DAILY DEVOTIONS: "WE ALL MUST START WITH GRACE" -Bob Caldwell


DAILY DEVOTIONS
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"Honoring God in the Morning"





WE ALL MUST START WITH GRACE
READING FROM: 
 1 Corinthians 1:1-17
KEY VERSE:
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” –1 Corinthians 1:3


According to his letters, Paul imparted more correction to the church in Corinth than to any other church. In light of this, some find the way Paul begins this letter to be shocking. He identifies this community of believers as those “sanctified in Christ,” and “called to be saints.” He refers to Jesus as their “Lord,” and states that God has given them “grace,” and that they are “enriched in everything.” They “come short in no gift,” and will one day be confirmed as “blameless.”

Paul says these things in spite of the fact that the Corinthians are known for major division and conflict within their church, sexual sin, crimes against each other, getting drunk at their love feasts, misusing the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and holding onto strange doctrines. Yet it is precisely because of their carnal lives that Paul begins by identifying them as who they are in Christ. As we go through the list of their spiritual problems Paul repeatedly calls them to identify themselves with the new life they have through Christ. This is the beginning point of true and lasting transformation.

Paul’s goal is not to reform them to make them a better version of their fallen selves with their fallen nature. His goal is transformation. This lesson applies to us today as well. We are to live in light of the new creations we are in Christ. Later, in his second letter to these believers in Corinth, Paul will declare that they are new creations in Christ and that the old has passed away, all things have become new (2 Cor. 5:17).

The truth is that no matter how “good” or “bad” your current version of a sinful nature is, we all must start over from the beginning. When Jesus said, “You must be born again,” He meant it! According to Jesus, what is born of the flesh will always be the flesh and what is born of the Spirit will always be the spirit. When Jesus said a man has to be born again (John 3:7) He was not talking to a drug addict or prostitute. He was talking to Nicodemus, a very disciplined and educated religious leader who had been sincerely trying his best to be pleasing to God.

We all must begin with a new life in the Spirit. It is this new life that God births within us that is destined to make us like Christ. There is, as it were, a new spiritual genetic force within us that grows as we progress from a newborn believer to a mature believer. It is from this perspective that Paul is approaching these people at Corinth. First they need to see their position and potential of being in Christ. Then it’s a matter of putting off who they were and putting on who they are. This is similar to an athlete’s relationship with a coach. First the coach needs to make sure the athlete sees the potential within himself. Then he can motivate that athlete to pay the price to reach his potential.

It is the same for us today. We too must see who we now are in Jesus. Therefore, as we read the account of Paul exposing the many wrongs within this Corinthian church, please don’t be so na├»ve as to think his message does not relate to you. It does. We all have a lot of growing up to do, because we all must start from our own second birth.

BIBLE READING

1 CORINTHIANS 1:1-17

GREETING

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.

SPIRITUAL GIFTS AT CORINTH

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 beblameless 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.

SECTARIANISM IS SIN

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?
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.

VERSE-BY-VERSE STUDY NOTES

1 CORINTHIANS 1

GREETING (VERSES 1-3)

v. 1 Paul - This is the name the apostle went by as his ministry developed among the Greeks and Romans. His Jewish name was Saul. He begins with his name, which was common custom among ancient Greeks.
Called - This clarifies Paul’s authority to the people he is addressing. His work as an apostle was by divine commission not on his own initiative.
Apostle - “Apostolos” (Gk.) literally means "one sent forth." This term was used of Jesus to describe His relationship to the Father, the 12 disciples chosen by Jesus in Luke 6:13; 9:10, and of Paul who was directly called to this office by Jesus after His ascension. Many people believe that Paul was chosen by God to replace Judas to make up the 12 apostles. This same word in Greek is used in a wider sense of Andronicus and Junia in Romans 16:7, of Epaphroditus in Philippians 2:25, and of Silas and Timothy in 1 Thessalonians 2:6.
Through the Will of God - This further clarifies Paul’s authority. It also serves as a way to immediately set the tone of the letter because the church at Corinth greatly valued human wisdom. This love of human wisdom caused many people to rise up and challenge Paul’s authority.
Sosthenes - It seems this is the same person referred to in Acts 18. He was appointed leader of the Jewish synagogue after Crispus, the former leader, became a believer. It seems that sometime after the events of Acts 18 this man also became a believer and had come to Paul with some of the concerns of the church in Corinth. Paul addressed these concerns this letter.
Brother - Previously, Sosthenes brought Paul before the civil court in hopes of bringing trouble upon Paul. However, now as a believer, Paul sees him as a dear brother (1 Pet. 1:22; 1 John 3:14).
v. 2 Church - “Ekklesia” (Gk.)  meant "gathered assembly." It was used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament of Paul’s day as a reference to God calling the Jews out from among the Gentiles. It was a reference to the people themselves, not a building.
Of God -This makes clear that the church does not belong to any one denomination or manmade leader, but to God.
Corinth - This city is located in the center of a four-mile wide isthmus on the Greek peninsula. It was a major trade center and the place of the Isthmian Games, which were second only to the Olympics. It was also the location of the famous temple to Aphrodite (Diana), which was home to 1,000 temple prostitutes. Corinth was famous in the ancient world for its moral corruption. This reputation was so well known that the Greek verb “korinthiazomai” was coined. It literally means, “to act like a Corinthian” and was used to describe drunkards and the sexually immoral.
Sanctified - “Hagiazo” (Gk.) This is a term used to convey that someone or something has been set apart by God for His use.
In Christ Jesus - The preposition "in" reveals that it is only through the work of Jesus Christ, not the work of man, that a person is separated to God for His purposes. To be "in Christ" is to embrace Him and all the provisions that come from Him.
Called to be Saints - The word "saints" in Greek is “hagios.” It is derived from the same root word as sanctified. The word conveys that one is set apart or holy before God. The thought in this verse is that they were in a holy position before God, set apart as a result of their faith in Christ.
With All - This expresses the truth that the call to sainthood applies to all believers and is the result of salvation.
v. 3 Grace and Peace - It was God’s grace, or unwarranted or unmerited favor, that provided a glorious position of sainthood for all believers. This gracious act resulted in peace with God and peace within (Phil. 4:7, John 14:27). Peace is “eirene” in Greek and was used as equivalent of the Hebrew word “shalom” which was a common form of greeting.

