Monday, December 26, 2016, 7:14 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Amazing Grace.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 3:1-15 (NASB).
Infants in Christ (vv. 1-4)
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men?
When we first believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, depending upon our physical age or our background, we may know little of God’s word, or of Jesus Christ, or of what it means to be a Christian. So, we need to daily be in the Word of God, reading and studying it, and praying for understanding of just the basics of our salvation. As well, our Lord has provided believers in Jesus with the gift of teaching within the church to teach us those elementary truths of what it means to be a Christian, and concerning how we are to walk in Christ’s holiness and righteousness.
But, as we progress in our walks of faith with Christ, and we grow in him through times spent with him each day in his word, in prayer, and in obedience; in fellowshipping with the body of Christ (the church), and in learning more of Jesus and his word, taught to us within the church, we should soon move on past the elementary truths of our salvation to maturity in Christ, and on to deeper spiritual truths. Yet, not everyone does. Some people remain spiritual infants after many years of knowing Jesus as Savior of their lives, though I suspect that some (or many) of them may be Christians by profession only, who have never been born again (transformed) of the Spirit of God.
So, what distinguished these particular believers as still fleshly (or worldly) was that they were making idols of human beings, and they were even fighting and arguing with each other over what man should be followed, or over who they thought was better. And, this still goes on today, for one says “I am Baptist,” and another says, “I am Presbyterian,” or “I am Methodist.” So, not much has changed. And, some of them argue and fight (down and dirty) with one another over whose doctrine is superior to the other.
Now, we should stand for what we believe is right, and we should correct doctrinal error, if we believe error has taken place, and if it involves doctrines essential to our salvation and our eternal security, but we should not fight and attack one another. Never! We should, instead, present the Word of truth plainly, and trust the Holy Spirit to speak to human hearts. And, we should be willing, when presented with something in conflict with what we were always taught, to search the Word of God, to make certain we are not the ones in error, instead of holding fiercely to our Baptist, Methodist or Presbyterian (etc.) doctrines, because we could be wrong. I know I was taught some things wrong, and God has had to correct me, at times.
One Body, Many Parts (vv. 5-9)
What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
The church is worldly when it raises one man (or woman) above another, as though some gifts of the Spirit are to be given recognition above others; or when it demeans other gifts of the Spirit and those servants who exercise those gifts; or when it follows human personalities over following God and the witness of the Spirit within them. We are all one body. We just have different parts (roles, assignments). We are not to treat one as less than others just because we have different gifts from them, and we are not to regard ourselves in that way, either. As well, we are not to say to one part of the body, “I have no need of you,” though many churches are doing this today, as they are being taught to do in their training classes, so as to weed out those they don’t want in favor of those they think will be an asset to their “church” (business of human making, and marketed as such).
We need to see one another as essential to the body of Christ and to the growth of his church. We need to stop thinking with human reasoning and think like God thinks, i.e. have his eternal perspective about his church and ministry, instead of buying into human marketing schemes for how to build the church. The church has been turned into businesses of human making, which definitely idolize personalities and particular gifts (or talents). We have to view all of this through God’s eyes, though, which says that all of us who serve the Lord are just servants, but it is God who causes the growth. We can only boast in the Lord and in what he does through us, and not in ourselves, for all we have and are comes from him, and not from us.
How We Build (vv. 10-15)
According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
First of all, we need to make certain we have the right foundation before we begin building. If the foundation is wrong, the building will not survive at all, but will come crashing down. For instance, if our foundation is a half-truth gospel or a watered-down version of the true gospel, then that is a faulty (or false) foundation, and we won’t be saved at all, no matter how we build. So, how do we know if we have the correct foundation? We have to read the Bible, preferably the New Testament, for that is where much of the foundation is laid, though the prophets of old also laid some of this foundation. And, we have to read the scriptures in context, and not pull scriptures out of context to make them say what we want to hear.
So, what is the correct foundation? Jesus Christ, God incarnate, though sinless, became sin for us when he died on a cross in order that we might become the righteousness of God. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. He died, too, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, for if we live according to our sinful flesh, we will die (in our sins), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (with Christ for eternity). If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk in darkness, we are liars, and the truth is not in us. If we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them (for eternity), but if we lose our lives (die to sin and self), we will gain eternal life (See: 2 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Pet. 2:24; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25; 1 Jn. 1:6).
When we truly believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ (of the Spirit) in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” “Our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.” “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (See: Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23.)
Jesus did not die just so we could be forgiven our sin, freed from punishment in hell, and have the hope of heaven when we die, with no requirements for godly living while we await his return. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for his return (Tit. 2:11-14). Jesus said that his sheep listen to him, he knows them, and they follow (obey) him, and they are the ones which can’t be snatched out of his and the Father’s hands (Jn. 10:27-30). Paul was sent to open blinded eyes, “so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in” Jesus (Acts 26:16-18).
God’s amazing grace did not merely rescue me from hell, and give me the hope of heaven when I die. His AMAZING GRACE freed me from the control of sin and Satan over my life, and freed me to live to Christ and to his righteousness – all in the power and working of God’s Holy Spirit now living within me. My eternal life with God does not begin when I die. It began the day I met Jesus, and he cleansed me of my sins, and he gave me new life in him to be lived for him – holy and pleasing to him, which is my reasonable and acceptable worship of him (Ro. 12:1-2). Amen!
Amazing Grace / John Newton
Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear,
And Grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come.
‘Tis Grace hath brought me safe thus far
And Grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me.
His Word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.
And when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.