable Christian service: “We are apt to mistake our vocation by looking out of the way for occasions to exercise rare and great virtues, and by stepping over the ordinary ones that lie directly in the road before us.”

This notion is at the heart of Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 13. What matters most isn’t always our greatest achievements, spiritual or otherwise. When considered in the light of what will endure, all of the spiritual gifts, whether tongues or knowledge (which the Corinthians esteemed) or prophecy (which Paul valued), have secondary importance. What matters most is that we’ve acted for love and in love. Love will be the final criterion for our spiritual lives. And love is what will distinguish the Christian life and community.

We must remember that Paul wasn’t waxing eloquent on the theme of love for the purposes of poetry. 1 Corinthians 13, before it became a common passage to be used in weddings, was included in a letter to a church whose sins of pride and arrogance, whose misuse and misunderstanding of spiritual gifts, and whose socioeconomic differences had become sources of division. Paul hasn’t pushed the pause button on his main themes of his letter, but in this chapter, he gives feet to the character of love. It is the force that he knows can unify the Corinthian community.

When the Corinthians decide to love, the factional infighting and envious quarreling in the community will end (cf. 1:11, 3:3). When the Corinthians begin to love, the exercise of spiritual gifts will build up, rather than divide, the community. When the Corinthians consider controversial questions of Christian faith and practice, and when love governs that discussion, the unity of thought and mind to which Paul first called them will be realized (1:10).

Apply the Word
Love can heal what pride has injured. It can bind up the places where we’ve been wounded and where trust has eroded. In a commentary on 1 Corinthians, one New Testament scholar says, “Love requires the formation of character.” He means to highlight that what Paul has described in this chapter isn’t necessarily how we feel love for others but how we show love. To love is to need a radical inner transformation. To love is to depend on Christ, whose example defines for us what love is (1 John 3:16).

A third-grade science teacher asked one of her students to describe salt. "Well, urn, it's ... ," he started, then stopped. He tried again. "Salt is, you know, it's ..." Finally he said, "Salt is what makes French fries taste bad when you don't sprinkle it on." Many foods are like that—incomplete without a key ingredient. Imagine pizza without cheese, strudel without apples, a banana split without bananas.

The Christian life also has an essential element: love. Paul emphasized its value as he wrote his letter to the Corinthians. Right in the middle of a section about spiritual gifts, he paused to say that even if we have gifts of service, speech, and self-sacrifice but don't have love, we are nothing (1 Cor. 13:1-3).

Doctrinal purity is important. Faith is a magnificent quality, as is obedient service to the Lord. But without love, we're about as bland as French fries without salt. —D. C. Egner.


1 Corinthians 13:2; Genesis 29:1-14
If I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. - 1 Corinthians 13:2

Some people wouldn't notice any difference between the coral snake, the scarlet kingsnake, and the Mexican milk snake. All three have stripes of reddish orange, yellow, and black. But apart from appearance, the coral snake bears one important difference—a potentially lethal neurotoxin. Of course, most people want nothing to do with any snakes, regardless of their venom or lack thereof. But for snake enthusiasts (or natural predators), failure to recognize the difference can be fatal.

Jacob and Rachel's love story had a beginning that resembled Isaac and Rebekah's. It may have appeared that similar criteria were used in the search. Just as Abraham had commissioned his servant to do, Jacob also left Canaan, and he returned to the land where his mother had been found. And like Abraham's servant, Jacob found a bride among family at yet another source for water—and he was received with joy by Laban (v. 13; cf. 24:50). As his father had done, Jacob felt love at first sight immediately after meeting Rachel. But the circumstances surrounding Jacob's search were nothing close to the scenario that transpired when his mother had been handpicked by God.

Abraham sought a wife who would strengthen Isaac's allegiance to God. That very wife, Rebekah, sent her son back to that land out of cowardly, deceptive motives (27:41-46). Isaac stayed as a nomad in Canaan, the land of the covenant, to avoid being ensnared by the family wealth Abraham had left behind. Jacob, however, left the Promised Land and became bound to the service of Laban.

On the surface, today's reading might look like our study on Isaac and Rebekah. The subtle but crucial difference was the self-serving attitude that drove Jacob to find his bride. There was jubilation and courtesy and romance. But there wasn't a drop of professed interest in what would bring God glory. The motions may have resembled a proper search for a wife, but Jacob's heart was not inclined toward the Lord. That difference would prove to be toxic.
Mimicking the behavior of a follower of Christ doesn't change a person's spiritual state. We can do things that look like love, but if our motives are selfish—or if we ignore God's direction in our lives—our actions are empty. If you have been harboring hostility toward others or subtly disobeying His commandment to love while presenting a superficially sweet exterior, ask God to change your heart today. Ask His Spirit to create in you a wellspring of genuine love for others.

A small South American fish called "four eyes" knows how to make the best of two worlds. His secret is his large bulging eyes. The Creator designed them so that he can see above the water and below it at the same time. The fish does this by cruising along through the water with the upper half of his eyes above the surface. This top half has an air lens, and the bottom half has a water lens. Together, the two lenses outfit "four eyes" with a set of natural bifocals, allowing him to see both the upper world and the underworld.

In a sense, Christians must be like this little tropical fish. We should look up longingly into the idealism of heaven while looking down lovingly into the realism of earth. The heavenward look is to reflect a hunger and thirst for truth and righteousness, while the earthly look shows our compassion and love for the lost and suffering. Who is in a better position to know the best of both worlds than Christians? We have received both truth and love. — M. R. DeHaan. II



A YOUNG boy went to the lingerie department of a store to purchase a gift for his mother. Bashfully he whispered to the clerk that he wanted to buy a slip for his mom, but he didn't know her size.