SPIRITUAL GIFTS AT CORINTH (VERSES 4-9)

v. 5 Enriched in Him - This reveals the amplified nature of the provisions of salvation we have in Jesus. It provides everything we need, including the ability to speak for Christ with knowledge about God and His ways to others. This all encompassing provision was also conveyed by Peter in 2 Peter 1:3 where we are told God’s divine power gives us all things that pertain to life and godliness.
v. 6 Testimony - “Marturion” (Gk.) This means a proclamation or representation. Here the Corinthians are seen as a proclamation of how gracious God is to sinners because of the provisions of Christ.
v. 7 Short in no Gift - Paul recognizes that these believers were given all the gifts of the Holy Spirit by God. However, in chapters 12-14, Paul will address their ignorance of the proper use of these gifts.
The Revelation - This term refers to the revealing of who Jesus really is to all the world at His second coming.
v. 8 Confirm you - This tells us that at the second coming of Christ, God will confirm the forgiveness He provided for us by Christ’s substitutionary death for our sins on the cross. We will be seen as blameless for the sins we have committed.
v. 9 God is Faithful - The amazing promise of our blamelessness before God flows from His faithfulness in providing Jesus for us.  
Fellowship - “Koinonia” (Gk.) This is a word for close partnership and oneness that is provided for us in our relationship with Jesus.

SECTARIANISM IS SIN (VERSES 10-17)

v. 10 Perfectly Joined Together - Paul introduces what God’s will is for this church, which had become divided over a broad range of issues. He asks that their speech, mental attitude, and the judgment they come to with regard to God’s Word be lived out in a genuine harmony with each other. This could never be done if it was to be based on agreeing on every point of interpretation of scripture, but it can be done if there was an agreement to make Christ the central unifying force of every issue, as Paul will go on to state.
v. 11 Chloe’s Household - It is important that the information Paul received is not treated as gossip. He clearly identifies the source of the information that prompted his corrective teaching.
v. 12 Each of you Says - This verse begins the description of the division that arose over different factions of this church. They identified themselves with what they perceived to be the superior theological position of a particular teacher.
Of Paul - Paul was considered the apostle to the Gentiles because he emphasized truths that would be especially important to the Gentile mind. He also clarified the limited need for Gentiles to follow Jewish ritual and dietary laws.
Of Apollos - Apollos made a major impact upon the Corinthian church after Paul’s departure. He was noted as a gifted speaker, which would have contrasted Paul, who was not known as an eloquent speaker (Acts 18:27-28).
Of Cephas - This was a term for Peter and was a reference to the apostle who was known as one called to minister to the Jews (Gal. 7:7). As seen in Galatians 2:11-17, Peter’s emphasis was different than Paul’s because he helped the Jews incorporate their traditions and beliefs with their faith in Jesus.
Of Christ - This seems to refer to a group that took pride in making direct reference to the teachings of Jesus and disregarded the legitimate place of the apostles and prophets in the early church.
v. 13 Was Paul crucified - In this rhetorical question, Paul bluntly declares that none of the servants of Jesus should take the place of Jesus.
v. 17 Preach the Gospel - Gospel means "good news." Paul makes clear that his purpose was not to develop a personal following, but rather to reveal the good news that was a result of Christ paying for the sins of the world on the cross (John 1:29 3:16).
Made of no Effect - Paul relied upon the inherent power of the gospel (Rom. 1:16), not the power of persuasive speaking, to lead people to Christ.

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