Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Today we’ll be covering the third chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Church at Corinth. In this chapter, Paul instructs the Church regarding teaching and those who teach.
Reading: I Corinthians 3
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
We know that one of the marks of a baby’s development is the day it is weaned off of milk and onto true foods. However, before the child is ready to partake of the food of our tables, it is unwise to give him that food.
This is the analogy that Paul makes concerning his teachings to the Corinthians. They are not yet ready to receive the most valuable and beneficial of spiritual teachings, so Paul teaches them in words they can receive.
This is equally true of most Christians I have encountered in my time. They are as babies, unable to engage in proper study of the Scripture because they have not developed beyond the milk.
3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
This is one of the marks of this carnality – that we bicker and fight as the non-believers.
4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?
It is not the work of the minister, missionary, or any other Christian that brings about repentance. We have no power or right to brag, because our work is merely a poor instrument by which the Lord operates in this world.
6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
The Lord sends out His Spirit before us, to ready the people to receive teaching and minister amongst one another. We go out and do what the Lord commands, but he is both foreman and greatest laborer – he knows how the seed is sown, and how it grows, and when it must be harvested.
This is not to say that we do nothing, but our work is lesser than that of the Lord (and meaningless without His direction).
9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.
As Paul repeats, we are merely tools and structures that serve a purpose, but the Lord directs that purpose.
10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Paul was given the skills, words, and direction required to lay a solid foundation for the Church in Corinth. Every man who comes after by the direction of the Lord builds upon that foundation.
12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
This reminds us of the “parable of the talents”, in which several servants are given a measure of wealth to invest and grow for their master. The only servant who is despised is that who did not attempt to grow that initial investment, but merely hid it away.
So it is that we are to work, using those skills given us by God, to benefit the Kingdom. After this, when the Lord Jesus Christ returns on the Last Day, we will be given in measure to what we have worked.
14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
Salvation is guaranteed us, by the Lord Jesus Christ and his sacrifice upon the cross. However, if we do ill work we shall receive ill punishment, and if we do good, good.
16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
Now the Apostle redirects his attention from the work of a man’s hands to the body that a man possesses. This body is house of the Spirit, so those blessed with the Holy Spirit are houses of the Spirit of the Lord Himself.
17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
Those who take ill care of their bodies (mutilators, gluttons, homosexuals, and others after this kind) are punished by nature, which is under the sustaining force of the Lord. As he directs, we suffer all manner of ailments and misfortunes (Gay Related Immuno-Deficiency, also known as AIDS, springs immediately to mind), often as punishment for our transgressions.
This is doubly true for those of us who are filled with the Holy Spirit, for we are to be in the world, but not of it.
18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.
We notice that many of those praised for their intellects are foolish when it comes to the Scriptures. Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and dozens of other “geniuses” have written a number of books demonstrating this fact.
19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.
20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.
How can one attempt to outwit the Lord Most High? He is the source of all things we observe, both the physical and the laws that govern our reality.
Those who consider themselves wise are often blinded by their own hubris, and cannot perceive their own weaknesses.
21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are your’s;
22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are your’s;
23 And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.
We have been granted an inheritance greater than all others in this world. In this world, we are given the Holy Spirit and wisdom from the Lord. In the world to come, we are given life eternal, in perfect flesh which experiences neither pain nor sorrow.
Praise be to the Lord who gives us all this.
Let us Pray
God Almighty, who is Lord over all of creation, we thank you that You are the Most Holy God. We thank you that you are the Only God, so that none of the pale imitations and vile creations of man can be said to rule over all.
Let these words fill our minds. Let us meditate upon them day and night, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit we may receive all wisdom and knowledge from You.
We ask these things in the name of the Christ, Jesus, the Messiah who has come into the world for our salvation,
May the Lord instruct you and teach you all things.