The woman explained that it would help if he could describe her. Was she thin, fat, short, tall, or what?

"Well," replied the youngster, "she's just about perfect."

So the clerk sent him home with a medium size slip.

A few days later the mother came to the store to exchange the gift for a considerably larger size. The little fellow had seen her through the eyes of love, which always see beyond physical appearances.

The kindness of love refuses to focus on faults or shortcomings. This doesn't mean that it is blind to weakness and sin. But it sees beyond them, accepting people as they are, looking at their best qualities, and wanting their good.

We need to examine our response to others in the light of 1 Corinthians 13. If negative attitudes quickly surface, if glaring character defects always loom up before us, we need to work at seeing others through eyes of love.—D J DeHaan

I saw a news documentary that exposed a manufacturer who sold inferior repair parts to airplane companies, putting profit above human life. The program also told about a factory that was get­ting away with pouring pollutants into a stream. The attitude of company officials seemed to be, If it doesn't hurt me and my family, why should I care?

A man told me he had buried some old barrels of used oil on his farm. He chuckled and said,

"You and I will be dead long before this stuff seeps into the water table."

King Hezekiah did many good things for his country, but near the end of his life he developed a self-centered attitude. After the king unwisely made a treaty with the Babylonians, the prophet Isaiah said that Hezekiah's descendants would be conquered and forced into slavery. Instead of showing remorse, the king expressed relief because this disaster would not occur in his life-time. He was thinking only of himself.

This me-only mentality influences every one of us. Self-cen­teredness even infects our prayers. That's why we must rely con­stantly on the power of the Holy Spirit to displace self-centeredness with Christ's love.—H V Lugt

1Co13:13 (F B Meyer. Our Daily Walk)

LET US lay the emphasis on the word fruit, as contrasted with the works of the law. In work there is effort, strain, the sweat of the brow, and straining of the muscles; but fruit comes easily and naturally by the overflow of the sap rising from the root to bough and bud'. So our Christian life should be the exuberance of the heart in which Christ dwells. The Apostle Paul prayed that Christ might dwell in the heart of his converts, that they might be rooted and grounded in love. It is only when the Holy Spirit fills us to the overflow that we shall abound in love to all men.

We must distinguish between love and the emotion of love. The former is always possible, though not always and immediately the latter. Our Lord repeating the ancient words of the Pentateuch, taught us that we may love God with our mind and strength, as well as with our hearts. We all know that the mind and strength are governed not by our emotions, but by our wills. We can love, therefore, by determining to put our thought and energies at the service of another for the sake of God; and we shall find our emotions kindle into a sacred glow of conscious affection.

In the chapter from which our text is taken, St. Paul distinguishes between the Gifts of the Church and Love. After passing them in review he comes to the conclusion that all of them, without Love as their heart and inspiration, are worth nothing.

The greatest word in the world is the unfathomable phrase, "God is Love." You can no more define the essence of love than you can define the essence of God, but you can describe its effects and fruits. I give Dr. Weymouth's translation: "Love is patient and kind, knows neither envy nor jealousy; is not forward and self-assertive, nor boastful and conceited. She does not behave unbecomingly, nor seek to aggrandize herself, nor blaze out in passionate anger, nor brood over wrongs. She finds no pleasure in injustice done to others, but joyfully sides with the truth. She knows how to be silent; she is full of trust, full of hope, full of patient endurance."

We ought to take each of these clauses, and ponder whether our lives are realizing these high ideals. God send us a baptism of such love!

PRAYER - O Lord, my love is like some feebly glimmering spark; I would that it were as a hot flame. Kindle it by the breath of Thy Holy Spirit, till Thy love constraineth me. AMEN.

1 Corinthians 14

1 Corinthians 14:1–25
Today in the Word

In 2010, Chinese authorities undertook a massive campaign to correct thousands of signs in English. A sign that should read, “Caution! Floor is slippery!” instead declared, “Slip and fall down carefully!” “No Smorking!” signs abounded to ban cigarette smoking in certain areas. Instead of “Keep off the grass!” a sign exhorted: “Please don’t disturb me. I am sleeping and will feel pain.” American companies trying to market their products in Chinese haven’t always fared any better. KFC’s “finger–lickin’ good” slogan was translated as “eat your fingers off.” And the original attempt to translate Coca–Cola into Chinese was rendered, “Bite the wax tadpole.”

Cultural miscommunication between speakers of different languages is how Paul describes what was happening in the church of Corinth. The Corinthians were speaking in tongues in their public worship gatherings, but as their speech was unintelligible to one another, it did not benefit the community. Because of the overemphasis on tongues (and what might have been a neglect of gifts like prophecy), their worship gatherings hummed with a noise like a hack with a clarinet to his lips or the muffled bugle call on the battlefront. They don’t promote the encouragement and instruction of the believers.

Paul is not sidelining the gift of tongues. He is not faulting the Corinthians for having the gift or even wanting it. He speaks in tongues and recognizes the value of tongues for one’s personal edification. But he is reminding them of the purpose of spiritual gifts and how they are to function in the public worship assembly. The Corinthians should never use their gifts, especially not tongues, to inflate their own self–importance or to draw more attention to themselves during corporate worship.

Spiritual gifts are given for the common good, and when the community gathers, priority should be given to the gift of prophecy (and presumably, other gifts, such as knowledge and teaching, v. 6). The exercise of spiritual gifts should always have the intent to build up the church.

Apply the Word
Paul’s teaching to the Corinthians challenges us in a relevant way today. How eager are we to have spiritual gifts and use them? The implication is that our gifts are not static. It isn’t as if the spiritual gifts we receive when we’re first converted are the only gifts we’ll ever have. The text invites us to consider prayerfully asking God to endow us with spiritual gifts. With faith and a desire to build up the church, we must seek God and trust Him to use us in the body of Christ as His servants.

