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VbV - 1 Corinthians 1

1 Corinthians 1


1 Corinthians 1:1-3 (NKJV) 1 Paul, called [to be] an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes [our] brother, 2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called [to be] saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


Paul, called [to be] an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God


Paul was called to the ministry of apostle.


The word apostle is the word “apostolos” which means: a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders


If you have been born again, it is because you were first called. But you weren’t called to live unto yourself. You were called and equipped for His purpose. Paul will later talk about some different callings and the role God plays in all of it.


1 Corinthians 12:4-6 (NKJV) 4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.


It is the Spirit who determines our gifts based on the needs of the body.


It is the Lord who determines our ministry based on His design and purpose.


It is the Father who determines the effectiveness. The word activities here is the word “energēma”, from which we get our word energy. It literally means: the effect, as in, the effect we have on others. We’re going to see this detailed out in chapter 3.


In each of these cases we are called unto Him. Not unto ourselves.


to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called [to be] saints


He is addressing this to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus. Those who are born again.


In the same way that Paul was called by God to be an apostle, these were called as well.


John 6:44 (NKJV) “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.


And


John 15:16 (NKJV) “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and [that] your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.


with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours


So we see here that Paul addresses the sovereign call of God, as outlined in John 6:44. He calls us to Him through conviction by the Holy Spirit (John 16:8). This, presumably, is how He draws us to Christ.


But then we also see the human response: [to all those] who call on the name of the Lord, both our [Lord] and their [Lord].


This is the duality of perspectives that are outlined in scripture. We see God’s sovereignty in calling but we also see man’s responsibility in his response to that calling.


John 7:37-39 (NKJV) …“If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink...”


How do we know if we’re called? By whether or not we thirst, and whether or not we come unto Him for a drink.


How do we know the we have been born again of the Spirit? By whether or not we call Him Lord.


1 Corinthians 12:3 (NKJV) …no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.


This isn’t saying that we cannot simply say the words “Jesus is Lord”, we see that from Jesus’s words at the sermon on the mount:


Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV) 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’


He’s saying that those who submit to Jesus as Lord, do so by the Holy Spirit.


1 Corinthians 1:4-9 (NKJV) 4 I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, 5 that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will also confirm you to the end, [that you may be] blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God [is] faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.


the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus


Him calling you out of the world.


that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge


Jesus told us in the gospels that it is the Holy Spirit who gives us utterance by bringing His words to our remembrance. John will later write in 1 John, and James in his epistle, that it is the Holy Spirit who gives us wisdom, knowledge and understanding.


even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you


He’s telling them how thankful he is that they were called and that there is evidence (fruit) of the Holy Spirit’s work as they’re given remembrance and knowledge in the things of God, just as Jesus testified would happen.


so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ


Notice: they are eagerly awaiting the Lord Jesus. Their eyes are not fixed on this world. This is another fruit of the new birth.


who will also confirm you to the end, [that you may be] blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God [is] faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.


He will confirm you…


Because He is faithful and He called you…


There is assurance of salvation where there is fruit to support it. This is why Jesus said, “you’ll know them by their fruits” and Paul said to “examine yourself as to whether you are in the faith”.


1 Corinthians 1:10-13 (NKJV) 10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and [that] there be no divisions among you, but [that] you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s [household,] that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?


Now I plead with you, brethren


We see here that Paul does not see these guys as “arrived” or having it all together. He recognizes their capacity for choice and pleads with them for corrective action. We see Paul’s heart in this matter. 1) he longs for them to grow and mature and 2) they cant remain as they are.


This is agape love. To seek their highest good, which is to grow in Christ.


that you all speak the same thing, and [that] there be no divisions among you, but [that] you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.


Paul is not saying that unity must come as a result of compromise of the truth.


Romans 16:17-18 (NKJV) 17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. 18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.


Paul is saying that you’re all on the same team.


For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s [household,] that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?


This is an exact template of denominational disputes.


We must first ask the question: does our dispute involve matters “contrary to the doctrine which you learned”? If it doesn’t, then we have no business dividing over it.


We then must ask the question: what is my motive in this dispute? Is it to win an argument or is it to preserve truth?


1 Corinthians 1:14-17 (NKJV) 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. 16 Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.


I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. For Christ did not send me to baptize


It’s possible that this dispute was over the issue of baptism. Paul makes it clear that it doesn’t matter who baptized you, you were all baptized into Christ.


This isn’t minimizing the practice of baptism. It’s simply saying that it’s not something to dispute or divide over.


You’ll notice that there isn’t a great deal of detail or specifics on how baptism is to be conducted in the Bible. The word itself means to immerse, and Paul later tells us that it symbolizes our old selves dying and our new birth. We also see it being done in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But that’s really it. Those are the only issues we can be dogmatic on.


but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.


We are not called by articulate words. We are called by the Spirit of God when the unadulterated gospel, the unfiltered word of God, is preached by faith. Faith in God’s ability to do a work through His word and His power. Exercising our own wisdom, removes the effectiveness, and the power of the Holy Spirit to do a work.


1 Corinthians 1:18-25 (NKJV) 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” 20 Where [is] the wise? Where [is] the scribe? Where [is] the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.


the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing , but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.


God knows those who will respond to His call. They are those who are being saved. But those who don’t, are perishing.


So it’s incumbent upon us to not soften His message in our own wisdom but to simply allow the Holy Spirit to work through His word. It sounds foolish and trivial that something as insignificant as proclaiming God’s word could completely alter a person. But that’s exactly why it works.


For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”


This is a quote from Isaiah 29:14 which means that it was always God’s plan to make sure that the power of the new birth was not located in man’s wisdom but in the power of God and faith in Him.


Where [is] the wise? Where [is] the scribe? Where [is] the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.


It pleased God to use something so insignificant to show His power.


To the Jews, they couldn’t wrap their head around it. To the Greeks, it was all just foolish talk. But to those who are called… to those whom the Holy Spirit was drawing it was the power of God revealed.


1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (NKJV) 26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, [are called.] 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God--and righteousness and sanctification and redemption-- 31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.”


For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, [are called.] But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.


Paul refers them back to themselves. He says look amongst yourselves, not many of you are noble, wise, or influential from a worldly standpoint.


I don’t want to turn this into a theological discussion on the dichotomy of sovereignty vs responsibility but I do want you to see how “matter of factly” Paul says: “you were chosen”. He doesn’t dwell on it explaining every facet of it but rather says it as if it’s already understood.


So is there a difference between being called and being or chosen, sometimes translated elect? Apparently, yes.


In Matthew 22:1-14 Jesus tells a parable about a wedding invitation. He tells how the Pharisees rejected the invitation and how in doing so the wedding master sent the call (invitation) out to all those in the street. When those who were called came to the wedding banquet the master took note of those who had a wedding garment from those who didn’t, and cast those who didn’t from the feast. Jesus then closes in verse 14 saying:


Matthew 22:14 (NKJV) “For many are called, but few [are] chosen.”


Many were called klēsis / klētos, by the Holy Spirit through conviction. But few were chosen eklektos / eklegomai (this is the same word elect).


You did not arrive at this on your own. If you are in Christ it is because God called you and you responded. Jesus makes it clear, not everyone who is called, responds. Therefore, not everyone who is called, is elect. We are revealed as chosen or elect by how we respond to His Spirit.


He says, that was done that way on purpose so that no one could boast that they arrived at God based on their own intelligence or merits.


But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God--and righteousness and sanctification and redemption-- that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.”


But of Him (the Father, John 6:44), you were called unto Christ.


He (Jesus) became for us wisdom, righteousness and sanctification


And all this so we might glory in the Lord.

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