Sunday, December 14, 2014

Paul's Epistles - 1 Corinthians Part 5 – Church and Its Leaders

Paul's Epistles - 1 Corinthians
Part 5 – Church and Its Leaders
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | www.PS127.org | www.TruthDigest.org

INTRODUCTION
We are examining the second of the epistles authored by the Apostle Paul, I Corinthians.

Paul begins this letter to the church in Corinth with an explanation of who is truly head of the church and teachings, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul then explains that as a church, or Body of Christ, we are to put our trust and faith into Jesus, not men, because it is in Christ where the power and wisdom of God is.

Last week Paul was telling us that his wisdom did not come by worldly teachings or knowledge, but by the Holy Spirit, and that the only way to understand what God's thoughts are, is to hear from the Holy Spirit.

This week, Paul continues to explain the Church and its Leadership.

SCRIPTURE REFERENCE I Corinthians 3
Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.

10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.

18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”;  20 and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” 21 So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.


                   I.            IMMATURE IN CHRIST
a.      I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ.
                                                                         i.      I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.


b.     You are still worldly.
                                                                         i.      there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?

                                                                      ii.      “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” 

                                                                   iii.      Paul calls them carnal because they had shifted their faith from Christ to other things...in this case, men.


c.      What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul?
                                                                         i.      Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 


               II.            GOD IS USING SERVANTS
a.      Servants are assigned tasks
                                                                         i.      Ken Ham, Billy Graham, Jimmy Swaggart, Joyce Meyer, the list goes on

                                                                      ii.      They are servants assigned tasks by God

                                                                   iii.      Some sow seeds as described by Jesus in Matthew

                                                                     iv.      Some water the seed which was sown, as Paul describes here in I Corinthians
                                                                        v.      However, it is God who makes it grow.
b.     The analogy is clear
                                                                         i.      The farmer plants seed, another waters it.

                                                                      ii.      But it is God who makes it grow.

                                                                   iii.      And one day, there will be a great harvest, and the wheat will be separated from the chaff.


c.      We are co-workers in God's service
                                                                         i.      Whether we sow seed, or water it.

                                                                      ii.      Preaching, teaching, ministering, helping, praying, healing, "being" the body of Christ

                                                                   iii.      When we act as the Body of Christ should, mature in our Spirit, not acting worldly (or as children), the Holy Spirit of God works through us and the Holy Spirit of God, which dwells within believer's, will build, lift up, edify and strengthen other believers.



            III.            THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY TO BUILD
a.      Paul laid the foundation, which is Jesus Christ
                                                                         i.      It is the ONLY foundation to build upon.

                                                                      ii.      Whether you use gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, it will be revealed by fire.
1.      Fire means "judgment" in scripture

2.      Gold, silver and precious stones represent that which comes from the Word and will stand the fire.

3.      Wood, hay and stubble obviously will not stand that test.

                                                                   iii.      vs. 13-15 "their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames."

1.      That "day" is before the judgment seat of Christ

2.      This fire, or judgment, is the ability of Christ, who will be the judge who sees through everything we do. He alone knows our motives.


a.      Revelation 2:18 (from the letter to the church in Thyatira) These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance,



b.     What we "do" for the Kingdom is judged by God on that "Day"
                                                                         i.      If what we did was worthy (for God's glory, not ours) it will survive God's judgment, and we will receive a reward.

                                                                      ii.      If what we "did" in the name of God was not worthy (for attention, selfish reasons, to gain in some way, blowing our own trumpets), the scriptures say you have already received your reward, the praise of men...it will burn up in the Judgment and you will "suffer loss..."

1.      Suffering loss means, you had the opportunity to receive a reward from God, but will not, because you acted in selfishness.

2.      However, you will not lose your place in heaven.


c.      Do not deceive yourselves
                                                                         i.      If you think you are wise by the world's standards, you need to become as a fool, so God can make you wise.


d.     No more boasting about mere men
                                                                         i.      For all are servants of Christ, and Christ is the servant of God.

                                                                 

CONCLUSION
We need to be mindful, not thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought.

We are all servants of Christ, and we serve God through the Holy Spirit when we are mature, but only serve ourselves when we act like children, or "worldly".

We need to change our thinking, absorb all that the servants of Christ teach, and use it to either sow seeds of faith in others as Christ talks about in the book of Matthew, or water what has already been planted, as Paul speaks of here.

When we do these things, building upon the ONLY foundation that can be built upon, Jesus Christ, our works will be as fine gold, or silver, and survive God's judgment on that Day.

And we will receive rewards for living as mature, spirit filled followers of Jesus Christ.

John 15:5-6   “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.


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