1 Corinthians 14:26–40
Today in the Word

With social networking sites and the ubiquity of Internet access, churches and pastors are exploring how to use these technologies to reach their communities. Craig Groeschel, senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv, a cyber church, admits, “We were blown away at how people could actually worship along [online]. The whole family will gather around the computer, and they’ll sing and worship together. Instead of trying to get people to come to a church, we feel like we can take a church to them.”

Would Paul endorse replacing the physical gathering of the body of believers with a virtual church experience from one’s smart phone? From our study of 1 Corinthians, the answer is arguably “no.” Of course the Corinthians weren’t tempted to do church via iPhone, but they did struggle to understand our corporate identity as the people of God. We haven’t always understood why it is that the church exists and why it is that we gather each week for worship. The Corinthians treated the worship gathering as a place to showcase their spiritual gifts. We often look for the feel–good experience of church. Both attitudes fail to see that God meant for us to seek not to be strengthened, but to strengthen when we gather.

Paul’s summary comments are offered in today’s reading. The believers should gather together to hear from God’s Word and to speak to God through prayer and praise. They are called to be expectant and eager to witness the spontaneous movement of the Spirit of God for the purpose of the common good. While there’s freedom in the gatherings (it’s unlikely that they had bulletins outlining exactly what would be said and when), nevertheless, there are restrictions put in place. These restrictions, such as forbidding more than one person from talking at a time or requiring interpretation for a person speaking in tongues, do not restrain the Spirit but promote order.

Apply the Word
What is your attitude toward Sunday gatherings at your church? Do you hope for inspirational music and a message with rhetorical flourish? Do you intend to socialize with your friends? None of these things are inherently wrong, but they can distract us from more important things. How are you serving others in the church? Are you eager to join with believers to praise God? Spend time today in prayer for your church service tomorrow, that the members will be unified in using their gifts together to worship the Lord and build up one another.

1 Corinthians 15

1 Corinthians 15:1-10
A FEW years before John Newton died, a friend was hav­ing breakfast with him. Their custom was to read from the Bible after the meal.

That day the selection was from 1 Corinthians 15. When the words "by the grace of God I am what I am" were read, Newton was silent for several minutes. Then he said,

"I am not what I ought to be. How imperfect and deficient I am! I am not what I wish to be, although I abhor that which is evil and would cleave to what is good. I am not what I hope to be, but soon I shall put off mortality, and with it all sin.... Though I am not what I ought to be, nor what I wish to be, nor yet what I hope to be, I can truly say I am not what I once was; a slave to sin and Satan. I can heartily join with the apostle and acknowledge that by the grace of God I am what I am!"

Newton's words apply to every Christian. Because of God's goodness, we are spared much bad that we deserve and are given much good that we do not deserve. Every good thing comes from His hand.

Humble gratitude ought to characterize our lives. Even though none of us is what we want to be, each of us is becoming what God wants us to be.—Paul R VanGorder

1 Corinthians 15:1–34
Today in the Word

For the sake of the gospel, missionaries like John and Betty Stam and Nate Saint gave their lives to share Jesus with people who had not heard of Him. For the sake of the gospel, D. L. Moody gave up a lucrative business career to reach the urban poor and marginalized with the message of salvation. For the sake of the gospel, thousands of unheralded Christians have ministered in prisons, taught Sunday school to unruly children, adopted orphans, given up vacations in order to participate in mission trips, or worked to free people from the bonds of slavery.

What is this gospel, that could compel people to action like this? As Paul nears the end of his letter, he returns to what is the fundamental issue at hand, the very theme with which he began: the gospel. In chapter 15, Paul defines what the gospel is and what its implications are for the Corinthians and indeed, for all believers.

In verses 3 through 5, Paul is citing what may be one of the earliest of Christian creeds. It announces that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and then raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the cataclysmic events of history. They have fulfilled the story God began with the nation of Israel, which He has carefully recorded in the Scriptures. The gospel is both an Old and New Testament story of God’s person and work with His people.

The gospel isn’t just a story rooted in past events. The gospel provides an expectant hope for what is to come. Jesus, having died for our sins and been raised, now lives to destroy the enemies of God. God’s kingdom will finally and fully come through Jesus at the end of time. Our bodily resurrection is a witness to this future redemption of the world.

Because of the salvation secured by Christ and verified through the resurrection, we are compelled to act. As we share the news about Jesus with others, we are participating in God’s promise to renew all creation.

Apply the Word
Some people like to force a divide between doctrine and doing—and then emphasize whichever element they prefer as most important. But theology and practical ministry can’t be split apart; they inform each other. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is full of the connections between sound theology and life together in the church. The ability to know God and the ability to serve others are both rooted in the truth and power of the gospel, the message of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15:35–58
Today in the Word

In his book, A Grace Disguised, Gerald Sittser describes his journey of grief. In one tragic car accident, he lost his wife, his mother, and his youngest daughter. The book offers no easy answers about the problem of suffering. As hopeful as the book is, it’s also honest about loss. Sittser admits, “We recover from broken limbs, not amputations.” Through the pain, Sittser holds onto the hope of the gospel: “The Easter story tells us that the last chapter of the human story is not death but life.”

Sittser’s book offers a thoroughly Christian view of death, the only view that makes sense of the hope of resurrection. In order to fully appreciate the doctrine of the bodily resurrection of believers (a doctrine the Corinthian believers had failed to understand), we’ve got to face the reality of death in all of its horror. Death is our bitter enemy. It robs, and it destroys. It is the cruel weapon of Satan himself, whose every ambition it is to plunder the goodness of God’s creation and destroy life.

It’s the resurrection of our bodies and the redemption of all creation, which shouts the joyful chorus that Christ has won! He has defeated Satan! War, disease, starvation, decay—the fiercest weapons of the enemy will be destroyed on the day when Jesus returns to earth, and all believers are given new bodies, spiritual bodies.

Whereas the philosophers in the time of the Corinthians conceived of enlightened spirituality as the state of the soul escaping the body, the Christian doctrine of resurrection affirms the goodness of the body. In the resurrection, our souls don’t escape to heaven in a disembodied form. We will put on a new body of a different sort: imperishable, immortal, strong, and glorious.

The doctrine of resurrection fuels our energy for obeying and serving Christ in this life. Because of the resurrection of Christ and the promise of the resurrection of our own bodies, we do not believe or hope in vain.

Apply the Word
Perhaps you’ve recently had someone close to you die, and you’ve struggled with the anger you’ve felt as a result. Maybe even your anger has been directed toward God. This passage of 1 Corinthians 15 tells us it’s perfectly appropriate to be angry about death. It is not God’s good plan for His creation! But death is not the final word; it will once and for all be destroyed. The resurrection of Christ guarantees it. If you are comforting a friend who’s grieving the death of a loved one, comfort them with the hope of the resurrection!

A shepherd who had been given a position of great honor by one of Scotland's kings would often go alone to a certain room in the palace. The king became suspicious and thought he was plotting a conspiracy So he asked to look inside this secret room. There, to his surprise, he found only a chair, a shepherd's crook, and an old plaid scarf. "What does this mean?" asked the king. The nobleman answered, "I was a humble shepherd when your Majesty promoted me. I come to this room to look at the crook and the plaid. They remind me of what I was—and that I am nothing but what the grace of the king has made me."

All of us who trust Jesus should take the backward look often. It will fill us with praise that God should send His Son to die for us. Like that shepherd, we can say "I am nothing but what the grace of the King has made me." —D. J. DeHaan.


1 Corinthians 15:17
In the early part of this century, a group of lawyers met in England to discuss the biblical accounts of Jesus' resurrection. They wanted to see if enough information was available to make a case that would hold up in a court of law. They concluded that Christ's resurrection was one of the most well-established facts of history!

In his book Countdown, G. B. Hardy offers thought-provoking questions about the resurrection: "There are but two essential requirements: (1) Has anyone cheated death and proved it? (2) Is it available to me? Here is the complete record: Confucius' tomb—occupied. Buddha's tomb occupied. Muhammad's tomb occupied. Jesus' tomb—empty! Argue as you will, there is no point in following a loser.'

Historical evidence and countless changed lives testify that the resurrection of Jesus is a fact, not a fable! Have you put your hope in the risen Christ? —D. C. Egner.


1 Corinthians 15:19
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 1 Corinthians 15:19

As I left a funeral home one day after a memorial service for a dear saint of God, one of the directors of the mortuary re-marked, "You know, there's a big difference between the funerals of those who are Christians and those who are unsaved!" I have never forgotten his words. What a testimony to the reality of the Christian faith! Here was a man who had witnessed hundreds of funerals and had been impressed by the striking difference be­tween the behavior of true believers in a time of bereavement and those who had no faith. Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 that the unsaved should not sorrow like worldly individuals who have "no hope." The reason for Paul's admonition is found in the following verses, where the apostle describes the day when ". . . the Lord himself shall descend from heaven . . . and the dead in Christ shall rise first . . . [and] we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air . . ." (1 Thess. 4:16, 17).

Let it be remembered, however, that even believers grieve when death separates them from their loved ones. After all, when human ties are broken, it does hurt and tears are bound to be shed. But notice Paul does not say that we do not sorrow at all. Rather he declares that we ". . . sorrow not, even as others who have not hope!" The grief is lessened and the heart-ache softened in the realization that those who died in Christ go into the presence of the Lord Jesus Himself, and the day is coming when with glorified, resurrected bodies all believers shall in one great, glad, grand reunion rise to meet the Lord in the air. No wonder Paul concludes this passage by saying, "Where-fore, comfort one another with these words!"

Those who are looking for that blessed hope find courage and comfort in the upward look. The thought of Christ's soon return and reunion with loved ones makes a big difference!

0 how sweet it will be on that wonderful day,
So free from all sorrow and pain;
With songs on our lips and with harps in our hands
To meet one another again! —E. H. Gates, alt.

UNION with Christ here, means REUNION with loved onesover There! —G.W.

Conrad Adenauer, former chancellor of West Germany, once told evangelist Billy Graham, "If Jesus Christ is alive, then there is hope for the world. If not, I don't see the slightest glimmer of hope on the horizon." Then he added, "I believe Christ's resurrection to be one of the best-attested facts of history"

Christ's resurrection and ours go together. Establish one, and the other is sure.
When Socrates lay dying, his friends asked, "Shall we live again?" He could only say, "I hope so." In contrast, the night before Sir Walter Raleigh was beheaded, he wrote in his Bible, "From this earth, this grave, this dust, my God shall raise me up."

We who trust Christ don't have to say, "I hope so." Jesus' resurrection gives us a sure hope for our coming resurrection. —D J DeHaan


1Corinthians 15:22 (F B Meyer. Our Daily Walk)

DEATH IS the precursor of life, and we cannot truly reach Easter unless we first descend into the grave. Blessed are they who descend thither in hope; their soul shall not be left in the land of shadow, nor will God permit His holy ones to see corruption. God will revive them, and they shall live. On the third day our Lord Jesus rose from the dead, and this is the foundation-hope for the world.

"Come, let us return unto the Lord." There is always resurrection, hope, and joy for those who repent of their sins. True repentance is a humble return to God; and as we draw nigh to Him, He meets us with healing and salvation. The result of His coming is like the dawn, or as the spring-rains. Light and joy, fertility and beauty are the immediate response of the soul to His advent.

Do you find yourself in the dark grave of circumstances? Be of good cheer. One of God's angels is on his way to roll away the stone. Though our Lord was crucified, yet on the third day God raised Him up, and He lives and reigns at the right hand of God; and we also may live with Him, by the same power, not in the other world only, but in this. God will raise you up, and you shall live in His sight. The best is yet to be!

"Let us follow on to know the Lord." We may always count on Him. If there is any variation in our relations with Him, it is on our side, not on His. Just as surely as we return to Him, we shall find Him coming to meet and greet and receive us with a glad welcome. When the prodigal was a great way off, his father saw him, and ran to meet him! Is there any doubt about our reception? No, there cannot be! God our Father is always waiting for us. In Him there is no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning. As certainly as we count on the day-spring may we count on God. Let your soul move towards Him out of the grave of doubt and despair, and on the third day--the Day of Resurrection, He will be revealed.

May our self-life be crucified with Christ, that His life may be manifest in us; and out of the grave may there spring a more complete resemblance to our Risen Saviour, so that all may see in us daily evidence of the Resurrection of our Lord. AMEN.

1 Corinthians 15:24-28 Colossians 2:13-15;
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus . . . who for the joy set before him endured the cross . . . and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. - Hebrews 12:2

Try to imagine first-century Rome, as you finally catch a glimpse of the victorious Roman general, wearing a purple toga with gold palm leaves sewn on it and a crown on his head, standing triumphantly in a great chariot. He's holding an eagle scepter as a symbol of the god Jupiter. Behind him follow his own troops, dressed in white, and behind them, the conquered leaders and enemies, naked, humiliated, and in chains. Once the procession winds through Rome, these pitiful captives will be sent to either a huge slave auction or a public execution.

A Roman triumph is the powerful image that Paul draws on to explain the significance of Christ's work on the cross. In verse 13, Paul says that we were made alive in Christ when we were raised with Him through faith. He also makes it clear that our being made alive was due to the forgiveness of our sins. Now he'll develop this more.

The “written code” in verse 14 has been understood in various ways, but it seems most likely that it refers to some type of written debt, or I.O.U. Paul seems to identify this with the obligations outlined under Mosaic law. Paul is not saying that the law is bad, but that its ability to convict individuals of failure to live up to those obligations, or debt, has been graciously canceled. This is how Paul explains forgiveness of sins—a cancellation of our debt before God through Jesus' death on the cross.

But Paul goes further in showing how we've been made alive. Formerly, we were held captive both by our sins and by spiritual powers and authorities (v. 15). This verse shows us what was actually happening on the cross. Although Satan and his forces thought they were victorious, God actually disarmed their power and vanquished them for all creation to see. Not even a Roman triumph could ever come close to this decisive victory.
Today we see another reason that Jesus has all power and authority: His victory on the cross. Yet Jesus' rightful claim to lordship is frequently challenged. Some deny that anyone has absolute control over anything, or even that anyone should. Others say that we're the masters of our own lives.

The lordship of Christ is not popular today, but it's essential for us to know that He has conquered the very things that seek to conquer us.

1 Corinthians 15:26, 55
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 0 death, where is thy sting? 1 Corinthians 15:26, 55

During the last several weeks I have been receiving telephone calls from a girl who says she is sixteen years old and claims that the doctors have told her she has less than six months to live. She refuses to identify herself, informing me that she used to go to Sunday school but "didn't care about it very much and quit." The thought of dying gives her an eerie feeling; yet she has thus far rejected the Gospel, bitterly blaming God for her illness. I pray that I may be able to lead her to Christ.

Everything non-Christian thinkers have written about death is mere speculation, but the Gospel gives hope and certainty be-cause it is based upon things that really happened. The Lord Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for sin and took away death's sting. He rose from the grave to destroy its power. Though Paul still called it man's "last enemy," he assured us that we shall be victorious over it. True, the process of dying is neither pleasant to observe nor easy to contemplate. In fact, most of us shed tears when a loved one dies because death tears apart tender earthly ties. Yet death is a vanquished foe! Christ took its sting away when He paid the price for sin, and destroyed its power when He rose from the grave. It cannot truly harm the believer. Actually, it becomes a friend for one who knows the Lord Jesus. It can only close our eyes, kiss away our breath, and usher us into the presence of Christ. While its "shadow" is there, its sting is gone and its power is defeated. If you be­lieve this, you are blessed indeed!

"Asleep in Jesus," 0 how sweet
To be for such a slumber meet!
With holy confidence to sing
That death hath lost its venomed sting! — Macay

Death for the Christian is not bane but blessing, not tragedy but triumph!—G.W.

1Corinthians 15:45 (F B Meyer. Our Daily Walk).

ARE YOU, my friend, in the first Adam or the second? It is a vital question, and it would well repay you to put aside all else in order to give a considered answer to this question. You ask for the fundamental difference between the first Adam and the second. The Apostle states it clearly in this chapter from which our text is taken. The contrast between the two is the soul-life of the first and the Spirit-life of the second. This is the distinction which Jesus made at the beginning of His ministry, and it pervades the New Testament. The sphere of Christianity is the realm of the spirit. Its object is to lift man from the soul-level to the spirit-level.

The soul is the centre of our personality. It is you, or I, or any other person! From it we look on two worlds. To the Matterial world we are related by the organs of touch, sight, smell, taste and hearing. To the eternal world we are related by the organs of the spirit, which are probably identical with the lower. We have the option of descending by the spiral staircase downward to Matterialism, or of ascending upward to fellowship with God. Alas, that too often we descend to the lure of the savoury pottage, instead of climbing the ladder which reaches to Heaven.

It is clear that we must die to the self-life, to the promptings, suggestions and solicitations of the ego, which is entrenched in the soul. Self is the root of our alienation from the Life of God. All the evils of fallen angels and man have their birth in the pride of self. On the other hand, all the blessedness of the heavenly life is within our reach, when the self-life is nailed to the Cross of Jesus.

How is this self-life to be brought to death? Only by our identification with the Cross on which Jesus died. We were nailed there in the purpose of God, and we must accept that position and extract its help by a living faith. It was by the Eternal Spirit that Jesus offered Himself unto God, and it is by that same Spirit that we, too, may say: "I have been crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." There must be an exchange of lives, from the self-life to the life of the Crucified and Ascended Saviour, communicated by the Holy Spirit.

PRAYER - Behold, O Lord, I am Thy servant, prepared for all things; for I desire not to live unto myself, but unto Thee; and Oh, that I could do it worthily and perfectly! AMEN.

1 Corinthians 15:51-58
If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile. - 1 Corinthians 15:17

In the classic movie It's a Wonderful Life, set during the Great Depression, George Bailey (played by James Stewart) gets a chance to see what life in his small town would be like if he had never been born. George steps in and helps the residents of Bedford Falls when the greedy banker, Mr. Potter, refuses to do so. When the situation seems hopeless, George believes that the world would be better without him. That's when an angel shows George just what that would have been like. In the process, George realizes how thankful he is for what he actually does have in life, especially for his family.

Many people consider this film to be one of the best ever made. It's certainly teaches valuable lessons about having the right perspective and being grateful. At the same time, to truly have the right view on life, we need to ask another question altogether. What would life be like if Christ had not been actually, literally, physically raised from the dead?

This was apparently the question that the Corinthians were grappling with. Although Greeks, including those in Corinth, had some ideas about the immortality of the soul, the concept of bodily resurrection was new and difficult to grasp. Throughout 1 Corinthians 15, Paul outlines the reality of Jesus' resurrection from the dead and the supreme importance of this truth for faith. In the process, he presents and refutes several objections that were evidently being raised among the Corinthians.

Although the events surrounding the Second Coming are partly a “mystery” (v. 51), Paul makes it clear that believers will be raised bodily when Christ returns. Those who have already died and those who do not “sleep” will be changed instantaneously at the sound of the trumpet. The power of sin and the sting of death will be ended forever. This is the eternal victory won by Christ.
Have you ever thought about what life would be like if there were no resurrection? Perhaps you've been a believer for a while and haven't considered this question recently. Or maybe you've just become a Christian and can easily remember your thinking prior to the certainty of your being raised from the dead. Reread today's passage, and even all of 1 Corinthians 15, and consider what life would be like if there were no resurrection. Then join with Paul in giving thanks to God for our victory in Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:51-58
One day an assistant of the famous chemist Michael Faraday accidentally knocked a little silver cup into a beaker of very strong acid. In almost no time the silver object disappeared. The great chemist was summoned. He quickly put a certain chemical into the jar, and in a moment every particle of silver came together at the bottom. Removing the s0.0hapeless mass, he sent it to a silversmith, who recreated a cup that shone as bright as ever.

What Michael Faraday did in his laboratory is but a small picture of what our mighty God will do on resurrection day for all His saints. He will miraculously restore the bodies of all who have died in Christ. This is the mystery the apostle Paul spoke about in 1 Corinthians 15. He said that when Christ returns, the living saints will be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and the dead will be raised with incorruptible bodies. The apostle wrote, “.then shall be brought to pass the saying., Death is swallowed up in victory.” I like to think that Paul imagined hearing the triumphant voices of the saints on that great day. Those who do not die will be instantly changed, and will exclaim, “O death, where is thy sting?” Those who rise from the tomb in resurrection bodies will shout, :”O grave, where is thy victory?” What a marvelous picture of triumph! How the saints will radiate the glory of the Lord on resurrection day as they are changed into His perfect likeness!

In an age of doubt and skepticism, let us affirm with joyous confidence the words of the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe in the resurrection of the body!” - H. G. Bosch

1 Corinthians 15:55-58
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” - 1 Corinthians 15:55

For just under $200,000, an Arizona foundation will arrange for a person’s remains to be preserved by cryonics, a chemically treated freezing process, immediately after death. The funds are also designated to pay for the revitalizing procedure, which will commence as soon as three scientific advances have been discovered: a cure for whatever caused the person’s death, a way to stop the aging process for all mankind, and an antidote for the poison used to preserve the body.

The company has only been in operation since 1972, but had the procedure been available in Paul’s day, he probably wouldn’t have wasted his money. Since the sting of death is sin and the power of death is the law (v. 56), Paul knew that no scientist could ever produce the remedy for either.

Throughout chapter 15, Paul discusses the reality of the resurrection of Christ and, through Him, the assurance of the resurrection of all who believe in His name. Today’s reading delivers the powerful conclusion to his argument in this chapter. Quoting the prophet Hosea, Paul pronounces death powerless (v. 55).

From what we’ve studied so far in Ecclesiastes, death has been shown as the great equalizer that conquers all men, rendering their labor on earth meaningless. But Paul claims triumphantly in verse 57 that through Jesus Christ, God gives us victory over death. We see in verse 58 that the promise of escaping death should dramatically alter our approach to life.

The assurance of life after death shouldn’t just make us feel better, it should make us live better, too! But when Paul talks about giving ourselves to “the work of the Lord,” what exactly does he mean? Paul used a similar phrase earlier when discussing his work as an apostle. He said to the believers in Corinth, “Are you not the result of my work in the Lord?” (9:1). Throughout chapter 9, he makes it clear that his main task was simply to preach the gospel.
Even if you have a job that isn’t directly related to preaching the gospel, you can still give yourself “fully to the work of the Lord.” Paul did

1 Corinthians 15:56
Death's Defeat - A small frail girl sat playing in her room when she heard a noise of a thing that could bring her almost instant death. For you see, she had been stung by a bee at and early age and had almost died. Since that day she had been very sickly and the doctors said that another attack could mean her death. At the sound of the bee's buzz a wave of distress came over her and she began to sob and call out for help. Hearing the sound of his child's cry, the little girl's father came rushing into the room to discover what the matter was.

After quickly looking about the room he found the cause of her trouble and with a quick movement he snatched it out of the air and held it in his hand. A moment or two later he released the insect back into the air.

With and audible gasp his daughter looked questioningly up at her father and asked him why he would release it again since it could mean her death if it should sting her.

Don't be afraid my child. he said while opening his hand See here in my hand. Here is the stinger that could harm you. I have taken the sting for you and now it cannot hurt you and the bee itself will soon die.

We all suffer under the curse of sin like the little girl from the first sting and the next sting from death would mean our ultimate demise. But we have a savior that came to our rescue and took the sting for us and we no longer have to fear death. Though it buzz over us and land on us it can do no harm and one day death itself will die.

1 Corinthians 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
1 Corinthians 15:56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

What an expression—”the sting of death”! And according to our text, it is sin. But Jesus removed the sting by dying on the cross and paying the price for our sins.

While walking in the field one day with my two young sons, a bee from one of my hives made a beeline for the elder boy and stung him just above the eye. He quickly brushed it away and threw himself in the grass, kicking and screaming for help. The bee went straight for the younger son and began buzzing around his head. The next thing I knew he too was lying in the grass, yelling at the top of his lungs. But I picked him up and told him to stop crying. “That bee is harmless,” I assured him. “It can’t hurt you. It has lost its sting.” I took the frightened lad over to his elder brother, showed him the little black stinger in his brow, and said, “The bee can still scare you, but it is powerless to hurt you. Your brother took the sting away by being stung.” Then I explained 1 Corinthians 15:56 by telling them that the sting of death is sin. But our Elder Brother the Lord Jesus hung on the cross and took the sting out of death by dying in our place. Since the law demands satisfaction only once, death is powerless to hurt us if we accept the work of Christ in our behalf. The unbeliever is filled with fear because he must face God with his sin. But for us, death’s sting is gone; it was left in Jesus. Death may still buzz around and scare us at time, but it can no longer harm us. A good verse for you to memorize Romans 4:8. -- M R DeHaan

1 Corinthians 15:55 (F B Meyer. Our Daily Walk)

IN THIS marvellous chapter, Isaiah sings a Song of Hope, as he sees the return of the Hebrew people from captivity, and the overthrow of their foes. The Apostle Paul takes up this thought in 1 Cor. 15. He shows that death is the penalty of sin, and it is by the demands of the law that sin is stirred to activity. But Christ has satisfied and met the claims of the law, and gives power by which we are enabled to obey it; therefore the strength of sin is broken, and the sting of death is gone.

The Christian need not dread to die. For him there is no uncertainty about the future. There is no fear of what may come after death, for the condemnation of the law has been met and borne. We may apostroPhilse death in these exultant words. The viper has been deprived of its fangs! the prison-house cannot hold its inMattes! Bunyan describes Satan as exhorting Captain Sepulchre to be sure to hold Christ, but the injunction was useless. No bars or bolts, no seal or sentry would suffice.

Notice that we are to "Put on" incorruption and immortality (1Co15:53-54). It is as though the new body will be put on over the old, and as this takes place, all the elements of the old body will be swallowed up and absorbed. when the Holy Spirit completes his work in our souls, there will be no trace of the old rags left in the shining robes in which we shall be arrayed as we go forth to meet the welcome of our Lord. Death to those who believe in Christ is now only a Home-going; the falling asleep to open the eyes in the City of God; the loosening of the anchor, to float down stream in the full tide. "There shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain."

PRAYER - O God, whensoever Thy ways in nature or in the soul are hard to be understood, then may our quiet confidence, our patient trust, our loving faith in Thee be great, and as children knowing that they are loved, cared for, guarded, kept, may we with a quiet mind at all times put our trust in the unseen God. So may we face life without fear, and death without fainting. AMEN.

1 Corinthians 15:58
Newspaper copy editor Robert Manry piloted the smallest ship ever to sail the Atlantic Ocean. The trip aboard the Tinherbelle was long and difficult. He dared not sleep in the shipping lanes. The rudder broke several times. He was washed overboard often, saved only by the rope he had tied to himself and to his 13-foot vessel. Finally, after 78 days, Manry approached Falmouth, England. He thought only of tying up to some dock, finding a hotel room, and getting some sleep. But an enthusiastic crowd had other ideas. A fleet of about 300 small boats came out to greet him, all blowing their horns in salute. Forty thousand well-wishers lined the docks, cheering him on. What a welcome he received!

Something like that awaits faithful Christians who have weathered life's storms and remained true to the Savior. When these believers finally reach heaven's shore, they will be given an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom where they will come into the presence of Christ Himself. —D. C. E.


An article in Workstyle magazine emphasized the importance of getting ready for a trip beforehand. It gave guidelines on carrying the right amount of clothing, selecting the kind you will need, and being prepared for variations in weather. It gave specific directions for packing a suitcase by rolling garments into "logs," folding sweaters a certain way, and properly packing shirts or dresses. The article suggested that a person who is going on a journey should spend quality time in preparation. If he does, he'll be ready to go.

There are some parallels in the Christian's preparation for the journey to heaven, It would be unwise, for example, to wait until the hour of departure to start thinking about the journey We must get ready now. We need to spend quality time preparing for the day we meet the Lord. We can best do this by investing our life in doing God's will, Concluding his instruction on the resurrection, the apostle Paul advised believers to be "steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord" (1 Cor. 15:58). As we do, we will be packing for heaven. —D. C. E.


A PREACHER who was growing weary in the ministry had a dream. He saw himself pounding away at a huge chunk of granite with a pickax. It was his job to break it into small pieces. But as hard as he tried, he couldn't chip off even a tiny piece. At last, tired and disappointed, he decided to give up.

Just then a stranger appeared and said, "Weren't you given orders to do that work? Your duty is to give it your best regardless of what happens." The minister, with renewed determination, grabbed the pickax, lifted it high in the air, and gave the granite a crushing blow. It broke into a thousand pieces.

The dream helped the preacher realize the importance of not giving up. Perhaps the next "blow" will be the one that makes a life-and-death difference in someone's spiritual life.

The Lord wants us to keep working at our God-given task no matter how difficult it might be. Even when success seems remote or impossible, we are to remain steadfast, assured that there will be an ample reward for those who persevere.

It is easy to grow tired in our service for the Lord. We may even become so discouraged that we're tempted to quit. At such times, it is good to remember God's promise spoken by the apostle Paul: "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart" (Galatians 6:9).—R W DeHaan

1 Corinthians 16

1 Corinthians 16:1–24
Today in the Word

John Adams and his wife, Abigail Adams, wrote over 1,100 letters to each other during the period of their courtship and John’s political career. Their correspondence is rich with the details of the turbulent times leading up to the Revolutionary War and the infancy of the American democracy. Their letters have provided historians with information about the political happenings of the day as well as the ordinary routines and concerns of the American family at that time.

A letter is a fascinating window into the world of someone else. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians provides such a window. Reading the Corinthians’ mail, we start to understand what it must have been like to belong to this newly converted Gentile community. There was still confusion about the fundamental truths of the gospel. They continued to puzzle over questions of Christian life and practice. The pagan philosophies of their day held sway over their moral and spiritual imaginations. We know now why Paul several times compared them to immature children!

For all their abundance of spiritual gifts and direct contact with Paul, we have blessings today that the Corinthians didn’t. For instance, the Scriptures were still being written in their generation, and their teaching was sporadic at best, relying upon correspondence with Paul (1 Corinthians may have been the second of a three–letter exchange) and the frequency of his visits (infrequent, we infer from chapter 16). Before we judge this church too harshly and revel in our own superiority, we should note that we continue to struggle with some of the same issues in the 21st century.

Paul ends the letter like he started it. After all the time spent to correct and rebuke them, he now affirms his confidence in them. God’s grace in their lives will prevail, despite their many serious problems. He returns to the theme of love in chapter 16. He urges the Corinthians to do all that they do in love and to express that love in tangible ways to one another. He affirms his love for them in an intensely personal way, writing the words in his own hand.

Apply the Word
First Corinthians 16 may seem like a laundry list of last–minute afterthoughts from Paul. He discusses travel plans. He arranges for the collection of an offering promised beforehand for the poor in Jerusalem. He affirms the ministry of Timothy and Stephanas. But one important conclusion we draw from this chapter is the attention to the interconnectedness of the church throughout Asia: from Ephesus, to Jerusalem, to Galatia, and to Corinth, they were all brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. “There is one body . . . and one Lord” (Eph. 4:4, 5).

1 Corinthians 16:13-18
IN America's Cup yacht has a crew of sixteen people, including the navigator, the helmsman, and the mast men. But the boat could not compete without the relentless work of the five "grinders"—the men who turn the heavy cranks that con­trol the sails.

A grinder described his role this way in a USA Today article:

"A grinder at the America's Cup level is similar to a tight end in football. We need strength to provide the physical energy to power the boat around the race course. Essentially, our job is to turn the handles to raise and lower the sails and jibe/tack the sails from one side of the boat to the other."

In the work of Christ, the jobs that get noticed have to do with determining strategy and steering the course. But unless there are a lot of grinders—people willing to work behind the scenes—His work cannot go forward.

The people in the household of Stephanas were the grinders of the early church. We know little about what they did, but Paul commended their diligent work for the cause of Christ.

Our faithful and diligent service is more important than we realize. We impede Christ's work when we refuse to do our part. —DC E

In America's Cup yacht has a crew of 16 people, including the navigator, the helmsman, and the mastmen. But the boat could not compete without the relentless work of the five "grinders"—the men who turn the heavy cranks that control the sails.

In a USA Today article, a grinder described his role this way:

"A grinder at the America's Cup level is similar to a tight end in football. We need strength to provide the physical energy to power the boat around the race course. Essentially, our job is to turn the handles to raise and lower the sails and jibe/tack the sails from one side of the boat to the other."

In the work of Christ, many jobs get noticed. Some have to do with determining strategy, others with steering the course. But unless there are a lot of grinders—those men and women who are willing to work faithfully at the unglamorous roles—His work cannot go forward. So if you are a grinder, keep at it! Your faithfulness is far more important than you realize. Our Captain is depending on you! —D. C. E.



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Last Updated February 21, 2015